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Friday, 20 February 2015

What could possibly go wrong? Company presses forward on plans to ship fracking wastewater via barge in Ohio River, drawing objections from locals


© Shutterstock

A major dispute is brewing over transporting wastewater from shale gas wells by barge in the Ohio River, the source of drinking water for millions of Americans.

On January 26, GreenHunter Water announced that it had been granted approval by the U.S. Coast Guard to haul tens of thousands of barrels from its shipping terminal and 70,000-barrel wastewater storage facility on the Ohio River in New Matamoras, Ohio.

"The U.S. Coast Guard approval is a significant 'win' for both GreenHunter Resources and our valued clients," Kirk Trosclair, Chief Operating Officer at GreenHunter Resources, Inc., said in a statement announcing the Coast Guard's approval. "Our ability to transport disposal volumes via barge will significantly reduce our costs, improve our margins and allow us to pass along savings to our clients."

Outraged environmental advocates immediately objected to the news.

"Despite the thousands of comments from residents along the Ohio River opposing the risk of allowing toxic, radioactive fracking waste to be barged along the Ohio River, the Coast Guard quietly approved the plan at the end of 2014," said Food & Water Watch Ohio Organizer Alison Auciello.

"The Coast Guard is risking man-made earthquakes, drinking water contamination, leaks and spills. This approval compromises not only the health and safety of the millions who get their drinking water from the Ohio River but will increase the amount of toxic fracking waste that will be injected underground in Southeast Ohio."

But the company's announcement was in fact made before the Coast Guard completed its review of the hazards of hauling shale gas wastewater via the nation's waterways - a process so controversial given the difficulty of controlling mid-river spills and the unique challenges of handling the radioactivity in Marcellus shale brine that proposed Coast Guard rules have drawn almost 70,000 public comments.

GreenHunter's move drew a sharp rebuke from Coast Guard officials.

"The Coast Guard has not taken final agency action on GreenHunter's 2012 request to transport shale gas extraction wastewater and has not classified this cargo for shipment," the Coast Guard said in a statement responding to the announcement. "We are committed to ensuring proper research with regards to shale gas extraction wastewater maritime transportation before approving any request to transport shale gas extraction wastewater."

So how can the company move forward with plans to ship wastewater in the Ohio River? The answer may come down to whether the waste the company hauls is classified as "shale gas extraction waste" or "oilfield waste."

GreenHunter officials now say they consider their wastewater "oilfield waste."

"We don't even know what the hell shale gas extraction waste is," Kirk Trosclair, the company's chief operating officer, told Environment & Energy Publishing last week. "What we're trying to transport is oil field waste and residual waste, which is basically brine, saltwater."

The company told the it had received a letter on October 2 from the Coast Guard stating it could ship "oilfield waste."

Citing that authority, company officials said they intend to move forward with shipments.

"GreenHunter Water will continue to transport 'oilfield waste' until such time as the Coast Guard ultimately decides on the proper definition of 'shale gas extraction waste water' and the rules under which such waste water can be transported. Once these rules are finalized, GreenHunter will comply with these rules and regulations," Mr. Trosclair told another local newspaper, the , last week.

But Coast Guard officials have warned that shipments plans may be premature. Federal regulations will require the company test fluids for radioactivity first.

"The Marcellus shale is known to have elevated levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials, particularly radium," Cynthia Znati, lead chemical engineer for the Coast Guard's hazardous materials division, told the . "From our perspective, that is the main hazard."

Mr. Trosclair did not respond to requests for comment from DeSmog.

It seems clear that the company intends to handle wastewater from the Marcellus shale industry. According to its page, GreenHunter Water offers wastewater disposal services for the shale gas industry, specifically catering to Marcellus shale drillers.

"GreenHunter Water is focused on water resource management in the oil and natural gas sector providing Oilfield Water Management Solutions™ to the unconventional shale oil and natural gas plays," the site reads. "Our operations in the Eagle Ford and Marcellus shale plays are positioned to meet the unique demands of water management needs of producers."

The company's 2012 application to haul wastewater has been intensely debated in recent years.

In April 2013, the Coast Guard quietly sent draft regulations for hauling shale waste to the White House Office of Management and Budget, following GreenHunter's request.

But when people living in the region caught wind of the plans, they flooded the Coast Guard with tens of thousands of public comments.

Organizers in Ohio objected to the plans not only based on the risks of spills and the danger that radioactive materials could collect in the barges themselves, but also because they feared that barging would open up the floodgates for disposing even more shale gas wastewater in Ohio, where disposal wells have caused earthquakes according to the USGS.

"It would increase the pace at which Ohio becomes the fracking waste dumping ground for other areas of the country - not real appealing," Melissa English, the director of development at Ohio Citizen Action, told Reuters at the time.

Today, the collapse of crude oil prices has left the barging industry under financial pressure, as many companies invested heavily in equipment to haul oil via river. Barge shipments of crude oil rose from from roughly 4 million barrels in 2008 to 46.7 million barrels in 2013, a more than ten-fold increase over the span of five years.

But that boom may be dissipating, creating worries of a market bust. "US oil production has been the biggest driver of the US barge transportation market since the introduction of fracking saw domestic oil production boom since 2004 but it is also set to see the market decline as more efficient pipelines come online for oil transportation and production slows in response to the global oil crisis," Companies and Markets.com reported on February 9.

In that environment, the pressure for drillers to cut costs and for barging companies to find new clients is intense. "GreenHunter Resources estimates that each 10,000 barrels of disposal volumes transported via barge will reduce trucking hours by approximately 600 hours," the company told investors in a January 26 statement. "The reduced transport charges are anticipated to lead to significant margin improvement for GreenHunter Resources as well as potential cost savings for GreenHunter's valued clients."

But as DeSmog has previously reported, environmentalists worry not only about the difficulties of controlling spills of shale wastewater, which unlike oil spills cannot be controlled by booms, but also the risk of illegal dumping. The costs of legal disposal outstrip can outstrip the potential fines for illegal dumping, and wastewater haulers have been caught simply opening the spigots to dispose of the waste.

The company's overall strategy, which involves the completion of the Mills Hunter Facility in Portland, Ohio before the end of the year, could also sharply increase the amount of wastewater shipped to Ohio.

"Based on those numbers, Mills Hunter would handle and inject about 7.8 million barrels of waste per year, making it the No. 1 injection site in Ohio by far," the Ohio Beacon reported. "That total would represent about 50 percent of the injection volume handled annually at Ohio's 201 injection wells."

These plans may run into significant opposition, as some environmental groups have already launched letters objecting to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard.

On Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit authorization for the offloading facility, but warned against using the terminal for shale gas wastewater from horizontal wells.

"The validated Department of the Army permit prohibits the offloading of SGEWW generated from horizontal fracking operations," wrote the Corps, using SGEWW as an abbreviation for shale gas extraction wastewater, and emphasizing their warning by printing the statement in bold. "If the permittee proposes to offload SGEWW in the future, they would be required to obtain prior authorization from the Corps."

Environmental groups say they are concerned that the statements by GreenHunter officials may indicate that the company could already be shipping shale wastewater despite their lack of a shale-specific permit.

In objections sent to the Coast Guard on Wednesday, representatives from roughly three dozen regional and national environmental groups requested the federal government launch an investigation.

"Regulation does not turn on semantic differences, but instead, on physical evidence," the groups wrote as they requested the Coast Guard issue a cease and desist letter and launch a criminal investigation into the contents of the materials hauled by the company.

"Leakage of GreenHunter cargoes into river waters in the present circumstances, where the company insists it need not test or characterize its 'oilfield wastes' could be catastrophic," the group wrote, "and at a minimum, could pose continuing environmental and health hazards which would stress public water supplies and various forms of wildlife."

Lyssavirus bat infections: Spike in sick and dying bats in Broome, Western Australia

purple bat

© madisonparkblogger.blogspot.com

Sick bats invade Broome.

A spike in cases of a deadly bat virus in some parts of Australia's north has sparked concern, with dying animals being found in the streets close to schools and childcare centres.

Australian bat lyssavirus is similar to rabies, causing a rapid death if passed from an animal to a human. In recent months, it has been detected in 11 bats in the West Australian town of Broome in the Kimberley region. Prior to that, there had been only two cases identified in Western Australia in a decade. There has also been an increase in sick bats being found in Queensland.

sick bat

© www.abc.net.au

Broome wildlife carer holds bat after rash of bats showed up with Lyssavirus.

Senior Public Health nurse Ashley Eastwood is based in Broome and has been monitoring the numbers. "In 2014, we became aware that something was happening in the bat colony with these cases popping up," she said.

"We don't know exactly what's caused it. There are investigations going on through the Department of Parks and Wildlife, and the Department of Agriculture, wondering what's actually going on in the colony. There's been speculation perhaps lots of fires around last year, there's a particularly hot season, and that could be disturbing that colony."

Human infections occurred in Australia in 1996, 1998, and 2013 and proved fatal.

Of concern is also the fact that several of the dying bats had been located right in the middle of 'Old Broome', on thoroughfares used by children to get to school each day. Ms Eastwood said the Health Department was running an education campaign targeting local schools.

bats hanging in tree

© blog.nwf.org

Fruit Bat, Australia

"We have 'children and bats' posters and flyers in schools, just providing children with some education around bats," she said. "It's saying to children that if you find an injured or orphaned flying bat or dead bat, not to handle it, but to let an adult know who will notify parks and wildlife, or a wildlife carer."

People are being urged not to touch a bat they find sick or injured on the ground and try to avoid being swooped. If someone is scratched or bitten, they are advised to wash the wound thoroughly for at least five minutes with warm soapy water, and seek medical attention immediately.

Freezing bats for science

Wildlife carer Jan Martin is the on the frontline of virus detection in the Kimberley. Every time she is given a sick or dying bat, she freezes it in her backyard in Broome, to ensure it can be tested. "I'll pass it on to the Department of Agriculture so they can organise a proper post-mortem," she said. "They usually dissect the brain to see if the animal's got the virus or not."

Ms Martin said she was worried about the number of sick animals being found. "We used to get the odd one now and then, but this year's been absolutely horrific, the number turning up sick," she said. "It's just been strange - Australia-wide they're just gob-smacked about it, because it's never heard of, having so many at the same time."

With their puppet president in tatters NATO must be wondering 'What to do with Poroshenko?'

Poroshenkon passit

© unknown


Despite the best that has been done by everyone — the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people — the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Emperor Hirohito acknowledging Japan's defeat

The Ukrainian puppet president Poroshenko should have delivered a similar speech. Indeed the war situation in Ukraine has developed not necessarily to his governments advantage. But the speech Proshenko gave (see below) was even more delusional than Hirohito's whitewashing.

Since six days ago several thousand Ukrainian government troops were surrounded in the Debaltsevo pocket. The only road out towards friendly lines was mined and under direct and indirect opposition fire. Several attempts to break out and also into the pocket were defeated with lots of lives and material lost.

Since yesterday and after severe artillery preparations the federalist troops are storming the city. They claim that some 3,000 government troops died there and some 1,000 capitulated (vid) and went into captivity. A few hundred sneaked out at night mostly by foot and today reached the government controlled Artemivsk some 30 kilometers to the north of Debaltsevo. Others fled south away from their own lines and deeper into the pocket. They will be mopped up in due time. Huge amounts of weapons and ammunition was left behind for the federalists to pic up. Reporters in Artemivsk observed some 40-50 dead and some 200 wounded arriving. These were, reporters said, mostly casualties of the escape under fire, not of the earlier fights in Debaltseve. Those who made it out alive are in seriously angry about their higher-ups.

The Minsk-2 meeting was urgently arranged by the German chancellor Merkel when the situation around Debaltsevo deteriorated. But during the negotiations in Minsk Poroshenko insisted that there was no pocket and that his troops were in total control of the situation. The French president Hollande tried to explain the real situation to him but to no avail.

The ceasefire was arranged but the Debaltsevo pocket was not mentioned in the protocols. The federalists reasonably concluded that the pocket was within their acknowledged lines and could be eliminated without breaking the general agreed upon ceasefire. Over the last days we have heard very little protest against this move from the "western" side. Was there a silent agreement to make Poroshenko eat his necktie over the issue like his new adviser Saakashvili once did?

Now the above is the reality. And here is Proshenko's delusional version delivered in a speech today:

I can inform now that this morning the Armed Forces of Ukraine together with the National Guard completed the operation on the planned and organized withdrawal of a part of units from Debaltseve. We can say that 80% of troops have been already withdrawn. We are waiting for two more columns. Warriors of the 128th brigade, parts of units of the 30th brigade, the rest of the 25th and the 40th battalions, Special Forces, the National Guard and the police have already left the area.


We were asserting and proved: Debaltseve was under our control, there was no encirclement, and our troops left the area in a planned and organized manner with all the heavy weaponry: tanks, APCs, self-propelled artillery and vehicles.


It is a strong evidence of combat readiness of the Armed Forces and efficiency of the military command. I can say that despite tough artillery and MLRS shelling, according to the recent data, we have 30 wounded out of more than 2,000 warriors.

Many "western" journalist are now streaming into Debaltsevo and their will soon be reports about the real disaster and the real losses the Ukrainian government troops had there. Those will be hard to hide.

It will then be difficult for the "west" to continue working with Poroshenko. He has now been shown to be completely off his rockers. He can no longer be sold to the public as the bearer of the truth, the sincere white knight against the dark forces of Russia.

How will the "west", Obama and his neoconned State Department react to that? Will they prepare a coup against Poroshenko or do they have other means to get rid of their useless puppet or to save the situation?

Netanyahu claims he knows 'details' of Iran deal and Psaki mocks him

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Throwing down the gauntlet, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says that he knows the details of the proposed deal with Iran. On Wednesday, he had this to say, with Republican Senator David Perdue:

While Islamic State butchers the innocent, the Islamic Republic of Iran is relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons with the express purpose of destroying Israel. The P5+1's latest proposal won't stop them. The Iranians of course know the details of that proposal, and Israel does too. So when we say that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal, a dangerous deal, we know what we're talking about, Senator. I'm open to hearing the positions and arguments of those who think differently, and I would hope that they would be open to hear the arguments of Israel as well.

Perdue was just elected in Georgia; this is his first trip as a sitting senator. He's been boning up on foreign policy:

"In my opinion the most dangerous thing to mankind's future is a nuclear Iran."

Yesterday, the State Department's Jen Psaki was dismissive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claims to know about the deal:

PSAKI: So we've seen this movie before. There's no deal yet. Obviously, if there's a deal, we'll be explaining the deal and explaining why and how it prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And if that's the case and we come to a deal, it's hard to see how anyone wouldn't see that's to the benefit of the international community.

QUESTION: Well, except for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who says that he knows what's in the proposal that's on the table right now, knows what is likely to be approved if it is approved - if it is approved - and he still doesn't like it and still thinks it's a bad - it's bad for Israel and a threat to Israel. So again, the question is: Is it —

MS. PSAKI: Then it sounds like he knows more than the negotiators, since there's no deal yet.

QUESTION: Is it more important to get - for the Administration to get a deal with Iran than it is to have good relations with Israel and the prime minister?

MS. PSAKI: We think it's important to get a good deal with Iran and with the P5+1, and that will not only make the United States safer; it will make Israel safer.

It would make the U.S. and Israel safer, State says. OK: so let Americans have that discussion.

© NIAC ad in NYT

Speaking of making us safer, the National Iranian American Council has run a full-page ad in the challenging Benjamin Netanyahu's claims to speak in the interests of Americans. "Who is our commander in chief?" Obama or Netanyahu? And the ad pillories Netanyahu for selling the Iraq war 13 years ago:

"If you take out Saddam, Saddam's regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.... the test and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also transform that society and thereby begin too the process of democratizing the Arab world."

Trita Parsi of NIAC says Israel is trying to get Americans hurt in the Middle East:

"All doubt has been removed: Netanyahu will oppose any peaceful deal with Iran and will instead seek to blow up the diplomatic efforts of the United States and risk starting a war... Congress better take into account that if they buy what Netanyahu is selling, it will be American troops who pay the cost."

Why isn't Parsi on the cable shows? He says: "This certainly isn't the first time we've stood up to Netanyahu. In 2011, NIAC ran a full page ad telling the President we had his back against Bibi's push for war with Iran. Today, we are proud to be on the right side of history as the U.S. and Iran are on the brink of a diplomatic agreement that can prevent war and benefit Americans and Iranians alike.

NIAC has announced a Day of Action before the speech to pressure lawmakers not to attend.

Netanyahu's speech to Congress has compelled Rabbi David Teutsch of J Street's rabbinic council to make "my first fully public statement criticizing a sitting Israeli government official." Teutsch says that Netanyahu is "undermining the foundations of a land I love." How? One way is by making support for Israel a partisan issue, and the cause of sanctions on Iran:

Netanyahu's decision to accept Republican leaders' invitation to address Congress has dealt a major blow to the long-time United States-Israel alliance, in which partisan politics have until now been kept at bay. Netanyahu's upcoming speech demonstrates that Netanyahu is siding with conservative Republicans and evangelical Christians who support his vision of a greater Israel rather than land-for-peace. Taking the Republican side is an attack on President Obama and the Democratic Party. Netanyahu's official reason is that he wants to speak out on Iran. The irony is that in taking this route, he has disrupted a carefully shaped campaign by American Jewish leaders and others committed to containing Iran's nuclear ambitions that would have probably resulted in sanctions being passed by Congress had he not thrown this monkey wrench into the works.

Notice that even a J Street rabbi was working toward a congressional effort to impose greater sanctions on Iran. The neocons of J Street.

Oh and James Fallows has a very good piece up at taking apart the Israeli claim that Iran represents an "existential" threat, and that it's 1938 all over again.

Is there a state that faces a specific existential threat right now? Yes again. That state is South Korea.

South Korea has no nuclear weapons of its own, though the U.S. has extended its "nuclear umbrella." Its immediate neighbor, North Korea, does have nukes, which it tested and developed while the U.S. was distracted in Iraq. North Korea's leaders are peculiar, to put it mildly, and have repeatedly promised / threatened to destroy South Korea in a "sea of fire" in rhetoric as blood-curdling as any anti-Israel rant from Iran. South Korea's population center is practically on the border with the North, rather than several time zones away as with Iran relative to Israel...

Is Israel's situation comparable to that on the Korean peninsula—or, to use the more familiar parallel, to that of European Jews menaced by Hitler in 1938? It most emphatically is not, if you pay any attention to the underlying facts.

The most obvious difference is that Israel is the incumbent (if unacknowledged) nuclear power in the region, with the universally understood ability to annihilate any attacker in a retaliatory raid.

And Wolf Blitzer of seems to want the Israelis to cancel the speech. He said would be covering the speech live on March 3 - assuming it happens; unless the Israelis make some decisions, he just said now.

China pivots everywhere


© Reuters/Bobby Yip

The world's leading economy is on a roll as it enters a new year in the Chinese zodiac. Welcome to the Year of the Sheep. Or Goat. Or Ram. Or, technically, the Green Wooden Sheep (or Goat).

Even the best Chinese linguists can't agree on how to translate it into English. Who cares?

The hyper-connected average Chinese - juggling among his five smart devices (smartphones, tablets, e-readers) - is bravely advancing a real commercial revolution. In China (and the rest of Asia) online transactions are now worth twice the combined value of transactions in the US and Europe.

As for the Middle Kingdom as a whole, it has ventured much further than the initial proposition of producing cheap goods and selling them to the rest of the planet, virtually dictating the global supply chain.

Now Made in China is going global. No less than 87 Chinese enterprises are among the Fortune Global 500 - their global business booming as they take stakes in an array of overseas assets.

Transatlantic trade? That's the past. The wave of the future is Trans-Pacific trade as Asia boasts 15 of the world's top twenty container ports (with China in pride of place with Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou).

Sorry, Britannia, but it's Asia - and particularly China - who now rule the waves. What a graphic contrast with the past 500 years since the first European trading ships arrived in eastern shores in the early 16th century.

Then there's the spectacular rise of inland China. These provinces have a huge population of at least 720 million people and a GDP worth at least $3.6 trillion. As Ben Simpferdorfer detailed in his delightful (Palgrave MacMillan), "over 200 major Chinese cities with populations greater than 750,000 lay some 150 miles inland from the coast. In effect, we are observing the rise of the world's largest landlocked economy, and that will change the way China looks at the world. From Guangzhou's factories to Shanghai's bankers, all are starting to look inward, not outward."

This new way China looks at the world - and at itself - certainly has not registered in the way the world, especially the West, looks at China. In the West, the spin is always about China's economy slowing down and bubbles about the burst. The real story is how China will develop and modernize its mid-and-large sized cities with populations larger than 750,000. China concentrating on itself is now as important as China spreading its tentacles across the world.

This is what's at the heart of Beijing's breathless "urbanization drive."

During the 1990s, the imperative was massive investment in manufacturing. During the 2000s, the buzzword was massive investments in infrastructure - and a property boom. Now China is tweaking its model - from large-scale economic restructuring to absolutely necessary improvement of political governance.

Meet our new best friends

Geopolitically, China has also tweaked its model, but the West, especially the US, has barely noticed it.

Essentially, the Beijing leadership finally got fed up with trying to manage a possible reset of the China-US strategic relationship, and be treated as an equal. Exceptionalists don't do equality. So Beijing came up with its own response to the Obama administration's political/military "pivot to Asia" - originally announced, and that's quite significant, at the Pentagon.

Thus, in late November 2014, during the Central Foreign Affairs Work Conference in Beijing, President Xi Jinping made an earth-shattering announcement; from now on China would stop treating the US - and the EU - as its main strategic priority. The new focus is on the fellow BRICS group of emerging powers, especially Russia; Asian neighbors; and top nations of the Global South, referred to as "major developing powers" ().

This is not as much a Chinese pivot to Asia as a Chinese pivot to selected nations in the Global South. And based on a "new type of international relations centered on 'win-win' cooperation" - not the bully-or-bomb exceptionalist approach.

Key advisors of this policy should include Professor Yan Xuetong, Dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, and very close to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligentsia.

China's new foreign policy and strategic configuration is all the more evident in the courting of Asian neighbors, invited to embark on China's extremely ambitious twin strategy and the greatest trade/commerce story of the young 21st century: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, in short "Belt and Road initiative," as it's known in China, now officially launched with the first $40 billion attributed to a Silk Road Fund.

The enormity of the challenge is on a par with Beijing's ambition: a pan-Eurasia trade/commerce utopia weaved by high-speed rail, fiber optic networks, ports and pipelines, and connecting East Asia, Central Asia, Russia, the Middle East and Europe.

Of course there will be myriad problems. As in the Chinese commercial push clashing with foreign interests; China having to learn on the go how to manage different cultural sensibilities; and how to coordinate a sort of global trade campaign capable of creating myriad of political and economic effects. The Chinese are already worried about finding the right terminology - so the Chinese dream, internally and globally, won't be lost in translation.

Plenty to be excited about then as the Year of the Sheep (or Goat) starts. What's certain is that the Chinese caravan, much in contrast with the dogs of war - and austerity - pivoting across the West, has already pivoted towards "win-win" pan-Eurasia integration.

Neanderthal teeth suggest sexual division of labor

Neanderthal jaw bone

© Joan Costa/Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Neanderthal jaw bone.

A new study examining Neanderthal teeth from Western Europe suggests that there was a division of labor between males and females. The study was conducted by members of the Department of Paleobiology at the Spanish Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales and published online this month in the .

Although Neanderthals were once thought to be less intelligent, adaptable, and creative than modern humans, recent studies have significantly changed the understanding of our Ice Age cousins. We now know that Neanderthals had the capability for complex speech , controlled fire , created a variety of sophisticated bone and stone tools, wore clothing , decorated their bodies with shells and pigment , and may have created art . In addition, they were culturally and physically similar enough to the first modern humans in Europe that the two groups exchanged genetic material on multiple occasions beginning around 50,000 - 60,0000 years ago.

Neanderthal tooth

© Joan Costa

Neanderthal tooth discovered in El Sidron cave.

Insightful incisors

Several recent discoveries relating to Neanderthal health, diet, and maturation have been made through the examination of fossilized teeth. The new study by Almudena Estalrrich and Antonio Rosas builds on that research by using differences in tooth wear to suggest that Neanderthal males and females engaged in separate activities. While division of labor between the sexes is documented among modern and historic hunter-gatherer societies, it has not previously been identified among Neanderthal populations.

Neanderthals exhibit high instances of tooth wear on their incisors and premolars regardless of age or sex, suggesting that all Neanderthals regularly used their teeth as tools throughout their lifetimes. These patterns include chipping and fracturing of enamel, and striations created by using teeth as a "third hand," holding an object between the teeth and one hand while using a tool in the other hand to cut that item.

Neanderthal division of labor

© Spanish National Research Council

Illustration of Neanderthal division of labor.

Separate non-foraging tasks

Estalrrich and Rosas examined 99 incisors and canine teeth of 19 separate Neanderthal individuals from the cave sites of El Sidron (Spain), L'Hortus (France), and Spy (Belgium). They discovered that striations on the teeth of adult Neanderthal women were consistently longer and more numerous than those found on adult men. Men exhibited more chipping and fracturing on their upper incisors and canines, while women had more chipping on their lower teeth.

Based on these different wear patterns, the investigators propose that Neanderthal men and women engaged in separate non-foraging tasks. Although it is not clear what specific activities caused the wear patterns, the authors suggest that women may have been responsible for the preparation of furs and garments.

According to Rosa, "The study of Neanderthals has provided numerous discoveries in recent years. We have moved from thinking of them as little evolved beings, to know that they took care of the sick persons, buried their deceased, ate seafood, and even had different physical features than expected ... So far, we thought that the sexual division of labor was typical of sapiens societies, but apparently that's not true."

at this website.

Strange sound caused worry among UK residents

Strange Sound

© beautiful-sound.mpacula.com

A loud noise heard over South Shields has caused mystery and worry among residents.

The noise heard in Jarrow has been likened to a jet aeroplane flying over head but it is not known what it is or where it is coming from.

Mary Finnigan, of Beverley Court, Jarrow, said lots of people have been talking about the strange sound since it started to be heard from lunchtime on Friday.

Mrs Finnigan said: "It reaches a crescendo and is quite frightening really.

"I've tried to get information from various people but no-one seems to know what it is.

"Many people have been looking to the skies. It sounds as though a plane suddenly flies over.

"It has caused some anxiety."

Mrs Finnigan has contacted Rohm & Haas chemical factory, and Tedco enterprise agency to try and find out what it may be but to no avail.

She added: "I've never experienced this level of noise having lived here for over 30 years."

Do you know what the noise is?

Unusual comet dive-bombs the sun

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Astronomers are puzzling over a comet that passed "insanely close" to the sun on Feb. 19th. At first glance it appeared to be a small object, not much bigger than a comet-boulder, doomed to disintegrate in the fierce heat. Instead, it has emerged apparently intact and is actually brightening as it recedes from the sun.

Unofficially, the icy visitor is being called "SOHO-2875," because it is SOHO's 2,875th comet discovery.

Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab explains what's odd about SOHO-2875: "It's a 'non-group comet,' meaning that it does not appear to be related to any other comet or comet family that we have on record."


Most comets that SOHO sees belong to the Kreutz family. Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet many centuries ago. They get their name from 19th century German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who studied them in detail. SOHO-2875, however, is not one of those fragments.

"Non-group comets like this appear a few times a year, so in that sense it's not unusual," continues Battams. "But this one is relatively bright. The big question most people will have now is, At first I thought the answer was . But I am very pleasantly surprised--shocked in fact! The comet has brightened dramatically and now is sporting an increasingly impressive tail. Visibility from Earth in a few weeks is no longer out of the question, although I still wouldn't put money on it."

"I'll continue to tweet updates on my http://bit.ly/1AZdG1X feed, so folks can follow along there too."

Klonopin: The deadliest prescription drug in America

© cesspoolofmadness.com


Doctors are doling Klonopin out like candy, causing a surge of hellish withdrawals, overdoses and deaths.

You could argue that the deadliest "drug" in the world is the venom from a jellyfish known as the Sea Wasp, whose sting can kill a human being in four minutes—up to 100 humans at a time. Potassium chloride, which is used to trigger cardiac arrest and death in the 38 states of the U.S. that enforce the death penalty is also pretty deadly . But when it comes to prescription drugs that are not only able to kill you but can drag out the final reckoning for years on end, with worsening misery at every step of the way, it is hard to top the benzodiazepines. And no "benzo" has been more lethal to millions of Americans than a popular prescription drug called Klonopin.

Klonopin is the brand name for the pill known as clonazepam, which was originally brought to market in 1975 as a medication for epileptic seizures. Since then, Klonopin, along with the other drugs in this class, has become a prescription of choice for drug abusers from Hollywood to Wall Street. In the process, these Schedule III and IV substances have also earned the dubious distinction of being second only to opioid painkillers like OxyContin as our nation's most widely abused class of drug.

Seventies-era rock star Stevie Nicks is the poster girl for the perils of Klonopin addiction. In almost every interview, the former lead singer of Fleetwood Mac makes a point of mentioning the toll her abuse of the drug has taken on her life. This month, while promoting her new solo album, In Your Dreams, she told Fox that she blamed Klonopin for the fact that she never had children. "The only thing I'd change [in my life] is walking into the office of that psychiatrist who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years," she said. "God knows, maybe I would have met someone, maybe I would have had a baby."

Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic in 1986 to overcome a cocaine addiction. After her release, the psychiatrist in question prescribed a series of benzos—first Valium, then Xanax, and finally Klonopin—supposedly to support her sobriety. "[Klonopin] turned me into a zombie," she told US Weekly in 2001, according to the website Benzo.org, one of many patient-run sites on the Internet offering information about benzodiazepine addiction, withdrawal and recovery. Nicks has described the drug as a "horrible, dangerous drug," and said that her eventual 45-day hospital detox and rehab from the drug felt like "somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell." Others have described Klonopin's effects as beginning with an energized sense of euphoria but ending up with horrifying sense of anxiety and paralysis, akin to sticking your tongue into an electric outlet, or suddenly feeling that your brain is on fire.

When benzodiazepines first came to market in the 1950s and 1960s, they were prescribed for a range of neurological disorders such as epilepsy as well as anxiety related disorders such as insomnia. But over time, a loophole in federal drug-control laws known as the "practice of medicine exception" has permitted psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe the drugs for any perceived disorder or symptom imaginable, from panic attacks to weight control problems. Much in the same way, Valium became infamous as "mother's little helper," a sedative used to pacify a generation of bored and frustrated suburban housewives.

Alcoholics and drug addicts are most likely to run into Klonopin during detox, when it is used to prevent seizures and control the symptoms of acute withdrawal. Klonopin takes longer to metabolize and passes through your system more slowly than other benzos, so in theory you don't need to take it so frequently. But if you like the high it gives you, and keep increasing your dosage, the addictive effects of the drug accumulate quickly and can often be devastating. The drug's label clearly specifies that it is "recommended" only for short-term use—say, seven to 10 days—but once exposed to the pill's seductive side-effects, many patients come back for more. And not surprisingly, many doctors are happy to refill prescriptions to meet this consumer demand. In the process, countless numbers of people swap one addiction for another, often worse than the initial addiction they were trying to treat. Although benzodiazepines are rarely reported to be the cause of single-drug overdoses, they show up with great frequency in deaths from so-called combined drug intoxication, or CDI. In recent years there have been thousands of deaths caused by this lethal combination. The drug has also help hasten the death of a wide list of otherwise healthy celebrities. :

In 1996, Actress Margaux Hemingway committed suicide by overdosing on a barbiturate-benzodiazepine cocktail. Weeks later, Hollywood movie producer Don Simpson (Beverly Hills Cop) also died from an unintentional benzo-based overdose. Klonopin was one of 11 different prescription drugs—all written by the same doctor—found in the body of Playboy centerfold model Anna Nicole Smith, who OD'd in 2007. Thereafter, the well-known Los Angeles author, David Foster Wallace, who was suffering from a profound depression when a doctor prescribed him Klonopin, went into his backyard on a September evening and hanged himself with a leather belt he had nailed to an overhead beam on his patio. Klonopin has been striking down more than just troubled celebrities, however. In 2008, reports began to surface of soldiers returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder who were dying in their sleep, the victims of a psych-med cocktail of Klonopin, Paxil (an antidepressant), and Seroquel, an antipsychotic that is routinely prescribed by VA hospitals.

Hospital emergency room visits for benzodiazepine abuse now dwarf those for illegal street drugs by a more than a three-to-one margin. This trend has been increasing for at least the last five years. In 2006, the U.S. government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published data showing that prescription drugs that year were the number two reason for ER admissions to hospitals for drug abuse, slightly behind illicit substances like heroin and cocaine. But a survey released by the agency earlier this year claims that benzos, opioids and other prescriptions meds are now responsible for the majority of drug-related hospital visits.

Scientists can't say for sure what Klonopin does when ingested, except that it dramatically affects the functioning of the brain. This much we know: If your brain is on fire with electrical signals—like, say, you're having an epileptic seizure—a dose of clonazepam will help put out the flames. It does so by lowering the electrical activity of the brain, specifically which electrical activities it suppresses is something that no one really seems to know for sure. And therein lies the reason why clonazepam, like nearly the entire class of benzos, causes such unpredictable reactions in people. Put simply, the brain is just too complex a structure for its owners to understand—and when you start monkeying around with the way it functions, it's anybody's guess what is going to happen next.

Here's how the respected neurosurgeon Frank Vertosick, Jr., describes the brain in his book When The Air Hits Your Brain: Parables of Neurosurgery:

"The human brain: a trillion nerve cells storing electrical patterns more numerous than the water molecules of the world's oceans."

So, if clonazepam is given to a patient with a history of epileptic seizures, it is likely to bring the symptoms under control. But give the same drug to a person suffering from a completely different problem (an eating or sleeping disorder, for example), and it might actually cause an epileptic seizure.

Clonazepam has wreaked such havoc on people partly because it is so highly addictive; anyone who takes it for more than a few weeks may well develop a dependence on it. As a result, you can be prescribed Klonopin as a short-term treatment for, say, insomnia, and wind up so hooked on it that you'll begin frantically "doctor shopping" for new prescriptions if the first physician who gave it for you refuses to renew the prescription. As with all benzos, use of Klonopin for more than a month can lead to a dangerous condition known as "benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome," featuring elevation of a user's heart rate and blood pressure along with insomnia, nightmares, hallucinations, anxiety, panic, weight loss, muscular spasms or cramps, and seizures.

Along with Klonopin, here are the three other benzos that, by general agreement, have made it into the top ranks of the world's worst and most widely abused drugs: temazepam, alprazolam, and lorazepam.

Temazepam: Sold in the U.S. under the brand name Restoril, this benzo was developed and approved in the 1960s as a short-term treatment for insomnia. It is basically what is commonly called a "knockout drop." Taken even in relatively modest dosages, temazepam can produce a powerfully hypnotic effect that numbs users and makes them extremely compliant and susceptible to control. But thanks to the "practice of medicine exception" physicians can prescribe it for anything they want.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union reportedly used temazepam extensively to keep political dissidents in a drugged-out state in government-run psychiatric hospitals. Both the CIA and the KGB are also said to have also used the sleeping pill in prisoner interrogations and in research into mind-control, brainwashing and social engineering.

Temazepam is sometimes referred to as a "date rape" drug, and it figures frequently in drug-related crimes of violence. In the drug world underground, where it is often sold as an alternative to heroin and crack cocaine, it goes by such street names as "tams," "Vitamin T," "terminators," "big T," "mind eraser" and "Mommy's Big Helper." Common side-effects include confusion, clumsiness, chronic drowsiness, impaired learning, memory and motor functions, as well as extreme euphoria, dizziness and amnesia.

Alprazolam: Brand name Xanax, this benzo now accounts for as many as 60% of all hospital admissions for drug addiction, according to some research. What's more, violent and psychotic responses to Xanax are not limited to humans. In May 2009, a 200-lb chimpanzee being kept as a house pet by a Stamford, Conn., woman went on a rampage after being dosed with Xanax, escaping into the neighborhood and ripping off the face of a friend of its owner.

Lorazepam: Brand name Ativan, this drug has figured in an array of well-publicized homicides and suicides by those using it. Ativan surfaced in the 2000 divorce case between Washington, D.C., socialite Patricia Duff and her husband, Wall Street billionaire Ronald Perelman. In deposition testimony, Perelman acknowledged taking Ativan as an anti-anxiety drug during his separation from Duff and the commencement of divorce proceedings. The period was marked by numerous outbursts by Perelman and at least two physical assaults on Duff. In 2008, news reports revealed that Ativan was being used by the U.S. Customs Service to keep suspected terrorists sedated while deporting them to detention facilities abroad.

You can buy any of these "feel-good" drugs without a doctor's signature by simply typing the name into any Internet search engine. Instantly, you'll be presented with dozens of websites, both foreign and domestic, where you can make your purchase, no prescription required. (Most of the websites accept all major credit cards.)

Why has all this happened? In large measure you can thank the 47,000 members of the American psychiatric profession for this dreadful state of affairs. Neither the pharmaceutical industry nor the psychiatric profession would be anywhere near as lucrative as they are today without their mutual support system. Together they have created a marketing juggernaut that over the last 20 years has spawned a seemingly nonstop gusher of profits that is only now beginning to slow—and probably only temporarily.

The scholarly journals of the psychiatric profession were filled with early warnings, beginning almost 50 years ago, from those who could see where the encroaching influence of the drug companies was destined to lead the profession. Now, even the medical journals themselves have been corrupted by the hidden hand of Big Pharma. In 2008, the New York Times reported that a survey of the six top medical journals showed that on average almost 8% of the bylined articles published in their pages were ghostwritten by freelance writers, then published under the names of cooperating doctors and researchers to give the pro-drug messages contained in the articles the appearance of impartiality. The scheme is bankrolled, of course, by the company that makes the drug.

Consider Dr. Joseph Biederman, the world-renowned Harvard University psychiatrist and father of modern psychopharmacology for children, who, it now turns out, has been taking secret "consulting fees" from drug companies for years. Biederman is widely credited with legitimizing the concept of "bipolar disorder" as a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be corrected with psychiatric drugs. But documents uncovered by Senate investigators probing ties between the psychiatric profession and the drug industry, which have resulted in an explosion in medically approved uses for psychiatric drugs for children, show that Biederman received more than $1.6 million in undisclosed payments since 2000 from the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the drugs he was encouraging parents to give to their children if they appeared to be "bipolar."

No surveys that I am aware of have ever been conducted regarding the public's impression of what psychiatrists actually do. But from pop culture media characters such as the fictional female psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi in the HBO series The Sopranos, the general belief seems to be that psychiatrists are learned and humane professionals who counsel their patients through hour-long "talk therapy" sessions in their offices once a week, and more frequently than that if necessary to help them resolve their conflicts.

In fact, many do nothing of the sort. It may be only a patient's first session with a psychiatrist that lasts any meaningful amount of time. In this initial consultation the psychiatrist relies on the DSM manual as the diagnostic tool to decide precisely what the patient suffers from. Once that is established, the psychiatrist can begin prescribing psych meds as therapy, free of fear about the danger of a medical malpractice suit lurking down the road.

The follow-up sessions (weekly, monthly, etc.) that come after the initial consultations—that is, the sessions that are portrayed on The Sopranos as the occasions when Mafia killer Tony Soprano sits down in Dr. Melfi's darkened office and pours out his guts about his troubled childhood—usually last as little as 15 minutes. During these so-called "med checks," a psychiatrist typically charges $100 or more for asking the patient little more than how he or she is responding to the prescribed medication—a question that can usually be answered by a quick glance at the patient's demeanor.

At the end of such a med-check, the psychiatrist may decide to renew the patient's current prescription, substitute or add a new one—or even offer the patient a free sample of some new psych-med, courtesy of a sales rep from a pharmaceutical company. At four med-checks per hour, a psychiatrist with enough patients to fill up his workdays can easily make $120,000 annually from his med-check practice alone and still take a month-long summer vacation. It's obvious that this system incentivizes doctors financially to keep prescribing drugs in order to keep patients returning for med-checks.

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Surprise! Measles outbreak documented among fully immunized group of children

© naturalcuresnotmedicine.com

Hell hath no fury like a vaccine zealot during a disease outbreak, with this latest Disneyland measles fiasco a perfect case-in-point. While the corporate media foams violently at the mouth over a few children, , who allegedly contracted measles at Disneyland because not everyone chooses to vaccinate — one hate-filled report from a major news outlet has actually called for parents who oppose vaccinations to be jailed — the level-headed, rational segments of society will recall that many earlier measles outbreaks occurred among fully vaccinated groups of people, debunking the official myth that vaccines provide protection against disease.

In 1987, for example, a study published in the (NEJM) documented a measles outbreak that occurred in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the spring of 1985. Fourteen adolescent-age students, , contracted the disease despite having been injected with the MMR vaccine. Researchers noted that more than 99 percent of students at the school — basically all of them — had also been vaccinated, with more than 95 percent of them showing detectable antibodies to measles.

This highly revealing study completely contradicts the official narrative being propagated today that unvaccinated individuals are responsible for disease outbreaks like the one that reportedly began at Disneyland. None of the students in Texas who contracted the measles in 1985 were unvaccinated, and virtually none of their peers were unvaccinated. Consequently, so-called "herd immunity," which would have been activated based on what health authorities claim as indisputable immunological fact, was also shown to be an unsubstantiated myth, further vindicating the unvaccinated as a possible cause of this particular outbreak.

So what cause 14 fully vaccinated student to catch measles? A failure of the MMR vaccine, of course, which you will never hear about from the prostitute press. There's no other valid explanation for why a fully vaccinated group of children, who were surrounded by an almost fully vaccinated group of peers, contracted a disease for which they should have been immune, according to the official story. And there's no blaming the one or two students who weren't vaccinated for this outbreak because:

  1. not a single unvaccinated student contracted the measles

  2. herd immunity would have been activated regardless, supposedly protecting everyone.

CDC data published after 1985 outbreak reveals exceptional failure of MMR vaccine

Additionally, those who vaccinated should have been protected by the vaccine either way — that is, if vaccines really work as claimed. They obviously don't, which is further evidenced by data later published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its (MMWR).

In a 1988 issue of the report, the CDC published data on measles which documented 3,655 cases of measles in 1987, the previous year. Guess how many of these cases were in vaccinated individuals? 1,903, or roughly 52 percent — more than half! So much for the effectiveness of that MMR vaccine that health authorities want you and your family to rush out and get immediately.

MMR is the same vaccine, of course, that was exposed by the CDC whistleblower as causing autism, particularly in young African American boys. And because MMR contains attenuated (weakened) live measles virus, it can also shed from vaccinated individuals to others, which may have been behind past measles outbreaks.

There are number of possible factors here that the media is ignoring in its vicious witch hunt to demonize all those "anti-vaxxers" out there who have legitimate concerns about the safety and effectiveness of this controversial vaccine. But don't let them bully you — it is ultimately your decision to decide what's best for your children, even if it means foregoing what the establishment claims is the solution.





Former Royal Air Force officers: UK "couldn't cope" if Russia attacked

© RIA Novosti/Anton Denisov

Strategic bomber Tu-95MS

Britain could not withstand a military attack from Russia, according to the former head of the Royal Air Force (RAF) Sir Michael Graydon.

Another senior RAF officer claimed if Putin decided to attack the UK he would "saturate our defenses."

The warnings follow an incident on Thursday when RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to intercept two Russian long-range bombers in international airspace off the coast of Cornwall.

Russia's Defense Ministry said the flight was a planned air patrol conducted in accordance with international law.

While Prime Minister David Cameron rebuffed the incident as Russia "trying to make some sort of point," Graydon believes the threat is more serious.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: "I very much doubt whether the UK could sustain a shooting war against Russia. We are at half the capabilities we had previously."

"They fly in these regions to check our air defenses and have probably worked out we are not as sharp as we were.

"They know it is provocative and they are doing it at a time when defense in the West is pretty wet compared to where they are," he added.

Air Commodore Andrew Lambert echoed Graydon's comments, claiming the UK "couldn't cope" in the event of a Russian attack.

Lambert, who commanded RAF planes patrolling the Northern No Fly Zone over Iraq in 1999, told the Daily Mail: "If the Russians turned up the heat, we would struggle badly."

"If Putin wanted to attack, he would not send a pair of bombers, he would send the lot and saturate our defenses; we couldn't cope," he said.

"The Typhoon is a really good aircraft but with their relatively small numbers they would be overwhelmed: the Russians would outflank us, go around us or just go through us.

"The modern generation of politicians has grown up in absolute security - they've never felt a threat to their existence, safety or security. They've taken peace for granted and decimated the Armed Forces. Let's hope we don't pay the price," he added.

The RAF's interception of Russian bear bombers on Thursday follows a similar event in January, when two Russian Bear bombers flying close to UK airspace were intercepted by RAF Typhoons.

The UK Foreign Office summoned the Russian ambassador at the time to lodge a complaint about the flight of Russian military jets over the English Channel, which authorities claimed posed a danger to passenger aircraft.

However, no details were given to prove how the bombers posed a danger.

Russia's Defense Ministry issued a statement on its Facebook page describing Thursday's flight as "planned air patrols."

Two TU-95 'Bear' bombers took off from Engels airbase on a flight path which took them above"neutral waters in the Barents and Norwegian seas of the Atlantic Ocean," according to the statement.

Total flight time was 20 hours and the patrol was "conducted in strict accordance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters without violating the borders of other states."

Basic distinctions between criminal sociopaths and psychopaths

Many forensic psychologists, psychiatrists and criminologists use the terms sociopathy and psychopathy interchangeably. Leading experts disagree on whether there are meaningful differences between the two conditions. I contend that there are clear and significant distinctions between them.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), released by the AmericanPsychiatric Association in 2013, lists both sociopathy and psychopathy under the heading of Antisocial Personality Disorders (ASPD). These disorders share many common behavioral traits which lead to the confusion between them. Key traits that sociopaths and psychopaths share include:

  • A disregard for laws and social mores

  • A disregard for the rights of others

  • A failure to feel remorse or guilt

  • A tendency to display violent behavior

In addition to their commonalities, sociopaths and psychopaths also have their own unique behavioral characteristics, as well.

Sociopaths tend to be nervous and easily agitated. They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place for very long. It is difficult but not impossible for sociopaths to form attachments with others. Many sociopaths are able to form an attachment to a particular individual or group, although they have no regard for society in general or its rules. In the eyes of others, sociopaths will appear to be very disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be haphazard, disorganized and spontaneous rather than planned.

Psychopaths, on the other hand, are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people's trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people. Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature.

When committing crimes, psychopaths carefully plan out every detail in advance and often have contingency plans in place. Unlike their sociopathic counterparts, psychopathic criminals are cool, calm, and meticulous. Their crimes, whether violent or non-violent, will be highly organized and generally offer few clues for authorities to pursue. Intelligent psychopaths make excellent white-collar criminals and "con artists" due to their calm and charismatic natures.

The cause of psychopathy is different than the cause of sociopathy (1). It is believed that psychopathy is the result of "nature" (genetics) while sociopathy is the result of "nurture" (environment). Psychopathy is related to a physiological defect that results in the underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and emotions. Sociopathy, on the other hand, is more likely the product of childhood trauma and physical/emotional abuse. Because sociopathy appears to be learned rather than innate, sociopaths are capable of empathy in certain limited circumstances but not in others, and with a few individuals but not others.

Psychopathy is the most dangerous of all antisocial personality disorders because of the way psychopaths dissociate emotionally from their actions, regardless of how terrible they may be. Many prolific and notorious serial killers, including the late Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, and Dennis Rader ("Bind, Torture, Kill" or BTK) are unremorseful psychopaths. Psychopathic killers view their innocent victims as inhuman objects to be tormented and violated for their amusement. Contrary to popular mythology, most serial killers are not mentally ill or "evil" geniuses. See my related article: Serial Killer Myth #1: They're Mentally Ill or Evil Geniuses.

"Unhackable" cellphone being developed by Russian firm

© Reuters / Eddie Keogh

Russia is entering the post-Snowden world with style. Its own anti-surveillance smartphone prototype, equipped with the latest in cutting-edge cybersecurity and intended for corporate users, is currently being tested.

This is not Russia's first foray into smartphones, with the dual-screen YotaPhone making headlines recently with its second incarnation. However, the new project will offer unparalleled, corporate-level securit, when ready. The current version is a prototype and any photos are kept in strict secret.

Called the TaigaPhone, the phone will be manufactured by Taiga Systems, 99 percent of which belongs to Natalya Kasperskaya, owner of the InfoWatch group. The device will synergize with other tools provided by the company to its high-profile clients.

According to daily, things like photos and work-related files, as well as phone conversations and metadata will not "leak" without the user's consent, according to Taiga Systems co-owner Aleksey Nagorny.

"The device is entirely our own - the design, the schematics and circuitry. The phone will be manufactured in China," he said.

The company used Android's base for the creation of its own Taiga operating system. Inventing one from scratch was too costly and cumbersome.

But the system will also contain several levels of cyber defense, chief among them the ability to completely disable or enable select parts of the system. Nagorny mentioned the camera, as well as location services.

© RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov

New YotaPhone 2 smartphone

The phone can also be fashioned into a traditional "slab," to allow only phone calls. The most extreme version of this setting will enable the user to only see incoming calls. And of course, no secure device would be complete without the ability to switch off your microphone.

All of these settings will require one or two buttons maximum to operate.

What's more, a signal will alert the user if anyone is trying to hack the microphone or any other key features.

Symantec will cooperate with Taiga Systems on some of the more key security capabilities. Many now know that switching off your phone does not disable the GPS - that's where Symantec comes in.

Other phones exist with similar capabilities, with the BlackPhone - an Android-based solution from Europe - released four months ago. It boasts information encryption, something the likes of whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange have been very vocal about.

Despite the obvious advantages of encryption, high-security devices still aren't the mainstream even in the corporate sector, for which the TaigaPhone was developed. The situation today is such that standard phones are bought in most cases, with the company installing various add-ons for its employees.

The price and arrival date are being kept under wraps.

According to Nagorny, the company is in talks to equip other makes with the Taiga system soon.

Fun fat facts: Fatty foods that are great for your health

© drfranklipman.com

Fat is back! Non-fat, low-fat and quasi-fat products have been substituted in our food for so long, it's sometimes hard to remember what fat actually tastes like. Studies have shown that eating fat does not in fact, make a person fat. In her 2014 book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese belong in a Healthy Diet, journalist Nina Teicholz argues that carbohydrates and sugar are the most dangerous ingredients in the modern American diet, causing obesity.

Think you're a fat expert? Here are five things you should know about fat.

1. There are four different types of fat: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, trans fat and saturated fat. Some of these fats are important to your diet, while others should be restricted.

2. Guacamole can make you healthier. New research shows that a diet moderate in fat that includes eating avocadoes daily, which contain monounsaturated fat, can lead to significant health benefits. In a study at Pennsylvania State University, researchers found that eating an avocado daily improved the ratios of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol. "The results of this study suggest that the monounsaturated fat, fiber, phytosterols and other dietary bioactives in avocados may provide greater benefits to cardiovascular disease risk factors compared to a calorie matched low fat diet," said Penny Kris-Etherton, lead author of the study.

3. The fats found in the Mediterreanean diet are good for you. Polyunsaturated fats, many of which contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, can also help lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular disease. You'll find these fats in fish like salmon, trout and herring, nuts like walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds, and cooking oils including soybean and corn.

4. Trans fats aren't only in processed foods.Trans fats, the oils found on top of other fats (such as butter), are unhealthy, and while naturally occuring, they are especially dangerous when added to packaged foods to make them more enjoyable. To reduce risk of heart disease, aim for zero trans fats. The Mayo Clinic reports that foods with .5 grams of trans fat can be labeled as 0 trans fat on food packaging. Be wary of ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil adding up to a whole lot of trans fat in each bite of processed cookie.

5. While high in saturated fat, coconut is actually very healthy. Saturated fat is generally frowned upon as one of the bad fats; found in animal products like meat and dairy as well as fried foods, it's the stuff that's known to clog arteries. In coconuts, however, 50% of its saturated fat content is lauric acid according to Men's Health. reports that even though lauric acid raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, it boosts HDL (good) cholesterol even more. Go for that healthy piƱa colada.

In conclusion, the American Heart Association knows how much fat you should eat. Check out its Heart Calculator at Heart.org to break down the total fats, saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol okay for your diet.

How Brazil's water crisis can metastasize into societal self-destruction

Brazil drought 3

© Associated Press

If you take a look through history, you'll see the rise and fall of numerous civilizations. Many armchair historians are quick to point to these examples, and say their decline was caused by drought, or war, or economic collapse. But the truth is, it's never just one disaster that causes their collapse. It's often a series of problems that compound and feed each other, begetting more calamities until the system buckles.

It's easy to notice these sorts of conditions being inflicted on America today, but I think the best example in the Western Hemisphere is probably Brazil. Right now they're going through one of the worst droughts in history, and if current rates of consumption continue, cities like Sao Paulo may be out of water in 4-6 months. After three straight years of drought, there's even talk of rationing the water to such an extreme degree, that they'll have to shut off the municipal supply to the public for 5 days a week.

At 20 million people, the Sao Paulo metropolitan area is considered a megacity, on par with Los Angeles or New York. Could you imagine something like that happening in an American city? I supposes there are certain parallels to be seen in California's metropolitan areas, but their situation is far worse.

For starters, they've been much more wasteful with their water. California has received a pretty bad rap for wasting water, but they've got nothing on Sao Paulo. Only about 30 percent of their sewage is treated, and the rest is dumped back into the environment. The rivers running through the city are basically open sewers. If they had spent the time and money to treat their sewage, then the city would've been able to tap these rivers during the drought.

See how that works? If a society is irresponsible in one way, eventually it'll cause bigger and more expensive problems down the road. If those problems can't be solved, then you can expect them to cause even bigger problems. It's kind of like taking out a payday loan to get through a rough patch. It may pay the bills for one month, but you also might end up paying down that loan for years to come.

So how is this drought going to start creating new problems at an exponential rate? Well with more people trying to collect rain water, there's already more mosquitos breeding in the city. This has caused the number dengue fever cases to triple over the previous year. But so far that issue is still pretty small. The real crisis at hand is their power supply. With the reservoirs at record low levels, their dams may not be able to produce power for much longer. For a country that receives 70 percent of its power from hydroelectric sources, that could be catastrophic.

And since Sao Paulo is Brazil's most economically productive city, this drought threatens to cause a nationwide economic collapse. Brazil is already in the throes of recession, so having a disaster of this magnitude play out in their most profitable city, could push their nation over the edge; a situation which is not exactly unheard of for them.

You can already see how these problems might continue to metastasize. With a rapidly deteriorating economy, there will be even less money to revamp their infrastructure, which means the water pollution situation will only get worse. Power shortages might also cause food shortages and malnourishment, which might lead to more disease. And without enough water, essential services like hospitals will be severely hamstrung.

And on and on it goes, an endless feedback loop of self-destruction. It can be stopped at any time though, but the longer they wait, the harder it becomes to stop. That's because the sacrifices required to pull back become greater after each disastrous cycle of this feedback loop. In the beginning, the sacrifices would have been small. The government would have had to buckle down and fix their water infrastructure. Instead, they kicked the can down the road, and the sacrifices required to shore up the system now are more severe.

These are the situations that tell you everything you need to know about the society you live in. Crises like this have happened to every civilization in history, sometimes on several occasions. Usually society will pull together, adapt, and do their best to ride through the storm. It can go down in history as their finest hour.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always end that way. Sometimes society isn't willing to step back from their unsustainable habits. Each individual just assumes that it's someone else's problem (which is a pretty common sentiment in large cities), and somehow the crisis will just solve itself. If that attitude becomes endemic to every strata of society, from the industrialists to the politicians, to even the working class and the poor, then that society will fail. Their situation may work out for a long time, but once they face adverse conditions, that society will just cycle down into oblivion, as described above.

So if you've been working on a preparedness plan, keep a very close eye on Brazil. You're about to see a living example of what happens to a modern nation that is pushed to the brink. This is a water crises we're talking about. They're running out of the most precious resource on Earth, and we're about to see their nation fundamentally change for the better, or fall into chaos. Either way, there will be a lot to learn for any would-be preppers out there.






Financial system reset coming soon?

Putin holding gold

was the title of a recent Bloomberg op-ed by Leonid Bershidsky the founding editor of Vedomosti, Russia's top business daily. He explains why the Russian central bank has accumulated almost 100 tons of gold in the last four months of 2014. It is an acceleration of the gold buying program which started in 2007, a year before the Lehman collapse.

Besides accumulating gold the Russians have been quite active sellers of US Treasuries. Between November 2013 and December 2014 they have sold around $30 billion of US government bonds while they grew their gold reserves from $43 to over $50 billion in a clear effort to de-Americanize the Russian economy. Just like the Chinese they as well signed bilateral currency-swap-deals in a move away from the dollar.

The Russian activities can be seen as part of an all-out financial war between Russia and the West as best described by Putin's economic advisor Sergei Glazyev in a recent interview:

"I believe that in a situation of growing military and political confrontation the gold price will move up again. And let's not forget that America's refusal to honor their debt will undermine trust in the dollar not just in this country but also in others. It will be a step towards the end of the American financial empire. It will give us a chance to be among the first to suggest a new configuration for the world financial system, in which the role of national currencies will be significantly higher."

The Chinese, who have shown all kind of financial and economic support for Russia in recent months, have been on a gold buying spree as well. In the last ten years Chinese buyers have accumulated over 10,000 tonnes of gold.

While Western banks are trying to scare customers away from buying gold, the Chinese have opened up over 100,000 retail outlets to promote gold and silver among the public. In my book I quote from an article by Sun Zhaoxue, the former president of both the China National Gold Corporation (CNG) and China Gold Association (CGA), first published by gold analyst Koos Jansen:

"Individual investment demand is an important component of China's gold reserve system; we should encourage individual investment demand for gold. Practice shows that gold possession by citizens is an effective supplement to national reserves and is very important to national financial security. Because gold possesses stable intrinsic value, it is both the cornerstone of countries' currency and credit as well as a global strategic reserve. Without exception, world economic powers established and implement gold strategies at the national level."

Mr Sun outlines why substantial national gold reserves are so important for countries like China:

"In the global financial crisis, countries in the world political and economic game, we once again clearly see that gold reserves have an important function for financial stability and are an 'anchor' for national economic security. Increasing gold reserves should become a central pillar in our country's development strategy. International experience shows that a country requires 10% of foreign reserves in gold to ensure financial stability while achieving high economic growth concurrently. At the moment, the US, France, Italy and other countries' gold accounts for 70%
 of forex reserves. After the international financial crisis erupted, (our) gold reserves were increased to 1054 tons
 but gold reserves account for less than 1.6% of financial reserves - a wide gap compared to developed countries."

According to him, the Chinese government is intent on accumulating additional high quality (gold) assets:

"The state will need to elevate gold to an equal strategic resource as oil and energy, from the whole industry chain to develop industry planning and resource strategies... increasing proven reserves, merger and acquisitions, base construction and opening up offshore gold resources to accelerate increase of national gold reserves. Concurrently, actively implement a globalization strategy that will exploit overseas resources and increase channels to grow China's gold reserves. We should achieve the highest gold reserves in the shortest time."

According to Bloomberg the Chinese have stopped buying US Treasuries as well. Instead the Chinese have signed contracts worth $100's of billions with Russia; this is a strong diplomatic sign of support for Russia. The two countries even signed a contract for a $240 billion investment for a 7000 km high-speed link between Beijing and Moscow.

These developments illustrate a growing divide between the financial interest between East and West. Now sovereign bond and deposit yields at or below zero we have reached the financial endgame, as the Saxo bank and Deutsche Bank have been writing recently. The IMF has published a report in which the economists Rogoff and Reinhart point to the need for debt restructurings in advanced economies. Debt restructurings and finding a new world reserve currency are the main aspects of a coming Monetary Reset.

Recently we have seen some more confirmation major countries are preparing for a new phase of the international monetary system. During two conferences in China last year, a coming financial reset has been discussed. At the 2014 edition of the Chinese International Finance Forum (IFF) "[..] a new global financial order has been discussed with China." According to the former ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet. Chinese media reported the three days the forum (including U.N., World Bank, IMF participations) discussed "the new framework for the global financial and economic system".

Preparations for a monetary reset were also confirmed by Zhou Ming, General Manager of the Precious Metals Department at ICBC during the LBMA Forum in Singapore;

"With the status of the US dollar as the international reserve currency being shaky, a new global currency setup is being conceived."

Yes even Alan Greenspan acknowledged that, ' The US unfunded liabilities (pension and health costs) are as high as $128 trillion.

Japan is the best and most worrying example of the sheer magnitude of public debt, which will reach 250% of GDP in 2015. At the end of 2014 the architect of Japan's radical economic policies, often described as 'Abenomics' Koichi Hamada called the aggressive moves by the Japanese central bank a Ponzi-scheme:

"In a Ponzi game you exhaust the lenders eventually, and of course Japanese taxpayers may revolt. But otherwise there are always new taxpayers, so this is a feasible Ponzi game, though I'm not saying it's good."

One more insider who is very vocal about the need for a monetary reset and who's views we shouldn't ignore, is the legendary hedge fund manager George Soros:

"The system we now have has broken down, only we haven't quite recognized it. So you need to create a new one and now is the time to do it... You need a new world order where China has to be part of the process of creating it. They have to buy in [which they are doing by buying gold] ... And I think this would be a more stable one where you would have coordinated policies. I think the makings of it are already there because the G20 effectively is moving in that direction... So there is a general lack of confidence in currencies and a move away from currencies into real assets.... Especially in the area of commodities."

Gold Repatriations

The gold repatriation by several European countries is another sign we are reaching an end of a monetary calm period of over 40 years. The Europeans follow in the footsteps of other countries to repatriate their physical gold holdings from the US. According to a former Director of the United States Mint:

"More countries are repatriating their gold. For them, an audit is not enough. They would like their gold back. Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Iran, Libya, Mexico, Romania and Venezuela is a short list of countries that have requests into their custodians to transfer some or all their gold back to their countries."

We can only conclude gold is making a remarkable comeback into our financial system and even that a new gold standard is being born without any formal decision. At least that's how Ambrose Evans- Pritchard, an influential international business editor of The Telegraph, described the on-going efforts by countries to lay their hands on as much physical gold as possible:

"The world is moving step by step towards a de facto Gold Standard, without any meetings of G20 leaders to announce the idea or bless the project... Neither the euro nor the dollar can inspire full confidence, although for different reasons. EMU is a dysfunctional construct, covering two incompatible economies, prone to lurching from crisis to crisis, without a unified treasury to back it up. The dollar stands on a pyramid of debt. We all know that this debt will be inflated away over time - for better or worse. The only real disagreement is over the speed... The central bank (gold) buyers are of course the rising powers of Asia and the commodity bloc, now holders of two thirds of the world's $11 trillion foreign reserves, and all its incremental reserves. It is no secret that China is buying the dips, seeking to raise the gold share of its reserves well above 2%. Russia has openly targeted a 10% share. Variants of this are occurring from the Pacific region to the Gulf and Latin America. And now the Bundesbank has chosen to pull part of its gold from New York and Paris. Personally, I doubt that Bundesbank had any secret agenda, or knows something hidden from the rest of us. It responded to massive popular pressure and prodding from lawmakers in the Bundestag to bring home Germany's gold. Yet that is not the story. The fact that this popular pressure exists - and is well organized - reflects a breakdown in trust between the major democracies and economic powers. It is a new political fact in the global system."

These latest development can have big repercussions in the future, just like the repatriation of gold in the 1960s lead to the implosion of the London gold Pool in 1968 and the rise of the gold price from $35 in 1969 to over $800 in 1980.

These indications about the coming changes for our monetary system don't mean we have to expect a monetary reset earlier than previously expected. The planned changes will take time to discuss and to prepare. But we will experience them in the next decade for sure. They could be introduced as one worldwide monetary reset or in a series of smaller steps.

Commodity Discovery Fund and author of The Big Reset.