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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Oliver Stone: U.S.'s narrative of events in Ukraine a "surreal perversion of history"

Viktor Yanukovych and Oliver Stone in a picture posted to Stone's Facebook page.

January 03, 2015 "ICH" - (I) Interviewed Viktor Yanukovych (for) 4 hours in Moscow for new English language documentary produced by Ukrainians. He was the legitimate President of Ukraine until he suddenly wasn't on February 22 of this year. Details to follow in the documentary, but it seems clear that the so-called 'shooters' who killed 14 police men, wounded some 85, and killed 45 protesting civilians, were outside third party agitators. Many witnesses, including Yanukovych and police officials, believe these foreign elements were introduced by pro-Western factions-- with CIA fingerprints on it.

Remember the Chavez 'regime change'/coup of 2002 when he was temporarily ousted after pro and anti-Chavez demonstrators were fired upon by mysterious shooters in office buildings. Also resembles similar technique early this year in Venezuela when Maduro's legally elected Government was almost toppled by violence aimed at anti-Maduro protestors. Create enough chaos, as the CIA did in Iran '53, Chile '73, and countless other coups, and the legitimate Government can be toppled. It's America's soft power technique called 'Regime Change 101.'

In this case the "Maidan Massacre" was featured in Western media as the result of an unstable, brutal pro-Russian Yanukovych Government. You may recall Yanukovych went along with the February 21 deal with opposition parties and 3 EU foreign minsters to get rid of him by calling for early elections. The next day that deal was meaningless when well-armed, neo-Nazi radicals forced Yanukovych to flee the country with repeated assassination attempts. By the next day, a new pro-Western government was established and immediately recognized by the US (as in the Chavez 2002 coup).

A dirty story through and through, but in the tragic aftermath of this coup, the West has maintained the dominant narrative of "Russia in Crimea" whereas the true narrative is "USA in Ukraine." The truth is not being aired in the West. It's a surreal perversion of history that's going on once again, as in Bush pre-Iraq 'WMD' campaign. But I believe the truth will finally come out in the West, I hope, in time to stop further insanity.

For a broader understanding, see Pepe Escobar's analysis "The new European 'arc of instability,'" which indicates growing turbulence in 2015, as the US cannot tolerate the idea of any rival economic entity http://bit.ly/1yBmpHa . You might also see "Untold History" Chapter 10 where we discuss the dangers of past Empires which did not allow for the emergence of competing economic countries.


The secret intelligence of plants

"Plants have electrical and chemical signaling systems, may possess memory, and exhibit brainy behavior in the absence of brains."

The idea that plants possess intelligence worthy of in depth exploration is an idea still largely scoffed at, despite the emergence of research suggesting otherwise. In large part, this is due to the widespread belief that "intelligence" and "brains" are inextricably connected, that the two must coexist to exist at all. The problem with this is our perception of what a "brain" is.

When defining the brain, we fixate too much on the physicals, like that it exists within a skull, and not enough on the invisibles, such as how it functions. Due to this, we believe brains can only exist in lifeforms that have skulls, like humans and animals, to rest in. However, when looking deeper into the characteristics of plants, we begin to find they have impressively elegant mechanisms, ones typically reserved only for those with brains. This, of course, brings us to the regrettably too often overlooked intelligence of plants.

Plants communicate chemically, in a manner which we cannot directly decipher. For example, an insect attack is stimulated and the release of volatile chemicals is instigated when sagebrush leaves are clipped in the spring, resulting in a significant reduction of the extent to which both the clipped plant and the unclipped plants around it suffer. Chemical communication amongst plants may also be of benefit to farmers, as research by Jack Shultz, a chemical ecologist at the University of Missouri, found that plant-distress chemicals may be used to prime plant defenses, thus eliminating the need for pesticides. Plants also display excellent hearing capabilities, a fact well demonstrated in a study showing how in reaction to the sound of a caterpillar munching on a leaf, plants secrete defensive chemicals as a response to a perceived potential threat from a foreign sound.

Although plants do not have "brains," in the sense which us humans define them as, -meaning they consist within the boundaries of a skull - they possess intricate neuronal networks with more neurons than the human brain. One might say their roots are their brains, and since they are not confined by a skull like the human brain, they are able to expand infinitely, with no existing limit on the knowledge which they obtain. Plants sense, learn, remember and react in ways similar to humans. The sensory abilities of plants are so distinguished and immaculate that they are able to gather all sensory data from one day, and integrate it to formulate an appropriate response.

Plants not only produce anesthetics, they respond to them as well. This does not, however, directly prove that plants feel pain - a topic still up for debate among scientists. What clear is that plants possess all of the same senses attributed to humans, a fact surprising to some; as well as ones which do not follow under the category of the human senses, a fact surprising to most. Aside from their abilities to feel, hear, and taste, plants sense obstacles able to impede the growth of their roots before coming into contact with them, and shift their direction of growth accordingly. They are also able to sense gravity and the presence of water.

Exactly how plants have the same senses as humans, not to mention in some ways more distinguished ones, all while void of what we envision a brain to be, remains a mystery, its answers lying in the still vastly unnavigated terrain of plant consciousness and intelligence. What we know for sure is that, like us, plants produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and other chemicals to send and receive electrical signals. Concrete details beyond this remain a mystery -one that some scientists are working to unveil. Other, less humble ones, of course, label the very idea of plant consciousness and intelligence as quackery, still unaware that true science often lies in the beauty of not knowing.


Russia's "startling" proposal to EU: Dump the US, join the Eurasian Economic Union

Slowly but surely Europe is figuring out that as a result of the western economic and financial blockade of Russian, it is Europe itself that is suffering the most. And while Germany was first to acknowledge this late in 2014 when its economy swooned and is now on the verge of a recession, now others are catching on. Case in point: the former head of the European Commission, and Italy's former Prime Minister, Romano Prodi who told Messaggero newspaper that the "weaker Russian economy is extremely unprofitable for Italy."

The other details from Prodi's statement:

Lowered prices in the international energy markets have positive aspects for the Italian consumers, who pay less for the fuel, but the effect will be only short-term. In the long-term however the weaker economic situation in countries producing energy resources, caused by lower oil and gas prices, mostly in Russia, is extremely unprofitable for Italy, he said.

"The lowering of the oil and gas prices in combination with the sanctions, pushed by the Ukrainian crisis, will drop the Russian GPD by five percent per annum, and thus it will cause cutting of the Italian export by about 50%," Prodi said.

"Setting aside the uselessness or imminence of the sanctions, one should highlight a clear skew: regardless of the rouble rate against dollar, which is lower by almost a half, the American export to Russia is growing, while the export from Europe is shrinking."

In other words, just as slowly, the world is starting to grasp the bottom line: it is not the financial exposure to Russia, or the threat of financial contagion should Russia suffer a major recession or worse: it is something far simpler that will lead to the biggest harm for Europe's countries. The lack of trade. Because while central banks can monetize everything, leading to an unprecedented asset bubble which if only for the time being boosts investor and consumer confidence, they can't print trade - that all important driver of growth in a globalized world long before central banks were set to monetize over $1 trillion in bonds each and every year to mask the fact that the world is deep in a global depression.

Which is why we read the following report written in yesterday's with great interest because it goes right to the bottom line. In it Russia has a not so modest proposal to Europe: dump trade with the US, whose call for Russian "costs" has cost you another year of declining economic growth, and instead join the Eurasian Economic Union! From the source:

Russia has presented a startling proposal to overcome the tensions with the EU: The EU should renounce the free trade agreement with the United States TTIP and enter into a partnership with the newly established Eurasian Economic Union instead. A free trade zone with the neighbors would make more sense than a deal with the US.

It surely would, but then how will Europe feign outrage when the NSA is found to have spied yet again on its "closest trading partners?" Some more on Russia's proposal from :

Vladimir Chizhov told EUobserver: "Our idea is to start official contacts between the EU and the EAEU as soon as possible. [German] chancellor Angela Merkel talked about this not long ago. The EU sanctions [on Russia] are not a hindrance".

"I think that common sense advises us to explore the possibility of establishing a common economic space in the Eurasian region, including the focus countries of the Eastern Partnership [an EU policy on closer ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine]".

"We might think of a free trade zone encompassing all of the interested parties in Eurasia".

He described the new Russia-led bloc as a better partner for the EU than the US, with a dig at health standards in the US food industry.

"Do you believe it is wise to spend so much political energy on a free trade zone with the USA while you have more natural partners at your side, closer to home? We don't even chlorinate our chickens", the ambassador said.

The treaty establishing the Eurasian Union entered into life on Thursday (1 January).

It includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, with Kyrgyzstan to join in May.

Modelled on the EU, it has a Moscow-based executive body, the Eurasian Economic Commission, and a political body, the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, where member states' leaders take decisions by unanimity.

It has free movement of workers and a single market for construction, retail, and tourism. Over the next 10 years, it aims to create a court in Minsk, a financial regulator in Astana and, possibly, to open Eurasian Economic Commission offices in Astana, Bishkek, Minsk, and Yerevan.

It also aims to launch free movement of capital, goods, and services, and to extend its single market to 40 other sectors, with pharmaceuticals next in line in 2016.

And as a reminder: The Eurasian Economic Union, a trade bloc of former Soviet states, expanded to four nations Friday when Armenia formally joined, a day after the union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan began.

So the ball is in your court, Europe: will it be a triple-dip (and soon thereafter quadruple: see Japan) recession as your Goldman-controlled central bank plunders ever more of what little is left of middle-class wealth with promises that this year - for real is when it all turns around, or will Europe acknowledge it has had enough and shifts its strategic, and trade, focus from west (speaking of the TTIP, Germany's agriculture minister just said "We can't protect every sausage" referring to the TTIP) to east?

Considering just whose interests are represented by the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, we won't be holding our breath.

Depression: It's not your Serotonin

Millions believe depression is caused by 'serotonin deficiency,' but where is the science in support of this theory?

"Depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and Zoloft works to correct this imbalance."

Herein lies the serotonin myth.

As one of only two countries in the world that permits direct to consumer advertising, you have undoubtedly been subjected to promotion of the "cause of depression." A cause that is not your fault, but rather; a matter of too few little bubbles passing between the hubs in your brain! Don't add that to your list of worries, though, because there is a convenient solution awaiting you at your doctor's office...

What if I told you that, in 6 decades of research, the serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) theory of depression and anxiety has not achieved scientific credibility?

You'd want some supporting arguments for this shocking claim.

So, here you go:

The Science of Psychiatry is Myth

Rather than some embarrassingly reductionist, one-deficiency-one-illness-one-pill model of mental illness, contemporary exploration of human behavior has demonstrated that we may know less than we ever thought we did. And that what we do know about root causes of mental illness seems to have more to do with the concept of evolutionary mismatch than with genes and chemical deficiencies.

In fact, a meta-analysisof over 14,000 patients and Dr. Insel, head of the NIMH, had this to say:

"Despite high expectations, neither genomics nor imaging has yet impacted the diagnosis or treatment of the 45 million Americans with serious or moderate mental illness each year."

To understand what imbalance is, we must know what balance looks like, and neuroscience, to date, has not characterized the optimal brain state, nor how to even assess for it.

A New England Journal of Medicine review on Major Depression, stated:

" ... numerous studies of norepinephrine and serotonin metabolites in plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid as well as postmortem studies of the brains of patients with depression, have yet to identify the purported deficiency reliably."

The data has poked holes in the theory and even the field of psychiatry itself is putting down its sword. One of my favorite essays by Lacasse and Leo has compiled sentiments from influential thinkers in the field - mind you, these are conventional clinicians and researchers in mainstream practice - who have broken rank, casting doubt on the entirety of what psychiatry has to offer around antidepressants:

Humble Origins of a Powerful Meme

In the 1950s, reserpine, initially introduced to the US market as an anti-seizure medication, was noted to deplete brain serotonin stores in subjects, with resultant lethargy and sedation. These observations colluded with the clinical note that an anti-tuberculosis medication, iproniazid, invoked mood changes after five months of treatment in 70% of a 17 patient cohort. Finally, Dr. Joseph Schildkraut threw fairy dust on these mumbles and grumbles in 1965 with his hypothetical manifesto entitled "The Catecholamine Hypothesis of Affective Disorders" stating:

"At best, drug-induced affective disturbances can only be considered models of the natural disorders, while it remains to be demonstrated that the behavioral changes produced by these drugs have any relation to naturally occurring biochemical abnormalities which might be associated with the illness."

Contextualized by the ripeness of a field struggling to establish biomedical legitimacy (beyond the therapeutic lobotomy!), psychiatry was ready for a rebranding, and the pharmaceutical industry was all too happy to partner in the effort.

Of course, the risk inherent in "working backwards" in this way (noting effects and presuming mechanisms) is that we tell ourselves that we have learned something about the body, when in fact, all we have learned is that patented synthesized chemicals have effects on our behavior. This is referred to as the drug-based model by Dr. Joanna Moncrieff. In this model, we acknowledge that antidepressants have effects, but that these effects in no way are curative or reparative.

The most applicable analogy is that of the woman with social phobia who finds that drinking two cocktails eases her symptoms. One could imagine how, in a 6 week randomized trial, this "treatment" could be found efficacious and recommended for daily use and even prevention of symptoms. How her withdrawal symptoms after 10 years of daily compliance could lead those around her to believe that she "needed" the alcohol to correct an imbalance. This analogy is all too close to the truth.

Running With Broken Legs

Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat has said:

"And where there is a scientific vacuum, drug companies are happy to insert a marketing message and call it science. As a result, psychiatry has become a proving ground for outrageous manipulations of science in the service of profit."

So, what happens when we let drug companies tell doctors what science is? We have an industry and a profession working together to maintain a house of cards theory in the face of contradictory evidence.

We have a global situation in which increases in prescribing are resulting in increases in severity of illness (including numbers and length of episodes) relative to those who have never been treated with medication.

To truly appreciate the breadth of evidence that states antidepressants are ineffective and unsafe, we have to get behind the walls that the pharmaceutical companies erect. We have to unearth unpublished data, data that they were hoping to keep in the dusty catacombs.

A now famous 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine by Turner et al sought to expose the extent of this data manipulation. They demonstrated that, from 1987 to 2004, 12 antidepressants were approved based on 74 studies. Thirty-eight were positive, and 37 of thesewere published. Thirty-six were negative (showing no benefit), and 3 of these were published as such while 11 were published with a positive spin (always read the data not the author's conclusion!), and 22 were unpublished.

In 1998 tour de force, Dr. Irving Kirsch, an expert on the placebo effect, published a meta-analysis of 3,000 patients who were treated with antidepressants, psychotherapy, placebo, or no treatment and found that only 27% of the therapeutic response was attributable to the drug's action.

This was followed up by a 2008 review, which invoked the Freedom of Information Act to obtain access to unpublished studies, finding that, when these were included, antidepressants outperformed placebo in only 20 of 46 trials (less than half!), and that the overall difference between drugs and placebos was 1.7 points on the 52 point Hamilton Scale. This small increment is clinically insignificant, and likely accounted for by medication side effects strategically employed (sedation or activation).

When active placebos were used, the Cochrane database found that differences between drugs and placebos disappeared, given credence to the assertion that inert placebos inflate perceived drug effects.

The finding of tremendous placebo effect in the treatment groups was also echoed in two different meta-analyses by Khan et al who found a 10% difference between placebo and antidepressant efficacy, and comparable suicide rates. The most recent trial examining the role of "expectancy" or belief in antidepressant effect, found that patients lost their perceived benefit if they believed that they might be getting a sugar pill even if they were continued on their formerly effective treatment dose of Prozac.

The largest, non-industry funded study, costing the public $35 million dollars, followed 4000 patients treated with Celexa (not blinded, so they knew what they were getting), and found that half of them improved at 8 weeks. Those that didn't were switched to Wellbutrin, Effexor, or Zoloft OR "augmented" with Buspar or Wellbutrin.

Guess what? It didn't matter what was done, because they remitted at the same unimpressive rate of 18-30% regardless with only 3% of patients in remission at 12 months.

How could it be that medications like Wellbutrin, which purportedly primarily disrupt dopamine signaling, and medications like Stablon which theoretically enhances the reuptake of serotonin, both work to resolve this underlying imbalance? Why would thyroid, benzodiazepines, beta blockers, and opiates also "work"? And what does depression have in common with panic disorder, phobias, OCD, eating disorders, and social anxiety that all of these diagnoses would warrant the same exact chemical fix?

Alternative options

As a holistic clinician, one of my bigger pet peeves is the use of amino acids and other nutraceuticals with "serotonin-boosting" claims. These integrative practitioners have taken a page from the allopathic playbook and are seeking to copy-cat what they perceive antidepressants to be doing.

The foundational "data" for the modern serotonin theory of mood utilizes tryptophan depletion methods which involve feeding volunteers amino acid mixtures without tryptophan and are rife with complicated interpretations.

Simply put, there has never been a study that demonstrates that this intervention causes mood changes in any patients who have not been treated with antidepressants.

In an important paper entitled Mechanism of acute tryptophan depletion: Is it only serotonin?, van Donkelaar et al caution clinicians and researchers about the interpretation of tryptophan research. They clarify that there are many potential effects of this methodology, stating:

"In general, several findings support the fact that depression may not be caused solely by an abnormality of 5-HT function, but more likely by a dysfunction of other systems or brain regions modulated by 5-HT or interacting with its dietary precursor. Similarly, the ATD method does not seem to challenge the 5-HT system per se, but rather triggers 5HT-mediated adverse events."

So if we cannot confirm the role of serotonin in mood and we have good reason to believe that antidepressant effect is largely based on belief, then why are we trying to "boost serotonin"?

Causing imbalances

All you have to do is spend a few minutes on survivingantidepressants.org or beyondmeds.comto appreciate that we have created a monster. Millions of men, women, and children the world over are suffering, without clinical guidance (because this is NOT a part of medical training) to discontinue psychiatric meds. I have been humbled, as a clinician who seeks to help these patients, by what these medications are capable of. Psychotropic withdrawal can make alcohol and heroin detox look like a breeze.

An important analysis by the former director of the NIMH makes claims that antidepressants "create perturbations in neurotransmitter functions" causing the body to compensate through a series of adaptations which occur after "chronic administration" leading to brains that function, after a few weeks, in a way that is "qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from the normal state."

Changes in beta-adrenergic receptor density, serotonin autoreceptor sensitivity, and serotonin turnover all struggle to compensate for the assault of the medication.

Andrews, et al., calls this "oppositional tolerance," and demonstrate through a careful meta-analysis of 46 studies demonstrating that patient's risk of relapse is directly proportionate to how "perturbing" the medication is, and is always higher than placebo (44.6% vs 24.7%). They challenge the notion that findings of decreased relapse on continued medication represent anything other than drug-induced response to discontinuation of a substance to which the body has developed tolerance. They go a step further to add:

"For instance, in naturalistic studies, unmedicated patients have much shorter episodes, and better long-term prospects, than medicated patients. Several of these studies have found that the average duration of an untreated episode of major depression is 12 - 13 weeks."

Harvard researchers also concluded that at least fifty percent of drug-withdrawn patients relapsed within 14 months. In fact:

"Long-term antidepressant use may be depressogenic . . . it is possible that antidepressant agents modify the hardwiring of neuronal synapses (which) not only render antidepressants ineffective but also induce a resident, refractory depressive state."

So, when your doctor says, "You see, look how sick you are, you shouldn't have stopped that medication," you should know that the data suggests that your symptoms are withdrawal, not relapse.

Longitudinal studies demonstrate poor functional outcomes for those treated with 60% of patients still meeting diagnostic criteria at one year (despite transient improvement within the first 3 months). When baseline severity is controlled for, two prospective studies support a worse outcome in those prescribed medication:

One in which the never-medicated group experienced a 62% improvement by six months, whereas the drug-treated patients experienced only a 33% reduction in symptoms, and another WHO study of depressed patients in 15 cities which found that, at the end of one year, those who weren't exposed to psychotropic medications enjoyed much better "general health"; that their depressive symptoms were much milder"; and that they were less likely to still be "mentally ill."

I'm not done yet. In a retrospective 10-year study in the Netherlands, 76% of those with unmedicated depression recovered without relapse relative to 50% of those treated.

Unlike the mess of contradictory studies around short-term effects, there are no comparable studies that show a better outcome in those prescribed antidepressants long term.

First Do No Harm

So, we have a half-baked theory in a vacuum of science that that pharmaceutical industry raced to fill. We have the illusion of short-term efficacy and assumptions about long-term safety. But are these medications actually killing people?

The answer is yes.

Unequivocally, antidepressants cause suicidal and homicidal behavior. The Russian Roulette of patients vulnerable to these "side effects" is only beginning to be elucidated and may have something to do with genetic variants around metabolism of these chemicals. Dr. David Healy has worked tirelessly to expose the data that implicates antidepressants in suicidality and violence, maintaining a database for reporting, writing, and lecturing about cases of medication-induced death that could make your soul wince.

What about our most vulnerable?

I have countless patients in my practice who report new onset of suicidal ideation within weeks of starting an antidepressant. In a population where there are only 2 randomized trials, I have grave concerns about postpartum women who are treated with antidepressants before more benign and effective interventions such as dietary modification and thyroid treatment. Hold your heart as you read through these reports of women who took their own and their childrens' lives while treated with medications.

Then there is the use of these medications in children as young as 2 years old. How did we ever get the idea that this was a safe and effective treatment for this demographic? Look no further than data like Study 329, which cost Glaxo Smith Klein 3 billion dollars for their efforts to promote antidepressants to children. These efforts required ghost-written and manipulated data that suppressed a signal of suicidality, falsely represented Paxil as outperforming placebo, and contributes to an irrepressible mountain of harm done to our children by the field of psychiatry.

RIP Monoamine Theory

As Moncrieff and Cohenso succinctly state:

"Our analysis indicates that there are no specific antidepressant drugs, that most of the short-term effects of antidepressants are shared by many other drugs, and that long-term drug treatment with antidepressants or any other drugs has not been shown to lead to long-term elevation of mood. We suggest that the term "antidepressant" should be abandoned."

So, where do we turn?

The field of psychoneuroimmunology dominates the research as an iconic example of how medicine must surpass its own simplistic boundaries if we are going to begin to chip away at the some 50% of Americans who will struggle with mood symptoms, 11% of whom will be medicated for it.

There are times in our evolution as a cultural species when we need to unlearn what we think we know. We have to move out of the comfort of certainty and into the freeing light of uncertainty. It is from this space of acknowledged unknowing that we can truly grow. From my vantage point, this growth will encompass a sense of wonder - both a curiosity about what symptoms of mental illness may be telling us about our physiology and spirit, as well as a sense of humbled awe at all that we do not yet have the tools to appreciate. For this reason, honoring our co-evolution with the natural world, and sending the body a signal of safety through movement, diet, meditation, and environmental detoxification represents our most primal and most powerful tool for healing.

About the author

Dr. Brogan is allopathically and holistically trained in the care of women at all stages of the reproductive cycle experiencing mood and anxiety symptoms, including premenstrual dysphoria (PMDD), pregnancy and postpartum symptomatology, as well as menopause-related illness.

Learn more by taking Dr. Kelly Brogan's E-Course Beyond Medication, or receive it free by becoming a member of Greenmedinfo.com today.

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Have you heard of all these surveillance programs?

All your data are belong to us!

According to various publications in the American and foreign media, the United States has created a global system of cyber espionage that allows the interception and processing of personal data around the globe in violation of fundamental human rights. Tapped phones, intercepted short messages, supervised discussions in social networks and stolen emails - this is the ugly reality we are living in. The NSA and other units of the United States Intelligence Community are more than capable of breaching any mobile operating system, be it iOS, Android or BlackBerry OS.

In 2011 US intelligence agencies successfully finished the development of geo-location tracking software that allows the NSA to collect and save more than five billion location records of mobile users around the world on a daily basis, and then through a special program labeled CO-TRAVELER analyze and monitor the movement of certain individuals that could be of interest for Washington. In addition, since 2010 information on social contacts of US citizens, their personal data, including telephone calls, Internet logs, bank codes, insurance data is being processed by intelligence agencies on a regular basis.

The NSA's secret project codenamed Boundless Informant seeks to establish control over "information space." According to it has been able to collect the data on 97 billion phone calls worldwide since March 2013.

The global electronic intelligence net Echelon (AUSCANNZUKUS or Five Eyes), that was established by the US in cooperation with the UK back in 1947, allowed the intelligence agencies of the the Untied States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Turkey and other countries to exchange secret information, including the records on their respective citizens.

Yet another secret project codenamed Prism established by the NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), allowed intelligence agencies to establish close partnerships with major IT companies back in 2007, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Such cooperation allows the secret services to read private e-mails and monitor the transfer of files throughout global information space. This allows the NSA to control sovereign leaders, business representatives and foreign diplomats as has been repeatedly reported on by various international media outlets.

However, Washington doesn't seem to be satisfied with its "progress" since it continues funding and developing new secret projects that would not simply allow the United States to retain an effective control over global information space, but to influence web users worldwide to its own advantage as well.

Thus, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity Agency (IARPA) in recent years has started a number of research programs to manipulate social networks.

Programs for analysis of the socio-cultural content of language (Socio-Cultural Content in Language - SCIL Program) is implemented in order to develop algorithms, methods and technologies that could enable the intelligence community to supervise the activities of various non-governmental organizations that do not agree with the social policies of certain governments. The development of this program is dictated by the need to recognize the content of messages transmitted over the Internet, taking into account linguistic differences and dialects.

IARPA in close collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology is also developing a program codenamed Reynard , which aims at studying the phenomena of social dynamics in so-called virtual worlds such as MMOs. This particular study is carried out in the interest of the security agencies in order to assess the political mood of the population and taking proactive measures once it changes.

The intelligence community is also sponsoring the development of the Aladdin program designed for automated analysis and description of video content (Automated Low-Level Analysis and Description of Diverse Intelligence Video - VACE). The main goal of this program is to provide intelligence analysts with automated search capabilities to track videos that could be of interest for them. Videos for analytical processing can come from different sources - television, surveillance cameras, regular pictures, interviews or even footage shot by drones. The footage is systematized by time and place to identify certain individuals and determine the sequence of their actions which may be in certain semantic relations to present-day events.

Currently, IARPA implemented a program called Babel, which aims at developing effective speech recognition software in different languages and dialects.

Washington and its agencies are literally spending billions of taxpayer dollars annually under the convenient guise of the "war on terror", which in fact turns out to be a hidden war against its own citizens, now deprived of basic human rights. But what makes it even worse is that it's pushing its satellite countries to launch an all-out offensive against the civil liberties of Europe and beyond.

Bully state: Israel withholds Palestine's tax revenue after Abbas requests


© Flickr/ Global Panorama

Israel allegedly decided to freeze a monthly transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian authorities after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a request to join the International Criminal Court, Reuters reports, citing an Israeli official.

The monthly tax revenues amount to approximately $125 million. Palestinians use the funds to run their government and pay salaries to those employed in the public sector. Israel collects customs duties and taxes on behalf of the Palestinian authorities under the 1993 agreements, known as the Oslo Accords, according to the .

Israel repeatedly halted transfer of monthly revenues as sanctions against Palestine at times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions, according to Reuters.

On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a request to join the ICC and approximately 20 other international organizations, after UN Security Council failed to pass the resolution on the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinian ICC membership bid is an attempt to continue to seek the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel. Abbas also said that he is going to use the ICC membership to sue Israeli politicians and military.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu referred to the Palestinian ICC bid as a "hypocritical request", urging the International Criminal Court to reject it.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council rejected the Palestinian statehood resolution, with eight nations, including Russia, supporting the document, the United States and Australia voting against it and five countries abstaining. The failed resolution stipulated the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967, with Tel Aviv withdrawing all of its forces by the end of 2017.

The UN regulations state that, in order to be adopted, a document must be supported by at least nine nations, with all five permanent representatives of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom) voting in favor.

Rob Kirby: Early warnings for 2015

Rob Kirby of Kirby Analytics

Gold and derivatives expert Rob Kirby thinks crashing oil prices are going to lead to a 2008 style financial meltdown. This is not a maybe - a market explosion is going to happen in 2015. Kirby contends,

"Oh yes, without a doubt, it will. It must because the income crude oil sales generate are used to pay the interest on the debt. . . . If you have a mortgage payment of $5,000 at the end of the month and you only have $2,500, you have defaulted. That is the position they are in right now. We just need to wait for some coupon dates to come and go because these guys won't have the money. They don't have the income."

Kirby also thinks what is happening with oil prices being cut in half in a matter of months is no accident. Kirby explains,

"I look at what is transpiring in the crude oil market as yet another engineered or financial trickery on the part of the financial elites. . . . What this breakdown in the crude oil price is going to spawn another financial crisis. It will be tied to the junk debt that has been issued to finance the shale oil plays in North America. It is reported to be in the area of half a trillion dollars worth of junk debt that is held largely on the books of large financial institutions in the western world. When these bonds start to fail, they will jeopardize the future of these financial institutions. I do believe that will be the signal for the Fed to come riding to the rescue with QE4. I also think QE4 is likely going to be accompanied by bank bail-ins because we all know all western world countries have adopted bail-in legislation in their most recent budgets. The financial elites are engineering the excuse for their next round of money printing . . . and they will be confiscating money out of savings accounts and pension accounts. That's what I think is coming in the very near future."

On the economy getting better and the upward revision to GDP of 5%, Kirby says,

"The official data is inconsistent with what you can imperially observe going on in the economy. The economy isn't doing well, and in addition to the economy not doing well, the U.S. government, for all intent and purposes, is insolvent. Why bonds would be rallying against a backdrop of an issuer that is insolvent is beyond anybody's fundamental understanding, but fundamentals don't count anymore in our markets. . . . We don't have markets anymore; we just have interventions. . . . This financial engineering is all a hallmark of communism or central planning. Central planning has a track record of failing."

On central banks, Kirby says you need to look beyond the Federal Reserve. Kirby says,

"When you are looking at the extension of the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency . . . you need to look at the Fed, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank. One or the other has been printing since 2008. The Fed can say we are not printing for 6 or 8 months, but really, what they have done is pass the baton to the Bank of Japan who has been printing like hounds. They are printing fiendishly. All they have done is picked up where the Fed left off. . . . As sure as God made little green apples, we are going to see in the very near future a made-in-America financial crisis regarding this shale oil junk debt. They are going to use that as an excuse for yet more money printing from the Fed. This is the path we are on, and it will continue to be the path we are on until the whole bloody mess collapses."

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Rob Kirby of KirbyAnalytics.com.

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Washington's quiet proxy war against Vietnam

© Unknown

Washington's meddling across Asia has grabbed headlines recently in Hong Kong where US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded opposition leaders attempted to trigger a "color revolution" targeting the government of Beijing and Hong Kong's local administrators. Its spectacular failure was owed to the almost immediate exposure of the protesters as foreign-backed proxies serving foreign interests.

Additionally, political chaos has plagued Thailand amid a half-year struggle to oust Wall Street-Washington-backed dictator Thaksin Shinawatra and his subversive, well-funded proxy political front and various faux-rights advocates all extensively funded by Washington. Malaysia has likewise fought carbon-copies of US-backed opposition fronts in Hong Kong and Thailand, with its own battle against "Berish" led by Wall Street and Washington's Anwar Ibrahim.

Popular support, despite reports by the Western media, in each respective country, has been exposed as extremely small. In Thailand, for instance, even at the height of Shinawatra's bid to seize back power in 2010, his "red shirt" movement represented a paltry 7% of Thailand's 70 million citizens - a minority that has only shrunk since then.

In Myanmar, US-British creation, Aung San Suu Kyi has also expended her credibility and illusion of popular support. Her bid to work her way into Myanmar's political order has left even her own supporters disillusioned - not mentioning her support of Myanmar's brutal and infinitely racist, "saffron monks" who regularly lead machete wielding mobs amid riots of mass murder against Rohingya refugees.

However, US meddling is not limited to these countries. Indeed, the familiar template of "pro-democracy" fronts backed by NED and the Western media can be seen manifesting itself, if to a lesser degree, across the under-reported political landscape of Vietnam.

In a rare episode, US meddling has broken the surface recently with complaints across NED's network of faux human rights advocates and the Western media over the arrest of Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, described by the Associated Press in their article, "Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, Blogger, Detained In Vietnam," only as a "blogger." AP would report:

Blogger Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, 48, was taken into custody and his house was searched in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday. The Ministry of Public Security said in a statement that police were investigating and will deal with Ngoc in accordance with the law, but did not elaborate.

Over the past month, police in Ho Chi Minh City detained two other bloggers for alleged anti-government postings.

Anti-government postings alone are certainly no reason to lock up a "blogger." However, NED would reveal in its own hand-wringing over the detainment of various "bloggers" in Vietnam that many are recipients of NED funding and support - meaning they are not simply critics of the Vietnamese government, but rather foreign-backed agents of sedition making their subsequent detainment justified.

In 2013, NED would also decry the detainment of "bloggers" in Vietnam. In a post titled, "Democracy blogger arrested in Vietnam," NED would claim:

In a letter to the Prime Minister of Vietnam, the National Endowment for Democracy has expressed its deep concern over the Dec. 27 arrest of prominent human rights lawyer and blogger Lê Quốc Quân in Vietnam.

Quân, who was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow (2006-2007) at NED in Washington, DC, has written extensively on human rights abuses in Vietnam and has been detained by authorities multiple times on account of his pro-democracy views.

NED shamelessly admits the arrested blogger was working on their behalf and with their extensive support. NED is behind nearly every "human rights" advocate in Vietnam opposing the government - with many reporting diligently on NED's activities in the country - though never posting publicly their financial and political ties to Washington. For example, "Vietnam Human Rights Defenders" who recently condemned the above reported detainment of Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, regularly praises and reports on NED and USAID programs, but nowhere in its "about us" section does it disclose any of its funding, let alone its ties to NED and USAID itself. There is, however, an extensive "links" list leading off to NED and every other imaginable rights advocacy front created by Wall Street and Washington behind which their agenda is peddled.

In one article, it praises Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, a literal "fellow" at the National Endowment for Democracy. In an article by "Vietnam Human Rights Defenders," Vu is reported to claim pressure from the US is essential for the "peaceful democratization of Vietnam." Pressure, no doubt, including armies of NED-funded bloggers, opposition fronts, and street demonstrations as seen in Thailand, Malaysia, and more recently in Hong Kong.

US Meddling in Vietnam Amid Greater Regional Bid for Hegemony

NED's official page describing its support for groups in Vietnam is particularly ambiguous - a pattern seen when NED refuses to admit association with any particular nation's most prominent trouble-makers - as seen in Hong Kong recently. Under a subheading titled, "Human Rights," NED states:

To build the expertise and skills of Vietnamese civil society organizations and activists in their efforts to support and defend human rights. The project will train lawyers and other activists on human rights advocacy, project management, and community organizing as well as link them to their counterparts in other ASEAN countries in an effort to strengthen an emerging grassroots civil society movement in Vietnam.

Linking them with their "counterparts in other ASEAN countries" indeed - because NED's bid to overturn the political order in Vietnam is linked directly to Wall Street and Washington's bid to turn all of Southeast Asia into a unified proxy front to wield against China. Identical campaigns of political subversion in Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar to install into power Thaksin Shinawatra, Anwar Ibrahim, and Aung San Suu Kyi respectively, would yield a regional bloc led by a collection of client states and puppet dictators propped up by and in the service of the West.

With corporate-financier hegemony ensured via economic "free trade" agreements like the unpalatable ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), China would not only be politically isolated from Southeast Asia, but economically as well. As with NATO in Europe, the US plans to create an ASEAN military alliance it itself leads, meaning in addition to political and economic isolation, Beijing will be militarily encircled as well.

Meddling in Vietnam Part of Washington's Long-War Against China

© Unknown

As early as the Vietnam War, with the so-called "Pentagon Papers" released in 1969, it was revealed that the conflict was simply one part of a greater strategy aimed at containing and controlling China.

Three important quotes from these papers reveal this strategy. It states first that:

"...the February decision to bomb North Vietnam and the July approval of Phase I deployments make sense only if they are in support of a long-run United States policy to contain China."

It also claims:

"China - like Germany in 1917, like Germany in the West and Japan in the East in the late 30′s, and like the USSR in 1947 - looms as a major power threatening to undercut our importance and effectiveness in the world and, more remotely but more menacingly, to organize all of Asia against us."

Finally, it outlines the immense regional theater the US was engaged in against China at the time by stating:

"there are three fronts to a long-run effort to contain China (realizing that the USSR "contains" China on the north and northwest): (a) the Japan-Korea front; (b) the India-Pakistan front; and (c) the Southeast Asia front."

While the US would ultimately lose the Vietnam War and any chance of using the Vietnamese as a proxy force against Beijing, the long war against Beijing would continue elsewhere.

This containment strategy would be updated and detailed in the 2006 Strategic Studies Institute report "String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China's Rising Power across the Asian Littoral" where it outlines China's efforts to secure its oil lifeline from the Middle East to its shores in the South China Sea as well as means by which the US can maintain American hegemony throughout the Indian and Pacific Ocean. The premise is that, should Western foreign policy fail to entice China into participating in Wall Street and London's "international system" as responsible stakeholders, an increasingly confrontational posture must be taken to contain the rising nation.

This proxy war has manifested itself in the form of the so-called "Arab Spring" where Chinese interests have suffered in nations like Libya that have been reduced to chaos by US-backed subversion and even direct military intervention. Sudan also serves as a proxy battleground where the West is using chaos to push Chinese interests off the continent of Africa.

With continued US meddling in Vietnam more recently, it can be seen that America's strategy of encirclement and containment is still very much in play. Vietnam has once again, if even only subtly, become a proxy battleground between Washington and Beijing.

The Vietnamese, historically fiercely independent, may attempt to balance themselves between Beijing's regional rise and Washington's plans for a united ASEAN front against that rise. And while the US openly admits it is trying to link its various subversive fronts together across ASEAN, the Vietnamese government and its counterparts in Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar would be wise to link their efforts to confound this hegemonic endeavor.

Rare Arctic Ivory gull spotted in Quincy, Illinois

© Brandon Stehl

Ivory Gull

Bird enthusiasts from all over the Midwest descended upon Quincy Saturday to get a glimpse of the extremely rare Ivory Gull.

"It's a fairly small gull but very elegant, pure white with very dark eyes and legs, with this cute little bill that's dark with a yellow tip on it," biology professor Jim Mountjoy said.

It was rainy, cold, and damp. But that didn't stop Knox College Biology Professor and bird expert Jim Mountjoy from getting a glimpse of the Ivory Gull. He says the bird is a native of the high Arctic Islands and is rarely seen in the lower 48.

"This is an exceedingly rare bird to spot this far south," Mountjoy said. "Anywhere in the continental United States it's pretty hard to see, even if you go to Alaska it's sometimes quite difficult."

Mountjoy says he's been bird watching for over 40 years, and has only spotted the Ivory Gull one other time. He calls Saturday a very rare sighting in the state of Illinois.

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"In 1991 there were two records of the Ivory Gull in Illinois and those were the only two well accepted records," Mountjoy said.

Jason Mullins says he was the first person to spot the bird outside of the Pier Restaurant on a patch of ice in Quincy.

"I knew it was something different so I contacted a couple people and we determined later that it was an Ivory Gull, pretty rare," Mullins said.

Mullins considers himself very lucky to be able to see such a magnificent creature.

"It's the bird of a lifetime, Mullins said. "It really is."

Mountjoy says The Ivory Gull survives by feeding on the carcasses of dead seals and other animals.

Skin fat helps fight infection


© Nruboc | Dreamstime

Fat cells just under a person's skin may be the first responders to invading bacteria, buying time until the white blood cells arrive at a wound site, according to a new study.

The new findings suggest that the task of fighting infections is not solely the responsibility of the immune system, the researchers said. Moreover, fat cells may fight infections by producing antimicrobial compounds, lab experiments in mice and human fat cells showed.

"That was totally unexpected," study co-author Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said in a statement. "It was not known that [fat cells] could produce antimicrobials, let alone that they make almost as much" as immune system cells, he said.

In the study, the researchers exposed mice to the bacterium methicillin-resistant (MRSA), a type of staph bacteria that is found on human skin and is resistant to several antibiotics. MRSA can cause hard-to-treat - and even deadly - infections in people. [6 Superbugs to Watch Out For]

When the skin is cut and exposed to pathogens, the immune system sends specialized white blood cells, such as neutrophils, to the wound site to kill the bacteria entering the skin. But it takes time for these cells to reach the site of injury.

In the experiments in mice, the researchers found that the layer of fat under the skin at the site of an infection thickened, and that the fat cells produced an antimicrobial compound called cathelicidin. These findings suggest that these fat cells can directly sense the staph bacteria and respond accordingly, the researchers said.

In addition, mice that lacked healthy fat cells under the skin suffered more frequent and severe infections with MRSA, according to the study, published today (Jan. 2) in the journal .

However, the findings don't mean that having too much fat in the body will bring better protection against infections. In fact, obesity or insulin resistance could result in having fat cells that don't respond as they should, and may actually lower a person's defense against infections, the researchers said. This could explain the results of previous studies that found that obese people may be at higher risk for skin infections, the researchers said.

Big Pharma deflects responsibility for gruesome antibiotic side effects

burn victim

© unknown

A recent ABC news item featured an unfortunate tragedy of a women hospitalized in an intensive care burn unit with Stevens-Johnson syndrome after taking a pharmaceutical antibiotic. This "rare" syndrome is gruesome.

She was placed into intensive care of a burn unit in the University of California Irvine's burn unit, as 70 percent of her body is burning "from the inside out".

Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatology professor at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan commented to ABC on this issue. "You're not truly burned, but what happens is you have compromised the skin barrier function." In other words, the epidermis separates from the dermis and 2nd and 3rd degree burns and blisters manifest painfully.

Zeichner added that this reaction occurs mostly from antibiotics. Another doctor interviewed in the ABC coverage of this tragedy that antibiotic reactions usually involve gastrointestinal (GI) issues.

The ABC went with the Big Pharma spin on this tragedy that it occurred only because the poor young woman took a prescription antibiotic that wasn't prescribed to her. She got it from a friend. Oh really now, what BS (bogus syndrome).

Here's the ABC newscast if you want to experience their spin yourself.

Even Dr. Zeichner commented, "Unfortunately, we have no way of predicting who would have this type reaction." (emphasis added)

When's the last time you were tested for an antibiotic intolerance or as they say, allergy? Instead you are briefly asked "are you allergic to any medications?" What! You're expected to know which one of hundreds of pharmaceuticals out there you are "allergic to" even if you've never had any of them?

Pretty lame if you ask me. But your answer should be "all of them" if you want to avoid adverse effects. And if so rare - how come there is a Steven Johnson Foundation Site.

Avoid Pharmaceutical Antibiotics

The point is beyond this overuse of pharmaceutical antibiotic nonsense that's hyped to make the public concerned about pharmaceutical antibiotics not working anymore. There's no real proof they actually ever did, really. But there are many unpublicized reports of nasty side effects that result from Big Pharma's purported little life savers.

The sub-clinical chronic health issues are totally ignored. But many studies confirm they do exist. Most of us know about the GI tract friendly bacteria damage. But pharmaceutical chemically based antibiotics are actually a form of chemotherapy that causes more cellular damage, sometimes long term, than most recognize.

This is especially true with the fluoroquinoline series of antibiotics. Even after national TV news specials about the gruesome effects of these fluoroquinoline antibiotics were shown, the media still pushes the dangers of supplements and the foolishness of organic foods while making horrific adverse drug reactions (ADR) isolated incidents and promoting how the "benefits outweigh the risks".

Ambulance Chasers Don't Go After Empty Ambulances

Greg-Jones, a law firm specializing in prosecuting drug companies for victims of adverse effects has this to say about Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and its disease cousin Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) as a side effect of many pharmaceuticals and Big Pharma antibiotics.

From the Greg-Jones website home page: "Stevens-Johnson syndrome has a mortality rate of 5%. Toxic epidermal necrolysis may be fatal in up to 50% of patients."

"More than 200 drugs are linked to SJS/TEN, particularly antiepileptics, NSAIDs, penicillins and sulphonamide antibiotics."

They don't collect their fee unless they win the case. So they must feel confident about what ambulances they're chasing.

And more than one MD has offered a report explaining how many deaths are caused from correctly prescribed drugs. One of them is Dr. Barbara Starfield, who in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of July 26, 2000, revealed the American medical system kills 225,000 people per year - 106,000 as a direct result of pharmaceutical drugs correctly prescribed.

Even more staggering is a 2003 report gathered by Dr. Carolyn Dean called "Death by Modern Medicine", which puts the annual death rate much higher. Her latest edition of the book Death by Modern Medicine puts the current death rate at a million annually, again from correctly prescribed drugs and procedures.

Medical Mafia is the right tag for the allopathic medical monopoly that lies to discredit alternative (real healing and prevention) while propagandizing their synthetic drugs that harm more than heal.

Dead whale washes up on Sandøy, Norway

Locator map of Sandøy, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

Norway's Coast Guard faced a grim and smelly task over the weekend: Discarding a dead whale whose cadaver was in danger of exploding.

The dead whale had washed up in a bay at Sandøy outside Bergen on Norway's West Coast. It was found by a local resident on Friday and immediately raised concerns because it was showing clear signs that gas had formed inside the whale's stomach.

That meant it could explode, so the coast guard ended up towing the dead whale out to sea and shooting it to puncture the inflated intestines, so the cadaver would sink.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police sound high alert after early heavy snowfall on Himalayan border

© Sanju Pant

Heavy snowfall at an ITBP camp on the China border in Pithoragarh.

The ITBP, which guards the high-altitude Himalayan border posts with China, has sounded a high alert as moderate to heavy snowfall has been reported in the region in the last 24 hours.

The snowfall continued in the higher reaches of this part of the Himalayas today, ITBP sources said here. "The snowfall has broken records of recent years. After 2005, dense snowfall used to occur in this part of the Himalayas after January 15, but this year it has started early," said Kedar Singh Rawat, an ITBP officer.

According to ITBP sources, while 120 cm snowfall was recorded at Joligkong Ridge, near the China border in the Vyans valley of Dharchula subdivision, the last border post at China border at Nabhidhang received 90 cm snowfall in the last 24 hours. "The snowfall, which started ahead of the Garbiyang post of the ITBP, witnessed 40 cm to 80 cm snowfall in the last 24 hours," said Rawat.

In Munsiyari, the peaks of Panchachuli, Rajrambha, Chiplakedar and Hansling received heavy snowfall in the last 24 hours. Weather Department sources said snowfall in higher reaches and rainfall in lower valleys would continue for the next 24 hours.

Panicking passengers refuse to re-board AirAsia plane after engine stops with loud bang on Surabaya airport runway

Around 90 per cent of passengers refused to get back on an AirAsia plane after an engine struck a problem, it was reported (file picture)

Almost an entire plane-load of passengers refused to re-board an AirAsia jet after one of the engines struck a problem as it started to taxi at Surabaya airport, it was reported today.

It was the same airline that lost an Airbus last weekend as it flew from Surabaya to Singapore with the presumed loss of all 162 passengers and crew.

As search teams reporting seeing a fifth large object at the bottom of the Java Sea which might be parts of the missing plane, the new drama involving an engine was the kind of news the airline did not want.

The aircraft had taxied just 3 metres at Surabaya's Juanda International Airport when one of the engines died with a loud bang, Indonesia's Metro TV reported.

The plane, bound for Bandung, Indonesia, made it back to the gate without any further problems and the 120 passengers were asked to disembark.

Mr Yusuf said the airline told passengers later that the flight would be resumed after the problem had been addressed.

But he claimed that about 90 per cent of the passengers refused to get back on board, fearing that the fault would re-occur during the flight.

Those who declined to get back on the plane had their fares refunded, Metro TV said.

Another three bodies were recovered from flight QZ8501 today, bringing the total number so far to 34.

Pope embraces false prophets of doom - Why I'm disassociating myself from the Vatican and church


© NoTricksZone

I'm Catholic and this Sunday I'm announcing that I'm disassociating myself from the Vatican and its pope. I urge other skeptic Catholics to consider doing the same. This is not a step I've taken lightly.

I'll be opting out of Germany's (Church Tax) and will not attend any services in the future. With their latest planned encyclical they are indicating that they have shifted back to the Dark Ages of bad-weather witches, superstitions and Medieval indulgences. Worse, they are openly subscribing to nutty end-of-times theories.

This comes on the heels of a recent announcement that Pope Francis intends to issue an encyclical on climate change. I am not renouncing Catholicism, rather I am solely renouncing my recognition that the Vatican and Pope are the faith's administrator and moral compass. It's the last straw in an unending string of corruption, child sexual abuse and scandals that have raged within the Catholic Church in recent times.

False prophecies based on junk models

The Vatican announces that it accepts a science (but it is one that is built on the false prophecies of faulty climate models made by unscrupulous scientists who claim they can now see decades and even hundreds of years into the future) and that bad weather is now due to the sins of man. It's back to the dark days of Church-sanctioned witchhunts of the sort that once punished, tortured and burned people for brewing bad weather. Stunningly, once again, this is where today's Catholic Church is heading today.

We can only speculate on why the Vatican has decided to take this extreme, divisive, and hugely misguided step, especially at a time when climate science is hotly debated and more tenuous then ever. It has elected to ignore the long-term data, the role of the sun and oceans, the complete lack of correlation between CO2 and global temperature, and seems to have declared the debate over among Catholics. It has entered a bargain founded on a monumental lie and bought into the silly end-of-world scenario. Such a Church is no longer worthy of being followed.

Vatican aligning with population control ideology

Even more disturbing is that the Vatican has opted to align itself with those who possess ideologies that are openly hostile to and spiteful of humanity. In May 2014 the Vatican held a workshop where the invited delegates included Naomi Oreskes, Arctic sea-ice crackpot Peter Wadhams, and Professor Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber of the ultra-alarmist Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Pesearch. Strangely it doesn't seem to bother the Vatican that Professor Schellnhuber once openly stated that the ideal human population for the planet was less than 1 billion people, implying an excess of more than 6 billion inhabitants. He also once said that the planet would "explode" if the population reached 9 billion.

This kind of environmental stewardship is one that advocates the pre-emptive abortion of future generations - a denial of life for future generations - i.e population control. This is hostile to the human race and it is appalling to any practicing Catholic. Either Pope Francis is stunningly naïve, or just diabolically evil.

And don't expect the Vatican to backtrack anytime soon and to admit that it may have acted too hastily. Recall that it did not apologize to Galileo until 1992 - some three hundred and fifty years after the great philospher's death. Galileo's crime: he dared to challenge the consensus of the time.

Poorest urgently need affordable fossil fuels

I can no longer stomach this giant step back to the witch-hunting Dark Ages the Catholic Church is contemplating. The Vatican appears to have unwittingly elected to abandon the poorest among us, and their urgent need for affordable and reliable energy that only fossil fuels and nuclear power are able to deliver. The move by the Vatican risks putting the lives of tens of millions of the world's most impoverished at risk. This Pope needs to remember that the road to Hell is often paved with good intentions. Though his intentions may be good, they are in this case based on horribly false prophesies peddled by charlatans who arrogantly refuse to debate.

What's going to be next? An encyclical on the virtues of veganism - based on junk science nutrition?

Defying a corrupt Vatican is the Catholic thing to do

It's important to keep in mind that rejecting a corrupt, incompetent or misguided Vatican is in fact the most Catholic thing to do. The collection money you give every week will do a lot more good if you give it directly to the needy. The Vatican or the regional Bishop need not send over a minion priest with the errand of saving my soul. Instead the Vatican should worry about its own.

Little wonder that Pope Benedict XVI resigned. The Vatican appears to be well on the way to becoming a cesspool of corruption and self-deceit. I can no longer bear it. The witch-hunting, end-of-world climate encyclical will be the last straw.

Large asteroids to flyby Earth in January through March. Should we worry?


Massive rocks hurtling in space at speeds of thousands of miles per hour? They definitely sound dangerous, but they’re only really threatening if they hit you.

Asteroids are headed in Earth's direction and with most of them about as wide as a double-decker bus, a collision would most likely result in significant damage. However, while experts warn against the potential dangers of these asteroids, they also say that it is unlikely that these will veer off course and hit the planet.

According to NASA's Near Earth Object Program, there will be 43 asteroids flying close to Earth in January and 25 in February. In March, the number further drops to 15. The biggest threat for January is the asteroid 2007 EJ slated to closely approach the planet on Jan. 12. With a maximum diameter of nearly 1 mile, the asteroid is traveling at around 34,500 miles per hour.

The next-biggest asteroid threat for the first month of the year is the 1991 VE. It features a diameter of 0.87 miles and is expected to skim past the planet on Jan. 17. On Jan. 15 and 23, 0.68-mile wide asteroids will be flying by, the 2014 UF206 and the 2062 Aten, respectively.

At 0.75 miles wide, the 2003 YK118 will follow in Feb. 27. On the same day, the biggest asteroid threat for the quarter, the 1.4-mile wide 2000 EE14 can be expected. For March, the biggest an asteroid will get will be the 2002 GM2, which measures 0.68 miles in diameter. It's scheduled to come close to Earth on March 3.

The 2000 EE14 will also not only be the biggest for the quarter but it will also be flying by the closest, coming in up to nearly 17 million miles within the proximity of the Earth's center.

Alarmed that about a million undetected asteroids are flying around in space right now, scientists launched Asteroid Day to raise awareness and prevent the disaster that happened 65 million years ago from happening as much as possible.

According to NASA, the agency is aware of more than 1,500 PHAs or potentially hazardous asteroids. These are defined using parameters that measure how big of a potential an asteroid has for dangerously coming close to the planet. But just because an asteroid has a high potential doesn't mean that it will impact Earth. The measure of potential is there to simply gauge just how big the possibility of a threat is. PHAs are constantly monitored to improve predictions for close-approach statistics, which in turn improves predictions for threat and impact.

Russian Oligarchs Are Moving Assets Out Of Russia, Converting Rubles Into Hard Assets

We noticed a very interesting development late last week when there was a very late after-hours press release announcing what would generally be considered a normal transaction of shares in a thinly traded micro-cap mining company called Atico Mining. This tiny company is producing gold and copper from an underground mine in Colombia at a relatively low cost.

Fast forward to the press release (which can be read in its entirety here) stating that Frontdeal is acquiring the 10.9M shares and 4.45M warrants Aterra Investments was holding in Atico Mining at a fixed price of 57 Canadian dollar cents. This sounds like just another boring announcement, but we dug a bit deeper into this story and discovered some remarkable things.

First of all, the owner of both Frontdeal and Aterra is the same person as both companies seem to be controlled by Alexei Mordashov. Does that name sound familiar? It should, as he’s the CEO of Severstal and has recently done some interesting deals in the gold space with NordGold (which is a spinoff from Severstal). On top of that, he’s an economist so his knowledge of the financial sector and situation should be at a sophisticated level. So why would someone move his shares in a mining company from company A (which he controls) to company B (which he controls as well)?

Alexei Mordashov Russia Severstal

Alexei Mordashov, CEO of Severstal. Source

It might be very helpful to know that Frontdeal (the acquirer) is registered in Cyprus, which, as you know, is the favorite offshore spot for Russians to store a large chunk of their net worth. Aterra Investments however, is still registered in Russia (but operates through a subsidiary on the British Virgin Islands). This leads to a remarkable conclusion as it sure looks like Mordashov is starting to move his hard assets out of Russia by putting them in an offshore company. What’s even more remarkable is that the transaction won’t happen in Canadian Dollars, nor US Dollars and not even in Euro’s, but in Russian Rubles. The agreement calls for a payment in Russian Rubles equivalent to the value of C$0.57 at the time of closing (so the volatility of the Russian Ruble has been dealt with).

The central point in this press release isn’t a change of ownership in shares of Atico Mining, but Mordashov being effectively moving his Rubles from an offshore account in Cyprus and converting those Rubles into liquid hard assets. This could be the first step with many more to follow as Aterra also owns a sizeable stake in Silver Bear Resources which (for now) owns a large silver project in Russia and some smaller investments in non-precious metals deals.

The capital flight out of Russia is still ongoing and according to the data of the Russian Central Bank, the total amount of capital outflow is expected to be $128B in 2014 (well that was the estimate in November, and the final number will very likely be higher than 128 billion dollar) and probably $50-75B in 2015. It won’t just the oil price which will hurt Russia, but the increased perceived risk of doing business in the country. The Russian Ruble had crashed earlier this winter but seems to have stabilized now at an USD/RUB exchange rate of 50-55 and an EUR/RUB rate of 60-65 (see next image), and the sudden depreciation of the Ruble might very well have been caused by several high net worth individuals and company’s withdrawing their cash from the country by converting the Russian Rubles into other currencies (probably the Swiss Franc as there was a sudden boost in the CHF index when the Ruble was crashing).

Euro Ruble

The EUR/RUB exchange rate. Source

The pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place and this Frontdeal-Aterra deal could definitely be seen as just one of the pieces of evidence of an ongoing capital flight out of Russia whereby a rich Russian oligarch (who’s an economist!) prefers to keep his hard assets abroad in Cyprus instead of at a subsidiary of a Moscow-registered investment fund. The capital flight will be centering around investing in 'safer' currencies and in hard assets with gold still being one of the most appealing asset classes.

Gold Price in Ruble


Just to give you an idea how horrible the crash of the Ruble was; in just 7 weeks time (!!), the gold price in Ruble increased by a stunning 70%. That's right, 70%. Who owns gold, safeguards his purchasing power whilst the average Russian citizen will have to adapt its consumption rate to 'the new normal'.

Oil, Power and Psychopaths

James F. Gibson Tent of A. Foulke, Horse Artillery, Brandy Station, Virginia 1864

Iran has a – very – long running dispute with the US about its nuclear technology. The US wants Assad (Bashar Al-Assad) out of Syria, while Iran and Russia support Assad (Russia’s sole proper base in the Middle East), who’s an Alawite (a Shi-ite branch), a people historically persecuted by Sunni’s. ISIS (or Daesh in the region) is Sunni. So are the Saudi’s. Iran is Shi’ite. Bahrain is ruled by Sunni but has a majority Shi’ite population. And I could go on for a while. A long while.

All this plays into the oil game, the falling oil prices. Blaming OPEC for the recent price fall is seeing the world from a child’s perspective. OPEC and its major voteholder, Saudi Arabia, are no more to blame for the plunge than the US, Russia or other non-OPEC producers. Everybody produces as if there’s no tomorrow, and the Saudi’s have merely concluded that their only choice is to do the same. It’s a race to the bottom.

The reason is the fast declining demand for oil; China is nowhere near as mighty as we seem to think, Europe is a basket case, emerging economies are being strangled as we speak by the surging dollar and the Fed taper, and we’re just getting started. It’s cute and all that nobody wonders how much virtual money has vanished into the great beyond as both oil itself and the companies that get it out of the earth have lost half of their ‘values’ in Q4 2014, let alone the countries that depend on oil for their very existence. But cute doesn’t cut it.

Oliver Stone talks about ‘Ukraine: The CIA Coup’. I’ve talked about exactly that all of last year. While on vacation, Obama declares new sanctions on North Korea for hacking a Japanese company only the FBI claims it was guilty of. While US sanctions against Iran are ongoing.

America is trying to control the world by throwing it into confusion, emboldened by poorly understood theories about military superiority, and creating conflicts all over the place that look like they will never be solved. Whereas all it would need to do is make sure it secures itself, its own territory, not control the entire planet.

That was always a stupid idea. No big dream empire has ever lasted long enough to truly enjoy the fruits of its dreams for more than ten minutes or so. They’ve all ended in horrific bloodshed. The dark visions of impotent power hungry masters and servants have thrown overstretched empires into lethal turmoil for many thousands of years. It’s just that now, for the first time, it’s happening on a truly global scale.

The result will be the same; only, it’ll all go even more spectacularly wrong. It’s the way things go. But they won’t go the way our deluded powerbrokers think they will. That ‘mission accomplished’ message from W. back in the day is going to start sounding a lot more stupider as time goes by. You just wait and watch.

I found this bit interesting, from Reuters, it paints a good picture of how the confusion-all-around ‘strategy’ is supposed to supposedly work:

Iran Says Saudi Arabia Should Move To Curb Oil Price Fall

The Iranian deputy minister also criticised Saudi military involvement in Bahrain, which has been gripped by tension since 2011 protests led by majority Shi’ite Muslims demanding reforms and a bigger role in running the Sunni-ruled country. Abdollahian said Bahraini authorities’ continued detention of Shi’ite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman would have “serious consequences” for the government there.

Tehran and Riyadh accuse each other of interfering in the pro-Western Gulf island kingdom, one of several countries where their power struggle has played out. They also support opposing sides in wars and disputes in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Abdollahian dismissed United States efforts to fight Islamic State, also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh, as a ploy to advance U.S. policies in the region. “The reality is that the United States is not acting to eliminate Daesh (ISIS). They are not even interested in weakening Daesh, they are only interested in managing it,” he said.

The United States and its allies have carried out hundreds of air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Washington has also sent military support to Baghdad’s Shi’ite-led government but its role in Syria – where it has called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down – is more limited. Iran has sent Revolutionary Guard commanders to help its Shi’ite and Alawite allies in Baghdad and Damascus battle Islamic State and other Sunni fighters. But Abdollahian denied that Iran conducted aerial attacks on Iraqi sites.

“On the ground, where the U.S. should take serious action, there are no serious actions taking place. The US is not doing anything,” he said, accusing Washington of pursing a contradictory policy towards Islamist militants. “One day they support Daesh, another day they are against terrorism,” he said.

Abdollahian reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to Assad, saying the Syrian president must be involved in any political transition aimed at ending more than three years of conflict. He also criticized the latest U.S. sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities, saying they would not have a good impact on Tehran’s talks with world powers over its disputed nuclear program. “The United States must know that these actions make them bear a greater responsibility should the negotiations fail,” he said. “If the other side is honest in their actions, then we should expect these talks to reach a desirable conclusion.”

And then why not throw in a helping of Ambrose for good measure:

The Year Of Dollar Danger For The World

A sated China is as much to “blame” for the crash in oil prices as America’s shale industry. Together they have knouted Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The bear market will short-circuit at Brent prices of $40, but not just because shale capitulates. Marginal producers in Canada, the North Sea, West Africa and the Arctic will share the punishment. The biggest loser will be Saudi Arabia, reaping the geostrategic whirlwind of its high stakes game, facing Iranian retaliation through the Shia of the Eastern Province where the oil lies, and Russian retaliation through the Houthis in Yemen.

Mr Putin will achieve his objective of crippling Ukraine’s economy and freezing the conflict in the Donbass, but only by crippling Russia in the process. Controls will not stem capital flight. Mr Putin will have to choose between a dangerous loss of foreign reserves and a dangerous chain of corporate bankruptcies. He will continue to pawn Russia’s national interest to Beijing in order to save his Siloviki regime, but wiser heads in Moscow will question how a perpetual dispute with Europe and the revival of a dying NATO can possibly be in Russia’s interest. They will check his folly.

Ambrose sees only what fits his preconceived notions; pity, he could have been a great journalist. Putin didn’t seek a fight with the west, and his people, wiser heads or not, won’t blame him for being in one, quite the contrary. The most pervasive emotion in Russia today is deep-seated anger, versus the US, EU and NATO, for their blatant betrayal of both the country itself and the deals that were made ‘when the wall came down’.

Obviously, there’s plenty folk in Moscow, as there are in Kiev, that look to sell out to the US and scrape a million left and right out of that, but Russia is not Ukraine. You can’t just send in Victoria Nuland with $5 billion, organize a street party and expect to change another regime. Pepe Escobar clarifies why, to an extent:

2015 Will Be All About Iran, China And Russia

[..] it will be all about further moves towards the integration of Eurasia as the US is progressively squeezed out of Eurasia. We will see a complex geostrategic interplay progressively undermining the hegemony of the US dollar as a reserve currency and, most of all, the petrodollar.[..] Internationally, the Chinese will accelerate their overwhelming push for new ‘Silk Roads’ – both overland and maritime – which will underpin the long-term Chinese master strategy of unifying Eurasia with trade and commerce.

Global oil prices are bound to remain low. All bets are off on whether a nuclear deal will be reached by this summer between Iran and the P5+1. If sanctions (actually economic war) against Iran remain and continue to seriously hurt its economy, Tehran’s reaction will be firm, and will include even more integration with Asia, not the West.

Washington is well-aware that a comprehensive deal with Iran cannot be reached without Russia’s help. That would be the Obama administration’s sole – and I repeat – sole foreign policy success. A return to the “Bomb Iran” hysteria would only suit the proverbial usual (neo-con) suspects. Still, by no accident, both Iran and Russia are now subject to Western sanctions. No matter how it was engineered, the fact that stands is that the current financial/strategic oil price collapse is a direct attack against (who else?) Iran and Russia. [..]

Russia’s government debt totals only 13.4% of its GDP. Its budget deficit in relation to GDP is only 0.5%. If we assume a US GDP of $16.8 trillion (the figure for 2013), the US budget deficit totals 4% of GDP, versus 0.5% for Russia. The Fed is essentially a private corporation owned by regional US private banks, although it passes itself off as a state institution. US publicly held debt is equal to a whopping 74% of GDP in fiscal year 2014. Russia’s is only 13.4%.

The declaration of economic war by the US and EU on Russia – via the run on the ruble and the oil derivative attack – was essentially a derivatives racket. Derivatives – in theory – may be multiplied to infinity. Derivative operators attacked both the ruble and oil prices in order to destroy the Russian economy. The problem is, the Russian economy is more soundly financed than America’s. [..]

Moscow’s key mistake was to allow Russia’s domestic industry to be financed by external, dollar-denominated debt. Talk about a monster debt trap which can be easily manipulated by the West. The first step for Moscow should be to closely supervise its banks. Russian companies should borrow domestically and move to sell their assets abroad. Moscow should also consider implementing a system of currency controls so the basic interest rate can be brought down quickly.[..]

Russia does not need to import any raw materials. Russia can easily reverse-engineer virtually any imported technology if it needs to. Most of all, Russia can generate — from the sale of raw materials – enough credit in US dollars or euros.[..]

Replacing imports with domestic Russian manufacturing makes total sense. There will be an inevitable “adjustment” phase – but that won’t take long. German car manufacturers, for instance, can no longer sell their cars in Russia due to the ruble’s decline. This means they will have to relocate their factories to Russia. If they don’t, Asia – from South Korea to China — will blow them out of the market.

The EU’s declaration of economic war against Russia makes no sense whatsoever. Russia controls, directly or indirectly, most of the oil and natural gas between Russia and China: roughly 25% of the world’s supply. The Middle East is bound to remain a mess. Africa is unstable. The EU is doing everything it can to cut itself off from its most stable supply of hydrocarbons, prompting Moscow to redirect energy to China and the rest of Asia. What a gift for Beijing [..]

Now imagine Russia and China jointly investing in a new gold, oil and natural resource-backed monetary union as a crucial alternative to the failed debt “democracy” model pushed by the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street, the Western central bank cartel, and neoliberal politicians. They would be showing the Global South that financing prosperity and improved standards of living by saddling future generations with debt was never meant to work in the first place. Until then, a storm will be threatening our very lives – today and tomorrow.

Escobar is nowhere near right on all accounts, but he has some good points. The US enters this self-fabricated and self-desired ‘battle’ with a huge debt disadvantage. However, it holds the reserve currency, and stories about the demise of the petrodollar are way premature. That petrodollar rules well over 90% of all international trade, and it’s going to take a lot of time before that changes in a substantial way.

But countries like Russia and China have plenty revenue coming in in dollars, plus they have huge dollar reserves. It’s not a winnable fight for the power behind the power in Washington, but they’ll fight anyway, partly because that’s all they want and understand, and partly because they won’t do the actual fighting. The way we’ve set up our societies assures the worst possible people rise to the top. That’s just the way it is. And the way we are.

Still, America is never going to control the entire world. And any attempt to achieve that goal will take it further away from it. But a lot of people will be killed in that doomed attempt. And down the line the fighting will go on until there are so few people left, and so little organization, that all that remains is communities of a scale people can actually comprehend. That seems to be the only possible outcome as long as we allow for the psychopaths among us to decide who gets to have their fingers on the nuclear buttons.

But before that, we’ll have other shades of entertainment, we’re not done yet by any means. Angela Merkel just told Der Spiegel that she can live with Greece leaving the eurozone. Though that would blow up the entire edifice. I don’t know that I would call her a psychopath, but I have no confidence in anyone who floats to the top in any of our present political systems. And Europe can’t stomach any one country leaving.

It’s high time for a new model and for new people. But the old ones, and their utterly and dramatically failed economies, hold the power, the media, the money, everything. So what other way out is there but mass fighting, mass casualties, a complete overthrow of everything that exists today, probably nuclear bombs dropping, and in the end a world none of us would recognize, let alone be able to survive in?

It’ll take a while yet to get there, and it won’t be a pretty while by any stretch of the imagination. The powers that be are not done yet pretending to rule the universe and playing God. We should kick ‘em all out today, but we won’t. Because we’re all too much like them.