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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Oklahoma cop faces 32 charges of sex crimes committed on duty

oklahoma policeman

© Reuters / Larry Papke

An Oklahoma City police officer has been charged with six more counts of sexual offenses while on duty after three more victims, including a teenager, told authorities he forced them to have sex with him.

Before the latest accusations, Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 32, had already been charged with 26 counts, including rape, sexual battery, oral sodomy, indecent exposure, stalking, and burglary.

The new counts against Holtzclaw, a three-year police veteran, were filed in Oklahoma County District Court on Tuesday. The latest charges include three counts of first-degree rape, as well as one count each of second-degree rape by instrumentation, forcible oral sodomy, and sexual battery, according to the Oklahoman.

The charges involve the assault of 13 women in total.

The three women involved in the new charges came forward after seeing Holtzclaw in the news for the previous alleged sexual offenses, according to an affidavit.

 Daniel Ken Holtzclaw

© Screenshot from YouTube user Clav Vang

A 17-year-old woman told police she was walking with friends on June 17 when Holtzclaw approached the group. The officer told her there was a warrant out for her arrest, though he let her go, according to the probable cause affidavit. He later stopped her when she was alone and took her to her home, where he eventually forced her to give him oral sex and have intercourse with him.

Two other women alleged that Holtzclaw forced them to have sex with him before he would let them go, according to the affidavit.

"You are going to give me some sex...or you're ass is going to jail," he allegedly told one of the victims, according to court records cited by KWTV.

"This is what you are going to have to do. I don't want to take you to jail," Holtzclaw allegedly told another victim.

Holtzclaw's attorney maintained the officer's innocence.

"Daniel denies that he's done anything wrong and looks forward to his day in court," said defense attorney Scott Adams, according to the Oklahoman. "He's ready to get back to work at the police department."

According to Oklahoma City police, some of the crimes Holtzclaw is accused of committing occurred during traffic stops. Holtzclaw, according to court filings, threatened women with arrest or physical harm if they did not comply with is demands.

Holtzclaw, fitted with a GPS monitoring device on his ankle, is under house arrest on $609,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18.

Colorado mother turns teenage son in to authorities after he was charged with rape

Elijah Jordan Jackson

© 9News

A Colorado teen who allegedly raped a young girl was handed over to the police last Thursday by his own mother.

Fort Collins Police issued an arrest warrant on Oct. 24 for Elijah Jordan Jackson, 19, before his mom drove him from Wyoming to a deputy waiting at Larimer County Jail, 9NEWS.com reports.

"Certainly, a very unusual situation," Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said. "What was unusual was when the deputy spoke with the suspect's mother, and she found out about the charges, she vowed to take care of it."

Jackson is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in Fort Collins in February, notes.

"Certainly, we do have family members cooperate, but to have mom go out of state and pick somebody up and bring them into the jail, first time in a quarter century I've seen it occur," Smith said.

Jackson denied the sexual assault allegation made against him and said that he turned himself in to authorities, not his mom.

"I'm sure when you're in jail, the last thing you want is for anybody in there sitting in a cell next to you know that your mom brought you to jail," Smith said.

Authorities said the mother saved them a lot of money that would have been used to go through the Wyoming court system to get an extradition to bring Jackson back.

Watch KUSA-TV's report below via YouTube:

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Watch a bowling ball and feather falling in a vacuum


You probably know that two objects dropped in a vacuum fall at the same rate, no matter the mass of each item. If you've never seen a demonstration of this, then you really should, because it's incredible to watch.

Here is perhaps the perfect example, brought to us by physicist Brian Cox. He checked out NASA's Space Simulation Chamber located at the Space Power Facility in Ohio. With a volume of 22,653 cubic meters, it's the largest vacuum chamber in the world.

In this hypnotizing clip from the BBC, Cox drops a bowling ball and a feather together, first in normal conditions, and then after virtually all the air has been sucked out of the chamber. We know what happens, but that doesn't stop it from being awesome, especially with the team's ecstatic faces.

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Mother calls police to help her son take his medicine, cop shows up and shoots him

Police Brutality

© Latoff

I'm here to help.

In Gretna, Florida, Juanita Donald called the police to come assist and get her 24 year old son to take his medication, as she had done in the past.

On Tuesday morning, around 9:30 am, she called the police to help her with her son Kaldrick Donald and one officer showed up, Sergeant Charles Brown.

Charles Brown ended up tasing Kaldrick Donald repeatedly, and then took him into the isolated bathroom in the family's house and shot him multiple times, killing him.

Brown murdered Donald in the presence his pregnant sister and mother, and no one can even say why. He was completely unarmed, and somehow not completely sane.

His mother said "I heard my baby say, I want my mama after he shot him, and then I didn't hear anything else."

His mother said she was "expecting them to take him to the Apalachee Center like before", but instead a single officer came and escalated the situation, murdering him in front of his family.

Juanita continued to say "It wasn't but one officer. Instead of him calling for backup, he took things in his own hands and he goes in the house and he rush him and shoot him."

She continued to say he "didn't want to be bothered", and that he simply walked away from the officer.

She says Sergeant Charles Brown "Just grabbed him and he tased him. Then when he grabbed him and tased him, he rushed my son off in the bathroom and I heard three shots. I was like, you shot my son and he was like, I had to. I said, no, you didn't have to."

Charles Brown is now on 'administrative leave', or paid vacation, and if this story doesn't blow up then this officer surely will see no charges.

The Gretna Police Chief had a bland statement to give,

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Since the investigation began, we have asked the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist us."

Will this officer ever be charged for murder, or anything?

This is a breaking story; only a few local news reports have been made about the incident so far and they received little attention, so this article will serve to expose this crime and be the first step in holding this person accountable.

This is so deeply immoral, a person simply cannot get away with doing this because they are authorized by the state to use deadly force. Few people know this happened yet, except for people in the city of Gretna Florida. I ask that you share this information with absolutely as many people as possible.

Only by spreading word about incidents like this can we hold these authorities accountable for the crimes they commit, and stop things like this from happening by letting these killer cops know they will face consequences

Governments lied about the Spanish Flu to prevent panic. It backfired, as it will with Ebola


spanish flu

© unknown

The mainstream American press has agreed - at the request of the government - not to report on suspected Ebola cases.

Let's provide some context ...

The U.S. National Academies of Science noted in 2005 (starting on the bottom of p. 64):

In the United States, national and local government and public health authorities badly mishandled the [1918 "Spanish Flu"] epidemic [which killed up to 50 million people worldwide], offering a useful case study.

The context is important. Every country engaged in World War I tried to control public perception. To avoid hurting morale, even in the nonlethal first wave the press in countries fighting in the war did not mention the outbreak. (But Spain was not at war and its press wrote about it, so the pandemic became known as the Spanish flu).

The United States was no different. In 1917 California Senator Hiram Johnson made the since-famous observation that "The first casualty when war comes is truth." The U.S. government passed a law that made it punishable by 20 years in jail to "utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the government of the United States."

One could go to jail for cursing or criticizing the government, even if what one said was true. A Congressman was jailed. Simultaneously, the government mounted a massive propaganda effort. An architect of that effort said, "Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms.... There is nothing in experience to tell us that one is always preferable to the other.... The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false" (Vaughn, 1980).

The combination of rigid control and disregard for truth had dangerous consequences. Focusing on the shortest term, local officials almost universally told half-truths or outright lies to avoid damaging morale and the war effort. They were assisted - not challenged - by the press, which although not censored in a technical sense cooperated fully with the government's propaganda machine.

Routinely, as influenza approached a city or town - one could watch it march from place to place - local officials initially told the public not to worry, that public health officials would prevent the disease from striking them. When influenza first appeared, officials routinely insisted at first it was only ordinary influenza, not the Spanish flu. As the epidemic exploded, officials almost daily assured the public that the worst was over.

This pattern repeated itself again and again. Chicago offers one example: Its public health commissioner said he'd do "nothing to interfere with the morale of the community.... It is our duty to keep the people from fear. Worry kills more people than the epidemic" (Robertson, 1918).

That idea - "Fear kills more than the disease" - became a mantra nationally and in city after city. As one of the largest circulation periodicals in the country, advised, "Fear is our first enemy" (Van Hartesveldt, 1992).

In Philadelphia, when the public health commissioner closed all schools, houses of worship, theaters, and other public gathering places, one newspaper went so far as to say that this order was "not a public health measure" and reiterated that "there is no cause for panic or alarm."

But as people heard these reassurances, they could see neighbors, friends, and spouses dying horrible deaths.

In Chicago, the Cook County Hospital mortality rate of all influenza admissions - not just those who developed pneumonia - was 39.8 percent (Keeton and Cusman, 1918). In Philadelphia, bodies remained uncollected in homes for days, until eventually open trucks and even horse-drawn carts were sent down city streets and people were told to bring out the dead. The bodies were stacked without coffins and buried in cemeteries in mass graves dug by steam shovels.

This horrific disconnect between reassurances and reality destroyed the credibility of those in authority. People felt they had no one to turn to, no one to rely on, no one to trust.

Ultimately society depends on trust. Without it, society began to come apart. Normally in 1918 America, when someone was ill, neighbors helped. That did not happen during the pandemic. Typically, the head of one city's volunteer effort, frustrated after repeated pleas for help yielded nothing, turned bitter and contemptuous:

Hundreds of women who are content to sit back had delightful dreams of themselves in the roles of angels of mercy, had the unfathomable vanity to imagine that they were capable of great sacrifice. Nothing seems to rouse them now. They have been told that there are families in which every member is ill, in which the children are actually starving because there is no one to give them food. The death rate is so high and they still hold back.3

That attitude persisted outside of cities as well. In rural Kentucky, the Red Cross reported "people starving to death not from lack of food but because the well were panic stricken and would not go near the sick" (An Account of the Influenza Epidemic, 1919).

As the pressure from the virus continued, an internal Red Cross report concluded, "A fear and panic of the influenza, akin to the terror of the Middle Ages regarding the Black Plague, [has] been prevalent in many parts of the country" (The Mobilization of the American National Red Cross, 1920). Similarly, Victor Vaughan, a sober scientist not given to overstatement, worried, "If the epidemic continues its mathematical rate of acceleration, civilization could easily ... disappear ... from the face of the earth within a matter of a few more weeks" (Collier, 1974).

Of course, the disease generated fear independent of anything officials did or did not do, but the false reassurances given by the authorities and the media systematically destroyed trust. That magnified the fear and turned it into panic and terror.

It is worth noting that this terror, at least in paralyzing form, did not seem to materialize in the few places where authorities told the truth.

One lesson is clear from this experience: In handling any crisis, it is absolutely crucial to retain credibility. Giving false reassurance is the worst thing one can do. If I may speculate, let me suggest that almost as bad as outright lying is holding information so closely that people think officials know more than they say.


As Reuters pointed out yesterday, there's still a about Ebola that scientists don't understand. Trying to pretend they know everything will just create panic in the long run.

Obama flexes his executive order to defy GOP Congress and pass immigration reform

Barack Obama

© AFP Photo /Brendan Smialowski

Following a disappointing Election Day for his Democratic Party, President Barack Obama said he may sign an executive order on immigration reform so the Republican-controlled Congress can take the issue up on its own.

From the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Pres. Obama told reporters he's willing to authorize an immigration reform bill himself in order to kick-start lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate to work on their own solution.

"If in fact the Republican leadership wants to see an immigration bill passed, they now have the capacity to pass it," Obama said this week hours after the GOP secured a majority in both the House and Senate.

Absence any immediate effort, however, Pres. Obama said he'll sign an executive order on immigration before the end of the year. At that point, he said, Congress will be hard pressed to come up with their own bill to supersede the administration's action.

"I have consistently said that it is my profound preference and interest to see act ask on a comprehensive immigration reform bill," Obama said, the likes of which he hopes would strength the United States' southern border but also put in place a framework for undocumented aliens to "get in the back of the line" and eventually gain citizenship.

Pres. Obama has sought immigration reform since his first term, but efforts during the last six years have been stalled in Congress, largely thanks to Republican Party lawmakers. Now with the GOP gaining control of both the House and Senate after this week's midterm elections, Obama said during Wednesday's presser that while he believes House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was sincere about achieving reform in recent months, the White House will write its own rules in lieu of waiting for the incoming Congress to accomplish as much.

© AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez

Central American migrants ride the train called "The Beast" in their attemp to reach the border between Mexico and the United States

"I would act in the absence" of a congressional solution, Obama said, and "...take whatever lawful actions that I can take that I believe will improve the function of our immigration system."

"But whatever executive action I take," Obama added, "will be replaced and supplanted with action by Congress."

"If [Congress] want to get a bill done, whether it's during the lame duck or during next year, I'm eager to see what they have to offer," the president said. "What we can't do is just keep waiting. There is a cost to waiting."

Ahead of the president's presser on Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the soon-to-be Senate majority leader for a GOP-majority chamber, said the potential use of executive authority to pass immigration reform "would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull."

"I have no doubt that there will be some Republicans who are angered or frustrated by any executive action that I may take," Obama acknowledged. "Those are folks I just have to say who are also deeply opposed to immigration reform in any form and blocked the House from being able to pass a bipartisan bill. I have said before that I actually believe that John Boehner is sincere about wanting to get immigration reform passed, which is why for a year I held off taking any action beyond what we had already done for the so called Dream Kids, and did everything I could to give him space and room to get something done. And what I also said at the time that if in fact Congress, this Congress, could not get something done, that I would take further executive actions in order to make the system work better."

"So if in fact there is a great eagerness on the part of Republicans to tackle a broken immigration system, then they have every opportunity to do it," the president added. "My executive actions don't prevent them," said Obama, "...but should be a spur for them to try and get something done."

In August, reported that the White House was considering an executive order that would provide "temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to US citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years," per administration sources who spoke with the . Weeks before hand, the GOP-controlled House authorized Boehner to sue Obama after the speaker accused the president of abusing his executive power to unilaterally extend deadlines pertaining to his hallmark Affordable Care Act.

November 5th: Anonymous' Million Mask March taking place in 463 locations around the world!

anonymous mask march

Members of the activist movement known as Anonymous are preparing to take to the streets around thw world in the second annual Million Mask March on 5 November.

To date 463 groups in towns and cities around the world have organised events to mark the Million Mask March on Wednesday, which coincides with Guy Fawkes Night.

The Guy Fawkes Mask has become an unofficial emblem of the online movement.

Last year hundreds of thousands of people took part in marches around the globe and just like the inaugural 2013 event, the Million Mask March on Wednesday aims "to shed light on corrupt government in order to set people free from oppression".

Anonymous is not playing down the importance of the Million Mask March, dubbing it "the largest world protest by the most influential group in the world".

Africa, Asia and Antartica

million mask march map

There is even an event planned to take place in Antartica.

In the UK, there are events organised in 22 towns and cities including Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Plymouth and of course London.

At the Million Mask March in London last year, 2,500 protestors showed up to vent their frustration at the UK government over a range of issues, including badger culling.

Comedian and potential London mayoral candidate in 2016, Russell Brand, made an appearance at the event last year and dominated the headlines while there was also some violence at the event with 15 arrests.

Reflecting the leaderless structure of Anonymous there appears to be two different details about the Million Mask March in London this year.

One will begin, like last year, in Trafalgar Square in central London at 6pm before marching on Westminster. The second is due to begin in Parliament Square near Westminster and is scheduled to begin at 8pm.

While this is just the second Million Mask March, Anonymous protestors in the UK have been marching since 2011 with just 500 people showing up.

However with the rapid increase in numbers, the Metropolitan Police is eager to speak to the organisers of this year's events to try and make sure the event goes smoothly.

"It is important that they talk to us so that we can work together to achieve a safe and successful event," Chief Superintendent Pippa Mills said.

A second tropical pufferfish washes up dead in Europe within a week

Deadly: The Oceananic pufferfish

A Beach walker was stunned when he found a deadly pufferfish - washed up in Dorset.

At first glance the bizarre-looking fish appeared to be a large bloated mackerel.

But it soon became apparent it was a deadly pufferfish, normally only found in sub-tropical waters.

It appears to have died while in full defensive mode, with its stomach fully inflated.

The species is well-known for ballooning in size by filling their bodies with water or air to deter predators from attacking them.

The 12 ins long specimen was found by Richard Fabbri, having been swept on to Chesil Beach in Dorset.

But had any beach forager picked up the silver fish and taken it home for their supper they would have been in for a nasty and fatal shock.

All pufferfish are poisonous and carry a toxin in their internal organs that has no known antidote.

Rare sight: The pufferfish

There have been several incidents of people who have died after consuming a pufferfish believing it to be a harmless species.

Oceanic pufferfish - Lagocephalus lagocephalus in Latin - are very rare visitors to UK waters which is usually too cold for them.

Only a very small number have been recorded before, all off the south west coast.

Richard, who works at Weymouth Watersports, said: "It looked very odd. It had this big puffy belly that was under its throat but the rest of its body looked more like a mackerel."

Peter Tinsley, of the Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: "It is an oceanic pufferfish. We know of one that was actually caught off Chesil Beach in the 1980s so it is very rare to see them here.

"The waters of the west coast of England are a bit warmer than the rest of the country, mainly due to the effects of the Gulf Stream.

"It is quite a slender fish and they only inflate their bellies when they feel threatened."

Most pufferfish are found in sub-tropical and tropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

They have four large teeth which are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks, their natural prey.

Will we ever learn? Texas votes for George Bush once again

George P. Bush

© Erich Schlegel / Getty Images / AFP

Texas Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush

George Bush won statewide office in Texas again. But he's not the former president, and he's not the governor-elect. George Prescott Bush will become the next state land commissioner after a landslide victory.

Bush won the office with nearly 60 percent of the vote, AFP reported. The Texas land commissioner, "oversees matters that range from state lands and coastal issues to veterans affairs," according to the official website ‒ including lucrative mineral rights for oil and gas in the state. The money is used to fund public schools in the Lone Star State.

"Our top job here at the General Land Office is to earn money for the school kids of Texas," outgoing Commissioner Jerry Patterson said in a statement last month, announcing that the oil boom had helped pump a record $1 billion into the fund during fiscal 2014, according to the Texas Tribune.

The 38-year-old is the nephew of former President George W. Bush, grandson of ex-President George H. W. Bush and son of potential presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. (George P. told last month that he believes his father will "more than likely" run for president in 2016.)

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"I could not be prouder of George. He ran a great campaign, built his own first-rate team, united a broad and winning coalition and presented a clear vision for the future of Texas," his father Jeb said in a statement. "He's going to be an incredible Texas Land Commissioner!"

Bush is a lawyer who has managed an oil and gas investment firm. His résumé also includes a year teaching high school history to at-risk students in Florida, co-founder of a private equity firm (as well as the energy firm) in Texas and a tour in Afghanistan while in the Navy Reserves, according to the .

"This election is George P. Bush's coming-out party in Texas politics," Mark P. Jones, the head of the Rice University political science department, told the . "George P. Bush views himself as providing the bridge to the future of the Republican Party."

Jeb Bush

© Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

The new Texas land commissioner also serves as a bridge between the establishment GOP and its Tea Party faction. He was among the earliest to endorse Ted Cruz in the state's 2012 Republican Senate primary.

"The Texas Republican Party is in many respects like the national party," Bush said in an interview with the aboard his bus. "We have different components that all add value in different ways, whether it's the tea party on fiscal questions, whether it's the so-called establishment that's focused on economic development questions, moving states like Texas forward. And you also have social conservatives."

"I received endorsements from tea party to moderates alike. And I think that's unique, and that's something I'm proud of," he added.

Bush acknowledges the GOP has historically failed to reach out to young people and Hispanics, according to the Associated Press, but he likes to quip, "Those are two groups I know something about. In fact, I am those two groups."

(Bush's mother, Columba, is from Mexico, and he speaks fluent Spanish. His grandfather once caused a flap by introducing George P. and his siblings to President Ronald Reagan as "Jebby's kids from Florida, the little brown ones," according to the .)

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"I've reached out to independents and minorities that have traditionally voted Democrat but that are conservative on a lot of questions," Bush said. "We talk to young people, folks that typically aren't voting on a consistent basis. I'm proud of that. It's unconventional, but it's something I felt was important, at least to my race."

The political neophyte received the endorsement of the liberal-leaning editorial page, which wrote "If anyone is tempted to dismiss George P. Bush as a political newcomer running on little more than an impressive name, please reconsider. Bush is the real deal."

The Jeff Cohen said Bush was "not only the most prepared of the bunch but the most willing to say: 'I don't know. I will get back to you'."

The 38-year-old is the first in his family ‒ dating back to his great-grandfather, Prescott Bush, who served as a US senator from Connecticut for over a decade ‒ to have won his first political race.

UK mystery of still warm and bleeding dead dolphin found in village a mile from the sea

Mystery: The covered body of the dead porpoise

warm and dripping with blood - the RSPCA is investigating the strange discovery

Residents of a village a mile from the sea are stunned after finding a dead porpoise in an alleyway - lying in a pool of its own blood.

The 4ft long creature - similar to a dolphin - was discovered in Tarring, just outside Worthing, West Sussex, and appeared to have died recently.

Locals have no idea how the 12 stone mammal got there.

Tim Allen, 31, was one of the first people on the scene after being alerted to the grim discovery by a neighbour.

He said: "It was all so surreal. How on earth did a dead dolphin end up in our alley?

"It looked like it had been dragged, but even so, that would require a lot of effort.

"We're all floundering as to who, or what, would do such a thing. It's mad."

The male harbour porpoise appeared to have only recently died - but the cause of death is unknown.

Electrical engineer Tim says its body was warm and blood was dripping out its body.

He rang the RSPCA, who sent an emergency inspector to examine the porpoise.

Tim added: "Nobody has a clue how it got here. We were all stood round, all bemused.

"One old lady reckons it was dumped there as part of a revenge attack straight out of the Godfather.

"If it was put there as a joke, it wasn't a funny joke."

The corpse has been taken to the Zoological Society of London, where a post-mortem will be conducted.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: "At present, we are not aware of any animal welfare issues but it is hoped tests will provide answers to this.

"He may have died from natural causes and washed up on the beach, and then later transported inland."

Tense stand-off between Million Mask March protesters and police in London

London Protesters

© Ruptly viode screenshot/RT.com

Protesters and police engaged in a tense and prolonged stand-off outside London's Buckingham Palace as metal barriers cordoning off the area were removed and protesters incited police to fight.

police yelled. protesters shouted at police.

Jostling with the metal barriers segregating police from protesters took place, with some being lifted off the floor and hurled at the law enforcement officials.

As they were felled, some of the protesters sat down in front of the policemen, seeming to act as a replacement barrier of sorts from more violent demonstrators while still retaining masks.

#MillionMaskMarch: Clashes between police & protesters in London http://t.co/YQ7m5mW8l1 LIVE: http://t.co/AZlScbnbRthttp://ift.tt/1Aks4D1

- RT (@RT_com) November 5, 2014

Some protesters sent fireworks over the crowd in direct contravention of a Met police directive for people not to use pyrotechnics at the march.

Protesters then moved towards Piccadilly Circus before turning onto Regents Street, and kept marching through the central London streets.

Protesters then reached BBC HQ shouting at the entrance.

#bbc headquarters London... Hey bbc are you reporting this? #millionmaskmarch http://ift.tt/1shtLrN

- Francesco Arnone (@arnone2010) November 5, 2014

It's still unknown how many demonstrators joined the march, in 2013 the event gathered crowds of more than 2,500 and the Facebook event suggests over 6,000 people are in attendence this year.

The Million Mask March is sweeping the globe Wednesday as demonstrators protest against austerity, mass surveillance and oppression in more than 400 cities around the world. The "Million Mask March" called for by Anonymous is famed for featuring demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks, adopted by the collective from the novel.

Follow Million Mask March rallies sweeping the globe LIVE UPDATES

36 stranded pilot whales die in New Zealand

About 36 pilot whales that had become stranded in the Eastern Bay of Plenty in New Zealand have died.

Two whale pods beached themselves in the Ohiwa harbour on the north-east coast on Monday.

Wildlife conservationists launched a rescue operation and helped one pod to be refloated on Tuesday, while 21 more whales were successfully herded out to sea on Wednesday.

The reasons for mass pilot whale strandings are not well understood.

media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.

Pilot whales are particularly prone to stranding behaviour. The largest known pilot whale stranding involved an estimated 1,000 whales at the Chatham Islands in 1918, according to the DOC.

Steve Brightwell from the DOC said the whales came into Ohiwa harbour after one of them was unwell and beached itself, reported Radio New Zealand.

Eleven of the whales were euthanized on welfare grounds on Tuesday, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said. About 25 pilot whales were found dead early Wednesday morning.

'Great effort'

At about 05:00 local time on Wednesday (16:00 GMT Tuesday) volunteer medics from Project Jonah, a non-profit organisation, along with the DOC began an operation to guide those whales that were still alive back out to sea.

Those pilot whales still alive were guided through the harbour to the ocean

"We did it! All 22 whales were shepherded through the mouth of the harbour to the ocean and were last seen heading towards deeper water," Project Jonah said on Facebook.

New Zealand on average has more whales stranding themselves than any other country in the world, Daren Grover, general manager of Project Jonah told the BBC.

"It's something we have lived with and we are quite geared up to respond to," he said.

"Today was a great effort - all those that were alive were refloated."

The reasons for mass stranding are not well understood

Scientists believe individual whales strand themselves because they have a disease and are coming to the end of their life.

However, there are numerous theories around mass stranding including their highly sociable behaviour. One theory is that as one whale becomes stranded the other members of its pod try to help and become stranded themselves.

Pilot whales are the largest member of the dolphin family. They get their name from the fact that researchers believe that each pod follows a "pilot" in the group.

Their distinguishing feature is a large bulbous forehead, which protrudes beyond the mouth and small beak.

Volunteers who have been trained as medics sprang into action on Wednesday

Scientists think individual whales beach themselves when they are reaching the end of their life

George Soros warns: "Europe is under threat by Russia, freedom isn't free"

The European Union and the euro could founder if its members don't stand together against Russia, George Soros said Tuesday in Düsseldorf. George Soros, one of the world's richest men and a tireless defender of oligarchs Central European democracy, warned that the European Union, a mainstay of post-war stability, could dissolve and unravel if the 28-country bloc can't agree on a common response to Russia's aggression in the Ukraine.

Speaking on Tuesday in Düsseldorf at a dinner sponsored by , Mr. Soros, an 84-year-old Hungarian-American who survived the Holocaust and then fled the Soviets, said the future of the European alliance of nations stretching from Ireland to Estonia could hang in the balance.

Russia this year seized the Crimean peninsula from the Ukraine and is now arming and supporting a separatist movement in the eastern part of the country, an action which has been met with economic sanctions from the United States and the European Union.

The sanctions have hurt Russian and European trade, and have led to a slowdown of economic growth on the Continent. In Germany, some business and political leaders are now calling on political leaders to abandon the E.U. sanctions.

In other parts of Europe, the call is growing louder for a softer line with Russia.

"I think the real question is whether the European Union will break up over Russia," Mr. Soros told 400 people at a dinner held in a Düsseldorf museum by the German financial publishing group. "The E.U. is under threat from Russia... The E.U. is broken, and it is not functioning."

Mr. Soros, a legendary investor and hedge fund manager whom Forbes estimates is worth $24 billion, warned of an E.U. breakup and a breakup of the euro single currency zone, which includes 18 E.U. countries, including Germany.

In an interview with Gabor Steingart, the publisher and the son of a Hungarian emigrant to Germany, Mr. Soros urged Europeans to stand together against Russia, which he said is bent on reasserting its military hegemony over parts of the Continent.

"Wake up Europe," said Mr. Soros, who had just returned from a visit to Ukraine. "There is now an alternative to the European Union, a different way to run a state through use of force. I'm talking about (Vladimir) Putin's Russia. The reason he is making headway is because of the failure of the E.U."

The son of Jewish parents in Budapest, Mr. Soros survived the Nazi occupation and left the Hungarian capital and Soviet control in 1947 as a 17-year-old for Britain, where he attended the London School of Economics before emigrating to the United States.

Western economic sanctions against Russia, which are limiting the ability of Russian businesses to obtain financing on the global market, are a necessary evil, Mr. Soros said. He lauded the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, for supporting the E.U. penalties.

"I think Angela Merkel has proven herself to be a true European stateswoman in recognizing the danger that Putin represents," Mr. Soros said.

The sanctions, however, are helping Russian hardliners close to President Putin consolidate power and influence in the Kremlin, which in turn is sharpening and stiffening Russia's response to Western penalties, he said. Some oligarchs unhappy with the worsening situation are sending their families abroad and preparing for their own exits, he said.

In many cases, though, any assets they leave behind are being taken over by Russian hardliners, which is worsening the spiral of recrimination with the West, Mr. Soros said.

"The sanctions are an evil but they are a necessary evil and are having the very bad effect in Russia of actively strengthening Putin's role," Mr. Soros said. "There is taking place a concentration of his closest allies." Sentiment in Germany is split over E.U. sanctions against Russia.

In a new book released this month, the former German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, who oversaw his country's reunification 25 years ago and negotiated the withdrawal of Russian forces, takes aim at Ms. Merkel and European leaders for policies he said are isolating Russia.

Mr. Soros, however, said Europe needed to redouble its hard line against Russia, and said that U.S. President Barack Obama's failure to take a strong immediate response to Russia's seizure of Ukraine territory only emboldened Vladimir Putin, who could conceivably transfer his designs from Ukraine to the Baltic countries, which are now E.U. members.

"Freedom sounds like a free good, but you have to be ready to defend it," Mr. Soros said. "If you don't put up resistance, it will become too hot to handle. "Pro-European Ukrainians are "fighting to defend Europe and the Europeans don't realize it,'' Mr. Soros said.

Moving on to economic issues, Mr. Soros faulted Germany for doing too little to restore euro zone stability. He said the inflation-fighting mandate of the European Central Bank, which is based in Frankfurt, is no longer appropriate when deflation, not inflation, is the real threat.

The ECB is controlled by Germany, the zone's largest economy and toughest enforcer of austerity demands on weaker euro countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, Mr. Soros said. Referring to the ECB president, Mario Draghi, Mr. Soros said: "Draghi can do whatever it takes (to save the euro) as long as he has the support of Angela Merkel," Mr. Soros said. "The ECB is independent as long as it has support from Germany."

German demands for austerity are wrong-headed, he said, and only serve to impede the euro zone's recovery.

"The policy of austerity is inappropriate to the current conditions," Mr. Soros said. "We are in a situation of deflation and the policies are directed at inflation."

Authored by Kevin O'Brien and Gabor Steingart, originally posted at Handelsblatt,

A bitter pill to swallow: Fluoroquinolone antibiotics

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Fluoroquinolones are among the most dangerous drugs on the market and should be avoided unless your life depends on it. Despite their dangers, they're the most commonly prescribed class of antibiotics in the United States... In 2010, Bayer's top two fluoroquinolones (Cipro and Avalox) brought in $1 billion in sales.

That same year, Johnson & Johnson sold $1.3 billion-worth of its drug, Levaquin. All antibiotics carry a risk of side effects, but fluoroquinolones are in a class by themselves when it comes to potential health risks.

No other antibiotic carries as high a potential to cause serious, permanent injuries and even death, as the fluoroquinolones do. Despite their higher than normal risks, doctors frequently prescribe them as a first line of treatment even for mild infections. Always ask your doctor if there is a safer alternative.

And, adding insult to injury, most victims claim they were never warned that there are dire adverse effects associated with these antibiotics. I strongly advise you to educate yourself about the risks of fluoroquinolones, and refuse any prescription for these drugs unless .

What Makes Fluoroquinolones So Dangerous?

Fluoroquinolones have fluoride as a central part of the drug. Fluoride is a known neurotoxin, and drugs with an attached fluoride molecule are able to penetrate into very sensitive tissues, including your brain.

The ability to cross the blood-brain barrier is what makes fluoride such a potent neurotoxin. Fluoride also disrupts collagen synthesis, and can damage your immune system by depleting energy reserves and inhibiting antibody formation in your blood.

According to Todd R. Plumb, M.D.1 - a physician and fluoroquinolone victim -fluoroquinolone toxicity appears to be functional, not structural, as structural abnormalities are not typically seen on the radiological studies of patients with fluoroquinolone toxicity. Based on the available research, he cites the following four possible mechanisms of harm by fluoroquinolones:

  • Inhibition or disruption of the central nervous system GABA receptors

  • Depletion of magnesium and disruption of cellular enzyme function

  • Disruption of mitochondrial function and energy production

  • Oxidative injury and cellular death

features three victims whose lives have been shattered by the long-term health effects of fluoroquinolones. Placing the blame squarely on the drug maker, one of them says:

"[These side effects are] not something they're just finding out now. These people are criminals. They belong in prison for the rest of their lives."

Dr. Terence Young, MD, also featured in this video, lost his 15-year old daughter to a lethal drug effect in 2000.

Channeling his grief into finding out how that could happen, he says he discovered

"corrupt practices that prevented doctors and patients learning what the true risks of prescription drugs were. And the reason that's happened is because of this incredible marketing power of the pharmaceutical industry."

Beware the Serious Side Effects of Fluoroquinolones

Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally issued a warning that fluoroquinolone antibiotics, taken by mouth or injection, carry a risk for permanent peripheral neuropathy.2

Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage in the arms and/or legs, characterized by "pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness, or a change in sensation to light touch, pain, or temperature, or sense of body position."

But the risk for peripheral neuropathy was noted in 2001, when Dr. Jay Cohen published documentation showing the following fluoroquinolone-related reactions.3 Adverse reactions of fluoroquinolones were documented in Europe as far back as the 1980s:

  • Nervous system symptoms occurred in 91 percent of patients taking fluoroquinolones (pain, tingling and numbness, dizziness, malaise, weakness, headaches, anxiety and panic, loss of memory, and psychosis)

  • Musculoskeletal symptoms in 73 percent of patients (tendon ruptures, tendonitis, weakness, and joint swelling)

  • Sensory symptoms in 42 percent of patients (tinnitus, altered visual, olfactory, and auditory function)

  • Cardiovascular symptoms in 36 percent of patients (tachycardia, shortness of breath, chest pain, and palpitations)

  • Skin reactions in 29 percent of patients (rashes, hair loss, sweating, and intolerance to heat or cold)

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms in 18 percent of patients (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain)

In a letter to his Congressman, Dr. Cohen wrote:4

"These severe reactions are occurring in patients who are usually healthy, active, and young. Most often, the antibiotics are prescribed for mild infections such as sinusitis, urinary or prostate infections. Most reactions occur very quickly, sometimes with just a few doses of the fluoroquinolone antibiotic. Reactions are acute, severe, frightening, and often disabling."

Despite persistent warning signs, the FDA didn't take action until 2008, at which point they added a black box warning about severe tendon damage. They waited another five years before issuing a warning about permanent neuropathy.

This is yet another sad example demonstrating that just because a drug is FDA approved does NOT mean it has a proven safety record. Fluoroquinolones have also been associated with the following health problems and adverse effects:5

  • Retinal detachment, which can cause blindness

  • Disruption of collagen synthesis and collagen degradation,6 causing muscle, tendon, cartilage, and/or ligament damage

  • Nausea and diarrhea

  • Acute kidney failure

  • Hallucinations and/or psychotic reactions. (About one-third of patients tend to experience some sort of negative psychiatric effect, such as anxiety, personality changes, or confusion)

  • Hearing problems

  • Brain fog

  • Painful rashes

  • Disruptions to blood sugar metabolism7

  • Phototoxicity

  • Depression

  • Peripheral neuropathy

  • Seizures

  • Heart damage

  • Acute liver toxicity8, 9

PLEASE - Only Use Fluoroquinolones as a Last Resort

Dr. Cohen's documentation differs rather drastically with the drug makers' own data. The drug companies claim less than one percent of subjects in clinical trials suffered serious adverse reactions. That's a far cry from Dr. Cohen's data showing a vast majority of patients taking the drugs experience more serious symptoms.

According to , about 100 Canadian deaths have been attributed to fluoroquinolones since 1985. Freedom of Information documents obtained from the US FDA reveal more than 50,000 reports of adverse reactions and 3,000 deaths. Dr. Young believes the full picture is undoubtedly far worse than that, since most doctors never report suspected drug side effects and/or deaths. Patients also rarely report side effects of drugs they're taking. Previous research suggests that actual reports represent about of the reality.

If your doctor prescribes a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, please that your condition warrants the risks. Fluoroquinolones should really be reserved for treating the most serious bacterial infections that remain unresponsive to other treatments. While several drugs in this class have been removed from the market due to their deadly adverse effects, six remain FDA-approved for use in the US:

  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)

  • Gemifloxacin (Factive)

  • Moxifloxacin (Avelox)

  • Norfloxacin (Noroxin)

  • Ofloxacin (Floxin)

Get Into the Habit of Reporting Adverse Drug Reactions

If you believe you have experienced a reaction to a fluoroquinolone - or any other drug for that matter - please report it to MedWatch, the FDA's safety information and adverse event reporting program. It is vital that they hear from each and every one of you who has experienced an adverse drug reaction. This is a major impetus in getting dangerous drugs removed from the market, and physicians almost never report the reactions themselves so it's really up to you to help make sure dangerous drugs are taken off the market. MedWatch offers several reporting options:

  • Telephone 1-800-FDA-1088

  • Fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

  • File a report online

  • Mail a report (FDA form 3500) in a postage-paid envelope to MedWatch, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20852-9787

Support for Fluoroquinolone Victims

Victims of fluoroquinolones damage are so numerous, they've banded together in a worldwide network, calling themselves "Floxies." Quite a few Floxies are in the medical field themselves (or were, before they were poisoned), and are on a mission to help fellow fluoroquinolone poisoning victims. This is how the documentary Certain Adverse Events came about. If you haven't already seen this film, I highly recommend it.10

For more information, you can also visit the following websites (there are many more in addition to these if you search by the term "fluoroquinolone"):

Sources & References

1 Levaquinadveseeffects.com, "Dear Doctor" (PDF)

2 US FDA August 15, 2013

3 Annals of Pharmacotherapy December 1, 2001

4 Medicationsense.com

5 September 11, 2012

6 April 2010

7 Clinical Infectious Diseases August 14, 2103

8 CMAJ 2012

9 Medscape August 13, 2012

10 Certain Adverse Events

Brain dissociates emotional response from explicit memory in fearful situations

© Marek

"In the traumatic events seems that over time there is a portion of memory that is erased or we do not have access, we forget the details but still maintaining the emotional reaction. The imprint is divided into two separate paths. The brain dissociates the explicit memory of a negative event from the emotional response."

Researchers at the Cognition and Brain Plasticity group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the University of Barcelona have been tracking the traces of implicit and explicit memories of fear in human. The study has been published in the journal and describes how in a context of fear, our brain differently encodes contextual memory of a negative event (the place, what we saw...) and emotional response associated.

The study measures electrodermal activity of 86 individuals in a fearful generated in the laboratory and in a neutral context in which they have to learn a list of words. One week and two weeks after the experiment they are tested to see which words they remembered.

"In both contexts" explains Pau Packard, author of the study, "forgetting curve was normal. Over time they forgot all the words, the explicit trace. Moreover in the fearful context the electrodermal activity, the emotional implicit response, was exactly the same, much higher than in the neutral context."

"In the traumatic events seems that over time there is a portion of memory that is erased or we do not have access, we forget the details but still maintaining the emotional reaction. The imprint is divided into two separate paths. The brain dissociates the explicit memory of a negative event from the emotional response."

This may help to understand why in pathological situations of post-traumatic stress disorders, the uncontrolled emotional response linked to the negative event is generated without knowing what causes it.

As explained by Lluís Fuentemilla, project coordinator, the study "helps explain how the processing of fearful memories can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder and also opens the door to the investigation of new therapeutic strategies for these disorders because the implicit memory trace in a fearful context does not loose over time and can be detected through electrodermal measures."

Journal Reference:

Pau Alexander Packard, Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells, Lilian Milnitsky Stein, Berta Nicolás, Lluís Fuentemilla. ''Tracking explicit and implicit long-lasting traces of fearful memories in humans''. , 2014; 116: 96 DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2014.09.004

Monsanto looses 'GMO Ground Zero': Hawaiians in Maui County win community GMO victory

© Babes Against Biotech

Maui residents in late October protested Monsanto's heavy pesticide use.

Residents of Maui County in Hawaii, frequently referred to as 'GMO Ground Zero,' claimed a victory Tuesday evening when a measure to ban the planting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) passed with 50.2 percent.

Agribusiness giants Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, which for decades have run enormous growing and testing operations on the island, spent nearly $8 million dollars to defeat the ban, making it the most expensive campaign in Hawaii's history, according to Honolulu Civil Beat.

Known as the Maui County Genetically Modified Organism Moratorium Initiative, the measure will ban all GMO growth, testing or cultivation in the county until an environmental and public health study is conducted and finds the proposed cultivation practices to be safe and harmless.

"I think that this is a really strong message to the entire agrochemical industry in the state of Hawaii that we are no longer going to sit idly by and watch them expand their operations without the kinds of regulations that ensure the health and safety of people across Hawaii," Ashley Lukens, who directs the Hawaii chapter of the Center for Food Safety, told Civil Beat.

Hawaiians have become increasingly concerned over GMO crop production and how its associated heavy pesticide use impacts the health of both people and environment. Over 80 different chemicals are sprayed on GMO fields, which ban proponents warn, creates billions of untested chemical combinations which then spread into "our neighborhoods, oceans, reefs, groundwater, drinking water, food supply and bodies."

Last year, the Hawaiian Department of Health tested the surface water around the island and pesticides were found in 100 percent of the samples. According to official election results, the moratorium passed with just over 1,000 votes. In comparison to the millions raised in industry dollars by ban opposition group Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban (CAMCFB), supporters of the initiative raised just under $65,000.

A GMO ban also passed in the community of Humboldt County, California on Tuesday, marking the third county in California to pass such a prohibition. Efforts to mandate the labeling of GMOs faced a windfall in outside, industry spending in both Colorado in Oregon. In Colorado - where corporate contributions lead by Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer topped $16 million - the measure lost 66.78 to 33.22 percent.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the race over Measure 92 in Oregon was still too close to call, with the opposition leading 50.9 to 49.1 percent with 86.3 percent of votes counted. Multinational food and agriculture companies such as PepsiCo and Monsanto poured over $18 million into that race, shattering previous election spending records.

Organic food advocates say that the huge number of people who did back the labeling measures, despite industry-led misinformation campaigns, made it "clear that the GMO labeling movement is growing stronger with each of these initiatives."

As Katherine Paul, communications coordinator for the Organic Consumers Association, told :

"Change doesn't happen overnight. But as we've seen with other movements (women's right to vote, gay marriage) over time, the will of the people ultimately overcomes the opposition - even opponents like Monsanto that can, and do, spend millions to protect corporate power."

"The science is on our side," Paul continued, noting that in addition to the impacts from the countless toxic chemical combinations, GMO crops have also been linked to numerous chronic illnesses. "It's only a matter of time before no amount of spending by Monsanto and Pepsi will be able to suppress the evidence against our industrial model of toxic monoculture crops."

Comment: Pesticide & GMO companies spend big in Hawai'i

Hawai'i has become "ground zero" in the controversy over genetically modified (GMO) crops and pesticides. With the seed crop industry (including conventional as well as GMO crops) reaping $146.3 million a year in sales resulting from its activities in Hawai'i, the out-of-state pesticide and GMO firms Syngenta, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow Chemical, BASF, and Bayer Crop Science have brought substantial sums of corporate cash into the state's relatively small political arena.

These "Big 6" pesticide and GMO firms are active on the islands in a big way, making use of the three to four annual growing seasons to develop new GMO seeds more quickly. The development of new GMOs by these pesticide and seed conglomerates goes hand-in-hand with heavy pesticide use in some of the islands' experimental crop fields, new data show.

Of the "Big 6" chemical and seed companies and their trade associations lobbying and/or contributing to political candidates in Hawai'i, Bayer, Dow, CropLife America (a pesticide and agricultural chemical trade association), and the American Chemistry Council have ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC approved a "model" bill in 2013 for states to override the ability of counties and cities to democratically determine how they will regulate GMOs at the local and regional level, as CMD has reported.

The information about big spending from GMO and pesticide firms in Hawaii, commonly referred to as the Biotech Industry, has greatly influenced Hawaii lawmakers move to block local bans on GMOs & pesticides! Community opposition to GMO foods in Hawaii has been growing steadily over the past few years and local people are making their voices heard: How Monsanto annihilated paradise and turned it into an island of sickness. While Biotech industries tout that their Big Ag corporations bring much needed jobs and revenue to the islands, residents are tired of being Guinea Pigs in a mass pesticide and GMO experiment! This community victory is just one step in long journey for agriculture reform in the Hawaiian Islands

Psychiatric surveillance of U.S. public school children


The document is partly devoted to articulating Obama's proposed gun control measures that failed to move gain legislative traction in 2013. Yet an under-reported section of is applied to "making schools safer" and "improving mental health services" for students.[1] While presented by the Obama administration as "commonsense solutions to gun violence," one is left to consider the long range implications of such an initiative, particularly in light of the Affordable Care Act and the psychopharmaceutical complex's never-ending drive to expand its clientele.

On September 22, 2014 Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced $99 million in new grants "to train new mental health providers, help teachers and others recognize mental health issues in youth and connect them to help and increase access to mental health services for young people."[2]

On September 23 the Department of Education announced an additional $70 million in "School Climate Transformation grants." According to the DOE, over half of the funding "will be used to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for implementing evidence based, multi-tiered behavioral frameworks for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions." The goals of such measures include "connecting[ing] children, youths, and families to appropriate services and supports," and "increase[ing] measures of and the ability to respond to mental health issues among school-aged youth."[3]

Both HHS and DOE explicitly cite Obama's declaration as rationale for the new programs. "The administration is committed to increasing access to mental health services to protect the health of children and communities," Secretary Burwell asserts. "If kids don't feel safe, they can't learn," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan similarly remarks. "Through these grants of more than $70 million, we are continuing our commitment to ensure that kids have access to the best learning experience possible."

Of the DOE's $70 million, $13 million is allocated to aiding school districts in creating "high-quality school emergency plans." Another $14 million goes toward "Project Prevent grants" for violence-plagued schools to "be used for school-based counseling services, or referrals to community-based counseling services for assistance in coping with trauma or anxiety."[4]

Such designs should be viewed in light of two related concerns that hint at broader motives and agendas: 1) the US government's continued aggressive transformation of the healthcare system; 2) psychiatry and drug manufacturers' shared mission to persuade an increasing segment of the national and global population that it has one or more undiagnosed mental or emotional "disorders" that require analysis and treatment.

Introducing psychiatric explanations and methodologies into school environments guarantees a growing customer base for the psychiatric profession and pharmaceutical industry. Alongside government's increasing control of healthcare, the technocratic surveillance and management of everyday thought and behavior is likewise emerging as part of what is deceptively termed "wellness." In reality such efforts ensure an ever-expanding bureaucracy, handsomely line the pockets of a select few, and further normalize a culture of learned helplessness and control within an environment that already privileges conformity as a matter of routine.

Between the early 1990s and mid 2000s antidepressant use in the US increased almost fourfold.[5] At present 20 percent of Americans take at least one psychotropic medication, a figure that at the present rate of expansion will double by the early 2020s. Yet there is little evidence such drugs address the symptoms psychiatric patients are advised they have.

Indeed, the entire notion of "biological psychiatry" - that psychiatric conditions are rooted in observable processes - cannot withstand serious scientific scrutiny. Yet such notions comprise the underlying rationale of psychopharmocology. As psychology professor Elliot Valenstein observes,

The belief that the complex cognitive and emotional states that underlie any emotional disorder are regulated by a single transmitter receptor subtype is probably no more valid than the idea held earlier by phrenologists who believed that complex mental attributes could be localized in one specific part of the brain.[6]

More recently, Dr. Richard Friedman, professor of clinical psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College, remarks, "[W]e don't yet understand the fundamental cause of most psychiatric disorders, in part because the brain is uniquely difficult to study; you can't just biopsy the brain and analyze it. That is why scientists have had great trouble identifying new targets for psychiatric drugs."[7]

At present de facto behavioral examinations are administered by medical providers' inquiring on a patient's tobacco and alcohol intake. Yet psychiatry has been pushing for "mental health screenings" to ferret out clientele since the early 1990s. The fact that such mental health practices are being introduced throughout the nation's schools suggests how they will likely become much more under in coming years.

"Absolutely, people should have a mental health checkup," notes Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, editor of the American Psychiatric Association's . "It's just as important as having a physical checkup." Borenstein recommends the "P.H.Q.-9," a "patient health questionnaire," freely available online, as a preliminary assessment for determining mild-to-major "depressive disorder." The P.H.Q-9 was designed with funding from Pfizer.[8]

Perhaps coincidentally, the HHS and DOE announced their mental health grants just two weeks before National Depression Screening Day on October 9th. The occasion for "mental health awareness" has been observed since the early 1990s by Screening for Mental Health, Inc., a nonprofit 501c(3) offering its own free online examination.

"People stop and they check in on their physical health but they don't do the same with their mental health," says Michelle Holmberg, director of programs at SMH. "In the same way you would get a blood pressure screening ... why aren't people stopping to do mental health screenings?"[9]

Saul Levin, the CEO and Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association, sits on Screening for Mental Health's board of directors. SMH received over $16 million in "gifts, grants, contributions, and membership fees" between 2008 and 2012, according to the organization's 2012 federal tax return, suggesting backing from APA and like-minded stakeholders.

Corporate news media have thoroughly blacked out the Obama administration's program that further transforms the nation's public schools in to lucrative referral centers for big psychopharma. In contrast, most school shootings that have become routine throughout the US receive considerable publicity, yet almost no investigative work or follow-up from the same news outlets sensationalizing them.[10]

Alongside Obama's mental health mandate, the coverage further anchors in the public mind the idea - however subtle - that practically all youth are potential time bombs that must be closely monitored and, where appropriate, defused. Such approaches only negate the possibility for achieving what they implicitly promise: the prospect for self realization within a genuine community of peers.


[1] (PDF), January 16, 2013, Washington DC.

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "HHS Announces $99 Million in New Grants to Improve Mental Health Services for Young People," September 22, 2014, Washington DC.

[3] U.S. Department of Education, "U.S. Department of Education Invests More Than $70 Million to Improve School Climate and Keep Students Safe," September 23, 2014.

[4] "U.S. Department of Education Invests More Than $70 Million."

[5] Centers for Disease Control/National Center for Health Statistics, "Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over, 2005-2008"(PDF), October 2011.

[6] Elliot S. Valenstein, , New York: Free Press, 1998, 226.

[7] Richard A. Friedman, M.D., "A Dry Pipeline for Psychiatric Drugs," , August 19, 2013.

[8] Ann Carrns, "A Regular Checkup is Good for the Mind as well as the Body," , November 13, 2012.

[9] Lindsay Holmes," This Little Mental Health Screening Could Have a Big Impact When It Comes to Depression," , October 9, 2014.

[10] No major Western news outlets have given serious attention to the Sandy Hook School massacre narrative's many unanswered questions. In the more recent Isla Vista and Las Vegas shootings the investigating law enforcement agencies have refused to publicly release their reports on those incidents.

Paleontologists discover ancient groundhog-like mammal in Madagascar

vintana sertichi

© Lucille Betti-Nash.

This is an artist’s rendering of Vintana sertichi.

The new fossil mammal, named , belongs to Gondwanatheria (or gondwanatherians), a group of early mammals that lived during the Cretaceous through the Miocene in the Southern Hemisphere, including Antarctica.

The animal's skull was huge, measuring 13 cm long - twice the size of the previously largest known mammalian skull from the entire Age of Dinosaurs of the southern supercontinent Gondwana.

Prof Krause and his colleagues conducted a comprehensive analysis of the fossil, much of it using micro-computed tomography and scanning electron microscopy to reveal minute aspects of its anatomy, including areas like the braincase, nasal cavity, and inner ear that are poorly known in almost all early mammals. They also compared the skull to those of hundreds of other fossil and extant mammals.

"We know next to nothing about early mammalian evolution on the southern continents. This discovery, from a time and an area of the world that are very poorly sampled, underscores how very little we know. No paleontologist could have come close to predicting the odd mix of anatomical features that this skull exhibits," said Prof Krause, who is the first author of a paper published in the journal .

At a time when the vast majority of mammals were mouse-sized, was a super heavyweight.

The animal had a body mass of about 9 kg, almost three times the size of an adult groundhog.

Various features of its teeth, eye sockets, nasal cavity, braincase, and inner ears revealed that it was a large-eyed herbivore that was agile, with keen senses of hearing and smell.

skull vintana sertichi

© Joseph Groenke, Stony Brook University / Gary Staab, Staab studios

The cast of the skull of Vintana sertichi with life reconstruction.

These and other features were also used to analyze its relationships to other early mammals.

The results show that and other gondwanatherians were close relatives of multituberculates, the most successful mammalian contemporaries of dinosaurs on the northern continents.

Multituberculates and gondwanatherians also grouped with another enigmatic taxon, the Haramiyida.

The current study is the first to find strong evidence for clustering these three groups together, primarily because the cranial anatomy of gondwanatherians was previously completely unknown.

Dr Zhe-Xi Luo of University of Chicago, who was not involved in the study, said that is "the discovery of the decade for understanding the deep history of mammals; it offers the best case of how plate tectonics and biogeography have impacted animal evolution - a lineage of mammals isolated on a part of the ancient Gondwana had evolved some extraordinary features beyond our previous imagination."

" is also a galvanizing discovery for the future decades," he said. "With features so remarkably different from those of other mammals previously known to science, this fossil tells us how little we knew about the early evolution of mammals - it will stimulate paleontologists to conduct more field exploration in order to advance the frontier of deep time history and evolution."

Hawaii to relocate homeless with one-way plane tickets

© Reuters/Jose Miguel Gomez

One of the biggest shelters in Hawaii has secured the funding to start an initiative that will vet the homeless population of Waikiki and ultimately select 120 individuals to be flown elsewhere with one-way plane tickets.

Hawaii's Institute for Human Services (IHS) officially launched its $1.3 million initiative to fight homelessness this week, and among the facets involved in the effort is a program that will put dozens of people on airplanes in order to relocate them away from the tropical island town.

"We found out that many (Waikiki homeless) are transient who made a choice to become homeless, as well as people who became homeless shortly after arriving in Hawaii," Kimo Carvalho, development and community relations manager for IHS, told Civil Beat. "We are trying to do an aggressive public relations effort, trying to water down misinformation, basically not making Hawaii be an attractive destination to come and be homeless."

To accomplish as much, officials behind the multi-pronged program plan on putting around 140 individuals into area shelters during the effort's first year, while flying another 120 "transient individuals" back to wherever they came from.

Last year, the State Legislature approved $100,000 to be used towards a three-year "Return to Home" program that would have similarly involved purchasing one-way plane tickets for a substantial chunk of the Waikiki homeless population, but Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, refused to release the funds to Department of Human Services reportedly because he feared it would encourage individuals to come to Hawaii with the intent of receiving a free trip home.

IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell told Hawaii News Now last month that around 500 homeless people presently reside on the streets of Waikiki, a beachfront neighborhood in Honolulu that boasts a total population of around 18,000, according to census statistics from 2013. If the IHS succeeds, then ideally more than half of that figure will be admitted to a shelter or relocated off the island within the next year.

"I think a lot of people may not even know about IHS who are in Waikiki. So it's really an opportunity for us to just let people know that there is help if they're looking for help," Mitchell said.

But in addition to IHS, the relocation program has also found support in another group: Hawaii's tourism industry. In September the Honolulu City Council approved measures that prohibit sitting and lying down on sidewalks in Waikiki, and proponents of those bills cited concerns from the hospitality community when making their case.

"We are pushing to make it illegal to sleep on the sidewalks of Waikiki, because we've heard from our hotel industry that it's very concerned about keeping Waikiki as an attractive visitor destination," Jesse Broder Van Dyke, a spokesman for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, a Democrat, told the Associated Press ahead of last month's vote.

"It's time to declare a war on homelessness, which is evolving into a crisis in Honolulu," Mayor Caldwell, himself wrote in an essay that appeared in The this past June. "We cannot let homelessness ruin our economy and take over our city." Ultimately, the measure that would have banned people from resting on city sidewalks was rejected by local lawmakers.

Regardless, the mayor's wish may now soon come true, but at a cost nevertheless. IHS is contributing $824,000 to the cause, and the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association last week pledged $100,000 of their own.

"When the number one complaint from our visitors is why they will not be coming back to Hawaii is homeless, you have an issue," George Szigeti, president and CEO of HLTA, said to Hawaii News Now.

"So when IHS came to us with a plan of action tailored to address the homeless situation in our Waikiki community, we were pleased and we immediately pledged our support," Szigeti said.

Next, according to Civil Beat, HIS hopes to raise another $400,000 to fund the full program, which will also be used to boost the resources at area shelters, including employment and medical services.

"I do think that conversation will have to touch on a couple very sensitive rails and I think a central rail is going to be this idea of what is aloha and how we, those who live here, view what is aloha and what is our message going to be nationally," Colin Kippen, the state's homeless czar, told Civil Beat. "How will that message be delivered in a way which preserves the essence of what aloha is?"

But Szigeti of the Tourism Association told KHON News last week that the program, which officially started this Monday, may take a while to make a difference. "I think this is a program that's going to need some sustainability," he told the network. "It's not going to be one year to fix the problem. We need to be here next year and the year after and address the needy.

"When IHS came to us with a proposed plan of action for Waikiki's homeless situation, we were thrilled," he added. "Homeless will get the help they need and those who live, work and visit our Waikiki community will appreciate how this problem can be effectively addressed."

Others, like Interfaith Alliance Hawaii's Bishop Stephen Randolph Sykes, aren't certain the city should be spearheading a campaign, however, that is so heavily focused on dispersing the homeless population by any means necessary. "We recognize Waikiki is our economic engine, and having our homeless there is not something that is necessarily beneficial," he previously told AP, "but creating an island-wide type of situation where we're criminalizing homelessness is just not 'pono,' it's not ethical, because these people don't have any place to go, and we're just pushing them around."

Reading between the lines of the "chickenshit" Netanyahu comments and the supposedly fractured U.S.-Israeli relationship

The obsession in politics and diplomacy with decorum - largely a relic from the past - can easily distract people from the realities of the present. Case in point, the uproar over Jeffrey Goldberg's latest article in the , the headline of which, The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here, would seem important enough to warrant more attention than it has gotten so far.

Instead, the whisper of an unnamed "senior Obama administration official," who called Netanyahu a "chickenshit," has occupied headlines. And instead of taking a strong, or even a weak stance on Netanyahu's repeated declarations about expanding settlement activity everywhere in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the White House has only tried to distance itself from the remark, describing it as "unauthorized" and "inappropriate."

As Goldberg himself pointed out, the fact that Bibi is a chickenshit is not entirely a bad thing. Whatever else it does, it also makes him quite afraid to back up his rhetoric with action. Even in Gaza this summer, the ongoing slaughter seemed, from Netanyahu's point of view, to be something that spiraled much further out of control than he had intended. Indeed, his constant shifting of the mission's goal posts indicated the lack of any sort of planning beforehand. Political pressures kept driving him on, as they do with most of his actions. But at least the "chickenshit" was never going to attack Iran despite his bellicosity, as the United States seems to finally understand.

Being less of a leader and more of a leaf blowing in the political wind is an apt description of Netanyahu, and it is strongly suggested in Goldberg's piece. But it also applies to the Obama administration, which has repeatedly refused to use the tools it has at its disposal to create real pressure on Israel to, at the very least, desist from its actions that are obviously intended to destroy any possibility of a two-state solution. So, chickenshit cuts both ways.

Maybe Goldberg intended the chickenshit comment to overshadow the rest of his point, maybe he didn't. But the assertion that we are in a period of crisis for US-Israel relations is a very important one. The question is: are we?

The simple answer is no, but Goldberg is not wrong in suggesting that such a crisis could occur in the near future. One can understand why Goldberg focuses so much on personal clashes. Never in the history of Israel has there been a government that so arrogantly insulted the United States so frequently. Whether it's Netanyahu, Finance Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, or some other member of the Knesset, anti-American statements have risen to unprecedented levels.

For their part, US officials have been getting just the tiniest bit harsher in their criticism of Israel, while Israeli officials escalate their anti-US rhetoric. And then there's the endless stories about how much Obama and Netanyahu dislike each other, with Goldberg's in the lead. The problem, of course, as it is presented in this narrative of interpersonal conflict, is bad communication, or mismatched personalities.

In reality, none of this is really about Bibi and Barack disliking each other. They do, but that is beside the point. It is the direction that Israel has decided to go in that is the problem.

Let's start off by noting that the degree of the "crisis" is being massively overblown. There is a much bigger problem in Europe for Bibi than there is in the United States. The Europeans are actually threatening to take some action, not just calling Bibi names in whispers to reporters. Sweden's recognition of Palestine as a state is just a first step in a series of actions that might be on the horizon from Europe, where Israel conducts the biggest share of its trade. When the United States gets to that point, as it has on occasion in the ever more distant past, then we can start wondering if there is a crisis in relations that might cause some small shift in the status quo.

The "chickenshit" epithet can apply to Obama just as much as it can to Netanyahu. He is a president with a non-confrontational style trying to govern with what is, arguably, the most defiant and combative Congress any president has ever had to deal with. And he is dealing with an Israeli government that is pursuing a very different strategy than its predecessors. The Israel of today no longer cares about the majority of the Jewish community in the United States. This Israel, correctly, determined that its ultimate desire to completely thwart a two-state solution and maintain an apartheid system over the Palestinians would never be acceptable to most American Jews. But most US Jews weren't the ones providing the political power and, more importantly, the funding for congressional campaigns and for settlements in the West Bank.

The Jews that do provide these things, as well as the Christians, are right-wingers, either in their general politics or at least on Middle East policy (including policy toward the entire Arab world, Iran and Turkey). They are now the only ones Israel cares about. More liberal-minded devotees are not, at this stage, providing that much support for Israel, either economically or financially. Those of them who do provide this support will continue to check their otherwise liberal values at the Israeli door. The rest are not, in the estimate of the Netanyahu government, worth the compromises that must be made to garner their support.

In this circumstance, Israel has a freer hand in its actions. While Netanyahu announces more and more building plans in East Jerusalem and other sensitive parts of the Occupied Territories, Republicans, who stand a good chance of controlling both houses of Congress, are not criticizing Israeli actions in the slightest. Instead, as one would expect, they are attacking Obama for his insufficient support of Israel.

In this context, Israeli journalist Roi Ben-Yishai, one of Israel's best, recently reported on Israel's "new approach" to the Palestinians. It holds few surprises. Israel is not intending to return to talks, correctly believing they will be futile, and therefore would only make things worse. Israel's assessment will remain correct until its own positions can be moderated by pressure like that of the Palestinians over the years.

The plan is then to have the quiescent Palestinian Authority (PA) assume control over Gaza and reinforce its control on the West Bank. In other words, marginalize Hamas throughout the Palestinian body politic. Under those circumstances, Israel would end the siege of Gaza and ease restrictions on movement in the West Bank as well. The idea is that the Palestinians can then build a functional economy, which Israel believes will cause the Palestinian people to oppose actions that could draw Israeli military reprisals. I rather doubt that would be the result, but right now, the delays in Palestinian international action imply that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is cooperating with Israel and Egypt on this effort, probably in the hope that this strategy would eliminate Hamas as a political rival.

This seems like another doomed plan, one that harkens back to old Israeli beliefs that Palestinian nationalism will eventually just go away. But we must recognize that this is happening with the silent approval of the United States. Egypt, in particular, would not work with Israel on such a plan if it believed that the United States would object. More to the point, the plan is also intended to provide the US with what it wants most: Palestinian silence. What American policy has always represented is the complete lack of importance placed on the welfare of the Palestinians, or anyone else (including ordinary Israelis) in the region, for that matter. The entire issue is only relevant insofar as it affects more "important" US concerns.

So, the Obama administration will likely allow Israel to proceed with its plans, even if it doesn't believe those plans are likely to succeed. This is evident in the lack of material response to Israel's direct challenge to the international consensus on a two-state solution.

The name-calling most recently highlighted by Goldberg merely reflects these disagreements and the fact that the increasingly populist and rightward tilt not only in the Israeli government but also in its population leads to verbose criticism of US officials, up to and including the president. Responses to such insults can be countered by Israel's power in Congress in a way that more fundamental policy differences cannot. That frustrates some American officials, but it doesn't provoke any material US response.

If Congress persists in pressuring the administration on its Iran policy, a pressure which most understand as directed by Jerusalem, Obama may well respond through the Palestinian issue. In that case, we might see a more direct counter to Israeli policies, such as a Security Council resolution condemning the settlements or even an "Obama Plan" basing a two-state solution on the 1967 borders and sharing Jerusalem. That would be a turn of events not seen in decades, but Israel has also never worked so hard to undermine US goals on foreign policy matters as it has on Iran.

But make no mistake, if the Palestinians get any respite from the Obama administration it will be because of Israel's meddling through Congress on the Iran issue. It will not be due to any Palestinian action, much less on the insulting attitude of Israeli officials or the personal dislike between the current Israeli leader and the president of the United States. It is, ultimately, all about policy priorities, not personalities.