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

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Surprising 'inner core' of Earth's inner core

inner inner core anisotropy

© Lachina Publishing Services

The earth’s inner core has an inner core of its own, with crystals aligned in a different direction.

Thanks to a novel application of earthquake-reading technology, a research team at the University of Illinois and colleagues at Nanjing University in China have found that the Earth's inner core has an inner core of its own, which has surprising properties that could reveal information about our planet.

Led by Xiaodong Song, a professor of geology at the U. of I., and visiting postdoctoral researcher Tao Wang, the team published its work in the journal Nature Geoscience on Feb. 9.

"Even though the inner core is small - smaller than the moon - it has some really interesting features," said Song. "It may tell us about how our planet formed, its history, and other dynamic processes of the Earth. It shapes our understanding of what's going on deep inside the Earth."

Researchers use seismic waves from earthquakes to scan below the planet's surface, much like doctors use ultrasound to see inside patients. The team used a technology that gathers data not from the initial shock of an earthquake, but from the waves that resonate in the earthquake's aftermath. The earthquake is like a hammer striking a bell; much like a listener hears the clear tone that resonates after the bell strike, seismic sensors collect a coherent signal in the earthquake's coda.

"It turns out the coherent signal enhanced by the technology is clearer than the ring itself," said Song. "The basic idea of the method has been around for a while, and people have used it for other kinds of studies near the surface. But we are looking all the way through the center of the earth."

Looking through the core revealed a surprise at the center of the planet - though not of the type envisioned by novelist Jules Verne.

The inner core, once thought to be a solid ball of iron, has some complex structural properties. The team found a distinct inner-inner core, about half the diameter of the whole inner core. The iron crystals in the outer layer of the inner core are aligned directionally, north-south. However, in the inner-inner core, the iron crystals point roughly east-west.

Not only are the iron crystals in the inner-inner core aligned differently, they behave differently from their counterparts in the outer-inner core. This means that the inner-inner core could be made of a different type of crystal, or a different phase.

"The fact that we have two regions that are distinctly different may tell us something about how the inner core has been evolving," Song said. "For example, over the history of the earth, the inner core might have had a very dramatic change in its deformation regime. It might hold the key to how the planet has evolved. We are right in the center - literally, the center of the Earth."

The U.S. National Science Foundation and the National Science Foundation of China supported this work.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Ukraine: Use Of U.S. Ambassador's "False Flag" Offer Aborted

In an interview this morning a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine made a completely speculative statement on Russian air attack plans against Ukrainian forces reported the Ukrainian propaganda outlet Censor.net:

If Putin uses aviation in Donbas, US response will be swift - former Ambassador to Ukraine Herbst"

"Certainly, everyone is concerned that the Kremlin is making this war in Ukraine increasingly open. They used to hide all their steps, all their aggression. Now it's increasingly clear what Moscow is doing. So, conceivably, Moscow can decide to use its Air Force," he stated, adding that if it does that even the most skeptical Europeans who doubted the hand of the Kremlin in the conflict will see that Russia is conducting war.

"Our report (on the situation in Ukraine to President Obama - ed.) did not specifically recommend anti-aircraft weapons … but we talked about it," Herbst said. He added that the reason for that is a possible major escalation of the conflict. The former ambassador stated that if Putin were to use his Air Force, the United States' reaction would be swift.

That statement by the former ambassador was a huge invitation for a "false flag" event. As the Ukraine and Russia fly similar types of air planes a "false flag" attack by Ukrainian planes on Ukrainian forces could easily be "sold" as a Russian attack. The ambassador seemingly offers that as a way to get the U.S. militarily involved.

The propaganda managers of the neo-Nazi Ukrainian Azov battalion immediately picked up the offer.

A group of Azov battalion members with their most revered flags.

On its Facebook page Azov proclaimed (auto translated original):

The battalion of special purpose "Azov" - new page

2 hours ago

Russia used aircraft during Debaltseve 2 Su-25 attacked the positions of the 40th Battalion.

Russian aircraft attacked the Ukrainian viyskovosluzhbo SRO near Novohryhorivka.

2 Su-25 Russian Air Force 20 minutes ago inflicted airstrike on positions 40th Battalion in the area under Novohryhorivka Debaltseve.

#Polk_Azov #Debaltseve #Aviation

Other Ukrainian propaganda outlets and Twitter propaganda accounts immediately jumped on that "report" by the Azov battalion.


Russian SU-25 airstrikes in Ukraine near #Debaltseve http://bit.ly/1CSPHDc... @LIGAnet |EMPR Breaking News

Davin Ackles

More and more reports in Ukraine that Rus. forces attackd Ukr. position at #Debaltseve w/ jets http://bit.ly/1CSPGz2... http://bit.ly/1CSPHDc...

But they were unlucky. The Ukrainian high command had not yet been informed of, or was not yet willing to jump onto, the promising "false flag" wagon prepared by Ambassador Herbst. The "Anti Terror Operation" headquarter denied (auto translated original) Russian air attacks:

At the headquarters of anti-terrorist operation (ATO) did not confirm the information about the air strikes, which the positions of the Ukrainian military allegedly paid a Russian aircraft. On this edition of the commentary "Gordon" said Speaker ATO Andrei Lysenko.

"Information is not supported by air strikes. Moreover, in the area non-flying weather. All this is fake," - said Lysenko.

Today edition "Tsenzor.NET" citing its sources reported that Russian aircraft attacked the Ukrainian troops in the village Novogrigorevka, which is located near the town of Debaltsevo Donetsk region.

Nice try everyone ...

While Andrei Lysenko did not support the SU-25 attack reports he came up with his own version of fake events by claiming yet another Russian invasion into Ukraine:

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko, meanwhile, said Monday that about 1,500 Russian troops had crossed the border into Ukraine via rebel-controlled border posts over the weekend. He did not provide any proof.

It is funny how even the Associated Press now emphasizes the lack of proof when Ukrainian officials claim that another big Russian army invasion just happened. If all such claims had been true the Russian army would by now have some 100,000 men stationed in Ukraine.

The story shows that any promise made by the "west" - "If Russia does this, we will do that" - can and probably will be abused for false flag incidents by forces who want "that" to be done.

Litvinenko police interviews undermine legal case: He drank poison 'by chance'


© Getty

Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko gave interviews to police on his deathbed that undermine the official story of how he was killed.

While in intensive care, Litvinenko gave an account to two detectives from Scotland Yard of how, by chance, he came to drink a few sips of green tea, which police believe was laced with radioactive polonium.

Police say that Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, working for Russian intelligence, met Litvinenko just over eight years ago at a hotel bar in London's Mayfair to poison him with polonium-210, slipped into the tea.

But Litvinenko described in his own words how the final meeting with his alleged murderers was a hit-and-miss, even casual, encounter rather than a carefully crafted assassination.

Litvinenko also told officers in his deathbed interviews that Lugovoi introduced him to his eight-year-old son - they even shook hands - after he had drunk the tea.

His description of how Lugovoi encouraged his son to greet Litvinenko raises questions about the claim that the former had, just moments earlier, poisoned the latter with a highly radioactive substance.

Litvinenko did, though, tell officers that Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, was behind his poisoning.

The disclosures are set to be raised at the inquiry into Litvinenko's death tomorrow when one of the two officers, Detective Inspector Brent Hyatt of the specialist-crime directorate of the Metropolitan Police Service, is due to give evidence.

Litvinenko told the two detectives how, after some last-minute arrangements, Lugovoi met him in the lobby of the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

According to police transcripts of the interviews, the pair went into the bar on the ground floor and sat at a corner table.

Lugovoi said that they had 10-15 minutes to talk about a meeting the next day before he would leave for a football match at Arsenal with his son.

Some small glasses, several mugs and a tea pot were on the table. A waiter approached, and Lugovoi asked Litvinenko whether he wanted anything.

Litvinenko said, no.

Litvinenko told police: "He said: 'Okay, well, we're going to leave now anyway, so there is still some tea left here. If you want to, you can have some.' And then the waiter went away, or, I think, Andrei asked for a clean cup, and he brought it.

"He left, and I poured some tea out of the tea pot, although there was only a little left in the bottom and it made just half a cup."

Litvinenko told officers that the green tea had no sugar and was already cold, so he did not like it.

"Maybe in total I swallowed three-to-four times. I haven't even finished that cup," he added.

Kovtun joined them to discuss the next day's meeting. No more tea was drunk.

The other officer, Detective Sergeant Chris Hoar, asked Litvinenko whether Lugovoi had insisted that he drunk the tea.

Litvinenko replied: "He said it like that, you know, 'If you want something, order something for yourself, but we're going to be leaving soon. If you want some tea then there is some left here, you can have some of this.'"

He added: "I could have ordered a drink myself but he kind of presented in such a way that it's not really needed to order. I don't like when people pay for me, but in such an expensive hotel, forgive me, I don't have enough money to pay that.'

Lugovoi left the meeting, then returned with his son.

Litvinenko, whose nickname was Sasha, recalled: "He said: 'This is uncle Sasha, shake his hand.' We shook hands, and he left."

Marina, Litvinenko's widow, is due to give evidence today at the inquiry. She says that at the time of his death her husband was carrying out work for the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6.

Litvinenko, a KGB officer who turned Kremlin critic, later claimed asylum in the UK.

Lugovoi and Kovtun deny any responsibility for Litvinenko's death.

Russia also denies any role, and has refused to extradite the pair.

Exaro revealed, in the preliminary stages of the inquiry, how Marina joined with Lugovoi, the police's prime suspect and former KGB bodyguard, to battle for disclosure of sensitive files held by British intelligence agencies.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Russia will help Egypt build 'a whole new nuclear power industry'

© RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev

February 10, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi make a joint statement following the Russian-Egyptian talks in Cairo.

Russia will contribute to building "a whole new nuclear power industry" in Egypt, President Vladimir Putin has announced as the two countries have signed a number of agreements after a meeting in Cairo.

The leaders of Russia and Egypt have signed "a memorandum of understanding to build the first nuclear plant in [the northern city of] El-Dabaa," Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al Sisi has told reporters at a news conference at Cairo's Al Qubba presidential palace.

Russia would contribute not only to the construction of a nuclear power plant, but also staff and scientific research, President Putin said.

"We discussed today the possibility of cooperation in nuclear power engineering," Putin said. "If final decisions are made, they will relate not only to the construction of a nuclear power plant but also to the creation of a whole new nuclear power industry in Egypt."

If successful, the project could cover the Egypt's necessity for electric energy, Sisi said.

"Russia has a significant experience that it could share with Cairo, and for that Egypt would be very thankful," he said. "Also, [a nuclear plant] will cover the Egypt's necessity for electricity."

Under the new agreement, Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom will build two reactors based on "Russian technology," Rosatom chief Sergey Kirienko said.

Moscow and Cairo have agreed a contract for a total of four units of 1200 MW each.

The new generation plant, Kirienko said, will comply with "post-Fukushima" safety standards.

"We understand the task given by the Egyptian president: to act as quickly as possible. We are ready," he said.

The first negotiations on the project's implementation are scheduled as early as next Monday, when "a large group of technical experts" will arrive in Moscow.

"We will negotiate technical and commercial issues," Kirienko said.

Besides nuclear cooperation, the Egyptian leader and Russia have discussed a broad range of international issues, including joint economic and military-technical collaboration.

The two countries have agreed on establishing a free trade zone with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and a Russia industrial zone in the Suez Canal area.

Also, Russia and Egypt will make efforts to promote a number of investment projects in various sectors, including the transportation, manufacturing and chemical industries. According to Putin, there are already 400 Russian companies operating in Egypt and the two sides have agreed to expand opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses in Egypt.

Both presidents noted the importance of the tourist industry and expressed their willingness to develop cooperation in this sphere, as a record number of Russian tourists visited Egypt last year.

The two heads of state also discussed possibilities for the Middle East peace process.

"We have agreed to step up our efforts in combating terrorism," Putin said.

"We have agreed on the need to maximize efforts to restore the negotiation process between Israelis and Palestinians on a two-state basis, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine," Egyptian President Sisi said, adding that the two sides expressed the need to preserve the territorial integrity of Libya and Iraq, as well as the urgency for various political forces to reach a consensus. He also noted that the fight against terrorism had to be conducted in all directions, including in the ideological and socio-economic sphere.

"I hope this visit will further boost development in the ties between our two countries," the Russian president concluded.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Police body cameras rolling in D.C. Is the Hill next?

police body cam

© www.bloomberg.com

One model of the police body cam.

For a select group of Washington police officers, the cameras are always rolling, capturing their every interaction with the public on film. Soon, the same could go for officers in the two Maryland counties neighboring the District. On the Hill, some key officials are mulling whether the Capitol Police should be next.

The logistics of, and rules for, pinning cameras to the shirts of the roughly 1,800 sworn officers who protect Capitol Hill - a heavily secured site with its own privacy concerns and 535 opinionated lawmakers - would be immensely complicated. So far, there's no indication that the Capitol Police, who declined to comment for this article, will request money for such devices.

But Jim Konczos, the head of the union that represents the officers, is interested in pursuing the idea. "With technology changing and just the events throughout the United States, either pro-police or anti-police, cameras actually serve a great function," said Konczos, the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee chairman. "I know a lot of these departments are still trying to work out the privacy aspects, but that's not one individual department, that's going to be the whole program nationwide, but I still think it's a valuable tool."

[embedded content]

Last year, police-worn body cameras were thrust into the national spotlight, sparked by the death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. President Obama weighed in, asking Congress to dedicate $75 million that, if allocated, could help states and localities purchase roughly 50,000 of these devices.

"I don't believe there's a chief in the country who's not thinking about this, including the chief of the Capitol Police," said Terrance Gainer, who has done stints as Capitol Police chief and Senate sergeant at arms.

Outside the Capitol Hill bubble, it has been a prominent topic of discussion. In October, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department launched an about six month pilot program where 165 police officers began mounting the cameras to their shirt, collar, or an eyeglass frame. At the end of the shifts, it can take up to several hours for officers to download the audio and video footage to a server, according to Delroy Burton, the D.C. police union chairman. But that has really been the only wrinkle in the program that Burton called a "plus for the police officer and plus for the citizen."

But the Metropolitan Police Department's duties differ from those of the Capitol Police. "The Capitol Police doesn't interact with the public the same way we do," Burton said. Their day-to-day duties don't involve responding to households for domestic disputes, alleged assaults, and the wide range of 911 calls emergency dispatchers receive.

The emergence of body cameras has already had an impact on policing, and it's one that's sure to increase, according to a 2014 report titled by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit police research and policy organization. It's crucial, the report suggests, for police agencies to consider what adopting these devices means for police-community relationships, privacy, trust, and more.

This isn't an easy decision for any police force - and the Capitol Police would be no exception. The cameras have the potential to capture moments among the country's top lawmakers and videotape areas of the Capitol that members of the public and even the press are not allowed to capture on film.

That makes the choice to use - or not to use - body cameras a unique decision for the department. And Gainer said he has complete trust in Chief Kim Dine to make decisions that are right for the department. The same goes for the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, which has oversight responsibility for the Capitol Police.

"I would be open to a recommendation from the chief if they thought that was something that was worthwhile," Rep. Candice Miller, a Michigan Republican, said, "but I'd leave it up to them to make a recommendation."

The House Appropriations Committee, which would have to provide money for the department to acquire cameras or at least study the issue, "does not speculate or comment on funding or policy items that may or may not be included in future bills," committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing wrote in an email. Other lawmakers said using the devices in the Capitol would raise questions that would need clear answers before any program could begin.

"I think body cameras can be an effective intelligence mechanism," Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, said. He added, though, that "you always have to balance privacy with security, and that would be true anytime you're approving cameras for police or law enforcement or Capitol Police."

The devices are still new for many departments across the nation, so the kinks are still being massaged. In July 2013, the Police Executive Research Forum surveyed 500 law enforcement agencies nationwide. More than 75 percent of the 254 respondents did not use body cameras at the time, though more have surely adopted the technology since then.

Those departments have found a variety of perceived benefits, such as reducing complaints, resolving officer-involved incidents and correcting internal agency problems. But the list of considerations is also fairly lengthy: when to videotape, how to store and retain data, ways to protect intelligence-gathering efforts, and how to front the program's cost, according to the 2014 PERF report.

"My general inclination is that where we can provide equipment that improves officer safety and improves the transparency of law enforcement's work in our communities, we should do so," Sen. Christopher Coons, a Delaware Democrat, said, "but I'm not yet convinced that universal use of body cameras has been demonstrated to accomplish both goals."

In Montgomery County, Maryland, there's a plan: Train recruits to use the devices during the police academy, then add them to the rest of the department. And Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who represents much of the county, agrees with the use of cameras - at a smaller scale, at least. "I believe with respect to local law enforcement, this is moving in this direction," he said. "As to whether it should be expanded beyond local law enforcement, I'd have to give that more thought."

Comment: In implementing the cam program, will the police be more accountable in their official interactions with the public? Will they offer-up without bias or tend to release particular videos to their benefit? Citizens say that withholding the recordings from the public undermines the transparency and officer accountability.

One example: Los Angeles Police Department doesn't intend to release the recordings unless required by a criminal or civil court proceeding, considers them as evidence and exempt from public release under CA public records law. LAPD noted the Police Commission and Inspector General, along with the district and city attorneys' offices would have the authority to review the recordings (in their spare time? all of them? or only ones with negligible PD error?). They reference a privacy consideration involving police/criminal/victim interaction being made public. This is LA's take on protocol.

With multiple departments in a cam trial period, and rules as you go, it remains to be seen as to whom or what is the final "keeper" of the cache and what the stipulations will be for viewing and release. And in the meantime? ("I know a lot of these departments are still trying to work out the privacy aspects..." " the kinks are still being massaged...")

According to the Police Executive Research Forum recommendations (not official rules), the individual officer is to be responsible for downloading the camera at the end of his/her shift. (That sounds foolproof. This harkens back to Darren Wilson who illegally logged in his own gun after shooting Michael Brown.) And, officers should be permitted to review video footage of an incident in which they were involved, prior to making a statement about the incident. (Unfair advantage?)

When implementing body-worn cameras, law enforcement agencies must balance privacy considerations with the need for police transparency regarding the accurate documentation of events and in the collection of evidence. This means unified decisions as to execution across the nation as to when officers are required to activate cameras, how long recorded data is retained, who has access to the footage, who owns the recorded data, and how to handle internal and external requests for disclosure. So far there seems to be "discretionary interpretation" and "variation in protocol" amongst the participants in all of the above.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Half a century too late! The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol in your diet


© Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post

Time to put eggs back on the menu!!

The group's finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a "nutrient of concern" stands in contrast to the committee's findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of "excess dietary cholesterol" a public health concern. The most current finding was discussed at the group's last meeting.

The new view on cholesterol in the diet does not reverse warnings about high levels of "bad" cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.

But the finding, which may offer a measure of relief to breakfast diners who prefer eggs, follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that for a healthy adult cholesterol intake may not significantly impact the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease. The greater danger, according to this line of thought, lies in foods heavy with trans fats and saturated fats.

The panel laid out the cholesterol decision in December, at its last meeting before it writes a report that will serve as the basis for the next version of the "Dietary Guidelines," a federal publication that has broad effects on the American diet. A video of the meeting was later posted online and a person with direct knowledge of the proceedings said the cholesterol finding would make it to the group's final report, which is due within weeks.

After Marian Neuhouser, chair of the relevant subcommittee, announced the decision to the panel at the December meeting, one panelist appeared to bridle.

"So we're not making a [cholesterol] recommendation?" panel member Miriam Nelson, a Tufts University professor, said at the meeting as if trying to absorb the thought. "Okay... Bummer."

Members of the panel, called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, said they would not comment until the publication of their report.

The Dietary Guidelines, which are due later this year from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, help determine the content of school lunches, impacts how food manufacturers advertise their wares, and often serves as the foundation for reams of diet advice. Some foods that are high in cholesterol - such as liver, lobster and shrimp - may find more takers.

Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, called the turnaround on cholesterol a "reasonable move."

"There's been a shift of thinking," he said.

But the change on dietary cholesterol also shows how the complexity of nutrition science and the lack of definitive research can contribute to confusion for Americans who, while seeking guidance on what to eat, often find themselves afloat in conflicting advice.

Cholesterol has been a fixture in dietary warnings in the U.S. at least since 1961, when it appeared in guidelines developed by the American Heart Association. Later adopted by the federal government, such warnings helped shift eating habits - per capita egg consumption dropped about 30 percent - and harmed egg farmers.

Yet even today, after more than a century of scientific inquiry, scientists are divided.

Some nutritionists said lifting the cholesterol warning is long overdue, noting that the United States is out-of-step with other countries, where diet guidelines do not single out cholesterol. Others support maintaining a warning.


The forthcoming version of the nation's Dietary Guidelines - the document is revised every five years - is expected to navigate myriad similar controversies. Among them: salt, red meat, sugar, saturated fats and the latest darling of food-makers, Omega-3s. As with cholesterol, the dietary panel's advice on these issues will be used by the federal bureaucrats to draft the new guidelines.

The publication offers Americans clear instructions -- and sometimes very specific, down-to-the-milligram prescriptions. But such precision can mask sometimes tumultuous debates that surround these issues.

"Almost every single nutrient imaginable has peer reviewed publications associating it with almost any outcome," John P A Ioannidis, a professor medicine and statistics at Stanford and one of the harshest critics of nutritional science, has written. "In this literature of epidemic proportions, how many results are correct?"

Now comes the shift on cholesterol.

Even as contrary evidence has emerged over the years, the campaign against dietary cholesterol has continued. In 1994, food-makers were required to report cholesterol values on the nutrition label. In 2010, with the publication of the most recent "Dietary Guidelines," the experts again focused on the problem of "excess dietary cholesterol."

Yet many have viewed the evidence against cholesterol as weak, at best. As late as 2013, a task force arranged by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association looked at the dietary cholesterol studies. The group found that there was "insufficient evidence" to make a recommendation. Many of the studies that had been done, the task force said, were too broad to single out cholesterol.

"Looking back at the literature, we just couldn't see the kind of science that would support dietary restrictions," said Robert Eckel, the co-chair of the task force and a medical professor at the University of Colorado.

The current U.S. guidelines call for restricting cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams daily. American adult men on average ingest about 340 milligrams of cholesterol a day, according to federal figures. That recommended figure of 300 milligrams, Eckel said, is " just one of those things that gets carried forward and carried forward even though the evidence is minimal."

"We just don't know," he said.

Other major studies have indicated that eating an egg a day does not raise a healthy person's risk of heart disease, though diabetic patients may be at more risk.

"The U.S. is the last country in the world to set a specific limit on dietary cholesterol," said David Klurfeld, a nutrition scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Some of it is scientific inertia."


The persistence of the cholesterol fear may arise, in part, from the plausibility of its danger.

As far back as the 19th Century, scientists recognized that the plaque that clogged arteries consisted, in part, of cholesterol, according to historians.

It would have seemed logical, then, that a diet that is high in cholesterol would wind up clogging arteries.

In 1913, Niokolai Anitschkov and his colleagues at the Czar's Military Medicine Institute in St. Petersburg, decided to try it out in rabbits. The group fed cholesterol to rabbits for about 4 to 8 weeks, and saw that the cholesterol diet harmed them. They figured they were on to something big.

"It often happens in the history of science that researchers...obtain results which require us to view scientific questions in a new light," he and a colleague wrote in their 1913 paper.

But it wasn't until the 1940s, when heart disease was rising in the United States, that the dangers of a cholesterol diet for humans would come more sharply into focus.

Experiments in biology, as well as other studies that followed the diets of large populations, seemed to link high cholesterol diets to heart disease.

Public warnings soon followed. In 1961, the American Heart Association recommended that people reduce cholesterol consumption, and eventually set a limit of 300 milligrams a day. (For comparison, the yolk of a single egg has about 200 milligrams.)

Eventually, the idea that cholesterol is harmful so permeated the country's consciousness that marketers advertised their foods on the basis of "no cholesterol."


What Anitschkov and the other early scientists may not have foreseeen is how complicated the science of cholesterol and heart disease could turn out: that the body creates cholesterol in amounts much larger than their diet provides; that the body regulates how much is in the blood; and that there is both "good" and "bad" cholesterol.

Adding to the complexity, the way people process cholesterol differs. Scientists say some people - about 25 percent - appear to be more vulnerable to cholesterol-rich diets.

"It's turned out to be more complicated than anyone could have known," said Lawrence Rudel, a professor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

As a graduate student at the University of Arkansas in the late 1960s, Rudel came across Anitschkov's paper and decided to focus on understanding one of its curiosities. In passing, the paper noted that while the cholesterol diet harmed rabbits, it had no effect on white rats. In fact, if Anitschkov had focused on any other animal besides the rabbit, the effects wouldn't have been so clear - rabbits are unusually vulnerable to the high-cholesterol diet.

"The reason for the difference - why does one animal fall apart on the cholesterol diet - seemed like something that could be figured out,"Rudel said. "That was 40 or so years ago. We still don't know what explains the difference."

In truth, scientists have made some progress. Rudel and his colleagues have been able to breed squirrel monkeys that are more vulnerable to the cholesterol diet. That and other evidence leads to their belief that for some people - as for the squirrel monkeys - genetics are to blame.

Rudel said that Americans should still be warned about cholesterol.

"Eggs are a nearly perfect food, but cholesterol is a potential bad guy," he said. "Eating too much a day won't harm everyone, but it will harm some people."


Scientists have estimated that, even without counting the toll from obesity, disease related to poor eating habits kills more than half a million people every year. That toll is often used as an argument for more research in nutrition.

Currently, the National Institutes of Health spends about $1.5 billion annually on nutrition research, an amount that represents about 5 percent of its total budget.

The turnaround on cholesterol, some critics say, is just more evidence that nutrition science needs more investment.

Others, however, say the reversal might be seen as a sign of progress.

"These reversals in the field do make us wonder and scratch our heads," said David Allison, a public health professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. "But in science, change is normal and expected."

When our view of the cosmos shifted from Ptolemy to Copernicus to Newton and Einstein, Allison said, "the reaction was not to say 'Oh my gosh, 'Something is wrong with physics!' We say, 'Oh my gosh, isn't this cool?"

Allison said the problem in nutrition stems from the arrogance that sometimes accompanies dietary advice. A little humility could go a long way.

"Where nutrition has some trouble is all the confidence and vitriol and moralism that goes along with our recommendations."

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Passport or Real I.D. will be required for domestic US travel

real ID

© unknown

Precedents exist for requiring citizens to produce special ID for domestic travel; they include Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa and Russia (both Imperial and Soviet).

Over the Christmas season, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) quietly announced that America was walking down that path. By 2016, all domestic air travel will require either a traditional passport or a federally-compliant ID card called "Real ID." State driver's licenses will no longer allow Americans access to domestic flights, as they do now. Real ID will constitute an internal passport. (The drop-date date is commonly reported as January.)

An internal passport refers to an identity document that people must produce to move from place to place within national borders. It allows a government to monitor the movement of its own people and to control that movement by granting or denying ID. In the past, governments have used internal passports to isolate 'undesirables', to regulate economic opportunities, to reap personal data, to intimidate and command obedience, and to segregate categories of people (like Jews) for political purposes. It allows a government to bind anyone it chooses to his or her place of birth.

The upcoming Real ID requirement targets only air travel. But that's how it begins - with airports.

After people became numb to years of ID demands , questioning and searches at airports, those tactics spread to train stations and subways. Then highway check-points were established in areas that lay within 100 miles from an "external boundary," including coasts. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents now have the authority to stop a traveller if they have "reasonable suspicion" of an immigration violation or other crime. Although the agents do not currently have authority to demand ID from American citizens, they often do so.

The ACLU has repeatedly cautioned that "[i]n practice, Border Patrol agents routinely ignore or misunderstand the limits of their legal authority in the course of individual stops, resulting in violations of the constitutional rights of innocent people....These problems are compounded by...the consistent failure of CBP to hold agents accountable for abuse. Thus, although the 100-mile border zone is not literally 'Constitution free', the U.S. government frequently acts like it is."

US border zone

© unknown

Recently, highway checkpoints have occurred well outside the 100-mile "exemption" range, with agents demanding to see ID. They detain and threaten those who refuse the illegal demand:

[embedded content]

The total control of movement always begins with airports. Real ID will be reality in the US by the end of the decade and, perhaps, long before. And it is not likely to be limited to air travel.

Real ID Walks In Through A Back Door

Under the Real ID Act of 2005, state driver's licenses and other ID needed to conform to federal standards. The IDs were to be used for "official purposes" as were defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Examples of explicitly defined "purposes" include for entry into federal buildings and for boarding commercial air flights. But the law also provided the DHS with the authority to require Real ID for other undefined purposes, apparently at its discretion.

To be compliant, the state IDs must incorporate specific personal details about each bearer and link that information to a unique identifying number. The minimum information required consists of a front-facing photo that is compatible with facial recognition technology, a full legal name, signature, birth date, gender, and main address. (RFID chips were not mandated but the Act left the future possibility open.)

The issuing state must verify the information and encode it in a machine readable manner such as bar codes. Then, the data must be linked to every other state's motor vehicle databases. The networking would permit an easy data-merge with federal databases such as the FBI's Next Generation Identification system. The latter is a national facial recognition system, which serves other functions as well.

The Real ID Act experienced a huge backlash from privacy and fourth amendment advocates, as well as from states' rights ones. The states themselves rebelled because the federal government hoisted the cost of implementing the program onto their shoulders. Some states - for example, Idaho, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Maine - flatly refused to comply. DHS estimates that somewhere between 20-30% of Americans live in non-compliant areas. This means the states have to scramble to abide by federal standards by 2016. The Real ID will have a white star inside a gold circle in the upper right corner to indicate that the data has been verified.

The verification process is not a simple one for the state or for the individual. The Marietta Daily Journal (Oct. 23,2012) reported, "[M]any drivers in Georgia were surprised when they attempted to renew their driver's licenses. What was a quick point and click online is no longer. Federal requirements for the Real ID Act, now require drivers to visit a Department of Driver Services office if they don't already have DDS secure license marked by a white star in a field of gold in the upper right corner of the license.

"Many Georgians haven't renewed their licenses in many years, so naturally, they were caught by surprise when they had to produce, in person, proof of identity, Social Security card and proof of residence. But there is more. You have to prove your citizenship as well. How? According to the DDS, either with a 'valid, unexpired U.S. passport', an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate/amended birth certificate filed with the State Office of Vital Statistics. Birth certificates issued by hospitals 'are not acceptable'."

This is nothing less than the federalization and standardization of all identifying documents throughout the United States. Those who are unable to document such niceties as their existence (that is, their birth) will become second class citizens. They will be unable to fly and excluded from entering into federal buildings, which may be necessary for them to obtain government permissions or fulfil legal requirements. Joining the ranks of the second-class will be the holders non-compliant licenses; these lack a white star and are stamped "Not for Federal Official Use" instead. "Not for Federal Official Use" holders will need a traditional passport or to apply for alternate DHS documentation if they wish to fly.

What To Expect

Many states and, so, many individuals will not make TSA's January 2016 deadline for Real ID. Some hope the humanitarian TSA will push back the deadline as it did last year. And a delay may happen...for logistical reasons. If it does, those who wish to escape a nation with internal passports may have another year to do so.

But the main hope of delaying Real ID is a confrontation between the federal and state governments. In 2012, the governor of Montana declared,

Brave words. But Real ID is coming. When it arrives with both feet, Real ID will make it much more difficult for freedom-loving people to avoid the federal behemoth. Of course, that is its purpose. FATCA and related global measures gave the feds access to every cent that any American possessed in the world. Now Real ID wants to ensure that no American can avoid federal detection within domestic borders.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Half hour snooze can repair the damage caused by a lack of sleep, study finds

Indulging in a 30-minute power nap can help restore the damage caused by having too little sleep, a new study has today revealed

Indulging in a power nap can repair the damage caused by a lack of sleep, new research today claims.

Having a 30-minute snooze can help relieve stress and bolster the immune systems by restoring hormones and proteins to normal levels.

Scientists hope their findings will help shift workers and those suffering insomnia, by mitigating the damage caused by too few hours sleep.

Sleep deprivation not only puts people at increased risk of suffering accidents, but they are also more likely to develop chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.

Dr Brice Faraut, of the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité, said: 'Our data suggests a 30-minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep.

'This is the first study that found napping could restore biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels.

'Napping may offer a way to counter the damaging effects of sleep restriction by helping the immune and neuroendocrine systems to recover.

'The findings support the development of practical strategies for addressing chronically sleep-deprived populations, such as night and shift workers.'

The study examined the relationship between hormones and sleep in a group of 11 healthy men between 25 and 32.

During one session, the men were limited to two hours of sleep for one night.

For the other session, they were able to take two, 30-minute naps the day after their sleep was restricted to two hours.

Each of the three-day sessions began with a night where subjects spent eight hours in bed and concluded with a recovery night of unlimited sleep.

Their urine and saliva was analysed to determine how restricted sleep and napping altered hormone levels.

After a night of limited sleep, the men had a 2.5 fold increase in levels of norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter involved in the body's fight-or-flight response to stress.

Norepinephrine increases the body's heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar. Researchers found no change in norepinephrine levels when the men had napped following a night of limited sleep.

Lack of sleep also affected the levels of interleukin-6, a protein with antiviral properties, found in the saliva.

The levels dropped after a night of restricted sleep, but remained normal when the subjects were allowed to nap. The changes suggest naps can be beneficial for the immune system.

The study was published in the

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Kitamaat Village evacuated following 3 days without power due to near record snowfall in British Columbia

© Amanda Debeurs.

Kitimat, British Columbia.

B.C.'s Haisla First Nation ordered the evacuation of Kitamaat Village and its 800 residents on Saturday night, three days after the community lost power following a major snowstorm.

Many residents are staying at the Kitimat Riverlodge Leisure Centre, about 15 kilometres north in the town of Kitimat.

Others are staying with family and friends.

The small towns of Kitimat and Terrace were hit with heavy snow earlier this week - nearly two metres of snow from a Pineapple Express weather system was dumped on the region.

The record for a 24-hour snowfall, set on Feb. 5, 1961, was 112 cm. Weather officials say Kitimat came close with 109 cm of snow in a 24-hour period.

Evacuation ordered over Facebook

In a notice posted to Facebook on Saturday, Haisla First Nation chief councillor Ellis Ross warned of a short timeline for the Sunday morning evacuation - the road in and out of the village would be open for just three hours.

"If you have the means to get to town or somewhere else besides Kitamaat Village, please be gone before 8 a.m. PT. Anytime after 8 a.m., don't even try. The crews will be working and there will be no traffic allowed," the notice said.

Resident Robin Rowland said the evacuation was complicated by downed trees, power lines and heavy snow.

Residents had to use chainsaws to gain access to the winding road between the village and Kitimat, he said.

The road was reported as barely passable due to fallen trees and snow.

Drone video of snow-bound Kitimat

[embedded content]

More than 5,000 people in the region were left without power after the record snowfall, though many residents had their power restored within a few days.

Resident Teresa Cline says the aftermath of the snowfall is something to see:

"Just huge snow-covered trees laying on power lines," she said. "It looks like it will be a real mess to clean up. Those B.C. Hydro guys are going to be busy here. I've heard there are crews from other places that have come in to help us."

"Places that haven't been plowed, it must be at least five or six feet deep, and the snow banks are up to 10 to 12 feet tall after they've been plowed."

The District of Kitimat opened its Emergency Operations Centre on Saturday to coordinate a major snow clearing effort involving municipal crews and private contractors.

Residents were being asked to stay off the roads as municipal crews cleared streets. The district warned in a statement that venturing out and getting stuck would hinder snow removal.

Search and rescue personnel in snowmobiles were placed on standby, ready to mobilize if necessary in order to access difficult-to-reach homes.

The district was also asking people to conserve water due to power outages which were having an impact on the town's pumping system.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Police Chief: Officers' use "pain compliance techniques" on 16-yo boy is "nature of our business"

Aspen, Colorado - After reviewing videos uploaded to social media from an incident on Friday the Aspen police chief is defending his officers and saying no further investigation is required.

The unsettling video features police using "pain compliance techniques" on a 16-year-old boy during a marijuana arrest.

[embedded content]

The video is just shy of a minute and a half long and does not show the entire encounter. However, the department has stated that the high school student was unarmed and did not exhibit any violent behavior. If he was unarmed, and not violent, why do we allow this child abuse to go unquestioned?

Officer Adam Loudon claims that he was making his rounds alone when he saw the boy rolling what appeared to be a joint at a bus stop by his high school. When he approached the teenager and confronted him about it, the student reportedly did not answer and tucked something into his sleeve. The officer decided that this was probable cause and grounds for arrest and began to cuff the boy who was attempting to back away and like any teen would do, try to talk his way out of it.

Loudon then decided that this was probable cause and grounds for arrest. The officer began to cuff the boy who was attempting to back away and like any teen would do, to try to talk his way out of it.

The impatient officer then restrained the boy against the wall of the bus stop and called for back up, apparently incapable of dealing with the nonviolent student on his own.

Approximately three minutes later Chip Seamans and Aspen firefighter Ken Josselyn arrived to aid Loudon with his "pain compliance techniques."

In the video, witnesses and passerby's can be heard yelling at the officers, asking them to settle down.

"If he said he didn't do anything, why can't you just talk to him?" one witness asks.

"This is bulls - ; he didn't do anything!" another exclaims.

"If this isn't excessive, I don't know what is." yet another witness notes.

Aspen Police Department Chief Richard Pryor remains stern in his support of the level of force used, telling the that is was appropriate due to the proximity of the school the boy attended.

"We're willing to sit down and talk to anybody about this series of events," Pryor told the Aspen Times. "We need community involvement about these sorts of issues. But I want to go back to the location of this incident. It was right next to the schools. That elevated the seriousness of it. We have a really diverse group of people who use that bus stop every day, from kids going to ACES to high school parents to staff," he said. "We feel it is not appropriate for there to be drug use at that location or alcohol."

Members of the community and teenage witnesses were not satisfied with the chief's response or what they witnessed. They decided to reach out to the news outlet themselves, explaining that the force they saw was unjustifiable.

Witnesses explained how the teen was just attempting to talk to the officer and receive an explanation as to why he was being arrested.

"Many members of the Aspen community are outraged by the events that happened on Friday afternoon. If (you) ask any person who witnessed the event (they) will tell that it was a complete and total example of police brutality. I'm sure what the (Police Department) forgot to mention was that the policeman didn't tell him he was being arrested or read the teen his rights. The teenager did not in any way show violence to the police officer. When someone is being handcuffed and they are not informed ... you could understand why he moved his hand away, and that's all he did, and that's when things got bad." stated one email they recieved.

Colorado is notorious for its legalization of recreational marijuana for adults. However, it is still illegal for minors to possess marijuana and illegal to consume marijuana in public.

These low-level offenses are typically dealt with by citations though, not arrests, which may have led to the boy's confusion. Arrests are reserved for those who have a warrant, committed another criminal offense, were also in possession of more serious drugs or had a felony amount of marijuana, reported.

"None of us want this to occur," Pryor told the . "But it's the nature of the business we're in."

Perhaps it's time to change the nature of the business.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

New Urban Outfitters Tapestry Resembles Concentration Camp Uniform

Concentration Camp Gear

The Anti-Defamation League slammed the store for selling the tapestry and urged Urban Outfitters to remove the item from stores.

"Whether intentional or not, this gray and white stripped pattern and pink triangle combination is deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a Monday statement. "We urge Urban Outfitters to immediately remove the product eerily reminiscent of clothing forced upon the victims of the Holocaust from their stores and online."

The tapestry was available in stores on Tuesday morning, according to Bloomberg News, but it is not available online.

This is not the first time Urban Outfitters has sold insensitive items. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the company also sold a shirt "associated with the yellow Star of David symbol." The store also sold a sweatshirt with fake blood stains that evoked the Kent State shootings in 1970.

Spanish retailer Zara last year removed a striped children's shirt with a yellow Star of David that resembled a concentration camp uniform.

Indonesian high school students told to undergo 'virginity tests' to graduate

Students in Class

© i100.independent.co.uk

Female high school students wishing to graduate in the Indonesian city of Jember will have to undergo 'virginity tests' under new proposals.

Of course, boys are excluded from any such tests, which officials in the east Javan city want to introduce to prevent high school students from having sex before marriage.

Indonesia has a chequered past with so-called tests, admitting in 2013 that they were mandatory for female recruits wishing to join the military or police.

Human Rights Watch said the 'tests' had been recognised internationally as violations of the right to non-discrimination and the prohibition against "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" under treaties ratified by Indonesia.

HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said:

President Joko Widodo should send a loud and unambiguous message forbidding virginity tests by local governments, as well as the Indonesian military, police and civil service.

The authorities should back that up by firing and appropriately prosecuting officials who promote or perpetrate virginity tests to ensure that women are protected from such abuse. Until he does, high school girls and their education in Jember will remain in peril.

Last November the World Health Organisation said there was "no place for virginity (or 'two-finger') testing, it has no scientific validity".

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Longshore Workers Have Answer For Clearing Ship Congestion: Let Us Do Our Jobs

 Published on January 22nd, 2015 | by Zamná Ávila
© Zamná Ávila

The Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest container Harbor facility and second-ranked Port of Long Beach, handle about 40 percent of America's imports, with an estimated $1 billion in cargo moving through the ports every day.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region are connected to the two ports.

Terms and conditions of employment for longshore and marine clerk labor at the ports are governed by a contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) which is comprised of stevedoring, shipping, and marine terminal companies. The labor contract expired in July 2014. A new contract is under negotiation.

While dockworkers have continued to work in good faith without a contract since July 1, 2014, PMA has launched a very public attack campaign leaving many people (and many in the media) under the false impression that congestion problems at the ports are a direct result of job actions taken by ILWU. In reality, the problems at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are a result of mismanagement by PMA and its member companies that began before the 2008 labor contract expired.

Within the past six years, port congestion has steadily increased as cargo ships have more than doubled in size and capacity. According to World News (WN.com), the size of cargo vessels crossing the Pacific Ocean have increased in size from two football fields to the equivalent of four football fields.

These megaships require up to eight "gangs" or crews, to handle cargo. However, since July 2014 (when the labor agreement with ILWU expired), PMA, in a mind-boggling move, reduced the number of gangs assigned to large cargo vessels to three, constituting a 75 percent reduction of workers. To make matters even worse, on New Year's Eve 2014, PMA announced an additional reduction in the workforce, assigning only one gang per ship during the night shift. That translates to reducing the number of crews assigned to unloading cargo by a staggering 87 percent. More recently, on Jan.13, 2015, night crews serving vessels were dropped by PMA altogether.

As a direct result of PMA's actions, more than 7,000 full-time longshore workers face steeply reduced hours of work. In addition, about 8,000 part-time or "casual" longshore workers will have little to no work available to them. Such drastic cuts in the workforce not only impact the families of the workers whose hours have been cut, but add to congestion at the port. This congestion financially impacts thousands of local and national businesses that rely on the ports to unload their merchandise in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, mismanagement by PMA and its member companies extends well beyond reductions in the workforce. The mismanagement extends to safety issues as well. For years, ILWU, Local 13 (the longshore local union operating in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach) has requested that PMA provide workers with training to operate cranes and improve training facilities for crane operators. These requests have fallen on deaf ears.

In June 2014, prior to the expiration of the labor contract, ILWU Local 13 and the ILWU locals representing marine clerks and foremen requested a meeting with PMA officials to discuss a growing number of near-fatal accidents at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach due to inadequate training of crane operators. PMA never granted the meeting. Instead, in November 2014, PMA blamed the congestion at the ports on the union's insistence on dispatching trained and certified crane operators. In reality, PMA caused the congestion as a result of only providing two instructors for the hundreds of ILWU, Local 13 members waiting to receive their crane operator training and certification.

Operable chassis shortages also played a major role in slowing operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Cargo containers do not have wheels and must be mounted on a chassis in order to get to warehouses and distribution centers. Beginning several years ago, many PMA member companies made an ill-considered operational decision to sell off many of their chassis to equipment leasing companies. As a result, marine terminals often lack the necessary chassis to move cargo off the docks. Further, certain PMA member companies have inexplicably refused to let union members repair piles of inoperable chassis that the companies still control, further reducing the number of operable chassis available to clear the congested ports.

While PMA has engaged in a public relations campaign blaming ILWU for the problems at the ports, the congestion of cargo ships and containers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are directly related to mismanagement by marine terminal operators and the shipping lines they service. PMA and its member companies are using a "cut and criticize" strategy. They continue to cut crews, cut training and cut repair work and then turn around and criticize ILWU when operations are negatively impacted by those cuts.

ILWU, Local 13, has repeatedly told PMA and port officials that - contract or no contract - we stand ready to ramp up training, fix inoperable equipment and fully staff crews to handle cargo. We are calling on PMA to join us in our commitment to clear the congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

There are no shortcuts in home canning

pressure cooker

© allaboutfoodstorage.com

Home canning is a great way to preserve food. It's an old-fashioned skill that has undergone a lot of research, resulting in modern updates.

Sometimes people are resistant to these updates. When I recently published my book, The Organic Canner, I can't tell you how many emails I received telling me, for example, that a pressure canner isn't necessary. That the reader's grandma used a water bath canner for everything and she lived to the ripe old age of 114. That by my adherence to the guidelines set forth by the USDA, I'm "selling out" and kowtowing to the government. One person even wrote that he "used to read my website but no longer would" since my book followed the USDA recommendations for canning.

There's a very good reason that I adhere to those guidelines. To do otherwise could be deadly.

A Washington state man, attorney Mike O'Connell, learned this lesson the hard way recently, when he ended up in the emergency room with all of the symptoms of a stroke-in-progress. He was dizzy. His legs were so rubbery they would hardly hold him up. He was experiencing double vision.

But the tests came back negative for stroke and the hospital staff sent O'Connell home.

Over the next two days, his condition worsened. Added symptoms included drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and extreme weakness. When his daughter arrived to visit, she was horrified to see his breathing was shallow. She called a friend who was a neurosurgeon, who gave her a checklist that included the food-borne illness, botulism.

The CDC's page on botulism says:

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium and sometimes by strains of. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulinum toxin. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies.

is the name of a group of bacteria. They can be found in soil. These rod-shaped organisms grow best in low oxygen conditions. The bacteria form spores which allow them to survive in a dormant state until exposed to conditions that can support their growth. The classic symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.

O'Connell's daughter rushed him back to the hospital and told staff of her suspicions. They treated him with anti-toxin from the CDC.

In this day and age, the question was, how on earth did a Washington attorney end up with such a rare form of food poisoning?

O'Connell had the answer to that. He had taken shortcuts when canning some elk meat. KPLU News in Seattle reported:

...The night before O'Connell woke up with double vision, he had eaten some elk meat from a hunting trip. He canned it himself about a week earlier.

"Borrowed a pressure cooker, used an old family recipe for canning," O'Connell said.

O'Connell's mother had canned everything when he was a kid. He wanted to recapture a bit of his childhood. But things started going wrong from the start.

I had way too much meat to deal with," said O'Connell.

The pressure cooker was too small. O'Connell had already browned the meat in a cast iron pan. So he decided to shortcut the process. Once the jars sealed airtight he would take them out of the pressure cooker and start a new batch. The next day, he heard a pop in the pantry.

"Which I remember as a child was the signal for you've lost the seal," said O'Connell.

O'Connell found the jar with the popped seal, put it in the fridge and ate it the next day. He says it was delicious. The following week he heard another lid pop. Just as he had before, O'Connell found the jar and stuck it in the fridge. And a few days later he ate it for supper.

"This time, it didn't work out," O'Connell said.

O'Connell had an upset stomach in the night, but he didn't connect it to having eaten the meat. He says growing up, he didn't know anyone who got food poisoning from home canned foods.

So you know those people who say,"I've never heard of anyone getting botulism from home-canned food. That's just a scare tactic from the USDA." Well, you can tell them about Mr. O'Connell, who still hasn't fully recovered from his bout with unsafely preserved food. In fact, he may completely recover.

Despite the administration of the anti-toxin, O'Connell became paralyzed. After extensive rehab, he can now walk with the aid of a cane. His sense of taste is gone and may never return. His vision is finally back to normal.

Let me be as clear as possible. THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS IN CANNING. You have to do things properly, adhering to tested methods that result the safest possible product. Would you risk the above scenario happening to your child, all because you don't want to use a pressure canner? It's really not difficult at all. My book provides simple, step-by-step instructions that will walk you through the methods of making your home-preserved food as safe as possible.

We have the equipment available to make things far safer than Grandma did. The refusal to use it would be like refusing to put your infant in a car seat or refusing to ask your toddler to buckle up in the car. We know these things are safe, so we do them, despite the fact that most of us survived many a car ride standing on the center armrest of the front seat, gleefully watching the road ahead while keeping one hand on the parent beside us for balance.

I strongly encourage home preservation of food. It's simple, inexpensive, and fun. Just do it safely, follow instructions, and remember, THERE ARE NO ACCEPTABLE SHORTCUTS IN CANNING. Just because your great grandmother didn't die from botulism, it doesn't mean you or your loved ones won't. It's simply not worth the risk.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Aerial photos of ports show what the Pacific Maritime Association doesn't want the public to see

The following photographs show, as ILWU International President Bob McEllrath said in a recent news release, that there are acres of asphalt waiting for the containers that sit on dozens of ships waiting to be unloaded at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and sufficient space for thousands of containers on the docks.

The PMA has told the media that the ports are too full to receive cargo, but the photos tell another story. And though the docks are clear, the transportation chain (intermodal squeeze from export energy trains and chassis shortage) remains congested due to factors outside of the scope of the ILWU.

terminal space

© Pilot Rollo Hartstrom from Local 13, and photographer Bill Kirk from Local 94.


© Pilot Rollo Hartstrom from Local 13, and photographer Bill Kirk from Local 94.

terminal space2

© Pilot Rollo Hartstrom from Local 13, and photographer Bill Kirk from Local 94.

MC no space

© Pilot Rollo Hartstrom from Local 13, and photographer Bill Kirk from Local 94.

© Pilot Rollo Hartstrom from Local 13, and photographer Bill Kirk from Local 94.

In mid-January, PMA claimed that there was a lack of dock space for containers, and it eliminated night shifts at many ports.

"PMA is leaving ships at sea and claiming there's no space on the docks, but there are acres of asphalt just waiting for the containers on those ships, and hundreds of longshore workers ready to unload them," said McEllrath. "The employers are deliberately worsening the existing congestion crisis to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table."

The union's photos of marine terminals in Southern California that show large tracts of space that would easily fit thousands of containers.

The PMA is an employer association whose largest members include Denmark-based Maersk Line, Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine, Korean-based Hanjin Shipping, Philippines-based ICTSI, Japan-based NYK Line, Hong Kong-based OOCL, China-based COSCO, and other employers based in France, Norway and worldwide.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is based in San Francisco, Calif., and is negotiating a contract that has covered longshore workers at 30 West Coast ports in California, Oregon and Washington since 1934.

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

NATO and Nazism: Global hegemony in the guise of "collective defense"

Chief among the stated reasons the United States has decided to arbitrate the future of Ukraine for its citizens, is the grave danger Russia allegedly poses not only to Kiev, but to Europe and the rest of the world. This despite the fact that it was the US which facilitated violent protests that eventually overthrew the elected government of Ukraine in 2013-2014 in the first place, leading directly to the war now unfolding in the heart of Eastern Europe.

It was not long ago that another ambitious power cited Russia as a threat and invoked "collective defense" to justify what would become a contest between nations leaving tens of millions dead and entire countries in ruins. Nazi Germany's leader, Adolf Hitler would claim regarding his decision to invade Russia that:

The purpose of this front is no longer the protection of the individual nations, but rather the safety of Europe, and therefore the salvation of everyone.

I have therefore decided today once again to put the fate of Germany and the future of the German Reich and our people in the hands of our soldiers.

Sounding eerily familiar are US and NATO justifications for their continued expansion east and escalations made against Russia today. And also like that other ambitious power, the United States has waged wars all across the planet, far from Russia's borders and with little to do with Russia's interests beyond its borders, long before it turned its sights on Moscow.

Since World War II, the United States has invaded, bombed, and/or occupied the Korean Peninsula, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Somalia, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. Some of these nations have been attacked by the US more than once. In many more countries the US has facilitated the violent overthrow of various governments, particularly in South America and the Middle East, first through the use of its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), then through more veiled organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It has troops stationed in over a hundred nations around the world, occupying hundreds of military installations.

Its NATO alliance openly seeks to expand. A look at the map of NATO expansion over the past several decades after its creation shows it clearly encroaching upon and encircling Russia - violently overthrowing many of the nations along Russia's borders with backed uprisings like those seen most recently in Ukraine. In fact, the previous uprising in Ukraine, the "Orange Revolution," was admittedly the work of the US. The Guardian would admit in its 2004 article, "US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev," that:

...while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.

More recently, the US State Department's Victoria Nuland was recorded talking with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, literally handpicking the regime that would take the place of the government they helped overthrow. Just recently, the admits that the West is intentionally rigging global oil prices to undermine Russia. Such provocations are not the work of nations seeking peace or to deescalate tensions, but insidious provocations meant to continue to goad perceived enemies into reacting so as to then disingenuously cite additional "threats" that require additional "collective defense." And so, over the cliff such interests lead the entire Western World.

This is Called "Imperialism"

Historically, a nation maintaining such a posture is known as an "imperialist." Imperialists maintain a variety of tricks to make their aspirations for global hegemony appear as a series of reluctant moves made in its own defense, or the defense of others.

The United States in particular has refined this strategy to include the "defense of democracy" around the world, intervening where it claims there are deficiencies. Even as it claims Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine, it has not only claimed the need to back mobs in Kiev earlier in the overthrow of an already elected government for the sake of "democracy," it also claims the Moscow itself suffers from a deficit of democracy - meaning that the destabilization and chaos the US has unleashed in Ukraine will eventually be visited upon Russia. Russia, apparently, is expected to simply wait until that happens.

Not surprisingly, Russia has instead decided to defend itself.

Historians would remind the people of present the final outcome of Adolf Hitler's use of "collective defense" to invade its neighbor to the east. The war would cost tens of millions their lives and Germany itself would be decimated and divided for decades afterward, undertaking a painful process of reconstruction, reconciliation, and retribution for the crimes it had committed against humanity.

For the German people themselves, they paid the highest price for the crimes of but a handful of special interests. Some of those special interests, particularly the Nazi Party, were liquidated entirely. Others, including bankers and industrialists who empowered and enriched themselves during the rule of the Nazis - including many American companies - escaped with absolute impunity and are to this day profiteering from new wars they tacitly support from the background through "think tanks" they fund producing policy papers that eventually transform into bills, declarations of war, and talking points featured on the nightly news.

History needs not repeat itself. People can just as easily reject arguments made for "collective defense" as such arguments are made. NATO will not fight a war without soldiers. Already in its proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, it has found few willing to subject themselves as pawns in this game. Ukrainians are ironically seeking shelter in Russia, not from "Kremlin backed rebels," but from recruiters in Kiev seeking more young men to feed into a war of aggression precipitated by foreign interests. By simply spreading the word the trenches are dug that tangle the treads of this machine as it creeps forward.

[embedded content]

Comment: What's left out of this article is that the NATO/U.S. agenda in Ukraine could not have been implemented without the support of various neo-Nazi parties there, ie. Right Sector, Svoboda - that had a direct and immediate part in bringing about the events of the Maidan coup. This is one of several BIG lies - by omission in Western media organs - that just doesn't get figured into the calculus of the average person, who has little to no idea of what's actually going on there. And yet it is the West that is quite often comparing Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler when it is the U.S. that is propping up and supporting Nazis in Ukraine. You can't make this shit up.

In a speech given in 1941 (video below), where Hitler explains his reasons for invading the Soviet Union/Russia he calmly uses rationalizations, justifications and fabricated narratives to account for Germany's military aggression. As one commentator to the video correctly noted:

Keep this clearly in mind when you listen to or, better yet, read the following speech (if you want to avoid having to hear Hitler's abhorrent voice). Also keep in mind that NATO's geo-strategic creep towards Russia has been occurring for more than years - and years the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. In sum, the idea of 'Russian aggression' is as much a construct of lies now as it was then.

[embedded content]

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.

Hebron is Beautiful: Life through the eyes of a Palestinian teen

The short documentary "Khelil Helwa (Hebron is Beautiful)" follows a young boy from Hebron's Tel Rumeida neighborhood as he goes about his daily life, uncovering the matrix of Israeli military control that defines every aspect of life in the occupied West Bank. For Palestinians, the footage may at first appear somewhat unremarkable, and the scenes of soldiers barking orders and even arresting the film's 15-year-old star, Awni Abu Shamsiya, are heart-breakingly familiar. But for Israeli-American filmmaker Yuval Orr, it was the hope of showing the footage to Israeli audiences that motivated production. "I want Israelis to see more films that challenge what they think they know, or challenge the moral stance that is very easy to take at a distance," he told Ma'an during an interview in West Jerusalem. "How many Jewish Israelis really go to Hebron if they're not soldiers or settlers?"

[embedded content]

'Quiet before the storm'

The film, which was produced as part of the ActiveVision film collective, spans a mere nine-and-a-half minutes but manages to offer a complex and insightful look at daily life in central Hebron through the eyes of one of the city's own children."Khelil Helwa" is surprisingly unburdened by statistics, maps, or figures, allowing the potential viewer - particularly if Israeli - to sympathize with Awni's perspective regardless of their political perspective.And while Orr concedes that this approach risks depoliticizing the inherently political nature of the struggle facing young Palestinians like Awni, he argues that it also opens up other opportunities for outreach."All of the words that we use to describe the 'conflict,' the 'occupation,' or the 'situation' are extraordinarily flawed, and as hard as you try to remain objective with language, its very difficult," he told Ma'an.

He said he did not want to "color viewers' perspectives and allow them to shut down, or be primed for a film they are going to identify with."

Instead, by allowing the viewer to experience Awni's life directly and without introduction, he said the the film forces them to confront the humanity they share with the teen.

These concerns also motivated Orr's decisions on which scenes to include in the film. He told Ma'an that he hesitated at times about whether to depict moments of violence that occurred on camera or to instead focus on the many daily struggles and humiliations that characterize the life of young people in central Hebron.

"It was important for me to have those moments of relative calm where you see the soldiers twirling their whistles at the checkpoint or yawning, because so much of life in Hebron is that. It's these moments of intense quiet before the storm, and then shit gets crazy."

"In moments of violence it's very easy to draw the lines, but it's more difficult in moments of quiet, where you feel the weight of what it's like to live there. It becomes very difficult to deny the humanity of this kid," he told Ma'an. "It's a struggle to walk that line."

Hebron is 'extraordinarily uncomfortable'

Although Orr grew up in the United States, he studied Arabic for years in Egypt and Morocco and speaks Hebrew as well. Part of his family traces their roots in Jerusalem back more than 400 years, and he told Ma'an that he comes from a line of rabbis originally from Morocco and Spain. He admitted that the family's roots in Palestine are so deep that his grandmother even occasionally admits to considering herself Palestinian, if he "catches her on the right day," he said, laughing. For Orr, working on the film was part of his own journey back to Israel to confront his relationship to the occupation and the realities of Zionism. He told Ma'an that he was drawn to Hebron because of the uniquely difficult situation there.

The process of making the film itself was also full of difficulties and strange experiences, he said, as filming was frequently blocked by Israeli soldiers who forced him to turn off the camera or demanded to know what he was doing.

Once while following Awni's journey to school, meanwhile, a Palestinian police officer stopped the filming, concerned about a man following a child with a video camera in an area where Jewish settlers frequently stalk and harass locals.

"There's something about being in Hebron that's extraordinarily uncomfortable," he told Ma'an. "I wanted to personally to face that down, and to force other people to face that down as well."

"Hebron is the worst of the worst, and the kids who grow up in that environment are the most underprivileged, the most oppressed by the system, the ones who feel the occupation on a daily basis the hardest," he added.

'A little spark of hope'

Indeed, Hebron is distinguished from other areas in the West Bank by the existence of Jewish settlements inside the city itself. Israeli authorities have shut down hundreds of Palestinian shops in the last few decades and paved the way for the flight of thousands in order to ensure the security of the few hundred Israeli settlers who have taken over parts of the Old City. One scene in the film tackles one of the most pressing issues facing the area, the system of mass incarceration deployed against local teens by soldiers as punishment for even the most minor offenses. Awni is seen standing on a street in the neighborhood when stopped by soldiers, who accuse him of having harassed a group of male settlers in their 20s who were walking by. The soldiers then grab him and forcibly take him away, in what was the third such arrest in his life. Orr told Ma'an that since he finished filming, Awni has been arrested yet again.

Unlike previous times, when he was put away for a few days and then released after his family paid a large fine, this time, Orr said, he is being charged with throwing stones at a checkpoint. Under a new Israeli law, for Palestinians the charge of throwing stones can mean years of hard jail time.

"It's a terrible situation and a terrible reality," Orr told Ma'an. "The film shows exactly how harsh it is to live under occupation, but not even, because there are so many things that will happen to him in a day, in a week, in a month, or in a year that are not in the film. He'll tell me about a 2 am house raid (by Israeli soldiers), but I'm not capturing that on film."

"I walk away from the film in amazement that Awni and his entire family are able to hold on to their dignity and to their humanity, in a situation that I think most people born into those circumstances would not be able to. For a 15-year-old kid, he's incredibly wise, incredibly humane, incredibly brave, and those are also things I take away from the film and hope that others will take away as well."

With Awni potentially facing years in an Israeli military prison, however, it's unclear whether the qualities that have helped him persevere and which have made him so strong until now, will manage to survive much longer.

"There's that little spark of hope that's there," Orr told Ma'an. " But then you break it."

[embedded content]

Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at http://bit.ly/1xcsdoI.