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Friday, 12 December 2014

Berkeley protests: Undercover police officer pulls gun after being caught infiltrating group and instigating looting and violence

© Michael Short/

One of last nights undercovers pointing his gun directly at freelance photographer Michael Short

An undercover California highway patrol officer who had infiltrated protests against police violence in Oakland pulled a gun on demonstrators after his and his partner's cover was blown.

According to accounts in the and the , a few dozen protesters remaining from larger demonstrations yelled that two men in plainclothes were police.

"Just as we turned up 27th Street, the crowd started yelling at these two guys, saying they were undercover cops," the freelance photographer Michael Short told the newspaper on Thursday.

© Noah Berger/Reuters

A plainclothes California highway patrol detective, who had been marching with anti-police demonstrators, aims his gun at protesters on Wednesday night

The Berkeley Daily Planet reported that the two men tried to walk away, but the couple of dozen remaining protesters "persisted, screaming at the two undercover cops". The Planet said that an officer "pushed a protester aside". The demonstrator allegedly pushed back and was tackled and handcuffed.

"Somebody snatched a hat off the shorter guy's head and he was fumbling around for it. A guy ran up behind him, knocked him down on the ground. That guy jumped backed up and chased after him and tackled him and the crowd began surging on them," Short said.

He told the that the officer pulled a small baton out, then a gun, after the crowd started "surging" them. The reported that more officers quickly moved in to disperse demonstrators.

In a stunning admission, the patrol's Golden Gate Division told the San Francisco Chronicle that officers had been dressing like and walking with protesters since the first demonstration on 24 November, attempting to gather intelligence to stop highway shutdowns.

Protesters have flooded the streets of the San Francisco Bay area for weeks, since grand juries in New York and Missouri refused to indict police officers for shooting unarmed black men. Many protests have shut down highways, and some in Berkeley have turned violent, resulting in fires and looting.

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

Facts on estrogen dominance

Estrogen is not a single hormone. It is a class of hormones and hormone like compounds that have estrogenic properties.

There are human estrogens, animal estrogens, synthetic estrogens, phytoestrogens, and xenoestrogens.

The three human estrogens are estradiol, estrone, and estriol, and belong to the steroid hormone family.

"Estrogen dominance" is a term coined by Harvard physician John R. Lee M.D. It describes a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but the body has little or no progesterone to balance its effects. Signs and symptoms of estrogen dominance include:

  • Speeds up the aging process

  • Weight gain around middle

  • Allergies

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Breast cancer

  • Breast tenderness

  • Cold hands and feet as a symptom of thyroid dysfunction

  • Decreased sex drive

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • Depression

  • Dry eyes

  • Early onset of menstruation

  • Uterine cancer

  • Fat gain in abdomen, hips, and thighs

  • Fatigue

  • Fibrocystic breasts

  • Foggy thinking

  • Hair loss

  • Headaches

  • Hypoglycemia

  • Increased blood clotting

  • Infertility

  • Irregular menstrual periods

  • Insomnia

  • Memory loss

  • Mood swings

  • PMS

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Pre-menopausal bone loss

  • Sluggish metabolism

  • Thyroid dysfunction

  • Uterine cancer

  • Uterine fibroids

  • Water retention and bloating

Causes of estrogen dominance syndrome

Besides the natural hormonal fluctuations of menopause, certain lifestyle choices and conditions can also contribute to estrogen dominance syndrome, especially a low-fiber diet, overloading the liver with internal toxins, and absorbing toxins from the environment.

Overloading the liver

The liver is a filter of sorts. It detoxifies our body, protecting us from the harmful effects of chemicals, elements in food, environmental toxins, and even natural products of our metabolism, including excess estrogen.

Anything that impairs liver function or ties up the detoxifying function will result in excess estrogen levels, whether it has a physical basis, as in liver disease, or an external cause, as with exposure to environmental toxins, drugs, or dietary substances.

Estrogen is produced not only internally but also produced in reaction to chemicals and other substances in our food. When it is not broken down adequately, higher levels of estrogen build up.

In like manner, the estrogen dominance syndrome can be evoked in women by too much alcohol, drugs, or environmental toxins, all of which limit the liver's capacity to cleanse the blood of estrogen.


We live in an estrogenic or feminizing environment. Certain chemicals in the environment and our foods, one of which is DDT, cause estrogenic effects. Although banned in 1972, DDT, like its breakdown product DDE, is an estrogen-like substance and is still present in the environment.

Chlorine and hormone residues in meats and dairy products can also have estrogenic effects.

In men, the estrogenic environment may result in declining quality of sperm or fertility rates.

In women, it may lead to an epidemic of female diseases, all traceable to excess estrogen/deficient progesterone.

In industrialized countries such as the United States, diets rich in animal fats, sugar, refined starches, and processed foods can lead to estrogen levels in women twice that of women of third-world countries.

We are constantly exposed to xenobiotics (petrochemicals), xenohormone-laden meats and dairy products, forms of pollution, and prescriptions for synthetic hormones (such as the 'The Pill' and Premarin).

It isn't too surprising that estrogen dominance has become an epidemic in industrialized countries. Over exposure to these potentially dangerous substances has significant consequences, one of which is passing on reproductive abnormalities to offspring.

Estrogen "deficiency" that is quite often used as an explanation of menopausal symptoms or health problems is not supported by sound research. When a woman's menstrual cycle is functioning normally, estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks and is balanced by progesterone, which is the dominant hormone for the latter two weeks.

After menopause, estrogen is still present and continues to be manufactured in fat cells. Most menopausal women have too little estrogen to support pregnancy, but sufficient amounts for other normal body functions. Few women are truly deficient in estrogen; most become progesterone deficient.

If estrogen becomes the dominant hormone and progesterone is deficient, excess estrogen becomes toxic to the body. Progesterone has a balancing effect on estrogen.

Supplemental estrogen, even in the slightest amounts, in a woman who doesn't need it, or who has no progesterone to balance it, can lead to many serious side effects.

When a woman complains of even the slightest menopausal type symptoms, conventional medical doctors will recommend a prescription of estrogen.

It is irresponsible and dangerous for doctors to be routinely prescribing estrogen for any type of pre-menopausal or menopausal symptom, and this practice can have tragic consequences.

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

Shooting reported at Portland, Oregon high school

© Google Maps

A shooting at a Portland, Oregon high school on Friday has left at least three people injured, according to the Associated Press.

Portland's KPTV-News reported on Friday afternoon that at least two people were shot by a gunman or gunmen outside the city's Rosemary Anderson High School. A third victim was also taken to an area hospital, the Fox affiliate reported, citing a Portland fire official. It's not clear if he was shot as well.

Despite initial reports, police say the shooting did not take place inside of the school, but rather just outside on Killingsworth Court, according to KOIN 6. Police also believe the shooting may be gang-related.

All three victims were breathing and conscious when they were transported to the hospital. Although these three were injured, they were able to run into the school while emergency teams arrived at the scene.

According to , a 17-year-old was shot in from the back and a female student was shot in the chest. Their condition is not immediately known.

Details on potential suspects have not yet been released, but the AP reported that an individual sought in connection with the shooting reportedly fled the school. The shooter did not enter the school at all, officials said.

"This doesn't appear to be an active shooter running around shooting people," said police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson to the .

Rosemary Anderson, a community-based alternative high school, has an annual enrollment of roughly 190 students, according to its website. The site for the Portland Public School District says the city's "most at-risk and disadvantaged youth" are educated at the facility, through "positive reinforcement and creating an academic atmosphere founded upon a nurturing yet challenging classroom environment."

Two other schools - Jefferson High School and PCC Cascade - were on lockdown following news of the shooting, KPTV reported. In June, a freshman student died following a shooting at Reynolds High School in the Portland area.

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

Another case of mind controlled violence and unstable behavior? Shooting reported at Portland, Oregon high school

© Google Maps

A shooting at a Portland, Oregon high school on Friday has left at least three people injured, according to the Associated Press.

Portland's KPTV-News reported on Friday afternoon that at least two people were shot by a gunman or gunmen outside the city's Rosemary Anderson High School. A third victim was also taken to an area hospital, the Fox affiliate reported, citing a Portland fire official. It's not clear if he was shot as well.

Despite initial reports, police say the shooting did not take place inside of the school, but rather just outside on Killingsworth Court, according to KOIN 6. Police also believe the shooting may be gang-related.

All three victims were breathing and conscious when they were transported to the hospital. Although these three were injured, they were able to run into the school while emergency teams arrived at the scene.

According to The Oregonian, a 17-year-old was shot in from the back and a female student was shot in the chest. Their condition is not immediately known.

Details on potential suspects have not yet been released, but the AP reported that an individual sought in connection with the shooting reportedly fled the school. The shooter did not enter the school at all, officials said.

"This doesn't appear to be an active shooter running around shooting people," said police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson to the Los Angeles Times.

Rosemary Anderson, a community-based alternative high school, has an annual enrollment of roughly 190 students, according to its website. The site for the Portland Public School District says the city's "most at-risk and disadvantaged youth" are educated at the facility, through "positive reinforcement and creating an academic atmosphere founded upon a nurturing yet challenging classroom environment."

Two other schools - Jefferson High School and PCC Cascade - were on lockdown following news of the shooting, KPTV reported. In June, a freshman student died following a shooting at Reynolds High School in the Portland area.

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

Extreme flooding in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil Flooding

© Thaddeus Pawlowski

Aerial view of Sao Paulo flooding

Violent storms and heavy rainfall hit Sao Paulo in Brazil on December 10, 2014, causing flooding and traffic chaos as authorities announced a state of alert in some parts of the city.

[embedded content]

Thunderstorm dumped more than two inches of rain in only a few hours. Streets turned into flowing rivers. Cars were swept away by flash floods in parts of the city, where mud and debris clogged the streets.

[embedded content]

Sao Paulo, home to around 20 million people, experienced months of the worst drought in decades.

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School violence continues: 3 shot near high school in Portland, Oregon, police say

© Maxine Bernstein/The Oregonian

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese and Mayor Charlie Hales stand on peace mural on North Killingsworth Court and North Borthwick as police investigate shooting outside Rosemary Anderson High School.

Three people were shot Friday afternoon near a high school in Portland, Oregon, Lt. Rich Tyler of the Portland Fire Department said.

Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson said three student-age people, two males and a female, were shot near the Rosemary Anderson High School campus and ran inside a school building after being shot, reported CNN affiliate .

The victims were breathing and conscious as they were transported to a hospital, according to the police. Their condition was not immediately available.

Police said the shooter left the scene. No arrests were reported in the immediate aftermath.

Nearby Jefferson High School and Portland Community College were put on lockdown, authorities said.

Another school shooting occurred June 10 at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, about 12 miles east of Portland. One person was killed

© Google Maps

More from RT:

Despite initial reports, police say the shooting did not take place inside of the school, but rather just outside on Killingsworth Court, according to . Police also believe the shooting may be gang-related.

According to , a 17-year-old was shot in from the back and a female student was shot in the chest. Their condition is not immediately known.

Details on potential suspects have not yet been released, but the AP reported that an individual sought in connection with the shooting reportedly fled the school. The shooter did not enter the school at all, officials said, and the area is now secure.

This doesn't appear to be an active shooter running around shooting people said police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson to the .

Rosemary Anderson, a community-based alternative high school, has an annual enrollment of roughly 190 students, according to its website. The site for the Portland Public School District says the city's "most at-risk and disadvantaged youth" are educated at the facility, through "positive reinforcement and creating an academic atmosphere founded upon a nurturing yet challenging classroom environment."

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

Civil unrest is rising everywhere while government digs in its heels

I have warned that governments always turn against the people. Illinois just made it a felony to film police abuse in the USA. The Spanish government has followed the same course. Despite protests from political, judicial and population, the politicians who are becoming ruthless elite dictators rather than democratic representatives of the people, passed a law which provides extensive fines for protesters who dare to film the abuse of police. They have the audacity to claim filming police is an "offense against public safety" with fines of up to 600,000 euros. It is the police who protect government - not the people. So let's get this straight. "public safety" has become a code word for "government safety" that no longer gives two shits about the people.

Switzerland enacted laws requiring registration of all guns in the country for the first time when. Why? There have not been any incidents of "public safety". They too realize that the people are starting to wake up against the abuse of government everywhere. The people have caused this. As a whole, people watch sports, buy clothes, and go to dinner. Generally at best half even bother to vote. That has sent the signal to government elites the people do not care so corruption has run wild. But now with taxes rising, unemployment rising, pensions vanishing into thin air, and living standards declining, people want real change no words.

Even in the USA, the Republicans wrongly believe their ideas are what the people want. They too raise taxes. This funding bill allowing the banks to repeal Dodd Frank is an example of the corruption behind the scenes. They vote for Republicans because who is ever in power is being tossed out. Come 2016, it will be the Republican's turn as we see a rise in third-party activity. This repeal of Dodd Frank is a John Andrew Boehner special that goes against the conservative T-Party Republicans.

Politicians will be politicians. What is left to say?

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Six released Guantanamo detainees 'happy to be' in Uruguay

© Reuters / Andres Stapff

Former Guantanamo detainees Ahmed Adnan Ahjam (C) and Omar Mahmoud Faraj (L) from Syria walk alongside an unidentified police officer (R) in a neighbourhood in Montevideo December 12.

Six former US detainees, who have never been charged, are beginning their new life as refugees in Uruguay. They arrived on Sunday and have given their first comments to the press to say they are happy to be there.

The six include four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian.

Although they were cleared for release in 2009, the US was not able to discharge them until Uruguayan President Jose Mujica offered to take them.

One of the Syrians, 32 year old Ali al-Shaaban, has been held for more than a decade in the Guantanamo prison in Cuba, after he was arrested in Pakistan following the 9/11 attacks.

We are happy to be here he has told the by phone in his first interview since arriving in Uruguay.

© Reuters / Andres Stapf

Syrian Omar Mahmoud Faraj stands on the balcony of a house he shares with five other former Guatanamo detainees, in a neighbourhood in Montevideo December 12, 2014.

One of the other detainees, Abedlhadi Omar Faraj, issued a letter through his New York lawyer on Monday thanking Uruguay for their decision.

Were it not for Uruguay, I would still be in the black hole in Cuba today. It's difficult for me to express how grateful I am for the immense trust that you, the Uruguayan people, placed in me and the other prisoners when you opened the doors of your country to us" read the letter.

They got hugs from Uruguayan officials, friendly waves and thumbs up from the other patients at the hospital, the Uruguayan reception team even brought bathing suits for them Michael Bone, the Boston lawyer who helped secure Shaaban's release, told the .

Bone added that while on the flight over from Cuba on the US military plane, they were in handcuffs, shackles, blindfolds and ear defenders but the Uruguayans refused to let them walk off the plane in shackles; they insisted that they be allowed to take their first step on Uruguayan soil as free men

© Reuters / Andres Stapff

Former Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Adnan Ahjam from Syria uses a mobile phone while standing near a window in a neighbourhood in Montevideo December 12, 2014.

One of the refuges, Abu Wa'el Dhiab, arrived in Montevideo in very poor shape, having been on hunger strike for seven years.

His lawyer Cori Crider said Dhiab never thought he'd be released.

It's going to take some time for him to come down off his hunger strike, he's six foot five and only weighs about 148 pounds, he's extremely thin, in pain, emaciated and still confined to a wheelchair said Crider, as quoted by the Guardian.

Jose Mujica, the 79-year old Uruguayan president said his decision was a humanitarian gesture He himself spent 13 years in prison and two of those in solitary confinement, incarcerated by Uruguay's military dictatorship. However, he has voted against trials for crimes committed when the country was under military rule.

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Finally? Both sides confirm ceasefire finally 'real' in east Ukraine

Chechen volunteers, fighting for Novorussia.

The ceasefire in Ukraine is actually being implemented, and both sides of the conflict have acknowledged this in a rare demonstration of accord after months of mutual accusations.

"I have good news," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, currently on a visit to Australia, told journalists on Friday. "Today, for the first time in seven months, there was a real 24-hour-long ceasefire."

"You can't imagine how important this is for us. This has become the first night when I don't have a single soldier either killed or wounded".

Poroshenko admitted, however, the truce has so far been "very fragile" and promised to "pray for the process to carry on."

Heavy armor, artillery and Grad missile launchers haven't been used by rebel forces during the past day, the speaker of the Ukrainian Security Council, Andrey Lysenko, confirmed on Friday.

"On the whole we can confirm gradual, mutual establishment of the "silence regime" in the areas where the anti-terror operation is taking place," Lysenko said, as cited by RIA Novosti.

The leaders of the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk have also admitted the ceasefire was mostly observed.

The rebel fighters in Lugansk have withdrawn heavy weapons from the front line, as agreed with Kiev, says the local people's council speaker, Aleksey Karyakin.

"The ceasefire seems to be observed on the whole, but local skirmishes do occur," he said. "Only it's not the heavy weaponry, but the small firearms that are being used. Fighting on a large-scale is not taking place."

The situation is similar in Donetsk, according to the head of the people's council there, Andrey Purgin.

"As far as I understand sporadic skirmishes are taking place, but not 120 a day, as it used to be," Purgin said, as cited by the Donetsk news agency.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is optimistic about the current truce.

"There has emerged a chance for peace in Ukraine. With some pain, the ceasefire has finally been achieved," Lavrov said on Friday.

"There's good ground for moving forward in negotiating other issues, like economic reconstruction of the Donbass region, boosting political dialogue, which has to eventually lead to constitutional reform in Ukraine with the participation of all regions and all political forces, something the Ukrainian authorities had promised back in April."

The latest and so far successful attempt at a ceasefire, brokered by the OSCE, was launched on December 9 and is supposed to pave the way for a new round of peace talks between Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in the east. The date for the negotiations, that will take place in Minsk, Belarus, has not yet been agreed on.

Russia is, according to Lavrov, trying to get the date set as soon as possible.

A major roadmap to peace was already agreed upon in Minsk in September. Among other things, it stipulated Ukraine was to grant a special status for the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, and hold early elections there.

Since then both Kiev and the rebels have accused each other of violating the September Minsk agreement.

Kiev launched its military operation against the anti-government forces in April. 4,300 people have been killed in the conflict since that time, the UN recently estimated.

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

Probiotics: A myth or a miracle?

© probiotics.org

The chances are, you think you are an individual. Within a few social, economic and legal constraints, you probably see yourself as pretty autonomous. The reality, however, is that you are more of an ecosystem than an individual. There are 10 times more microbial cells in your body than human ones.

In recent years, scientists have developed a greater understanding of the important roles played by the 100tn or so bugs the average person carries. After decades of focusing on how to kill bacteria with soap and antibiotics, we are coming round to a more nuanced appreciation of the symbiotic relationship we have with them. While some can make us sick, others help to break down the nutrients in our food, teach our immune systems to recognise enemies, fight off food poisoning and even produce chemicals that determine our moods.

As our knowledge of the importance of the microbes in our bodies grows, the big question is whether it is possible to give our gut flora a helping hand. In fact, it is the $28.8bn question - the projected global value of the probiotics market for next year. The ads are certainly seductive. All that harm from takeaways, boozy nights and work stress can be put right with a daily dose of live bacteria. But do probiotics have real health benefits?

Studies have documented that people with a wide range of diseases including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease have different gut flora from those of healthy people, but it can be hard to tell whether this is a cause or a consequence of the illness. Microorganisms play important roles in regulating immune system responses, and can therefore affect the chances of people developing auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and allergies. Numerous studies, including one published last year by Swedish scientists, show that babies born by caesarean have lower levels of good bacteria and chemical imbalances in the immune system that make them more susceptible to allergies and eczema.

Research also suggests that healthy gut bugs can improve the effectiveness of some cancer therapies. In a study published last year, Professor Laurence Zitvogel, of the Gustave Roussy Institute in France, gave cyclophosphamide, an anti-cancer drug, to mice with skin cancer and sarcoma. The drug made the lining of the mice's small intestines porous, allowing gut bacteria to escape and encourage immature immune cells to develop into T-cells capable of attacking tumours.

Those who have had "gut-wrenching" experiences or butterflies won't be surprised to hear that there are also strong connections between the gut and the brain. Gut bacteria produce neurochemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that regulate basic psychological processes and mental states. Altering the balance between beneficial and disease-causing bacteria can change the brain chemistry of animals in ways that can make them either bolder or more anxious.

Of course, understanding that gut microbes have major influences on health does not necessarily mean we can do anything about it. "Working out potential effects involves doing large, long-term population studies, and that's expensive and difficult," says Kristian Bravin, a spokesman for the British Dietetic Association.

The best evidence to support the use of probiotics is for reducing cases of infectious diarrhoea, especially that associated with the use of antibiotics. Around 30% of patients given antibiotics get diarrhoea, with potentially serious symptoms. When scientists at the California-based Rand research organisation combined the results of 63 studies, they found people who took probiotics alongside antibiotics almost halved their risk of diarrhoea. There is also good research supporting the use of probiotics to treat ulcerative colitis and pouchitis, a complication patients can suffer following surgery.

When it comes to mundane colds and respiratory infections, the evidence is mixed. A German study published in 2006 did find probiotics shortened the average duration of cold symptoms from nine to seven days and reduced their severity, but had no effect on incidence. However, a Cochrane review, combining the results of 10 studies, found those given probiotics were 8% less likely to get colds, but that probiotics had little effect on symptom severity.

There is little convincing evidence to support the many other health claims made for probiotics, such as helping with weight loss, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and preventing or alleviating skin conditions, urinary tract infections, anxiety and depression.

The idea behind probiotics is to increase levels of beneficial bacteria, but another approach is to help those already there. That is what prebiotic supplementation is for. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that provide food for friendly bacteria. Food sources include beans, garlic, onions and leeks, but they are also added as supplements to food, and increasingly to formula milk for babies. Last year, a large study found no evidence that putting prebiotics in baby formula prevents babies getting asthma or hives, but did find some evidence that they could reduce the chances of developing eczema.

Hundreds of applications to make health claims for probiotic products have been rejected by the European Food Standards Authority in recent years on the grounds of lack of conclusive evidence, though some scientists believe this is more to do with faults in the claims process than lack of evidence. Others are sceptical that probiotic products containing a few million live bacteria can even survive exposure to gastric acid in the stomach.

"If someone is buying a probiotic," says Bravin, "I'd say go for good-quality live yoghurts, consume them every day, and select those that contains several different species of bacteria. And ideally it should be something with a prebiotic as well."

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Will the CIA torture report cause the masses to wake up to 9/11 truth? We can only hope

george bush CIA

© unknown

With CIA torture programs now fully exposed to the world, a common background theme has emerged. The CIA torture report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is a summary of the original report which you can read for yourself. In the first few pages of the Senate report we are quietly reminded that the backdrop which set the stage for the justification of torture is 9/11. More specifically, the 9/11 "official story" narrative. The much questioned, challenged, and refuted official story narrative that is. The report quietly pulls the reader in with a passionate recollection of 9/11:

I recall vividly watching the horror of that day, to include the television footage of innocent men and women jumping out of the World Trade Center towers to escape the fire. The images, and the sounds as their bodies hit the pavement far below, will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Reading down further in the report, the 9/11 official story meme continues fully settling on the clear determined narrative that would be used in the CIA's attempt to justify torture by reminding the audience of the "terrorist plots"

It is worth remembering the pervasive fear in late 2001 and how immediate the threat felt. Just a week after the September 11 attacks, powdered anthrax was sent to various news organizations and to two U.S. Senators. The American public was shocked by news of new terrorist plots and elevations of the color-coded threat level of the Homeland Security Advisory System. We expected further attacks against the nation.

Do you remember now? The day when (CIA asset) Bin Laden and his (CIA) Al Qaeda terrorist (supposedly) took over four commercial planes and strategically overpowered the world's greatest military, all from a cave in Afghanistan? For anyone with any sense of logic and reason, just think for a minute. We are asked to believe that the same Al Qaeda that the establishment media claims did 9/11 is STILL alive and well, and fully operational, never having missed a beat fighting against the world's most sophisticated military, and returning fire (even-steven and tit-for-tat) while keeping up on supplies and ammo. All of this for over 13 plus years!!

One problem with this 9/11 backdrop 'war on terror' narrative is that long after the war in Afghanistan seemed like it should have been over, the war (or more correctly, the occupation) mysteriously and illogically continues without missing a beat. Even as humanity has witnessed 13 years of a "war" with literally no evidence of a war, the "war" continues. That's right, for over 13 years, while the CIA torture program rolls on fully implemented, no one has ever produced, authenticated and validated video proof of a war in Afghanistan showing the opposition clearly firing at U.S. troops in a war-like scenario and sustaining themselves in the heat of battle. It's been over 13 years and yet there is still no clear-cut footage showing the Al Qaeda tanks, artillery and grunts running around fighting hard against their U.S. enemies. It's been 13 years, where is this footage??

Another problem with the war on terror narrative is that humanity has long woken up to the fake terror and long-term (U.S.-Israeli/PNAC) Middle East plans. With the help of the alternative media, citizen journalists, independent media and investigative journalists, expansions of government engineered synthetic terrorism has been fully exposed. Thanks to the U.S./Israeli/NATO ongoing Middle East aggressive ambitions exemplified by the creation, arming and funding of ISIS and their terror partners (FSA, Al-Nusra), the continued engineered war on terror is now fully exposed to the world.

Consequently, looming in the background of this most recent revelation of CIA torture and public indignation over Bush and Cheney war crimes, is the years of lies and how much the 9/11 official story meme has fallen apart since 2001. No longer does the story fit into the reality we now experience. From the Bin Laden death hoax and all the secrecy surrounding this event that never quite happened the way U.S. officials and the media say happened, to the long list of oddities and mysterious deaths of key witnesses and characters, to the now deeply established scientific facts about the improbable destruction of the 3 WTC towers, the 9/11 official story is no longer easy to believe.

Thus looming in the background of the hideous CIA torture programs is the powerful and liberating truth of 9/11. It sits in everyone's consciousness waiting to come out. Now that horrific torture is fully revealed to the world, government can only hope that the masses somehow still believe the 9/11 official story lie.

Mixed unofficial polls have been taken which indicate anywhere from 35 to 70+ percent of Americans question the official story narrative. What the actual percentages is no one really knows. This much is true, however: the 9/11 official story doesn't make any more sense. The story suffers from too many holes, too many convenient oddities and coincidences, a blatant violation of the laws of science, frightening coincidental and untimely deaths of witnesses and outdated logic justifying the continued existence of Al Qaeda (and now ISIS) who of course never attack Israel or plan other 9/11-style attacks from caves in Afghanistan.

It's absolutely time for the world to wake up to 9/11 Truth, which is primarily based on the overwhelming scientific evidence and secondarily on gathered evidence against the true masterminds. We know factually that the towers were brought down by controlled demolition. Three teams of researchers confirmed the presence of nano-sized thermite in the dust of the world trade centers. Samples (of WTC dust) which when tested, each time showed the confirmed presence of thermite, a military-grade incendiary compound whose thermite form has been used for controlled demolition in the past. This irrefutable evidence for controlled demolition should loom in the background of everyone's mind as they continue to read about the CIA (engineered, staged, pre-planned, malicious) torture program actually designed to torture innocent people for which there is no credible evidence of a crime or wrongdoing other than being verbally accused of being a "terrorist".

So as the illegal prison in Guantanamo remains wide open against all promises by candidate Obama, let us forever remember the men illegally imprisoned there without rights and without justice. Let us consider the possibilities that too many Americans are too afraid to face. Americans would rather bury their heads in the sand than to face the reality of 9/11, torture, illegal prisons and war crimes.

Remember this, however: 9/11 Truth will eventually be admitted by the mainstream media. It may not happen today or tomorrow. Perhaps the system is not quite ready to admit 9/11 Truth and merge all of these charges to the record of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld quite yet. But the puzzle has come together for many of us and we are waiting for critical mass awareness to move forward with justice.

Many of us believe justice for 9/11 will happen sooner or later. This is the course humanity is on, and today I'm happy to say I believe this CIA torture exposure brings America and humanity as a whole one step closer to accepting and thus acting upon 9/11 Truth.

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Bonanza for Big Pharma: Dangerous drug cocktails prescribed to almost 60% of patients taking opiate painkillers

prescription drugs

© Alamy

The greatest growth in prescription drug use between 2009 and 2013 came in the 20-44 age group.

Almost 60% of patients taking prescription opiate painkillers are prescribed potentially dangerous drug combinations, according to a study released on Tuesday by a prescription drug management company.

"There could be instances when prescribing these combinations of drugs is appropriate, but not at this scale," said Lynne Nowak, a doctor with Express Scripts, a St Louis, Missouri-based company that processes more than 1bn prescriptions each year. "The fact that the majority of these patients are being treated by multiple physicians and pharmacies signals a communication breakdown that leads to dangerous use."

The study, a Nation in Pain, was conducted using the anonymized records of more than 6.8 million Americans who had filled prescriptions for opioids between 2009 and 2013. Opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, came to national attention as potentially dangerous in the mid-2000s when cities across the US started experiencing unusually high incidences of opiate overdose and addiction-related crime.

Express Scripts' study found that while fewer Americans are prescribed opioid painkillers, those that are have more prescriptions and for longer. Both the number of prescriptions and the amount of medication distributed rose by 8.4%. While the number of long-term users remained relatively constant, the number of short-term users declined by 11.1%. Almost half of those who took the medication for 30 days remained on the drugs three years later.

The greatest growth in prescription use came in the 20-44 age group.

"The elderly have the highest prevalence of opioid use, but younger adults (age 20-44) filled more opioid prescriptions and had the greatest increase in the number of days of medication prescribed, per prescription, of any age group over the five-year period."

More than half of users, almost 60%, were also prescribed potentially dangerous drug combinations such as benzodiazepines, a category of drugs used to treat anxiety. Together, opioids and benzodiazepines are the most common cause of overdose deaths involving multiple drugs, the report says. Other drug combinations, such as a combination of muscle relaxers, painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, called "Houston cocktails", were used by 8% of those studied.

The fear of addicting patients to opiate-based medications was once so profound in the medical community that opium-derived drugs were rarely prescribed, even in extreme cases.

That changed in the 1990s during the pain management movement. In 1995, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of OxyContin, meant to be a slow-release blend of oxycodone and acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol). At the time, expert panels recommended doctors prescribe the medication more often, citing a wide range of benefits despite slim research into the drug's long-term effects.

But in what is now a well-documented form of abuse, those looking to use the painkillers recreationally only needed to crush the tablets and snort them for a euphoric rush. The movement and subsequent abuse is extensively chronicled in books such as Pain Killer and A World of Hurt .

From the time OxyContin was approved, it took another 15 years for the small Connecticut pharmaceutical company that created the drug to make it tamper-resistant (in other words, more difficult to crush and snort). By then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was well on its way to declaring prescription painkiller abuse an "epidemic".

The study's results are also geographic. The use and abuse of these prescriptions painkillers is primarily concentrated in cities in four states - Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky, the study found.

"Government- and insurer-run drug monitoring programs can help prevent these possibly life-threatening scenarios, but unfortunately they are underused and vary by state," Nowak said in a statement. "As more people gain access to health coverage, this problem will worsen if the country doesn't use every tool at its disposal to ensure the safe use of these medications."

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What the end of racial profiling looks like...

skin color sign

© www.weedist.com

Why do common folk have to educate law enforcement?

It was 11 years ago when we first argued that constitutional protections can be balanced against national security interests, and that racial profiling is bad policing practice because it's ineffective and hurts law enforcement's legitimacy in communities. Sadly, racial profiling is used in 2014 as much as it was in 2003, and too often with deadly consequences. The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner reminded those who don't experience racial profiling that many police in America still regularly treat African Americans differently than white people.

So while we - and others - applaud US attorney general Eric Holder's plan to update the federal government's racial profiling guideline, the new rules announced this week won't do nearly enough to end pervasive, race-based policing practices.

The biggest problem is that the federal profiling guidelines don't address the profiling actions of local law enforcement: they only apply to federal law enforcement agencies and local officials working with them on federal projects. The new guidelines are merely supposed to inspire local police to design their own - but local police departments pride themselves on their autonomy and aren't interested in the federal government telling them how to operate.

[embedded content]

black man down

© http://ift.tt/R7c12l

"We're going to go out there and violate some rights." -NYPD Officer

There are only two situations in which police departments (reluctantly) accept federal directives about their policies should be done. One is when the US Department of Justice finds that local police engaged in a pattern of constitutional violation - which it did recently, finding that the Cleveland Police Department was excessively using force. The other is when a federal court finds that local police engaged in unconstitutional policing practices - as a court did last year, finding that the New York City Police Department's stops-and-frisk program was unconstitutional because it targeted minorities.

Another problem with the guidelines is that they broadly exempt many activities of the federal law enforcement agencies in the name of homeland security that one would expect to have to abide by the rules: US Border Patrol agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Transportation Security Administration agents and the US Secret Service are all exempt. Such broad exceptions to the rules certainly don't help make the guidelines seem more legitimate in the eyes of ethnic minority populations and heighten the public scepticism of the government's commitment to curbing profiling .

A growing body of science tells us that police, like the general public, associate African Americans with crime and violence: studies, including ones by 2014 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant winner Jennifer Eberhardt and researcher Joshua Correll, show that police officers still often associate black faces with criminality. But science also shows that racial bias is often unconscious, not overt race-based decision making - and making decisions based on stereotypes one isn't conscious of is difficult to change.

But people, and law enforcement agents, can change.

Police officers who get better training to counteract implicit racial bias can potentially see its effects reduced in their day-to-day decision-making. Increasing racial diversity throughout the ranks of local police departments - from police chiefs to patrol officers - also engenders in minority communities more trust and confidence in police, and helps reduce officer bias.

President Obama's recently-established Task Force on 21st Century Policing is an important opportunity to make long-needed changes to police departments that still use explicit or implicit racial profiling, and it shouldn't be squandered. The Task Force should recommend the creation of, and carve out a budget for, a national police training centre for local police that would host mandatory training for local police officers focused on ending racial profiling and repairing eroded police legitimacy.

The curriculum, developed with law enforcement, community and academic stakeholders, would focus on procedural justice training and how to deliver services to community members. By providing police with skills in listening, communication and transparency, procedural justice trainings developed by Tom Tyler and colleagues have been successful in improving trust and confidence in the police in pilot cities including New Orleans and Manchester in the UK.

Police must work with communities to improve their relationships, not operate in opposition to the people they are supposed to serve: communities are not the enemy. If we can make increasing their perceived legitimacy a central focus of every local police department, and help police officers understand how their implicit biases negatively affect their work and their communities, the end of racial profiling will finally be in sight.

Comment: Why do Americans still invest their faith and free will in systems that are obviously to their detriment no matter what their color, race or gender? When police are mandated to quotas in order to keep their jobs or qualify for promotions - it means the police departments are holding their officers hostage, who then look for easy targets. It is no longer law enforcement by the book, it is by the numbers.

Officers are encouraged to disregard rights, instigate fear tactics, break the law, and use brutality to harass innocent victims as part of a "hush policy" endorsed by law enforcement hierarchy, ever-widening the gap and blurring the lines between those they are obligated "to protect" and the pathocracy they serve. When did the the people make law enforcement their unrestrained overlords and prison masters? Did they not notice the insidious encroachment of a totalitarian regime?

Procedural justice and racial bias training sounds like a nice remedy. It is a fix that can't. The racial protocol is now systemic in departments all over the country, observable by the skyrocketing increase in racial profiling, innocent deaths caused by police officers, and daily abuse without provocation. And, understandably, the reaction of the common people is mounting. But, how do you put the cat back in the bag once it has usurped power it was never meant to have? When it becomes "us versus them" we have lost an important fundamental basis in the ability to function as a united and healthy society. These abuses of power that lead to the deaths of innocent persons must end and those who perpetrate these atrocities must be held accountable in a court of REAL law and justice. If not, we are all victims of a system in which we have good reason to no longer trust or believe.

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Comet Lovejoy heading our way

Comet Lovejoy

© Gerald Rhemann

The new Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, as imaged on November 27th by Gerald Rhemann in Austria using a remotely operated 12-inch f/3.6 astrograph in Namibia.

A new Comet Lovejoy, designated C/2014 Q2, is heading our way out of deep space and out of the deep southern sky. It may brighten to 5th magnitude from late December through much of January as it climbs into excellent viewing position for the Northern Hemisphere, high in the dark winter night.

This is Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy's fifth comet discovery. He turned it up at 15th magnitude in Puppis last August, in search images that he took with a wide-field 8-inch scope. It hasn't moved very much since then - it's still in Puppis as of December 11th - but it's hundreds of times brighter now at visual magnitude 6.8, reports David Seargent in Australia. On the 9th "I saw it easily using a pair of 6x35 binoculars," he writes. Using a 4-inch binocular telescope at 25×, he says it was a good 8 arcminutes wide with a strong central condensation and no visible tail.

And it's picking up speed across the sky for a long northward dash.

A Comet of the High Dark

"Comet Q2," as some are calling it, will skim through Columba south of Orion and Lepus from the nights of December 16th through the 26th, brightening all the while, as shown on the finder charts for December and January below and on the print-friendly versions here: December, January. The dates on the charts are in Universal Time, and the ticks are for 0:00 UT.

The comet spends the last few days of December in Lepus at perhaps 6th magnitude, though by then the light of the waxing Moon (at first quarter on the 28th) will start to be an annoyance. On New Year's Eve, a little after January 1st Universal Time, look for the comet just off Lepus's forehead as shown on the charts.

The Moon brightens to become full on January 4th. Most of us won't get a dark moonless view again until early in the evening of January 7th, with the comet now crossing northern Eridanus. That's the same day it passes closest by Earth: at a distance of 0.47 a.u (44 million miles; 70 million km). That's also about when it should start glowing brightest for its best two weeks, as it crosses Taurus and Aries high in early evening.

By then the comet is starting to recede into the distance, but its brightness should still be increasing a bit; it doesn't reach perihelion until January 30th, at a rather distant 1.29 a.u. from the Sun. By that date the comet should be starting to fade slightly from Earth's point of view. If February it will continue north between Andromeda and Perseus as it fades further, on its way to passing very close to Polaris late next May when it should again be very faint.

Originally Comet Q2 wasn't expected to become this bright. We're basing these predictions on an analysis by J. P. Navarro Pina in late November using the comet's visual behavior for the previous several weeks. Whether it will continue to brighten on schedule is anybody's guess, but the odds are good; comets that don't come near the Sun are more predictable in their brightnesses than those that do.

Q2 is a very long-period comet, but this is not its first time coming through the inner solar system. On the way in, its path showed an orbital period of roughly 11,500 years. Slight perturbations by the planets during this apparition will alter the orbit a bit, so that it will next return in about 8,000 years.

Finder chart for Comet Lovejoy

© Sky & Telescope

Finder chart for Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, during December 2014. The dates are in Universal Time; the ticks are at 0:00 UT (8 p.m. on the previous date Eastern Standard Time).

Finder chart for Comet Lovejoy_1

© Sky & Telescope

Finder chart for Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, during January 2015. The dates are in Universal Time; the ticks are at 0:00 UT (8 p.m. on the previous date Eastern Standard Time).

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Yet another country: Austria considers repatriating its gold

The gold reserves of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) and their deposits in the UK and in Switzerland are a recurring theme in political discussions. Especially like the Freedom require relocation to Austria, the example of the Deutsche Bundesbank in mind, who want to move their gold by 2020 half of them to Germany.

In Austria, the Court has adopted in its recent OeNB examination of the issue of gold. In its draft report he gives the OeNB diverse recommendations on the way. One of the key points: Given the "high concentration risk in the Bank of England" advise the examiner to "rapid evaluation of all possibilities of a better dispersion of the storage locations". Not only the parties to be diversified, but it should also come to the "actual spread of the storage locations".

Gold relocation possible

In the central bank can not hold, such a transfer excluded. The existing gold bearing concept would be reviewed, at best you'll bring parts of the stored gold in the UK to Austria, OeNB experts explain the standard. Any changes will be decided according to security and economic criteria, according to the OeNB.

A brief orientation in gold Milieu: Austria has 280 tons of gold, only a small part of them (17 percent) are kept in Vienna. 80 percent of the reserves are located in London, the main trading for gold, three percent in Switzerland. For comparison, the German Bundesbank has 3400 tons of gold; about half of them superimposed (as of 2013) in the United States. With the decision by the end of 2012, to resettle half of the gold to Germany, gave the Bundesbank political pressure.

Examiners want Strategy

Because you do not think in the OeNB; the central bank decide "autonomously", as emphasized. But there was indeed a discussion of the gold storage, you will receive and evaluate the recommendations of the Court. But whose final report is not yet available, the OeNB has transmitted to the auditors on 28 November their comments on the draft report.

The examiners also recommend an analysis of the costs of the bearings and a "comprehensive strategy for the management of gold reserves" to. The OeNB said: "opportunities to develop a long-term approach bearings will be evaluated." The criticism of the auditor, the OeNB have the gold that is not stored in the National Bank itself, not regular "physically checked" 2009-2013 or not, has the OeNB in ??its opinion violently back.

In October 2011, had central bankers, as mentioned in the report body, held in three deposits in Switzerland and one in London "Einschau". 2012 were examined in the coin Austria gold holdings. Keyword Einschau: This should not be so easy. Anyway criticize the auditor that access opportunities are not agreed with all bearings contract.

Violent criticizes the Court of Auditors on the audit of the gold holdings abroad: Since lacked a concept of what constitutes a gap in the internal control system. The OeNB denies it, which was founded in 2013 department of "values ??Revision" fulfills that function already.

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Personality traits determine the strength of the immune system

Researchers have found new evidence that explains how some aspects of our personality may affect our health and wellbeing, supporting long-observed associations between aspects of human character, physical health and longevity.

A team of health psychologists at The University of Nottingham and the University of California in Los Angeles carried out a study to examine the relationship between certain personality traits and the expression of genes that can affect our health by controlling the activity of our immune systems.

The study did not find any results to support a common theory that tendencies toward negative emotions such as depression or anxiety can lead to poor health (disease-prone personality). What was related to differences in immune cell gene expression were a person's degree of extraversion and conscientiousness.

The study used highly sensitive microarray technology to examine relationships between the five major human personality traits and two groups of genes active in human white blood cells (leukocytes): one involving inflammation, and another involving antiviral responses and antibodies.

A group of 121 ethnically diverse and healthy adults were recruited. These were comprised of 86 females and 35 males with an average age of 24 (range 18-59) and an average body mass index of 23. The participants completed a personality test which measures five major dimensions of personality -- extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness -- (NEO-FFI McCrae and Costa, 2004). Blood samples were collected from each volunteer for gene expression analysis and their typical smoking, drinking and exercise behaviours were also recorded for control purposes. Gene expression analysis was carried out at the Social Genomics Core Laboratory at UCLA.

Leading the research, Professor Kavita Vedhara, from The University of Nottingham's School of Medicine, said: "Our results indicated that 'extraversion' was significantly associated with an increased expression of pro-inflammatory genes and that 'conscientiousness' was linked to a reduced expression of pro-inflammatory genes. In other words, individuals who we would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their socially orientated nature (i.e., extraverts) appear to have immune systems that we would expect can deal effectively with infection. While individuals who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well. We can't, however, say which came first. Is this our biology determining our psychology or our psychology determining our biology?"

These two clear associations were independent of the recorded health behaviours of the participants and subsets of white blood cells which are the cells of the body's immune system. They were also independent of the amount of negative emotions people experienced. The study also found that expression of antiviral/antibody-related genes was not significantly associated with any personality dimension.

In the remaining three categories of personality, 'openness' also trended towards a reduced expression of pro-inflammatory genes and 'neuroticism' and 'agreeableness' remained unassociated with gene expression.

The research concludes that although the biological mechanisms of these associations need to be explored in future research, these new data may shed new light on the long-observed epidemiological associations between personality, physical health, and human longevity.

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'This year's flu shot is a dud' says the government and any discussion of natural alternatives is not allowed

They're also telling doctors to supplement with drugs that don't work and have terrible side effects. This is the same government that wasted billions stockpiling these very drugs.

The flu shot is not a static formulation. It changes each year based on the World Health Organization's assessment of which flu virus strains (usually three or four) will be the most prevalent that season. The CDC is admitting that the flu shots distributed this year may not be a good match for the viruses currently in circulation.

This year's vaccines protect against two types of influenza A viruses (one H1N1 and one H3N2) as well as one or two influenza B viruses. But so far this flu season, the strains most active in the US are versions of H3N2 viruses. And in seasons when H3 viruses predominate, says Dr. Tom Frieden of the CDC, there tend to be more hospitalizations and more deaths from the flu.

Of course, as we have pointed out previously, when the CDC speaks of deaths from the flu, they really mean respiratory illnesses in general including the real killer, pneumonia. They like to speak of "flu deaths" because that promotes the flu shot.

Although this year's vaccine covers the H3N2 virus, there still isn't a match. Fewer than half (48%) of the 103 samples of the H3N2 flu virus tested since October 1 are closely related to the strains the government chose this year. The CDC's explanation? The H3N2 strain being targeted by the vaccine has mutated (called "drift").

That's right: this year's flu shot will provide no protection whatsoever against more than half of the deadliest flu viruses currently in circulation. The CDC's solution doesn't help matters. They advise doctors to supplement with Tamiflu and Relenza - and the earlier the better, as soon as you become ill, if possible.

There is so much wrong with this scenario that it's hard to know where to begin. Even in a good year, with better matches, there are arguments why the vaccine doesn't work:

  • Influenza A (including H1N1 and H3N2) and B represent about 10% of all circulating viruses. Only 2.7% of all non-vaccinated adults get type A or B influenza each year. As noted above, the CDC wildly exaggerates the number of hospitalizations and deaths that result from flu.

  • According to , the flu vaccine in any given year is only 62% effective in preventing type A or B influenza, and doesn't protect at all against norovirus and whooping cough.

  • the vaccine will fail 38% of the time - which means it really benefits only about 1.8% of the population. This is in an average year, not a year with poor matches such as this one.

  • This year's flu vaccine won't even touch 52% of the H3N2 strains in circulation this year. Add this to the vaccine's usual failure rate and it becomes an epic fail.

  • The CDC recommends supplementing the vaccine with Tamiflu and Relenza as soon as you become sick - despite the fact that Relenza has been shown to reduce rates of infection by only 8%, and Tamiflu's manufacturer withheld vital data that suggested the drug is no more effective than aspirin. Billions of taxpayer dollars were wasted because the US stockpiled over 37 million doses of the useless drugs - and they still have a lot to get rid of.

  • A recent analysis found that both drugs are mostly ineffective: when taken at onset, they shorten the duration of symptoms of influenza-like illness (unconfirmed influenza or "the flu") and have no effect on hospitalizations for flu. They have no effect on asymptomatic influenza, so taking them before symptoms appear, as the CDC urges, would seem to be useless.

  • The same study showed that Tamiflu, when used as a preventive measure, was associated with nausea, vomiting, headaches, renal, and psychiatric events. Its effect on the heart was unclear: it may reduce cardiac symptoms, but may induce serious heart rhythm problems.

Even some mainstream media outlets are beginning to recognize that the flu vaccine simply doesn't work very well. NBC reports that people who get vaccinated each year may actually have less protection than those who don't: a University of Michigan study found that people vaccinated two years in a row didn't seem protected against the flu at all. And Bloomberg recently reported that the Novartis flu vaccine was linked to one serious illness and three deaths in Italy. The country has suspended use of the vaccine.

The flu vaccine in the US also notoriously contains mercury (thimerosal) and other potentially toxic ingredients. It is routinely given to pregnant women and to infants, despite the mercury content.

Maintaining proper levels of vitamin D in your system is easily the most effective way to prevent the flu. We discuss this at length in our White Paper on vitamin D. A study published in the found that schoolchildren who were given vitamin D3 supplements were 42% less likely to get infected with seasonal flu than those who had taken a placebo.

The nonprofit Vitamin D Council says adults should take between 5,000 and 10,000 IU of D3 daily for optimum health. The organization offers a home test kit to make sure your blood serum levels of vitamin D are in the proper range.

Vitamin A is directly antiviral and is an excellent treatment for the flu at onset. The sooner you take it, the better. This and other remedies are discussed in our earlier article on natural antivirals.

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Flights disrupted again after computer failure at UK control centre

Swanwick air traffic control centre

Swanwick air traffic control centre

Passengers are facing widespread flight disruption after a computer failure at the UK's air traffic control centre.

Nats said it was in the process of returning to normal operations after a "technical problem" at its Swanwick control centre caused delays and grounded some flights.

Problems were reported around the UK.

The government said the scale of the disruption was "unacceptable" and said it had asked for a "full explanation" of what had gone wrong.

This included delays at Heathrow and Gatwick, where departing flights were grounded for a time. Other UK airports reported knock-on effects.

It comes a year after a telephone glitch at the Hampshire control room caused huge disruption - one of a number of technical hitches to hit the part-privatised Nation Air Traffic Services since the centre opened in 2002.

Reported problems around the country include:

  • Heathrow: Fifty flights cancelled. Others delayed but planes now landing and taking off

  • Gatwick: Flights are now departing but still subject to delays

  • Stansted: Flights still landing, no flights departing

  • London City: Cancellations and delays

  • Luton: All flights experiencing delays

  • Bristol: Limited departures reported

  • Luton: All flights experiencing delays but planes now leaving

  • Edinburgh: No queues but passengers being advised to check with their airlines

  • Glasgow: Some delays to departures

  • Southampton: Experiencing ''problems''

  • Oxford: Experiencing "some delays", mainly to services arriving from overseas

  • Leeds Bradford: All flights out and most flights in suspended until 1900

  • Birmingham: Some departures are being re-routed to avoid flying through London airspace

  • East Midlands: Departures and arrivals delayed but passengers advised to turn up as normal

Nats' managing director apologised for the disruption and said it was still investigating the cause.

Martin Rolfe ruled out a power outage, confirming there was a failure in the flight element of the system which left controllers with reduced data available to them.

Mr Rolfe also said a computer hack had been ruled out.

Travel body Abta encouraged passengers expecting to take a flight to contact their airline.

British Airways said if its customers did not want to travel from Heathrow, Gatwick or London City on Friday evening they could rebook or get a full refund.

Vicky Lane, a passenger on a grounded London to Dublin plane at Gatwick said: "We've been stuck on a Ryanair flight... for over an hour.

"The doors are open and we're really cold. I'm not sure when we will be leaving."

Another passenger, on a flight to Paris, said his plane had "circled around the Lake District for half an hour before turning back to Edinburgh".

Ed Bott told the BBC he was: "Currently sitting on the tarmac. None the wiser. Waiting for news as to what's happening."

Swanwick controls the 200,000 square miles of airspace above England and Wales, cost £623m to build, and employs about 1,300 controllers.

But the facility, which handles 5,000 flights every 24 hours, has had a troubled history.

It opened in 2002, six years after its planned commissioning date - a delay which National Air Traffic Services (Nats) said was due to problems with the software used to power its systems.

Almost a year after it opened, a senior air traffic controller raised concerns with the BBC about health and safety standards and complications with radio communications - which he said cut out erratically.

Technical problems and computer faults hit flights in 2008 and again last summer. And, in December 2013, problems with the internal telephone system then caused further delays.

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Intelligence bill bolsters warrantless spying on U.S. citizens

House of Representatives

© Police State USA

House of Representatives

Washington D. C. - With virtually no warning or debate, the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2015 (H.R. 4681) was rushed to the House floor and passed, containing a dangerous section which, for the first time, statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.

Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) made a hastened effort to draw attention to the disturbing bill, only hours before the vote was scheduled. If not for Amash's efforts, the bill would have passed on a "voice vote" - meaning no record would be kept of which Congressmen supported it. Rep. Amash explained in a press release on social media:

"When I learned that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 was being rushed to the floor for a vote - with little debate and only a voice vote expected (i.e., simply declared "passed" with almost nobody in the room) - I asked my legislative staff to quickly review the bill for unusual language. What they discovered is one of the most egregious sections of law I've encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American." - Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)

Section 309 contains the language which civil libertarians found disturbing. Rep. Amash rushed out a "Dear Colleague" letter to every member of congress, urging each to vote "NO" on H.R. 4681.

Dear Colleague:

Rep. Justin Amash

© Associated Press

Rep. Justin Amash

The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.

Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309 - one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes "the acquisition, retention, and dissemination" of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.

To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons' private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans' private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.

Supporters of Sec. 309 claim that the provision actually reins in the executive branch's power to retain Americans' private communications. It is true that Sec. 309 includes exceedingly weak limits on the executive's retention of Americans' communications. With many exceptions, the provision requires the executive to dispose of Americans' communications within five years of acquiring them - although, as HPSCI admits, the executive branch already follows procedures along these lines.

In exchange for the data retention requirements that the executive already follows, Sec. 309 provides a novel statutory basis for the executive branch's capture and use of Americans' private communications. The Senate inserted the provision into the intelligence reauthorization bill late last night. That is no way for Congress to address the sensitive, private information of our constituents - especially when we are asked to expand our government's surveillance powers.

Explained another way, this bill allows information gathered via warrantless federal surveillance to be transferred to local law enforcement for criminal investigations without any type of court order, subpoena or warrant. As pointed out above, this is a drastic change in the nature of the law.

As Police State USA has previously explained, tips gathered from NSA-style spying are considered illegitimate in court. Enforcers had to lie and create a "parallel construction" of the investigation using legitimate means in order to proceed with prosecution. Not even the judges and prosecutors knew about the secret investigations of the defendants.

The Intelligence Authorization Act apparently codifies this practice and makes it the norm in law enforcement.

Unfortunately, on December 10th, 2014, the 47-page intelligence bill passed, 325-100. However, since Rep. Amash requested a roll-call vote, we know the names those who backed it.

ROLL CALL VOTE: H.R. 4681: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015

The measure already passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent on December 9th, and is now on its way to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it.

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Can cops predict crime?

Predicting Crime

© Thinkstock

New software uses records of previous crimes to predict areas or "hot spots" where police are then dispatched.

The field of "predictive policing" is becoming more and more common as law enforcement officials take advantage of new tools of computer science, machine learning and big data to figure out where criminals may strike next.

These programs are a far cry from the Tom Cruise film/Philip K. Dick novel in which citizens were arrested days or weeks before they committed crimes. But prediction methods are getting better, focusing not on an individual's brain or personality, but rather individual kinds of behavior of large groups of people -- in this case, the habits of bad guys.

Predictive policing "is not about replacing police officers with " said Jeff Brantingham, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has developed predictive policing software for several big city departments.

"It's about predicting where and when crime might occur."

Brantingham's software uses records of previous crimes -- their location, time of day and type of crime -- to predict areas or "hot spots" where similar events may occur. Police are then dispatched to the area to keep a lookout, or just disrupt any possible criminal behavior.

The PredPol (Predictive Policing) software program is deployed in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Tacoma, Wa., among other cities.

Officials with the Cambridge (Mass.) Police Department are working with statistics experts from the Massachusetts Institution of Technology in another direction -- trying to find patterns of behavior in the "modus operandi" previous criminal cases to stop future ones.

"We don't consider time and space, but all possible methods of the criminal," said Janet Rudin, MIT associate professor of statistics. "How did they get in? Did they push in a window or unlock a door? Did they ransack the place or leave it neatly? Do they come in while people are living there? We look at very detailed information about crimes that you wouldn't be able to look at with just hot spot analysis. It's a much harder problem."

Rudin has also helped NASCAR drivers change their tires more efficiently and predict manhole cover explosions in New York City. She says that the goal isn't to predict crime, but identify people who are committing the same kinds of crimes over and over. The algorithm especially works well for property crimes, such as burglaries and pickpockets.

In Philadelphia, scientists are joining police to hopefully curb domestic violence. University of Pennsylvania's Richard Berk, professor of criminology and statistics, is working on a new project to collect injury data from victims.

The idea is to see if certain behaviors by domestic abusers can be used to predict future violence. The program collects information about the kind of weapon used; is the offender armed with handgun or a rifle? Is there property damage? Are pets injured (a good predictor)? Are there threats of doing serious bodily harm?

"You look at location of injuries on a person's body, whether they have been strangled, that is different kind of violence than punching someone in the nose," Berk said. "When a cop walks in the door, they have to make decision whether to arrest or the individual or let him go. That decision should be affected by whether there will be violence again soon. Maybe fatal violence. We will know from these reports."

Other big data policing projects are trying to predict recidivism by looking at the likelihood that a parolee will commit another crime based on his or her past. All these researchers say the challenge is getting these software programs out of the academic setting and into the patrol car.

Rudin says that the more specific you get with data and its predictive value, the more customized and more work it is to adapt the computer algorithms to each community.

"If police don't keep track of this data," Rudin said. "We can't do it."

Policing with data is an improvement on policing without data, but it's not a replacement for the skills and training of the police officer, according to UCLA's Brantingham.

"It's not as if the data is going to do the interaction with community members," he said. "The data helps you take what are limited resources and puts them in the right place at the right time."

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Bangladeshi villagers struggle to clean up after huge oil spill threatens rare dolphin preserve

oil spill bangladesh

© World Conservation Society

Bangladeshi villagers try to collect oil that spread in the river after an oil tanker sank in the Shela River in Mongla, in a photo taken on December 11, 2014

Bangladeshi villagers using sponges, shovels and even spoons worked Friday to clean up a huge oil spill in a protected area that is home to rare dolphins, after environmentalists warned of an ecological "catastrophe".

Thousands of litres of oil have spilt into the protected Sundarbans mangrove area, home to rare Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins, after a tanker collided with another vessel on Tuesday.

The government has sent a ship carrying oil dispersants to the area, which is inside one of three sanctuaries set up for the dolphins.

But environmentalists say the chemicals could harm the delicate ecology of the Sundarbans, a UNESCO world heritage site.

As authorities debated whether to deploy the dispersants, the company that owns the stricken oil tanker said it would buy up the oil that local villagers have collected.

"It has no commercial value as it can't be used, but we are using the offer to encourage people so that the cleaning up process speeds up," said Rafiqul Islam Babul of the Padma Oil Company.

"Villagers including children are going out onto the river in boats to collect the oil floating on the water using sponges, shovels and spoons," he said.

"Then they are putting it in small ditches on the river banks and our employees are buying it."

The head of the local port authority earlier told reporters that fishermen would use "sponges and sacks" to collect the spilt oil, which has already spread over an 80-kilometre (50-mile) area.

A Bangladeshi oil-tanker lies half-submerged on December 9, 2014, after it was hit by a cargo vessel on the Shela River in the Sundarbans in Mongla

Amir Hosain, chief forest official of the Sundarbans, admitted that authorities were unsure about the best course of action.

"This catastrophe is unprecedented in the Sundarbans and we don't know how to tackle this," he told AFP.

"We're worried about its long-term impact, because it happened in a fragile and sensitive mangrove ecosystem."

Damage already done

Rescue vessels have now salvaged the tanker, which was carrying an estimated 357,000 litres (77,000 gallons) of oil when it sank.

But officials say the damage the has already been done as the slick has spread to a second river and a network of canals in the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, which straddles India and Bangladesh.

Rubayat Mansur, Bangladesh head of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, said most of the oil appeared to have already leaked out of the tanker before it was salvaged.

"I visited the sunken trawler this morning. Only few hundred litres of oil remain inside, so almost all the oil has spilled into the Sundarbans," he said.

Mansur said oil dispersants were "not appropriate for the mangrove ecosystem" and urged local villagers to help collect the oil from nets that have been placed in the river to contain its spread.

Spread over 10,000 square kilometres (3,800 square miles), the Sundarbans is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site and home to hundreds of Bengal tigers. The delta comprises a network of rivers and canals.

Mansur said Bangladesh's coastal areas including the Sundarbans were the "largest known home" of the Irrawaddy dolphins.

"Irrawaddy Dolphins can be found in South East Asia. But their population size is very small compared to Bangladesh," said Mansur.

Bangladesh set up sanctuaries in the Sundarbans in 2011 after studies showed that there were hundreds of endangered Irrawaddy and Ganges river dolphins there.

Fishing is banned in the area, but tankers and other boats are allowed to pass through.

The Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins are both on the warning "red list" of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which says numbers are falling.

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