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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Mexico crop circles appear overnight on Christmas eve following local reports of 'bright lights'

Mexico CC_1

© The Inquisitr

Some barley fields in Mexico's Texcoco region were garnered with strange sprawling crop circle designs overnight Christmas Eve.

Crop circles have been appearing around the world for decades, many believing the often very intricate and massive designs to be messages from some otherworldly entity. Skeptics, meanwhile, have long called crop circles man-made poppycock.

Regardless, the fresh new crop circles in Mexico have sparked the curiosity of many, with hundreds of people and the media turning out in droves to witness the mysterious - and possibly alien - crop circle designs.

The mystery of the seven-hectare crop circle pattern that appeared in the Texcoco, Mexico, barley fields on Christmas eve remains unsolved, reports , along with several Mexican media outlets.

The Christmas Eve skies in the area of Mexico where the crop circles appeared were reportedly cloudy and rainy, but many locals in the Texcoco region, located about 25 kilometers from Mexico City, reported seeing bright lights in those skies overnight. Like gifts left by Santa Claus, the local residents found the crop circles in the morning which, coupled with the strange lights, left many in wonder at the bizarre crop circle patterns in their local barley field.

Mexico CC_2

© The Inquisitr

One of those reporting the strange lights of Mexico, and more, was an anonymous local woman who told police she was witnessing "the presence of aliens in farming areas and various figures in the crops," according to newspaper.

Mexico's federal and municipal police responded to the crop circle fields in question, and while they have yet to establish who - or what - created the crop circles, they have set up a perimeter to guard the fields. Police were joined by a crowd of at least 2,000 people. Among the curious spectators were several scientists examining the crop circles and surrounding area, while also gathering photographic evidence from the Mexico crop circle scene.

At the same time, examination of these new Mexico crop circles revealed that they weren't quite as intricate or extraordinary as other crop circles that have popped up around the world. In fact, the more onlookers examined the crop circles, the more they began to speculate that if extraterrestrial beings were, in fact, responsible for these Mexico crop circles, they'd perhaps been making merry on Christmas Eve and gotten too jolly while creating their crop circle message.

So while rumors are flourishing that the Mexico crop circles are an "alien sign," others have taken to social media to point out that if this is so, the aliens must have been "drunk." One man called these Mexico crop circles, "crap circles."

Mexico CC_3

© Twitter

Video posted on a YouTube crop circles channel also shows these Texcoco, Mexico, crop circles to be far less sophisticated than hundreds of other examples of the crop circle phenomenon.

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WKUK- What anarchy might look like!

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Psychological warfare and Aztec death whistles? They produce intimidating human screams

Aztec ritual human sacrifice portrayed in the Codex Magliabechiano

© Unknown

When odd, skull-shaped grave items were found by archaeologists decades ago at an Aztec temple in Mexico, they were assumed to be mere toys or ornaments, and were catalogued and stored in warehouses. However, years later, experts discovered they were creepy 'death whistles' that made piercing noises resembling a human scream, which the ancient Aztecs may have used during ceremonies, sacrifices, or during battles to strike fear into their enemies.

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Quijas Yxayotl, a musician who plays an array of traditional Mexican Indian Civilizations instruments, demonstrates an Aztec death whistle.

Two skull-shaped, hollow whistles were found 20 years ago at the temple of the wind god Ehecatl, in the hands of a sacrificed male skeleton. When the whistles were finally blown, the sounds created were described as terrifying. The whistles make the sounds of "humans howling in pain, spooky gusts of whistling wind or the 'scream of a thousand corpses" writes MailOnline.

Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god, combined with the attributes of Ehecatl, deity of the wind. The wind instruments may have been linked with this god. Gwendal Uguen/Flickr

Roberto Velázquez Cabrera, a mechanical engineer and founder of the Mexico-based , has spent years recreating the instruments of the pre-Columbians to examine the sounds they make. He writes in MexicoLore that the death whistle in particular was not a common instrument, and was possibly reserved for sacrifices - blown just before a victim was killed in order to guide souls to the afterlife- or for use in battle.

"Some historians believe that the Aztecs used to sound the death whistle in order to help the deceased journey into the underworld. Tribes are said to have used the terrifying sounds as psychological warfare, to frighten enemies at the start of battle," explains Oddity Central. If the whistle was used during battles, the psychological effect on an enemy of a hundred death whistles screaming in unison might have been great, unhinging and undermining their resolve.

Illustration of Aztec Warriors as found in the Codex Mendoza

Illustration of Aztec Warriors as found in the Codex Mendoza. Public Domain

Other types of ancient noisemakers have been found made from different materials, such as feathers, sugar cane, clay, and frog skin.
A zoomorphic whistle from Mexico

A zoomorphic whistle from Mexico, circa 200 B.C. - A.D. 500. Public Domain

reports that some experts think the ancients used the different tones to send the brain into certain states of consciousness, or even to manage or treat illnesses. Some of the replica whistles created by Cabrera make sounds and tones reaching the top range of human hearing, almost inaudible to us.

An expert in pre-Hispanic music archaeology, Arnd Adje Both told "My experience is that at least some pre-Hispanic sounds are more destructive than positive, others are highly trance-evocative. Surely, sounds were used in all kind of cults, such as sacrificial ones, but also in healing ceremonies."

Roberto Velázquez Cabrera notes that although pre-Columbian music has been lost to us in modern times, the sounds of recreated whistles can be used to give us a better understanding of the ancients. He said, "We've been looking at our ancient culture as if they were deaf and mute. But I think all of this is tied closely to what they did, how they thought."

The zombiefication of America


© End of the American Dream

Do you know people that seem like they have had their souls sucked out of them? On dictionary.com, a "zombie" is defined as "the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose".

And that sounds very much like what has happened to tens of millions of Americans. When you look into their eyes, it doesn't look like anything is even there. That is because who they once were is now dominated and controlled by the overwhelmingly powerful "matrix" that is being constructed all around us.

As I wrote about the other day, virtually all news, information and entertainment that Americans consume is controlled by just six monolithic corporations. And today, Americans are more "plugged in" than ever before. The average person watches 153 hours of television a month in addition to spending countless hours watching movies, playing video games, listening to music, reading books and surfing the Internet. In the end, all of that "programming" turns many of us into virtual zombies, and that is the way that the elite like it.

Just think about it. What was the biggest news story in the entire country over the holiday weekend?

It was the fact that some hackers had taken down the Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox networks and millions of kids could not log in and play the video games that they had just received for Christmas.

Sadly, most parents don't even bother to pay attention to what those video games are actually teaching their children.

One of the most popular video games this holiday season is Grand Theft Auto V. In this game, our kids do things that none of us would ever want them to do in real life...

The game contains scenes where players can have virtual sex with prostitutes then beat them up and steal their money, and a scene of torture where the player is expected to remove a gang rival's teeth one by one using the joy pad, which vibrates as the victim begs for mercy.

It also includes scenes where the player smokes marijuana, and takes the dangerous hallucinogenic drug peyote. There is also a brief instance of necrophilia. Yet GTA V is one of the top-selling computer games in the world.

If you put garbage in, you are eventually going to get garbage out.

And we can see the consequences of this all over the country.

Meanwhile, Americans are becoming increasingly disinterested in things that really matter such as faith, family and the U.S. Constitution.

Instead, many of our spoiled young people are self-obsessed narcissists that loudly complain on social media when they don't get the electronic gadgets that they were expecting for Christmas.

It isn't the end of the world if "Santa" doesn't bring you the latest iPhone.

But Americans today, especially our young people, have such a warped view of reality. It begins at a very early age, and one of the biggest culprits is our public school system.

For instance, the Blaze recently reported that children down in Texas are being taught that the pilgrims were "essentially America's first terrorists" and that they should listen to their teachers more than they listen to their parents...

Cassidy Vines was so horrified by what a teacher in Texas allegedly told her that she is planning on home-schooling her daughter after Christmas break.

Vines told Glenn Beck on Monday that she recently began noticing a change in her daughter's behavior. Her daughter - who is in kindergarten - started to "snap" at her when she corrected her homework, saying "I'm her mommy, not her teacher."

Vines said a few days after her daughter first snapped at her, she started pronouncing a word incorrectly. Vines corrected her daughter "in the most gentle way possible," but she said her daughter broke down crying, saying "that's how she was taught, and I can't tell her something different because I'm a mommy, not a teacher."

Vines said she was horrified and asked, "Is somebody telling you this at school?"

"She said, 'Yes, I'm only allowed to learn from my teacher,'" Vines remarked.

In this day and age, our public schools have essentially become government indoctrination centers that train our children to let "the matrix" do their thinking for them. They are taught that they are just highly evolved animals that are here only as the result of a giant cosmic accident, and that morality and values are all relative.

As a result, many of our young people just do whatever is right in their own eyes, and at this point many of them have consciences that have been seared beyond recognition.

For example, how far gone do you have to be in order to sing a "Christmas carol" that includes the line "Deck the halls with rows of dead cops"?...

The brave Portland #Ferguson demonstrators were back at it again Saturday evening, as they blocked the busy intersection of SE 39th and Belmont as a way of stickin' it to the man.

They blocked buses and cars, and got into arguments and physical altercations with several people, including: elderly drivers, disabled bus passengers, a black woman who was trying to pick up her son, and anyone else who dared voice their dissent.

After about 20 minutes of tying up the intersection, the protest moved to nearby Peacock Lane, which is well known for its rows of large Christmas displays. The demonstrators sang parody Christmas carols, which included a brief rendition of "Deck the halls with rows of dead cops."

Our society is breaking down in thousands of different ways, and we can see the evidence of this all around us.

But instead of coming together as a nation, anger, hate and division just continue to grow. And all of this anger, hate and division is being fueled by the talking heads on television.

It has become exceedingly apparent that most Americans no longer think for themselves. Rather, most conversations in America today consist of an exchange of sound bites, phrases, ideas and talking points that the "matrix" has fed us. Most of us are just zombies that spend our days searching for the things that we are desperately craving. For fictional zombies, that usually consists of brains. For American zombies, that usually consists of something that will feed our addictions.

So is there any hope for our society, or are we destined to become even more zombiefied?

For real? Fox host speculates metric system brought down AirAsia flight

© screen grab

Fox News host Anna Kooiman

Fox News host Anna Kooiman speculated on Sunday that an AirAsia flight could have gone missing because international pilots were trained using the metric system.

During breaking coverage of missing Flight QZ8501, Kooiman asked former FAA spokesperson Scott Brenner if the "real reason" the plane had disappeared was because of the "different way other countries train their pilots."

"Even when we think about temperature, it's Fahrenheit or Celsius," she pointed out. "It's kilometers or miles. You know, everything about their training could be similar, but different."

Brenner, however, said that the major difference between international pilots and U.S. pilots was the reliance on automatic pilot.

"And a lot of that... is because a lot of crashes are due to pilot error," he explained. "So, if you try and eliminate any potential risk, you try and eliminate the pilot's ability to make incorrect inputs into the aircraft."

"It's not just a difference in the way that we measure things?" Kooiman replied. "Is it not as safe in that part of the world? Because our viewers may be thinking, 'International travel, is it safe? Is it not safe?'"

"It's incredibly safe," Brenner pointed out. "It's the safest mode of travel you can have. But just on training, I believe our U.S. pilots are very well trained... They also actually fly the aircraft when they're in the cockpit versus, a lot of times as soon as those wheels are up, a lot of times folks are required, foreign pilots are required to hit that autopilot almost until wheels come back down again."

Co-host Charles Payne added that many of the recent international incidents could have occurred because foreign pilots did not have a "cowboy attitude" like American pilots.

Watch the video below from Fox News' , broadcast Dec. 28, 2014.

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North Sierra Leone in five-day Ebola lockdown

© Evan Schneider UN/AFP/File

A medic listens as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon gives a speech during his visit an Ebola treatment unit in Freetown on December 19, 2014.

Deputy communication minister Theo Nicol said "the lockdown for five days... is meant for us to get an accurate picture of the situation," adding: "Other districts will carry on with their own individual lockdown after this if they deemed it necessary."

Ebola has killed more than 7,500 people, almost all of them in west Africa.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are the three nations worst-hit by the epidemic, and Sierra Leone recently overtook Liberia as the country with the highest number of Ebola infections.

Kamara said shops and markets would be closed throughout the period, and "no unauthorised vehicles or motorcycle taxis" would be allowed to circulate "except those officially assigned to Ebola-related assignments."

Among "key objectives" is to allow health workers to identify patients, Kamara said.

Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency on July 31 after the Ebola outbreak and imposed restrictions on the movement of people.

As of Wednesday six of the country's 14 departments have these restrictions in place.

On December 12, the government announced a restriction on large Christmas and New Year gatherings.

Several residents in the country's north told AFP by telephone that locals had largely been conforming to the new strictures.

'Bleak Christmas'

"The streets are deserted and people are staying indoors or sitting in their backyards," said Felix Koroma, in Makeni, in the district of Bombali.

"Although the district is predominantly Muslim, it is traditional for Muslims to join with Christians to celebrate Christmas but from what I can deduce, its going to be a bleak occasion," he added.

Sarah Tucker, in Port Loko district said the only activity she could see was "medics moving from house-to-house" looking to remove the sick from their homes.

But some residents said they had not been given adequate warning to stockpile supplies.

"The notice given was too short and it was difficult for us to keep food in the house," a resident of Magburaka, in Tonkolili, who wished to remain anonymous, told AFP.

"The lockdown is good but we are worried over what to eat until it ends."

The lockdown came after it was announced that a fourth member of the UN mission in neighbouring Liberia had been hospitalised after testing positive for the virus.

The UN employee tested positive on Tuesday and was immediately transferred to an Ebola treatment unit, Karin Landgren, the special representative of UN chief Ban Ki-moon, said.

"UNMIL is taking all necessary measures to mitigate any possible further transmission - - both within the mission and beyond," Landgren said, referring to the United Nations Mission in Liberia.

A UN statement said its mission had stepped up surveillance "to ensure that all people who came into contact with the staff member while symptomatic are assessed and quarantined".

Liberia tops the number of Ebola deaths in the world with 3,376 fatalities but has seen a clear decrease of new transmissions in the past month.

Hundreds trapped as ferry catches fire between Greece and Italy

Ferry Disaster

© AP Photo/SKAI TV Station

Ten hours after the fire began, some 131 people had been rescued, leaving 347 on board according to the Italian navy.

Hundreds of people have been stranded for ten hours on the top deck of a burning ferry in the Adriatic sea as strong gales and rough waves hampered attempts to save them.

As the sun set, rescue helicopters had resorted to the slow process of lifting the passengers on board the Norman Atlantic from the top deck in pairs, as a fire blazed around them.

At least two Britons were among the 478 people who were travelling on the car ferry between Patras in Greece and Ancona in northern Italy.

The mother of Nicholas Channing-Williams, a British horse rider who lives in Greece, said she had spoken to her son, but that the line had been cut off.

"People in Greece are saying that their communications have been cut off, so as not to hamper rescue operations which I can fully understand," said Dotty Channing-Williams,to Sky News. "They're keeping me updated via the news coming over the Greek television. But nevertheless it is very, very worrying and very scary.

The fire broke out on the car deck of the five-year-old ferry at dawn, as it was passing 44 nautical miles north of Corfu, destroying the ship's steering mechanism and leaving it drifting towards the Albanian coast.

Photographs showed the flames quickly spreading through the decks as passengers began to evacuate. Roughly 120 people were able to leave the ship, and were picked up by a nearby freighter, before the fire cut off access to the lifeboats.

"The fire is still burning," said Sofoklis Styliaras, a Greek passenger, to Mega television. "On the lower deck, where the lifeboats are, our shoes were starting to melt from the heat. There is nowhere else for us to go. It is impossible to walk on the lower deck because of the heat."

Ferry Disaster_1

© Associated Press

Smoke billows from the Norman Atlantic after it caught fire.

The Italian media reported that one passenger had died after a couple jumped into the sea to try to reach a lifeboat, but officials said they could not confirm the death.

The rest of the passengers were left stranded in a force 8 gale on the top deck while rescue teams battled to reach them. Eight Italians succumbed to hypothermia before being rescued and flown to a military airport in the south eastern Italian region of Puglia.

Ten hours after the fire began, some 131 people had been rescued, leaving 347 on board according to the Italian navy. Two Italian and two Greek helicopters were airlifting passengers to safety, according to the Greek Defence ministry, but with each trip taking 15 minutes, the operation was scheduled to continue throughout the night.

"We are committed to rescuing everyone on the ship, and are trying to ensure that nobody will be left unaided," said Greece's merchant marine minister, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.

Ferry Disaster_2

© Associated Press

A woman holds her baby as they are rescued by an Italian Air Force helicopter.

The passenger manifest showed a majority of Greeks on board, but also 54 Turks, 22 Italians, 18 Germans and 9 French. Many of the passengers were commercial lorry drivers, and there were 130 lorries on board.

Among those rescued were two toddlers aged two and three who were winched to safety by helicopter together with their pregnant mother and taken to a hospital in Galatina on the Italian mainland.

Passengers who telephoned Greek television stations gave dramatic accounts of the situation.

"They tried to lower some boats, but not all of us could get in. There is no coordination," one said. "It's dark, the bottom of the vessel is on fire. We are on the bridge, we can see a boat approaching... we opened some boxes and got some life vests, we are trying to save ourselves."

One rescuer who returned from the scene to the southern port of Otranto reported that the Norman Atlantic was keeling over at an angle but Italian officials denied that the ship was in immediate danger of sinking.

Meanwhile, a second emergency in the Adriatic saw two merchant vessels collide in fog off the north-eastern Italian port of Ravenna. Up to four people were missing following the collision and several injured when a Turkish ship and another flying the flag of Belize hit each other.

Remember Libya? Civil war escalates with govt airstrikes on opposition


© Flickr/ Ben Sutherland

Libya's official government conducted several tactical airstrikes in the vicinity of the town of Misrata Sunday, another episode in the ongoing war between the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and the coalition of his political opponents known as Libyan Dawn.

According to the official reports, the Libyan air force, controlled by Thinni, hit several targets in the Libyan Dawn controlled city of Misrata, including a sea port, an air force academy near the airfield and a steel mill, the largest in the country, in an attempt to disrupt the town's economic viability. Representatives for Libyan Dawn confirmed the airstrikes, claiming no immediate victims or damage.

"The airport at Misrata is still working normally. A flight has just taken off," a representative for Libya Dawn said as quoted by Reuters.

Libyan Dawn took control of Libya's capital, Tripoli, in August, but they are not recognized as the nation's legitimate government. The country's prime minister has been leading a war against Libyan Dawn from the eastern part of the country. The situation is further complicated by the activities of Islamic militants, attacking the nation's oil infrastructure.

Since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed after ruling for 42 years, the nation has fallen apart. At this point, Libya is divided by the historical boundaries of its two parts, namely Tripolitania (in the west) and Cyrenaica (in the east). The opposing forces are either Islamist or utterly anti-Islamic and are engaged in a sectarian war, exacerbated by still-existent tribalism and radical jihadi terrorist activity.

Millions of Britons facing malnutrition and relying on food banks

UK food bank

© unknown

Shocking' figures show that for the first time since the Second World War, the poor cannot afford sufficient calories.

Millions of the poorest people in Britain are struggling to get enough food to maintain their body weight, according to official figures published this month.

The Government's Family Food report reveals that the poorest 10 per cent of the population - some 6.4 million people - ate an average of 1,997 calories a day last year, compared with the average guideline figure of about 2,080 calories. This data covers all age groups.

One expert said the figures were a "powerful marker" that there is a problem with food poverty in Britain and it was clear there were "substantial numbers of people who are going hungry and eating a pretty miserable diet".

The use of food banks in the UK has surged in recent years. The Trussell Trust, a charity which runs more than 400 food banks, said it had given three days worth of food, and support, to more than 492,600 people between April and September this year, up 38 per cent on the same period in 2013.

Based on an annual survey of 6,000 UK households, the Family Food report said the population as a whole was consuming 5 per cent more calories than required. Tables of figures attached to the report reveal the average calorie consumption for the poorest 10 per cent, but the report itself did not highlight this.

Chris Goodall, an award-winning author who writes about energy, discovered the figures while investigating human use of food resources. "The data absolutely shocked me. What it shows is for the first time since the Second World War, if you are poor you cannot afford to eat sufficient calories," he said.

He also highlights a widening consumption gap between rich and poor. In 2012, there was little difference, with the richest 10th consuming a total of 2,420 calories daily, about 4 per cent more than the poorest. But in 2013, the richest group consumed 2,294 calories, about 15 per cent more than the poorest.

The report, published by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, also found that the poorest people spent 22 per cent more on food in 2013 than in 2007 but received 6.7 per cent less.

Uk food bank

© Getty

Benefit cuts, shrinking pay packets and the rise in the cost of groceries have been cited as reasons for the rising demand for emergency help.

Liz Dowler, a professor of food and social policy at Warwick University, said that although calorie intake is hard to measure and that there were problems with the way the Family Food data is collected, it was clear that "there are substantial numbers of people who are going hungry and eating a pretty miserable diet.

"The story of people struggling is now beginning to show up in national data sets and that's a pretty bad sign."

While the true numbers of people not getting enough to eat was hard to establish from the report, she added: "I think the numbers are quite a powerful marker of the problem. The size and nature of the problem needs more work."

Professor Dowler said people who were struggling to get enough calories would often turn to high-energy food, such as chips, that can have a low nutritional value. "You can stave off hunger by just having some relatively cheap calories but if you live like that day after day your health will suffer significantly," she said.

"At the extreme, [malnourishment] is a cliff edge, but mostly it's not. It's a slow, miserable grind of bodily impoverishment, where you're gradually depleting your body's stores and your strength is way below what it should be. Your skin is very pale, you are exhausted all the time, you feel very low, often extremely depressed and you find it difficult to work.

"Children who are malnourished cannot concentrate at school, have endless coughs and colds and they get sick all the time. It's a pretty negative existence."

Susan Jebb, a professor of diet and population health at Oxford University and a member of Public Health England's obesity programme board, said people tended to under-report their calorie intake and noted that it did not appear that people were "significantly losing weight".

However, she added: "There are sub-groups of the population who are in food poverty and who are struggling to have enough to eat."

Chris Mould, the chairman of the Trussell Trust, said people who used food banks were genuinely desperate. "We talk to people who have had nothing but toast to eat for a week - usually parents because they are trying their best to keep their children fed," he said.

"This issue has been so significant for so many years now without proper co-ordinated action to try and address the causes, with the people who are responsible [the Government] repeatedly diverting attention from the issues and denying the reality of what the Trussell Trust has been saying, and calling it scaremongering."

Uk food bank project

© Getty

A member of the Jesus House Church helps package Christmas hampers as part of The Trussell Trust Foodbank Project.

Niall Cooper, the director of Church Action on Poverty, said the situation was "deeply worrying". "People are desperate and those using food banks are only the tip of the iceberg," he said. "There are lots of people who are too ashamed and who don't want to approach a professional to get a referral to a food bank."

And Imran Hussain, the head of policy at the Child Poverty Action Group, said: "The cost of the basics in life - rent, food and heating - has far outstripped headline inflation, earnings and benefit levels.

"Rather than spending billions on tax cuts largely benefiting the rich, we should be choosing to protect our children from hardship through prioritising affordable housing, tackling low pay and protecting the purchasing power of benefits."

Even though the report contains figures about calories consumed in the home and while eating out, along with total calorie intake, a government spokesman said: "The Family Food Report is an estimate of calories consumed in the home, not total calorie intake. When estimated calorie consumption outside the home is included the majority still meet their recommended daily intake.

"We know that some households are seeing the amount they spend on food increase, which is why the Government provides a number of schemes to help the most vulnerable in society afford and have access to nutritious food, such as the Healthy Start scheme and the Change for Life healthy-living campaign."

Maria Eagle, Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary, said it was a "national scandal that so many people are going hungry in the sixth-richest country on the planet, in the 21st century".

"The Tories' attitude to the relentless rise in hunger in Britain speaks volumes for who they stand up for. They refuse to accept any responsibility for it, despite the fact that their policies are making it worse," she said. "Only by tackling the cost-of-living crisis can we begin to see the numbers of people at risk of going hungry decline.

"That is why the next Labour government will raise the minimum wage, ban exploitative zero-hour contracts and abolish the bedroom tax."

Indonesian VP not ruling out AirAsia plane crashed -- not confirming either

© REUTERS/ Darren Whiteside

The missing AirAsia plane with 162 people on board might have crashed, according to Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Chinese news agency Xinhua reports Sunday.

"We haven't got any information that indicates where the plane crashed," Kalla said during a televised press conference Sunday evening, as quoted by Xinhua.

Previously, it was reported that Kalla was directly in charge of supervising the rescue operation of the missing plane at the headquarters of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) in Kemayoran, North Jakarta, according to Jakarta Post.

However, rescue teams had to halt the search operation as the night settled in. Indonesia's Transport Ministry said the search operation would resume on Monday morning, as early as 7 a.m. local time (12 a.m. GMT).

Earlier today, it was reported that flight QZ8501 operated by AirAsia Company, heading from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore, disappeared from the radars.

According to the statement issued by AirAsia, air traffic control lost contact with flight QZ8501 at 07:24 local time (00:24 GMT). The aircraft had 155 passengers and seven crew members on board.

The plane was operated by an Indonesian captain, who had a substantial number of flying hours a total of 6,100, and a French co-pilot with a total of 2,275 flying hours, according to AP.

Basarnas spokesperson previously said the plane had been caught in turbulence, attempted to change the course and had crashed into the sea. Indonesian Ministry of Transportation has not confirmed this information.

AirAsia Indonesia operates domestic flights within the Indonesian archipelago and international flights to Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Thailand. The company is an affiliate of the Malaysian company AirAsia. In 2007, AirAsia Indonesia was banned from operating flights to the European Union (EU) due to safety concerns; however, the ban was lifted in July 2010, the BBC reports.

The Disturbing Facts Regarding Refined Sugar

Refined Sugar is close to zero nutrition value

Because of the industrial processes involved in manufacturing, sugar has practically no nutrition value: The vitamins and enzymes have become denatured (lose their molecular shape) and thus fail to contribute to the body’s metabolic requirements. Refined sugar is also devoid of mineral content.

It is pure energy

For those who frequently eat significant amounts of refined sugar products, this can lead to many problems.

Because a large intake of sugar causes a sharp rise in blood glucose, the pancreas jets out high levels of insulin as a sudden response. The insulin converts glucose into glycogen as storage in the liver.

However, the overreaction of high insulin more than converts the excess glucose. This results in the blood having lower than normal glucose levels. Consequently, hunger is felt. Remember that an individual in this circumstance has more than enough glucose, but it has been converted as storage in the liver.

So the need to munch away again is carried out (more sugar perhaps?). The even more excess glucose from this next eating binge causes the glucose storage to get converted into fat … Frequent recurrences of this situation can lead to obesity and type –2 diabetes.

It can cause Type-2 Diabetes

Diabetes is the body’s inability to control the blood glucose levels. Diabetes type-1 is where there is insufficient insulin; a lack of insulin produced from the pancreas needed to regulate sugar levels. In the case of diabetes type-2 the insulin levels needed are sufficient. However, the insulin produced is ineffective: What this means is the insulin is not in any way defective but is ineffective in that the body’s cells do not respond to it.

With reference to the earlier point regarding the constantly high sugar intake and high insulin levels as a response: This is how the body develops type-2 diabetes over time. It takes about 6 years to manifest.

The sad thing is that there are now record-breaking numbers of children developing this disease as young as six or seven years old, such as those in the United States of America.

Is this slow-motion suicide?

Obesity and the failure to metabolize carbohydrates effectively could lead to illnesses such as: Poor night vision, blindness, kidney disease, cardiovascular problems, liver failure, damage to nerves, impotence, obesity, failure of wounds to heal properly, not to mention type-2 diabetes can lead to a whole range of side effects. This includes: Alzheimer’s disease, a lack of male function with low testosterone levels … There is no doubting that diabetes type-2 goes hand in hand with obesity.

Hyperactivity, mood swings and depression

There is much evidence to support the idea that ‘food changes the mood’. Individuals taking high levels of sugar on a regular basis are no exception. Take the case of children as an example. If you want to see some of them not bouncing off walls and have their hyperactive state prevented or greatly reduced: the solution may be easier than you think - just stop giving them sugar. Substitute this with good natural, wholesome food and watch them change their behavior.

Mood swings and depression has been linked to fluctuations in blood glucose levels. Remember, when refined sugar products are eaten, first there’s the ‘rush’ or ‘highs’ experienced, and then the pancreas overcompensates by jetting out more than enough insulin (roller coaster ride). This results in too much glucose converted in to storage. So now there’s low-level blood glucose. Cravings for more of that sweet stuff comes about and the accompanying feelings of being foggy headed, depressed or down in the dumps results.

Sugar feeds bad micro-organisms

If ever there is a circumstance whereby disease is allowed to manifest, it is by means of a sugar environment. Micro-organisms can be abundantly present in the body’s internal dead-end regions.

For example, they can be at ducts or lymph nodes. Feed them on their favorite food, sugar, they will grow and multiply. Consequently, you could be well on the way to illness from the toxic environment they generate.

Sugar and Aging

The Advanced Glycation End-products (AGE’s), the nasty yellow-brown compounds made up of sugar and body tissue protein acts as a precursor to aging. In effect, the body becomes oxidized and then aging, premature grey hair and wrinkles … manifests. Sugar addicts may be rusting themselves away into an early grave since degenerative disease could soon follow.

Remember that sugar has no nutrition value of its own. It is of no use to the body’s cells: No contribution to growth or repair. So if sugar is eaten, the body is depleted of nutrients by having to deal with it. For example, as William Duffy quite rightly points out in his excellent book Sugar Blues, through eating sugar, the body is depleted of copper, which is an essential in maintaining the elasticity in veins and arteries. This could lead to strokes or aneurysms. Other essential elements such as sodium, potassium and calcium are used up in handling the sugar onslaught. If too much calcium is used in dealing with sugar, then this could lead to osteoporosis. Not all the sugar is detoxified in the body. Metabolic remnants are left behind that accumulate as fatty deposits.

Sugar can also contribute to an unhealthy acid imbalance in the body.

Avoid sugar and notice the changes for the better in yourself!! 

Bean goose from Eurasia takes a wrong turn and winds up on the Oregon Coast

© Sarah Swanson

A tundra bean-goose (top) has been spotted at the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

A bird rarely seen in North America has turned a small bay on the Oregon Coast into a major destination for bird watchers this winter.

Sarah Swanson and her husband Max Smith run a blog in Portland called the Must-See Bird Blog. They tried to explain what it's like to spot a tundra bean-goose at Nestucca Bay in Oregon.

"It's just so exciting, I'm trying to compare it something for a non-birder," Swanson said.

"Maybe it's like running into a celebrity at the mall, someone you've always idolized," Smith suggested.

Yes, in the celebrity news of bird watching this has been a top story. It's the first-ever confirmed sighting of a tundra bean-goose in the lower 48. Usually these brown and gray geese spend their winters in Asia and Europe.

In birding parlance, seeing one here is a "mega-rarity."

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The manager of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex said it appears the bird just took a wrong turn. Since November, this directionally challenged goose has drawn more than 1,000 birders from as far away as Massachusetts.

"It's the rarest bird I've ever seen in my life," Swanson said.

She said it's strange enough when they turn up in Alaska. "For one to make it all the way down to Oregon is needle-in-a-haystack kind of rare. And then for this one to be so cooperative and hang out in a place with public access and stay there for over a month is just mind-boggling."

The tundra bean-goose has been living in a field at Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge south of Pacific City, Oregon, since early November. It may have arrived with a flock of cackling geese.

The tundra bean-goose has a distinctive orange spot on its bill.

Distribution map

Two arrested, several injured in massive teen mall brawl

monroeville mall

© monroeville mall

A Monroeville Mall brawl left several teens injured on Friday evening. According to the , the Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania was closed early following "multiple fights" that broke out. Hundreds of teens showed up at the mall around 5 p.m., and the fights broke out around 8 p.m.. Mall employees said that the fights started on the first floor, and then the teens made their way up the escalators to the second floor, where they continued fighting.

At least two people were transported to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Chief K. Douglas Cole said that he didn't believe that this was an organized protest of any kind. However, it's unclear why the teens showed up at the mall around the same time or how/why the fights broke out. Police said that some information circulated on social media, and at least two calls to 911 were placed after the fights started.

The Monroeville Mall brawl caused minor damage to the mall, but there wasn't anything significant reported. According to the , police made two arrests that night, and more citations are expected in the coming days.

Several stores in the mall chose to lock down in order to keep the rowdy teens from entering. Some stores even locked down with customers inside, but gave them a choice whether to stay or leave before closing the doors to the store.

The Monroeville Mall brawl wasn't the first mall fight of its kind. As previously reported by the , a mall fight involving over 100 teens broke out at the Lauderhill Mall in Florida back in June of 2013. The motive in that mall brawl was unclear, but police suspect that a disagreement between two girls may have sparked the all-out brawl. There was also some chatter about the fight being about the Trayvon Martin case, which caused some very heated discussions at that time.

Civil asset forfeiture: Only the rich can afford to keep their homes

© Steven M. Falk / Phiv.com Staff Photographer

Christos and Markela Sourovelis at their Somerton home, from which they were ousted because of a son's drug dealing.

Philadelphia prosecutors agreed Thursday to halt efforts to seize the homes of two of the lead plaintiffs in a widely publicized federal suit challenging the city's use of civil forfeiture laws in drug cases.

Philadelphia drops a Civil Asset Forfeiture case to prevent any court from ruling just seizing people's property is unconstitutional. has reported the case of Christos Sourovelis and Doila Welch, who were both caught up in having their homes seized to pay police pensions when the police arrested a relative they claimed was dealing drugs on their properties. Today, you basically have to shun relatives and never pick up a hick-hiker in trouble for if they have any drugs, even marijuana, there goes your assets.

The prosecutors, only after these people with money for lawyers and the press got involved, moved for dismissal in Common Pleas Court. The prosecutor agreed to drop the cases against properties as long as both owners took "reasonable measures" to ensure no further drug crimes occurred there.

Here is the entire problem. Only the rich can win for it is your burden to fork-over huge legal fees. If you do not have the money for lawyers, there goes your property. This is what is desperately wrong in America. Any law passed becomes your burden to prove it is unconstitutional. They can actually pass the ancient right of kings under the Common Law since there is precedent known as Prima Noctum - first night. The governor, mayor, county freeholder, whoever, could "legally" claim the right to spend the first night in bed with any women getting married in their district. It would then become your burden to say - NO. That is uncivilized.

There is ABSOLUTELY nothing, as it now stands, for them to pass such a law. It is then the public's burden to say no way and fight. This is seriously wrong within our legal system. This allows police to kill people randomly or to pull every person over on their way to work to see if they have all their identification. Whatever they do is OK because they do not FIRST have to go to some constitutional court and ask - is this law justified? Consequently, only the rich can defend the constitution. All others can pray - that's about it.

This is the final stage of the collapse of the Roman Empire. When the state runs out of money, it historically attacks the people. In Rome, whole armies began sacking their own cities to get paid. The police are doing just that. Whatever they can confiscate goes to funding their own pensions. This is a national problem that will only get much worse going into 2020. We have NOBODY in Washington representing the people any more. It is all about them vs. the people. This is why we will see a rise in third-party activity for 2016.

Independent authors upset with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program

author H.M. Ward

© Joshua Bright/NYT

The author H.M. Ward says she left Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program after two months when her income dropped 75 percent.

Authors are upset with Amazon. Again.

For much of the last year, mainstream novelists were furious that Amazon was discouraging the sale of some titles in its confrontation with the publisher Hachette over e-books.

Now self-published writers, who owe much of their audience to the retailer's publishing platform, are unhappy.

One problem is too much competition. But a new complaint is about Kindle Unlimited, a new Amazon subscription service that offers access to 700,000 books - both self-published and traditionally published - for $9.99 a month.

It may bring in readers, but the writers say they earn less. And in interviews and online forums, they have voiced their complaints.

"Six months ago people were quitting their day job, convinced they could make a career out of writing," said Bob Mayer, an e-book consultant and publisher who has written 50 books. "Now people are having to go back to that job or are scraping to get by. That's how quickly things have changed."

For romance and mystery novelists who embraced digital technology, loved chatting up their fans and wrote really, really fast, the last few years have been a golden age. Fiction underwent a boom unseen since the postwar era, when seemingly every liberal arts major set his sights on the Great American Novel.

Now, though, the world has more stories than it needs or wants to pay for. In 2010, Amazon had 600,000 e-books in its Kindle store. Today it has more than three million. The number of books on Smashwords, which distributes self-published writers, grew 20 percent last year. The number of free books rose by one-third.

Revenue from e-books leveled off in 2013 at $3 billion after increasing nearly 50 percent in 2012, according to BookStats. But Kindle Unlimited is making the glut worse, some writers say.

The program has the same all-you-can-eat business model as Spotify in music, Netflix in video and the book start-ups Oyster and Scribd. Consumers feast on these services, which can offer new artists a wider audience than they ever could have found before the digital era.

Some established artists, however, see fewer rewards. Taylor Swift pulled her music off Spotify this fall, saying it was devaluing her art and costing her money. "Valuable things should be paid for," she explained.

Holly Ward, who writes romances under the name H.M. Ward, has much the same complaint about Kindle Unlimited. After two months in the program, she said, her income dropped 75 percent. "I couldn't wait and watch things plummet further," she said on a Kindle discussion board. She immediately left the program. Kindle Unlimited is not mandatory, but writers fear that if they do not participate, their books will not be promoted.

Ms. Ward, 37, started self-publishing in 2011 with "Demon Kissed," a paranormal tale for teenagers, and quickly became one of Amazon's breakout successes, selling more than six million books, according to her website. She said in an interview that she does not understand what her partner Amazon is thinking.

"Your rabid romance reader who was buying $100 worth of books a week and funneling $5,200 into Amazon per year is now generating less than $120 a year," she said. "The revenue is just lost. That doesn't work well for Amazon or the writers."

Amazon, though, may be willing to forgo some income in the short term to create a service that draws readers in and encourages them to buy other items. The books, in that sense, are loss leaders, although the writers take the loss, not Amazon.

An Amazon spokesman declined to answer questions about Kindle Unlimited. While Jeff Bezos, the company's chief executive, celebrated "authors as customers" as recently as his 2013 letter to shareholders, and the retailer tried to enlist independent writers in its campaign against Hachette this summer, some self-published authors are beginning to suspect that they are just another supplier.

"Does Amazon want to become a legacy publisher like we all are fleeing from and they seem to disapprove of?" the horror writer Kathryn Meyer Griffith asked in an online forum, adding, "They're doing a good job of recreating that whole unfair bogus system where they make the money and we authors survive on the pennies that are left."

Some self-published writers are talking about how they need to form a union - telling Amazon "in a united voice that we're not going to lie down and take their terms," as one of them put it.

One major point of contention: Kindle Unlimited generally requires self-published writers to be exclusive, closing off the possibility of sales through Apple, Barnes & Noble and other platforms. (Ms. Ward was an exception.)

Amazon usually gives self-published writers 70 percent of what a book earns, which means a novel selling for $4.99 yields $3.50. This is much more than traditional publishers pay, a fact that Amazon frequently points out.

But Kindle Unlimited is less generous, paying a fluctuating amount. In July, the fee for a digital "borrow" was $1.80. It fell to $1.33 in October before rebounding slightly to $1.39 in November.

Since the payment is the same whether the book is long or short, writers are taking the hint. Serial novels and short stories are increasing. Mr. Mayer took his $3.99 book about seven failures of technology or leadership and broke it into seven individual Kindle Unlimited volumes covering the Challenger explosion, the Titanic sinking, the massacre at Little Big Horn and so on.

"If you're not an author with a slavish fan following, you're in a lot of trouble," Mr. Mayer said. "Everyone already has a ton of things on their Kindle they haven't opened."

Complaints about literary overproduction are ancient. "To write and have something published is less and less something special," the French critic Sainte-Beuve wrote in 1839. "Why not me, too? everyone asks."

Still, good material has always found its way to the surface. But the sense of things being too easy now is growing.

"In the old days, you had to type the story on actual paper," said Michael Henderson, a former lawyer now living in Venice, Italy. "Make your changes and retype it, or hire someone to do it. It was a herculean effort to get a 400-page manuscript ready. Now any monkey with a computer can do it in hours. Shazam, everyone is a writer."

Mr. Henderson's "Self-Portrait of a Dying Man" came out at the beginning of the month on Amazon. It has sold exactly zero copies. "At one time the real benefit to using Amazon was to leverage their power and scope to sell a few books," he said. "That seems to have vanished. If the only books I sell are through expensive and time-consuming marketing, then I might as well just sell them through my website and keep all the money."

Ms. Ward, a native New Yorker who attended a seminary in Texas and now lives in Abilene, is trying to adapt. Her first novel was 500 pages, but some recent volumes average about 100 pages. She says she thinks Amazon will fix Kindle Unlimited for the benefit of writers, but she adds that she doesn't think the retailer - or anyone else - is looking out for her.

"The only person I truly trust with my career is me," she said. "If you hand over your work, it's like dropping your baby in a box and kicking him to the curb. Maybe he'll grow up and be awesome - or maybe he'll get sucked into the sewers and be raised by rats."

To take care of her literary babies, she is picking up the pace. She published Vol. 17 in her series "The Arrangement" in early November, "Life Before Damaged Vol. 1" at the end of the month and then "Life Before Damaged Vol. 2" on Dec. 16.

"I've started working with four co-authors," she said. "If you're not constantly putting out new material, people forget you're there."

Propaganda extraordinaire: US puppet Merkel is Person of the Year for UK paper

Not RI's person of the year.

Person of the Year, we say Puppet of the Year is more appropriate.

British newspaper, , has named German Chancellor Angela Merkel "Person of the Year" for her contribution to European security.

The British daily noted her important role in establishing a dialogue between the West and Russia.

The Times noted:

"Merkel is a prominent European politician and one of the most influential women in the world."

European security. Unless you consider promoting a new cold war, and moving the world closer to a full scale hot war, European security...then sure, she deserves the award.

Merkel managed to accomplish a lot in a year. Too bad most of those accomplishments were beyond bad. Off the top of my head...

  • She backed an illegal coup against an democratically elected government in Ukraine.

  • She supported, and openly promoted, the bombing of innocent civilians in the Donbass.

  • She turned the other way to a rising power of neo-nazism in Ukraine...and now its spreading to Germany as well.

  • She followed Obama's lead and championed E.U. sanctions against Russia, despite those very sanctions being extremely detrimental to Germany's very own economy.

  • By supporting sanctions she managed to destroy decades of successful business partnerships between Russia and Europe...and specifically Germany.

  • She sent Germany's economy into recession, and with it all of the E.U. back to the economic pits.

  • Merkel's support of sanctions against Russia came back to bite E.U. farmers the most as they saw there biggest market close up.

  • Merkel dished out even more austerity in Europe's south, and stringently refused to help Greece get back on its feet.

  • She forever lost Southern Europe's most secure, cost effective energy option by stonewalling South Stream construction.

  • She was (as Europe's largest power) at the helm when European citizens voted for anti-EU parties in droves.

  • She exposed herself as a US puppet who placed America's geo-political interests above Germany's, and Europe's, economic future.

  • Merkel exposed to the world just how much of an American vassal state Germany truly is.

Angela Merkel is definitely America's Person of the Year, and even the UK's Person of the Year.

She did make all her decisions based on America's best interests. It left much of the world asking one question...

What "embarrassing" stuff does the US government and the NSA have on Angela Merkel that would make her risk the E.U.'s future, Germany's economic health, and her own reputation, over Ukraine?

Here's to Puppet of the Year Angela Merkel.

French Alps hit by massive snowfall, thousands of cars stranded

© AFP Photo/Jean-Pierre Clatot

A car is stuck in the snow on December 27, 2014 on the road to Les Saisies ski resort in Savoie, central-eastern France.

Massive snowfall, aggravated by strong winds and ice in the French Alps, has trapped thousands of holidaymakers, with up to 15,000 people forced to spend Saturday night in emergency accommodation centers in the Savoie region in southeastern France.

Conditions remained difficult on Sunday, a spokesman for the Savoie prefecture said. Authorities set up shelters in a dozen towns for stranded tourists in the area.

The chaos on Saturday left nearly 2,000 passengers stranded at Chambery airport in southeastern France. A spokesman for the Savoy region, which comprises roughly the territory of the Western Alps between Lake Geneva in the north and Dauphiné in the south, said: "We have not estimated the number of people who spent the [Saturday] night in their cars."

According to the prefecture, a number of travelers were taken care of in emergency shelters that became almost 100 percent full. "There were 83 shelters open," Transport Minister Alain Vidal said on Sunday on Europe 1.

© AFP Photo/Jean-Pierre Clatot

Snow fall as vehicles move bumper-to-bumper along the motorway near Albertville, on December 27, 2014 as they make their way into the Tarentaise valley in the heart of the French Alps, home to many of the famous French ski resorts.

Neighboring departments, Hautes-Alpes and Haute-Savoie, also opened several hundred beds in Gap, Briançon, Annecy and Cluses under emergency accommodation plans over Saturday and Sunday nights, Le Dauphiné Libéré reported.

Early Saturday morning, the traffic along the Tarentaise Valley, a key path into a number of popular resorts, was disrupted.

© AFP Photo/Jean-Pierre Clatot

People walk at the Les Saisies ski resort in Savoie, central-eastern France, as snow falls on December 27, 2014.

Thousands of cars were blocked because of the terrible weather. "We just made 130 km in 10 hours,"Kevin Clavel told told Le Dauphiné Libéré, as he was stuck in his vehicle with four other passengers on A410 highway between Albertville and Chambery.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Secretary of State for Transport Alain Vidal praised "the coolness and sense of responsibility" of drivers, asking all those, who still can, to postpone their trips and to exercise "the utmost caution."

© AFP Photo/Jean-Pierre Clatot

People put snow chains on their tires as snow falls on December 27, 2014 on the road to the Les Saisies ski resort in Savoie, central-eastern France.

"Getting to the ski stations is still pretty tricky and snow chains are mandatory. The advice is that all those who can should delay their journey," the Transport Ministry also said in a statement.

Due to heavy snow and significant wind gusts, 19 departments were placed on the country's second-highest "orange alert" in northeast France and the Northern Alps on Saturday.

In northern France, wind gusting at nearly 160 km/h led to the closure of the port of Calais, interrupting ferries to England, and traffic restrictions on the A16 motorway along the coast. In Ile-de-France, the gardens of the Château de Versailles also had to be closed to the public because of the high wind, Le Monde reported.

© AFP Photo/Jean-Pierre Clatot

A man uses a snow plow to clean the road as vehicles drive past on December 27, 2014 on the road to the Les Saisies ski resort in Savoie, central-eastern France.

Warbler that should be wintering in western Mexico turns up in Louisiana

Lucy's Warbler. It is normally found in the Sonoran desert and winters along the Pacific coast of northern Mexico.

A bird rarely seen in Louisiana was among 130 species heard or spotted on Grand Isle during the National Audubon Society's annual winter bird count.

A Lucy's warbler, which normally lives in the U.S. Southwest or in Mexico, was the exciting find of the day on Grand Isle, said Chris Brantley, who organized the count on Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island and one of nearly 30 planned around Louisiana between mid-December and Jan. 5.

There are only a few records of the bird ever being seen in Louisiana, Brantley said.

Range Map

Ferry catches fire off Greek coast, 466 passengers and crew are being evacuated

© AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen

466 passengers and crew are being evacuated from an Italian car ferry that caught fire near a Greek island on Sunday morning. The evacuation is being complicated by strong winds and lack of places in lifeboats, according to the media.

Fire broke out on an Italian Norman Atlantic car ferry traveling from western Greece to eastern Italy at around 6.00 am local time (0400 GMT), coast guard officials said on Sunday.

"The captain has requested the evacuation of the ship, according to initial information," spokesman Nikos Lagkadianos said.

The international evacuation effort including Italian and Albanian forces is complicated by dangerous weather conditions with strong winds blowing in the area northwest of Corfu.

The ferry has 411 passengers and 55 crew on board, as well as 222 vehicles. An official told Sputnik news agency that within the framework of the rescue operation some 150 people had already been transferred from a lifeboat to a container ship that had been sailing nearby.

© Unknown

A Greek TV station got comments of some passengers, who dramatically described the evacuation.

"They tried to lower some boats, but not all of us could get in. There is no coordination," one said, as cited by Reuters. "It's dark, the bottom of the vessel is on fire. We are on the bridge, we can see a boat approaching... we opened some boxes and got some life vests, we are trying to save ourselves."

Nikos Papatheodosiou's phone call was more emotional: "We are burning and sinking, no one can save us. Please help us! Don't leave us!"

Several people reportedly jumped into the water, but it is unclear whether there are any casualties. However, cold winter temperatures will lessen their chances of survival if this is the case.

Rescue helicopters and a C-130 search-and-rescue support aircraft have been sent to the scene. Seven nearby ships have been instructed to take passengers and crew members from the ferry, said Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, according to AP.

"We are doing everything we can to save those on board and no one, no one will be left helpless in this tough situation," Varvitsiotis told reporters, as cited by Reuters. "It is one of the most complicated rescue operations that we have ever done."

Problems with another Air Asia aircraft: Flight AK6242 makes emergency landing due to technical difficulties

© East News/ AP

AirAsia's flight AK6242 en route from Penang to Langkawi has made an emergency landing due to technical problems.

An AirAsia aircraft has reportedly made an emergency landing due to technical problems during its flight from Penang to Langkawi (Malaysia) hours after another of the company's planes went missing.

AirAsia's flight AK6242 en route from Penang to Langkawi has made an emergency landing due to technical problems, the Malaysian newspaper said on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, another AirAsia aircraft, flight QZ8501, en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control and went missing with 162 people on board.

Search and rescue operations are being conducted in the Java Sea by the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), but no traces of the aircraft have been found so far.

AirAsia issued a statement confirming the crash of the aircraft due to bad weather conditions. Nevertheless, the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation said it was too early to confirm this information.

AirAsia Indonesia operates domestic flights within the Indonesian archipelago and international flights to Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Thailand. The company is an affiliate of the Malaysian company AirAsia. In 2007, AirAsia Indonesia was banned from operating flights to the European Union (EU) due to safety concerns; however, the ban was lifted in July 2010, the BBC reports.

Space success: Russia launches new Angara space rocket

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday oversaw the successful test-launch of Russia's newest heavy-class Angara rocket, a rare piece of good news in a week dominated by the economic crisis.

The president oversaw by video link the launch of the Angara-A5 from Plesetsk in northern Russia at 0557 GMT, saying the new rocket would allow the country better protection.

"Indeed, for our space industry and I suppose for the whole of Russia this is a major, very important event," Putin said from the Kremlin.

"Russia remains one of the internationally recognized leaders in space exploration."

Putin said that Russia will over the next five years conduct a series of test-launches for the Angara - which is designed for civilian and military use, including the launch of manned spacecraft.

The Kremlin said the Angara - named after a Siberian river flowing out of Lake Baikal - was expected to launch a payload of two tonnes into space.

A locomotive pulled the huge white rocket out of a hangar in footage released by the defence ministry, with personnel bundled up against the cold.

Designed to succeed Proton and other Soviet-era launchers, the Angara is billed as the first rocket to have been completely built after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Putin said that the next-generation spacecraft was more environmentally friendly than its predecessors because it is fuelled by oxygen and kerosene rather than hugely toxic heptyl.

The Khrunichev Center, the state-run spacecraft maker which developed the rocket, said the launch was performed by the aerospace defence forces.

Just in time: U.S. military aircraft deliver weapons to ISIS in Iraq

© Unknown

Volunteer forces fighting against the ISIL Takfiri terrorists say US military aircraft have dropped weapons in areas held by the terrorist group in Iraq.

American helicopters dropped boxes of weapons in Yathrib and Balad districts in Iraq's Salahuddin Province, according to the fighters.

The report comes as the Iraqi army and volunteer fighters appear to be gaining the upper hand and making significant gains against ISIL.

In October, a video showed the terrorist group captured a bundle of US weapons airdropped in the Syrian border town of Kobani.

The US military admitted that it had dropped 28 bundles filled with grenades, mortar rounds and other supplies that were intended for Kurdish fighters.

The video showed masked terrorists inspecting the military equipment, which was airdropped in areas controlled by ISIL near Kobani.

The US Central Command said that the airdrops, including weapons and ammunition, and medical supplies, were "intended to enable continued resistance against ISIL's attempts to overtake Kobani."

The US and its allies have been conducting airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

They say they are carrying out the airstrikes against the Takfiris in both countries in order to curb their advances in the region.

However, the air raids have so far failed to halt the insurgents' military gains.

Comment: What a surprise, just as their proxy army is losing, the U.S. steps in and provides aid to the terrorist group they claim to be fighting. This is by no means an isolated incident as the same happened last October when the U.S. military airdropped weapons to ISIS during the siege on Kobani.

would report that the United States military accidentally dropped by air at least one pallet of weapons and supplies that ended up in the hands of the so-called "Islamic State" or ISIS. While a combination of factors about this particular story appear suspicious, including SITE Intelligence Group's involvement in quickly disseminating an alleged video of ISIS terrorists rooting through the supplies, one fact remains.

While the US claims it has "accidentally" allowed weapons to fall into the hands of ISIS terrorists, in reality, the US has been arming, funding, and aiding ISIS and its terrorist affiliates either directly or through Saudi, Qatari, Jordanian, or Turkish proxies since at least 2011.

Russia rightly doubts the efforts of the U.S.-led coalition. Just look at their track record:

Russian Foreign Ministry: BRICS is "the most important element of global governance"

BRICS Summit


BRICS Summit participants: Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, President of China Xi Jinping and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma in Fortaleza, Brazil on 15 July 2014

Moscow has prioritised "efforts to transform the BRICS into one of the most important elements of the system of global governance" as part of a major foreign policy impetus, said the Russian Foreign ministry on Saturday.

"Crucial progress towards this goal has been made during the Fortaleza Summit (July 15-16)- the decision to establish a multilateral framework of the association of financial institutions - a New Development Bank and a contingent of foreign exchange reserves with a total resource of $200 billion," said a Russian Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday outlining the major foreign policy events in 2014.

BRICS leaders, who met on the sidelines of a G20 summit in November, have instructed their finance ministers to name the new bank's president by the time they next meet in Russia.

BRICS agreed on the structure of a $100 billion development bank, which will have its headquarters in China and with India holding its first rotating presidency. They also agreed on the creation of a $100 billion currency exchange reserve.

Russia has spoken "with one voice with its partners in the BRICS for the promotion of international stability in its various dimensions" said the Russian Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday.

The 6th BRICS Summit, condemned "unilateral military intervention and economic sanctions", the Russian Foreign Ministry statement noted on Saturday.

The BRICS summit this year was largely seen as an opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to boost his geopolitical sway amid isolation from the West over the crisis in Ukraine.

The bloc of five stood against one-sided economic and political measures by third countries, as outlined in a joint statement released after the July Summit.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday that Russia will supply coal and electricity to Ukraine without advance payment as a goodwill gesture from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Putin made a decision to start these supplies due to the critical situation with energy supplies and despite a lack of prepayment," Peskov said.

However, restoration of Russian-US relations is possible only if Washington is ready to conduct a dialogue with Moscow as an equal partner, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.

"We drew on the fact that restoration of bilateral relations would be possible if Washington showed its readiness to conduct a dialogue on the principles of true equality, and mutual respect for each party's interests," the Ministry's statement added.

Relations between Russia and the EU has also deteriorated amid the Ukrainian crisis, as European leaders criticized Moscow for its alleged role in backing the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Over the past few months, the EU, the US and their allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions targeting Russia's banking, energy and defense sectors, as well as a number of high-ranking officials.