A non-profit news blog, focused on providing independent journalism.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The pathological harvesting of Palestine - The Zionist Project Prevails?

© Unknown

Palestinian woman arrives at a Jordanian refugee camp escaping the 1967 war.

With the recent failed bid by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League at the UN security council, to try and end Israelis' occupation of Palestinian land and to create a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, it seems an appropriate moment to review the situation for Palestinians since 1915.

What is the background to the demonization and brutalization of Palestinians? Most of all, why is the international community was assisting properly and why has it not assisted the Palestinians in protecting or restoring their inalienable rights over decades? Why is their situation so brutally upside-down almost a century after they were supposed to be independent and determining their own state affairs?

Some of my previous historical work and publications have explored aspects of the Weimar Republic, Hitler's Germany and the Nazis' prison and camp system from 1933 onwards, and also the Holocaust in some depth. Palestine and the Palestinians had absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust; yet, the Israelis have been, and are treating them as if they had, and are using certain Nazi methods against them, including ghettoization in bantustans, random collective punishment and brutalization (such as "breaking the bones" strategy introduced by Yitzak Rabin in 1987), arbitrary detention without trial or charge, also against children. And of course, targeted assassinations and massacres. Why?

What are the key impulses, decision-making policies and legislation which have led to the destructive and poisonous harvesting of Palestine, and which has led to the appalling conditions for the indigenous population of today; to its brutally contained dots of existence? Of particular significance, is a reassessment of decisions and events leading to the "" of 2 November 1917. This so-called agreement is not what the public at large have been led to believe.

Theodor Herzl, founder of Zionism, and whose portrait I was proudly shown in the Tel Aviv home of a well-known Israeli TV personality in February 2002, is the starting point for my recent publication ''. In 2002, I had not concerned myself with Zionism or with the role of Theodor Herzl and his idea of the "" published in 1896. At the time of Herzl's idea there were about 30,000 Jews in Palestine, and his idea, promoted early on by Chaim Weizmann (first President of the State of Israelis in 1948), completely ignored the 500,000 or so Palestinians whose forefathers had been living there for centuries. Herzl and Zionism continue to frame (directly or indirectly) current events in the Middle East and especially in Palestine.

The "" is extremely unreliable and does not reflect minimum statutory requirements, let alone those of international law, no matter how many 'legal public cloaks' surround and adorn it. Yet it has continued to be referred to over the decades as if it does and as if it were a '', a "commitment", albeit a very contradictory one (even as late as 1979 in a comprehensive United Nations' study of Palestine in its historical perspective (Part II, p.1)).

This has deliberately distracted from the illegitimate and deceptive essence of "Balfour's" conception, birth and being. Furthermore, the letter of 2 November 1917, produced after the conception (and which came to be referred to as the ""), was no legally-binding "Declaration" but rather a "declaration of sympathy" with "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people"; and His Majesty's Government "view(ed) with favour" such a development, but it did not go so far as to use the word "support" or to suggest a "reconstitution" of the Jewish homeland in Palestine. Nevertheless, monumental efforts have been sustained, bribes readily offered and threats made, to bend public law to support it.

It was the events that led up to this document, and its subsequent interpretations, that sowed the seeds for the tragedy that is the Middle East, and especially the Palestine of today. Leonard Stein, renowned historian on Zionism, former barrister, and director of the Jewish Agency in the 1920s, declared that "the real purpose of the Zionist movement was to detach Palestine from Turkey and turn it into a Jewish State" (The Balfour Declaration, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1961, p. 64).


Palestinian brothers sit on the rubble of their house in front of an apartment block in part of the northern Beit Hanoun district of the Gaza Strip on August 5, 2014.

The people deserve better; a lot better. The situation for Palestinians is something that the international community could easily solve by exposing this century-old fraud and stab in the back of the Palestinians which has been majestically and craftily cloaked in legal gobbeldy-gook. I believe one of the reasons why that has not happened, is because it was actually the arch-Zionist Lionel Brandeis, first Jewish US Supreme court Judge, who was secretly involved not only in the drafting of the text of the "Balfour letter" but also of the Mandate in the summer of 1917, and when he had absolutely no legal right or constitutional authority to do so. This was misuse of power and office for a private cause.

And, it is a massive abuse of power with continuing ramifications that was never, and has never been contested or rectified for the Palestinians; the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. Thus, all legal entities after this date are actually not what they appear to be. The cart was put before the horse in 1917. This "" does not constitute unbiased "public law" endorsement; a consistent desired aim of the Zionists since they first began to "work on" various key figures for their territorial and nationalist ambitions.

The British realized that they had connived with an impossible situation for the indigenous population as early as 1921 (the US remained and have remained silent on their connivance), and a secret Government review of the matter, constituted in 1923, confirmed this. But it was only at the end of World War II, and as Zionist violence was erupting in a savage way against the Palestinians and against the British forces and personnel in Palestine, that they decided to entrust all matters with the newly formed (soon to be US-dominated) United Nations from February 1947 onwards. Eventually, in the face of fierce violence, the British withdrew on 14 May 1948, and three months before the negotiated date of 1 August 1948.

When Palestinians, with the support of the Arab States, rejected the United Nations' grossly unfair partition and apartheid plans for Palestine of November 1947, the greatest tragedy in Palestinian history occurred: it is known as (the Catastrophe): the catastrophic harvesting of all that the Palestinians possessed; the terrorization and ethnic cleansing of whole villages; and the massacres of babies, children, women and men, and also livestock.

Thus, the Zionists brutally and knowingly violated the British Mandate, the League of Nations Covenant, and the negotiations and the (albeit controversial) resolution of the international community for two (at that time, unnamed) independent states; they also breached their own promises. Instead of the United Nations holding the Israelis (as they became called) to account for their actions, they were granted the "State of Israel" in 1949 and after it was known that they had committed unprovoked massacres against men, women, children and elderly, such as at Deir Yassin, and had seized 80% of Palestine in total contravention of the United Nations' resolution for the partition. This has set the trend for their subsequent non-compliant conduct towards the United Nations and their aggressive and pre-emptive actions and wars in the Middle East, and of course against Palestinians. This is the "Palestine problem"; this is why there is no peace in the Middle East. This is why the Palestinians were treated badly before 1946 (Lieutenant-Colonel Williams-Thompson's assessment of the "" in 1946). This is why the Palestinians have continued to be treated so badly for decades.

© Unknown

A group of fellahin at the end of the market.

The fellahin (farming) families have very little, but are incredibly welcoming and generous. This would prove to be their downfall in the thirties and forties when they were infiltrated and betrayed ahead of the Zionists' Plan Dalet, and when detailed records were kept on them in the "Village Files".

The penultimate verses of Palestine's fate appear like a Greek Chorus and a tragic farce: successive political leaders (propped up by so-called academics and their research) strut upon the world stage armed with their plans, maps and strategies, chant lip-service to peace and proclaim platitudes of appeasement, whilst allowing the Israelis to conduct a relentless and excessively prolonged campaign of aggression, brutalization, ethnic cleansing and land and property-grabbing against the Palestinians; the indigenous population, and a campaign of destruction, dismemberment and destabilization of countries in the Middle East in order to have a "clean break strategy" to "secure the realm" (Perle , 1996).

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine

© Unknown

The harvesting of Palestine has taken on new twists, as the diminishing dots of fragile existence have become even more fragmented by the Israeli annexation wall (on 9 July 2004, it was declared illegal by the International Court, but the Israelis continued building), and as the actual plans and hidden agendas for the region begin to surface. The Entente's assurances of almost a century ago, and carried personally by Commander David George Hogarth to Sherif Husein on 4 January 1918, continue to be remorselessly violated: "the Entente Powers are determined that the Arab race shall be given full opportunity of once again forming a nation in the world ... So far as Palestine is concerned, we are determined that no people shall be subject to another".

British TV orders up a comedy series about the Irish famine

Great Hunger

© Wikimedia

Playing the Great Hunger for laughs! Holocaust, Ebola next?

British TV station Channel 4 has commissioned a sitcom about the Irish Famine in which one million Irish died of starvation and one million emigrated. What a great subject for cheap laughs!

No this is not an April Fools story, this is a January 1st story, incredible as it may seem.

The writer will be Dublin-based Hugh Travers, a 31-year-old, who has already had a major hit with a show called . He is a former film student at UCLA.

The sitcom will be called and Channel 4 has given the Dublin writer full freedom to write his own scripts which he says is seriously daunting.

Asked by the why The Famine, Travers stated, "Well, they say 'comedy equals tragedy plus time'," he says, laughing.

"I don't want to do anything that denies the suffering that people went through, but Ireland has always been good at black humor. We're kind of thinking of it as in famine Ireland."

The Showtime US version of series depicts the dysfunctional family of Irish American Frank Gallagher, a single father of six children. While he spends his days drunk, his kids learn to take care of themselves.

So we are basing a sitcom on The Famine on a drunken Irish American series.

Hard to beat that I'd say.

What's up next?? A sitcom on The Holocaust maybe with funny fat Nazis eating victims alive?

Or how about a comedy about Ebola with black kids dying on screen and doctors telling funny jokes about them?

'Sure you are being way too sensitive,' I can hear people say, 'time to have a laugh about the Famine. Did you hear the one about the starving children? Some of them ate grass...Ha Ha Ha.'

As a kickoff to the New Year I doubt I will write a story about a more ridiculous idea for the rest of 2015.

The 31-year-old Dubliner started writing in college and got a film scholarship to UCLA. His play was adapted for an award-winning radio production in 2014.

Ancient Mexico provides lesson on human unity, experts say

Mexico's Races

© Latin America Herald Tribune

Mexico City - Scientists have found substantial genomic differences among Mexico's indigenous populations that persist despite the widely popular concept of a homogeneous mestizo , experts say.

"There is a high degree of differentiation among indigenous populations, and more so between those who are more isolated," Victor Acuna Alonzo, an anthropologist at the National School of Anthropology and History, told Efe.

An international team of researchers analyzed genome samples taken from more than 1,000 individuals representing 20 indigenous and 11 mestizo, or mixed, population groups, the journal reported recently.

The greatest differences were found between the Seri ethnic group living in northwest Mexico and the Lacandones in the southeast, with genomic differences wider than those existing between European and Chinese people.

The Mexican Constitution states that the country's population is multicultural and rooted in its indigenous populations, but the diversity has tended to be hidden or shunned in mainstream discourse that favors the concept of a monolithic culture.

The National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination says one of the main reasons for this is the "mestizo myth" based on the emergence of a national identity that integrates all the distinct components of Mexico's population.

The 2012 report by the council said it was Mexican philosopher Jose Vasconcelos (1882-1959) "who best defined this narrative."

Vasconcelos's 1925 book, posited the idea that the "assimilation of the diverse origins coinciding in Mexico and in Latin America place the mestizo as the principal unit."

"Neither the 'cosmic race' nor the government's pro-mestizo propaganda managed to erase the multicultural and multiethnic nature of the country," the report said. "Vasconcelos was wrong: today in Mexico there are many races - not one - and all express themselves through a vast pleiad of spirits, just like that, in plural not in singular."

Paradoxically, both the argument for homogenization through miscegenation and its opposite, the vindication of diversity, have been used to refute racist positions.

The first argues that it is impossible to define clear boundaries among the races since they are so intertwined, while the second highlights each group's contributions to universal human culture.

The mystery of UVB-76: Radio station has 'buzzed' every second since the 1970s - but no one knows why

Suddenly the piercing buzzing noise that has continued incessantly for months stops. A cold voice takes over.

'U-V-B-7-6,' is read out in a thick Russian accent, before listing a series of code words and numbers. Then, just as suddenly, it ends. The buzzing returns, for another few months.

That is what has greeted listeners of a mysterious radio station nicknamed 'The Buzzer' - and code named UVB-76, or more recently MDZhB - since the 1970s.

But what the Buzzer is doing, or who is broadcasting it, remains a mystery - with theories ranging from the Russian military to atmospheric research.

© websdr.ewl

A Russian radio station has played a buzzing sound on frequency 4625 kHz (shown) for four decades. Every few months it is interrupted by a voice relaying a coded message. But no one knows the exact purpose of the station or the message. Some say it is a military station, or a counter-attack measure for nuclear war

The Buzzer is a shortwave radio station of unknown origin.

Although its noise has changed slightly over the preceding 40 years, it has always involved some form of regular buzzing, interrupted by a voice on rare occasions seemingly reading out a message.

Today, 25 times every minute, it spends less than a second buzzing, pauses, then buzzes again - endlessly.

The noise rings out on a frequency of 4625 kHz, which anyone is able to listen in on, including online at one of several live streams.

For years the transmission seemed to originate from the town of Povarovo near Moscow but, in September 2010, the location changed. Now, it is believed to be in Western Russia.

According to the website Numbers Station, the Buzzer 'works as a communications center within the Western Military District that sends messages to corresponding military units and their outposts.'

The Buzzer has spawned many websites and blogs like this, with amateur radio enthusiasts the world over becoming intrigued by its unsolved mystery.

Ryan Schaum, an engineering student from Pittsburgh who runs the Numbers Station website, said he first became interested in The Buzzer a little over a year ago.

'I first saw what it was in a YouTube video and became fascinated with its mystery,' he said.

But he admits he hasn't attempted to crack the code yet, saying: 'These messages cannot be decoded by anyone who they do not intend them to be for.

'Without access to the codebook, there is no way to tell what they are sending.'

It's believed that the station is a way of secretly communicating with spies without the message being tracked or intercepted.

© Egor Evseev

Student Egor Evseev visited the old site believed to house UVB-76 in the summer of 2012. He says the area consisted of abandoned and partially destroyed buildings, with ripped up cables suggesting it was once a transmission centre. The location of the station is believed to have moved in 2010

Despite anyone being able to listen to the station, depending on their radio coverage where they are in the world, the code used is a complete mystery.

There is no perceptible shift in the pattern of the buzzing, and no indication that a voiced message is imminent.

All the messages, though, are in the same format. They usually began with a collective callsign, which until 2010 was UVB-76 or UZB-76. Four years ago, though, a voice came on the air and changed the callsign, which is now MDZhB (with 'Zh' being a single letter in Russian).

Many, though, continue to refer to the station as UVB-76.

The station also once broadcast a time signal, with a one-minute long two-tune buzzer sounding at the top of every hour. This was disabled in June 2010, and no time signal has taken its place.

Interestingly, codes have also been repeated over months or years, for reasons unknown. On 26 January 2011 the operator read out 'ILOTICIN 36 19 69 46.' This was repeated almost four months later, on 11 May 2011.

The frequency of the voiced transmission is also not regular. Before 2010 it could take months or even years between messages.

Following 2010, though, messages were heard as often as every few weeks, sometimes occurring on or near significant events.

For example on 18 March 2014, less than 24 hours after Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation, the voice read out: 'T-E-R-R-A-K-O-T-A. Mikhail Dimitri Zhenya Boris [MDZhB, the callsign of the station]. Mikhail Dmitri Zhenya Boris. 81 26 T-E-R-R-A-K-O-T-A.'

© Egor Evseev

Although its noise has changed slightly over the preceding 40 years, it has always involved some form of regular buzzing, interrupted by a voice on rare occasions. Some believe the station is operated from a bunker somewhere (image from abandoned site), with an official relaying a message now and again

And in November of this year there were 28 separate voice messages broadcast over the network.

It was also around 2010 that the location of the transmitter was believed to be moved, from near the town of Povarovo, not too far from Moscow, to near Pskov, on the border with Estonia.

Russian student Egor Esveev, 20, who originally comes from Moscow but now studies in Ottawa, told MailOnline how he explored what he believes was the previous site near Pskov.

'Like any abandoned building or area it was very creepy,' he said.

'Strange people and very strange scenery.'

'There was a man on a bike that came from the road that lead to nowhere other than forest, he wasn't carrying anything and headed in the direction of a field which I know has nothing at all for miles and miles.

'The second creepy person was a mid-40s woman, she was with a stroller. At first I thought that she is a resident of the town out for a walk but as she walked past I saw that her stroller was empty.

'Who goes to an abandoned military base with an empty stroller for a walk?'

He said the station was set up like a 'typical Russian military base' with two different perimeters.

Most of the buildings, some half underground, were destroyed or abandoned according to Mr Evseev, while cables in some areas had been visibly torn from the ground.

'We found tons of rubbish documents,' he added. 'One that we found was interestingly enough about ceasing operations of the base.'

He thinks that the station may be used for some form of internal communication that, 'while secret, isn't sensitive enough for them to care about masking or keeping it secret.'

© Mail Online

In 2010 the location of the Buzzer was moved from near the town of Povarovo, not too far from Moscow, which was explored by Mr Evseev, to an unknown location Pskov, on the border with Estonia (shown). The estimated location of its new position is based on triangulation of the signal from radio enthusiasts

Others have speculated that this is a secretive Russian communications network used to communicate either with the military, or with spies around the world.

'The buzzer is a legend. Many odd stories have been told about it,' 60-year-old freelance radio monitor Ary Boender from Holland, who runs the website Numbers Oddities, told MailOnline.

'It is a strange station according to may people, it buzzes but there were no other kind of transmissions.'

'Some say that it is an old Soviet Dead Man's Switch that triggers a nuclear attack on the west when it stops buzzing.

'In the past it was said that it was a remote control station belonging to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Others say that it is a homing beacon for UFOs, or a mind control device with which the Russians can program your mind.'

But, according to Mr Boender: 'It's all nonsense of course.

'When the buzzer stopped buzzing on Sept 1, 2010 many of the conspiracy fans thought that it was the end of the world. But no nuclear attack followed nor did the UFO's land.

'The truth is that they moved their transmitters from Povarovo to the site near St Petersburg.'

Mr Boender is adamant this was the result of a large reorganisation of the Russian forces, and is certain the radio station is of military origin.

He added that other stations are thought to be run by other militaries around the world, including in the US and China.

These types of transmissions are beneficial because they can be used in place of a satellite system for long-distance communication if necessary.

© Numbers station

Mr Schaum supplied MailOnline with a logbook of messages written down, apparently taken from the old site in Povarovo. He explained this showed 'their daily work schedule and samples on how to write the actual logbook. It's interesting to look at, but it's in Russian and we haven't gotten around to translating it'

There is some disagreement on the source of the buzzing, though - whether it is a physical buzzer placed next to a microphone or an electronic signal.

It is known that the voice that speaks on the radio is live, leading some to believe the actual buzzer is located in a basement somewhere, with a microphone nearby.

This is known because occasionally the operator must correct themselves, saying the word 'sboj' ('error' in Russian), before continuing.

In addition, on extremely rare occasions voices have been heard talking in the background of the buzzer.

On 3 November 2001, for example, a microphone was mistakenly left open and, translated from Russian to English, listeners heard: 'I am 143. Not receiving the generator (oscillator),' followed by: 'That stuff comes from hardware room.'

Mr Boender, though, thinks the buzzing noise is not a device next to a microphone, but rather an 'electronically generated noise fed directly into the transmitter'.

Mr Schaum however, disagrees.

'The buzzing noise is believed to be fed through a live microphone,' he said.

'Some evidence that the buzzing sound is fed through a live mic is that voices, footsteps, and so on have been heard there.'

© Egor Evseev

Mr Evseev said he found the abandoned location very eerie. 'Like any abandoned building or area it was very creepy,' he said.'Strange people and very strange scenery. There was a man on a bike that came from the road that lead to nowhere other than forest, he wasn't carrying anything and headed in the direction of a field'

Whatever its method of producing a sound, its purpose also remains a mystery.

'[The] Buzzer, being strong in Europe and triangulation results showing it near the Estonian border would suggest it to be serving the Western Military District,' speculates priyom.org.

'It is worth noting that all messages are sent in AM-compatible modulation meaning that even a very simple receiver is suitable for the reception.

'For the same reason messages are sent in voice, allowing unskilled operators to successfully handle radio traffic.'

However, in April 2008 a report from the Borok Geophysical Observatory suggested they had used the exact same frequency as the Buzzer - 4625 kHz - to perform ionospheric research.

They performed Doppler measurements, sending a carrier wave on that frequency to see how it travelled through Earth's ionosphere.

In their paper they wrote: 'High-frequency Doppler method for ionosphere researches is based on observation of frequency variations of the radio wave reflected from ionosphere inhomogeneities, changing in time and in space.'

Doing this can detect changes in the ionosphere from the sun, as well as atmospheric and seismic events from natural and artificial sources.

Shortwave transmissions like this allow the signal to be spread over great distance by reflecting off the ionosphere.

It's unclear why they would have used this particular transmission for their experiment - or who granted them permission to do so - but regardless it seems this event may have been an anomaly in the history of the Buzzer.

© Egor Evseev

One of the more unlikely theories about the station is that it is a ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ system. In the case of a nuclear attack against Russia, UVB-76 would launch an automated counter-strike. Most experts, though, think it is a lesser military station. Pictured is another of the abandoned buildings explored by Mr Evseev

But despite all the theories and assurances, one thing remains a mystery: no one knows what the messages are saying or how to break the code.

So while theories might swirl about its origin, location and history, its true purpose remains confusing.

Whether this is really a Russian military station to communicate with a global network of spies, a scientific research station or simply a hoax may never be solved.

But what is known is that for four decades someone, somewhere, has approached a microphone and uttered a series of numbers and letters.

Perhaps they were sending a message to someone. One that always ended: 'U-V-B-7-6.'

The police state just got stronger: Supreme Court rules that cops can pull you over even if they only 'believe' you've broken the law

police pull over

© Wikipedia Commons

WATCH OUT: A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has found that officers can initiate traffic stops even if motorists haven’t broken a law.

In a ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the nation's top court found that a police officer who mistakenly interprets a law and pulls someone over hasn't violated their Fourth Amendment rights.

The case pertained to a traffic stop initiated on Nicholas Heien in North Carolina, on account of a broken tail light. The stop and search of the vehicle, conducted by the officer after the initial citation, yielded a good amount of cocaine. Heien was charged with drug trafficking.

The problem? According to North Carolina traffic law, only one tail light needs to be functional. That means the initial stop, justified on these grounds, would have been illegal - and so would the seizure of the cocaine found in Heien's car.

Heien filed a lawsuit to suppress the evidence of cocaine possession based on this fact, according to the Supreme Court ruling, and was eventually vindicated by the state Court of Appeals. But that was overturned by the North Carolina State Supreme Court and brought to the nation's highest court on appeal.

The final ruling examined whether the misunderstanding of the law would be considered "reasonable" for an officer to make.

The majority opinion issued Dec. 15 and written by Chief Justice John Roberts found that police officers only need to "reasonably believe" something is against the law to pull someone over. Effectively, this means cops can pull you over even if you haven't broken a law.

"I understand the idea that when, you know, 99 people out of a hundred think you have to have two brake lights, like you do everywhere else in the country, that it's reasonable for the police officer to think that," said Roberts during oral arguments, siding with the police.

"The government's basic argument is that it was reasonable to pull over the driver based on the law as it was believed to be at the time; the officers who made the stop weren't acting culpably or wrongly based on the situation they confronted," wrote Orin Kerr, professor of law at the George Washington University Law School.

Critics of the case point to a certain amount of double standard when it comes to knowing the law for citizens and police officers.

"The result is a system in which "ignorance of the law is no excuse" for citizens facing conviction, but police can use their own ignorance about the law to their advantage," notes the legal brief on the case by a coalition of civil rights organizations, including American Civil Liberties Union and Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

The brief filed with the Supreme Court argues the decision made by the North Carolina State Supreme Court was "inconsistent with the logic that applies to factual mistakes committed by law enforcement and erodes civil liberties, all while undermining police authority and safety."

"Citizens are presumed to know and understand the laws in every jurisdiction in which they drive," notes the brief. "Thus, the North Carolina Supreme Court's rule exempts police officers from the ambit of the presumption exactly when it is most likely to vindicate constitutional protections."

So while police officers are sworn to uphold, execute and enforce the law, that doesn't mean they need to understand it completely to carry out traffic stops and eventual arrests on citizens.

New Jersey judge rules to allow cops to entrap suspects using Instagram

Gavel and Computer

© CBS Philly

In what might be the slowest tech news week of the year, there's a weird tidbit out of New Jersey. A U.S. District Judge has ruled that cops are allowed to create fake identities on Instagram to follow suspects. As we've seen in the past, criminals occasionally post evidence of their crimes on social media applications, and image-heavy Instagram is no different.

The ruling came about after police officers befriended a serial burglar - Daniel Gatson - on Instagram. The person had posted shots of certain wares, described in the opinion as "large amounts of cash and jewelry, which were quite possibly the proceeds from the specified federal offenses." He protected his Instagram account, so you had to request to follow him to see the content, and the officers created a fake account to get that access.

They used the picture evidence to obtain a search warrant for Gatson's home. In return, Gatson tried to get the evidence thrown out, saying it violated his Fourth Amendment Rights. The judge wasn't buying it, because Gatson approved the agent's friend request. "No search warrant is required for the consensual sharing of this type of information," the Court said in its opinion.

This is, of course, not the first time that social media and the law have intersected. Agents, officers, and lawyers have used Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites to gather intel and evidence in cases, resulting in varying degrees of public outrage. The DEA was scolded by Facebook this past October after it came to light that the agency had taken an arrested woman's photos from her phone and used them to create a fake profile in the hopes of gathering intel from her contacts. The case hasn't gone to trial yet.

In August last year, Oakland prosecutors were able to up a man's charge from vehicular manslaughter to murder using some of his morbid tweets. Some courts have even ruled that a plaintiff had to hand over his Facebook password to a defendant so content on the site could be used as evidence.

But a legal expert who spoke to Ars Technica about the case said they believe this might be the first incident involving Instagram.

Rainforest growth speeds up with high carbon dioxide emissions

  • Nasa study shows tropical forests absorb 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year

  • Rainforests absorb more than half of CO2 taken up by vegetation globally

  • Scientists previously believed tropical forests emitted carbon dioxide

  • Researchers claim their findings emphasise the need to protect rainforests from deforestation to help counteract human greenhouse gas emissions

Jungle forest

Trees and plants in tropical forests are absorbing 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The researchers claim their findings show that rainforests are essential for soaking up excess greenhouse gases, and play a far greater role than had been previously realised.

Tropical forests are growing faster than scientists thought due to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A Nasa-led study has found that tropical forests are absorbing 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year as they photosynthesise and grow.

And this is far more than is absorbed by the vast areas of boreal forest that encircle the Arctic.

The researchers claim their findings show that rainforests like the Amazon are essential for soaking up excess greenhouse gases, and play a far greater role than had been previously realised.

Dr David Schimel, a researcher at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, who led the study, said: 'This is good news, because uptake in boreal forests is already slowing, while tropical forests may continue to take up carbon for many years.'

However, Dr Schimel and his colleagues warn that deforestation in tropical rainforests could exacerbate climate change by leaving more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


Deforestation and burning releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and were thought to cause tropical forests to release more carbon dioxide than they absorbed. But the new study suggests this is not the case.

In total, they estimate that forests and other vegetation absorb around 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, about 30 per cent of that emitted by humans.

As emissions add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, forests worldwide are using it to grow faster.

However, the rate at which they absorb this has been hard to estimate with many studies producing contradictory results.

As many rainforests consist of mature trees that are often hundreds of years old, they were not thought to absorb much carbon dioxide.

Young fast growing trees tend to absorb more carbon dioxide as they use the carbon as they grow.

Global air flows and data on deforestation also suggested tropical forests were releasing more carbon dioxide than they absorb.

But this new study suggests the tropical forests are using far more of the carbon, and so growing far faster than previously believed.

Dr Schimel and his colleagues, whose work is published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, used computer models, satellite images, data from forest plots and photosynthetic experiments to build up a picture of how forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

He said: 'What we've had up till this paper was a theory of carbon dioxide fertilisation based on phenomena at the microscopic scale and observations at the global scale that appeared to contradict those phenomena.

'Here, at least, is a hypothesis that provides a consistent explanation that includes both how we know photosynthesis works and what's happening at the planetary scale.

'All else being equal, the effect is stronger at higher temperatures, meaning it will be higher in the tropics than in the boreal forests.'

However, he added that changes in water supply to forests due to changing climate and deforestation could alter the amount of carbon dioxide tropical forests are absorbing.

He said: 'The future tropical balance of deforestation and climate sources and regrowth and carbon dioxide sinks will only remain a robust feature of the global carbon cycle if the vast tropical forests are protected from destruction.'

rainforest river

Scientists believed that rainforests were poor at absorbing carbon dioxide despite their rich plant life, but the new study shows that they, in fact, account for more than half of all greenhouse gases absorbed by vegetation.

Oliver Stone: Ukrainians are suffering from US 'ideological crusade' against Russia

In response to those who took exception with his claims that the Ukrainian crisis involved “outside agitators,” Oliver Stone took to social media to advance his argument, saying that Ukrainians are the victims of a US strategy akin to Cold War 2.0.

This week, Stone stirred a political firestorm with his views on what he believed sparked the Ukrainian crisis, following a private interview with Viktor Yanukovich, the former Ukrainian president who was ousted in the February 2014 coup.

"It seems clear that the so-called ‘shooters’ who killed 14 policemen, wounded some 85 and killed 45 protesting civilians, were outside, third-party agitators,” Stone said, following his four-hour conversation with Yanukovich in Moscow. “Many witnesses, including Yanukovich and police officials, believe these foreign elements were introduced by pro-Western factions – with CIA fingerprints on it.”

According to the American-born filmmaker and writer, Ukraine is just the latest country in a long list to fall prey to “America’s soft power technique called ‘Regime Change 101.’”

Stone’s comments reverberated like an earthquake on both sides of the Ukrainian divide, prompting him to elaborate on his original statement. Stone’s follow-up post began with him explaining that he has no particular sympathy for Yanukovich.

“For those of you angry with my analysis of Ukraine yesterday, please try to understand the bigger picture I’m offering,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I have no brief for Viktor Yanukovich, he may well be the most corrupt president Ukraine’s ever had. Ukraine has a dramatic history of corruption. That is not my point.”

However, he went on to argue that there is “ample evidence of pro-Western, third-party interference” in Ukraine, specifically mentioning Victoria Nuland and John McCain, two high-ranking American officials who appeared on the streets of central Kiev at the height of the Maidan showdown between police and protesters.

He also mentioned specific US government organizations, such as USAID, which has been operating in Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the National Endowment for Democracy, which he remarked “apparently organize very well on Facebook and Twitter,” suggesting a possible method of organizing the protesters for an anti-government rally.

Supporters of European integration of Ukraine clash with the police in the center of Kiev January 25, 2014 (RIA Novosti)

Stone asked the question why so many Ukrainian policemen were killed and wounded during the occasionally violent rallies, “Yet no one has investigated this in the new government?”

Indeed, there has been much speculation that the so-called Maidan snipers were working in the pay of those who were trying to orchestrate the protests, and it was their aim to shoot members from both sides to trigger deeper social unrest.

To emphasize his point that the US has been playing games in Ukraine for a long time, Stone made a historical reference to 1949, when Defense Secretary James Forrestal, together with the cooperation of the CIA, created a guerrilla force codenamed ‘Nightingale’ that was comprised of ultra-nationalist Ukrainians.

For five years, according to Stone, the CIA was parachuting Ukrainian infiltrators into the country.

Stone implored his audience to see the “big picture,” which is that the United States “has never given up on using Ukraine as a launching pad to the underbelly of the Soviet Union, now a reduced Russia.”

“This Cold War 2.0 policy continues in a most deadly fashion, and whether they know it or not, the Ukrainian civilian population in the middle has suffered greatly from this ideological crusade,”
Stone said.

Suffering together: The hell in Donbass, brought to you by the U.S.


This documentary follows the citizens of Donbass, southeastern Ukraine, the target of Kiev's "anti-terrorist operation" for the better part of last year. It documents their suffering, where they live, work, and fight, in this senseless war instigated by the U.S. desire to weaken Russia and her people. What the barbarians directing this war don't understand is that suffering together makes you stronger. The point of no return is passed, the people of Donbass have declared their independence and will never accept rule by people who sought to wipe them out. The conscience of the world stands by the people of Donbass.

[embedded content]

Uruguay suffers severe flooding with much of Montevideo under water


Torrential rain left much of Montevideo under water


Several days of torrential rain has led to widespread flooding across Uruguay. Among the worst hit is the capital city, Montevideo, much of which has been left under water.

Thousands of homes and businesses have been damaged in the process. This has been described as the worst flooding in almost a century.

Friday saw an incredible amount of rainfall with 63mm of rain falling in around half an hour. The average rainfall for the entire month of December is 78mm.

[embedded content]

The deluge left vehicles floating across the inundated streets. Meanwhile, trees were downed by the strong and gusty winds.

Power outages also affected much of the country.

Montevideo's Emergency Committee received over 100 calls for help in less than an hour.

The Director for Environmental Development, Juan Canessa noted that 'we're 23mm short of 2014 becoming the year with the most rain in the last 100 years.'

The rains have eased but that total may well be surpassed before the year ends. The Uruguayan Meteorological Institute has issued warnings for the entire country because further showers are expected over the next few days.

Putin won't back down, lauds Crimean accession as 'landmark in national history'



In his New Year address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Russians for their "invariable readiness to defend Russia's interests, to be with it both in days of triumph and in times of trial".

Russia is struggling to avoid a recession next year having been hit hard by the steep fall in oil prices and economic sanctions imposed by the US, EU and their allies over Moscow's alleged role in the Ukraine unrest.

The Russian currency has hit an all-time low in 2014 and has declined more than 50 per cent since the start of the year.

A defiant Russian President, in his New Year's address on Wednesday, lauded the decision by Crimea to "reunite" with Russia.

"It has found its reflection in our fraternal aid to the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, after they made the firm decision to return to their native home. This event will remain a landmark in national history," said Putin.

He did indicate that Russia would need to brace itself in facing its worst economic crisis since 1998, when the country defaulted on its debt.

"In the coming year, we are facing quite a few tasks and the year will be as good as we make it, depending on how efficient, creative and effective each one of us is. There are no other recipes. We need to implement all our plans - for our own sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of Russia," urged Putin.

Putin has blamed the economic problems on external factors, principally the West but has also pointed out that "internal mistakes" have played their part in the downturn.

"The hardships we are facing are not only external, they are caused not only by the sanctions restrictions or by restrictions linked with the objective international situation, they are also caused by our mistakes that have been made over the years," Putin was quoted by news agency.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said restoration of Russian-US relations is possible only if Washington is ready to conduct a dialogue with Moscow as an equal partner.

"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," a Ministry statement said this week.

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.

Brought down by a meteor? AirAsia plane soared 'as fast as a fighter jet' and then fell almost vertically

Experts examining flight data leaked from the AirAsia crash investigation said the plane behaved in ways 'bordering on the edge of logic' after rising thousands of feet into the air before falling almost vertically

The AirAsia jet which plunged into the Java Sea rose up as fast as a fighter jet and then dropped almost vertically into the water as if being thrust down by a giant hand, crash experts agreed today.

Their conclusion is that the Airbus 320-200 was in the grip of weather so freakishly extreme that there was nothing the pilots could have done to save the jet and all 162 people on board.

The plane behaved in ways 'bordering on the edge of logic,' Indonesian aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman said after examining figures leaked from the official air crash investigation team.

The news came as the first victim of the crash was identified and handed back to her family, and rescuers pulled two more bodies from the ocean, bringing the total recovered to nine.

The body of Hayati Lutfiah Hamid was identified by medical workers from surgical scars, a necklace bearing her initials, her fingerprints, and a red name badge pinned to her clothes.

Officials have yet to speculate on what caused AirAsia flight A320-200 to plunge into the sea 40 minutes into a flight from Surabaya to Singapore.

Efforts by dive teams to recover the plane's black box, which will contain vital data on how the tragedy unfolded, have been hampered by poor weather as search teams warn it could be a week before the device is located and brought to the surface.

But today Mr Soejatman said the jet climbed at a speed that would have been impossible for the pilot to have achieved - and then plunged straight down 'like a piece of metal being thrown down.'

'It's really hard to comprehend...the way it goes down is bordering on the edge of logic.'

Australian aviation expert, Peter Marosszeky, from the University of NSW, told the Sydney Morning Herald that, in contrast, he was baffled by the extremely low speed of the descent - as low as 61 knots - which would suggest the plane was heading almost straight down, explaining why it has been found in water just 10km from its last point of radar contact.

Both experts are in agreement that the jet went down almost vertically - and also concluded that a freak weather pattern that placed the aircraft under extraordinary forces was to blame for its plight.

Earlier in the week, AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes - who vowed today to fly home with the body of 22-year-old stewardess Khairunnisada Haidar once she has been formally identified - suggested the jet had encountered 'very unique weather.'

Mr Soejatman meanwhile remains convinced that the reason for the crash, while officially a mystery, is possibly because the aircraft was caught in a severe updraft, followed by an equally severe ground draft.

He said that leaked figures showed the plane climbed at a virtually unprecedented rate of 6000ft to 9000ft per minute and 'you can't do that at altitude in an Airbus 320 with pilot action.'

The most that could normally be expected, he said, would be 1000ft to 1500ft on a sustained basis, gaining 3000ft in a burst.

But then the aircraft fell at an even more incredible rate of 11,000ft a minute, with extraordinary bursts of up to 24,000ft a minute - figures higher than the Air France A330 Airbus that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009, killing 228 passengers after attaining baffling ascent and descent rates.

Mr Marosszeky agreed that a climb rate of at least 6000ft a minute would indicate a 'severe weather event,' because that rate of climb was a 'domain for jet fighters.'

Howwever, Dudi Sudibyo, a senior editor of aviation magazine disagreed with that analysis, claiming that the pilot managed to land on the sea before the craft was overwhelmed.

Mr Sudibyo said that emergency locator transmitters on board the aircraft would be set to go off after automatically after a heavy impact. Because these is no evidence these devices triggered, he claims, the pane must have landed safely.

However due to the stormy conditions on the day, the craft was swamped before disappearing below the waves, reported.

In a fascinating, yet worrying, comment earlier in the week, Mr Fernandes suggested that climate change was making weather worse and flying riskier, particularly in the tropics.

Meanwhile today Mr Fernandes promised that he would fly with the family of flight QZ8501 and the body of stewardess Ms Khairunnisa to her home town in Palembang, Indonesia, once her body has been positively identified.

The body of one of the two stewardesses, still in her red AirAsia uniform, has been recovered.

In a Tweet today, Mr Fernandes said that 'if our beautiful and wonderful crew (member) is identified, we will go from Surabaya to Palembang with her parents. Heartbreaking soul (destroyed).'

Ms Khairunnisa's father, Mr Haidar Fauzie, told newspaper of Malaysia that he hoped the body found in a flight attendant's uniform was that of his daughter so that he could lay her to rest.

Moose charges at ski patrolman on the slopes in Colorado

A moose charges a ski patrolman on the slopes of Steamboat Springs in Colorado

As if there weren't already enough potential perils on the slopes, skiers in Steamboat Springs in Colorado had to contend with a charging moose this week.

In footage shot on Sunday, December 28, a moose wandered onto the popular ski fields of Routt County and took aim at a red jacket-wearing ski patrolman.

Luckily for the patrolman, who was not on skis, he was fleet of foot enough to evade the largest member of the deer like a matador.

[embedded content]

Moose are commonly found in the area after being introduced in the late 1970s.

Run-ins between the creatures and people aren't entirely uncommon. A woman walking her dogs in February was injured when charged.

In this case, however, no-one was harmed.

Putin's New Year message to Obama: You're not the only superpower

Happy New Year to all our readers!

As a token of our appreciation, when you donate $20 or €20 you will receive a fabulous and unique 2015 Sott calendar. For more details see the bottom of this page:

Happy New Year 2015: Sott.net - Shining ever brighter, thanks to You

A big thank you to all our readers who continue to help us keep shining the light in these increasingly dark times!



© Presidential Press and Information Office

Putin's New Year Address to the Nation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in a New Year's message to U.S. President Barack Obama that Moscow is looking for equality in bilateral relations next year.

The Kremlin on Wednesday published several dozen New Year's messages addressed to heads of states and international organizations such as the Olympic Committee and FIFA.

Putin reminded Obama of the upcoming 70th anniversary of the allied victory in World War II and said that it should serve as a reminder of "the responsibility that Russia and the United States bear for maintaining peace and international stability." Moscow is anxious for the relations to advance but only as long as there is "equality and mutual respect."

Conspicuously absent from the list of the recipients of New Year's messages was Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Comment: Polite, firm, diplomatic, reasonable. How many times, and in how many ways, does Putin have to say it? The only thing standing in the way of peace is the U.S.'s belligerent, arrogant, megalomaniacal psychopathy. There would be no conflict in Ukraine, or Syria, or Iraq, if the U.S. just accepted that they have no right to rule the world like a global dictator. Equality and mutual respect. It doesn't sound like much, but it's unthinkable to the clowns in Washington.

Putin also wished happy New Year to the Russian people. Here's his description of the holiday season:

The New Year of 2015 is about to begin.

As always, we look forward to it with anticipation, making wishes, giving gifts and traditionally seeing in the New Year with family and friends. An atmosphere of kindness, goodwill and generosity warms our hearts, opening them up to pure thoughts and honourable deeds and giving hope.

Naturally, everyone is concerned primarily about the well-being of their own family, wishing health and happiness to their near and dear ones. The happiness and success of each person makes up the well-being of Russia.

The world needs more leaders like this man: individuals willing and able to live with virtue, honor, and goodwill, to be the conscience of their nation, setting an example. The example set by leaders in the West is atrocious, and we can see the result in the social chaos eating away at Western society.

"Shameful and disgraceful": Ashrawi on UN Palestine vote


Hanan Ashrawi

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi on Wednesday condemned the UN Security Council vote against a bid to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine as "outrageously shameful."

"It is ironic that while the United Nations designated 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the resolution failed to pass as an indication of a failure of will by some members of the international community," she said in a statement.

"Furthermore, all the articles of the resolution are consistent with declared American policy, international law, UN resolutions, and the requirements of peace. The extent to which the US has gone to protect Israeli impunity and lawlessness and to enable its criminal behavior is disgraceful and dangerous."

Ashrawi's statement came as Palestinian leaders reacted to news that the UN Security Council had failed to pass a bill calling for peace within a year and a 2017 deadline to end the Israeli occupation.

While Hamas denounced the bid altogether as a failed stunt, PA leaders focused their anger on those states which failed to support the bid.

"Those countries (Lithuania, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Korea, and the UK) that abstained demonstrated a lack of political will to hold Israel accountable and to act in accordance with the global rule of law and international humanitarian law and their own avowed principles," Ashrawi said in her statement.

Many had expected that the resolution would come close to passing but would be blocked by a US veto. But the large number of abstentions meant that the US did not even have to exercise its veto to kill the bill.

"We extend our gratitude and appreciation to all the countries, in particular France and Luxembourg, that upheld their principles and voted in favor of the resolution," Ashrawi said.

"We strongly urge all governments worldwide to officially recognize an independent Palestine on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and to support our multilateral efforts of resorting to all international venues to seek the protection and empowerment of Palestine and accountability for Israel."

"This is the inevitable next step given such an abysmal failure of will on the part of some members of the international community and the collusion with Israel by others," she added.

Refined and bleached salts in processed foods linked to autoimmune diseases

The modern diet of processed foods, takeaways and microwave meals could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema.

A team of scientists from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany, say junk food diets could be partly to blame.

'This study is the first to indicate that excess refined and processed salt may be one of the environmental factors driving the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases,' they said.

Junk foods at fast food restaurants as well as processed foods at grocery retailers represent the largest sources of sodium intake from refined salts.

sent out an international team of researchers to compare the salt content of 2,124 items from fast food establishments such as Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Subway. They found that the average salt content varied between companies and between the same products sold in different countries.

U.S. fast foods are often more than twice as salt-laden as those of other countries. While government-led public health campaigns and legislation efforts have reduced refined salt levels in many countries, the U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. That's left fast-food companies free to go salt crazy, says Norm Campbell, M.D., one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary.

Many low-fat foods rely on salt - and lots of it - for their flavor. One packet of KFC's Marzetti Light Italian Dressing might only have 15 calories and 0.5 grams fat, but it also has 510 mg sodium - about 1.5 times as much as one Original Recipe chicken drumstick. (Feel like you're having too much of a good thing? You probably are.

Bread is the No. 1 source of refined salt consumption in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway - just the bread, no meat, no cheeses, no nothing - has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14 strips of bacon.

How refined salt causes autoimmune disease

The team from Yale University studied the role of T helper cells in the body. These activate and 'help' other cells to fight dangerous pathogens such as bacteria or viruses and battle infections. Previous research suggests that a subset of these cells - known as Th17 cells - also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases.

In the latest study, scientists discovered that exposing these cells in a lab to a table salt solution made them act more 'aggressively.'

They found that mice fed a diet high in refined salts saw a dramatic increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that promoted inflammation.

They were also more likely to develop a severe form of a disease associated with multiple sclerosis in humans.

The scientists then conducted a closer examination of these effects at a molecular level.

Laboratory tests revealed that salt exposure increased the levels of cytokines released by Th17 cells 10 times more than usual. Cytokines are proteins used to pass messages between cells.

Study co-author Ralf Linker, from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, said: 'These findings are an important contribution to the understanding of multiple sclerosis and may offer new targets for a better treatment of the disease, for which at present there is no cure.'

It develops when the immune system mistakes the myelin that surrounds the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord for a foreign body.

It strips the myelin off the nerves fibres, which disrupts messages passed between the brain and body causing problems with speech, vision and balance.

Another of the study's authors, Professor David Hafler, from Yale University, said that nature had clearly not intended for the immune system to attack its host body, so he expected that an external factor was playing a part.

He said: 'These are not diseases of bad genes alone or diseases caused by the environment, but diseases of a bad interaction between genes and the environment.

'Humans were genetically selected for conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where there was no salt. It's one of the reasons that having a particular gene may make African Americans much more sensitive to salt.

'Today, Western diets all have high salt content and that has led to increase in hypertension and perhaps autoimmune disease as well.'

The team next plan to study the role that Th17 cells play in autoimmune conditions that affect the skin.

'It would be interesting to find out if patients with psoriasis can alleviate their symptoms by reducing their salt intake,' they said.

'However, the development of autoimmune diseases is a very complex process which depends on many genetic and environmental factors.'

Stick to good salts

Refined, processed and bleached salts are the problem. Salt is critical to our health and is the most readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world. Our bodies are not designed to processed refined sodium chloride since it has no nutritional value. However, when a salt is filled with dozens of minerals such as in rose-coloured crystals of Himalayan rock salt or the grey texture of Celtic salt, our bodies benefit tremendously for their incorporation into our diet.

"These mineral salts are identical to the elements of which our bodies have been built and were originally found in the primal ocean from where life originated," argues Dr Barbara Hendel, researcher and co-author of "We have salty tears and salty perspiration. The chemical and mineral composition of our blood and body fluids are similar to sea water. From the beginning of life, as unborn babies, we are encased in a sack of salty fluid."

"In water, salt dissolves into mineral ions," explains Dr Hendel. "These conduct electrical nerve impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. Just the simple act of drinking a glass of water requires millions of instructions that come from mineral ions. They're also needed to balance PH levels in the body."

Mineral salts, she says, are healthy because they give your body the variety of mineral ions needed to balance its functions, remain healthy and heal. These healing properties have long been recognised in central Europe. At Wieliczka in Poland, a hospital has been carved in a salt mountain. Asthmatics and patients with lung disease and allergies find that breathing air in the saline underground chambers helps improve symptoms in 90 per cent of cases.

Dr Hendel believes too few minerals, rather than too much salt, may be to blame for health problems. It's a view that is echoed by other academics such as David McCarron, of Oregon Health Sciences University in the US.

He says salt has always been part of the human diet, but what has changed is the mineral content of our food. Instead of eating food high in minerals, such as nuts, fruit and vegetables, people are filling themselves up with "mineral empty" processed food and fizzy drinks.

Study source

This is the result of a study conducted by Dr. Markus Kleinewietfeld, Prof. David Hafler (both Yale University, New Haven and the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, and Harvard University, USA), PD Dr. Ralf Linker (Dept. of Neurology, University Hospital Erlangen), Professor Jens Titze (Vanderbilt University and Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg, FAU, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg) and Professor Dominik N. Muller (Experimental and Clinical Research Center, ECRC, a joint cooperation between the Max-Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin, and the Charite -- Universitatsmedizin Berlin and FAU) (, doi: http://ift.tt/1xxW90E). In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks healthy tissue instead of fighting pathogens.

Rare deep sea Ocean Sunfish found for the first time in Pakistan's waters

An extremely rare breed of fish called the Ocean Sunfish was found by fishermen in Pakistan’s waters for the first time

The fishermen released it back into the sea upon realising the special rarity and uniqueness of the breed.

According to WWF Pakistan, it was caught in a net by fishermen in Ormara town in Gwadar District of Balochistan.

The fish was a common 'mola' (), that was seen in Pakistan's waters for the first time ever. According to experts, it is supposed to be the heaviest known bony fish in the world.

This particular fish was measured to be about 1.8 meters in length and weighed about 450Kg. The fishermen released it back into the sea after 20 minutes.

Bulls 2 Matadors 0: Female bullfighters gored and spectators attacked, Mexico

© AlToroMexico.com

Karla de los Angeles was gorded twice by the bull

Two female Mexican bullfighters, one a single mother competing for the first time in three years, have been gored in a bloody annual festival.

The two fighters, Karla de los Angeles and Lupita Lopez, were taking part in an all-women event called the "festejo de damas", alongside Hilda Tenorio. The event was staged at one of the world's biggest bullrings, Plaza Mexico.

De los Angeles, one of Mexico's best-known female bullfighters, was fighting for the first time since she withdrew from the sport in 2011 to look after her young daughter.

Before the fight, she had spoken of her dream of becoming a matador - a master bullfighter - and made national headlines by saying "being a mother is not an impediment".

[embedded content]

During her fight, the 25-year-old was struck twice by the bull, known as Gamusino. The first injury came when the animal tossed the fighter over its head as she went for the killer blow. Despite the injuries, De los Angeles managed to resume the battle, only to be badly gored once again shortly after the resumption.

The horns of the bull - which reportedly weighed around 495kg - pierced De los Angeles' thigh to the depth of 12cm as well as leaving her with a 10cm cut across her gluteal muscles.

According to the BBC, one of the fight assistants, Federico Dominguez, was also attacked by the bull while attempting to help De los Angeles. The severity of Dominguez's injuries remains unknown but they are not thought to be life-threatening.

Lopez, meanwhile, was injured while going for the kill in her own fight. The bull gored her in the right thigh, leaving her to require hospital treatment. Again, it is not known how severe her injuries are.

A spectator was also injured by another bull inside the stadium. It is thought the animal jumped over the wooden barrier, which shields the crowd from the fight arena, and charged at those watching.

Deadly winter storm kills at least 5 in California

© Unknown

A stretch of Interstate 17 in northern Arizona seen with an unaccustomed blanket of snow on December 31, 2014.

A severe winter storm across the western United States has taken five lives in the state of California.

The New Year in the US has started with a winter system bringing very cold temperatures, heavy snow and freezing rain from southern California through the southern Plains, the National Weather Service reported Thursday.

Strong gusts toppled trees in Northern California, killing two people in the town of Paradise on Tuesday. Another person was killed by a tree early Wednesday in Redding.

Two other people died and a third was missing after storm winds up to 40 miles an hour broke boats loose from moorings at Santa Catalina Island off the Southern California coast Tuesday night.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby has identified one of the victims as a harbor patrol officer.

The storm forced residents in some usually sunny cities to experience an icy New Year's Eve.

More than 180 motorists had to be rescued after being stranded in the snow on mountain highways northeast of Los Angeles.

Weather forecasts show that freezing rain will develop over parts of the Southern High Plains Thursday into Friday.

The National Weather Service said the storm was moving across California into the Mojave Desert and Las Vegas, dropping snow on parts of northern Arizona and Utah along the way.

Snow will also develop over parts of the Southern High Plains on Friday evening.

Ice and snow also affected roads and highways in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.

Freak 'tornado' hits Pasadena festival

Gust: A large gazebo is sent flying through the air in Pasadena, Northern California

Four people were injured as tents and marquees were sent flying through the air when a freak tornado-like wind tore through a US music festival.

The violent gust was caught on camera at Fan Fest, in Pasadena, as terrified crowds ran for cover near The Rose Bowl outdoor athletic stadium.

People can be heard screaming shortly after a black gazebo is whipped up into the air.

It spirals in the wind, surrounded by smaller pieces of debris - and then smashes into a parked car.

The festival tent is then followed into the skies by much larger marquees, including one inflatable which flies around 30ft into the air.

[embedded content]

Freezing temperatures and snow in Greece, Turkey and the Balkans

greek snow

Icy weather and heavy snowfall has hit a large part of Greece, resulting in many roads closing in northern and central Greece, as well as near the capital.

Cold air has made its way across much of Europe over the past week bringing snow to many parts. The snow was probably most welcome when it made its way across the Alps, finally allowing the long awaited ski-season there to get underway.

The wintry weather has since dug further south. It now extends across the Balkans into Greece, Turkey and the Hungarian Plain.

There has been widespread travel disruption in Greece with snow forcing the closure of several roads, especially in the north and over the central mountains. Athens hasn't been as badly affected, but there has been a healthy dusting of snow across the nation's capital.

The chilly conditions set in on Monday prompting the National Observatory of Athens to issue coldness alerts. Since then temperatures have struggled to reach 5 Celsius by day with overnight lows around 2 degrees.

Athens usually has top temperatures nearer 15 Celsius in December. Night time values normally fall back to around 8 degrees.

The number of people living on the streets has increased by around 25 per cent in the last two years due to the economic crisis and government austerity policy. This extreme cold has prompted the Greek government to open 24-hour heated shelters for the homeless.

The cold snap, which has also brought gale-force winds to the north of the Ionian and Aegean seas, is expected to begin abating by the start of the New Year. Temperatures should creep back up to around 12 or 13 degrees by the weekend.

FLASHBACK: Ukrainians force Russians to turn their back on their language and change their names - Is Sevastopol the world's most absurd city?

Imagine some future Brussels edict has finally broken up Britain and handed Devon and Cornwall over to rule by Wales.

Imagine the Royal Navy, much shrunk and renamed the English Navy, being told it has to share Plymouth with a new Welsh fleet; that is, if it is allowed to stay there at all.


© Keith Waldegrave

Identity crisis: Peter Hitchens at Sevastopol's port, now home to two fleets - Russian and Ukrainian

Picture the scene as cinemas in Plymouth and Exeter are forced to dub all their films into Welsh, while schools teach anti-English history and children are pressed to learn Welsh.

Identity crisis: Peter Hitchens at Sevastopol's port, now home to two fleets - Russian and Ukrainian

Street signs are in Welsh. TV is in Welsh. Police cars patrolling Dartmoor have 'Heddlu' blazoned on them, banks have become 'bancs' and taxis 'tacsis'.

Meanwhile, Devon and Cornwall are cut off by a frontier from the rest of England, closing down industries with English links, and people are issued with new identity documents with Welsh names.

Utterly mad and unthinkable, you might say. And you would be right. But something very similar has happened in what used to be the Soviet Union, and we are supposed to think it is a good thing - because Russia is officially a bad country, and its former subject nations are therefore automatically good.

Remember how the world's media reported on Kiev's 'Orange Revolution', which lasted from November 2004 until the following January, with gushing approval?

Remember how you were supposed to think the Orange-clad crowds were a ­benevolent expression of popular opinion?

Remember talk of a 'New Cold War', in which wicked Russia was the enemy and 'we', the European Union, were going to extend 'our' rule deep into the former Soviet lands?


© Reuters

Misguided: Supporters raise aloft Yulia Tymoshenko, a leader of the Orange Revolution, as they celebrate its success

Well, if there was such a war, we are busy losing it because 'our' side is misguided and wrong, and because it was always absurd to try to dislodge Russia and the Russians from the great plains of Ukraine and the shores of the Black Sea.

In this part of the world, Russia just is. You might as well try to shift the Himalayas with a bulldozer.

If you thought that political madness in Europe ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, then you should visit present-day Sevastopol, perhaps the most absurd city in the world.

Sevastopol belongs to Ukraine, but hardly anyone here is Ukrainian. Two rival fleets ride at anchor in its majestic harbour. Two rival flags fly from its public buildings.

But now this absurdity may be - slowly - coming to an end. A few months ago, in a crucial event largely ignored in the West, Ukraine's parliament voted to give the Russian navy a new long lease on its base in Sevastopol.

This was the end of the flirtation between Ukraine and the West. It was greeted by opposition MPs with showers of smoke bombs and eggs (the parliamentary speaker sheltered under an umbrella, presumably a Russian one).

I am not sorry about this. I always thought that destroying the old Communist Evil Empire was quite enough. Why did we then need to rub Russia's nose in the mud?

They are an old, proud people and most of them didn't want to be communists.

As for the defeat, anyone could see it coming. It always happens. Britain's war in the Crimea in 1854 (launched by a drunken, half-asleep Cabinet in what seems to have been a fit of pique) was officially a victory, but all its gains were reversed less than 20 years later.

Map of Ukraine

© Unknown

So the Charge Of The Light Brigade was not just a blunder. It was a pointless one. Imperial Germany seized Ukraine in 1917, and lost it again the following year. Hitler's Germany repeated the action in 1941, and we all know how that ended.

Now the creation of a fanciful new country called Ukraine, less than 20 years ago, is running into trouble as many of its inhabitants prefer to be Russian.

So why did anyone think it was a good idea to challenge Moscow, on the same repeatedly lost ground? Why are our airwaves and newspapers still full of scare stories about Russia, when the real danger to our independence comes from the EU, and the real threat to our peace and prosperity comes from rather further east?

Why do commentators still peddle tales of a Russian menace, when Russia is a military weakling, its ill-disciplined forces largely equipped with scrap metal?

I think our treatment of Russia since the fall of communism has been almost unbelievably stupid and crude. We complain now about the autocratic rule of Vladimir Putin. But it was our greed and our bullying of the wounded bear that created Putin and his shady, corrupt state.

We insisted on humiliating the Kremlin, when Mikhail Gorbachev had kindly dismantled the communist machine. We sponsored annoying mini-states next door to Russia.

We pushed the anti-Russian Nato alliance (who else was its target?) ever further eastwards as if there were still a Soviet threat. We flooded Russia with spivs and carpet-baggers, and called this disgrace 'democracy'. Then we wondered why they didn't love it.

And still it is fashionable to posture in the think-tanks of London and Washington with babble about the need to 'contain' Russia, and to side with self-proclaimed people-power 'revolutions' in the capitals of Russia's next-door neighbours.


© AP


And if Russia objects we throw up our hands and gabble that a 'New Cold War' is in the making.

No, I am not an apologist for Comrade Putin. I like Russia, and wish it had a better government. I think it would have done if we had been more thoughtful after 1991.

But I am against stupidity in foreign policy, and this has been a particularly foolish, short-sighted episode. Let me show you just how foolish it has been by taking you first to the beautiful Crimean seaport of Sevastopol, once the pride of Russia, now absurdly part of a supposedly independent Ukraine.

I went there long ago, under tight escort and carrying a special permit, because this handsome city of white-pillared buildings, shady parks and mighty warships was then a secret, closed city, the most important base of the Soviet Union's global navy.

Not any more. Things are better, and things are worse. In two decades, Sevastopol has gone from being a sort of Stalinist Sparta, austere and warlike, to a seaside Babylon of pizzerias and nightclubs.

Nearby Balaclava, once one of the world's most heavily fortified submarine bases - where the boats hid from nuclear attack in a hollowed-out mountain - is now a rather tawdry seaside resort.

Most of Admiral Sergei Gorshkov's ocean-going navy has long ago been scrapped and turned into washing machines and razor blades. Now, two navies compete for space in its harbour (designed long ago by a British admiral).

One is Russia's Black Sea Fleet, a shrivelled remnant that can just about sink a Georgian patrol boat (Georgia has a population of 4.7 million) but which has quietly conceded mastery of the Black Sea to Turkey. And this is supposed to be a threat to the mighty and prosperous West?

Don't take my word for it. Listen to a man I shall call Yuri, an English-speaking officer of the Black Sea Fleet, who mourned: 'Yes, I remember when we had one of the world's great navies - but these days we can't even challenge the Turks for control of the Black Sea, for the first time in 200 years.'

What's left of the Black Sea Fleet can be seen tied up in Sevastopol's harbour. The seductive, sleek lines of the beautifully designed ships can't conceal the fact that these vessels date from the age of the Ford Cortina and the Boeing 707.

Several of the best-surviving ships now form part of the new, pro-Western Ukrainian navy, which shares the port with Russia - thanks to the wholly unexpected creation of an independent state of Ukraine.

Ukrainian parliament brawl

© AP

Chaos: Ukrainian opposition and pro-presidential lawmakers fight each other during ratification of the Black Sea Fleet deal with Russia

This sublimely silly development meant that Russia's main naval base was suddenly in a foreign country, and its inhabitants became aliens in their own land. It gets more ridiculous. On one side of the harbour, a fortress bears the slogan 'Glory to the Russian navy!' A strongpoint a mile away is adorned with a banner proclaiming 'Glory to the Ukrainian navy!'

Sevastopol's deputy mayor, Pyotr Kudryashov, knows all about this rivalry. By an accident of history, his son Sergei, 30, and his daughter Anna, 35, are both serving at sea as naval officers - but Anna is in a Russian ship, and Sergei is in a Ukrainian one.

Both wanted to join a navy, and each joined the one that was recruiting when they graduated. In theory, if the New Cold War ever turns hot, they could be firing missiles at each other. Mr Kudryashov, who thinks such a conflict most unlikely, jokes: 'They get on very well - just like brother and sister.'

If you stroll down the city's pleasant, sunny Lenin Street, past the elegant 19th Century naval museum, you will meet officers and men of both fleets strolling by in their crisp uniforms.

The Russians, with their shoulder boards and hats the size of large pizzas, still look very Russian. The Ukrainians, in their crisp khakis, look almost exactly like US navy men on shore leave in San Diego. Both, of course, speak Russian to each other.

But, thanks to the New Cold War, the Ukrainian sailors are supposed to speak Ukrainian. For Sevastopol, officially a Ukrainian city, is not very keen on its new status.

Street signs are still in Russian. When I asked the waitress in a cafe to explain an advertising slogan on the wall to me, she shrugged in an entirely Russian way before replying: 'How should I know? I don't speak Ukrainian.'

Public library burnt by soldiers in Sevastopol

© Corbis

Historical significance: Soldiers burn the public library and the Temple of the Winds in Sevastopol during the Crimean War

Yet a few months ago the cinemas in the city were obliged by law to dub all their films, even those in Russian, into Ukrainian - which is slightly more unlike Russian than Spanish is unlike Italian. This only stopped because the cinemas were empty. The schools, though most reluctantly teach their classes in Russian, teach Ukrainian history, often with an anti-Russian tinge.

As Yuri says: 'It is infuriating for us, to have our children taught about how wicked Russia was.'

One particular annoyance is the hero-worship of the Forties Ukrainian partisan Stepan Bandera. Soviet history dismissed him as a ruthless brigand and Nazi collaborator.

Most modern Russians agree. But the last President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, had Bandera proclaimed a national hero, as popular among Russians here as an IRA parade would be in Protestant Antrim.

For this and other reasons, many Russians, especially navy families, send their children instead to a special Russian school - the best in town - built and paid for by Moscow in what looks to me like a direct ­challenge to Ukrainian sovereignty.

There is even a branch of Moscow University here. Moscow maintains a sort of embassy in the heart of Sevastopol, cheekily sited not far from a rather provocative statue of the Russian empress Catherine the Great, also paid for with Moscow roubles.

If all this is not ridiculous enough for you yet, meet retired Rear Admiral Vladimir Solovyov, former intelligence chief of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, now in charge of a welfare organisation for retired sailors.

The admiral, a stocky sea-dog type, says with a chuckle that he knows the East Coast of England well, as seen through a powerful telescope.

He was a real Cold Warrior, but now says: 'I don't think modern Russia is strong enough to wield power the way the USSR did in the Cold War.'

These days his enemy is different. When this proud Russian recently tried to obtain a residence permit to retire in Sevastopol, he was told that he had been compulsorily awarded Ukrainian citizenship (and was now 'Volod­omir' instead of Vladimir).

Having gone through hoops to become ­Russian again, he now has to leave the country every three months - or face being fined for overstaying his permit.

He gets a Russian pension and lives in a Russian-owned flat. In all important respects, he is in Russia - but technically, he is a foreigner. Like many Russians stuck in a newly foreign land, he warns against attempts to turn him into something else.

'They made a big mistake. We love many things about Ukraine, the food, the music, the culture, the literature - but when it comes to being told to watch films in Ukrainian, they went too far. And we have a right to see our children grow up thinking, speaking and writing the way Russians do.'

It is true that there are plenty of parts of Ukraine where people do feel and speak Ukrainian - mainly in the west around the city now called Lviv (though in the past 150 years it has also been the Austrian city of Lemberg, the Polish city of Lwow and the Soviet city of Lvov - in this part of the world you can move from country to country just by staying in the same place).

But travel east, as I did, to the old coal-mining region of the Don Basin, and you will find out why so many Ukrainian citizens did not support the 2004 Orange Revolution. I went to the decayed town of Gorlovka. Independence has done little for this place.

Cut off from its Russian hinterland and its markets, it is expiring. All around are dead slag heaps and ruined mines and factories, and tragic landscapes of collapse under a ferocious sun.

Gorlovka's coal mines and chemical works fed the USSR's industries. Now they are mostly dead and the town - twinned with Barnsley in the Eighties - is nearly as bereft of its traditional industries as its Yorkshire opposite number.

Sad, empty playgrounds are melancholy evidence of a city condemned to die. There is still a statue of Lenin in the main square but on its flanks are scrawled graffiti - a thing I have never seen before in the former USSR. The image of Lenin was once revered, and later hated, but never trivialised by drawings of Bart Simpson.

The mayor, Ivan Sakharchuk, is proud of his treaty with Barnsley and also insists that there are no ­difficulties with being Ukrainian. I am not so sure. Nobody uses the town's Ukrainian name of Horlivka.

Many of the street signs are still in Russian. The names of shops are in Russian. The newspapers on sale are in Russian. In the rather smart Cafe Barnsley, the only beer on sale is Russian and the radio is tuned to a Russian station. I suspect the people are hoping for - and expecting - a Russian future.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://ift.tt/jcXqJW.