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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Insanity! School suspends 9-year-old for pretending he had Hobbit 'ring of power'

ring of power_suspension

Aiden Steward had just watched the third Hobbit movie with his family and he wanted to pretend that he had a ring that could make people disappear, just like Bilbo Baggins. But when he brought the toy ring to school, it ended up getting him suspended.

The ring he brought may not have been the true ring of power, but the Kermit, Texas, school where he attended said the pretend Tolkien "one ring" was used in a "threat" against a classmate.

When Aiden told a student that he could make him disappear since the plastic ring was forged in fictional Middle Earth's Mount Doom, the school accused him of "threats of violence" against classmates.

"It sounded unbelievable," Aiden's father, Jason Steward, said in an interview with the . But Jason said his son "didn't mean anything by it."

He explained that their family had just watched that week, and the elementary school boy was just pretending he had a ring like in the movie.

"Kids act out movies that they see. When I watched as a kid, I went outside and tried to fly," Steward explained.

"I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend's existence," Aiden's father continued. "If he did, I'm sure he'd bring him right back."

Aiden also got in trouble earlier this school year by bringing a copy of to school. The popular children's encyclopedia contained a chapter on pregnancy, with a pregnant woman in an illustration. The school said that was a big no-no.

"He loves that book. They were studying the solar system and he took it to school. He thought his teacher would be impressed," Aiden's father explain.

Apparently books with knowledge and kids with imagination do not mix at the Kermit Elementary School.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Cop pulls gun on teens having snowball fight


© Still from witness video

A disturbing new video was recently uploaded that shows a New York police officer holding a number of teenage kids at gunpoint for nothing other that throwing snowballs at each other.

New Rochelle's uploaded the video that shows the teens scared out of their minds, as an officer points his weapon at the kids who can bee seen kneeling on the ground.

The cowardly officer can be heard telling them "Don't f*cking move, guys!"

The officer the frisks with one hand and aims the gun with the other.

"They were having a snowball fight," the eye-witness who filmed the encounter explained.

"This group of guys was having a snowball fight and now a cop has a gun on them."

Watch the video below and see what happened for yourself...

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Auschwitz revisited

In the week we have been commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz I have been trying to understand why I am so weary and wary of the Holocaust. Despite the undoubted emotional pull of the survivors' testimonies, is there any lasting meaning be found in the ashes at Auschwitz? Should it even be looked for?

I didn't always feel this way.

We recently moved house and a few weeks ago my older son and I were unpacking boxes of books and finding new homes for them. I noticed just how much reading I had done on the subject of the Holocaust, mostly more than twenty years ago.

I had straight histories like 'The War Against the Jews' by Lucy Dawidowicz and 'Holocaust' by Martin Gilbert. I'd read 'Last Waltz in Vienna' by George Clare, Elie Wiesel's 'Night', 'Europa, Europa' by Solomon Perel and Primo Levi's 'If This is a Man', and 'The Drowned and the Saved'. There were Art Spiegelman's graphic novels 'Maus', where Nazis and Jews become cats and mice. Ghetto accounts such as 'A Cup of Tears' by Abraham Lewin and Marek Edelman's 'The Ghetto Fights'. I remembered being completely absorbed by Theo Richmond's detailed account of the destruction of one tiny shtetl village 'Konin'. I had the complete transcript of Claude Lanzmann's epic documentary Shoah. Hannah Arendt's account of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in the 1950s. And of course, Anne Frank's diary, the fully annotated critical edition.

My reading had been a search for meaning - historical, political and theological. I had been trying to make sense of something I knew was shaping my adult Jewish identity.

Last weekend I visited my 88 year old father and asked him to recall for me the visit he made to Auschwitz in the late 1960s while on a business trip to Poland. Perhaps his account could restore my faith in the possibility of finding a purpose in the week's commemorations beyond honouring the memory of the dead.

My father's visit to the death camp took place in a very different world from today. For the first two decades after the war the mood had been for moving on, for forgetting not remembering. The Holocaust was very far from being the defining event of the Second World War it has now become.

While he was on his trip, my father and three work colleagues found themselves with time on their hands when a public holiday was announced to coincide with a Soviet Russian State visit. Their local client, the factory manager of a smelt works in Katowice, suggested they visited Auschwitz, which he explained now ran as a museum.

Although my father was familiar with the name Auschwitz, he told me his knowledge of the how the Nazi's had implemented their killing was vague and sketchy at the time of his visit to Poland. Two of his colleagues had served in the army during the war but their understanding was even less than my father's. So the four British businessmen hired a driver and set off for the day with little or no expectation of what they were about to see.

They reached Auschwitz less than an hour after leaving Katowice and found the camp/museum almost deserted despite the public holiday. In fact, my father and his colleagues seemed to be the only visitors there and were rewarded with a personal tour by one of the senior officials.

They were taken to long wooden huts sectioned off into large glass fronted display cases. Inside the first display were bails of material that my father could not identify. "What is this?" He asked. "Human hair" came the reply, "shaved from the heads of those about to be exterminated." Nothing went to waste, it was explained, "The hair could be weaved into cloth and used for insulation". Next came a display of walking sticks and crutches neatly stacked in huge piles. Then shoes, all sizes, suitcases still with name and home address labels attached, spectacles and false teeth. Apparently, it all had revenue potential for the Third Reich.

After three hours of the tour my father was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the attitude of their guide. "He was more interested in the Nazis' attention to detail, administrative diligence and mechanical ingenuity than in the morality of what had taken place there." Finally, they were taken to see the furnaces that burned day and night, fueled by human corpses.

But what had been new and revelatory to my father nearly fifty years ago has become burdensome and problematic to me. When I look at all the books on my shelves relating to just 12 years out of three thousand years of Jewish history, I have no desire to revisit them or even flick through the pages.

As a student I had thought there were lessons to be learnt and meaning to be divined from what had happened. But now it feels as if the event has been used, abused and politicised, and, from a moral perspective, largely ignored.

As time has passed I have become increasingly pessimistic about our ability to take something meaningful and positive from the horror that is now summed up by the single word 'Auschwitz'.

Some, especially the remaining survivors, see denial and forgetfulness of the Holocaust as the biggest concern we should have. But I think these are the least of our Holocaust problems.

Holocaust denial will remain a fringe issue. The documentation is secure in its veracity and overwhelming in its volume. If anything, today's school children are in danger of thinking that Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin went to war against Hitler because of what was happening to the Jews.

And we have become very good at remembering. We do it with great care and respect and afford enormous dignity to the survivors and their testimonies. This week's marking of the Russian army's liberation of Auschwitz proved this once again. So, we remember with no difficulty. It's acting on the remembrance that defeats us.

Since the end of the Second World War we have had Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. All of which suggest that despite the creation of so much international law on human rights and genocide, humankind has not progressed an iota as a result of Auschwitz.

I can now see that my own long-term reaction to the Holocaust has led me not to focus on anti-Semitism and Jewish security (although neither can be ignored) but on the values and teaching that I see as central to Judaism. Justice, Compassion, Humility, individual and collective Responsibility. These are not new lessons but very old ones. As a Jew, I choose to apply these to our relationship with the Palestinian people because this is the issue on which we must judge ourselves. In the 21st century this is 'the Jewish question'.

While a growing number of Jews both in Israel and around the world share this perspective, it is still a minority opinion.

When it comes to the Palestinian people, the Holocaust has hardened our hearts and closed our minds. The scale of our own suffering has made us blind to their suffering - which we see as all of their own making.

Perhaps this was inevitable. Why should a people abused and broken become saints? The opposite result is more often the outcome. I am asking for too much. Expecting something that no group is capable of.

And so I have become both weary and wary of trying to take meaning or lessons from the Holocaust. Yes we must continue to teach it as an appalling stain on humanity. And an exercise in empathy is never wasted. But we must not expect it to unlock the human heart.

Maybe all we have are the stories of bureaucratised murder, random survival, and unexpected acts of kindness that Primo Levi called 'Moments of Reprieve'.

My father and his colleagues had planned to eat a meal together that night back at the hotel in Katowice. But after the visit nobody was hungry.

On the return journey my father asked their driver if he had known about the camp during the war. "Oh, yes", he replied. "We knew something was happening. We could smell it." My father asked him whether anyone at the time felt they could do anything about it? The driver replied "Yes, we would wind up the windows tight, so we couldn't smell the stink".

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Syriza and Russian sanctions: Best option for present, big decisions in future


As Eric Kraus has pointed out there is complete confusion in the media today about how to spin the latest EU sanctions decision. Did Syriza fold as per Reuters and . Or did the meeting expose growing splits within the EU as per the and the .

The best answer is that nothing definite was decided at the latest EU Council meeting but Syriza did manage to put a marker down.

I go back to my piece about Syriza for Russia Insider. Whether one likes the fact or not, for Syriza relations with Russia are not the priority. Syriza does not agree with the sanctions, but its overriding priority is Greece's own economic crisis.

Given that this is so, it is simply unrealistic to expect a very young government in the very first days of its existence to provoke a crisis within the European Union that pitches it against the Commission, Germany, Britain and France, risking a deeper crisis in Greece and putting in jeopardy its own existence, on an issue that for Greeks is of only peripheral importance.

What Syriza did on Thursday was all that in the circumstances it could realistically do: apply a soft brake on the sanctions train.

The European Council meeting was convened by Mogherini, the EU's "foreign minister", following demands from the EU hardliners led by Donald Tusk (who now nominally chairs the European Council when it meets at heads of government level) who have been calling for a strong EU response to the breakdown of the ceasefire and the ongoing NAF offensive, which has resulted in the capture of Donetsk airport and the gradual encirclement of the Debratselvo pocket. It also took place against a drumbeat of orchestrated hysteria following the shelling in Mariupol. Prior to the meeting Tusk said that he was not interested in a meeting that was purely declamatory.

That however is what Tusk got. What came out of the meeting was essentially declamatory.

The Greeks insisted on a belligerent paragraph directed against Russia being removed from the text of the final EU statement and postponed any further decision on further sanctions to a European Council meeting on 12th February 2015, which will take place at heads of government level. In return they agreed to an extension of the limited sanctions against specific Russian companies and individuals that came into force in March, but not for a full year (as the hardliners apparently wanted) but only for 6 months (to September 2015).

These sanctions are a serious matter for the individuals concerned, but they are not critical for Russia.

This is not the outcome that either the Russians or the EU hardliners led by Tusk had wanted, but it gives time and space for Syriza to sort out its own position and make whatever alliances within the EU it can, both on the critical debt question and on the less critical question of sanctions.

The next test will come at the European Council meeting on 12th February 2015 which Tsipras himself will attend. As of now it is looking unlikely that the EU will impose further significant sanctions on Russia at that meeting. Syriza is opposed to such sanctions but more importantly some of the other EU states are not keen on them either. They now known that one EU government - that of Greece - is strongly of that view, which is likely to make their opposition still stronger. To what extent more sanctions can be prevented at the meeting on 12th February 2015 will depend on the extent to which Syriza is able to play on the doubts of these other EU states. Significantly Syriza did manage to play successfully on these doubts at the meeting on Thursday, when it received the discrete support of several other EU states.

The big test however will be when the sectoral sanctions come up for renewal in July. That is the key decision upon which the future of the sanctions ultimately depends.

I would add that by July - and even more by September when the sanctions that were extended on Thursday come up for renewal - we will also have a better idea of the prospects for a Podemos victory in Spain.

If Podemos does win in Spain, then the entire calculus changes with Syriza having one of the big EU countries as an ally. I hardly need say that Spain carries immeasurably more weight within the EU than does Greece. A Podemos government in Spain can afford to go it alone on sanctions and defy the other big powers in the EU. A Syriza government cannot.

In my opinion Thursday's decision was the best that could be expected in the circumstances. As I said the big decisions are still to come. It would be of no benefit to Russia, Greece or Syriza if Syriza had provoked a crisis in the EU on Thursday on a question of extending the least important sanctions, which caused a dramatic escalation of the economic crisis in Greece, which in turn meant that Syriza was either swept from power in Greece or was unable to make independent decisions when the big decisions come up in July.

I would finish by again repeating what I said before in my Russia Insider piece and here.

Greece is a small and economically very weak country. For its people the sanctions are not the priority. The economic crisis is. That is why they voted for Syriza: to solve the economic crisis, not to get the sanctions on Russia lifted. On the sanctions issue people should not expect more from Syriza than it promised or can realistically deliver.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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What's with the demonization of cigarettes?

toe tag

© unknown

Is there a difference? Perhaps one of my readers can help me differentiate between one poison and the other. Whether you inhale it, drink it or eat it, a poison is a poison. I don't defend smoking, but there is a shameful double standard that exists at the expense of smokers and they know it. Why do government officials allow graphic images of disease on cigarette packages without extending the same courtesy to the labels on cosmetics, alcohol and junk food, some of which cause more disease and deaths annually than tobacco.

Marketing is acknowledged to be an important contributor to disease. It exists in numerous forms, the most recognized being television advertising. While there are efforts within policy to curb the incidence of marketing tactics which promote disease-promoting substances, those efforts appear to be quite biased.

It is very convenient that governments take such drastic measures to inform the public about the health risks associated with smoking and glance over more serious problems which are masked as casual threats to our health.

Things are changing internationally, but more effort is needed to make changes in the developed nations that need it most.

The head of Russia's temperance society wants government ministers to begin a campaign against fast food and sugary soft drinks. Sultan Khamzayev of the Sober Russia group wants ads condemning fast food to be on federal TV channels, on the internet, and on billboards in major Russian cities. Late last year, MP Alena Arshinova (United Russia) suggested amending the Federal Law on Advertising to ban junk food ads during children's shows aired on national TV or radio.

A Tasmanian parent in Australia has taken aim at sports sponsorship deals that endorse fast food and alcohol companies. Aaron Schultz continues to ramp up his efforts to get fast food and alcohol advertising out of mainstream sport. "They've really backed their sponsors in Victoria Bitter and Kentucky Fried Chicken and really it's sending the wrong messages to kids," he stated.

So what kind of initiatives do we have by governments in the U.S, Canada, and the U.K to bring awareness to the dangers of processed foods and alcohol? Not many. However lethal they are, it's not a focus because of the amount of revenue they generate.

The Biggest Culprits of Disease Are Not Cigarettes

Heart disease causes half of all deaths in the United States and far more deaths than lung cancer. Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year. Toxic foods are the number one cause of chronic inflammation. This repeated injury leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods. More than 95% of all processed foods including fast food contain the above ingredients.

So essentially, processed foods are at least equal to if not a much greater risk to our health than smoking. So why do we not allow graphic images of heart disease, diabetes and obesity on these foods? Obviously, the answer is that they may not sell as well which would upset the food industry and corporations that run the big agriculture.

What about alcohol? Twenty-five to forty percent of all patients in U.S. general hospital beds (not in maternity or intensive care) are being treated for complications of alcohol-related problems. Annual health care expenditures for alcohol-related problems amount to $22.5 billion. The total cost of alcohol problems is $175.9 billion a year (compared to $137 billion for smoking). Untreated alcohol problems waste an estimated $184.6 billion dollars per year in health care, business and criminal justice costs, and cause more than 100,000 deaths. Health care costs related to alcohol abuse are not limited to the user. Children of alcoholics who are admitted to the hospital average 62 percent more hospital days and 29 percent longer stays.

Alcohol, regardless of its type (i.e. beer, wine, liquor, etc) is a class A1 carcinogen which are confirmed human carcinogens. Alcohol consumption has been causally related with breast cancer for some time. Increasing evidence indicates a stronger association with neoplasms, though the risk is elevated for other types of breast cancers too. Regardless of how much alcohol is consumed, it will always be a class A1 carcinogen. That doesn't mean you will get cancer from drinking a beer or a glass wine, but the classification for the substance is clear.

So why are there not graphic images of cirrhosis of the liver or alcohol-related diseases on beer, wine and liquor bottles? Perhaps it is because the government does not want to alienate people with imagery or language that doesn't necessarily chime with their experience of drinking. After all, drinking wine is seen as something classy and prestigious in many settings and heaven forbid we attach a negative stigma to all wine drinkers.

Cosmetics are another topic for debate. Every year, cosmetics companies kill millions of animals to test their products. These companies claim they test on animals to establish the safety of their products and ingredients for consumers. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require animal testing for cosmetics, and alternative testing methods are widely available and lead to more reliable results. Here is a list of companies and associated brands that still test on animals. Why not plaster images of abused primates, mice, rabbits and other animals (many who are grotesquely disfigured) on cosmetic labels? Why not show the skin conditions and diseases that some of the chemicals in these cosmetics cause to segments of the population?

Cannabis is forever demonized by public health officials and there is no shortage of government warnings to stay away from this "evil weed". Yet it is one of the most powerful healing plants in the world which can make cancer essentially disappear. Cannabis compounds are responsible for halting the growth factors that are responsible for metastatic growth. Cannabinoids can also reduce heart attacks by 66% and insulin dependent diabetes by 58%. There are so many reasons that cannabis is safer than alcohol for the consumer and community, but the reverse is portrayed by society.

Why Are Cigarettes Always The Object of Attack?

Cigarettes are easily targeted because smoking is an easy public display of enforcement. Governments like to make an example out of smokers. They make the public think that the government cares about health policy and disease prevention when all they do is use this one toxic element as a repetitive nag on the population.

Public health officials know people will continue to smoke regardless. It's all about politics, enforcement and of course corporate greed. If there were enough graphic images placed on cosmetics, junk food packaging and alcohol, it would eventually create a public firestorm which would cause parents and consumers to eventually question the government and force them to create the same stigma attached to these foods and products as there is with smoking. But that would cut into profits and educate the population to a higher level, and they don't want that. Then people would become more aware about the entire health, food and safety industry being one big scam. And where would they stop? That would mean they would need to incorporate graphic images on 95% of processed foods and cosmetics which are filled with chemicals and toxic additives. All fast foods would also need to be targeted, not just McDonalds.

Few people are aware of this fact, but it's not even the tobacco inside cigarettes that are the direct cause of lung cancer. It's all the fillers, chemicals and glues that are the real source of disease inside each cigarette. But they don't tell the public these facts either.

People know smoking is toxic and they do it at their own risk and will continue to do it regardless of public health advertising that promotes the opposite. Perhaps the same can be said about junk food, cosmetics and alcohol, but governments don't want to take the chance in further educating the masses about all of these, because if they open that can of worms, then people will become more informed about all toxins including those in drugs and vaccines and we wouldn't want them becoming too educated on how poisonous our world really is.

We have much bigger problems than smoking when it comes to our population's health. The entire food and medical industry is a much bigger threat, but our governments prefer to keep that on the down low and continue to make a show out of the "evil" cigarette to make us all think they care about our health. They don't and as long corporations collude with government, they never will.









Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Glimmer of hope for Assange

© Creative Commons

Julian Assange in one of his rare public appearances in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has been in hiding since June 2012.

There is a window of hope, thanks to a U.N. human rights body, for a solution to the diplomatic asylum of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in the embassy of Ecuador in London for the past two and a half years.

Authorities in Sweden, which is seeking the Australian journalist's extradition to face allegations of sexual assault, admitted there is a possibility that measures could be taken to jumpstart the stalled legal proceedings against Assange.

The head of Assange's legal defence team, former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, told that in relation to this case "we have expressed satisfaction that the Swedish state" has accepted the proposals of several countries.

The prominent Spanish lawyer and international jurist was referring to proposals set forth by Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Slovakia and Uruguay.

The final report by the U.N. Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), adopted Thursday Jan. 28 in Geneva, Switzerland, contains indications that a possible understanding among the different countries concerned might be on the horizon.

The UPR is a mechanism of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine the human rights performance of all U.N. member states.

The situation of Assange, a journalist, computer programmer and activist born in Australia in 1971, was introduced in Sweden's UPR by Ecuador, the country that granted him diplomatic asylum in its embassy in London, and by several European and Latin American nations.

The head of the Swedish delegation to the UPR, Annika Söder, state secretary for political affairs at Sweden's foreign ministry, told that "This is a very complex matter in which the government can only do a few things."

Söder said that in Sweden, Assange is "suspected of crimes, rape, sexual molestation in accordance with Swedish law. And that's why the prosecutor in Sweden wants to conduct the primary investigation.

"We are aware of Mr. Assange's being in the embassy of Ecuador and we hope that there will be ways to deal with the legal process in one way or the other. But it is up to the legal authorities to respond," she said.

Assange's legal defence team complains that Sweden's public prosecutor's office is delaying the legal proceedings and refuses to question him by telephone, email, video link or in writing.

Garzón noted that parallel to the lack of action by the Swedish prosecutor's office, there is a secret U.S. legal process against Assange and other members of Wikileaks, the organisation he created in 2006.

"The origin of the U.S. legal proceedings against Assange was the mass publication by Wikileaks of documents, in many cases sensitive ones, which affected the United States," said Garzón.

Wikileaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and other classified U.S. documents revealed practices by Washington that put it in an awkward position with other governments.

Assange sought refuge in the embassy after exhausting options in British courts to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning related to allegations of rape and sexual molestation, of which he says he is innocent. He has not been charged with a crime in Sweden and is worried that if he is extradited to that country he will be sent to the United States, where he is under investigation for releasing secret government documents.

If the legal process in Sweden begins to move forward, there would be a possibility for him to be able to leave the Ecuadorean embassy, where he took refuge on Jun. 19, 2012, and give up the diplomatic asylum he was granted by the government of Rafael Correa on Aug. 16, 2012.

In the UPR report, Sweden promised to examine recommendations made by other countries and to provide a response before the next U.N. Human Rights Council session, which starts Jun. 15.

Garzón has urged the Swedish government to specify a timeframe for the legal action against Assange, as the delegation from Ecuador recommended in the UPR.

"The Human Rights Committee, another specialised U.N. body, stipulates that precise timeframes must be established for putting a detained person at the disposal of a judge," he pointed out.

Söder told that Sweden's legal system does not set any deadline for the prosecutor to complete the pretrial examination phase, as reflected in the Assange case.

Garzón is also asking Sweden to introduce, as soon as possible, "measures to ensure that the legal proceedings are carried out in accordance with standards that guarantee the rights of individuals, concretely the right to effective judicial recourse and legal proceedings without undue delays."

He also called for the adoption of administrative and judicial measures to make investigations before the courts more effective. With respect to this, he mentioned "the practice of measures of inquiry abroad, in line with international cooperation mechanisms."

In addition, the international jurist demanded measures to ensure that people deprived of their freedom are provided with legal guarantees in accordance with international standards.

The Swedish delegation agreed to study a recommendation by Argentina to "take concrete measures to ensure that guarantees of non-extradition will be given to any person under the control of the Swedish authorities while they are considered refugees by a third country," in this case Ecuador.

These should include legislative measures, if necessary.

This is important because Assange is facing the threat that the Swedish or British authorities could accept an extradition request from the United States for charges of espionage, which carry heavy penalties.

In his comments to , Garzón said he was "disappointed" that the Swedish state has not accepted one of Ecuador's recommendations.

He was referring to the request that Sweden streamline international cooperation mechanisms on the part of the judiciary and the prosecutor's office in order to ensure the right to effective legal remedy, specifically in cases where the person is protected by the decision to grant asylum or refuge.

It was stressed in the UPR that the right to asylum or refuge is considered a fundamental right, and must be respected and taken into account, making it compatible with the right to legal defence.

The director-general of legal affairs in Sweden's foreign ministry, Anders Rönquist, argued that there is no international convention on diplomatic asylum.

The only one referring to that issue is the inter-American convention, he said, adding that the International Court of Justice in The Hague does not require recognition of diplomatic asylum.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Ukraine top general: No Russian troops fighting against Ukrainian army

that statement:

The Chief of Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces, General Viktor Muzhenko, is saying, in that news-report, which is dated on Thursday January 29th, that the only Russian citizens who are fighting in the contested region, are residents in that region, or of Ukraine, and also some Russian citizens (and this does not deny that perhaps some of other countries' citizens are fighting there, inasmuch as American mercenaries have already been noted to have been participating on the Ukrainian Government's side), who "are members of illegal armed groups," meaning fighters who are not paid by any government, but instead are just "individual citizens" (as opposed to foreign-government-paid ones). General Muzhenko also says, emphatically, that the "Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian army."

In other words: He is explicitly and clearly denying the very basis for the EU's sanctions against Russia, and for the U.S.'s sanctions against Russia: all of the sanctions against Russia are based on the falsehood that Ukraine is fighting against "the regular units of the Russian army" - i.e., against the Russian-Government-controlled-and-trained fighting forces.

The allegation to the effect that Ukraine is instead fighting against "regular units of the Russian army" is the allegation that Vladimir Putin's Russia has invaded Ukraine, and it is the entire basis for the economic sanctions that are in force against Russia.

Those sanctions should therefore be immediately removed, with apology, and with compensation being paid to all individuals who have been suffering them; and it is therefore incumbent upon the Russian Government to pursue, through all legally available channels, restitution, plus damages, against the perpetrators of that dangerous fraud - and the news reports have already made clear precisely whom those persons are, who have asserted, as public officials, what can only be considered to be major libel.

Otherwise, Ukraine's top general should be fired, for asserting what he has just asserted.

If what General Muzhenko says is true, then he is a hero for having risked his entire career by having gone public with this courageous statement. And, if what he says is false, then he has no place heading Ukraine's military.

Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Thirty thousand take to streets as Irish Water Tax rebellion marches on

© @WSMIreland/ Twitter

Water tax protesters in Drogheda cross the River Boyne.

The center of Dublin has reportedly shut down as demonstrators, joining a chorus of nation-wide protests on Saturday, came out in droves to fight government efforts to tax citizens' right to water.

An estimated 30,000 marched in Dublin while other protests were held in cities and towns across the country including Limerick, Waterford and Donegal. According to the rallies have caused major traffic disruption and road closures in Dublin, with groups marching from separate train stations and converging outside the General Post Office where speakers addressed the massive crowd.

The demonstrations, organized by local grassroots groups, are protesting threats to privatize Ireland's water bureau, Irish Water, and its plan to charge residents some €160 per year in an effort to satisfy EU-IMF demands. The latest round of protests come as roughly 660,000 households failed to meet a Monday deadline to register for water billing, Irish Water confirmed to media.

Richard Boyd Barrett, a representative with the political party People Before Profit Alliance, told reporters that government concessions made in response to the ongoing demonstrations will not appease protesters. In November, Irish Water announced certain households will have lower flat rates for water consumption.

"The friends of the Government, in various quarters, have been hoping and wishing that the massive popular rebellion against water charges and the wider austerity agenda would end - they are sorely mistaken," he said.

Right2Water, the organizing committee behind some of the large anti-water tax demonstrations, made a similar pledge of resistance in a press statement: "The campaign against these unjust water charges continues. Last year, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets all over the country, and wrung significant concessions from the Government. But as we said at the time - people marched for abolition, not concessions."

Images of the nation-wide demonstrations were shared online.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Be aware: The forgotten history of vaccinations

© amazon.com

Vaccines are one of the most controversial medical therapies, and it's impossible to make an informed decision unless you know both sides of the story. In the process of knowing both sides, the historical context is critical.

Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,1 is a nephrologist who has committed the latter part of her medical career to exposing the "lost history" of vaccinations.

Barbara Loe Fisher of NVIC commented that this is one of the rare books that conducted in-depth research documenting the medical history related to mass vaccination programs and infectious diseases.

I have read the book from cover to cover and would strongly recommend that you pick up a copy if you have even the remotest interest in this topic, especially if you believe in the safety and necessity of vaccines, as the comprehensive documentation will likely cause you to reevaluate your position.

It is an absolutely fascinating read, and in some ways demonstrates that enforcement of vaccine programs could be far worse today, when compared to historical standards when people were imprisoned and even killed when they refused to comply.

I will likely reread the book again so I can be well armed to articulately express my concerns on why one needs to have serious reservations on the validity of vaccines, based on historical precedents.

Why This Book Was Written

Dr. Humphries' interest in this area began in 2009, when several of her patients told her that they'd been perfectly healthy until they got one vaccine or another. Prior to this, she'd been, as she says, "agnostic" about vaccination.

"I had vaccinated my dialysis patients; I, myself, was vaccinated; and I pretty much believed what I was taught in medical school,"

Then she started noticing that her patients were being ordered to get vaccinated on their first day of admission into the hospital - often when they had serious diseases: inflammatory diseases, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and one patient with cancer on chemotherapy.

"My patients were getting vaccinated on their first hospital day before I even saw them, and the order had my name on it," she says. "This alerted me that there was something going on that I had not approved of.

I complained to the hospital administration about it. It was from resistance that I was met with that, ironically, led me into this path."

Countering Vaccine Arguments Led to Startling Conclusions

The conventional paradigm states that vaccines are safe and effective, and can be given to virtually anybody regardless of how sick they are.

In order to address and counter the arguments she was given for this routine policy, she had to research vaccination, which led her to discover that there is absolutely nothing in the medical literature to support vaccinating an acutely ill person.

"At some point, they called in an expert to set me straight," she says. "The arguments that I got from the experts still were not lining up with science.

My patients were acutely ill, they had inflammatory diseases, and I didn't want them vaccinated. I was told that I was confusing the nursing staff by discontinuing vaccines in my patients. That was how it all started."

Arguments often used by vaccine advocates include the oft-parroted sound byte that 'diseases like smallpox and polio were eradicated by vaccination.' Hence vaccines rank among the greatest medical interventions known.

As a result, she ended up researching smallpox and polio - even though it really had nothing to do with what was happening to her patients. Alas, this was when Dr. Humphries started coming to some really startling conclusions.

"In my research, I was startled [to realize] that what I found was completely counter to what I have been told and taught my entire life. I now don't believe that smallpox vaccines eradicated smallpox. I now don't believe that polio vaccines eradicated polio.

The stories are very twisted, long, and complicated, and the vaccines have changed over time. It's really easy to kind of throw up smokescreens here and there and make whatever argument one might want to, because people are so ignorant and because the story is so complicated."

The Story Behind the Smallpox Vaccine

Every vaccine has a story behind it, Dr. Humphries says. The smallpox vaccine, for example, was actually developed long before the medical establishment knew anything about the human immune system. The revelations on smallpox alone are fascinating enough to purchase this book, and is far more detailed than the summary in this article.

The vaccine was actually developed based on a rumor circulating among dairy maids. The rumor was that when a dairy maid had been infected with cowpox - which is a common infection on the udder of the cow - she would no longer be susceptible to smallpox.

The rumor was a persistent one, as rumors can be, despite the fact that there were plenty of dairy maids who developed smallpox after having cowpox. But this rumor is what led Edward Jenner to develop the first smallpox vaccine.

"Basically, it was made by scraping pus off the belly of a cow," Dr. Humphries says. "Sometimes there was some goat genetic disease in there. There was horsepox mixed in there.

There was sometimes human pox mixed in and some glycerin. They would shake it up; they would take kind of a prong, and puncture the skin several times...

What I didn't realize was that there were many people who developed serious smallpox disease and died after they were vaccinated. The severity of disease was often worse in the vaccinated than the unvaccinated.

There are statistics that show that the death rate was higher in the vaccinated than the unvaccinated."

When the smallpox vaccine was developed, there was also no way to accurately diagnose the type of pox disease a person had. It may have been chickenpox, monkeypox, or smallpox, but back then, any kind of pox disease was considered smallpox - even though the vaccine didn't actually have the human smallpox virus in it. Animal pox virus was always used. According to Dr. Humphries, it was the most contaminated vaccine that's ever been on the market.

"If you look at a town like Leicester in England, that town was noticing that they had one of the highest vaccination rates in the vaccinated world and their smallpox breakout was higher than ever," Dr. Humphries says. "The people in the town had a rally. The mayor and some of the health officials were there. They all agreed that they were going to stop vaccinating... The result was quite different from the predictions.

The predictions were that there was going to be a bonfire of disease set upon the planet and that these people in Leicester were risking the health of the world by not making vaccination mandatory. But once they stopped smallpox vaccines they had the lowest rate of smallpox infection and deaths.

What we show in our book - and we show the graphs of the disease rates and the death rates - was that both of them went down precipitously after the vaccinations were stopped. That story right there tells you that vaccines were not what made the disease go away; what made the disease go away was isolation and sanitation."

Antibody Is the Wrong Way to Ascertain Immunity

One of the major arguments against vaccine-induced immunity is that it primarily stimulates the humoral immune system and not the cellular immune system. Antibodies are produced by the humoral immune system and then routinely measured to determine "immunity." The problem with this approach is that you can have high antibody levels and still get the disease. It's very difficult and expensive to measure the cellular immune response, and immunologists admit that they are still in the dark about a lot of the finer points of the overall immune response.

When you use antibody titers or blood levels to check for immunity, all you're doing is getting a picture of what happened (you had an immune response); it doesn't tell you whether you're going to be immune in the future, because antibodies are only one aspect of the immune response, and in some cases are not even necessary to easily combat the sickness and become immune.

For example, those with agammaglobulinemia - a disease where you cannot make antibodies - can get infected with measles, recover uneventfully, and still respond to subsequent challenges of the virus in a normal healthy fashion and not get sick. These individuals will have lifelong immunity to measles, the same as someone without agammaglobulinemia.

Traditionally, the way immunity is determined is to do a test that measures antibodies, which is the humoral immune system. But there's no good way to assess the cellular immune system. It's a really imprecise science at best. As Dr. Humphries notes:

"It's not only imprecise; sometimes it's downright inaccurate. You can have very high antibody levels, like numerous case reports of people who have hugely high antibody levels for tetanus, or normal antibodies, and have gotten some of the worst cases of tetanus. I have papers that show that people without antibody for polio have actually been able to respond to the virus as if they were already immune. The antibody really is a real wrong roadmap to look at to tell what's really going on. Sometimes there's correlation, but it's certainly not a given."

The Story Behind the Polio Vaccine

The other prime argument for the justification and support of today's highly aggressive vaccination program is the alleged success of the polio vaccine. But here again, the historical perspective fails to support the vaccination paradigm.

"The story behind polio is absolutely fascinating when you look at the politics that went on researching the vaccine, and how scientists were fired if they disagreed with the program going on through the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. That was the vaccine that Jonas Salk developed," Dr. Humphries says.

Before the Salk vaccine became available, if you were admitted to the hospital any doctor could diagnose you with polio based on two physical examinations within 24 hours, to check for paralysis in one or more muscle groups. We now know that a number of viruses can cause paralysis, but back then, all instances were thought to be due to polio virus. When the polio vaccine was developed, a problem emerged. Swedish scientists were trying to tell the US scientists that formaldehyde inactivation was not going to work as planned.

Their warning, however, fell on deaf ears. This was unfortunate, as they turned out to be correct. Live poliovirus, which was put in an injectable vaccine, would appear to be inactivated right after it was made, but sometimes it would "resurrect" in the vial... In essence, the formaldehyde did not kill off all the polioviruses in these vaccines, which led to live polio viruses being injected. As a result, more people developed paralysis from the vaccine in 1955 than would have developed it from a wild, normal natural poliovirus.

Something had to be done to make it appear as though the vaccine was working. So what they did was change the diagnostic criteria for polio. Sadly this is a very common practice in medicine. When the observations don't fit your expectations, change or rig the system so that they do. With polio, the original criteria was two examinations within 24 hours. This was changed to two examinations within 60 days. This was helpful in cooking the books, because within 60 days, most people recover from their bout with poliomyelitis.

"All those people who were formerly called polio were no longer categorized as polio because they recovered from their paralysis within that time," Dr. Humphries explains.

Then there was the issue of testing. Prior to the vaccine, there was no testing done on blood or stool samples. After the vaccine came along, there was an epidemic in Michigan around 1958. About 2,000 people were diagnosed with polio. In disbelief over the outbreak, serological testing was done, and they discovered that the polio virus was found in only a small minority - about one-quarter of those who displayed symptoms of infection. Interestingly, in the remainder they discovered a different virus or no virus at all! And, subsequently, those patients were no longer "counted" as having polio.

"So simply by doing the diagnostic testing and changing the diagnostic criteria, the rates of polio plummeted, whether or not there was ever a vaccine. These were the kind of things that were going on back then," Dr. Humphries says.

Oral Polio Vaccine Propagates Transmission of Vaccine Virus

It's important to realize that the injected polio vaccine does nothing to prevent transmission of the virus, and after an oral polio vaccine you become a reservoir of virus that can mutate or combine with other bowel viruses, creating new strains that are often more virulent to those around you. According to Dr. Humphries, the only thing the injectable vaccine theoretically does is give you some blood immunity, similar to tetanus. This means it is only going to be effective if your blood meets the virus before the virus meets your nervous system.

Once vaccine makers realized just how difficult it was to inactivate the polio virus, and many people ended up contracting polio from the vaccine, they decided to abandon the injectable polio vaccine and create an oral vaccine instead, which is more similar to the natural route of infection. Again, controversy ensued. The oral vaccine did interrupt transmission of the wild type virus, but it propagated transmission of the vaccine virus instead.

"The fact of the matter is that you can attenuate a virus all you want, which means that you pass it through different animals to make it mutate enough that it's not quite as lethal or virulent at some point. But once you put that vaccine or that virus back into its natural host, it mutates back to the way it was," Dr. Humphries explains.

"You can give a baby an oral polio vaccine and it can be attenuated. But even in the vial, before you give it to that baby, those viruses are starting to revert back to their former problematic state. And then once the baby swallows that, the baby will generate some immunity in the intestine. But what's going to come out of that baby is going to be mutated vaccine virus. Oftentimes this is problematic, especially in people who are immunosuppressed."

In the 1990s the US quit using the oral vaccine, and switched back to the injectable vaccine. To address the hazards of injecting improperly or inadequately inactivated polio virus, certain adjustments to the formulation were made. Modern polio vaccines are propagated and inactivated differently from earlier versions, and different countries also use different strains of the polio virus. Older polio viruses used to contain three strains of the virus. Today, some countries will only use one or two.

Polio Was 'Eradicated' NOT by the Vaccine But Through Redefinition

As noted by Dr. Humphries, it's very easy to defeat the polio vaccine argument, as most incidences of polio disappeared because the disease was redefined - not because there was an actual change in disease prevalence. In fact, it could be argued that the vaccine did more harm than good, since some versions caused polio, and others propagated new mutated strains of the virus. According to Dr. Humphries, at one point, the only polio cases in the US were vaccine-induced. Yet even though there are no cases of wild polio being discovered, the polio vaccine remains part of the US vaccine program...

"Even today, you can just go on to the CDC website and the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). You can see that cases of polio in this country by and large occur when people get the oral vaccine in another country and then come here. When they say that polio is only a plane ride away, the truth is that disease from polio vaccine is also a plane ride away... Like I said, the injected vaccines do not interrupt propagation of the virus. If somebody comes to this country who has recently had an oral polio vaccine and he's shedding a highly virulent strain, people in this country can start passing it around."

Polio Epidemic Historically Related to Increase in Sugar Consumption

Here's another interesting tidbit that no one ever talks about: In the past, it has sometimes been suggested that a large part of the polio epidemic was related to increases in sugar consumption. Dr. Benjamin Sandler wrote an entire book about this, and Dr. Humphries refers to his work in her book as well. She explains the connection as follows:

"Polio's an enterovirus [i.e. a virus that enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract and thrives there]. The integrity and the flora population in your bowel is extremely important when it comes to dealing with any kind of bowel infection. A diet that's high in sugar is going to 1) impair your cell-mediated immune system and 2) trash your gut flora... [It was] shown that in populations who cut back on their sugar intake, the rates of polio plummeted... But it was so unbelievable that nobody really listened to him.

It was the same as when Dr. Frederick Klenner tried to say that he cured 100 percent of patients with intravenous vitamin C and [it] just didn't register. The... low-sugar diet was very effective because of the effect it has on the immune system and on the bowel flora. The same with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT); DDT really trashes the bowel, the intestinal walls, and the flora.... Not only can DDT give you all the symptoms of polio all by itself, it can also make the poliovirus much more virulent and active in the body for the same reason: it disturbs the normal function of the bowel."

DDT exposure has also been linked to Alzheimer's disease, and it's worth noting that the contemporary equivalent of DDT, glyphosate, according to Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, is far more toxic than DDT. It definitely has been shown to decimate your microbiome, and glyphosate preferentially kills bacteria known to be beneficial for human health.

'You Cannot Dabble in the Topic of Vaccination'

Dr. Humphries left a successful practice making $300,000 a year to be a poorly paid researcher. For her it was worth it, because her integrity wouldn't allow her to turn a blind eye to what she knew to be wrong.

"If you want to make these [vaccine] arguments, we have to have information and we have to have knowledge. We have to understand the history, the medical literature, the biology, the chemistry, the physiology, and the immunology. That is not easy. You cannot dabble in the topic of vaccination. If you do, you're likely going to be toppled by the pro-vaccine lobby because they're doing their homework.

I felt it was more important to do my homework and make these arguments that I wanted to make... I do lectures if people invite me. I have toured through Scandinavia. Our book has been translated into two different languages [Spanish and German]... Right now I'm really immersed in the topic of infant immunity because there is so much information that has just come out in the past few years that, in my opinion, turns the vaccine paradigm for infants completely on its head.

Instead of arguing about any particular vaccine, if you understand the way the infant immune system is designed, you can automatically see that if you were going to toss any kind of a vaccine in there, you might give them some short-term immunity, but you're also going to change their immune systems so that it can't function the way it was designed to function... The arguments against vaccines when you really understand the infant immune system I think are irrefutable."

Science of Epigenetics Changes Everything Yet Again...

Epigenetics is another field where biology is being turned on its head and all the old paradigms are being tossed out. Epigenetic science now tells us that our genes are NOT our destiny, and the problem is that once you start to epigenetically tinker with the infant immune system, you are basically depositing what Dr. Humphries refers to as "little cluster bombs" that will eventually "explode into a big problem." As an example, she cites a study by Nikolaj Orntoft, in which African girls were injected with a tetanus vaccine to see which genes might be upregulated or downregulated. What they found is that there's really no way to predict which genes will be affected.

So not only will each individual have a unique response to any given vaccine, based on their current health status, we're also epigenetically predisposed to respond differently in terms of the side effects we might develop. This means that having a vaccine compensation table for reimbursement for vaccine damage is nonsensical as we're bound to have different genes upregulated after vaccines are given.

"We can have cancer genes upregulated, or autoimmune diseases upregulated. This has been shown in modern literature that used these highly sophisticated gene techniques to actually watch what happens after the vaccine is injected. I think this is really powerful information to show that, when vaccines started, they knew nothing about the immune system. Then scientists knew something about the immune system, but now we know about the genetics of the immune system and the epigenetics of the immune system, and that's got to be taken into account..."

Most Doctors Are Completely Uninformed, Which Means You Cannot Make an Informed Choice

Dr. Humphries stresses the importance of "thinking long and hard" about how much information you've been given before your child is given a vaccine.

"[Vaccines] can have tumorigenic kidney cells of a cocker spaniel in it. It can have human fetal cells with retroviruses. [It can have] aluminum, which is one of the most horrible things to inject into any sort of life form, especially into a muscle... Parents really need to know that their doctors are not informed and therefore they cannot give informed consent, and that they really need to think about it because you cannot unvaccinate.

The fear of, "Oh, what if my child gets a disease" - that's where knowing the history is really important because what we're talking about is under which conditions people become susceptible . That's really more important than transmission. Because, yes, measles transmits very rapidly through the population, but it actually has a lot of benefits to the immune system - so much so that they're using it to treat cancer today."

We really need to understand each disease - what the risk of it is, how it's transmitted, what the vaccine effectiveness is, and what the risks are. Dr. Humphries also notes that the human body is designed in such a perfect way that there is a system in place to handle just about anything that happens to it, provided we've treated our body properly.

"Babies who come into this world in a normal and natural way, who are breastfed for an appropriate amount of time, that's the best protection you could ever give to your baby's immune system or brain. Consider that when the fear starts to creep in. If you're breastfeeding your baby, you're already giving the most powerful thing on the planet that can be given to that baby," she says.

More Information

People have been scared into believing vaccines are the answer to prevent disease, but when you look at the historical evidence, the arguments used simply fall apart. There's just no question that improving your innate immune system - through reducing sugar and processed foods in your diet, improving your gut flora, leading a healthy lifestyle, and having adequate vitamin D levels, ideally through sensible sun exposure, - will provide a far more effective immune response and virtually eliminate any risk of developing a life threatening infection.

The key is to have the courage to trust in this truth - that your body is designed to maintain health. Its natural course and direction is to be healthy not sick. If you have a healthy lifestyle, exposure to nearly all of these infectious agents will ultimately make you healthy and stronger. This is similar to exercise, which actually tears your body down to make it stronger. Nature actually knows what it's doing, whereas putting chemicals into your body based on human theories (or rumors!) that are oftentimes completely wrong, is unlikely to produce better results. As noted by Dr. Humphries:

"We have a highly profitable, lucrative religion that involves the government, industry, and academia. That religion is vaccination. People believe in vaccines. They'll tell you, they believe in vaccines. But you ask them what they know about vaccines and it will be almost nothing. In fact the people who argue the loudest usually know the least when it comes to trying to convince you to take the vaccine. That's been my experience.

Medical schools are bereft of information on the history of vaccination, on the contents of them, and the potential problems. We have the go-to doctors, like Dr. Paul Offit, teaching doctors how to talk to vaccine-refusing parents. We have doctors like Dr. Robert Jacobson putting out PowerPoint presentations to give to doctors, literally telling them to persuade the parents rather than to inform them...

Doctors are really being systematically brainwashed. Not only that, but if doctors do start to see problems... wake up to it; do their own research, and buck the system, they risk being treated the way I was. I was well respected through the entire state of Maine. People were referring their patients to me. My colleagues would come to me with their medical problems... But once I started to argue against the practice of vaccination, I was automatically tossed into the category of a quack..." To learn more, I couldn't more highly recommend Dr. Humphries excellent book, Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History , available in paper back and Kindle on Amazon.

You can also find more information on the book's website, dissolvingillusions.com. I have read it cover to cover and plan on doing so again as there are loads of powerful information that helps combat the blindly foolish acceptance of nearly all media and professionals on the value of vaccinations. Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it's critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community. THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.

National vaccine policy recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact. It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make voluntary vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations, and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.

Signing up for NVIC's free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your Smart Phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choice rights and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips.

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn't be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings. Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More I encourage you to visit the website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), at www.NVIC.org:

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims : View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.

  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions : Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.

  • Vaccine Freedom Wall : View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, and school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.

Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.

However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

[embedded content]


1 Weston A Price November 17, 2014

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Naked Titan blasted by solar wind viewed for first time

© Illustration by A.Fazekas, SkySafari

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, looks more like Venus and Mars than astronomers ever suspected - at least when it comes to suffering a severe strike from the solar wind.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft made a flyby of Titan in December 2013 that offered a unique opportunity for scientists, in newly reported observations. For the first time, scientists caught a close glimpse of the large moon when it was outside Saturn's protective magnetic field.

The solar wind, basically fast-flowing charged particles, continually blasts out from the sun and past the entire solar system.

Earth's magnetic field shields the atmosphere from being stripped away by the solar wind. By studying the solar wind's impacts on worlds lacking a global magnetic field, like Venus, Mars, and now Titan, scientists learn about their atmospheres and how their chemistry changes under solar assault.

© Illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech

This diagram depicts conditions observed by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during a flyby in December 2013, when Saturn’s magnetosphere was highly compressed, exposing Titan to the full force of the solar wind.

Titan spends about 95 percent of its time around Saturn, within the planet's strong, protective magnetosphere. So Cassini mission planners were excited to observe the moon exposed and naked in the solar wind during the 2013 flyby. The visit allowed them to see the shock wave produced around Titan as the fast-flowing solar particles slammed directly into the moon's unprotected atmosphere.

"We observed that Titan interacts with the solar wind very much like Mars, if you moved it to the distance of Saturn," said Cesar Bertucci of the Institute of Astronomy and Space Physics in Buenos Aires, who led the research with colleagues from the Cassini mission.

Despite the complicated chemistry of thick methane-rich skies, Titan's atmosphere seems to have responded to the solar wind in essentially the same way as the red planet, which has a much thinner atmosphere than Earth or Saturn's big moon.

"We thought Titan in this state would look different," Bertucci said. "We certainly were surprised."

Now researchers believe these new findings suggest that regardless of where unmagnetized planets lie in the solar system, they all interact with the solar wind in the same way.

© Illustration by A. Fazekas, SkySafari

This skychart shows Saturn in the southern sky at dawn on Saturday, January 31, 2015. The insert is a simulated telescope view of the ringed-planet and its moons, including its brightest, Titan.

See for Yourself

Backyard sky-watchers can glimpse both Saturn and Titan through even the smallest telescope. Look for the stately lord of the rings in the southern sky just before dawn.

Saturn is the yellow-tinged bright object standing above the orange-hued star Antares, which is the lead member of the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion. At the tip of one of the claws of the mythical arachnid is Saturn.

While the ringed planet itself is easily viewed with unaided eyes, to resolve its majestic rings and its retinue of moons, a small telescope is needed.

Shining at ninth magnitude, Titan is the second largest moon in the entire solar system and the only one to possess a thick atmosphere. Not surprisingly, it is the brightest and easiest of the 62 moons, and counting, of Saturn to spot.

Happy hunting!

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Kiev's end may come soon after the "Debaltsevo collapse"

ukraine nato

© Unknown

Ukrainian and NATO flags

Fighting in Debaltsevo outskirts have been continuing for several days. Their intensity approaches the earlier fight for the Donetsk Airport. Considering the length of the frontline, the Battle for Debaltsevo is increasingly reminiscent of the Battle of Ilovaysk.

The wedge that was pushed into Novorossia defenses during the summer had strategic sense for the Ukrainian military. In the event the offensive was continued, one could have launched a disintegrating blow that would have cut off the entire Donetsk-Makeyevka-Gorlovka urban agglomeration in one fell swoop. But during the winter, when it became obvious the Ukrainian military is in no condition to attack, from the military point of view the salient should have been abandoned.

But that's the military point of view. As we know, wars are started and ended by politicians, the soldiers just do the dying. The Ukrainian politicians, for their part, could not care less about Ukrainian soldiers. The media, in its attempt to consolidate Poroshenko's oligarchic regime, inflated many myths, about the "cyborgs", the "unbreakable three lines of defense," etc., thus luring the Ukrainian army into the Debaltsevo noose out of which there is no way out.

One could not have thought of a better configuration of the frontline and the confluence of circumstances (specifically the junta's attachment to its positions) in order to destroy the Debaltsevo grouping. Novorossia, of course, could not pass it up...

But the Ukrainian soldiers could not retreat. They were forbidden by their commanders, who were told by politicians that they HAVE TO hold on to Debaltsevo, just as they were told half a year ago that they HAVE TO hold Ilovaysk. No matter what. Even if it is an ideal target for modern artillery.

Just to understand the hopelessness of the Ukrainian position, one must keep in mind that at Debaltsevo 90% of casualties are caused by artillery fire. In the last few days Novorossia forces gradually used its artillery to force Ukrainian units off the commanding heights, took the only road from Artemovsk under fire. Junta soldiers report that Novorossia artillery superiority here is simply overwhelming. Even without a full encirclement, Novorossia can shoot Ukrainian fortified points with impunity.

Thus began the slaughter.

It's been going for over a week. Most of Ukrainian heavy equipment (Debaltsevo alone absorbs a trainload of artillery ammunition per day) was destroyed in the first few days (artillery, armored vehicles, many tanks).

In order to save face, the Kiev politicians have thrown new batches of cannon fodder into the slaughterhouse. In the last few days, only the Kharkov hospital has been receiving nearly 90 wounded from Debaltsevo. And that's not the only hospital receiving them. So do the hospitals in Artemovs, Kramatorsk, Starobelsk, Slavyansk, Izyum. The official reporting has not changed (only 23 wounded along the entire front, officially). While according to a BBC broadcast, Artemovsk alone received 40 wounded soldiers on a single day.

The recent bombardments of fortified checkpoints near the village of Luganskiy and Uglegorsk resulted in their complete destruction. Uglegorsk was liberated by Novorossia forces, and the junta counterattack ground to a halt as the approaching column was pinned to the ground by Grad MRL fire, which fell unexpectedly and accurately, as always.

The events of January 29-30 show that the agony of the Debaltsevo garrison had begun. It is on that day that Kiev junta's reserves reached the point of exhaustion and the garrison defense began to break down. Every day of fighting means new hundreds of wounded and tens of killed soldiers. Given the absence of heavy long-ranged self-propelled Ukrainian artillery near Debaltsevo, the upcoming battles will mean the reduction of the remnants of the garrison by artillery fire and the mopping up of liberated areas. Sooner or later one of the walls of the salient will buckle, with the ensuing panic causing the annihilation and capture of the garrison's remnants.

But it's not as simple as that.

For Ukraine's political elite, such a turn of events means major shifts within the governing elite. Poroshenko is risking not only his power but also his head. Hundreds of armed militants have (spontaneously?) assembled in Kiev, which means that the recent pillar of the regime in the form of several hundred bayonets arrived in Kiev to hear the president report on the progress of his work. Moreover, it's obvious from their faces they are not concerned about any reports. Dmitriy Yarosh is giving interviews about forming a parallel General Staff, the Right Sector is openly arming its supporters in Kiev, creating the so-called 13th Reserve Battalion. Kiev is hastily preparing for the anniversary of the coup.

Meanwhile in the rear areas...

Meanwhile the economy is sinking to the bottom. Industrial production fell by 20%, December to December. Tens of factories are closing. Even flagships (for example Yuzhmash) are halting production. The crisis of budget non-payment transformed itself into a crisis of wage non-payment. The reason is perfectly banal. The country has no money.

The most fashionable word on the financial markets is DEFAULT. Everything is so bad that Kiev already gave up on talks with the IMF and hired an intermediary to undertake the restructurization of Ukraine's debt. Ukraine's Finance Minister Miss Yaresko yesterday proposed Russia (an aggressor, according to Kiev's new classification) to also participate in the restructurization. It's surprising she did not propose to buy ammunition from Russia. But I guess that's the Minister of Defense's job.

But it will soon come to that, because the ammunition situation in Ukraine is pretty bad. The endless Soviet weapons stores seem to be coming to an end. Ukrainian forces are being supplied with ammunition produced in the 1960s. That's all that's left. Ukraine has no ammunition factories. In a few months the Ukrainian military will experience several "ammunition hunger", to go along with the "vehicle, tank, APC hunger." Military repair facilities have combed out of the Soviet-era stores everything that could have been fixed up and sent it to the front. There will be NO new replacements. From now on there will be fewer, fewer, and fewer armored vehicles, and more, more, more Bogdan buses build in Poroshenko-owned factories.

The "Debaltsevo collapse" may be the straw the breaks the back of the Ukrainian armed forces. The consequences will likely include the overthrow of the entire Kiev regime. Instead of the plutocrats-oligarchs, the wave of popular displeasure may bring into power in Kiev a purely totalitarian regime of Ukrainian Nazis.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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Man arrested after telling black waitress he wants to take her 'Where he hung her Grandpa' (VIDEO)

tommy gaa

Racism may be over according to the GOP and the Supreme Court, but outside those particular delusional conservative bubbles the rest of America realizes that outright race-based bigotry is still a... thing.

As is often the case, we need look no further than the state of Missouri to see that racism is alive and well. Tommy Dean Gaa, 65, of Maryville, was charged with felony assault motivated by discrimination after he accosted an African-American waitress whose only crime was serving him breakfast.

On Sunday, January 25, Gaa was ordering his meal at a HyVee when the waitress asked him if he wanted white or wheat toast. Gaa responded, "I'm prejudiced. I'll take white."

Just moments later, out of the blue, he reportedly roughly grabbed the waitress's arm, causing bruising. Gaa allegedly asked the African-American woman if she "liked to party."

When she said "no," according to a probable cause statement, he told the waitress:

I have a place I would like to take you where I hung your grandpa.

At this point, the employee retreated to the kitchen area.

Maryville Public Safety Officer Adam James says Gaa initially denied the allegations, but eventually admitted to at least some of that which he was accused. James' report indicates that Gaa "volunteered" a comment about "good and bad" people of different races existing.

In protesting his innocence, Gaa reportedly uttered a few racial slurs. "He volunteered his opinion that, 'There are good white people, there's bad white people, there's good (n-word) and there's bad (n-word),'" according to the Maryville Police Department.

Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice told Fox 2 that Gaa's remarks were bad enough, but Gaa crossed the line when he placed his hands on the waitress.

"The restaurant has been very supportive," the prosecutor said. "I can't be more proud of the victim. She is a sweet girl and she works hard, has a couple of jobs and didn't deserve this. She's just doing her job and this guy comes up and he was being a jerk. But that crossed the line when he grabs her."

"This girl was just doing her job," Rice said. "She didn't deserve this. He crossed the line. My heart goes out to the victim."

"It offended me," Rice said. "Here we treat with respect and dignity so when someone crosses the line they are going to be prosecuted... We will not stand for anybody who mistreats another person, especially because of the color of their skin or what they think is the color of their skin."

Gaa was taken into custody, and released on $4,900 bond.

Watch a report on the incident, below, via News 5:

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ACLU files federal lawsuit against Georgia for imprisioning black teenager who was too poor to pay fines

© Reuters / Stephen Hird

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a federal lawsuit against officials in DeKalb County, Georgia after a judge imprisoned a black teenager who was too poor to pay $838 in fines. It all started with a traffic ticket near his home.

ACLU attorneys are now asking for an end to a process which, according to the group, allows indignant and impoverished Americans to be wrongly imprisoned for not being able to afford fees.

"Being poor is not a crime. Yet across the county, the freedom of too many people unfairly rests on their ability to pay traffic fines and fees they cannot afford," Nusrat Choudhury, an attorney with the group's Racial Justice Program, said in a statement this week. "We seek to dismantle this two-tiered system of justice that punishes the poorest among us, disproportionately people of color, more harshly than those with means."

Kevin Thompson, the teen in question, spent one night in jail last July after a DeKalb County police officer caught him driving with a suspended license. According to Thompson's attorneys, their client was never informed that his driving privileges had been revoked.

When Thompson attended court three months later and pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license, a judge sentenced him to probation and ordered that he pay a fine of $810 within 30 days. Because Thompson worked as a tow-truck driver, however, he encountered an issue with trying to cover the cost while being unable to operate an automobile.

"Despite being unemployed and lacking any source of steady income, Mr. Thompson diligently tried to acquire money to make payments toward his fines and fees, including by borrowing money from relatives," the ACLU alleges.

According to the complaint (PDF) filed on Thursday in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, Thompson made weekly trips to the office of Judicial Correction Services, Incorporated - a for-profit company that secures payments for DeKalb County - and paid $85 in November 2014. At the end of the 30-day span, however, Thompson was ordered to again appear in court and was at that time charged with violating the terms of his probation: he had been unable to pay $28 in fees to JCS, $792 in fines and fees to the Recorders Court, and $18 to the Georgia Crime Victim Emergency Fund, according to the complaint.

At the subsequent probation revocation hearing, Thompson waived his right to having a public defender because he could not afford the $150 cost. Unable to plead his case, Judge Angela Brown sentenced the defendant to nine days in jail.

"Mr. Thompson suffered humiliation, anxiety, stress, emotional distress and other irreparable injury from being handcuffed and taken to jail," the ACLU attorneys allege in the complaint.

"Because of his experience being jailed due to his inability to pay fines and fees, Mr. Thompson is now scared of the police. For days after his release from the DeKalb County Jail, Mr. Thompson was afraid that he could be jailed again and constantly carried a document confirming his release so that he would not be improperly arrested and jailed."

The civil liberties group is now asking for a jury trial in hopes of granting their client relief and raising awareness to a system it alleges takes advantage of the poor.

"The US Supreme Court ruled more than 30 years ago that jailing people because they cannot afford to pay court fines is contrary to the American values of fairness and equality embedded in the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The court made clear that judges cannot jail someone for failure to pay without first considering their ability to pay, efforts to acquire money and alternatives to incarceration," the ACLU said in a statement.

"What happened to me, and others like me who try their best to pay fines and fees but fall short, is unfair and wrong," added Thompson. "I hope this lawsuit will help prevent other people from being jailed just because they are poor."

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