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Friday, 6 March 2015

Nuclear waste has been dumped in fracking wells for decaces


© Desconocido

Unearthed articles from the 1960s detail how nuclear waste was buried beneath the Earth's surface by Halliburton & Co. for decades as a means of disposing the by-products of post-World War II atomic energy production.

Fracking is already a controversial practice on its face; allowing U.S. industries to inject slurries of toxic, potentially carcinogenic compounds deep beneath the planet's surface — as a means of "see no evil" waste disposal — already sounds ridiculous, dangerous, and stupid anyway without even going into further detail.

Alleged fracking links to the contamination of the public water supply and critical aquifers, as well as ties to earthquake upticks near drilling locations that are otherwise not prone to seismic activity have created uproar in the years since the 2005 "Cheney loophole," which allowed the industry to circumvent the Safe Drinking Water Act by exempting fracking fluids, thus fast tracking shale fracking as a source of cheap natural gas.

Now, it is apparent that the fracking industry is also privy to many secrets of the nuclear energy industry and, specifically, where the bodies are buried, err... dangerous nuclear waste is buried, rather — waste that atomic researchers have otherwise found so difficult to eliminate.

TruthstreamMedia.com uncovered several published newspaper accounts from the Spring of 1964 concerning a then-newly disclosed plan to dump nuclear waste produced by the atomic energy industry into hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wells using a cement slurry technique developed by Halliburton & Co. The top two fracking companies in the nation at the time were Halliburton and Dowell, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical.

And here we thought fracking was a relatively new industrial phenomenon growing in popularity over just the last couple of decades. Boy were we wrong. Revealed within these articles is Halliburton's long-standing relationship with the secret government and deep ties between the oil and nuclear industries.

Teaming up with the U.S. Government and Union Carbide Corp., who operate nuclear materials divisions at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee, Halliburton was then credited with "solving" the radioactive waste problem faced by America's secretive nuclear industry. Dumping waste via fracking had apparently been going on since 1960, according to the reports, but was only made public here in 1964.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Each of the articles Truthstream found carries the same account under different headlines, with four of them using identical copy; and the fifth, published in the San Antonio Express, slightly rewritten based upon the same source information. The photo captions of each story also add some useful tidbits:

oilment dump radioactive waste

May 3, 1964 edition of the San Antonio Express News.

These ran in the:

April 19, 1964 edition of the Great Bend Tribune,

the April 22, 1964 edition of the Warren Times-Mirror,

the April 26, 1964 edition of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal,

the May 3, 1964 edition of the San Antonio Express News (original)

and the June 15, 1964 edition of the Denton Record Chronicle.

The story read, in part:

Two techniques originated by the petroleum industry for its own uses are expected to solve a major problem in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The problem is the disposal of dangerous, sometimes deadly, radioactive waste by-products.

Researchers at Halliburton Co's. Technical Center here working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists, have combined the oil well cementing technique with the hydraulic fracturing production stimulation technique to entomb radioactive wastes in an impermeable shale formation a thousand feet underground.


The method used at Oak Ridge begins by mixing the waste with a cement slurry, pumping the mixture down a hole drilled into the Conasuaga shale and then fracturing the shale to create a horizontal crack. The crack fills with the mixture to form a thin, horizontal sheet several hundred feet across. The mix sets to permanently hold the radioactive waste in the formation.

Union Carbide Corp., which operates facilities at Oak Ridge for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and Halliburton, which provides specialized oil field services such as cementing fracturing worldwide, have collaborated on the project since 1960.

The mix remained liquid for 48 hours before it was supposed to permanently set and remain there, entombed, forever.

The articles make clear that the Atomic Energy Commission was preparing to use fracking as a means of disposing of nuclear wastes at additional facilities, with Oak Ridge being simply one of the largest, and the first to publicly disclose these out-of-sight disposal procedures:

Oak Ridge has a radioactive waste disposal problem typical of the nation's nuclear sites. Each year about four million gallons of waste, including such fission products as strontium 90, cesium 137 and ruthenium 103, are generated at Oak Ridge.

Among the disposal methods already tried have been dumping concrete-encased barrels of waste in the ocean or burying the waste in lead-lined containers. These are considered either too dangerous or too expensive or both.

Unfortunately, the ocean has been used as a giant trashcan not only by the nuclear industry, but municipal garbage and landfill companies and many other entities as well, without any real concern about its significant effects on the food supply and larger ecosystem of the planet.

If this process is successful for disposal of Oak Ridge National Laboratory intermediate-level wastes, it has potential application at other atomic energy sites where suitable geological conditions exist," the Atomic Energy Commission says.

The slightly different version in the San Antonio Express News added these details:

A couple of techniques used by oilmen when they have hopes of production may soon be used by the Atomic Energy Commission for - of all things - radioactive garbage disposal.

Final tests are now under way at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, in trying a combination of oil well cementing plus hydraulic fracturing to entomb radioactive wastes in an impermeable shale formation a thousand feet underground.

Meanwhile, the Great Bend Tribune added information about the Halliburton executives involved in the plan in their caption for a photo which shows businessmen looking at a diagram explaining how nuclear waste like strontium 90 is mixed with cement and injected into shale formations:

Halliburton engineer Mack Stogner, left, reviews the project with Harry P. Conroy, senior vice president and general manager of the oil field service firm, and W.D. Owsley, senior vice president.

The process includes remote controlled operation of the hydraulic fracturing drill in order to shield workers from the "medium level" radioactive substances being dumped into the Earth's crust, as the Warren Times Mirror in Pennsylvania notes in the caption:

Disposing of Waste - Working behind shielding and wearing film badges, Halliburton Company personnel use demounted oil field service units to dispose of radioactive waste generated at the Oak Ridge, Tenn. nuclear site.

How often this procedure has been used at other facilities since then is not entirely clear, though we know from reports discussed below that the practice continued and there is no indication that it ever stopped.

Five years later, the October 22, 1969 edition of the San Bernardino County Sun carried a report titled, "3 Ways to Manage Radioactive Waste."

It discussed the ongoing and growing problems with nuclear waste, naming three principle strategies for managing the toxic stuff, summed up as "(1) delay and decay, (2) concentrate and confine and (3) dilute and disperse," discussing how materials with lower half lives can supposedly be safely sequestered and later dumped, while other materials can be simply diluted and poured into existing groundwater supplies and systems.

The UPI story originating out of Oak Ridge states, in part,

Since the start of the atomic era in the 1940s, nuclear reactors around the nation have produced 75 million gallons of hazardous high level radioactive waste materials.

And scientists here and elsewhere around the nation still are wrestling with the problems of what to do with this material, which promises to become even more plentiful as more and more commercial nuclear reactors go into power production.

Oak Ridge proclaims that it found a solution to dealing with high level nuclear wastes, which has thus far been to keep it,

...buried a few feet underground in storage tanks - tanks which must be periodically replaced because of the natural deterioration of the steel and other materials of which they are fabricated.

It is in this area of confining the high level wastes, whose radioactive half life ranges up to 30 to 50 years, that the Atomic Energy Commission is pushing dramatic new concepts.

One disposal system, involving materials in the medium range of radioactivity, is the hydraulic fracturing procedures. This system is now being used at Oak Ridge and involves mixing the liquid radioactive waste with concrete to form a grout which is pumped into shale formations 500 to 800 feet underground.

Note, this article cites a shallower depth, at levels as shallow as 500 feet, after the 1964 articles claimed a further removed depth of 1,000 feet to 5,000. The even "higher level wastes" were disposed of in abandoned salt mines, according to Oak Ridge.

Nuclear Waste 'Safely Flushed Away' into the Water Supply

The 1969 article states that "low level waste" is "material which can safely be flushed away into rivers and lakes or released into the atmosphere because the level of radioactivity is so low that is presents no hazard when diluted and flushed into man's natural environment. The more difficult problem is involved in the high level, liquid and solid wastes which are produced in the reprocessing of used fuel elements from nuclear reactor cores."

The idea that the waste dumped into water supplies was so "low level" as to be completely harmless is likely dubious and hopeful at best. Fluoride, a by-product of the nuclear power industry, was one of those constituents, and was transformed from being known as a rat poison to being known as a dental benefit by the original spin doctor and propagandist, Edward Bernays.

In his book The Fluoride Deception, author Christopher Bryson revealed how the nuclear industry also used fluoridation of the public water supply as a means of secretly dumping industrial waste after fluoride was a major by-product in the uranium enrichment process for building the atomic bomb. Bryson told Democracy Now:

The Manhattan Project needed fluoride to enrich uranium. That's how they did it. The biggest industrial building in the world, for a time, was the fluoride gaseous diffusion plant in Tennessee. The Manhattan Project and Dr. Hodge as the senior toxicologist for the Manhattan Project, were scared stiffless that workers would realize that the fluoride they were going to be breathing inside these plants was going to injure them and that the Manhattan Project, the key — the key of U.S. Strategic power in the Cold War Era, would be jeopardized because the Manhattan Project and the industrial contractors making the atomic bomb would be facing all these lawsuits from workers, all these lawsuits from farmers living around these industrial plants and so Harold Hodge assures us that fluoride is safe and good for children.

More recently, an Associated Press investigation found in 2011 that 48 of 65 nuclear sites in the United States were leaking tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, into groundwater supplies via corroded pipes and tunnels. AP found at least 37 locations were in direct violation of federal drinking water standards for tritium, in some cases hundreds of times over.

Fracking Nuclear Waste 'Safe for Millions of Years'... Unless It Leaks

Some 30 trillion gallons of toxic waste has been kept out of sight, out of mind by U.S. industries that have injected it hundreds and thousands of feet underground into wells since the 1960s.

Scientists who work for these corporations have used computer modeling to assure the Environmental Protection Agency that this waste poses no threat to our aquifers and that layers of rock deep within the Earth would safely store this stuff like Tupperware for millennia.

Already, several incidents have proven that scientific computer models are no match for reality.

It is clear from a December 21, 1973 article that disposal of nuclear waste via fracking continued, along with promises that it would be safe for millions of years to come.

The Dixon Evening Telegraph wrote in "Geologists look at energy crunch":

The U.S. Government is disposing of approximately 250,000 gallons of intermediate-level wastes each year using a technique called hydraulic fracturing. Liquids are pumped into impervious shales 1,000 to 5,000 feet below the surface. High pressure is applied causing the rocks to fracture and the liquid moves out laterally. Because the rock and radioactive wastes it contains will not be exposed to the biosphere for millions of years, this method should be safe unless leakage into an overlying aquifer occurs.

That is, as the article points out, unless there are leaks.

As we found in research, leakage is exactly what has happened time and again throughout the years, including at disposal sites for Oak Ridge National Laboratories, according to reports in the following cases. Via ProPublica:

In April, 1967 pesticide waste injected by a chemical plant at Denver's Rocky Mountain Arsenal destabilized a seismic fault, causing a magnitude 5.0 earthquake — strong enough to shatter windows and close schools — and jolting scientists with newfound risks of injection, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A year later, a corroded hazardous waste well for pulping liquor at the Hammermill Paper Co., in Erie, Pa., ruptured. Five miles away, according to an EPA report, "a noxious black liquid seeped from an abandoned gas well" in Presque Isle State Park.

In 1975 in Beaumont, Texas, dioxin and a highly acidic herbicide injected underground by the Velsicol Chemical Corp. burned a hole through its well casing, sending as much as five million gallons of the waste into a nearby drinking water aquifer.

And these are hardly the only examples... in fact, it is just scratching the surface of an issue that is almost as incomprehensible as it is unfathomable.

Then in August 1984 in Oak Ridge, Tenn., radioactive waste was turned up by water monitoring near a deep injection well at a government nuclear facility.


There it is. The infallible, permanent, and "impermeable" deep injection wells that Halliburton and the Atomic Energy Commission considered as a solution to nuclear waste for eons to come were found turning up radioactive nuclear waste at the very Oak Ridge site where these 1960s disposal projects were taking place.

Subterranean Waste Disposal a 'Cornerstone of the Nation's Economy'

Those cemented wells, filled with injected disposal substances may be safely secured for a few years or even decades, but that is no guarantee for the years down the road and its certainly not the millennia as promised by Halliburton and others in the industry. In fact, many of the wells have been forgotten, abandoned, and are lost to the record books.

As ProPublica reports:

There are upwards of 2 million abandoned and plugged oil and gas wells in the U.S., more than 100,000 of which may not appear in regulators' records. Sometimes they are just broken off tubes of steel, buried or sticking out of the ground. Many are supposed to be sealed shut with cement, but studies show that cement breaks down over time, allowing seepage up the well structure.

And many of these are injection wells, where all kinds of unwanted, toxic substances are dumped in order to be forgotten... though not necessarily gone.

Not only are these practices taking place, they are widespread... and widely defended, even with the known failures and safety issues.

Many scientists and regulators say the alternatives to the injection process — burning waste, treating wastewater, recycling, or disposing of waste on the surface — are far more expensive or bring additional environmental risks.

Subterranean waste disposal, they point out, is a cornerstone of the nation's economy, relied on by the pharmaceutical, agricultural and chemical industries. It's also critical to a future less dependent on foreign oil: Hydraulic fracturing, "clean coal" technologies, nuclear fuel production and carbon storage (the keystone of the strategy to address climate change) all count on pushing waste into rock formations below the earth's surface. (source)

Sure, maybe it's better than dumping it directly into the waterways, but still. This isn't just playing with fire, this is playing with the lives of everyone in the nation for generations to come.

Please read ProPublica's full series of reports on this, starting here. Things have to change.

These people should not have started messing with something they did not know how to fully and safely manage.

How long can this madness continue until it winds up tainting every drinking glass in America?

Engineer Mario Salazar, who worked as a technical expert for 25 years with the EPA's underground injection program in Washington, told ProPublica's Abrahm Lustgarten something that should give us all pause about how radioactive nuclear waste and industrial pollutants in general are being handled, and where they may ultimately end up:

In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted. A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die.

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Balkans blizzards trigger landslides, leave thousands without power

bosnia snowfall

A blizzard which dumped 2.5 meters (8 feet) of snow on mountains around Sarajevo has isolated dozens of Bosnian mountain villages and left them without electricity.

A man was killed in Bosnia and more than 100,000 homes across the Balkans were without electricity on Friday after blizzards brought down power lines and triggered landslides.

The Bosnian died when a tree, dislodged by a landslide, fell on his car near the central town of Zepce.

Dozens of motorists in southwest Bosnia were stranded by the snowstorm, which began on Thursday.

Authorities said more than 50,000 households were without power in Bosnia and over 30,000 in Serbia. Many in Bosnia were also without running water because electricity was cut to pumping stations.

"Teams are out in the field; they are facing heavy and wet snow and have to constantly remove broken trees that damaged power lines," Milovan Glisic, a Serbian electricity official, told Reuters.

"We are carrying out repairs constantly but the pace depends on the weather; we hope to fix everything today," said Tamara Utvic, spokeswoman for Serbia's electricity supplier, EPS.

split, croatia winds overturn truck

© AP Photo/Ivo Cagalj, PIXSELL

Firemen inspect a truck overturned by heavy winds, near Split, Croatia, Thursday, March 5, 2015. Winds caused traffic disruptions in much of coastal Croatia.

In western Slovenia, about 1,200 households were without power. Gale-force winds and driving rain along Croatia's Adriatic coast uprooted trees, disrupting traffic and electricity supplies to some 24,000 homes.

In Montenegro, snow and strong winds prompted authorities on Friday to issue a blizzard warning for mountainous regions. A number of roads were closed for traffic.

Overnight, rescuers evacuated more than 40 people stranded in deep snow in mountains near the Montenegrin towns of Niksic and Savnik, said Zlatko Micanovic, an official with Montenegro's Department for Emergency Situations.

"Although we expect the weather to stabilize, more rescue actions are possible," he said.

Cops make parade float mocking a woman for being raped by her father as a child


© Unknown

Baton Rouge, LA — Disgusting, repugnant, vile, hateful, despicable. These are just a few words that can be used to describe the actions of several of Baton Rouge's finest.

The Baton Rouge police department has launched an internal investigation into the actions of officers who allegedly rode on and helped decorate a float that mocked a woman for being raped as a child; by her father.

The theme of the float was of the Baton Rouge reality show, It focused on the daughter of the former television star, Will Hayden. Hayden is currently facing sexual assault charges in East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes, after being accused of sexually assaulting his own daughter along with two other victims.

The float was "decorated" with a large photo of Stephanie Ford, the sexual assault victim, with the caption underneath her photo stating, "A face only a daddy could love." Other sayings on the float consisted of things like, "Krewe of Sleazania," "Red Jack It" and "Kiss Me Daddy."


© Unknown

In what world could this ever be considered humor? Who in their right mind thinks it would be okay to mock a person for being raped by her father as a child?

Nola.com reached out to the BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie who acknowledged officers were involved in this incident but said they are not representative of the department.

"The theme of this float in no way represents the belief or attitude of the Baton Rouge Police Department," Dabadie said in a statement. "The struggle a sexual assault victim endures is a very serious matter and is not something that should be taken lightly or used in a satirical manner."

However, Dabadie is wrong, these three officers do represent the Baton Rouge Police Department. These officers don't go to work and simply turn into new people when they put the uniform on. If they can act like this in their off time, they can act like this when they are out on the streets, "protecting and serving."

Ford issued a statement after the incident saying that her worst fears were realized after officers used her image in such a manner.

"I was assured by the Baton Rouge (police department) that my safety and rights would be protected. To have a member of law enforcement treat me, a victim, in this manner tells women and children across America that their worst fears will be realized if they come forward," read Ford's statement.

"What prevents women and children from coming forward and reporting sexual crimes is the fear of being further victimized and shamed by law enforcement, the justice system, the community and of course their attacker."

Ford also said at least one of the officers took to Facebook to share photos of her image on the float.

The Free Thought Project contacted the Baton Rouge police department on Wednesday to get the status of this supposed internal "investigation." We were told only that "these investigations can take up to 60 days to complete."

Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Cpl. Don Coppola identified the three officers in the float as Donald Young, John Byron Fontenot and Douglas Atkins.

Apparently it takes the BRPD 60 days to ask three cops, two questions. Shameful indeed.

Two "lost cities" discovered in Honduras by archaeologists

© Dave Yoder/National Geographic

Archaeologists in Honduras have found dozens of artifacts at a site where they believe twin cities stood.

Archaeologists have discovered two lost cities in the deep jungle of Honduras, emerging from the forest with evidence of a pyramid, plazas and artifacts that include the effigy of a half-human, half-jaguar spirit.

The team of specialists in archaeology and other fields, escorted by three British bushwhacking guides and a detail of Honduran special forces, explored on foot a remote valley of La Mosquitia where an aerial survey had found signs of ruins in 2012.

Chris Fisher, the lead US archaeologist on the team, told the Guardian that the expedition - co-coordinated by the film-makers Bill Benenson and Steve Elkins, Honduras and National Geographic (which first reported the story on its site) - had by all appearances set foot in a place that had gone untouched by humans for at least 600 years.

"Even the animals acted as if they've never seen people," Fisher said. "Spider monkeys are all over place, and they'd follow us around and throw food at us and hoot and holler and do their thing."

"To be treated not as a predator but as another primate in their space was for me the most amazing thing about this whole trip," he said.

Fisher and the team arrived by helicopter to "groundtruth" the data revealed by surveying technology called Lidar, which projects a grid of infrared beams powerful enough to break through the dense forest canopy.

That data showed a human-created landscape, Fisher said of sister cities not only with houses, plazas and structures, but also features "much like an English garden, with orchards and house gardens, fields of crops, and roads and paths."

In the rainforest valley, they said they found stone structural foundations of two cities that mirrored people's thinking of the Maya region, though these were not Mayan people. The area dates between 1000AD and 1400AD, and while very little is known without excavation of the site and surrounding region, Fisher said it was likely that European diseases had at least in part contributed to the culture's disappearance.

The expedition also found and documented 52 artifacts that Virgilio Paredes, head of Honduras's national anthropology and history institute, said indicated a civilisation distinct from the Mayans. Those artifacts included a bowl with an intricate carvings and semi-buried stone sculptures, including several that merged human and animal characteristics.

The cache of artifacts - "very beautiful, very fantastic," in Fisher's words - may have been a burial offering, he said, noting the effigies of spirit animals such as vultures and serpents.

Fisher said that while an archaeologist would likely not call these cities evidence of a lost civilisation, he would call it evidence of a culture or society. "Is it lost? Well, we don't know anything about it," he said.

The exploratory team did not have a permit to excavate and hopes to do so on a future expedition. "That's the problem with archaeology is it takes a long time to get things done, another decade if we work intensively there, but then we'll know a little more," Fisher said.

"This wasn't like some crazy colonial expedition of the last century," he added.

Despite the abundance of monkeys, far too little is known of the site still to tie it to the "lost city of the monkey god" that one such expedition claimed to have discovered. In about 1940, the eccentric journalist Theodore Morde set off into the Honduran jungle in search of the legendary "white city" that Spanish conquistadors had heard tales of in the centuries before.

He broke out of the brush months later with hundreds of artifacts and extravagant stories of how ancient people worshipped their simian deity. According to Douglas Preston, the writer National Geographic sent along with its own expedition: "He refused to divulge the location out of fear, he said, that the site would be looted. He later committed suicide and his site - if it existed at all - was never identified."

Fisher emphasised that archaeologists know extraordinarily little about the region's ancient societies relative to the Maya civilisation, and that it would take more research and excavation. He said that although some academics might find it distasteful, expeditions financed through private means - in this case the film-makers Benenson and Elkins - would become increasingly commonplace as funding from universities and grants lessened.

Fisher also suggested that the Lidar infrared technology used to find the site would soon be as commonplace as radiocarbon dating: "People just have to get through this 'gee-whiz' phase and start thinking about what we can do with it."

Paredes and Fisher also said that the pristine, densely-wooded site was dangerously close to land being deforested for beef farms that sell to fast-food chains. Global demand has driven Honduras's beef industry, Fisher said, something that he found worrying.

"I keep thinking of those monkeys looking at me not having seen people before. To lose all this over a burger, it's a really hard pill to swallow."

Muslim man shot dead while taking pictures of snow with his family

Another Muslim man has been shot dead in the United States while he was taking pictures of the snow with his family in Dallas, Texas.

Ahmed al-Jumaili, 36, who came to the US from Iraq about one month ago, was killed in a shooting incident on Thursday.

The victim died from his injuries after he was transported to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas Police Department Spokeswoman Monica Cordova said.

Investigation is under way to find out whether the shooting was a hate crime, according to police officials.

The North Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on authorities in a statement on Friday to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

"Because of recent incidents targeting American Muslims, including the murder of three young Muslims in North Carolina, we urge law enforcement authorities to address community concerns about a motive in this case," said Alia Salem, Executive Director of the North Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Witnesses said the Iraqi man was killed when he was with his wife, Zahara, who wears an Islamic head scarf. The couple got married 16 months ago.

A group of men started firing a gun and some nearby cars were also hit in the incident.

Last month, a gunman shot dead three young American Muslims in North Carolina.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were fatally shot near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus on February 10.

Craig Hicks, 46, was identified as the shooter and indicted by a grand jury on three counts of first degree murder.

The tragic murders of three bright Muslim students have started a debate over whether the students were targeted because of their religion.

Rothschild: Geopolitical situation as dangerous as any since WWII

© Rex Features

Lord Rothschild has served on the board of the Courtauld Institute of Art and chaired the National Gallery for seven years during the 1980s

Jacob Rothschild, the 78 year-old banker and chairman of RIT Capital Partners, has delivered savers in the £2.3bn trust a stark warning about global instability and the fragility of future returns.

He used his chairman's statement in the trust's 2014 annual report to outline his concerns, saying that on top of a "difficult economic background" investors face "a geopolitical situation perhaps as dangerous as any we have faced since World War II".

He said this was the result of "chaos and extremism in the Middle East, Russian aggression and expansion, and a weakened Europe threatened by horrendous unemployment, in no small measure caused by a failure to tackle structural reforms in many of the countries which form part of the European Union".

This was a much gloomier assessment of the world than the picture painted in his statement a year ago. Then, he listed the major dangers as the slowdown in China's growth and a possible over-valuation of shares.

The trust was established in the Sixties with the aim of overseeing much of Jacob Rothschild's personal wealth. He and his daughter Hannah, who is also on the trust's board, together own shares worth approximately £160m.

© Numis

RIT is popular among private investors thanks to its excellent track record and its conservative approach to conserving capital (see graph, below or click here for more charts).

The "preservation of shareholders' capital remains our highest priority, taking precedence over tactical manoeuvres based on short term returns," Lord Rothschild has stressed.

Its 2014 results, just published, show assets up almost 10pc in the year. Increasing demand for its shares meant the share price rose even more significantly, up 13.3pc over the year.

Dividends for 2015, to be paid in April and October will be up 2pc.

The trust was listed on London's Stock Exchange in 1988 since when it has delivered an average annual return of 12pc.

It invests in a range of assest including shares in quoted businesses, other funds and property. It owns the £33m leasehold of Spencer House, for example, an 18th century mansion in central London, which is let for functions.

Attaboy! 10-year-old saves his sister from sex offender

Cullahill, Ireland

© unknown


A ten-year-old boy has been hailed as a hero after clinging onto a moving SUV to rescue his sister from a convicted sex offender.

The criminal, who was on bail for robbery, attempted to abduct the girl (12) on the side of a country road near the village of Cullahill in Laois.

She was playing with her two brothers near their home when the man stopped and asked for directions to the local priest's house.

He then jumped from the stolen vehicle and grabbed the girl.

But her younger brother lunged through the driver's window at the would-be kidnapper punching him as the jeep began to drive away.

The brave boy distracted the driver long enough so that his sister could jump from the moving vehicle.

The father of the children said the family were too shocked to talk about the incident last night but told the Irish Independent that he was "extremely proud" of his 10-year-old son.

Gardaí from three counties were involved in a manhunt that was launched after the incident on Wednesday morning and concluded just over 24 hours later with an arrest.

The 34-year-old suspect is a convicted child sex offender but is not on the sex offenders list as the offence dates back to the 1990s.

He is well-known to gardaí, particularly for robbing priests' houses and church poor boxes and is described as "very volatile and dangerous". He has a string of convictions and is currently before the courts charged with a number of robbery offences.

He was jailed for four years in 2004 after pleading guilty to the abduction of a 14-year-old girl with whom he was said to have been having a relationship at the time.

It is believed that on Tuesday evening he stole the Nissan 4x4 SUV he was travelling in from a farmer in the village of Kilmacow in Co Kilkenny.

The next morning he turned up in Durrow, Co Laois, where he begged for money at the parochial house.

He then travelled on to the village of Cullahill, where he bought diesel at a filling station.

Gardaí are also investigating a report that the same man then broke into the local church and stole a collection box.

A short time later, around 11am he encountered the three children, who had a day off school.

Gardaí launched a major operation which was co-ordinated from Portlaoise by Chief Superintendent John Scanlan of the Laois/Offaly Division.

Around 3pm gardaí sent out an alert by the community text system warning parents of the danger.

It is understood that officers staked out a church near Castlecomer in Co Kilkenny and they arrested the man shortly before lunchtime yesterday.

He was still being held last night in Portlaoise garda station and is expected to appear in court today.

Gardaí hope that the three children will be able to help identify the suspect during an identity parade.

WHO report: Ebola virus death toll in West Africa reaches 9,840

© AP Photo/ Tanya Bindra

The death toll from the current Ebola outbreak has reached 9,840. The number of those infected amounts to 24,014, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Friday.

These cases were reported from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. In line with statistics, the maximum number of Ebola-related deaths and cases has been registered in Liberia — 4,117 cumulative deaths and 9,249 cumulative cases. Liberia is followed by Sierra Leone (3,576 deaths and 11,517 cases) and Guinea (2,147 deaths and 3,248 cases).

The number of Ebola deaths in these three countries rose by 17 and the number of cases rose by 31 since March 5.

Separate cases have also been registered in Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, Great Britain and the United States. In most of these countries the number of Ebola-related cases does not exceed ten, with the only exception of Nigeria, where 20 people are infected by Ebola virus and eight have died.

The World Health Organization describes Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) as "a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%." Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. The incubation period is 2 to 21 days. There is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. The only treatment offered is "supportive intensive care."

OSCE confirms Ukraine shelling of observers at Donetsk airport

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

Representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have confirmed that the mission's observers came under shelling at the Donetsk airport from an area controlled by Ukrainian military, the spokesman for the Defense Ministry of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) told a briefing at the Donetsk news agency's press center on Friday.

"One episode of shelling of the Donetsk airport has been recorded by the OSCE mission observers who were there at that moment and confirmed that fire on a team of observers in a new terminal of the Donetsk airport was opened from the area controlled by Ukraine," Eduard Basurin said.

"I would specially underscore that the Ukrainian side knew that representatives of the international organization would arrive at the Donetsk airport," Basurin said. "It knew what sort of works we have been carrying out inside the Donetsk airport so as to return bodies of the killed Ukrainian servicemen to their relatives for burials."

Having a sense of purpose in life associated with 23 percent reduction in death from all causes

sense of purpose in life

© Mat Hayward / Fotolia

Making up a batch of cookies with grandchildren. Having a strong sense of purpose in life is linked to a having a healthier heart.

Having a high sense of purpose in life may lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a new study led by researchers at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai Roosevelt and presented on March 6 at the American Heart Association's EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions in Baltimore.

The new analysis defined purpose in life as a sense of meaning and direction, and a feeling that life is worth living. Previous research has linked purpose to psychological health and well-being, but the new Mount Sinai analysis found that a high sense of purpose is associated with a 23 percent reduction in death from all causes and a 19 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, or the need for coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or a cardiac stenting procedure.

"Developing and refining your sense of purpose could protect your heart health and potentially save your life," says lead study author Randy Cohen, MD, a preventive cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai Roosevelt. "Our study shows there is a strong relationship between having a sense of purpose in life and protection from dying or having a cardiovascular event. As part of our overall health, each of us needs to ask ourselves the critical question of 'do I have a sense of purpose in my life?' If not, you need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being."

The research team reviewed 10 relevant studies with the data of more than 137,000 people to analyze the impact of sense of purpose on death rates and risk of cardiovascular events. The meta-analysis also found that those with a low sense of purpose are more likely to die or experience cardiovascular events.

"Prior studies have linked a variety of psychosocial risk factors to heart disease, including negative factors such as anxiety and depression and positive factors such as optimism and social support," says Alan Rozanski, MD, study co-author and Director of Wellness and Prevention Programs for Mount Sinai Heart at the Mount Sinai Health System. "Based on our findings, future research should now further assess the importance of life purpose as a determinant of health and well-being and assess the impact of strategies designed to improve individuals' sense of life purpose."

A new level of understanding earthquakes on a microscopic scale

© Berkeley Labs

As everyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows, the Earth moves under our feet. But what about the stresses that cause earthquakes? How much is known about them? Until now, our understanding of these stresses has been based on macroscopic approximations.

Now, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is reporting the successful study of stress fields along the San Andreas fault at the microscopic scale, the scale at which earthquake-triggering stresses originate.

Working with a powerful microfocused X-ray beam at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, researchers applied Laue X-ray microdiffraction, a technique commonly used to map stresses in electronic chips and other microscopic materials, to study a rock sample extracted from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD). The results could one day lead to a better understanding of earthquake events.

"Stresses released during an earthquake are related to the strength of rocks and thus in turn to the rupture mechanism," says Martin Kunz, a beamline scientist with the ALS's Experimental Systems Group.

"We found that the distribution of stresses in our sample were very heterogeneous at the micron scale and much higher than what has been reported with macroscopic approximations. This suggests there are different processes at work at the microscopic and macroscopic scales."

Kunz is one of the co-authors of a paper describing this research in the journal . The paper is titled "Residual stress preserved in quartz from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth." Co-authors are Kai Chen, Nobumichi Tamura and Hans-Rudolf Wenk.

Most earthquakes occur when stress that builds up in rocks along active faults, such as the San Andreas, is suddenly released, sending out seismic waves that make the ground shake. The pent- up stress results from the friction caused by tectonic forces that push two plates of rock against one another.

"In an effort to better understand earthquake mechanisms, several deep drilling projects have been undertaken to retrieve material from seismically active zones of major faults such as SAFOD," says co-author Wenk, a geology professor with the University of California (UC) Berkeley's Department of Earth and Planetary Science and the leading scientist of this study.

"These drill-core samples can be studied in the laboratory for direct information about physical and chemical processes that occur at depth within a seismically active zone. The data can then be compared with information about seismicity to advance our understanding of the mechanisms of brittle failure in the Earth's crust from microscopic to macroscopic scales."

Kunz, Wenk and their colleagues measured remnant or "fossilized" stress fields in fractured quartz crystals from a sample taken out of a borehole in the San Andreas Fault near Parkfield, California at a depth of 2.7 kilometers.

The measurements were made using X-ray Laue microdiffraction, a technique that can determine elastic deformation with a high degree of accuracy. Since minerals get deformed by the tectonic forces that act on them during earthquakes, measuring elastic deformation reveals how much stress acted on the minerals during the quake.

"Laue microdiffraction has been around for quite some time and has been exploited by the materials science community to quantify elastic and plastic deformation in metals and ceramics, but has been so far only scarcely applied to geological samples", says co-author Tamura, a staff scientist with the ALS's Experimental Systems Group who spearheads the Laue diffraction program at the ALS.

The measurements were obtained at ALS beamline 12.3.2, a hard (high-energy) X-ray diffraction beamline specialized for Laue X-ray microdiffraction.

"ALS Beamline 12.3.2 is one of just a few synchrotron-based X-ray beamlines in the world that can be used to measure residual stresses using Laue micro diffraction," Tamura says.

In their analysis, the Berkeley researchers found that while some of the areas within individual quartz fragments showed no elastic deformation, others were subjected to stresses in excess of 200 million pascals (about 30,000 psi). This is much higher than the tens of millions of pascals of stress reported in previous indirect strength measurements of SAFOD rocks.

"Although there are a variety of possible origins of the measured stresses, we think these measured stresses are records of seismic events shocking the rock", says co-author Chen of China's Xi'an Jiantong University. It is the only mechanism consistent with the geological setting and microscopic observations of the rock."

The authors believe their Laue X-ray microdiffraction technique has great potential for measuring the magnitude and orientation of residual stresses in rocks, and that with this technique quartz can serve as "paleo-piezometer" for a variety of geological settings and different rock types.

"Understanding the stress fields under which different types of rock fail will help us better understand what triggers earthquakes," says Kunz. "Our study could mark the beginning of a whole new era of quantifying the forces that shape the Earth."

Corruption at the top: Ferguson, MO judge who owes thousands in unpaid debts routinely imprisons poor citizens for minor offenses

Ronald Brockmeyer

Federal tax liens filed against Ronald Brockmeyer by the Internal Revenue Service state that he has tens of thousands of dollars in overdue personal income taxes from joint filings with his wife, Amy.

The judge in Ferguson, Missouri, who is accused of fixing traffic tickets for himself and colleagues while inflicting a punishing regime of fines and fees on the city's residents, also owes more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes.

Ronald J Brockmeyer, whose court allegedly jailed impoverished defendants unable to pay fines of a few hundred dollars, has a string of outstanding debts to the US government dating back to 2007, according to tax filings obtained by the Guardian from authorities in Missouri.

Brockmeyer, 70, was this week singled out by Department of Justice investigators as being a driving force behind Ferguson's strategy of using its municipal court to aggressively generate revenues. The policy has been blamed for a breakdown in relations between the city's overwhelmingly white authorities and residents, two-thirds of whom are African American.

Investigators found Brockmeyer had boasted of creating a range of new court fees, "many of which are widely considered abusive and may be unlawful". A city councilman opposing the judge's reappointment was warned "switching judges would/could lead to loss of revenue".

Brockmeyer, who has been Ferguson's municipal court judge for 12 years, serves simultaneously as a prosecutor in two nearby cities and as a private attorney. Legal experts said his potentially conflicting interests illustrate a serious problem in the region's judicial system. Brockmeyer, who reportedly earns $600 per shift as a prosecutor, said last year his dual role benefited defendants. "I see both sides of it," he said. "I think it's even better."

While Brockmeyer owes the US government $172,646 in taxes, his court in Ferguson is at the centre of a class-action federal lawsuit that alleges Ferguson repeatedly "imprisoned a human being solely because the person could not afford to make a monetary payment".

"Judge Brockmeyer not being incarcerated is a perfect illustration of how we should go about collecting debt from people who owe it," said Thomas Harvey, the director of Arch City Defenders, one of the legal non-profits representing plaintiffs who were jailed in Ferguson.

Ronald Brockmeyer

© brockmeyerlaw.com

As well as being a judge in Ferguson’s municipal court, Ronald Brockmeyer is also a prosecutor in two nearby cities and a private attorney.

Brockmeyer did not respond to multiple emails and telephone calls requesting comment. Federal tax liens filed against Brockmeyer by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) state that he has tens of thousands of dollars in overdue personal income taxes from joint filings with his wife, Amy. He also owes tens of thousands in employer taxes for his law firm and an annual tax paid by employers to fund benefits for the unemployed. Since November 2013, Brockmeyer has paid off another three overdue tax bills totalling $64,599.

He owns three properties in the St Louis area and accompanied his family on a vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida in 2013.

The judge was also named among a group of white Ferguson officials found by the Department of Justice investigators to be writing off citations for themselves and friends while punishing residents for similar offences. Another of these officials, court clerk Mary Ann Twitty, was fired by the city in connection with racist emails also uncovered by the inquiry.

The report said Brockmeyer agreed to "take care" of a speeding ticket for a senior Ferguson police officer in August 2014, and had a red light camera ticket he received himself from the nearby city of Hazelwood dismissed in October 2013.

"Even as Ferguson city officials maintain the harmful stereotype that black individuals lack personal responsibility - and continue to cite this lack of personal responsibility as the cause of the disparate impact of Ferguson's practices - white city officials condone a striking lack of personal responsibility among themselves and their friends," the justice department investigators said, in a scathing report on the city's administration.

The class action lawsuit filed against Ferguson earlier this year alleges that the city violates the constitutional rights of defendants imprisoned over outstanding tickets and minor offences. It seeks compensation and asks a federal judge to force Ferguson to halt the practices.

"Once locked in the Ferguson jail, impoverished people owing debts to the city endure grotesque treatment. They are kept in overcrowded cells; they are denied toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap; they are subjected to the constant stench of excrement and refuse in their congested cells [and] they are surrounded by walls smeared with mucus and blood," said one passage of the lawsuit, which went on to name several more hardships.

One of the plaintiffs - Roelif Carter, a 62-year-old disabled military veteran - alleges he was arrested and jailed for three days in Ferguson in 2010 after trying to pay the $100 monthly installment for his outstanding traffic fines on the second day of the month rather than the first, when it was due. While living in "constant fear" he was arrested and jailed three more times in the following years when he was unable to pay the monthly charge, the lawsuit alleges.

"Most debtors in this country are not rounded up and jailed in brutal conditions," said Alec Karakatsanis, a co-founder of Equal Justice Under Law and a lead attorney on the lawsuit. "But if you happen to owe your debts to a municipality in St Louis County, they are willing to let you languish there on a ransom."

FLASHBACK: Putin: The Russian bear won't ask for permission

© RIA Novosti / Sergey Guneev

Vladimir Putin has voiced his disagreement with the West's position on Russia, which he likened to the Latin proverb "What is permissible for Jove is not permissible for an ox." However, he said "a bear" won't ask anyone for permission.

Stressing how different the international reaction to Kosovo and Crimea referendums was, the Russian president reminded of the proverb 'Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi'.

"We cannot agree with such definitions," he said.

"Maybe it isn't permissible for an ox, but I have to say that a bear will not ask anyone for permission," Putin jested, adding that a bear is "the master of the taiga" and it will not give it up to anyone.

[embedded content]

The Russian leader attended the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on Friday, where he touched on a wide range of topics - from Islamist militants in the Middle East to the state of the Russian economy.

Putin lashed out at the United States for destabilizing the world order of checks and balances for its own gains. He also accused the West of inflaming the situation in Ukraine and said Russia was not interested in empire-building.

FLASHBACK: Leaked docs reveal plot to erode stability of Venezuela and undermine Maduro presidency

© Reuters/Jorge Silva

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Leaked documents have revealed evidence of a plot to destabilize Venezuela and undermine the rule of leftist President Nicolas Maduro. The papers appear to substantiate Caracas' claims of outside attempts to cripple the country through internal sabotage.

Documents obtained by a contributor to RT's Spanish channel, Eva Golinger, detail a structured plan to erode the stability of Venezuela with a view to "returning real democracy and independence that have been hijacked for more than 14 years."

The plans are allegedly the product of a conference between American company FTI Consulting and two right-wing Colombian groups affiliated with former President Alvaro Uribe in the Colombian city of Cucuta in June of this year.

Former President Uribe was an outspoken critic of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, referring to him openly on Twitter as a "dictator" and an "assassin."

The three groups propose an initiative they name "The Venezuelan Strategic Plan" and list the ways in which they can disrupt all facets of Venezuelan society in the run-up to December's regional elections.

"The suggested aims in the plan are especially geared towards the municipal elections on December 8," writes the document. In the elections the Venezuelan population will choose 335 mayors, 2,435 municipal councilors, 69 local indigenous representatives, 2 mayors and 20 district councils.

The document is broken down into bullet points, which deal with how to maximize the impact on "all sectors of the Venezuelan population."

The strategies to be employed include: "creating crisis on the streets, facilitating the intervention of North America and NATO forces with the Colombian army," power cuts, food shortages, support and financing of the political opposition.

The document writes that violence should also be encouraged and "whenever possible lead to deaths and injuries." It also gives special mention to Venezuelan opposition figure Henrique Capriles who lost in the presidential elections at the beginning of the year, advising support of his political campaign.

Over the last couple of months, Venezuelan state media has reported on shortages of a number of basic products, including sugar, milk, oil, butter and flour. Moreover, there have been a number of reports of large quantities of these basic good being confiscated from warehouses belonging to businessmen linked to the opposition and smugglers crossing the border to Colombia.

In August, Venezuelan authorities intercepted between 50 and 60 tons of basic goods in the state of Tachira which borders with Colombia.

President Nicolas Maduro has blamed many of these cases on attempts by foreign powers to meddle in Venezuelan affairs with a view to destabilizing the country. In October, Maduro expelled three top American diplomats from Venezuela, alleging they were plotting with the opposition to orchestrate mass power cuts.

"We detected a group of US embassy officials dedicated to meeting the far right, and to financing and encouraging acts of sabotage against the electrical system and Venezuela's economy," Maduro said in a televised speech.

The US Embassy denied such a plot existed and any "involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuela government."

Maduro was named as successor by former President Hugo Chavez who died of cancer on March 5 this year. When Maduro assumed the presidency in April he swore to carry on the legacy of Chavez and adopted the same fiery anti-American rhetoric as his predecessor.

US: Detroit breaks 114-year old cold weather record


According to the National Weather Service, the low temperature Friday morning was zero degrees, breaking the old record of 2 degrees set in 1901.

It's one of many cold weather records we've broken this winter, according Accuweather Meteorologist Brian Thompson.

"It's the sixth record low that we've hit this year and most of them have occurred in the last few weeks," he said.

It's not going to get much warmer Friday, with highs barely reaching 20 degrees. But don't worry, temperatures will finally feel a little more like normal this weekend, with highs in the 40s and mainly sunny skies.

Here's the local forecast from the CBS Detroit weather team:

Friday: A mix of clouds and sun. High 24F. Low 19F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph.

Saturday: Cloudy with snow showers mainly during the morning. High 39F. Low 28F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 40%.

Sunday: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. A few flurries or snow showers possible. High around 40F. Low 27F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.

Monday: Sun and a few passing clouds. High 43F. Low 29F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.

Tuesday: Sunshine along with some cloudy intervals. High 47F. Low 31F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.

CIA psy-ops manual suggests rebels should assassinate their own to create martyr

A CIA "psychological operations" manual prepared by a CIA contractor for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noted the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a "martyr" for the cause.

The manual was authenticated by the U.S. government.

The manual received so much publicity from Associated Press, and other media that - during the 1984 presidential debate - President Reagan was confronted with the following question on national television:

At this moment, we are confronted with the extraordinary story of a CIA guerrilla manual for the anti-Sandinista contras whom we are backing, which advocates not only assassinations of Sandinistas but the hiring of criminals to assassinate the guerrillas we are supporting in order to create martyrs.

Indeed, this is just one of scores of admitted false flag attacks by governments all over the world.

P.S. We're SURE this has nothing to do with this completely unrelated story:

Russian Opposition: Putin Did NOT Assassinate Opposition Leader

Is the U.S. 'fast-tracking' its way to a toxic nightmare?

© Shutterstock.com

A speaker at an event I recently attended asked why U.S. food companies put butylated hydroxyltoluene, a food preservative and endocrine disruptor, in cereal sold stateside, while in Europe the same companies formulate the same product BHT.

There are three answers to that question:

  1. The European Union prohibits numerous harmful ingredients U.S. regulatory agencies allow.

  2. Well-informed European citizens have organized and pushed for those regulations.

  3. U.S. citizens have not yet pushed for such regulations in sufficient numbers.

The precautionary principle is an approach to risk management which places the burden of proof to demonstrate a product or ingredient's safety on the corporations that produces the product— prior to releasing it to the public. Over the last few decades, the U.S. has become lax with this approach while Europe proceeds with a greater amount of caution. But that contrast may not survive efforts by the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and multinational corporations, which are currently negotiating super trade treaties behind closed doors.

Such treaties are enacted by Congress through what's known as "fast-track" legislation, meaning that the President negotiates trade agreements and Congress can only approve or disapprove, but cannot amend or filibuster the legislation.

According to sources at the negotiations of these treaties, the provisions in them may well eradicate the EU's higher standards. Instead of getting the BHT and other questionable additives out of American products, the negotiated language will likely "harmonize barriers to trade," meaning corporations can put all the bad stuff in European products that they can't now.

Many Europeans vehemently oppose such trade deals because the mainstream media is extensively covering them. Here in the U.S., however, there's pretty much a coverage blackout except for MSNBC'sThe Ed Show.

Despite leaks, side conversations and Wikileaks revelations that have given experts the opportunity to assess the deals, the American media and public don't seem too concerned about the outcome. But important questions remain. Let's begin with the obvious: Why are these deals secret? And why should ordinary citizens go along and trust that the secret handshake devised by corporations will serve the greater public good?

To borrow a phrase from the GMO labeling movement, we need to safeguard the public's right to know. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about secret trade deals or the contents of food, shampoo, building products, industrial emissions, knowledge protects us.

Is Knowledge a Barrier to Trade?

While the most visible proponents of labeling are groups, like the Organic Consumers Organization, Food Democracy Now!, and Just Label It! which call for mandatory labeling of GMO-containing foods, GMOs are not the only food ingredients some people would like to see labeled in food. A small sample of others include:

  • Allergenic ingredients (like wheat or egg)

  • Pro-inflammatory ingredients (like MSG or food colorings)

  • Obesogenic substances (like high fructose corn syrup aka HCFS)

  • Other stuff that has not been well studied (or studied at all) like certain "flavors" or "fragrances"

It doesn't end with food. Women purchasing cosmetics or face creams want to know whether they contain methyl parabens which studies find concentrated in cancerous tumors. Parents buying their children's car seats or nursing pillows want assurances that these products don't contain toxic flame retardants. Homeowners and office dwellers want to know if their building materials and furnishings contain toxins like phthalates, which are associated with damage to the liver, thyroid and reproductive system.

And let's not forget the chemicals used in fracking, emissions from manufacturing plants and gas pipeline infrastructures, methane and carbon dioxide releases contributing to climate change, and nuclear waste. Whether it's consumer goods, building materials, or the energy industries, toxic outputs need to be monitored for health and environmental impacts. That's impossible to do without the right to know what they contain, emit or produce. The only way to track them is through product labeling.

Banning the Precautionary Principle

From the perspective of corporations, the less the public knows about what their products contain or emit, the better. When knowledge deters people from a product or process, the industry considers that knowledge a barrier to trade. And the new uber-trade deals, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are poised to be fast-tracked through Congress with a quick up or down vote, even before the treaties' contents are made known to Congress or the public.

"Big chemical companies, pesticide manufacturers, the manufacturers of products which are associated with cancer, autism, learning disabilities in children, and a host of other serious illnesses are attempting to use these trade regulations to stop government regulations of dangerous chemicals all around the globe," says William Waren, senior trade analyst with Friends of the Earth.

"When we can't adequately quantify risk, the burden of proof is on the party that would introduce a potentially risky product to show that the risk is low enough to avoid harm public health and the environment," he continues.

When the precautionary principle is dismantled, as it is in U.S. policy, companies make it the public's responsibility to show harm. Unless people go to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate a safety problem, corporations have to guarantee safety.

Current federal regulations are riddled with loopholes due to four decades of industry lobbying and legal opposition to proper safeguards. Efforts by major coalitions like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families have been stalled.

In the void left by our nation's failure to regulate, some states, such as California, have taken it upon themselves to regulate toxic chemicals. The California Environmental Quality Act requires that "no projects which would cause significant environmental effects should be approved as proposed if there are feasible alternatives or mitigation measures that would lessen those effects," and "environmental impact reports shall be used to provide full public disclosure of the environmental impacts of a proposed project."

"It's incremental but it's real important, given the incapacity of the EPA to act," notes Waren.

Waren says that the "Technical Barriers to Trade" chapters in treaties would also enact stringent limits on all governments, rolling back product safety regulations in Europe and elsewhere and freeze in place the current ineffective U.S. federal regulations. In addition, state regulations would be rolled back or nullified.

Europeans would have to eat their BHT and like it. No longer able to study health or environmental impacts, under threat of lawsuits by international trade tribunals, Californians would not be empowered to prevent fracking companies from dumping fracking waste into water aquifers—as recently occurred in Central Valley, California.

"This is one of the leading negotiating points for the U.S. and they are making a lot of headway," says Waren. "The whole question of rolling back state and local safeguards on food and the environment is a very, very important one because a lot of states have already acted in various ways, like New York which banned fracking."

Waren says fast-track trade legislation is a "fundamental attack on democracy. It's frightening."

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Neuroscientists find that different parts of the brain work best at different ages

Brain Function

© Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT (with image courtesy of the researchers)

Researchers have been running large-scale experiments on the Internet, where people of any age can become research subjects. Their websites feature cognitive tests designed to be completed in just a few minutes. Shown here is a "pattern completion test" from their website, testmybrain.org.

Scientists have long known that our ability to think quickly and recall information, also known as fluid intelligence, peaks around age 20 and then begins a slow decline. However, more recent findings, including a new study from neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), suggest that the real picture is much more complex.

The study, which appears in the journal , finds that different components of fluid intelligence peak at different ages, some as late as age 40.

"At any given age, you're getting better at some things, you're getting worse at some other things, and you're at a plateau at some other things. There's probably not one age at which you're peak on most things, much less all of them," says Joshua Hartshorne, a postdoc in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and one of the paper's authors.

"It paints a different picture of the way we change over the lifespan than psychology and neuroscience have traditionally painted," adds Laura Germine, a postdoc in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental genetics at MGH and the paper's other author.

Measuring peaks

Until now, it has been difficult to study how cognitive skills change over time because of the challenge of getting large numbers of people older than college students and younger than 65 to come to a psychology laboratory to participate in experiments. Hartshorne and Germine were able to take a broader look at aging and cognition because they have been running large-scale experiments on the Internet, where people of any age can become research subjects.

Their web sites, gameswithwords.org and testmybrain.org, feature cognitive tests designed to be completed in just a few minutes. Through these sites, the researchers have accumulated data from nearly 3 million people in the past several years.

In 2011, Germine published a study showing that the ability to recognize faces improves until the early 30s before gradually starting to decline. This finding did not fit into the theory that fluid intelligence peaks in late adolescence. Around the same time, Hartshorne found that subjects' performance on a visual short-term memory task also peaked in the early 30s.

Intrigued by these results, the researchers, then graduate students at Harvard University, decided that they needed to explore a different source of data, in case some aspect of collecting data on the Internet was skewing the results. They dug out sets of data, collected decades ago, on adult performance at different ages on the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale, which is used to measure IQ, and the Weschler Memory Scale. Together, these tests measure about 30 different subsets of intelligence, such as digit memorization, visual search, and assembling puzzles.

Hartshorne and Germine developed a new way to analyze the data that allowed them to compare the age peaks for each task. "We were mapping when these cognitive abilities were peaking, and we saw there was no single peak for all abilities. The peaks were all over the place," Hartshorne says. "This was the smoking gun."

However, the dataset was not as large as the researchers would have liked, so they decided to test several of the same cognitive skills with their larger pools of Internet study participants. For the Internet study, the researchers chose four tasks that peaked at different ages, based on the data from the Weschler tests. They also included a test of the ability to perceive others' emotional state, which is not measured by the Weschler tests.

The researchers gathered data from nearly 50,000 subjects and found a very clear picture showing that each cognitive skill they were testing peaked at a different age. For example, raw speed in processing information appears to peak around age 18 or 19, then immediately starts to decline. Meanwhile, short-term memory continues to improve until around age 25, when it levels off and then begins to drop around age 35.

For the ability to evaluate other people's emotional states, the peak occurred much later, in the 40s or 50s.

Christopher Chabris, an associate professor of psychology at Union College, said a key feature of the study's success was the researchers' ability to gather and analyze so much data, which is unusual in cognitive psychology.

"You need to look at a lot of people to discover these patterns," says Chabris, who was not part of the research team. "They're taking the next step and showing a more fine-grained picture of how cognitive abilities differ from one another and the way they change over time."

More work will be needed to reveal why each of these skills peaks at different times, the researchers say. However, previous studies have hinted that genetic changes or changes in brain structure may play a role.

"If you go into the data on gene expression or brain structure at different ages, you see these lifespan patterns that we don't know what to make of. The brain seems to continue to change in dynamic ways through early adulthood and middle age," Germine says. "The question is: What does it mean? How does it map onto the way you function in the world, or the way you think, or the way you change as you age?"

Accumulated intelligence

The researchers also included a vocabulary test, which serves as a measure of what is known as crystallized intelligence—the accumulation of facts and knowledge. These results confirmed that crystallized intelligence peaks later in life, as previously believed, but the researchers also found something unexpected: While data from the Weschler IQ tests suggested that vocabulary peaks in the late 40s, the new data showed a later peak, in the late 60s or early 70s.

The researchers believe this may be a result of better education, more people having jobs that require a lot of reading, and more opportunities for intellectual stimulation for older people.

Hartshorne and Germine are now gathering more data from their websites and have added new cognitive tasks designed to evaluate social and emotional intelligence, language skills, and executive function. They are also working on making their data public so that other researchers can access it and perform other types of studies and analyses.

"We took the existing theories that were out there and showed that they're all wrong. The question now is: What is the right one? To get to that answer, we're going to need to run a lot more studies and collect a lot more data," Hartshorne says.

Monsanto: Destroying the brains and health of everyone

© hrexach.wordpress.com

One of my most recent blog entries(1 ) summarized roughly 10 years of research related to the consequences of inflammatory processes in the periphery of the body, such as the gut, and how this was driving brain degenerative inflammatory processes within the brain.

One of the key findings from that research was how pathogenic bacterial waste products known as "lipopolysaccharides", (LPS) would trigger an immune response, and this immune response would then trigger the brains immune cells, the microglia, to become overly active and degrade brain cells. () This response is called "microglial activation". You'll be hearing a lot more about it over the next 10 -20 years, because stopping this overactivation is central to correcting all degenerative neurological conditions, including Alzheimers, Autism, Anxiety, ALS, Insomnia, non-situational Depression, MS, and many endocrine system disorders including the unbiquitous adrenal and thyroid disorders that so many people are struggling with right now.

In short, the process can work like this (note there are other ways to trigger this):

  1. Pathogenic bacteria overgrow in intestines and create waste products (LPS) which activate the immune system to respond and produce a chemical called "Interleukin 1b".

  2. The activity of this immune response is communicated to the brain by way of the vagus nerve which connects the brain with our "second brain", which is also called "the gut".

  3. The brains immune system cells called "microglia" become overly excited by the ongoing response to the toxins being produced in the gut (or elsewhere in the body), and these microglia break down neurons.

So how does Monsanto contribute to this?

Monsanto is a chief producer of genetically modified products. Among the most dangerous products that they produce is the herbicide RoundUp. RoundUp is a chemical called "glyphosate" that is combined with a few other chemicals. Conventional farming of corn, soy, cotton, canola, and wheat is increasingly using more and more RoundUp on their genetically modified crops as nature adapts to the toxicity of the RoundUp by becoming increasingly tolerant to it. Ultimately nature will win out, but in the process our food, water, and soil will become increasingly poisoned by the compound until those using these insane farming practices either recognize the foolishness of their ways, or they opt for something even more toxic such as Agent Orange on the crops.(2 )

The proponents of Monsanto's version of GMO farming like to argue that glyphosate is fine to use since the enzymes that kill the weeds which are affected by the RoundUp don't exist in the human body, therefore they can't hurt humans(3 ). Where their argument falls apart is that the enzymes do exist in the microbes which make up our gut, and the importance of a healthy gut ecology is central to good health. In other words, RoundUp residue is disrupting our "microbiome", and this disruption of our microbiome can result in an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria relative to our beneficial bacteria (4 ). Among those toxic bacteria which are known to become dominant is , which produces one of the most potent bacterial toxins known to man. (4.5 )The dominance of these pathogenic bacteria is amplified with the consumption of sugar and high fructose syrup so dominant in the Standard American Diet (SAD), as these harmful microbes love to eat the sweets so many American's put into their bodies. Likewise, the artificial sweeteners either disrupt our gut flora (5 ) or they fuel the inflammatory processes within the brain directly.(6 ) Also noteworthy, is the research which shows how the microbes in our gut will highly influence our bodies cravings. In other words, much of your cravings for junk food and sweets may be coming from an unhealthy gut microbiome.(6.5 ) Recent research involving the parasite associated with Toxoplasmosis has shown that the parasite will affect behavior beyond just food cravings, too.(6.6 ) The following video is a nice overview of how our microbiome affects our health.

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So what does this all mean?

If our food contains residue of RoundUp, which it almost certainly will if you're eating conventionally raised corn, wheat, soy, or canola, you can expect the microbial balance within your intestines to become prone to being shifted in the direction of being dominant with pathogenic bacteria. If the pathogenic bacteria becomes dominant, you can expect these bacteria to be producing "lipopolysaccharides", which will then trigger the immune system to produce the pro-inflammatory cycle I detailed above. Given that scenario, if Monsanto's crops, which dominate the food landscape right now, are altering our gut ecology and causing it to become dominant in LPS generating bad bacteria, and this then initiates a brain degenerating pro-inflammatory process in the brain, then we can conclude that Monsanto and conventional farming practices are key factors involving probably every form of chronic illness. Not only that, the pet food you're feeding your animals most likely is tainted with RoundUp residue. Like to eat out? Unless they're advertising their food as being all organic, expect to be consuming some RoundUp residue. Even if the food is advertised as organic, research is showing that even this is no guarantee that genetically modified food isn't being used. (7 )

So how do we stop this madness?

Unfortunately, there is a fascistic relationship between the government and Monsanto. Our current "Food Safety Czar" at the FDA is former VP from Monsanto, Michael Taylor. Additionally, Clarence Thomas, who sits on the Supreme Court, has never recused himself of any Supreme Court case related to Monsanto, despite a clear conflict of interest given the fact that Clarence Thomas is a former lawyer for Monsanto.(8 ) Government is now acting to make sure that the Monsanto machine isn't stopped.

This is going to require a grass roots campaign that starts with YOU! Now that you have this information, please share it with others. Beyond that, "Origins" is an excellent documentary which covers many of the problems with our health and how it relates to conventional farming practices like I described above. If you're interested in learning more about what I've detailed here, watch this video with your friends and family, and help make it viral! The mainstream media isn't going to do this. Like it or not, stopping the Monsanto machine requires our collective action.

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Cougar captured at Promenade mall in Temecula, California

© Joe Fanaselle

A mountain lion lies sedated in the bed of a pickup truck in the Promenade mall parking lot in Temecula.

A mountain lion that wandered into the Promenade mall parking lot in Temecula was tranquilized for removal but died shortly after, an official said.

At least one witness called the Riverside County Sheriff's Department reporting the lion walking near the Macy's store early Friday morning, March 6. The sheriff's department called in a Fish and Wildlife warden who used an air-powered gun to shoot it with a tranquilizer dart, said Kyle Orr, a spokesman with Fish and Wildlife.

As officials were taking the adult male lion into the wilderness, it died, Orr said.

The cause of death is unknown and a necropsy is planned, but in general, when an animal dies after being shot with a tranquilizer dart, the two most common causes are damage done by the needle and a bad reaction to the drug, Orr said.

The animal was not acting aggressively but because the area is so densely populated by humans, removing it was a necessity, he said.

How the big cat ended up at the mall is unknown, but the lion appeared a little younger than two years which is an age marked by a case of wanderlust, Orr said.

"At that age, that generally means they're dispersing, looking for their own territory," he said.

Though it's rare for them to get deep into populated areas without being detected, it's not unheard of, he said.

"They're pretty elusive animals and can move pretty stealthily," he said.