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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Nuland accuses Russia of invading Ukraine (Video)

© radixjournal.com

The US is increasing its claims against Moscow to a new level - with fresh accusations about thousands of Russian troops in Ukraine. At a congressional meeting, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland stated as fact that there had been an invasion. 's Gayane Chichakyan has the details.

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McDonald's sales rapidly decline as Americans reject fake food

© The Austrailian

With 70% of the United States now overweight, it seems the public is finally beginning to wake up and make healthy living its priority. Because modern-day diseases of affluence have shown no decrease (quite the opposite, actually) in recent years, it seems more and more people are abstaining from fast food joints like McDonald's, and to the extent that the double-arch company is taking it hard.

As McDonald's once-stable stock position plummets down into financial demise, more and more families are boycotting the franken-food fast food chain.

Such shift has even caused the CEO of McDonald's to step down as news was released of continued decline in the company's most recent briefing.

Even though the world's largest restaurant change might be trying to entice the public with its new board members and advertising campaigns, it seems to be losing its grip on the American public.

Perhaps it's because McDonald's is founded on irresponsible practices - like supporting factory farms which don't let the hormone-injected chickens breathe, or sourcing low-quality, pesticide-treated crops for its dishes.

Maybe it's because food-like substances it sells contain over 17 different ingredients that are virtually impossible to pronounce, and are used in the production of things like yoga mats and silly putty. (Curious? Here are just a few products you can find in a McDonald's fast-food meal).

Whatever is turning consumers off, it is clear they will not be joining Ronald McDonald for lunch again anytime soon. Even had this to say about the decline in McDonald's stock:

"On Monday, McDonald's reported global same-store sales that declined 2.2% month on month. This missed analysts' expectations for a 1.7% decline. In the US, the story was even worse for the fast-food giant as same-store sales fell 4.6%.

The disappointing numbers from McDonald's come as the chain faces increasing competition from restaurants like Chipotle. Last week we noted that even the Federal Reserve's fieldwork on the US economy showed the consumer shift toward outlets like Chipotle and away from chains like McDonald's."

Police State USA: FBI drastically under-reports the victims of police murder in the US, real numbers are much higher

Police State

© Dollar Vigilante.com

US record keepers looking at uncounted law enforcement homicides realized that previous official tallies severely undercounted numbers. The new estimate put it at an average of 928 people each year over the most recent eight years, compared to 383 in published FBI data.

The numbers compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the research institute RTI International found that FBI statistics covered only 46% of law enforcement homicides and doesn't even include data from several key states, including Florida. The FBI tallies, the report says, are "anything but hugely misleading."

Another problem with the FBI numbers is that they are based on voluntary submissions by local law enforcement. Since law enforcement agencies are not required to submit the data, many do not for officer-involved shootings.

The underreporting is pretty significant, says the report. In one case the data was 124% off what it should be, while another year was 167% off. The years included in the study were also prominent ones for officer-involved shootings, such as the 2006 shooting of Sean Bell in a haze of bullets outside a New York nightclub, and the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant in an Oakland, California train station. Grant's story was turned into an Oscar-winning award-winning film, Fruitvale Station.

Most others, the researchers say, went uncounted and unnamed.

Even FBI Director James Comey recognizes the problem with the numbers from the FBI, saying at a recent speech at Georgetown University that he's flabbergasted that the numbers aren't more accurate. "It's ridiculous that I can't tell you how many people were shot by the police in this country - last week, last year, the last decade - it's ridiculous.

White House rejected standards for regulating explosive gas in oil-transport trains

train derailment, oil explosion train

The fireball that followed the derailment and explosion of two trains, one carrying Bakken crude oil, on December 30, 2013, outside Casselton, ND.

A federal standard for regulating explosive gas in oil-transporting trains was rejected in the higher levels of the White House, according to a new report. It instead opted to allow new industry-backed regulations crafted in North Dakota to suffice.

In September 2014, according to a Reuters exclusive report, Anthony Foxx, secretary of the US Department of Transportation, took to the White House to express concern over the increasing derailment disasters occurring amid the oil and gas boom in places such as the Bakken Shale region around North Dakota.

Foxx was specifically focused on new rules for an industrial term for the mixture of combustible gas that is a high risk for DOT-111 crude-oil tanker trains, which haul 60 percent of the 1.2 million barrels of oil produced daily just in North Dakota.

For example, in 2013, high vapor pressure in an oil tanker coming from the Bakken exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, causing the runaway train to kill 47 people.

Reuters reported that the Transportation Dept. had crafted an oil-train safety plan in July that aimed to heighten safety protocol of DOT-111 tanker trains, including tougher shells, slower deliveries, and better braking system requirements. Yet limiting the volatile gas cocktail was not part of the plan.

The proposal was presented to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, but the Obama administration ultimately decided to keep away, allowing a state rule approved in late 2014 in North Dakota to take hold.

"The department had already identified issues with the characteristics of the crude oil, including vapor pressure, and had developed potential strategies related to the overall improvement and safety of the transport of the product and how the industry could treat it," a White House official source told Reuters.

"Following the meeting, the Department of Transportation supported North Dakota on treatment of crude oil in the field," the White House official added.

The North Dakota rule, however, has been panned by critics of current industrial practices. The measure's goal "is to produce crude oil that does not exceed a vapor pressure of 13.7 pounds per square inch (psi)," billed as a way to limit the potential for explosions.

But, as pointed out by DeSmogBlog, the new psi standard "will permit oil that is significantly more volatile than the oil in the Lac-Megantic disaster to continue to be shipped by rail." Meanwhile, based on even industry (and regulator) crafted reports, most oil tested recently in the Bakken region already falls short of 13.7 psi, North Dakota's new standard that will take effect next month.

In fact, North Dakota State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms has told the Star Tribune that "about 80 percent of North Dakota crude already falls well below the proposed standard."

In addition, the state's new rules do not strengthen vapor pressure testing standards, as they only call for oil industry employees to test quarterly, eschewing an earlier proposal for independent lab testing.

The new rules also indicated that state regulators have allowed companies to ship oil that contains high amounts of valuable, yet dangerous naturally-occurring gas liquids like butane. These components significantly increase the likelihood of an explosion.

Recent oil spills from train derailments, like one that occurred in West Virginia last month, have underscored the risks that come with the current oil and gas boom in North America.

Within the last two years, there have been at least 11 major derailments in the US and Canada that involved trains carrying immense amounts of oil, according to a December 2014 report by the US Congressional Research Service.

From 2006 to April 2014, there were 16 high-profile accidents involving trains carrying crude or ethanol, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board. In all, 281 tank cars have derailed, spilling nearly 5 million gallons of crude or ethanol, all resulting in 48 fatalities, Reuters reported.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, DOT-111 tank cars that carry crude and ethanol are not adequately equipped to carry flammable materials, and there is no requirement for the cars to have thermal protection against fire hazards.

Efforts to address shipment safety are wrapped up in a fight over whether crude should be considered highly flammable or not, in addition to the questions over the future of DOT-111 cars.

Liability issues have also hampered safety. Currently, common-carrier railroads must accept any cars that are of an approved design - such as the DOT-111 - all while they must assume the risk. Shippers, on the other hand, are free of liability burdens.

In addition to train derailments that have felled toxic contaminants, there has been an uptick so far this year in other energy-development disasters, as RT has reported.

In North Dakota, three millions of gallons of saltwater brine, a byproduct of hydraulic fracking, spilled in January from a ruptured pipeline near the Missouri River. A line in West Virginia transporting ethane exploded, and 40,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Yellowstone River from a ruptured pipeline in Montana. A natural gas pipeline exploded in Mississippi, and a second North Dakota incident set loose 20,000 gallons of brine.

Leidenfrost-based engine could fuel human life on Mars

© YOUTUBE/MarsOneProject (Screenshot)

Researchers want to power a new kind of engine using a phenomenon known as the "Leidenfrost effect."

The Leidenfrost effect occurs when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point (think about what happens when drops of water appear to dance across the surface of a very hot frying pan.) Upon contact, a layer of vapor forms between the liquid-solid interface, creating a barrier between the two.

This also applies to dry ice, which can levitate above hot surfaces because of a thin barrier of evaporated gas vapor.

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The researchers, whose work has been published in the journal Nature Communications, proposed for the first time using the vapor created by this effect to power an engine.

This innovative new technique has various implications for long-term space travel, reported. The colonization of distant planets could be made possible using carbon dioxide, which is easily accessible and renewable.

In fact, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has sent home evidence suggesting that dry ice may be a naturally occurring resource on Mars.

"Carbon dioxide plays a similar role on Mars as water does on Earth. It is a widely available resource which undergoes cyclic phase changes under the natural Martian temperature variations" Dr. Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar, a co-author on the study, said.

"Perhaps future power stations on Mars will exploit such a resource to harvest energy as dry-ice blocks evaporate, or to channel the chemical energy extracted from other carbon-based sources, such as methane gas."

"The working principle of a Leidenfrost-based engine is quite distinct from steam-based heat engines; the high-pressure vapour layer creates freely rotating rotors whose energy is converted into power without the need of a bearing, thus conferring the new engine with low-friction properties," said co-author Dr. Gary Wells.

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Professor Glen McHale, Executive Dean for Engineering and Environment at Northumbria University, said the technology has the potential for further breakthroughs.

"This is the starting point of an exciting avenue of research in smart materials engineering. In the future, Leidenfrost-based devices could find applications in wide ranging fields, spanning from frictionless transport to outer space exploration."

Yet again: Another crude oil train derails and catches fire

oil train derailment galena illinois

Flames and smoke can be seen at the site of an oil train's derailment near Galena

Eight train cars filled with crude oil veered off the tracks in the south of Galena, Illinois. At least two of them caught fire after the 105-car-long BNSF Railway train derailed.

The train derailed around 1:20 pm (19:20 GMT) in a rural area where the Galena River meets the Mississippi, according to railroad officials.

Galena city fire crews responded to the reports as soon as the emergency calls went through.

"The report that came back to me from them is that eight tanker cars had left the track," Galena City Administrator Mark Moran told reporters. "Two of those were still upright, the other six were not. They observed at least one of those tankers smoking."

No reports of injuries have so far surfaced, and no evacuations have been necessary, Moran said, adding that there are "no structures and no houses in that area."

"I did confirm that the train crew was safely removed from the scene without injury," he said.

Reuters meanwhile reports that two cars have ignited. The train had 105 loaded cars - 103 of which were carrying crude oil. BNSF has released two statements regarding the derailment, but has not confirmed reports of burning crude oil at the crash site.

Dubuque Fire Chief Rick Steines told local media he has deployed firefighters with foam fire suppression equipment to a derailment staging area. "We sent two people with our foam trailer because of a request we got form Jo Daviess County," he said.

It's still unclear what caused the derailment, according to a BNSF statement.

The railroad is working with local responders and has notified the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Railroad Administration.

Firefighters attempted to extinguish an initial small fire soon after the incident, but were unable to stop the flames, pulling back for safety reasons at around 3:20 pm, local time.

"We couldn't access the seat of the fire, and it grew," Assistant Fire Chief Bob Conley told local news. Responders are allowing the fire to burn itself out, he said.

Tomgram: Is drone warfare starting to unravel? Pilots quitting at record pace

It was a typical little news story on Washington's drone wars -- six paragraphs from Yemen, the sort of minimalist report that, in these years, has also regularly come out of Pakistan or even, from time to time, Somalia. "A U.S. drone attack in Yemen killed four suspected al-Qaeda militants on Saturday in the southern province of Shabwa, local Yemeni security officials told Reuters." Who those "militants" really were we seldom know; there's rarely follow-up in the mainstream media. It's just another barely noticed mini-triumph in Washington's ongoing "covert" drone wars in the Greater Middle East.

Those wars have been secret and yet strangely public for years now. The White House has seemingly been filled with pride over its ever-updated "kill list" and the regular CIA strikes on terror targets it green-lights for a small fleet of Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles. As a result, it eagerly leaks information about its drone wars that it considers flattering. Meanwhile, its top officials don't hesitate to discussor even brag about the program. In this, it follows in a tradition established in the 1980s by President Ronald Reagan in which "covert wars" -- in his case, in Central America -- were fought in remarkably open and publicity-conscious ways. Meanwhile, their supposedly secret nature kept them from serious oversight. In this way, covert and overt were wedded in a process intended to free the White House and the CIA to do as they wished.

As a result, in the post-9/11 years, at least in the mainstream media, drone assassination campaigns have generally gotten a remarkably free ride. While those "militants" always seem to go down for the count, it's rarely mentioned in the same reports that, in places like Yemen, the local terror outfits that Washington means to crush from the air, militant by militant, terrorist leader by terrorist leader, only seem to grow.

More than a decade of intense experience with drones teaches us at least one salient lesson: our robot warriors make war in the usual sense of the term, but in another way as well. In places that are not officially American war zones, their operations also regularly generate war. They are, that is, not a military solution to a problem, but a significant part of that problem. And let's add a second lesson from these droning years into the mix. The U.S. has pioneered the drone as a weapon for a new kind of war. In the process, it has opened drone flyways down which many countries and undoubtedly terror organizations, too, will one day travel. The recent decision of the Obama administration to spread drone technology by selling armed drones to its allies will only hasten the process. The crash of an over-the-counter commercial drone on the White House grounds and mysterious drones of a similar nature flying by night over tourist sites (and the U.S. Embassy) in Paris, a city already on edge, only emphasize the way in which such technology has now been let loose everywhere. (Even the Secret Service is about to start experimenting with drone flights in Washington.)

However, as TomDispatch regular Pratap Chatterjee, author of Halliburton's Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War , suggests today, a new and important critique of Washington's drone wars is emerging from a thoroughly unexpected place: the drone pilots themselves. Explain it as you will, they are taking their hands off the joysticks and voting against drone war with their feet -- and possibly, though the subject couldn't be murkier, their consciences. Tom

Are Pilots Deserting Washington's Remote-Control War?

By Pratap Chatterjee

A New Form of War May Be Producing a New Form of Mental Disturbance

The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as "18Xs," working for the U.S. Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same 12 months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. (The better-known U.S. Central Intelligence Agency drone assassination program is also flown by Air Force pilots loaned out for the covert missions.)

On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle stating that pilot "outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come" and added that he was "extremely concerned." Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. "This is a force that is under significant stress -- significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations," she told the media.

In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in "war zones," they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new techno-warriors commute to work like any office employees and sit in front of computer screens wielding joysticks, playing what most people would consider a glorified video game.

They typically "fly" missions over Afghanistan and Iraq where they are tasked with collecting photos and video feeds, as well as watching over U.S. soldiers on the ground. A select few are deputized to fly CIA assassination missions over Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen where they are ordered to kill "high value targets" from the sky. In recent months, some of these pilots have also taken part in the new war in the Syrian and Iraqi borderlands, conducting deadly strikes on militants of ISIL.

Each of these combat air patrols involves three to four drones, usually Hellfire-missile-armed Predators and Reapers built by southern California's General Atomics, and each takes as many as 180 staff members to fly them. In addition to pilots, there are camera operators, intelligence and communications experts, and maintenance workers. (The newer Global Hawk surveillance patrols need as many as 400 support staff.)

The Air Force is currently under orders to staff 65 of these regular "combat air patrols" around the clock as well as to support a Global Response Force on call for emergency military and humanitarian missions. For all of this, there should ideally be 1,700 trained pilots. Instead, facing an accelerating dropout rate that recently drove this figure below 1,000, the Air Force has had to press regular cargo and jet pilots as well as reservists into becoming instant drone pilots in order to keep up with the Pentagon's enormous appetite for real-time video feeds from around the world.

The Air Force explains the departure of these drone pilots in the simplest of terms. They are leaving because they are overworked. The pilots themselves say that it's humiliating to be scorned by their Air Force colleagues as second-class citizens. Some have also come forward to claim that the horrors of war, seen up close on video screens, day in, day out, are inducing an unprecedented, long-distance version of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

But is it possible that a brand-new form of war -- by remote control -- is also spawning a brand-new, as yet unlabeled, form of psychological strain? Some have called drone war a "coward's war" (an opinion that, according to reports from among the drone-traumatized in places like Yemen and Pakistan, is seconded by its victims). Could it be that the feeling is even shared by drone pilots themselves, that a sense of dishonor in fighting from behind a screen thousands of miles from harm's way is having an unexpected impact of a kind psychologists have never before witnessed?

Killing Up Close and Personal From Afar

There can be no question that drone pilots resent the way other Air Force pilots see them as second-class citizens. "It's tough working night shifts watching your buddies do great things in the field while you're turning circles in the sky," a drone instructor named Ryan told Mother Jones magazine. His colleagues, he says, call themselves the "lost generation."

"Everyone else thinks that the whole program or the people behind it are a joke, that we are video-game warriors, that we're Nintendo warriors," Brandon Bryant, a former drone camera operator who worked at Nellis Air Force Base, told Democracy Now.

Certainly, there is nothing second-class about the work tempo of drone life. Pilots log 900-1,800 hours a year compared to a maximum of 300 hours annually for regular Air Force pilots. And the pace is unrelenting. "A typical person doing this mission over the last seven or eight years has worked either six or seven days a week, twelve hours a day," General Welsh told NPR recently. "And that one- or two-day break at the end of it is really not enough time to take care of that family and the rest of your life

The pilots wholeheartedly agree. "It's like when your engine temperature gauge is running just below the red area on your car's dashboard, but instead of slowing down and relieving the stress on the engine, you put the pedal to the floor," one drone pilot told Air Force Times. "You are sacrificing the engine to get a short burst of speed with no real consideration to the damage being caused."

The Air Force has come up with a pallid interim "solution." It is planning to offer experienced drone pilots a daily raise of about $50. There's one problem, though: since so many pilots leave the service early, only a handful have enough years of experience to qualify for this bonus. Indeed, the Air Force concedes that just 10 of them will be able to claim the extra bounty this year, striking testimony to the startling levels of job turnover among such pilots.

Most 18Xs say that their jobs are tougher and significantly more upfront and personal than those of the far more glamorous jet pilots. "[A] Predator operator is so much more involved in what is going on than your average fast-moving jetfighter pilot, or your B-52, B-1, B-2 pilots, who will never even see their target," Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Black, a former Air Force drone pilot says. "A Predator pilot has been watching his target[s], knows them intimately, knows where they are, and knows what's around them."

Some say that the drone war has driven them over the edge. "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile? How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Heather Linebaugh, a former drone imagery analyst, wrotein the Guardian. "When you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience."

"It was horrifying to know how easy it was. I felt like a coward because I was halfway across the world and the guy never even knew I was there," Bryant told KNPR Radio in Nevada. "I felt like I was haunted by a legion of the dead. My physical health was gone, my mental health was crumbled. I was in so much pain I was ready to eat a bullet myself."

Many drone pilots, however, defend their role in targeted killings. "We're not killing people for the fun of it. It would be the same if we were the guys on the ground," mission controller Janet Atkins told Chris Woods of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. "You have to get to [the enemy] somehow or all of you will die."

Others like Bruce Black are proud of their work. "I was shooting two weeks after I got there and saved hundreds of people, including Iraqis and Afghanis," he told his hometown newspaper in New Mexico. "We'd go down to Buffalo Wild Wings, drink beer and debrief. It was surreal. It didn't take long for you to realize how important the work is. The value that the weapon system brings to the fight is not apparent till you're there. People have a hard time sometimes seeing that."

Measuring Pilot Stress

So whom does one believe? Janet Atkins and Bruce Black, who claim that drone pilots are overworked heroes? Or Brandon Bryant and Heather Linebaugh, who claim that remotely directed targeted killings caused them mental health crises?

Military psychologists have been asked to investigate the phenomenon. A team of psychologists at the School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio has published a series of studies on drone pilot stress. One 2011 study concluded that nearly half of them had "high operational stress." A number also exhibited "clinical distress" -- that is, anxiety, depression, or stress severe enough to affect them in their personal lives.

Wayne Chappelle, a lead author in a number of these studies, nonetheless concludes that the problem is mostly a matter of overwork caused by the chronic shortage of pilots. His studies appear to show that post-traumatic stress levels are actually lower among drone pilots than in the general population. Others, however, question these numbers. Jean Otto and Bryant Webber of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, caution that the lack of stress reports may only "reflect artificial underreporting of the concerns of pilots due to the career-threatening effects of [mental health] diagnoses, [which] include removal from flying status, loss of flight pay, and diminished competitiveness for promotion."

Seeing Everything, Missing the Obvious

One thing is clear: the pilots are not just killing "bad guys" and they know it because, as Black points out, they see everything that happens before, during, and after a drone strike.

Indeed, the only detailed transcript of an actual Air Force drone surveillance mission and targeted killing to be publicly released illustrates this all too well. The logs recorded idle chatter on February 21, 2010, between drone operators at Creech Air Force base in Nevada coordinating with video analysts at Air Force special operations headquarters in Okaloosa, Florida, and with Air Force pilots in a rural part of Daikondi province in central Afghanistan. On that day, three vehicles were seen traveling in a pre-dawn convoy carrying about a dozen people each. Laboring under the mistaken belief that the group were "insurgents" out to kill some nearby U.S. soldiers on a mission, the drone team decided to attack.

Controller: "We believe we may have a high-level Taliban commander."

Camera operator: "Yeah, they called a possible weapon on the military-age male mounted in the back of the truck."

Intelligence coordinator: "Screener said at least one child near SUV."

Controller: "Bullshit! Where? I don't think they have kids out this hour. I know they're shady, but come on!"

Camera operator "A sweet [expletive]! Geez! Lead vehicle on the run and bring the helos in!"

Moments later, Kiowa helicopter pilots descended and fired Hellfire missiles at the vehicle.

Controller: "Take a look at this one. It was hit pretty good. It's a little toasty! That truck is so dead!"

Within 20 minutes, after the survivors of the attack had surrendered, the transcript recorded the sinking feelings of the drone pilots as they spotted women and children in the convoy and could not find any visual evidence of weapons.

A subsequent on-the-ground investigation established that not one of the people killed was anything other than an ordinary villager. "Technology can occasionally give you a false sense of security that you can see everything, that you can hear everything, that you know everything," Air Force Major General James Poss, who oversaw an investigation into the incident, later told the Los Angeles Times.

Of course, Obama administration officials claim that such incidents are rare. In June 2011, when CIA Director John Brennan was still the White House counterterrorism adviser, he addressed the issue of civilian deaths in drone strikes and made this bold claim: "Nearly for the past year, there hasn't been a single collateral death, because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop."

His claim and similar official ones like it are, politely put, hyperbolic. "You Never Die Twice," a new report by Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve, a British-based human rights organization, settles the question quickly by showing that some men on the White House "kill list" of terror suspects to be taken out have "'died' as many as seven times."

Gibson adds, "We found 41 names of men who seemed to have achieved the impossible. This raises a stark question. With each failed attempt to assassinate a man on the kill list, who filled the body bag in his place?" In fact, Reprieve discovered that, in going after those 41 "targets" numerous times, an estimated 1,147 people were killed in Pakistan by drones. Typical was the present leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In two strikes against "him" over the years, according to Reprieve, 76 children and 29 adults have died, but not al-Zawahiri.

Deserting the Cubicle

Back in the United States, a combination of lower-class status in the military, overwork, and psychological trauma appears to be taking its mental toll on drone pilots. During the Vietnam War, soldiers would desert, flee to Canada, or even "frag" -- kill -- their officers. But what do you do when you've had it with your war, but your battle station is a cubicle in Nevada and your weapon is a keyboard?

Is it possible that, like their victims in Pakistan and Yemen who say that they are going mad from the constant buzz of drones overhead and the fear of sudden death without warning, drone pilots, too, are fleeing into the night as soon as they can? Since the Civil War in the U.S., war of every modern sort has produced mental disturbances that have been given a variety of labels, including what we today call PTSD. In a way, it would be surprising if a completely new form of warfare didn't produce a new form of disturbance.

We don't yet know just what this might turn out to be, but it bodes ill for the form of battle that the White House and Washington are most proud of -- the well-advertised, sleek, new, robotic, no-casualty, precision conflict that now dominates the war on terror. Indeed if the pilots themselves are dropping out of desktop killing, can this new way of war survive?

Pratap Chatterjee is executive director of CorpWatch. He is the author of Halliburton's Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War and Iraq, Inc. His next book, Verax, a graphic novel about whistleblowers and mass surveillance co-authored by Khalil Bendib, will be published by Metropolitan Books in 2016.

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Second exoplanet with four stars discovered

30 Ari star system

© Karen Teramura/UH IfA

Artists conception of the 30 Ari star system. In the foreground is the primary star about which the massive exoplanet orbits. The primary's newly-found binary partner, a red dwarf, can be seen in the upper left and the secondary binary system can be seen to the upper right.

For only the second time, an exoplanet living with an expansive family of stars has been revealed.

The exoplanet, which is a huge gaseous world 10 times the mass of Jupiter, was previously known to occupy a 3-star system, but a fourth star (a red dwarf) has now been found, revealing quadruple star systems possessing planets are more common than we thought.

"About four percent of solar-type stars are in quadruple systems, which is up from previous estimates because observational techniques are steadily improving," said co-author Andrei Tokovinin of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

The whole 4-star family is collectively known as 30 Ari, located some 136 light-years from Earth — in our interstellar backyard. The exoplanet orbits the primary star of the system once every 335 days. The primary star has a new-found binary partner (which the exoplanet does not orbit) and this pair are locked in an orbital dance with a secondary binary, separated by a distance of 1,670 astronomical unit (AU), where 1 AU is the average distance between the Earth and sun.

The new star discovery was made by the Robo-AO adaptive optics system, developed by the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in India and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the PALM-3000 adaptive optics system, developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., two instruments at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego, Calif.

The discovery of planets in systems like 30 Ari raises some important questions about planetary formation in multi-star systems and, as this particular system is so extreme, astronomers doubt that the massive exoplanet, nor its hypothetical system of moons, could support life (as we know it).

30 Ari star system


The four stars and one planet of the 30 Ari system are illustrated in this diagram. This quadruple star system consists of two pairs of stars: 30 Ari B and 30 Ari A. A gas giant planet (red) orbits one of the stars in 30 Ari B about once a year. New observations led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, identified the fourth star in the system (green); the three others stars and the planet were previously known. This is the second quadruple star system known to host a planet.

Although undoubtedly rare, this is the second exoplanet discovered in a quadruple star system. The first, KIC 4862625, was discovered by a citizen science project that scours data from the Kepler space telescope to seek out exoplanetary transit signals. But the fact that two such systems have been discovered, when only a couple of thousand exoplanets have been discovered so far, hints that exoplanet formation can occur in some pretty unlikely places.

"Star systems come in myriad forms. There can be single stars, binary stars, triple stars, even quintuple star systems," said Lewis Roberts of JPL. "It's amazing the way nature puts these things together." Roberts is the lead author of the study to be published in the Astronomical Journal.

Most stars in our galaxy are known to exist in multi-star systems and astronomers are currently trying to understand how they came to be this way. Were the stars gravitationally bound at birth inside their stellar nurseries? Or did they capture one another some time in their travels around the Milky Way? Recent unrelated research hints that multi-star systems may be born that way.

Now, with the increasing number of exoplanet discoveries in binary and multi-star systems, we are quickly realizing that many of our science fiction notions of far-off alien worlds are now actually modern science fact. One such world is Luke Skywalker's homeworld Tatooine from "Star Wars: A New Hope", where, at sunset, two stars of a binary pair dip low on the horizon.

But how would this multi-star system look from the vantage point of the exoplanet in 30 Ari? According to a NASA JPL news release, "the four parent stars would look like one small sun and two very bright stars that would be visible in daylight. One of those stars, if viewed with a large enough telescope, would be revealed to be a binary system, or two stars orbiting each other."

In this research, another exoplanet in a triple-star system called HD 2638 is also detailed. In that system, where a third star has just been confirmed, the "hot-Jupiter" exoplanet has a roller coaster 3-day orbit around its star.

How multi-star systems affect the evolution of planets is of key interest to Roberts' team — these two multi-star systems play host to at least one massive planet, boosting evidence that planets inside multi-star systems can have their orbits dramatically modified by the crazy orbital dynamics such systems possess, although the newly-discovered star in 30 Ari does not seem to be impacting the orbit of its neighboring exoplanet.

These systems also appear to boost the mass of exoplanets. Only through the discovery of more examples such as 30 Ari and HD 2638 can we understand the driving physics of massive exoplanet evolution.

Agricultural nutrient pollution found to reduce rivers and streams ability to support life

stream nutrients

© Jon Benstead/University of Alabama

David Manning, a University of Georgia doctoral student, and John Kominoski, a former UGA postdoctoral researcher who is now an assistant professor at Florida International University, perform maintenance on the pump used to add nutrients to one of the streams in their experiment.

An important food resource has been disappearing from streams without anyone noticing until now.

In a new study published March 6 in the journal , a team of researchers led by University of Georgia ecologists reports that nutrient pollution causes a significant loss of forest-derived carbon from stream ecosystems, reducing the ability of streams to support aquatic life.

The findings show that the in-stream residence time of carbon from leaves, twigs and other forest matter, which provide much of the energy that fuels stream food webs, is cut in half when moderate amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus are added to a stream.

"This study shows how excess nutrients reduce stream health in a way that was previously unknown," said the study's lead author Amy D. Rosemond, an associate professor in the UGA Odum School of Ecology.

Stream food webs are based on carbon from two main sources. One is algae, which produce carbon through photosynthesis. Nutrient pollution has long been known to increase carbon production by algae, often causing nuisance and harmful algal blooms. The second source is leaves and bits of wood from streamside forests. This forest-derived carbon typically persists year-round, making it a staple food resource for stream organisms.

"Most people think of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in streams as contributing to algae blooms," said Diane Pataki, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research. "But streams contain a lot of leaf litter, and this study shows that nutrient pollution can also stimulate carbon losses from streams by accelerating the breakdown of that litter. That helps us better understand how fertilizer runoff affects carbon transport and emissions from streams and rivers."

Nitrogen and phosphorus play essential roles in the breakdown of carbon by microbes and stream-dwelling insects and other invertebrates, but cause problems when they are present in excessive amounts—as they increasingly are. Nutrient pollution is widespread in the U.S. and globally, due primarily to land use changes like deforestation, agriculture and urbanization.

carbon, forest

© Phillip M. Bumpers/University of Georgia

Forest-derived carbon, such as leaves and wood, provides essential ecosystem services in streams. The effects of nutrient pollution on this carbon source are poorly understood compared to the well-known effects of nutrients on algae.

Nutrient pollution's effects on algal carbon are well known and highly visible in the form of algal blooms. Little was known about how nutrient pollution affects forest-derived carbon in stream food webs, so Rosemond and her colleagues devised a set of experiments to find out.

Working at the Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research site in North Carolina, they set up a system to continuously add nutrients to several small headwater streams. The first experiment ran for six years in two streams, and the second for three years in five streams, with different combinations of nitrogen and phosphorus to mimic the effects of different land uses.

The researchers found that the additional nutrients reduced forest-derived carbon in whole stream reaches by half.

"We were frankly shocked at how quickly leaves disappeared when we added nutrients," said Rosemond. "By summer, the streams looked unnaturally bare."

"It's very apparent when excess nutrients lead to algal blooms in rivers and other aquatic ecosystems," said study co-author Jon Benstead, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama. "But their impact on accelerating the breakdown of dead organic matter, such as leaves and twigs, is a significant but under-appreciated effect on the health of freshwater ecosystems across large areas of the world."

Rosemond likened the impact of the loss of forest-derived carbon to the doubling of algal carbon that nutrient pollution can cause.

nitrogen and phosphorus in streams

© Phillip M. Bumpers/University of Georgia

The researchers maintained additions of nitrogen and phosphorus to streams year-round, including during snowy winter months.

"But this is not a zero-sum game," she said. "Increasing one form of carbon and decreasing another does not equate; these resources have unique roles in stream food webs and nutrients are affecting their relative availability."

Many streams lack sufficient light for algae to grow, making forest-derived carbon their main source of energy. But forest-derived carbon is more than a source of food.

"Leaves and twigs and the microbes that live on them are also particularly important in taking up pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus," Rosemond said. "Ironically, by stimulating the loss of these resources with nutrients, we lose a lot of their capacity to reduce the nutrients' effects. This means that more nutrients head downstream where they can cause problems in lakes and estuaries."

Rosemond said she hopes the study's findings will be incorporated into policies aimed at reducing nutrient pollution, which currently focus on algae.

"There has been limited national progress in efforts to reduce the impact of nutrient pollution in the U.S., according to a U.S. Geological Survey study," she said. "Our results provide a more complete picture of nutrient effects in streams, suggesting that increased efforts at addressing their impacts can now improve stream health in more than one way."

SOTT Exclusive: Ukraine 'information army' fail

mind bullets

I reported on Ukraine's new 'information army' last month, here. Launched by Kiev's Ministry of Information Policy to combat the alleged "Russian occupation on the information front", it's hard to decide whether to laugh or cry.

While the source in that article says the number of recruits for the first day couldn't have topped 13,000, in the eyes of Ukraine's minister of information policy Yury Stenets, that's close enough for horseshoes to 35,000. For some strange reason, in Kiev a small or non-existent number (like the number of Russian troops in Ukraine) is always large, while a large number (like the number of their troops killed or wounded in action) is always small.

In a 'country' whose media has led the vanguard in total disconnection from reality - presenting outright lie after outright lie as indisputable truth - it's still a shock to read something like the following from Stenets:

We are not going to create fake news, we are not going to talk nonsense and we will not speak untrue things. As soon as one starts doing that, it becomes ineffective.

Puhleeze! But then, he's kind of right. So far, Kiev's policy of just making shit up has proven itself to be totally ineffective. Their ass-like stubbornness against publicly admitting that thousands of their troops were trapped in Debaltsevo resulted in the loss of the vast majority of their heavy weaponry there, not to mention the deaths of thousands of the troops. (But Kiev doesn't care much about the troops - that's why they had troops to kill the troops trying to escape from the non-existent cauldron. Just more cannon fodder in the epic battle against evil Russia.)

© Інформаційна війська України on Facebook

Valiant information warrior defends himself against the truth, chanting the holy mantra "There are no Nazis in Ukraine. There are no Nazis in Ukraine."

Kiev's new 'information troops' are primarily tasked with helping journalists "report truthfully" about the conflict, as well as engaging with others (including pro-Russian activists) on social media and news comment sections. Their official motto: "Every post you make is a bullet to the mind of the enemy". That's right. When you lost your weapons and ammo to a militia composed primarily of ex-miners, and the U.S. drags its feet replacing them for you, it's the logical next step: telekinetic mind bullets. Tenacious D would be jealous.

But honestly, loyal Ukrainians, your country needs you to fight this propaganda war against the Kremlin. And you can take heart in the knowledge that your glorious leaders in the Rada are doing their part too. Just yesterday, for example, closet homosexual and tough guy Radical Party Leader Oleg Lyashko - who also enjoys black-bagging 'traitors' and torturing them - was working hard for your rights by checking out a topless image of the "hottest criminal alive" Jeremy Meeks.

Sadly though, despite the epic scale of first-day recruits, the response so far has been pretty lame:

Ukrainian social media users were immediately suspicious of the site and speculations about whether it was real or fake ran rampant. Media requests for comment to the Ministry went unanswered. Many users were understandably skeptical.

If "Ukraine's Information Army" isn't a joke, then it's really, really sad.

- Did you do your homework?

- Mom, I have an important task from the information army headquarters!

MinStets [] is creating an information army. For a start, the enemy has to burst from laughter.

After a lackluster start, Minitrue sent out an online press-release stating their mission:

to fight "Russian bots, spreading fakes, informational and psychological pressure from Russian media" and notes the Minister hopes that the new project "will help mobilize a number of volunteers to spread the truth and expose Russian fakes."

Someone should tell these guys the only Russian fakes are the ones Poroshenko keeps hallucinating in Donetsk and Lugansk.

But Kiev may just get what they've been asking for: a little help with their 'truthful' reporting. Seeing this effort for the joke that it is, people are joining up, but not for the reasons its creators envisioned. Many just want a laugh or two (like J. Hawk from Fort Russ, whom I quoted in my previous article). And this guy:

Just for fun I'm joining the information forces. Let's see what kind of combat tasks they give us.

Yep, Ukraine's cheap Hasbara-imitation attempt to create an army of Internet trolls is already being trolled. And the instructions they are sending are laughable:

Users who subscribed on the website have already received several emails from the "Internet Army" command, informing them of the first tasks they had to perform. Those include recruiting their friends and followers to sign up on the website and leaving comments under news stories on "pro-Kremlin" Russian news websites like LifeNews. The emails also provide advice on dealing with "Kremlin trolls" (never try to argue with them) and warn users against sharing news from Russian websites ("they are all controlled by the Kremlin").

Good advice! When dealing with Ukrainian trolls, don't argue with them. For them, black is white, war is peace, humiliating defeat and retreat is 'planned strategic withdrawal', and Russians are everywhere. And don't share news from Ukrainian websites or social media. They are all controlled by Kiev, like this very i-army project. And even Ukrainians see through :

The Ministry of Information Policy, itself a recent addition to the Ukrainian government, had a rocky start in January when it was dubbed the Ministry of Truth by the Ukrainian public. Many think it is an unnecessary waste of budget funds and an attempt to further curtail freedom of speech in Ukraine.

So warn your friends. And next time you encounter a Ukrainian troll, be sure to ask if he has received his secret Russian transmission decoder ring from the Ministry.


Harrison Koehli (Profile)

Harrison Koehli hails from Edmonton, Alberta. A graduate of studies in music performance, Harrison is also an editor for Red Pill Press and has been interviewed on several North American radio shows in recognition of his contributions to advancing the study of ponerology. In addition to music and books, Harrison enjoys tobacco and bacon (often at the same time) and dislikes cell phones, vegetables, and fascists.

Changes in older brains due to vascular changes, rather than neuronal activity

brain memory centers

Older brains may be more similar to younger brains than previously thought.

In a new paper published in , BBSRC-funded researchers at the University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit demonstrate that previously reported changes in the aging brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) may be due to vascular (or blood vessels) changes, rather than changes in neuronal activity itself.

Given the large number of fMRI studies used to assess the aging brain, this has important consequences for understanding how the brain changes with age and challenges current theories of aging.

A fundamental problem of fMRI is that it measures neural activity indirectly through changes in regional blood flow. Thus, without careful correction for age differences in vasculature reactivity, differences in fMRI signals can be erroneously regarded as neuronal differences.

An important line of research focuses on controlling for noise in fMRI signals using additional baseline measures of vascular function. However, such methods have not been widely used, possibly because they are impractical to implement in studies of aging.

An alternative candidate for correction makes use of resting state fMRI measurements, which is easy to acquire in most fMRI experiments. While this method has been difficult to validate in the past, the unique combination of an impressive data set across 335 healthy volunteers over the lifespan, as part of the CamCAN project, allowed Dr. Kamen Tsvetanov and colleagues to probe the true nature of aging effects on resting state fMRI signal amplitude.

Their research showed that age differences in signal amplitude during a task are of a vascular, not neuronal, origin. They propose that their method can be used as a robust correction factor to control for vascular differences in fMRI studies of aging.

The study also challenged previous demonstrations of reduced brain activity in visual and auditory areas during simple sensorimotor tasks. Using conventional methods, the current study replicated these findings.

However, after correction, Tsvetanov et al. results show that it might be vascular health, not brain function, that accounts for most age-related differences in fMRI signal in sensory areas. Their results suggest that the age differences in brain activity may be overestimated in previous fMRI studies of aging.

Dr. Tsvetanov said: "There is a need to refine the practice of conducting fMRI. Importantly, this doesn't mean that studies lacking 'golden standard' calibration measures, such as large scale studies, patient studies or ongoing longitudinal studies are invalid. Instead, researchers should make use of available resting state data as a suitable alternative. These findings clearly show that without such correction methods, fMRI studies of the effects of age on cognition may misinterpret effect of age as a cognitive, rather than vascular, phenomena."

People are 55 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist

Police Killings Grossly Underreported

We previously reported that Americans are 9 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than aterrorist.

But it turns out that our numbers were incorrect ...

This isn't surprising, given that:

"Reliable estimates of the number of justifiable homicides committed by police officers in the United States do not exist." A study of killings by police from 1999 to 2002 in the Central Florida region found that the national databases included (in Florida) only one-fourth of the number of persons killed by police as reported in the local news media.

The Guardian reports today:

An average of 545 people killed by local and state law enforcement officers in the US went uncounted in the country's most authoritative crime statistics every year for almost a decade, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The first-ever attempt by US record-keepers to estimate the number of uncounted "law enforcement homicides" exposed previous official tallies as capturing less than half of the real picture. The new estimate - an average of 928 people killed by police annually over eight recent years, compared to 383 in published FBI data - amounted to a more glaring admission than ever before of the government's failure to track how many people police kill.

The revelation called into particular question the FBI practice of publishing annual totalsof "justifiable homicides by law enforcement" - tallies that are widely cited in the media and elsewhere as the most accurate official count of police homicides.

As shown below, that means that you're 55 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist.

You're Much More Likely to Be Killed By Brain-Eating Parasites, Texting While Driving, Toddlers, Lightning, Falling Out of Bed, Alcoholism, Food Poisoning, Choking On Food, a Financial Crash, Obesity, Medical Errors or "Autoerotic Asphyxiation" than by Terrorists

Daniel Benjamin - the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the United States Department of State from 2009 to 2012 - noted last month (at 10:22):

The total number of deaths from terrorism in recent years has been extremely small in the West. And the threat itself has been considerably reduced. Given all the headlines people don't have that perception; but if you look at the statistics that is the case.

Time Magazine noted in 2013 that the chance of dying in a terrorist attack in the United States from 2007 to 2011, according to Richard Barrett - coordinator of the United Nations al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team - was 1 in 20 million .

Let's look at specific numbers ...

The U.S. Department of State reports that only 17 U.S. citizens were killed worldwide as a result of terrorism in 2011.* That figure includes deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and all other theaters of war.

In contrast, the American agency which tracks health-related issues - the U.S. Centers for Disease Control - rounds up the most prevalent causes of death in the United States:

Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means:

- You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

- You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

(Keep in mind when reading this entire piece that we are consistently and substantially understating the risk of other causes of death as compared to terrorism, because we are comparing deaths from various causes within the United States against deaths from terrorism worldwide.)

Wikipedia notes that obesity is a a contributing factor in 100,000 - 400,000 deaths in the United States per year. That makes obesity 5,882 to 23,528 times more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

The annual number of deaths in the U.S. due to avoidable medical errors is as high as 100,000. Indeed, one of the world's leading medical journals - Lancet - reported in 2011:

A November, 2010, document from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that, when in hospital, one in seven beneficiaries of Medicare (the government-sponsored health-care programme for those aged 65 years and older) have complications from medical errors, which contribute to about 180 000 deaths of patients per year.

That's just Medicare beneficiaries, not the entire American public. Scientific American noted in 2009:

Preventable medical mistakes and infections are responsible for about 200,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to an investigation by the Hearst media corporation.

And a new study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety says the numbers may be up to 440,000 each year.

But let's use the lower - 100,000 - figure. That still means that you are 5,882 times more likely to die from medical error than terrorism.

The CDC says that some 80,000 deaths each year are attributable to excessive alcohol use. So you're 4,706 times more likely to drink yourself to death than die from terrorism.

Wikipedia notes that there were 32,367 automobile accidents in 2011, which means that you are 1,904 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack. As CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria wrote last year:

"Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. (Meanwhile, more than 100,000 have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents.) "

President Obama agreed.

According to a 2011 CDC report, poisoning from prescription drugs is even more likely to kill you than a car crash. Indeed, the CDC stated in 2011 that - in the majority of states - your prescription meds are more likely to kill you than any other source of injury. So your meds are thousands of times more likely to kill you than Al Qaeda.

The financial crisis has also caused quite a few early deaths. The Guardian reported in 2008:

High-income countries such as the UK and US could see a 6.4% surge in deaths from heart disease, while low-income countries could experience a 26% rise in mortality rates.

Since there were 596,339 deaths from heart disease in the U.S. in 2011 (see CDC table above), that means that there are approximately 38, 165 additional deaths a year from the financial crisis ... and Americans are 2,245 times more likely to die from a financial crisis that a terrorist attack.

Financial crises cause deaths in other ways, as well. For example, the poverty rate has skyrocketed in the U.S. since the 2008 crash. For example, the poverty rate in 2010 was the highest in 17 years, and more Americans numerically were in poverty as of 2011 than for more than 50 years. Poverty causes increased deaths from hunger, inability to pay for heat and shelter, and other causes. (And - as mentioned below - suicides have skyrocketed recently; many connect the increase in suicides to the downturn in the economy.)

The number of deaths by suicide has also surpassed car crashes. Around 35,000 Americans kill themselves each year (and more American soldiers die by suicide than combat; the number of veterans committing suicide is astronomical and under-reported). So you're 2,059 times more likely to kill yourself than die at the hand of a terrorist.

The CDC notes that there were 7,638 deaths from HIV and 45 from syphilis, so you're 452 times more likely to die from risky sexual behavior than terrorism. (That doesn't include death by autoerotic asphyxiation ... discussed below.)

The National Safety Council reports that more than 6,000 Americans die a year from falls ... most of them involve people falling off their roof or ladder trying to clean their gutters, put up Christmas lights and the like. That means that you're 353 times more likely to fall to your death doing something idiotic than die in a terrorist attack.

The same number - 6,000 - die annually from texting or talking on the cellphone while driving. So you're 353 times more likely to meet your maker while lol'ing than by terrorism.

The agency in charge of workplace safety - the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration - reports that 4,609 workers were killed on the job in 2011 within the U.S. homeland. In other words, you are 271 times more likely to die from a workplace accident than terrorism.

The CDC notes that 3,177 people died of "nutritional deficiencies" in 2011, which means you are 187times more likely to starve to death in American than be killed by terrorism.

Approximately 1,000 Americans die each year from autoerotic asphyxiation. So you're 59 times more likely to kill yourself doing weird, kinky things than at the hands of a terrorist.

As noted above, there were an average of 928 Americans killed by police officers in the United States each year in "justifiable homicides". That means that you were more than 55 times more likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer than by a terrorist. That number does not include un justifiable homicides.

Nearly 400 Americans die each year due to drug allergies from penicillin. More than 200 deaths occur each year due to food allergies. Nearly 100 Americans die due to insect allergies. And 10 deaths each year are due to severe reactions to latex. See this. There are many other types of allergies, but that totals 710 deaths each year from just those four types of allergies alone ... making it 42 times more likely that you'll die from an allergic reaction than from a terror attack.

Some 450 Americans die each year when they fall out of bed, 26 times more than are killed by terrorists.

Scientific American notes:

You might have toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the microscopic parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which the CDC estimates has infected about 22.5 percent of Americans older than 12 years old

Toxoplasmosis is a brain-parasite. The CDC reports that more than 375 Americans die annually due to toxoplasmosis. In addition, 3 Americans died in 2011 after being exposed to a brain-eating amoeba. So you're about 22 times more likely to die from a brain-eating zombie parasite than a terrorist.

Around 34 Americans a year are killed by dog bites ... around twice as many as by terrorists.

The 2011 Report on Terrorism from the National Counter Terrorism Center notes that Americans arejust as likely to be "crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year" as they are to be killed by terrorists.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that Americans are 110 times more likely to die from contaminated food than terrorism. And see this.

The Jewish Daily Forward noted in May that - even including the people killed in the Boston bombing - you are more likely to be killed by a toddler than a terrorist . And see these statistics from CNN.

Reason notes:

[The risk of being killed by terrorism] compares annual risk of dying in a car accident of 1 in 19,000; drowning in a bathtub at 1 in 800,000; dying in a building fire at 1 in 99,000; or being struck by lightning at 1 in 5,500,000. In other words, in the last five years you were four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist.

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has just published, Background Report: 9/11, Ten Years Later [PDF]. The report notes, excluding the 9/11 atrocities, that fewer than 500 people died in the U.S. from terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2010.

Scientific American reported in 2011:

John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University, and Mark Stewart, a civil engineer and authority on risk assessment at University of Newcastle in Australia ... contended, "a great deal of money appears to have been misspent and would have been far more productive—saved far more lives—if it had been expended in other ways."

Mueller and Stewart noted that, in general, government regulators around the world view fatality risks—say, from nuclear power, industrial toxins or commercial aviation—above one person per million per year as "acceptable." Between 1970 and 2007 Mueller and Stewart asserted in a separate paper published last year in Foreign Affairs that a total of 3,292 Americans (not counting those in war zones) were killed by terrorists resulting in an annual risk of one in 3.5 million. Americans were more likely to die in an accident involving a bathtub (one in 950,000), a home appliance (one in 1.5 million), a deer (one in two million) or on a commercial airliner (one in 2.9 million). [Let's throw a couple more fun facts into the mix ... The risk of choking to death on food is 1 in 4,404, and the risk of dying by falling out of furniture (including couches, chairs and beds) is 1 in 4,238. So you're almost a thousand times more likely to die from one of these rare causes of death than terrorism.]

The global mortality rate of death by terrorism is even lower. Worldwide, terrorism killed 13,971 people between 1975 and 2003, an annual rate of one in 12.5 million. Since 9/11 acts of terrorism carried out by Muslim militants outside of war zones have killed about 300 people per year worldwide. This tally includes attacks not only by al Qaeda but also by "imitators, enthusiasts, look-alikes and wannabes," according to Mueller and Stewart.

Defenders of U.S. counterterrorism efforts might argue that they have kept casualties low by thwarting attacks. But investigations by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies suggest that 9/11 may have been an outlier—an aberration—rather than a harbinger of future attacks. Muslim terrorists are for the most part "short on know-how, prone to make mistakes, poor at planning" and small in number, Mueller and Stewart stated. Although still potentially dangerous, terrorists hardly represent an "existential" threat on a par with those posed by Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

In fact, Mueller and Stewart suggested in Homeland Security Affairs, U.S. counterterrorism procedures may indirectly imperil more lives than they preserve: "Increased delays and added costs at U.S. airports due to new security procedures provide incentive for many short-haul passengers to drive to their destination rather than flying, and, since driving is far riskier than air travel, the extra automobile traffic generated has been estimated to result in 500 or more extra road fatalities per year."

The funds that the U.S. spends on counterterrorism should perhaps be diverted to other more significant perils, such as industrial accidents (one in 53,000), violent crime (one in 22,000), automobile accidents (one in 8,000) and cancer (one in 540). "Overall," Mueller and Stewart wrote, "vastly more lives could have been saved if counterterrorism funds had instead been spent on combating hazards that present unacceptable risks." In an e-mail to me, Mueller elaborated:

"The key question, never asked of course, is what would the likelihood be if the added security measures had not been put in place? And, if the chances without the security measures might have been, say, one in 2.5 million per year, were the trillions of dollars in investment (including overseas policing which may have played a major role) worth that gain in security—to move from being unbelievably safe to being unbelievably unbelievably safe? Given that al Qaeda and al Qaeda types have managed to kill some 200 to 400 people throughout the entire world each year outside of war zones since 9/11—including in areas that are far less secure than the U.S.—there is no reason to anticipate that the measures have deterred, foiled or protected against massive casualties in the United States. If the domestic (we leave out overseas) enhanced security measures put into place after 9/11 have saved 100 lives per year in the United States, they would have done so at a cost of $1 billion per saved life. That same money, if invested in a measure that saves lives at a cost of $1 million each—like passive restraints for buses and trucks—would have saved 1,000 times more lives."

Mueller and Stewart's analysis is conservative, because it excludes the most lethal and expensive U.S. responses to 9/11. Al Qaeda's attacks also provoked the U.S. intoinvading and occupying two countries, at an estimated cost of several trillion dollars. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 Americans so far—more than twice as many as were killed on September 11, 2001—as well as tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans.


In 2007 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that people are more likely to be killed by lightning than terrorism. "You can't sit there and worry about everything," Bloomberg exclaimed. "Get a life."

Indeed, the Senior Research Scientist for the Space Science Institute (Alan W. Harris) estimates that the odds of being killed by a terrorist attack is about the same as being hit by an asteroid (and see this ).

Terrorism pushes our emotional buttons. And politicians and the media tend to blow the risk of terrorism out of proportion. But as the figures above show, terrorism is a very unlikely cause of death.

Indeed, our spending on anti-terrorism measures is way out of whack ... especially because most of the money has been wasted. And see this article, and this 3-minute video by professor Mueller:

[embedded content]

Indeed, mission creep in the name of countering terrorism actually makes us more vulnerable to actual terrorist attacks. And corrupt government policy is arguably more dangerous than terrorism.

* Note: Subsequent official reports - published in 2012 and 2013 - show that even fewer Americans were killed by terrorists than in the previous year.

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