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Thursday, 25 December 2014

The bear squeezes back: Ruble rises against dollar

© Christopher Haughery/flickr

The latest of a series of official Canadian verbal darts aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin was published December 15 on .

The content was propaganda or as would have it, advertorial. It was part of a Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) campaign surrounding Stephen Harper's announcement of new sanctions against Russia, which, no surprise, coincided with updated sanctions from Washington.

On December 16 headlines read "Ruble Routed." The impression re-enforced was that Russia faced severe financial problems, and that investor support for its economy was sliding. The ultimate U.S. objective of forcing regime change in Russia through economic sanctions aimed at limiting its influence in Ukraine seemed to be on track.

The Russian ruble had been falling in value against the U.S. dollar. It fell as much as 11 per cent on Dec. 16. Speculators borrowed rubles in the morning and sold them for dollars immediately. At the end of that day, the rubles were bought back for 11 per cent less, the loan repaid, and the speculators picks up an 11 per cent profit in one day, just short of 4,000 per cent if it could be sustained for a year.

Except that on December 17, the Russian Central Bank intervened in the foreign exchange market to support the value of the ruble. By selling from its deep U.S. dollar reserves, the Russians were able to drive up the value of the ruble, forcing speculators to take huge losses. The new headline was "Ruble Surges."

Later last week, and again to start the week of December 22, the ruble has been gaining ground against the dollar. The engineer of the turnaround is Ms. Elvira Nabiullina, Governor of the Bank of Russia, the first woman to head a G8 central bank, and formerly economic adviser to Putin.

By defeating attempts to drive its currency down, the Russian Central Bank had executed a procedure known as a "bear squeeze," the bears being those who believed the ruble would fall in value. Feeding this belief was major misinformation, and misunderstanding of the Russian economic and financial situation.

While an almost 50 per cent decline in the price of oil has hurt Russian export earnings, the even greater fall in the value of the ruble has meant that the ruble value of the oil exports has not declined.

Sanctions introduced by the West against Russia are a form of hot economic warfare. But the attack on the ruble resulted in a competitive currency devaluation for Russia, limiting its ability to import from the West (saving foreign currency), and protecting the value of its declining volume of exports by increasing the number of dollars it receives for each devalued ruble.

As Michael Hudson has explained, Putin has responded to the U.S.-led sanctions movement by diversifying oil and gas exports towards China and Turkey, and signing sales agreements in rubles or currencies other than the U.S. dollar. By abandoning the U.S. dollar as its trading currency, and accepting payments in Chinese yuan, for instance, Putin is signalling his desire to break the stranglehold the U.S. currency has enjoyed over oil and gas trade, and within the world economy.

On December 22, China announced its willingness to support the ruble through currency swaps from its $4-trillion reserves.

Russia has a favourable balance of trade and healthy foreign exchange reserves. Its overseas assets exceed its overseas debts. Contrary to reports from even American liberals such as Paul Krugman, Russia is well placed to meet its overseas payments, as French specialist Jacques Sapir has shown.

The Russian economy grew on average by nearly seven per cent per year from 1999-2008 (Putin took power in 2000) before it tanked in the world financial crisis of 2008. While U.S. and Eurozone (except Germany) economic growth remained about zero from 2008 until 2013, Russia grew slowly in that period.

Importantly, in 2014 the level of Russian government debt is small at 16 per cent of GDP, especially when compared to other industrial countries such as France or the U.K., where it is over 90 per cent.

Russian corporate debt especially in banking and in the oil and gas sector has grown and because these companies are tied to the Russian state their operations remains vulnerable to Western sanctions.

Russia is attempting to divert its purchases of foodstuffs to non-Western countries and wants to adopt an aggressive import substitution policy for manufacturing. Instead of importing manufacturing goods it wants foreign manufactures to re-locate to Russia and produce for the large domestic market.

Russia is a nuclear power. In another era, when Canada practiced diplomacy, the goal would have been to reduce tensions between the U.S. and the Russian bear. Today, as DFATD resorts to , shows the Conservatives eschew foreign policy as such, preferring to promote themselves as pro-American or pro-Ukrainian with the voting public.

An experienced observer, Patrick Armstrong, former political counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, has serious concerns with NATO policy, but foreign policy distinctions do not trouble Foreign Minister Baird or the Prime Minister. The oafs are in charge in Ottawa.


SOTT Exclusive: How Western-backed death squads are celebrating Christmas

Ukraine: Fascist mobs running wild in the streets, while government officials obey their masters' dictates

© RIA Novosti / Alexandr Maksimenko

Not surprisingly, a recent poll revealed that more and more people in Ukraine are unhappy with their quality of life. The government is preparing more austerity measures, dictated to it by the IMF, while Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk is warning citizens of more power cuts if the mild weather fades. NATO is also waiting for its share of the spoils; new Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has announced that Ukraine must conduct certain reforms before applying for a candidacy, including - among other things - that Kiev spend at least 2% of its GDP on military equipment from NATO-approved suppliers. For a debt-country on the verge of bankruptcy and in the midst of a major rebellion, this can only mean one thing: more misery and violence.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual for the neo-Nazi brownshirts patrolling the streets and menacing civil society. The 'Right Sector' group is made up of ultra-right wing nationalist and former military personnel who have acted as mercenaries and henchmen for the Ukrainian oligarchs aligned with the U.S. and EU. On Christmas Eve they decided to take to the streets in the northeastern city of Kharkov, waving flags of the 'Right Sektor' group and beating up several citizens.

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They also tossed an 'old regime' official, Vladimir Skorobagach into a dumpster, poured green paint on his face and pelted him with eggs. This seems to be turning into a habit for the fascist mobs, as the same happened to Ukrainian MP Vitaly Zhuravsky a few months ago.

The protesters seized Skorobagach near the city council entrance and tried to make him publicly insult President Vladimir Putin. The official first managed to escape and take shelter in a pharmacy.

However, the crowd found him and offered Skorobagach the chance to "get into the trash himself." When he didn't, several masked men took him by force and put into the dumpster, pouring green paint on his face. The crowd chanted "Lustration!"

Police eventually came to the official's rescue. Skorobagach was taken to hospital, as he said someone sprayed him with unknown liquid in eyes and he could not see.

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Full of 'Christmas spirit', the fascist mobs also decided to block the delivery of humanitarian aid from reaching war-torn parts of the country.

The battalions say the food, clothing and medicine meant for the needy in eastern Ukraine are aiding rebel forces. They are also demanding the release of prisoners held by the rebels as a condition for granting aid to the east.

As us Westerners enjoy the holiday season with loved ones, let's drop in on how ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine are spending their Christmas. The following photos show the people of Donetsk, who are forced to live in bomb shelters because their houses were destroyed by the Ukrainian army:

© Unknown

© Unknown

ISIS, lone wolfs, terror plots and #JSIL

© Unknown

ISIS is another U.S.-sponsored group that isn't taking a break these holidays. It has become a Christmas ritual now for the Western Empire to spook everyone with 'imminent terror threats'...

The terrorist threat has been perceived as high by most of the Western countries in recent months as the Islamic State group called on supporters to carry out lone wolf attacks in countries that are participating in the US-led anti-IS coalition.

Wait, there's more.

Spontaneous lone wolf attacks are not the only thing law enforcement authorities fear this Christmas. As early as on December 1, the British Daily Express newspaper said, citing an unnamed security employee, that al-Qaeda terrorists had been plotting to blow up five European passenger planes on Christmas.

As a result of these warnings/claims from an "unnamed security employee", British security services have reassured Brits that they are preparing to stave off these Christmas 'lone wolf' terror attacks (unless, of course, they decide to assist the attacks by escorting passport-less and ticket-less patsies through airport security - I guess it depends on their mood which way it will go). Australian authorities are also following suit (yes, ISIS hates Aussies too, apparently for their chocolate and wallabies), fearing that the 'Sydney Siege' circus could produce a copycat 'attack on Christmas'.

Also on Christmas Eve, ISIS managed to capture a Jordanian pilot after shooting down his military jet over Syria. Since the U.S. and their allies are the ones supplying the Wahabi nutjobs group with weapons, they are directly responsible for the incident. You can see where this is going, can't you? Now that they have the ability to shoot down jet aircraft, how long before the terrorists shoot down civilian aircraft?

The final report I'd like to bring to your attention is about another fanatical terrorist group.

'Israeli police shoot 5-year-old in the face while exiting school bus'

Israeli forces on Wednesday afternoon shot a 5-year-old Palestinian child in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet in East Jerusalem as he was getting out of a school bus on his way home, relatives said.

"An Israeli soldier fired a black rubber-coated bullet at the child from a close distance, injuring him under the eye," the uncle of 5-year-old Muhammad Jamal Ubeid told Ma'an.

The incident reportedly took place in the East Jerusalem village of al-Issawiya, where Muhammad's family lives.

The child's uncle said that Muhammad and his 14-year-old sister stepped out of a school bus and had started to walk home when the Israeli forces shot him.

The uncle said there were no confrontations at all in the area between Israeli forces and Palestinians at the time of the shooting.

Yes indeed, Christmas wouldn't be complete without Israelis brutalizing Palestinians in the supposed birth country of the very person whose 'christian' legacy Westerners have spent the last 2,000 years gathering with their families to remember, honor and celebrate.

Happy Christmas.


Ante Sarlija (Profile)

Born and raised in Croatia, Ante joined the SOTT editorial team in 2014. He is also a part of the Croatian SOTT translation team. His area of interest includes, among other things, Philosophy and Politics. In his spare time he enjoys reading, researching, listening to music and smoking.

Moscow stuck in worst ever Christmas traffic after unexpected severe snowfall

© AFP Photo/Yuri Kadobonov

Cars are pictured on a road in Moscow as it snows on December 25, 2014.

Moscow was gripped by the worst gridlock ever seen as unexpectedly severe snowfall hit the Russian capital on Christmas day, literally paralyzing the city. Police registered up to 500 road accidents an hour and 200 flights were delayed.

The longest traffic jam stretched 60 kilometers, or over 37 miles, Russia's online road traffic monitoring service Yandex Probki (Yandex traffic jam), reported.

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Yandex rates jams from 0 to 10 points.

"Guys, remember this historic day. It is the first time when 10 point was reached so early and for so long. It has been like that for 7 hours already. More is to come," Yandex spokeswoman Elina Staviskaya posted on Facebook.

More than 11,000 units of specialized equipment have been struggling to cope with such a large snowfall (25 centimeters, 10 inches) in so short a period of time.

These largely futile efforts have failed to help the situation on the roads. The congestion worsened in the evening when huge numbers of people left their workplaces and began to head home.

© AFP Photo/Yuri Kadobonov

Near zero visibility and atrocious road conditions caused numerous accidents.

By 5:00 pm traffic police reported that in just one hour they had registered over 500 accidents, including 45 serious ones.

Commuters have been advised to walk. In many cases it was nearly impossible to reach metro stations by bus.

While stuck in traffic some people tried not to lose their sense of humor. Using the Yandex Probki mobile application, many started chatting and leaving funny notes for fellow drivers on the map.

"Let's eat snow and clean roads," suggested one driver. Another offered going back to their offices and having a party.

"Join us in the blue bus. We've been here since 8:00," others wrote. Somebody begged Father Frost (Russian Santa Claus) to give a siren as a gift for New Year, hoping it would help.

Drivers handed over food and water, joked and cursed the weather. Numerous people stopped to help fellow travelers who were stranded in the snow.

Moscow airports have also been affected by the blizzard conditions. Over 20 flights were canceled and nearly 200 flights delayed. Some passengers said they were stuck on planes for hours as the aircraft were unable to taxi.

Moscow public services began working early in the morning and will "continue round the clock," authorities say. They promised that by Friday morning all the snow will be cleared.

France unemployment total at new record high

© Reuters

French economy minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked anger with his deregulation plans.

The jobless total rose by 27,400 in November to 3,488,300 - the highest level yet seen.

That means the number looking for a job has risen by 5.8% in the past year.

The claimant count rose in November for the third month in a row, and official government estimates suggest the economy will have grown by just 0.4% this past year.

The jobless figures count the number of people claiming benefits and looking for work with the National Agency for Unemployment.

The alternative international measure of unemployment, devised by the International Labour Organisation and based on a regular survey, says that unemployment in France rose to 2.84 million in the third quarter of the year, giving an unemployment rate of 9.9%.

President Francois Hollande, elected in 2012, made the creation of more jobs a key feature of his election campaign.

He recently stated that if he failed in this aim, he would not stand again in the 2017 presidential elections.

The latest attempt to rouse the economy from stagnation and to create more jobs was announced earlier in December.

The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, and the Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron, outlined plans that included increasing the number of businesses operating on Sundays, and opening up regulated sectors, such as certain professions, to competition.

It is not obvious this strategy would succeed in reviving the economy, even if implemented fully.

The deregulation plan produced immediate protests by thousands of people in Paris and faces opposition from within the ruling Socialist Party.

© Yoan Valat/AP

President Francois Hollande has seen his popularity fall to the lowest ratings in French polling history, with a key factor being his failure to live up to promises to tackle unemployment.

More from the :

President Francois Hollande has seen his popularity fall to the lowest ratings in French polling history, with a key factor being his failure to live up to promises to tackle unemployment.

The jobless increase in November was the third monthly gain in a row after a slight fall in unemployment in August.

The French government had been counting on a pick-up in business activity in the second half but has cut its 2014 economic growth estimate to 0.4pc from 1pc previously after the economy stagnated in the first half.

Data on Tuesday showed a slight rebound in consumer spending in November while the government confirmed its estimate of GDP growth at just 0.3pc in the third quarter of the year.

Wild elephant kills yet another individual in Sri Lanka

An individual has been killed yesterday (21st) in a wild elephant attack in Uhana area.

The remains of the victim are lying at Ampara Hospital. The post-mortem is yet to be conducted.

Uhana Police are conducting further investigations in to the incident.

The strange and unexplained phenomenon of raining stones

© Shutterstock

While high winds or tornadoes may explain how some objects (such as fish or frogs) have been swept up and rained down on the Earth, it seems unlikely that days-long rains of large stones can be explained this way

Throughout history, there have been numerous recorded instances of strange objects falling from the sky - fish, frogs, candy, jellyfish, beans, nuts, seeds, and all manner of bizarre and unlikely objects. A popular theory explains these events as being caused by strong winds that whisk things up from the ground or water and hurl them towards an unsuspecting town many miles away. But can this theory also explain showers of heavy stones that have been known to damage houses and even kill people and livestock?

A Long History of Raining Objects

One of the first recorded instances of "raining" objects comes from the writings of Roman philosopher and naturalist Pliny the Elder, who documented storms of frogs and fish in the 1st century A.D. in what is now Italy.

In the 3rd century A.D., ancient Greek rhetorician and grammarian Athenaeus wrote in his work (Book VIII): "In Paeonia and Dardania it has, they say, before now rained frogs; and so great has been the number of these frogs that the houses and the roads have been full of them; and at first, for some days, the inhabitants, endeavoring to kill them, and shutting up their houses, endured the pest; but when they did no good, but found that all their vessels were filled with them, and the frogs were found to be boiled up and roasted with everything they ate, and when besides all this, they could not make use of any water, nor put their feet on the ground for the heaps of frogs that were everywhere, and were annoyed also by the smell of those that died, they fled the country."

1555 engraving of raining fish

Since then, numerous other unusual instances have been documented, including a storm in Italy in 1840 that deposited thousands of partially germinated Judas Tree seeds native to Central Africa; a dusting of sugar crystals in 1857 in Lake County, Calif.; a rain of hazelnuts over Dublin, Ireland, in 1867; live pond mussels in Paderborn, Germany, in 1892; and jellyfish in Bath, England, in 1894.

Perhaps one of the most exciting "rains" to occur was the shower of 16th-century coins that fell from the sky on June 16, 1940, in the Russian village of Meschera. Archaeologists hypothesized that a strong wind swept up a buried trove that had been exposed by soil erosion, before dropping it back down.

One of the first scientists to address the strange phenomena of raining objects was E.W. Gudger, an ichthyologist at the American Museum of Natural History. Gudger published a paper in the journal , titled "Rains of Fishes," in the early 20th century in which he suggested four possible explanations for showers of marine species.

First, he suggested that certain "out-of-place" animal species may simply be on their migration. Secondly, that fish or other marine species were left stranded on land after overflow from ponds or streams. Third, that estivating fish, awakened by heavy rains, had burrowed to the surface. And fourth, that the fish had been whisked out of the ocean or lake by waterspouts or tornadoes and dumped to the ground many miles away.

Waterspouts have been mentioned as one of the explanations for raining objects

The latter theory has received the most support. Jerry Dennis writes in his book , that theoretical calculations suggest that "golf ball-sized hail requires an updraft of more than 100 miles per hour, which would be more than powerful enough to loft small fish high into a thundercloud."

However, some occurrences of falling objects cannot as easily be explained by this theory. The phenomena of raining stones, for example, has been known to last for several days or even weeks, and with rocks too large to be carried long distances in the wind.

Raining StonesLike the phenomena of raining animals, raining stones have been documented throughout history. One of the earliest accounts is from 1557, when Conrad Lycosthenes's , described a rain of stones bringing death to people and livestock.

During the Middle Ages, occurrences of stones falling from the sky were attributed to creatures of supernatural origin or even the devil. In 1690, folklorist Robert Kirk wrote in his book that falling stones were caused by subterranean inhabitants called "invisible wights" - similar to goblins or brownies - which would hurl the stones around, but never with the intention to hurt anyone. In 1698, stones fell from the sky in New Hampshire, which was recorded in a pamphlet titled .

An illustration of a rain of stones from “Don Quixote.”

One of the most well-known cases of falling stones occurred in Harrisonville, Ohio, in Oct. 1901. , a small local newspaper, reported that on Oct. 13, "a small boulder came crashing through the window of Zach Dye's house." Nobody was seen in the vicinity. But this was just the beginning. Within a few days, the whole town was supposedly afflicted by stones and boulders falling from a clear sky. Perplexed as to where the stones were coming from, the townspeople rounded up all the men and boys of Harrisonville to rule out the phenomenon being caused by a gang of trouble-makers (it was assumed that females would not be capable of such as act). The stones continue to fall. Several days later, the rain of stones stopped just as suddenly as it had started.

Since this event, there have been many other documented occasions of stones falling from the sky, including in Sumatra (1903), Belgium (1913), France (1921), Australia (repeatedly between 1946 and 1962), New Zealand (1963), New York (1973), and Arizona (1983).

Explanations for Raining Stones

Scientists have admitted that they really do not have a definitive answer for the strange phenomena of raining stones. Over the years, many theories have been proposed from poltergeist activity to supernatural beings, gangs of stone-throwers, volcanoes, meteorites, tornadoes, and even divine retribution, as seen in the reference (Joshua 10:11): "the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them until Azekah, and they died."

On Nov. 23, 2013, thousands of small rocks fell from the sky over Sicily, Italy, which began after Mount Etna, an active volcano, spewed out pumice stones, dust, and ash into the sky. Cars became covered in small, sharp, black rocks. This certainly explains one instance of falling stones. However, many recorded events do not match this description.

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Another popular explanation is tornadoes or tornado-like conditions. However, rocks have been reported to fall even in fine weather and in countries that do not experience tornadoes. Furthermore, tornadoes are only capable of scooping up debris and shooting it outwards on ballistic trajectories. They do not cause debris to fall downwards from the sky far from the point of origin.

Some experts have argued that raining stones may be caused by a meteorite entering Earth's atmosphere and fragmenting into thousands of smaller stones. However, such an event is usually accompanied by a sonic boom, which has not been documented in any of the reported cases, and this theory would have a hard time accounting for events that have lasted days or even weeks.

As with many unusual and unexplained phenomena, scientists and academics have been reluctant to examine the subject in any rigorous manner. Presumably, examining the nature of the rocks and whether they are local to the area in which they fall or from further afield, including from outerspace, could help to at least shed some light on mystery. Until then, we are left with mere speculations as to what causes this bizarre phenomena.

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Walmart forced to raise minimum wage at one-third of stores due to state mandates


Walmart, America's largest private employer, is being forced to raise its minimum wage payments for workers. The move could improve the lives of roughly one-third of its 1.3 million employees and reduce the burden on the government.

Since 21 states have adopted minimum wage increases either via legislative pressure or ballot initiatives, Walmart must now adjust base salaries at a third of its locations, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. The memo sent to store managers this month said the wage hikes are due to come into effect on January 1.

Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told Reuters that the company is making the changes to "ensure our stores in the 21 states comply with the law."

Thirteen states lifted the minimum wage in 2014, up from 10 states in 2013 and eight in 2012. The minimum wage increased 17 percent in South Dakota, to $8.50, and rose two percent in Arizona, to $8.05.

The Walmart memo shows that there will be changes to its pay structure, including a narrowing of the gap in the minimum premium paid to those in higher skilled positions, such as deli associates and department supervisors, over lower grade jobs. It will also combine its lowest three pay grades - which include cashiers, cart pushers, and maintenance - into one base rate.

walmart black friday protest

© Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

People march during a Black Friday protest against Walmart in Long Beach, California November 28, 2014.

Many associates, warehouse laborers, and other low-wage workers depend on federal programs in addition to their Walmart jobs, and the company has been struggling to grow sales after many lower-income Americans lost jobs or income in the financial crisis.

The changes appear in part to be an effort to offset the anticipated upswing in labor costs, according to a manager who is implementing the changes at his store.

"Essentially that wage compression at the upper level of the hourly associate is going to help absorb that cost of the wage increase at the lower level," the manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

Walmart's operating model is to keep costs under close control to attract consumers with low prices, and operate the corporation on tight margins. The company also avoids paying roughly $1 billion in taxes off its worldwide $21.4 billion in profit through federal tax loopholes, according to Americans for Tax Fairness.

walmart black friday protest

© Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

People march during a Black Friday protest against Walmart in Long Beach, California November 28, 2014. (Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn)

Until now, Walmart's low pay has meant that many of its employees depend on federal programs like Medicaid and food stamps to make ends meet. According to a 2013 congressional research report , "a single 300-employee Walmart Supercenter may cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million per year." The total cost of Walmart workers on federal programs is an estimated $6.2 billion.

That dependence on government subsidy, or the American taxpayer who provides the subsidy, is driving a group of workers backed by labor unions to demand that Walmart, fast-food chains, and other retailers pay at least $15 an hour.

Walmart estimates its average full-time hourly wage is $12.92, and says that it pays competitive wages and offers its employees ample opportunity for advancement. However, most people aren't hired as full-time workers and need government benefits to make up the difference.

Walmart said last month that an investment in wages, along with higher healthcare costs, drove a 3.5 percent increase in operating expenses in its most recent quarter.

Circus elephant kills 12-year-old boy in Vietnam

The elephant that killed the boy.

A 12-year-old boy was killed by an elephant from a travelling circus troupe on Tuesday in Dak Mil district's Duc Manh commune.

Nguyen Van Luat was feeding the elephant while it was chained up in preparation for that evening's show when the 40-year-old animal grabbed him with its trunk and crushed it under its foot, according to chairman of the communal people's committee Du Van The.

The elephant keeper rushed out to save the boy, but it was too late.

Binh Minh circus troupe, which comes from northern Thai Binh Province, arrived in the commune on Monday during its tour of Viet Nam.

Pham Thanh Cao, deputy head of the troupe, said the boy and his friend were annoying the elephant. He admitted that the troupe had not taken any protective measures.

The case is currently under investigation.

Five injured in Christmas Day arson attack on Swedish mosque

© Reuters / Pontus Stenberg

Firemen work as smoke billows from the windows of a mosque in Eskilstuna December 25, 2014.

An arsonist has set a mosque ablaze in the southeastern Swedish town of Eskilstuna. The Christmas Day attack comes amidst heightened anti-immigration sentiment in the country.

Up to 20 people, including children, were in the mosque at the time of the attack, which occurred in a residential area of the medium-sized town on Thursday.

The fire erupted after 1 p.m. local time, in a prayer room which was housed on the ground floor of a tower block, after an attacker threw an incendiary device through the window. The space was reportedly used by the city's Somali association.

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"A witness saw somebody throw an object through the window of the building, which serves as a mosque, after which a violent fire began," Lars Franzell, who is heading up the arson investigation, told Reuters.

Five people were later rushed to hospital for injuries ranging from cuts to smoke inhalation.

"Two suffer from smoke inhalation, two have cuts and bruises and one has a fracture," Franzell told Sweden's TT national wire service. One person was seriously injured but is in stable condition.

The attack on the mosque is likely to intensify tensions over immigration in the country.

According to figures for 2013, Sweden is by far the largest recipient of asylum seekers in the 34-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Nordic country took in 5,700 asylum seekers for every million residents last year - more than double that of any other OECD country.

People from Eritrea, Somalia, and Syria are the top three nationalities to apply for asylum in Sweden.

The asylum policy has become an increasingly contentious issue for the nation of roughly 9.6 million people. While Sweden's far-right wants to cut the number of refugees coming into the country by 90 percent, mainstream parties are fighting to preserve the country's liberal asylum policy.

Christmas in America: Growing poverty, unemployment and homelessness in the world's richest country

There's no way like the American Way

© Margaret Bourke-White

Washington is the grinch that stole Christmas. Bah Humbug defines its agenda.

Unprecedented in modern times. Privileged Americans never had it better. Ordinary ones face lump of coal harshness. Hard times keep getting harder.

Reflected in institutionalized inequality. Growing poverty. High unemployment. Multiples higher than phony Labor Department numbers. An epidemic of underemployment persists.

Jobs paying poverty or sub-poverty wages. With few or no benefits.

Households need two or three to get by.

Growing millions face "one impossible choice after another," according to Poverty USA. "(B)etween food and medicine(s), getting to work or paying the heating bill."

Census data show around half the population living in poverty or bordering it. In the world's richest country.

Affecting nearly 60% of children. America has a higher percent of working poor than any other industrialized country.

Human suffering is real. Neoliberal harshness is official policy. Force-fed austerity reflects it. Social injustice is rife.

Bipartisan complicity supports it. Ordinary people are increasingly on their own out of luck.

America's social contact is targeted for elimination. Disappearing when most needed. Monied interests alone are served.

Inequality is appalling. A race to the bottom persists. Class warfare defines it.

Most working Americans get by from paycheck to paycheck. One missed one away from possible homelessness, hunger and despair.

Inflation adjusted median household income keeps dropping. Americans have less to spend on increasingly more expensive goods and services.

People who eat. Drive cars. Pay rent. Service mortgages. Have medical expenses. Heat and/or air-condition residences.

Have children in college. Pay transportation costs. Know more about inflation than talking-head tout TV economists. The twelve days of Christmas now cost $27,673.

Shadowstats economist John Williams estimates real inflation at 9%. Based on 1980s calculation model.

Manipulated government data produce phony numbers. Across-the-board. Creating an illusion of prosperity.

Ignoring protracted Main Street Depression conditions. Growing human misery. Beautiful America exists for its privileged elites alone.

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data show over 600,000 homeless Americans on any given night. Including nearly 140,000 children. Over 57,000 veterans.

Living in cars. Parks. Bus or train stations. Under bridges. On city streets. In homeless shelters. Short-term transitional housing.

According to the National Center for Homeless Education, over one million homeless children attend public schools.

America's hunger crisis is real. A daily reality for nearly 50 million people. Affecting around 13 million families. Mostly hardworking ones.

Not earning enough to live on. About 16 million children don't get enough to eat. One in six Americans face hunger.

So do one in five children. Missing meals is commonplace. Nutritious balanced diets for growing millions don't exist. Belly-fillers substitute.

Food stamps provide a woefully inadequate $1.40 per person per meal.

Food banks supplement recipients when monthly benefits run out. Most often around 10 days or more before month's end.

Vital benefits are being cut when most needed. US resources go for war-making. Corporate handouts.

Massive public and private corruption in high places takes its toll.

Vital needs increasingly go begging.

Thirdworldizing America is official policy. Privileged interests alone benefit. Social inequality is institutionalized.

Millions struggle daily to pay rent. Service mortgages. Handle medical bills. Heat homes. Cover transportation costs. Manage increasingly more expensive daily expenses.

On October 31, magazine headlined "Wealth inequality in America: It's worse than you think."

Citing analysis of economists Emmanuel Saez an Gabriel Zucman. Showing a more extreme US wealth gap than any time since the Great Depression.

In a London School of Economics and Political Science web site article, Saez abd Zucman show increased income inequality in America over the past four decades.

Saying "(t)he share of total income earned by the top 1 percent of families was less than 10 percent in the late 1970s but now exceeds 20 percent as of the end of 2012."

"A large portion of this increase is due to an upsurge in the labor incomes earned by senior company executives and successful entrepreneurs."

Wealth inequality rose. Defined as "the stock of all the assets people own, including their homes, pension savings, and bank accounts, minus all debts."

According to Saez and Zucman:

"Wealth inequality, it turns out, has followed a spectacular U-shape evolution over the past 100 years."

"From the Great Depression in the 1930s through the late 1970s there was a substantial democratization of wealth."

"The trend then inverted, with the share of total household wealth owned by the top 0.1 percent increasing to 22 percent in 2012 from 7 percent in the late 1970s."

"The top 0.1 percent includes 160,000 families with total net assets of more than $20 million in 2012."

The wealthiest 160,000 families own as much wealth as the poorest 145 million. It's about 10 times as unequal as income.

Affected by taxes made less progressive for decades. Soaring stock market valuations. Lack of middle and low-income family savings. Stagnant wages.

A changing job market. Low wage/poor or no benefit part-time or temp ones replacing living wage/good benefit full-time jobs.

Offshored to low-wage countries. New generations worse off than previous ones. In his book titled "Ill Fares the Land," Tony Judt addressed the effects of post-2008 financial crisis.

Saying "(t)here has been a collapse in intergenerational mobility: in contrast to their parents and grandparents, children today in the UK as in the US have very little expectation of improving upon the condition into which they were born."

"The poor stay poor. Economic disadvantage for the overwhelming majority translates into ill health, missed educational opportunity, and - increasingly - the familiar symptoms of depression: alcoholism, obesity, gambling, and minor criminality."

A new Pew Research Center (PRC) study found an unprecedented wealth gap between middle and upper-income Americans.

"In 2013, the median wealth of the nation's upper-income families ($639,400) was nearly seven times the median wealth of middle-income families ($96,500), the widest wealth gap seen in 30 years when the Federal Reserve began collecting these data," said PRC.

America's rich have a median net worth nearly 70 times greater than low-income families. Data show a disproportional wealth gap along racial and ethnic lines.

White household wealth is 13 times greater than for Blacks. Ten times more than for Hispanics.

So-called economic recovery for most Americans is pure fantasy. Protracted Main Street Depression conditions persist.

University of Michigan research shows wealth inequality doubled since 2003. America's top 5% has 426.5 times the wealth of bottom 25% households.

Other studies show America's top 1% has more wealth than the bottom 95%. The 400 richest families have as much as the bottom 50%.

In 1965, one in 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today it's one in six. In the 1970s, about one in 50 Americans were on food stamps. Now it's one in five.

Over half the population needs aid to survive. Increasingly eroding en route to eliminating it altogether.

Tens of millions of working age Americans wanting jobs can't find them. Middle income households are fast disappearing.

Poverty is a growth industry. So is human misery. America is banana republicanized. Unfit to live in for growing millions.

Democracy is pure fantasy. A facade masking New World Order harshness. Monied interests run things. Class war rages.

Inside the bubble it's paradise. Outside it's dystopian hell. America is venal. Corrupted. Depraved. Degenerate. Too broken to fix.

"The foul stench of corruption and hypocrisy that emanates from Washington is the smell of a dying country," says Paul Craig Roberts.

Good tidings and cheer at Christmas and throughout the year are for America's privileged alone. No joy to the world for most others.

Dead minke whale found near Dam Neck Naval base, Virginia

© Virginia Aquarium

Female Minke whale.

Virginia Aquarium responders found a stranded whale in Virginia Beach Wednesday morning.

The female Minke whale was dead when the aquarium's stranding response team arrived near Dam Neck Naval base. It was about 14 feet long. Heavy equipment on the base is assisting moving the animal above the high tide line and the stranding team will conduct a necropsy Friday morning.

The program is supported by the Virginia Aquarium Foundation through donations from the community, and grant-making organizations. To report a dead or live stranded marine mammal or sea turtle call the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program 24-hour hotline at (757) 437-6159.

How an old swimming pool feeds a family and is changing food production science

Garden Pool

© Garden Pool.org

The Garden Pool produces fresh veggies and tilapia and uses waste from backyard chickens.

Five years ago, a busted old swimming pool sat out of commission on the property of a foreclosed home in Mesa, Arizona, and from that damaged amenity, the Garden Pool movement was cultivated.

In 2009, Dennis and Danielle McClung bought that foreclosed home and empty swimming pool in need of expensive repairs. Instead of fixing up the swimming pool, McClung transformed the swimming pool into a self-sufficient, mini ecosystem. McClung built a plastic cap over the old swimming pool and began cultivating food where people once swam.

The Garden Pool featured a closed-loop ecosystem where tilapia, algae, and duckweed flourished alongside broccoli and sweet potatoes. McClung's goal was to feed a family of five and within a calendar year, their Garden Pool saved the family 75 percent on their grocery bills.

Before long, the idea grew into a movement and Garden Pool, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was formed. Today, according to the Garden Pool website, Garden Pools are being built around the globe as a sustainable solution to modern "food production challenges." featured the Garden Pool in an article late last summer and praised the growth of the Garden Pool.

"What began as a family experiment and blog is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a small staff. Garden Pool has been voted the Best Backyard Farm in Phoenix, gotten press from National Geographic TV and Wired and Make, and formed a Phoenix-area Meetup group that has nearly a thousand members. It's attracted hundreds of local volunteers, students, and gardeners who've helped build a dozen more Garden Pool systems in and around Phoenix."

The Garden Pool has caught the eye of more than just homesteaders and survivalists, though. According to , "scientists and engineers from Cornell University, Arizona State University, and even the space industry have all visited Garden Pool." What makes Garden Pool so interesting to so many scientists from various fields is that the Garden Pool design incorporates solar power, water conservation, backyard chickens, aquaculture, aquaponics, hydroponic gardening, organic pest control, biofiltration, thermal mass heating, and permaculture into a small enclosed, manageable area.

Garden Pool, as a nonprofit organization, also offers online classes and meetup groups. Volunteers with the Garden Pool non-profit organization even worked with Naturopaths Without Borders to build a Garden Pool in Haiti.

Garden Pool is also working on their new Community Outreach for Research and Nutrition Garden (C.O.R.N. Garden) which will serve to produce nutritious food for the hungry and provide research data for future projects. The C.O.R.N. Garden will also provide a way for community members to volunteer and be a stronger part of the Garden Pool movement.

What do you think of the Garden Pool idea?

[embedded content]

Rescued scientists bring back a warning from the Antarctic

© Andrew Peacock /Rex Features

Alok Jha and Laurence Topham look on at the Akademik Shokalskiy beset in ice in East Antarctica.

The voyage was meant to retrace the steps of Douglas Mawson, the great polar explorer and scientist who led the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911. What happened instead captured the world's attention, something none of the scientists, journalists and paying public aboard could have foreseen.

The got stuck in ice on Christmas Day 2013 only two weeks after leaving New Zealand. A rescue mission swung into operation. Chinese, French and Australian icebreakers hurried to the scene only to be defeated by the ice floes themselves.

News editors around the world must have thanked their chosen gods. Into the seasonal dead zone, a real story had dropped. Stranded far from home, those aboard the Shokalskiy faced danger amidst the spectacular ice.

That New Year's Eve an interview with expedition leader Chris Turney was beamed live to Times Square in New York. Two days later, the rescue effort entered a new phase. With no icebreaker able to smash way through, a Chinese helicopter, Xue Ying, or "Snow Eagle", rose into the air for the first of five flights to ferry passengers from the stricken ship to the Aurora Australis. A core crew remained behind to sail vessel home once conditions allowed.

Media interest in the expedition faded after the rescue, but in the year since Turney and his team have been busy. Scientific samples and measurements from the voyage are being turned into research papers that reveal striking changes at the southern ice cap. And rather than feeling discouraged about expeditions that are funded by paying passengers, Turney is more enthusiastic than ever.

"Once we got back home and made sure everyone was all right, we got on with working up the data and getting a whole load of papers ready for submission," Turney said. Like the rescue mission, this involved plenty of waiting. "It took nearly six months to get all the samples through quarantine."

Simple observations told unhappy stories. Trawls of water reeled in hauls of plastic rubbish, now seemingly ubiquitous in the world's oceans. On land, counts of Adélie penguins revealed the population had slumped near Mawson's huts in Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica. The birds are now commuting 40 miles to get food for their young. "Another 10 years there probably won't be many left," said Turney. The numbers of skuas seemed to have fallen too.

Commonwealth Bay has experienced substantial changes in recent years. In summertime fierce katabatic winds blow off the continent and chill the surrounding surface water to freezing point. The freshly created ice blows out to sea, as if on a production line. But the freezing process leaves behind cold, dense water that sinks to the sea floor, forming part of an oceanic current that drives circulation on a global scale.

The ocean circulation at Commonwealth Bay was disrupted in 2010 after an enormous iceberg, B09B, arrived. The 30 mile-long slab of ice smashed into the nearby Mertz glacier tongue and grounded itself at the entrance to the bay. That blocked the exit for fresh sea ice. As the ice built up, the ocean conveyor system partially closed down.

Such changes were bound to impact on life beneath the ice. Scientists inspected ecosystems on the sea floor. "You see this remarkable transition with the expansion of sea ice. A lot of kelp and other life on the seabed is dead or dying. We're seeing instead much of the deeper flora and fauna, as they come up from the deeper seabed because there's an ecological niche to be filled," said Turney. The shift in the ecosystem is expected to have impacts all the way up the foodchain.

What has happened in Commonwealth Bay may be echoed around the continent in the future. In Antarctica sea ice is extending, for reasons that are unclear, but possibly through the actions of stronger winds churning out more and more sea ice. "What B09B has done is effectively fast track an area of East Antarctica and given us an insight into what the rest of the place might be experiencing if the trend continues," Turney said.

More data is being crunched by the team. Some draws on measurements from rocks that will reveal how and when ice expanded from the polar ice cap along a 3,500km stretch of coastline.

When the got stuck last Christmas, Turney and the rest aboard the vessel failed to grasp how much attention the expedition was receiving. "At one level I still can't fathom it. We were living in our own bubble. We were on a ship that had serious problems," said Turney.

As the story went global, the venture came in for plenty of criticism. Climate sceptics suggested the incident disproved global warming, even though the ship's encasement was caused by the wind blowing ice around, making this a weather problem rather than a climate impact.

More justified were complaints that the expedition had disrupted the scientific work of other teams, principally those affected by the diversion of the several nations' icebreakers who arrived to help the . "From an Australian perspective, many projects were cancelled or abbreviated because of re-direction of shipping, a problem when shipping is such a limiting factor," said Pat Quilty, former chief scientist at the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition, and a researcher at the University of Tasmania.

Turney acknowledges that the rescue operation had an impact on others' scientific work, but adds that Antarctica is a risky place for any expedition. "There was disruption and we were incredibly grateful to everyone for their help. Fortunately though, from what we learned later, it seems that a lot of work was not harmed," Turney said.

Like Mawson's expedition in 1911, Turney's was only possible because the public helped pay. Half of the standard passengers aboard the paid A$18,000 (£9,700) to go along as scientific assistants. On the voyage Turney published progress reports on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. He wanted to reach as many people as possible.

Rather than feeling chastened by the trip, he is more convinced than ever that the paying, participating public are crucial. "There's a natural interest in discovery, in exploring. You can take some people with you on the expedition, and with modern technology you can take the rest of the world," he said.

Did Secret Service help kill JFK?

A transcript of the Lew Rockwell Show episode 385 with Mark Lane.

ROCKWELL: Well, good morning. This is the Lew Rockwell Show. And what an honor it is to have as our guest this morning, Mr. Mark Lane. Mark has been the champion of peace and of justice his entire legal career. I could spend the entire show talking about his achievements. I remember his beating CIA agent, E. Howard Hunt, and the CIA in a legal victory. I remember him defeating CIA agent or "ex-CIA agent," Bill Buckley. And I was so influenced by his great book Rush to Judgment . This is the first work of Kennedy assassination revisionism, for which he was targeted by the CIA and the rest of the regime. Mark has told the truth his whole life about the Kennedy assassination and the CIA and many other topics.

And, of course, we're going to link to your autobiography.

LANE: My autobiography is called Citizen Lane , which is a great title, but it isn't my title originally. It was Pauley Perrette, such a wonderful actress on NCIS, who is directing and producing a documentary film about me. In fact, she called one day. And I had seen her. I always thought she was terrific. I had seen her but I had never talked to her. And I got a phone call one day from her and she said, "I'd like to talk to you." I said, "OK, what's this about?" And she said, "Documentary." And I had made a couple of documentaries. And she said, "I'm working on one now; I'm about to start on one." So I thought she was calling for advice about how to put together a documentary since I had done a couple. I did Rush to Judgment . So I said, "What's it about?" She said, "Well, the name is Citizen Lane ." I said, "Oh, OK."


I could deal with that. And then we became very dear friends. And she's been here like three times. She has two little doggies and she'll not put them on a plane. She lives in Los Angeles. I'm here at the other end of the world in Charlottesville and close to the east coast. She's been here three times, always driving in her Volvo station wagon with her two dogs with her [Laughing]. So anyway, that's out. And she's the one who came up with the title Citizen Lane .

ROCKWELL: Oh, magnificent.


ROCKWELL: Well, Mark, tell us about your latest interest in the role of the Secret Service in the Kennedy assassination.

LANE: I'll tell you how that started. I had been a defense lawyer for 60 years, 6-0. That's more than a quarter of the history of the American judicial system, which my young wife really doesn't ever want me to say again in public, but it's true.


It's been a long time. When Oswald was arrested and I saw him on television, I thought about what I would do if he were my client because there were a lot of holes in this case. In fact, it was clear that even Gerald Posner, who wrote the establishment bookCase Closed, totally supporting the Warren Commission in every respect, has written that, "If Oswald were tried and Mark Lane was his lawyer, Oswald would have been acquitted." OK, if that's what you believe, you can't go around saying the guy's guilty. First of all, there's a presumption of innocence and he was never even charged, never indicted, actually, Oswald, because they killed him first. But had he been, there would have been a trial and I am convinced, as is Gerald Posner, who supports the Warren Commission, that he would have been acquitted, which is the reason they killed him. Because if he was alive and tried and was acquitted, America would say, "Who killed the president? Are they at large now?" And the first job of the Warren Commission, according to its general counsel, J. Lee Rankin, published in The New York Times , January 25, 1963, his first comment was, "The goal of our commission will be to reassure the American people." Not to find the truth. The word "truth" never came up. Even if you talk to the lawyers working for the commission - they were young lawyers then who had just been lured in to work for the Warren Commission - the word "truth" never came up. It was always the question, "How do we reassure the American people?" Well, you can't reassure it that there's no problem, if those who killed the president are still walking around here, at least then. That was back in '63, '64. The only reassurance is to say Oswald did it and he's dead and there's nothing more to worry about. The only problem with that is the story was not true. And we've been able to demonstrate that in many ways.

But more recently, I've looked at it in a different way. Instead of as a defense lawyer defending Oswald for this charge, and he would have been acquitted if he had any kind of a competent lawyer and he was allowed to live, go to trial, I decided to look at it through the eyes of the assassin. Now, don't be alarmed. I didn't kill anybody.


But to look at the assassination through the eyes of the assassin. And I thought, if I were planning to kill the president, the first problem I would have would be - this is not a back-alley killing in some darkened area where nobody is going to see it. It's in the middle of America on a bright, sunny day and he's protected by the greatest group of protective agents in the world, the United States Secret Service. So the first question would be, how would I overcome the Secret Service? What would I do to penetrate them if I was planning to kill the president? So then let's look at the Secret Service from that view point. Remember, every credential that they had was given to them by the Central Intelligence Agency, the group which, in fact, played a major part in the assassination of the president. You know, today, according to the last poll, more Americans believe that the CIA was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy than believe Oswald acted alone, despite all the news media, all the support of the Warren Commission and, of course, the commission itself, led by the chief justice at the time, Warren. Despite all of that, the American people overwhelmingly have seen through this. 80% believe there was a conspiracy. And, of course, the Warren Commission said there was none. That's where we are.

So I decided to look at it from the view point of the assassin. As I said, the first thing I would look at is, what did the Secret Service agents do? Later on, Raleigh, the director of the Secret Service, was trying to give some excuses. They were drinking the late the night before. That's true but that is not relevant. Nobody was drinking on the job. That was the night before and that did not play a part. It's what they did do. It's not what they did not do. That is, what the Secret Service agents did do.

The shot was fired and it struck the president in the back of the neck, exited from his throat. It was fired from the Book Depository building, which was behind him, and the wound in the throat was an exit wound. Every doctor at the Parkland Memorial Hospital where the president was taken and everyone who examined him said it was an exit wound. So he was shot from the back. It took almost six seconds until the final shot was fired. Six seconds does not seem like a long time if you're looking at the history of the world, but six seconds is an eternity for the Secret Service after they hear a fire crack or anything, any kind of explosion. The first job is the job of the driver of the limousine, a Secret Service agent. His job is to step on that accelerator. He later testified. That car, if you touch that accelerator, it would leap off the street practically with such great power. He slowed down. He slowed down and did not - he went so slowly that Clint Hill, who was in the follow-up car - and he was not assigned to protect President Kennedy. For many years, he had been protecting Jacquelyn Kennedy, the president's wife. And so he probably never got the memo about what's going to happen. Everybody else seemed to be aware and didn't do anything. But he heard the shot and ran. He caught the car. Remember, this was after the shot is fired, the first shot is fired. And the Secret Service agent, the driver, is trained to do nothing except step on the accelerator and take evasive action. Instead, he slowed down. The proof of it is, you see the Zapruder film and the Nix film and other film showing this. But in addition to that, further proof is that Clint Hill, wearing leather shoes, chased after the car and caught it and grabbed the car after the first shot was fired. The driver of the car, the Secret Service agent, did nothing. The other Secret Service agent in the car, sitting in the right passenger seat, had the responsibility of leaping over everything and covering the president with his body. He didn't flinch. He didn't move. It was almost as if he had gotten the memo that this was going to happen and he took no action. So they all violated their oaths of office, all the Secret Service agents, with the exception, as I say, of Clint Hill, who was not part of the White House detail for Kennedy. He was part of the detail for Jacquelyn Kennedy. That's in the starting point.

And when you start to look at the Secret Service and you find out only recently that all their credentials were issued by the CIA. The police officer named Smith, probably the single most important witness to the assassination. He was a police officer. He was in the motorcade. When he heard the shot, he knew it came from the area near the wooden fence on the grassy knoll to the right front of the president's limousine. He took his motor bike and drove up, fell down on the way up. He ran back, he had his gun drawn, and a man emerged from behind the fence. He thought he had caught the assassin. Actually, he had caught the assassin. But the man took out his credentials and said, "United States Secret Service." And he did have those credentials. And they had been issued by the Central Intelligence Agency. And so he was allowed to leave because he had these credentials. Later on, when the Secret Service was compelled to tell where its agents were, they said nobody was walking, nobody was on the ground; they were all in the motorcade. So who was that guy who had CIA-created credentials? Well, we still don't know. But we do know that it was looked into. And when Smith tried to tell this to the Warren Commission - he was questioned by Leslie Liebler - Liebler kept on changing the story. And he kept on saying, well, this was guy I came to, I had my gun drawn because I thought I had caught the assassin but he showed me his credentials. And Liebler finally said, "Is there anything you saw that day which seemed suspicious or out of the way?"


Other than the fact that you caught the assassin?


And he had Secret Service credentials prepared by the CIA? Was there anything else he saw? Well, there was nothing else to see. That was it. And, of course, that guy disappeared. And Smith disappeared. This is the single most important witness that day because he caught the assassin and had a gun pointed at him. His name does not appear in the Warren Commission report. I mean, there are two or three Smiths, one who - it was like talking to your dog. Nobody had anything to do with the Kennedy assassination, but their names are there. But the Smith who actually caught the assassin and drew his gun and had him under arrest until he produced his - what we now know - were CIA-prepared credentials for the Secret Service - that guy's name is not in the Warren report. That's left out of the Warren report.

ROCKWELL: Wow. Mark, tell us more.

LANE: Well, OK. So now, as I said, when I decided to look at this from a different perspective - I've been a defense lawyer all these years, and when Oswald was charged, I thought, what would the defense be and what are the facts? And I was convinced that he never could have been convicted. And we had been able to show that to the American people. That's my first book, Rush to Judgment . It was the first book on the subject. It became the number-one best-selling book in America.

Then, incidentally, it's available on, what, Amazon now?

SUE: It is going to be available as an eBook very shortly.

LANE: OK, very soon, it'll be available as an eBook and then people can get it. It's the original book with all the - that was Sue, our paralegal here for the law firm. The Lane law firm consists of my wife, Trisha, who is an excellent lawyer, and me and Sue. And Sue has done a tremendous amount of work to prepare that with all of the 5,000 footnotes and citations. And it will very soon be an eBook. It will be available that way.

With all of the citations, right?

SUE: All. Every single one.

ROCKWELL: It's a great book and it's just as relevant today as it was then.

LANE: Yeah, because the government wasn't telling us the truth then. It came out in August of '64. The government wasn't telling us the truth and they're still not telling us the truth, so it's still relevant.

When the French government looked at the assassination and Judge Dreyfus, it was clear that the honor of the French government would never be restored until they admitted that Dreyfus was innocent and they were wrong in charging him. Well, that's how the honor of the nation is restored. The American people now know, 80% of them according to every poll, Gallup, Harris, all the most recent polls - they're several years old now, of course - but most polls will show that the vast majority of the American people are convinced that they have not been told the truth. And they're right about that.

You know, it didn't happen last week. It's been half a century now, and we still have not been told the truth by the government. Still there are documents in the National Archives which are highly classified, top secret, and no one can see them. I've been through the archives a million times and live in Washington and I walk there regularly. And they keep on declassifying bits and pieces. And the director of the archives actually was a very decent guy and he would call me and say, oh, are you going to be dropping by soon, meaning that something else had been declassified. So I went there to archives to look at it, see what there was, and on the little table where he would let us work, there were five, six or 10 pages, sometimes more, of stuff just then declassified, which you never could have found because you have to go through these massive numbers of these files in order to determine what had just been declassified. So we were able to get a lot of help from inside the government from people who obviously were not satisfied with what the government had done.

ROCKWELL: Mark, could we describe the Secret Service, because of all the things that you're pointing out and have pointed out, as an institution that exists, at least in part, to keep the president in line?

LANE: Well -

ROCKWELL: Not to guard him but to kill him if he gets out of line?

LANE: Well - [Laughing] - that's not in their charter. It doesn't say that.


Their job, of course, is to protect the president. And on occasion, they do that fairly well. They didn't do it on November 22, 1963.

The driver of the car was a Secret Service agent. He slowed down after the first shot was fired, did not pick up speed until the president was dead six seconds later. The follow-up car had the responsibility, the driver, to drive in front, between the president's limousine, just in front of him, and the area from which the shots were coming. They did nothing. As I said, Clint Hill, who was assigned to Jacquelyn Kennedy, therefore, probably never got proper instructions about what to do that day, was the only one who jumped up and caught the car, which is an indication of how slowly the car was going anyway and tried to reach Jacquelyn Kennedy, who was, at that point, according to the Zapruder film, the Nix film, she was trying to get out of the back of the car and he pushed her back in, because that would have been a major mistake.

The assassination, which was arranged by the Central Intelligence Agency, could not have - and most Americans believe that now - could not have been successful without the assistance and coordination of the United States Secret Service. I mean, this was not, as I said, some back-alley killing when nobody is watching. The greatest protection available to anybody, the Secret Service, was there, and not one of them, except Clint Hill, met his responsibility. Not one Secret Service agent.

ROCKWELL: Are Secret Service credentials still issued by the CIA today? Does the CIA get to pass on who is in the Secret Service and who is not?

LANE: Right. And more than that, they know where everybody is going to be stationed. The CIA knows where every Secret Service agent will be because the CIA gives the credential knowing where the person is going to be. So the CIA is still running protection for the president of the United States. And I think the presidents, as they come and go, know that to be true. And I think if they had any brains and any sense of history, they'd know the CIA was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. Kennedy was doing things they didn't like, including possibly dissolving the Central Intelligence Agency, because Robert Kennedy, if you recall, was attorney general - John Kennedy's brother. I knew them both fairly well. I knew Bobby better. I worked closely with Bobby in the 1960 campaign when John Kennedy was running for Senator. John F. Kennedy, from Massachusetts, who was running for president, and I was running for the New York State legislature, and helped to coordinate John Kennedy's presidential campaign in the New York City area and, therefore, I worked closely with Bobby and had many meetings with Bobby. The fact is that the Democrat was split in half at that point. There was the Carmine DeSapio, old-fashioned, Tammany Hall, crime, mafia-connected Democratic Party, and there were the reformers, led by Eleanor Roosevelt, Governor Lehman, me, and a few other people. And that was the split. And it was obvious where the old Tammany Hall was trying to take the Democratic Party than where we wanted to take it, so that was the split. That's why we had two Democratic Parties at that time. And one side decided the death of the president was not only a great tragedy for him and his family, but for the American people, and decided we had to look into it, and the rest of the Democratic Party didn't care.

ROCKWELL: And then Bobby Kennedy himself was taken out.

LANE: Yes. I had talked with Bobby several times. Of course, you know, John Kennedy was about to dissolve the Central Intelligence Agency and a number of other things, which they would not have liked. If you dissolve the CIA, for the first time, you'd get to look at their records, find out where all the money went, who got the money. I mean, they had a lot of money. We knew how much basically. We're not sure, but we know there were some appropriations that were huge sums of money. We never knew where it went. We just knew it went to the CIA, but where it went from there, we don't know. But with the president dead and CIA as suspects, anybody investigating who had any authority and any power, would look into where that money went. And that was something the CIA did not want to have happen. The CIA also had foreign policy plans. They wanted to continue the war in Vietnam. President Kennedy had made it plain that we were going to leave at the end of the next year. He said that in September; he was dead in November.

ROCKWELL: And in order to keep Bobby, who was obviously interested in telling the truth about his brother's assassination, in order to keep that from happening, was it the CIA that killed him, too?

LANE: Well, you know, the first thing that Bobby said - he was on a plane when he heard this - was, "Was the CIA involved?" That was Bobby Kennedy's first question, "Was the CIA involved?" I mean, he didn't say, "Was the FBI involved?" He didn't say, "Was the American Automobile Association involved, the AAA?" I mean, he asked about one agency only, indicating, obviously, that it would have been a suspect agency if he, as attorney general, was able to continue on with his work. So he was killed, too.

He knew in his last word, which is my Last Word on the Kennedy assassination also, which is out there now - I think it's going to be an eBook.

Is it?

SUE: It is an eBook.

LANE: It is an eBook. It's going to be published very soon, Last Word , and Citizen Lane . Citizen Lane is my autobiography. And it was an amazing book for me to write because I've been practicing law for so long, 60 years - I can hardly believe it - so long that I had to do research on this guy whose autobiographer I was writing because it happened so - the details, you know, took place so long ago, I had to go back and research my life - [Laughing] - to make sure I got these dates and everything else right. But it is. And it's a really good book. It's the best thing that I've - I'm about to say it's the best book I've ever read but it's the best book I ever wrote.

ROCKWELL: Well, magnificent. And also, Last Word and Plausible Denial , Rush to Judgment . Thanks for all you've done. Keep doing it. And it's an honor to have you on the show.

LANE: Thank you so much. I really appreciate being with you and what you're doing.

ROCKWELL: Bye-bye, sir.

LANE: OK, bye-bye.

ROCKWELL: Well, thanks so much for listening to the Lew Rockwell Show today. Take a look at all the podcasts. There have been hundreds of them. There's a link on the LRC front page. Thank you.

Listen to the podcast

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Scientists discover oldest recorded stone tool ever found in Turkey

oldest stone tool turkey

© University of Royal Holloway London

Stone tool approximately 1.2 million years old.

Scientists have discovered the oldest recorded stone tool ever to be found in Turkey, revealing that humans passed through the gateway from Asia to Europe much earlier than previously thought, approximately 1.2 million years ago.

According to research published in the journal , the chance find of a humanly-worked quartzite flake, in ancient deposits of the river Gediz, in western Turkey, provides a major new insight into when and how early humans dispersed out of Africa and Asia.

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, together with an international team from the UK, Turkey and the Netherlands, used high-precision equipment to date the deposits of the ancient river meander, giving the first accurate timeframe for when humans occupied the area.

Professor Danielle Schreve, from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, said: "This discovery is critical for establishing the timing and route of early human dispersal into Europe. Our research suggests that the flake is the earliest securely-dated artefact from Turkey ever recorded and was dropped on the floodplain by an early hominin well over a million years ago."

The researchers used high-precision radioisotopic dating and palaeomagnetic measurements from lava flows, which both pre-date and post-date the meander, to establish that early humans were present in the area between approximately 1.24 million and 1.17 million years ago. Previously, the oldest hominin fossils in western Turkey were recovered in 2007 at Koçabas, but the dating of these and other stone tool finds were uncertain.

"The flake was an incredibly exciting find," Professor Schreve said. "I had been studying the sediments in the meander bend and my eye was drawn to a pinkish stone on the surface. When I turned it over for a better look, the features of a humanly-struck artefact were immediately apparent.

"By working together with geologists and dating specialists, we have been able to put a secure chronology to this find and shed new light on the behaviour of our most distant ancestors."

Top 10 Russian viral videos of 2014

space selfie

© artemjew.ru Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines - http://ift.tt/1HHus4S)

No matter the stormy geopolitics that this year brought, Russia still remained one of the key exporters of viral, unusual, weird, and simply funny videos. Cats, gophers, police officers, bikers, and cosmonauts - here RBTH presents a selection of 10 of the most interesting Russian video hits of 2014.

1. Cartoon characters attack a driver

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Videos of showdowns between angry drivers are frequently uploaded to the internet, but have you ever seen attackers dressed as cartoon characters?

2. A simple cat rescue turns into a disaster

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Save the cat, they said. It'll be easy, they said.

3. Selfie in zero gravity

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Arm's-length, a selfie stick, a tripod... Who needs that when you're in zero gravity, as Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemiev proves on the International Space Station?

4. Bikers attack a driver

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Guys on bikes are mean. Or are they romantic?

5. Solving the bad parking problem

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Shut up and take my money! Oh, wait, it's not real. (Here's how they made the video)

6. Yakut rap

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This video was done in post-post-modernist style, mocking Russian rapper Timati, who in turn mimics rap videos from both coasts of the U.S. Even Russians have a hard time understanding what the rappers are saying because they are performing in the Yakut language. But what is most important is the design and style of the video.

7. Biker girl fights littering

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Despite the fact that this video appears to be staged, it's always nice to see fair punishment, especially when those who throw trash out of car windows usually get away with it.

8. Focused cat is focused

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If only everybody could focus this much at work...

9. Fat gopher

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This video is positive proof that humans are friends not only of dogs, but also of gophers.

10. Police chase

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What happens when there's no use waiting for backup.

Yatsenyuk: Kiev trying 'win the hearts' of Novorussians


Over the weekend interviewed Ukraine's prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk or "Yats" as Victoria Nuland nicknamed him during her infamous "Eff-the-EU" phone call to the US Ambassador in Kiev.

It is important to keep that phone call in mind because it proves,

  • 1) that the US did plot the February coup in Kiev, all the way to choosing "Yats" as the next prime minister, and

  • 2) that by carrying on the Maidan coup, the USA tore up the Budapest Memorandum with which Ukraine renounced her nuclear power status in exchange for assurances about her sovereignty and territorial integrity.

When the first provision of the Budapest memorandum - respect for Ukraine's sovereignty - had been infringed by the US, the road was left open for Russia to de facto denounce the memorandum and accept a willing Crimea into its arms.

Had the US not gone so far as to impose an unelected, openly anti-Russian government, Russia could have perhaps - perhaps that is - remained passive.

But Russia did not just risk losing its only warm-water base in Sevastopol; it would have lost its face worldwide.

Precisely this humiliation was what the US intended as retribution for Russia's role in preventing new "interventions" in the Middle East, from Iran to Syria.

For Russia there was also the need to prevent a likely Odessa-style massacre in historic, Russian Sevastopol.

The interview headline declares: "Putin 'needs new annexations'". As if he had not governed Russia for 15 years until the Crimean takeover.

How many wars, proxy wars, coups and drone murders - from Serbia to Syria - have been carried out by the US-led "democratic" West in this time? Losing count does not excuse ignoring them.

Yatsenyuk is a relaxed liar. Reminded that "NATO stated clearly that there's no military solution to the conflict. But you seem to think differently", he intones:

"My aim is not to start a new offensive against Russian soldiers, but to deter Russia from further aggression."

A new offensive - against Russians!? If only the Ukrainian army had attacked Pro-Russian, Ukrainian separatists rather than shelling homes, schools and hospitals!

But then edges toward boredom-killing reality, "Is it helpful to label the Ukrainian military offensive an anti-terror-operation when so many people in eastern Ukraine already view Kiev with suspicion?"

So noticed, eventually paying attention!

Now Yatsenyuk's epic answer, that has already gone viral on social media, "For a long time we have been trying to win the hearts of the people in Donetsk and Luhansk."

Please? By shelling civilians week after week then into the ceasefire? Maybe by calling them "subhumans"? Or maybe still by stopping salaries and pensions to them? Eat your heart out Herr Goebbels, even you could not beat that.

The joke goes on:

"My government was ready to devolve additional powers to the regions," as if Ukrainians especially in the East had not already voted for such reforms!

Suddenly Yatsenyuk remembers how he treated them, and justifies himself thusly, "But when we were attacked militarily it was our duty to defend our country." At least Satan would understand.


"Your government has stopped paying salaries and pensions to people in the territories not controlled by your government.

It seems that you've already given up these parts of eastern Ukraine."

Here Yatsenyuk shows symptoms of AHD, advanced hearing disorder, "That's untrue, we still supply gas and electricity." Priceless!

One more rant by Yatsenyuk deserves discussion, "The Russians will always find a pretext for their aggression. Putin said in 2005 that the biggest geopolitical disaster of the last century was the collapse of the Soviet Union."

Here Yatsenyuk repeats Putin's misunderstood quote, half quoted and wilfully misinterpreted.

Way back in 2005 Putin said:

"Above all, we should acknowledge the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century.

For the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself."

As Katie Sanders from website explains:

"The Associated Press translation is a little different, subbing "catastrophe" for "disaster," and calling the breakup the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."

So Yats lazily parrots what was mal-translated without caring about what Putin actually said because truth is not his long suit.

Had Yatsenyuk pondered over, "Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory", he would have at least known whom he had to deal with - a president who, unlike some Peace Nobel Prize Winners, actually care for his people.

Suggesting one more reason why the West and their catamite Yatsenyuk hate Putin so much.