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Friday, 13 March 2015

Video shows cop choking out child until he goes limp, child left with brain injury

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Louisville, Kentucky - Louisville Metro Police Officer Jonathan Hardin, 31, has been arrested for assaulting a child at the school where he was working as a resource officer.

Surveillance video released after it was played during a probable cause hearing on Thursday shows Hardin choking out a 13-year-old student back in January. This was only five days after the officer allegedly assaulted another 13-year-old student in an unrelated incident.

Hardin was also named in a civil suit with two other officers who have been accused of verbally and physically abusing children during a summer program.

Surveillance cameras at the middle school also caught the first incident that took place in the cafeteria on January 22. The footage reportedly shows the officer punch a student in the face so hard that he is knocked to the ground, after accusing him of cutting in line.

The boy was subsequently charged with menacing and resisting arrest following the officer's assault. However, WLKY reports that court records show that the officer made the arrest based on facts that he knew were false.

Instead of being fired, suspended, or moved to a position away from children, the officer remained on duty and January 27th he was caught on camera assaulting a child once again.

The video from the second incident shows the child running into the officer and knocking him over. After the officer gets back on his feet, he charges at the child, grabs him, and chokes him unconscious as he lifted the middle school student off the ground. After letting him go, it appears the child's head hit the ground, and the child does not move for 20-25 seconds. Sargeant Rivera of the LMPD has stated that the video is consistent with strangulation.

The child has stated that he went to chest-bump the officer, but Hardin lost his balance and fell over. The boy said that he remembered tapping the officers arm to get him to ease up as his vision began to get blurry, and the next thing he remembers is waking up on the ground.

Hardin then handcuffed the boy, kept him out of class, and drove him home. He was seen by a doctor who confirmed a brain injury due to loss of blood flow to his brain.

Hardin is currently out of jail on bond and is suspended without pay.

From a high school girl having her jaw broken by a School Resource Officer who accused her of carrying mace, to a brutal beating over a student using a profanity; brutality at the hands of officers stationed at schools over teenage misbehavior is becoming far too common. Instead of trips to the principle's office, in police state USA, its trips to jail — or the hospital.


New bionic heart would work without beating

Bionic Heart


Scientists at the Texas Heart Institute claim that they are co-developing a bionic heart that can perfectly replicate the function of its biological counterpart, but without actually beating.

The researchers, who are working on the heart along with Houston-based private-sector medical research and engineering firm BiVACOR, told that the average human heart needs to beat 42 million times per year. An artificial heart that had all of the moving parts required to beat would wear out in a hurry, BiVACOR chief medical officer Dr. William Cohn said.

Like a soda can with magnets

The new bionic heart would only have one moving part and would transport blood through the body using magnets instead of pumping it, they explained. A prototype that has been used in large animals allows them to live for a month and even exercise on a treadmill for one month before they are culled to examine its impact on their brain and other organs.

"The device has performed in many respects better than any artificial heart anybody has come up with in the last 50 years," Cohn told ABC News, noting that he and his colleagues consider it the "first legitimate shot... for a permanent mechanical replacement for the failing human heart." He added that "kidney function, lung function, everything works beautifully throughout."

While the device, which is approximately half the size of a soda can, is implanted in a patient's chest, it has a battery-operated controller that remains outside his or her body, a recent Lubbock Online blog said. It features a spinning disk with fins suspended by a pair of magnetic fields that prevent it from touching anything, and rotates an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 times a minute.

Leave it to the Aussies

According to the , the bionic heart was first designed by Australian engineer Daniel Timms and was further developed by Dr. Cohn. Its disk remains flat by undergoing 20,000 micro-adjustments per second, and since the left and right sides of the heart work harder under different circumstances, it adjusts the balance 20 times per second.

As Dr. Cohn, who is also a heart surgeon at the Institute, told the newspaper, "People bring in suitcases all the time with these devices, and by and large it's a lot of crap. When Daniel came in I realized almost immediately this was the mostly highly evolved and brilliant device I've ever seen. I immediately told him he should move to Houston."

Go check out their Kickhearter

Earlier this month, the team developing the beatless heart told that they hope to have the device fully operational and ready for use in human patients by 2020, but that the device first needed to pass rigorous and expensive tests to prove it worked and was safe.

To help cover the costs of those tests, the Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital Foundation has launched a campaign to raise $5 million to help prepare the heart for human trials by 2018, the Australian newspaper added. The potential cost of the final device is not yet known.

"We are taking-on evolution, we have never had anyone alive without a pulse and a lot of people thought that could never be done," cardiac expert John Fraser said during a recent fundraising event, said. "Evolution developed us with a pulse but we don't need one."

"The pump... has got no pulse, it has a spinning disk levitated by magnets, very much like the Japanese trains levitated by magnets... there is no wear (and tear). There have been devices before that support one side of the heart... where you don't have a pulse, but this is something that can entirely replace the heart," he added, noting that the device could last two decades.

Coral pyramids in Micronesia date back to Middle Ages

Coral Pyramids

© Jean-Paul Hobbs

Researcher Zoe Richards inspects the corals used to build a royal tomb at Leluh known as Bat.

On a remote Pacific island not much bigger than Manhattan, there are ancient pyramids built out of living coral. New evidence reveals that these tombs could be up to 700 years old — much older than experts had previously thought.

The royal tombs are tucked away in an artificially built ancient city called Leluh just off the mainland of Kosrae, a Micronesian island. Leluh was home to Kosraean high chiefs (as well as some lower chiefs and commoners, too) from about 1250 until the mid-1800s, when foreign whalers, traders and missionaries started to arrive on the island.

With impressive canals and walled compounds built from basalt, Leluh is often considered a companion city to the more famous Micronesian settlement of Nan Madol, on the nearby island of Pohnpei. While the tiny islets of Nan Madol were built on top of a coral reef, at Leluh, coral was actually incorporated into the construction material of many buildings, including the royal tombs.

"Today, the ancient tombs of the royal burial complexes are one of the few parts of the ancient Leluh site that remain intact," said Zoe Richards, a coral expert at the Western Australian Museum and lead author of a new study detailing the findings. "Much of the historical site is overgrown by the tropical forest and has succumbed to hundreds of years of tropical weather and tidal inundation, and some parts of the site have been dismantled and reused in modern construction."

These tombs, also known as , stand about 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall, and they're shaped like frustums (pyramids with their pointy tops lobbed off). Historical sources indicate that when a Kosraean king died, he would be rubbed with coconut oil and wrapped in mats and cords to be buried in the saru for up to three months. The king's bones would then be exhumed, cleaned and reburied in a hole on the nearby reef, Richards and her colleagues wrote.

Because these burials were not permanent, not much was left behind in the tombs to help archaeologists today determine the age of these structures. The bones of a 50-year-old man and a dog were found in one of the tombs, known as Inol-1, but a radiocarbon dating of those skeletal remains showed that this burial took place relatively recently, sometime between 1824 and 1850.

To get a more precise estimate of the age of the tombs, Richards and her colleagues turned to the building material itself. They collected 47 chunks of coral from three — Inol-1 and two others, named Lūrūn and Bat — and subjected these samples to uranium-thorium dating, a technique used to determine the age of calcium-carbonate materials like coral.

The results showed that all three tombs could have been built as early as the 1300s, the researchers said.

"The results of this study lend support to oral histories and other archaeological work on Kosrae suggesting an earlier construction, occupation and use of Leluh," Richards told Live Science in an email. "It also better supports Leluh's place in the region, not only as a rival to Nan Madol on Pohnpei, but also as a hub of political and economic activity throughout this part of the Pacific."

Some of the corals actually dated back thousands of years, which means that the people of Leluh were using coral fossils and rubble to fill out the tombs' walls and line the crypts, the researchers said. However, Richards and her colleagues think most of the corals used in the tombs' construction were plucked from live reefs surrounding Kosrae at low tide.

"To extract and translocate the amount of coral used to build the , as well as the structures and walls throughout Leluh, would have required a highly structured social order that could organize and demand significant labor and logistical support from the population," Richards said.

The findings were published today (March 13) in the journal .

State Dept. forced to shut down email after cyber attack

US state dept logo

© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The US Department of State logo is displayed inside the media briefing at the US Department of State in Washington.

The State Department shut down large parts of its unclassified email system today in a final attempt to rid it of malware believed to have been inserted by Russian hackers in what has become one of the most serious cyber intrusions in the department's history, U.S. officials told ABC News.

"The Department is implementing improvements to the security of its main unclassified network during a short, planned outage of some internet-linked systems," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement to ABC News.

The outage could last though the weekend, according to officials. But as of now there is no time limit and no real indication of when the system will be back online.

Last November, the State Department conducted similar repairs to its system stemming from a cyber-attack it suffered the month before. The attack targeted the unclassified email system and is believed to have been executed by Russian hackers.

Officials stress that throughout this process, including the attack in October, there was never any compromise to the department's classified systems.

News of this latest outage comes as presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a political controversy stemming from her exclusive use of a private email address and home-based server during her tenure as the nation's top diplomat.

In a news conference Tuesday where she addressed the email scandal, Clinton said her server was guarded by the Secret Service and "there were no security breaches."

U.S. asks Vietnam to stop helping Russian bomber flights

The United States has asked Vietnam to stop letting Russia use a former U.S. base to refuel nuclear-capable bombers engaged in shows of strength over the Asia-Pacific region, exposing strains in Washington's steadily warming relations with Hanoi.

The request, described to Reuters by a State Department official, comes as U.S. officials say Russian bombers have stepped up flights in a region already rife with tensions between China, U.S.-ally Japan and Southeast Asian nations.

General Vincent Brooks, commander of the U.S. Army in the Pacific, told Reuters the planes had conducted "provocative" flights, including around the U.S. Pacific Ocean territory of Guam, home to a major American air base.

It is the first time that U.S. officials have confirmed the role of Cam Ranh Bay, a natural deep-water harbor, in Russian bomber plane activity that has increased globally.

Brooks said the planes that circled Guam were refueled by Russian tankers flying from the strategic bay, which was transformed by the Americans during the Vietnam War into a massive air and naval base.

Vietnam's willingness to allow Russia to use Cam Ranh Bay reflects Hanoi's complex position in a geopolitical tug-of-war that frequently pits China and Russia on one side and the United States, Japan and much of Southeast Asia on the other.

Washington is keen to secure greater access itself to Cam Ranh Bay as part of its strategic "pivot" to Asia to counter China's growing strength in the region. U.S. ships have visited for repairs in recent years.

Vietnam, in turn, has sought closer U.S. ties as a hedge against what it sees as China's aggression, but remains close to Russia in both defense and energy cooperation.

Cam Ranh Bay is now host to three submarines bought by Vietnam's navy from Russia to counter Chinese expansion in the South China Sea, with two more expected by early next year.

Brooks said in an interview the flights indicated that Vietnam's Cold War-era ally Russia was acting as "a spoiler to our interests and the interests of others."

Raising tensions

Asked about the Russian flights in the region, the State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Washington respected Hanoi's right to enter agreements with other countries.

But the official added: "We have urged Vietnamese officials to ensure that Russia is not able to use its access to Cam Ranh Bay to conduct activities that could raise tensions in the region."

The Vietnamese government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the U.S. request.

Brooks declined to say when the flights he referred to took place. He did not say how many had been conducted and how many aircraft were involved. But he confirmed they had occurred since Russia's annexation of Crimea last March, which sparked a broader conflict with Ukraine and a surge in tensions between Russia and the United States.

The head of U.S. air forces in the Pacific said last May that Russia's intervention in Ukraine had been accompanied by a significant increase in Russian air activity in the Asia-Pacific region in a show of strength and to gather intelligence.

Russia's Defense Ministry said on Jan. 4 that Russian Il-78 tanker aircraft had used Cam Ranh Bay in 2014, enabling the refueling of nuclear-capable TU-95 "Bear" strategic bombers, a statement also reported in Vietnam's state-controlled media.

In that time, Russia has conducted increasingly aggressive air and sea patrols close to the borders of the U.S.-led NATO alliance, including by Bear bombers over the English Channel.

Last year, NATO conducted more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft, about three times as many as in 2013.

Russian bomber flights

Russian bomber patrol flights, a Cold War-era practice, were cut back after the fall of the Soviet Union but President Vladimir Putin revived them in 2007.

Russia said in November it planned to send long-range bombers on patrols over North American waters but the Pentagon played this down at the time as routine training in international airspace.

In its effort to boost ties with Vietnam, the United States has been pouring in aid and assistance in health, education, landmines clearance, scholarships and nuclear energy.

Defense cooperation had been limited by an embargo on lethal arms. But Washington started to ease this in October, enabling humanitarian exercises between both militaries late last year and more are taking place this month.

Last year saw a flurry of high-level U.S. visits to Vietnam that coincided with a maritime territorial row between Hanoi and Beijing. On Friday, the U.S ambassador in Vietnam announced that the Vietnamese Communist Party chief would later this year become the first party leader to visit Washington.

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said on Friday it was understandable Hanoi would look to "historic partners" when it came to security, but the United States had "much to offer... to enhance Vietnam's security in the short, medium and long term."

Ukraine's ex-PM, Russian political analyst, 12 individuals latest target for US sanctions

US flag barbed wire

© European Press Agency/Shawn Thew

US has imposed sanctions on former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and 13 more people in connection with the situation in Ukraine, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

Sanctions were also imposed against Eurasian Youth Union and Russian National Commercial Bank. Russian public figure, leader of the International Eurasian Movement Alexander Dugin was also put on the sanctions list.

Former Ukrainian Health Minister Raisa Bogatyreva, Ukrainian businessman and politician Sergey Abruzov and acting head of Russia's Federal Migration Service in Sevastopol Oleg Kozyura were also included in the blacklist.

US also imposed sanctions against representatives of the militia in the east of Ukraine, including deputy foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Rpeubic (DPR) Ekaterina Gubareva, head of the DPR Central Election Commission Roman Lyagin and former DPR defense minister Alexander Khodakovsky.

US earlier introduced sanctions against largest Russian banks, including VTB, Sberbank, VEB, Gazprombank, Bank of Moscow and Rosselkhozbank.

EU extends sanctions blacklist

On Monday, February 16, the EU published an extended "blacklist" of sanctioned individuals and entities. The updated "blacklist" was published in the EU Official Journal and came into force from the moment of publication. The number of sanctioned individuals has thus reached 151 citizens of Russia and Ukraine. The number of sanctioned companies now stands at 37.

Nineteen individuals and 9 entities were added to the EU "blacklist" on February 16. Among them are Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, First Deputy Defense Minister Arkady Bakhin, singer Iosif Kobzon and State Duma deputy, head of the Moscow department of Russia's Communist Party Valery Rashkin. Also on the list is head of the main operational department of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General Lieutenant Andrey Kartapolov.

Fourteen representatives of eastern Ukraine's self-proclaimed republics' leadership, along with leaders of militia forces in east Ukraine, made it on the extended "blacklist" as well.

All blacklisted individuals are banned from entering the EU, and their financial assets in European banks are frozen.

Listening to music enhances activity of genes involved in learning and memory while down-regulating genes associated with neurodegeneration


© rubchikova / Fotolia

A Finnish study group has investigated how listening to classical music affected the gene expression profiles of both musically experienced and inexperienced participants. All the participants listened to W.A. Mozart's violin concert Nr 3, G-major, K.216 that lasts 20 minutes.

Although listening to music is common in all societies, the biological determinants of listening to music are largely unknown. According to a new study, listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory, and down-regulated the genes mediating neurodegeneration. Several of the up-regulated genes were known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds, suggesting a common evolutionary background of sound perception across species.

Listening to music represents a complex cognitive function of the human brain, which is known to induce several neuronal and physiological changes. However, the molecular background underlying the effects of listening to music is largely unknown. A Finnish study group has investigated how listening to classical music affected the gene expression profiles of both musically experienced and inexperienced participants. All the participants listened to W.A. Mozart's violin concert Nr 3, G-major, K.216 that lasts 20 minutes.

Listening to music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic function, learning and memory. One of the most up-regulated genes, synuclein-alpha (SNCA) is a known risk gene for Parkinson's disease that is located in the strongest linkage region of musical aptitude. SNCA is also known to contribute to song learning in songbirds.

"The up-regulation of several genes that are known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds suggest a shared evolutionary background of sound perception between vocalizing birds and humans," says Dr. Irma Järvelä, the leader of the study.

In contrast, listening to music down-regulated genes that are associated with neurodegeneration, referring to a neuroprotective role of music.

"The effect was only detectable in musically experienced participants, suggesting the importance of familiarity and experience in mediating music-induced effects," researchers remark.

The findings give new information about the molecular genetic background of music perception and evolution, and may give further insights about the molecular mechanisms underlying music therapy.

Comment: Music has also been found to have a profound effect on our immune systems. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, a leading oncologist who has pioneered new strategies for the treatment and prevention of cancer, actively uses sound in his integrative oncology practice. In this interview discussing his book , he says:

Sound can change our immune function. After either chanting or listening to certain forms of music, your Interluken-1 level, an index of your immune system, goes up between 12 and a half and 15 percent. Not only that, about 20 minutes after listening to this meditative type music, your immunoglobin levels in your blood are significantly increased. There's no part of our body not affected. Even our heart rate and blood pressure are lowered with certain forms of music. So, it effects not only our soul and our spirit, but it effects us on literally a cellular and sub-cellular level.

Tropical cyclone Pam batters islands of Vanuatu

tropical cyclone pam

© abc.net.au

A resident assesses damage caused by Cyclone in Tarawa, Kiribati, on March 11, 2015. (

Tropical Cyclone Pam may have weakened somewhat Saturday morning, but it was still pounding the islands of Vanuatu after hours of fierce winds and torrential rain.

"#CyclonePam still tearing through #Vanuatu. 'Much bigger than expected,' says our colleague in Port Vila. Initial reports of devastation," tweeted the Australian branch of UNICEF.

Pam, one of the strongest storms seen in the South Pacific in years, earlier made a direct hit on Port Vila, the capital, raising fears of mass destruction.

In its 8 a.m. Saturday update, the Vanuatu Meteorological Services warned of "very destructive hurricane force winds" of 155 mph (250 kilometers per hour) in Shefa and Tafea provinces, with several others facing "very rough to phenomenal seas with heavy swells."

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, said the cyclone had weakened from the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 4. It has dumped more than 9 inches of rain on the capital in a 36-hour period and has wind gusts of up to 190 mph (305 kph).

Pam is forecast to move southeastward along the western edge of the southern islands of Vanuatu. It isn't expected to make any additional landfalls before dissipating.

It will continue to weaken as it crosses cooler waters and encounters higher wind shear.

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Pam is expected to pass east of New Zealand on Sunday and into Monday. It could bring heavy rainfall to North Island, including Auckland.

The capital,the biggest city in the Vanuatu island chain,sits on the coastline, which is vulnerable to storm surges during powerful cyclones.

Tropical Cyclone Pam is the strongest storm to make landfallsince the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013.

Chloe Morrison, an emergency communications director for the humanitarian organization World Vision, told CNN that she could see some light between her boarded-up windows but it was still hard to see the totality of the destruction outside the house where she and seven others huddled in a back room during the storm.

"Seven hours hunkered down and it's still not safe to go outside," she said. "The winds are still really howling. We're really lucky to be in a concrete house."

Part of the tin roof twisted off the house and landed by one of the windows, she said. She also noted that two trees outside didn't get uprooted, but they had not one bit of fruit or any leaves remaining.

Despite the "quite terrifying ordeal," Morrison said, their house didn't have any damage.

Through the night, the wind and torrential rain made it sound like an angry ocean was just outside their doors, she said.

World Vision, which says it's been based in Vanuatu for more than 30 years, said its emergency assessment team would head out to view the damage when it is safe.

The staff helped prepare communities on the islands for the cyclone by positioning water, food, blankets, tarpaulins, and shelter, hygiene and kitchen kits in key places, it said, as well as advising on disaster preparedness.

tropical storm pam

Tropical Cyclone Pam slams Vanuatu capital

Residents have been advised to seek shelter in places such as churches, universities and schools.

"The strongest thing they've got is cement churches," said Inga Mepham, program director for CARE International for the Vanuatu program. "Some of them don't have that. It's hard to find a structure that you'd think would be able to withstand a Category 5 (storm)."'Vanuatu Monster'

Earlier, photographer Michael McLennan -- who said the storm is being called the "Vanuatu Monster" -- told CNN that the "strength of winds is incredible."

Video footage he shot earlier Friday showed palm trees being whipped by wind and rain.

Evacuation alerts have been issued for several parts of the country.

Even before the sun rose Saturday, Vanuatu was already getting hit hard, with most communication and power cut off due to the storm.

"The wind outside is terrifying," Michael Wolfe, World Vision's national director in Vanuatu, told that organization. "I can't imagine what it's like for families out there who weren't able to find safe shelter before the storm."

The archipelago nation northeast of Australia contains 83 small islands, many of which have little infrastructure and lack the strong housing structures that can endure a walloping storm.

Because of the tropical climate in Vanuatu, some of the housing is made of lighter building materials, including straw and corrugated metals.

Residents prepared for the storm, boarding up windows and chopping down trees that stand close to buildings in case they could become debris or cause further damage or injury.

CNN host Bill Weir, who was recently in Vanuatu on assignment, said that while Port Vila has some modern development in the form of an airport, large hotels and a convention center that's under construction, life on some of the islands has remained almost unchanged for thousands of years.

"For search and rescue, for bringing food and supplies and medicine, it's extremely challenging," he said.

Pam has triggered watches and warnings in the Solomon Islands and New Zealand.

Houston man stuck in traffic films mysterious flying object in sky

houston traffic jam

A UFO sighting in a Houston suburb was apparently convincing enough to make the local news, when a man stuck in a traffic jam decided to pass the time by pointing his cell phone camera at the sky and seeing what was up there. One of the photos he snapped, he believes, reveals a mysterious flying object in the sky.

"I found out it was a UFO, it absolutely was one," Alfonso Servin, who took the picture said, as quoted by the local .

Back on February 20, Servin had just left work after a day on the job in a Magnolia, Texas, grocery store when he found himself stuck in an unbearable traffic jam — a fairly regular occurrence in the area.

Servin sat in his car for about a half-hour, not moving, when he decided to pass the time by snapping pictures of the sky with his phone.

What he photographed was this...

ufo houston, tx

© Alfonso Servin

A close examination of the photo reveals a white dot to the left, about halfway up the image. At first, it doesn't look like much.

But the odd little anomaly in his cell phone photo did not escape Servin's notice — perhaps because he's no stranger to looking for UFO sightings. According to , the traffic jam photo was not the first UFO sighted by the grocery store employee.

In fact, Servin told the local news site that he has previously spotted not just one, not just two — but UFOs, including two in one week last November.

So Servin enlarged and digitally colored in the object that he believes he photographed against the cloudy sky that day in late February. And here is what the UFO looked like once Servin had finished enhancing the photograph:

Houston TX UFO

© Alfonso Servin

The photograph convinced one prominent UFO watcher, Scott Waring of the popular site.

"This UFO is hard to see unless you take the original and turn it into a negative effect. Then we can see there is something big there," Waring wrote on his blog. "This has the classic disk shape, and it looks like its semi cloaked to look like its surround clouds. Meaning it reflects the surround white-grey cloud colors off of it. Nice catch by a guy just waiting in traffic."

The in January reported on the sighting of a "slow moving fireball" UFO over the Houston area, as well. Read that report at this link.

While there were no other eyewitness reports of a UFO over Magnolia on February 20 — a fact that Servin says he finds surprising — there was a sighting over Asherton, Texas , about 300 miles to the west of Magnolia.

That sighting was reported by an oil field worker, to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

"I observed other oil field workers looking up in sky I started seeing bright orbs moving across the sky," reported that UFO watcher, who was not named by MUFON. "Prior to the sighting myself and several other workers heard a loud boom across the field from fracking site."

What do you think of the traffic jam UFO photos from outside of Houston? Is it the real deal, or just a case of one man seeing what he wanted to see?

The Milky Way galaxy may be more enormous than we ever imagined

How big is the Milky Way? bigger than we thought, it seems.

Surprising new research suggests that our home galaxy is about 50 percent bigger than previously thought, spanning some 150,000 light-years across rather than the 100,000 light-years that has been the generally accepted number.

We know quite a lot about the Milky Way, so how can it be that we're just now realizing that we were so wrong about its size? It turns out that what seemed to be concentric rings of stars surrounding our galaxy's bulging center are instead concentric ripples--and that means the galaxy doesn't end where we thought it did.

"If there are ripples, then it looks like the number of stars in the (presumed flat) disk drops off quickly, and then farther out where the disk ripples back up it looks like a detached ring of stars appears," Dr. Heidi Newberg, professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic University in Troy, NY, told The Huffington Post in an email. "We now understand that the galaxy didn't end; the disk is just going up and down--in and out of our view."

light density in milkyway

© Renssellaer polytechnic Institiute

Illustration showing the density of light in the Milky Way.

milkyway corrugated structure

© Renssellaer polytechnic Institiute

Illustration showing how regions of low density may actually be evidence of a corrugated structure.

"In essence, what we found is that the disk of the Milky Way isn't just a disk of stars in a flat plane--it's corrugated," Newberg, the leader of the international team of scientists who conducted the research, said in a written statement, adding that the corrugations seemed consistent with previous theoretical research suggesting that a dwarf galaxy or dark matter passing through the Milky Way would produce galactic rippling.

The new research--published March 11 in l--was based on a careful analysis of data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a collection of astronomical observations made by the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, N.M. The survey has created the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe ever made, according to its website.

What do other astronomers make of the finding?

In an email to The Huffington Post, Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff, professor of astronomy at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., called it "exciting" and offered his own interpretation:

"Our sun has been thought to be about two-thirds of the way out in our Milky Way Galaxy. Now we learn that we are really halfway out. Our galaxy extends further out than we had realized. If you think of our galaxy as a 9-inch dinner plate with us two-thirds of the way out, unable to see far through the plate's disk, we now learn that the plate was really 12 inches across."

Eat it up, astronomy buffs! And if you want another helping (and have 20 minutes to spare), you can watch Dr. Newberg explain the finding in the video below.

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Why the dollar is rising as the global monetary bubble craters

Contra Corner is not about investment advice, but its unstinting critique of the current malignant monetary regime does not merely imply that the Wall Street casino is a dangerous place for your money. No, it screams get out of harms' way. Now!

Yet I am constantly braced with questions about the US dollar and its impending demise. The reasoning seems to be that if America is a debt addicted dystopia - and it surely is - won't the US dollar sooner or later go down in flames as the day of reckoning materializes? Won't you make money shorting the doomed dollar?

Heavens no! At least not any time soon. The reason is simply that the other three big economies of the world - Japan, China and Europe - are in even more disastrous condition. Worse still, their governments and central banks are actually more clueless than Washington, and are conducting policies that are flat out lunatic - meaning that their faltering economies will be facing even more destructive punishment from policy makers in the days ahead.

Indeed, Draghi, Kuroda and the commissars of red capitalism in Beijing make Janet Yellen and Stanley Fischer (Fed Vice-Chairman) appear to be slightly sober. So as trite as it sounds, the US dollar is the cleanest dirty shirt in the laundry. And on a relative basis, its is going to look even cleaner as two decades of monetary madness around the world finally hit the shoals.

You have to start with a stark assessment of the other three major economies.To hear the Wall Street analysts and economists tell it, Japan, China and Europe are just variants of the US economy with different mixes of pluses and minuses, experiencing somewhat different stages of the economic cycle and obviously shaped by their own diverse brands of domestic politics and economic governance. Yet despite these surface difference, the non-US big three economies are held to be just part of a global economic convoy heading for continued economic growth, rising living standards and higher stock market prices.

Actually, not so. Japan is a bankrupt old age colony. China is the most monumental credit and construction Ponzi in human history. Europe is a terminal victim of socialist welfare and statist dirigisme. All three are attempting to defer the day of reckoning via resorting to a final spasm of money printing and central bank manipulation that is so desperate and crazy that it can only end in disaster.

So there is no global convoy of inexorable economic growth and progress. Instead, we are entering a new era of spectacular financial disorder and credit fueled booms turning into unprecedented deflationary busts. And it is the three big economies outside the US which will hit the wall first, causing the US dollar to thrive on a relative basis.

Consider the absolute monetary madness in Japan - where the current policy of the BOJ is to expand its balance sheet each month by what would amount to one-quarter trillion dollars on a US scale GDP. Yet this madcap money printing cannot possibly help the Japanese economy because it already has essentially zero interest rates and has had them for nearly two decades. So Kuroda can't possibly induce Japanese households and business to borrow more money and stimulate growth because they have long been at "peak debt" and couldn't borrow more if you paid them.

At the same time, the BOJ's massive bond buying campaign is sucking up 100% of the supply of new government debt - and Japan's fiscal deficit is still massive - and actually eating into the existing float. As a result, the Japanese government bond market is dead as a doornail; the only "bid" comes from the BOJ.

Here's the thing. The Japanese government is hands-down the largest debtor in the world, with its gross public debt currently at 240% of GDP. Accordingly, it needs a healthy public debt market more than anything else, but its monetary policy has actually killed what remained of it on the eve of Abenomics.

The consequences for fiscal policy and Japan's ability to finance its immense public debt as its collective old age home steadily fills up is simply mind-boggling. If it continues to monetize the public debt at current rates, it will destroy the yen - sending into free-fall from today's 121/ dollar to 200, 300 or even worse.

By contrast, if it sends the madmen who are currently running the BOJ packing, installs new central bankers and allows interest rates to normalize, debt service on Japan's public debt will skyrocket. As it is, more than 40% of Japan's current tax receipts go to interest on the public debt and that's with the 10-year bond yield at 0.4%. Under normal rates, debt service would absorb all of Japan's current tax revenues, causing welfare and retirement spending to be slashed on upwards of 40% of its population, which will soon be retired, while raising tax burdens on its shrinking labor force to truly brutal levels.

So Japan's fiscal equation is calamitous and terminal. Its governments will resort to increasingly dangerous and destructive expedients as they wrestle with its impossible nature. Indeed, the built-in financial, fiscal, demographic and economic trends are so powerful that there is virtually no set of policy measures that could reverse Japan's headlong tumble into old age bankruptcy.

As shown below, its debt to GDP ratio and the size of the BOJ balance sheet have been exploding for decades. Yet these maneuvers have only made matters worse. As also shown below, Japan's nominal GDP in dollar terms is no higher today than in was in 1996:

Notwithstanding the perennial bullish expectations of Wall Street Keynesians, the BOJ's mad money printing campaign has accomplished nothing. In fact, after the downward revision to Q4 GDP it is absolutely evident that its economy is still sputtering. Real GDP is barely higher than it was in December 2012 before Abenomics launched its truly monstrous money printing spree

Yet, the Abe government and BOJ does not hesitate to threaten even more monetary carnage - even as the abysmal failures of current policies are reported month after month. So the yen is heading down, down, down. Not because the dollar is inherently strong, but because it is currently being traded against a slow-motion trainwreck.

In China the scene is even more tortured. As McKinsey's charts so dramatically document, the overseers of red capitalism in Beijing have driven China into a monumental debt trap.

Its massive spree of construction and fixed asset investment has created an utterly deformed economy that will literally implode unless its keeps building empty luxury apartments, phantom cities, silent shopping malls and hideously redundant roads, bridges, subways and airports. Yet whenever the short-term indicators stumble, the government finds some new, convoluted way to release more credit into the system.

This too is reaching the farcical stage. During the six-short years since the financial crisis, China has boosted it credit market debt outstanding by the staggering sum of $20 trillion or by 4X the growth of GDP during the same period. How in the world could any one believe that China's tottering house of cards can be rescued by piling on even more debt financed construction and fixed asset acquisition?

© McKinsey

The rate at which the China Ponzi is falling apart is now accelerating. In a nearby post this morning, Mish Shedlock provided a devastating survey of the excess capacity which looms in nearly every industry and the massive overbuilding of public infrastructure and housing based on debt that cannot be serviced and customers and users who are non- existent.

But now things are heading into the theatre of the economic absurd. Government officials are forcing the restart of idle steel and aluminum plants so that they can produce unwanted supplies to dump on the world market in order to generate enough cash to pay interest.

In a similar vein, the whole phony bullish thesis about the growth wonders to come from China's highly touted "urbanization" campaigns are being revealed for what they are - a monumental Ponzi of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

Millions of peasants have had their land taken over by local governments which borrowed huge sums to pay inflated compensation for the land - so the displaced farmers could buy newly built high-rise apartments, also built with borrowed money. That was called "urbanization", but what it means is that former peasants have been stranded literally high and dry without incomes and without farms, while the local development agencies which borrowed all this money have no possible way to repay it.

Needless to say, as China veers ever closer to a crash landing, the China-dependent EM economies are rapidly faltering. It now appears that Brazil will suffer back-to-back years of GDP decline for the first time since 1930-1931. Indeed, the China-led global commodities and industrial production boom is cooling so fast that global CapEx in mining and energy, materials processing, manufacturing and shipping is on the verge of a huge downward correction. And that will hit the high end machinery and engineering exporters like Germany and the US, creating a further negative loop in the gathering deflationary crisis.

And these ricocheting impacts from the China implosion will drive the dollar higher as well. That's because Chinese companies have borrowed something like $1.5 trillion in external dollar markets, and the EM economies which boomed from the China trade also borrowed trillions in dollar markets - owing to the cheap dollar interest rates manufactured by the Fed, and the global scramble for "yield" by dollar based money managers.

While it lasted, the tsunami of cheap dollar based capital which flowed into China and the EM appeared to fuel economic miracles. The socialists of Brazil, the crooks of Indonesia and corrupt crony capitalist of Turkey all feasted on the capital markets deformations emanating from the Eccles Building.

But now the financial boomerang is flying back at them at devastating speed. As China and the EM struggle against global deflation, their economies are faltering and exchange rates are sinking. Accordingly, they are desperately trying to hedge their immense dollar exposures - a process which drives the greenback steadily higher.

Finally, the madness in Europe speaks for itself. The ECB is now literally destroying the Euro in a disastrous quest to restart economic growth by monetizing $1.2 trillion of mostly European government debt. But Europe's stagnation is not due to insufficient private sector borrowing or interest rates that discourage it.

The problem is a state sector that has reached nearly 50% of GDP and is thereby smothering entrepreneurs and investment everywhere on the continent. And it also means a public debt burden so high that prohibitive levels of taxation are unavoidable.

Stated different, Europe's economic growth problem is structural and was the result of statist policies over many decades. The only thing Draghi will accomplish with his massive bond buying campaign is to drive the Euro to par and below; and enable Europe's government - all of which can now borrow long-term money at 1% or less - to kick the can down the road, thereby insuring that Europe's eventual day of fiscal reckoning will be cataclysmic.

Euro Area Government Debt As % of GDP

So there is a reason why the dollar is soaring. The other shirts in the laundry are not just dirtier. They are actually disintegrating.

New York City: Film an idling vehicle, get paid

no idling

© propelit.net

If you see something, they'll pay something.

Two city lawmakers want to recruit everyday New Yorkers to help battle the scourge of idling vehicles by paying them for video footage that results in fines.

City Council members Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and Donovan Richards (D-Queens) will introduce a bill Wednesday that would give citizens up to 50 percent of the summons revenue if they catch someone breaking the idling law, take a video and submit it to the Department of Environmental Protection.

The exact cut for videographers would be determined by the DEP, they said. But citizen enforcers could makes hundreds — even thousands — of dollars.

The bill would keep first-time idling violations punishable by just a warning, but would boost fines for second offenses to between $350 and $1,500.

Any subsequent violations within a two-year period would yield even heftier fines of between $440 and $2,000.

Citizens seeking to cash in on their videos would first have to undergo training by the DEP, which would be offered five days per year under current plans.

"On my block alone, I could produce 20 tickets a day, easily," said banker George Pakenham, an anti-idling advocate who made a documentary on the issue called "Idle Threat" in 2012.

He says that he has documented his own encounters with roughly 2,900 idlers over a five-year period, and that he was successful in getting 80 percent of them to turn off their engines by pointing out the environmental impact and the city laws.

"This is going to be the thing that makes the entire difference," Pakenham said of the bill. "This will be just the tonic to have people engaged and earn a great deal of money along the way."

According to council documents, idling limits of three minutes have been in place in the city since 1971. The restrictions were recently shortened to just one minute for vehicles standing in front of schools.

But data show that despite repeated efforts by lawmakers to toughen the law, enforcement has remained sporadic at best.

In 2002, 325 idling violations were issued by three city agencies combined, while 526 violations were issued in 2007, according to council records.

Last year, just 209 violations were issued — yielding a paltry $93,010 in total fines, according to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

"We can pass these laws, we've strengthened the fines . . . but the real problem is enforcement," said Rosenthal. "You're obviously upping the interest by having people share in the fine."

She said her office has fielded hordes of complaints about tour buses that linger in front of the Upper West Side's Dakota Building, where John Lennon was killed.

"It's been such a challenge to get police or DEP enforcement out there," Rosenthal said.

Say what? CIA director blames social media for strength of IS

© Reuters / Stringer

The internet has "greatly amplified" the Islamic State's campaign of terrorism and has consequently stifled attempts to diminish the spread of the extremist group's ideologies, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency says.

Speaking Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations, CIA Director John Brennan said the group calling itself the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) has been so successful at staying intact and afloat largely because it has embraced new tools, such as social media, which enable it to achieve a transnational diffusion of ideas in real time over the web.

"What makes terrorism so difficult to fight is not just the ideology that fuels it, or the tactics that enable it. The power of modern communications also plays a role," Brennan said. "New technologies can help groups like ISIL coordinate operations, attract new recruits, disseminate propaganda and inspire sympathizers across the globe to act in their name."

Brennan described the group as both well-armed and well-financed in his prepared remarks and said that, if unchecked, it would "pose a serious danger not only to Syria and Iraq, but to the wider region and beyond, including the threat of attacks in the homelands of the United States and our partners

Yet while the United States has led a multi-nation military effort which has conducted around 2,800 airstrikes on the group in recent months, Brennan said that one of the major contributing factors with regards to keeping the group afloat has been its use of the internet.

"The overall threat of terrorism is greatly amplified by today's interconnected world, where an incident in one corner of the globe can instantly spark a reaction thousands of miles away; and where a lone extremist can go online and learn how to carry out an attack without ever leaving home," Brennan said.

[embedded content]

"Indeed, for all its advantages, the Information Age brings with it an array of new challenges that have profound implications for CIA's mission - implications that go beyond counterterrorism."

According to a report released earlier this month, a 68-page 'ISIS Twitter Census' authored by J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan for the Brookings Institute, the group has indeed embraced social media with considerable results.

"Jihadists will exploit any kind of technology that will work to their advantage," Berger, an expert on online extremism, told last week. But the Islamic State, he said, "is much more successful than other groups."

The Brookings report found that ISIS supporters opened at least 46,000 Twitter accounts during the last four months of 2014 - averaging around 1,000 followers a piece - and maintain an active presence on the web, notwithstanding attempts from the microblogging service to suspend accounts.

"Much of ISIS's social media success can be attributed to a relatively small group of hyperactive users, numbering between 500 and 2,000 accounts, which tweet in concentrated bursts of high volume," the authors determined. Elsewhere in the report, the researchers write that a spam and bot analysis undertaken of ISIS social media accounts suggested that 20 percent of all messages were created with automated software. With around one-fifth of all pro-ISIS accounts posted in English, however, the messages being spread en masse - fabricated or not - may have a very real impact with advancing the group.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Martin Dempsey told members of Congress that any victory against the Islamic State will be achieved not by the military, but rather through thwarting the group's ability to so widely spread its ideals.

"We can harden the region against it militarily, but the ideology has to be defeated by those in the region," Dempsey said.

Hawaii blizzard continues, snow removers and observatories evacuated

March 12. 2015: Just before noon on Thursday, the blizzard allowed summit webcams to glimpse the observatories partially buried in snow.

Rapidly accumulating snow drifts reported

The blizzard warning continues for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, as snow is piling up high.

The National Weather Service says the warning is in effect for Hawaii Island's higher elevations - anything above 11,000 feet - until 6 p.m. Thursday. Forecasters expect an additional 2 to 4 inches of snow to fall. Temperatures are in the mid-20s, but its the wind that is extreme, gusting up to 85 miles per hour.

Those who work on the summit - including snow removal crews - had to abandon their posts. This message was issued by the Maunakea Rangers early Thursday morning.

The road to the summit of Maunakea is CLOSED to the public due to continuing blizzard-like, white-out conditions on the summit. Due to rapidly accumulating snow drifts, extremely strong winds and near white out conditions yesterday, the snow removal crew and all observatory personnel abandoned the entire summit area. Weather permitting, our snow removal crew will again begin attempting to clear the large amounts of snow from summit roads early this morning, however, it will likely take them at least the entire day to complete this task. - Maunakea Rangers at 3:55 a.m.

It is likely that the summit road will remain closed all day today.

Down below Mauna Kea, summit views were shrouded in clouds all day. Some folks were able to glimpse the snow on the areas just below the summit as it peeked out from beneath the blizzard. Lynn Beittel of Visionary Video took these shots from Waimea this morning.

Waimea caught a glimpse of the snow on Mauna Kea, although the summit remains obscured by the blizzard.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose

© Reuters

A police woman removes a woman protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Capitol Hill in Washington January 27, 2015

The United States is in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free-trade agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other countries. Who will benefit from the TPP? American workers? Consumers? Small businesses? Taxpayers? Or the biggest multinational corporations in the world?

One strong hint is buried in the fine print of the closely guarded draft. The provision, an increasingly common feature of trade agreements, is called "Investor-State Dispute Settlement," or ISDS. The name may sound mild, but don't be fooled. Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.

ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws — and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers — without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court. Here's how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn't be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions — and even billions — of dollars in damages.

If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn't employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you're a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high-paying corporate clients, how likely are you to rule against those corporations when it's your turn in the judge's seat?

If the tilt toward giant corporations wasn't clear enough, consider who would get to use this special court: only international investors, which are, by and large, big corporations. So if a Vietnamese company with U.S. operations wanted to challenge an increase in the U.S. minimum wage, it could use ISDS. But if an American labor union believed Vietnam was allowing Vietnamese companies to pay slave wages in violation of trade commitments, the union would have to make its case in the Vietnamese courts.

Why create these rigged, pseudo-courts at all? What's so wrong with the U.S. judicial system? Nothing, actually. But after World War II, some investors worried about plunking down their money in developing countries, where the legal systems were not as dependable. They were concerned that a corporation might build a plant one day only to watch a dictator confiscate it the next. To encourage foreign investment in countries with weak legal systems, the United States and other nations began to include ISDS in trade agreements.

Those justifications don't make sense anymore, if they ever did. Countries in the TPP are hardly emerging economies with weak legal systems. Australia and Japan have well-developed, well-respected legal systems, and multinational corporations navigate those systems every day, but ISDS would preempt their courts too. And to the extent there are countries that are riskier politically, market competition can solve the problem. Countries that respect property rights and the rule of law — such as the United States — should be more competitive, and if a company wants to invest in a country with a weak legal system, then it should buy political-risk insurance.

The use of ISDS is on the rise around the globe. From 1959 to 2002, there were fewer than 100 ISDS claims worldwide. But in 2012 alone, there were 58 cases. Recent cases include a French company that sued Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage, a Swedish company that sued Germany because Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after Japan's Fukushima disaster, and a Dutch company that sued the Czech Republic because the Czechs didn't bail out a bank that the company partially owned. U.S. corporations have also gotten in on the action: Philip Morris is trying to use ISDS to stop Uruguay from implementing new tobacco regulations intended to cut smoking rates.

ISDS advocates point out that, so far, this process hasn't harmed the United States. And our negotiators, who refuse to share the text of the TPP publicly, assure us that it will include a bigger, better version of ISDS that will protect our ability to regulate in the public interest. But with the number of ISDS cases exploding and more and more multinational corporations headquartered abroad, it is only a matter of time before such a challenge does serious damage here. Replacing the U.S. legal system with a complex and unnecessary alternative — on the assumption that nothing could possibly go wrong — seems like a really bad idea

This isn't a partisan issue. Conservatives who believe in U.S. sovereignty should be outraged that ISDS would shift power from American courts, whose authority is derived from our Constitution, to unaccountable international tribunals. Libertarians should be offended that ISDS effectively would offer a free taxpayer subsidy to countries with weak legal systems. And progressives should oppose ISDS because it would allow big multinationals to weaken labor and environmental rules.

Giving foreign corporations special rights to challenge our laws outside of our legal system would be a bad deal. If a final TPP agreement includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement, the only winners will be multinational corporations.

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China blasts 'paranoid and hysterical' U.S. over its criticism of UK for joining Beijing World Bank

© Sputnik/ Sergey Guneev

An editorial in the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency blasts the US government for its attempts to steer Britain away from China's new infrastructure investment bank.

The United States has launched into paranoid hysteria by criticizing the United Kingdom for joining the Beijing-headquartered Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China's state-run Xinhua news agency announced on Friday.

"The US has again launched into paranoid hysteria by manifesting its skepticism toward China's creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank."

The editorial continues, saying that the US has been closing its eyes to China's constructive efforts such as the Silk Road Economic Belt, which aims to build an economic corridor between China and Europe. The editorial also notes that certain US politicians "sometimes simply cannot restrain themselves from making picky and irresponsible remarks" about China.

"This reaction of the US Government is nothing but childish paranoia toward China, which should not be surprising considering that Washington has long ago set itself on a wave of distrust."

The official commentary also added that while China seeks a mutually beneficial relationship with the United States, its current paranoia can only threaten future prospects:

"The US Government must understand that prejudice and deep-seeded strategic mistrust toward China cannot help develop healthy and strong relations with this Asian country."

On Friday, the US government expressed its disapproval of the UK's decision to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. A senior US official told the Financial Times that he is "wary about a trend toward the constant accommodation of China, which is not the best way to engage a rising power."

In October, Australia decided against joining the new bank after US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly personally asked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to not join the bank.

The tricks and lies of corporate junk science


© unknown

Science has been hijacked by corporate junk science, which pretends to be real science but is actually highly fraudulent.

Corporate junk science is an all-pervading presence in our society. It's everywhere. The scientific journals of the entire world, offline and online, have been flooded with so much fake science that it has, sad to say, become practically impossible for the average person to wade through all of it and sort out the wheat from the chaff. However, the fake science I am referring to here is not unintentional or sloppy work, which is more of a minor problem in the scheme of things (since it will eventually be corrected with due diligence), but rather the deliberately fraudulent "scientific studies" which are put out by major corporations with a definite agenda in mind - usually establishing a fake scientific basis of "safety" for their products, whether they be vaccines, mobile phones, GMOs, tobacco, fluoride, soda or soft drinks, etc. It's nothing more than corporate junk science, and many people, including doctors, scientists and academics, have been taken in hook, line and sinker by it.

It's time to shine the light on this ugly phenomenon. Science is meant to be about the pursuit of truth and understanding how our world works. It is truly sickening to see the extent to which it has been hijacked to serve corporate interests - to make a tiny, tiny 0.0001% rich at the expense of harming and killing the rest of mankind.

A recent study published on JAMA entitled "Research Misconduct Identified by the US Food and Drug Administration" found some very disturbing things in its sample of 57 studies that it analyzed:

"Fifty-seven published clinical trials were identified for which an FDA inspection of a trial site had found significant evidence of 1 or more of the following problems: falsification or submission of false information, 22 trials (39%); problems with adverse events reporting, 14 trials (25%); protocol violations, 42 trials (74%); inadequate or inaccurate recordkeeping, 35 trials (61%); failure to protect the safety of patients and/or issues with oversight or informed consent, 30 trials (53%); and violations not otherwise categorized, 20 trials (35%)."

Take a look at this first finding. It states that 39% which is around 2/5 of studies committed data falsification! How can we possibly trust medical science when the fraud is so blatant and widespread? And it's not as though the authors of these studies come out and admit it. The study also found that:

"Only 3 of the 78 publications (4%) that resulted from trials in which the FDA found significant violations mentioned the objectionable conditions or practices found during the inspection. No corrections, retractions, expressions of concern, or other comments acknowledging the key issues identified by the inspection were subsequently published."

Another study at PLOS ONE entitled "How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Survey Data" concluded that:

"It is likely that, if on average 2% of scientists admit to have falsified research at least once and up to 34% admit other questionable research practices, the actual frequencies of misconduct could be higher than this."

In light of all of this, if we want the truth, we need to look at the whole structure of how "science" works in the real world. We need to get wise to the methods that are used by unscrupulous groups to further their agenda. With that in mind, here is a list of the top 10 tricks used by the corporatocracy to pull the wool over your eyes by manipulating science and substituting their fake corporate junk science instead (thanks to Webster Kehr of CancerTutor.com for compiling his instructive list, from which the below points are derived).

1. Substituting Synthetic for Natural Versions of a Nutrient

Those who know a little about nutrition probably realize by now that there is a vast difference between a nutrient found in a food or plant, and its synthetic counterpart artificially made in a lab. All vitamin C is not created equal; some versions are more equal than others. The same goes for other vitamins. It also applies to minerals, since some are derived from plant or animal matter ("organic") whereas others are derived from rock ("inorganic"). The body can't assimilate inorganic minerals, so all those so-called "natural" supplements full of rock and fossil-derived calcium are useless, and are actually harming your body by causing calcification.

When the corporatocracy wants a result skewed against an unpatentable natural solution and in favor of one of their patentable products, they simply use the synthetic (and less potent) version of that nutrient in the study and "find" that it is ineffective. Corporate junk science at its best!

2. Isolating Nutrients to Remove their Power of Synergy

Here's another trick used by corporate junk science. If it's trying to "scientifically prove" that a natural substance is ineffective, rather than testing the whole substance, it will isolate certain nutrients from it, declare them the only ones with any health benefit, then find them ineffective. This is like taking a clove of garlic, declaring that allicin is the only thing in it that could possibly do any good for human health, and then disregarding the whole plant when allicin doesn't do everything you expected. The same goes for when corporate junk science, intentionally or not, tests the wrong nutrient and declares itself finished with testing.

Nature doesn't work like this. Plants are complex organisms. Some are composed of hundreds of different phytonutrients which work together synergistically to produce wellness in the human body. Real science would test the whole plant open-mindedly in a variety of ways to try to discover and unlock the secret to its healing potential.

3. Contaminating the Tests

Webster Kehr mentions a case involving laetrile or amygdalin (colloquially called vitamin B17). He writes that the "NIH contaminated an already bogus pill being used in a study. Natural laetrile cannot and has never given a patient the symptoms of cyanide poisoning. It simply is impossible. The NIH refused to allow an alternative laetrile vendor to supply natural laetrile for the study - so they could create a custom pill for the study. In creating their custom bogus laetrile pill, it was not enough for them to not have any natural laetrile in the pill. A worthless pill would not have given any patient the symptoms of cyanide poisoning. They also had to lace the pill with inorganic cyanide so that the patients would have the symptoms of cyanide poisoning."

As explained in my article "Natural Cancer Cure Laetrile (Amygdalin, Vitamin B17) Works Better than Chemotherapy", the cyanide contained in apricot kernels, apple seeds, etc. is a selective cancer cell killer. It leaves healthy cells alone, because they can disable the cyanide.

4. Altering the Treatment Plan

If corporate junk science can't prove a natural substance itself is ineffective, then it uses the trick of altering the treatment plan, so that people aren't getting the correct amount of that substance. This could be as simple as making the dosage too low or too high, or combining the substance with other foods or drink which disable its healing effects, or heating it, etc. Just like Big Pharma drugs, natural cures require a patent to follow a correct dosage and treatment plan for them to be successful in healing disease.

5. Getting Tricky with Statistics

Mark Twain once said that there are "lies, damn lies and statistics". Corporate junk science often plays around with the numbers to emphasize one thing and hide another thing. Big Biotech often does this with their GMO studies, for instance, never allowing a study to exceed 90 days (after which the deleterious effects of GMOs begin to emerge).

6. The False Worship of Double Blind Studies

Are double blind studies always the gold standard? As Kehr points out, "in many cases, a double blind study makes no sense in the world. For example, how could you do a double blind study comparing a person who refuses all orthodox cancer treatments with someone who goes through chemotherapy? It is a stupid concept, because after one day a person would know which group they were in ... How can you compare chemotherapy to Vitamin C in a double blind study? The chemotherapy group would have intense pain, sickness, their hair will fall out, and so on. The Vitamin C group would have no added pain, no sickness (except perhaps diarrhea), and their hair will not fall out, etc."

7. Selecting Patients Favorable to the Agenda

The selection protocol in determining which patients to choose for a study is important, because by carefully selecting the patients in a study, you can to a large extent control the outcome of the study. Kehr gives examples of how the Mayo Clinic choose a narrow range of cancers as opposed to Pauling and Cameron when testing the efficacy of vitamin C as a natural cancer treatment.

8. Bribing the Peer-Review Group

In my article "The Massive Flaw with the Scientific Hierarchy of Evidence", I highlighted how a distinguished 20-year medical journal editor became so appalled with the flagrant corruption of corporate junk science, she declared that it was no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published. The peer review process has itself become too corrupted.

This is from Webster Kehr:

"In June [2002], the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals, made a startling announcement. The editors declared that they were dropping their policy stipulating that authors of review articles of medical studies could not have financial ties to drug companies whose medicines were being analyzed.

The reason? The journal could no longer find enough independent experts. Drug company gifts and "consulting fees" are so pervasive that in any given field, you cannot find an expert who has not been paid off in some way by the industry. So the journal settled for a new standard: Their reviewers can have received no more than $10,000 [per year] from companies whose work they judge. Isn't that comforting?

9. Controlling the Publicization of the Results

Most scientists are given contracts by the corporatocracy which contain a clause forbidding them to publicize results that the funders don't like. This means that Big Pharma, Bir Agra, Big Biotech or whoever it is has the legal right to suppress the results of any study they don't like - including being able to stop scientists from submitting such studies to a journal.

10. Controlling the Funding and Hiding the Funders

Science is, to some extent, by the admissions of one of its branches quantum physics, based on the state of the observer. So, it is unsurprising that it can be manipulated by placing the people who have your point of view in control. An outcome is more likely to be generated when you have people expecting (or subconsciously intending) that result. On top of this, results can be bought and the true finance behind that bribery can be hidden through front groups, think tanks, shell corporations, fake grassroots (astroturf) organizations and many other means.

The 10 tricks do, of course, exist in addition to the massive category of data falsification, where corporations omit and distort results at will through all sorts of chicanery (e.g. not reporting patients who suffer side effects and instead labeling them as "non-compliant").

Corporate junk science is like a cancer parasiting off the host and destroying humanity's attempt for knowledge and objectivity. The time has come to expose it fully and restore truth.





Mysterious booms continue to shake houses in Port Angeles, Washington

© Peninsula Daily News

A new round of booming noises has disturbed residents of west Port Angeles and Joyce, who say the mysterious sounds shake their homes.

The rattling noises were reported at about 12:21 p.m. Wednesday, almost exactly two weeks after the last round of booms heard on the afternoon of Feb. 25, and again at about 9:35 a.m. Thursday.

"It sounded like it came from the direction of the Strait [of Juan de Fuca]," said Jim Haugen, who lives on Milwaukee Drive in west Port Angeles near the bluffs and reported the Wednesday boom.

"We were in the house, heard the boom and the house vibrated," he said.

"It sounds similar to a sonic boom, [but there were] no planes in the area," he added.

Haugen said he has been hearing and feeling the booming vibrations at his home for 13 years.

On Thursday morning, reports of booms from Joyce to downtown Port Angeles were made on Facebook.

Speculation on the cause of the booms has included naval military exercises in the Strait, thunder, sonic booms from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island aircraft, hunters and small, shallow earthquakes.

"We don't know what caused the booms that people have heard, but I can tell you they were not earthquakes," said Leslie C. Gordon, geologist and spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey for the Pacific Northwest.

Gordon said she checked with the University of Washington, which runs the seismic network in the Pacific Northwest, to see if there had been any seismic activity in the area.

"It is clear that the 'boom' was transmitted through air, as there was very little coupling with the ground. We looked but could not see anything on our seismograms," UW researchers replied.

Gordon and her colleagues speculated that the sounds were sonic booms caused by military jets.

"I am only guessing based on similar incidents we have had in California," she said.

If it was a sonic boom, it wasn't from a U.S. Navy aircraft, said Anthony Popp, spokesman for NAS Whidbey Island.

The Navy strictly adheres to aviation rules on supersonic flight operations, which restricts supersonic operations to designated areas or over the ocean, more than 30 miles offshore, Popp said.

Spokespeople with other military units in the region have said they have had no activity in the Strait during the times the booms were heard.

Those include Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, which operates a demolition range on Bentinck Island northwest of Port Angeles on the Canadian side of the Strait, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, which provides a demolition team for military training ordnance that occasionally washes up on beaches.

Treasury Secretary: Once again the U.S. is about to hit the debt limit

© J. Scott Applewhite, AP

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress on Friday that he'll once again have to take measures to keep the federal government under the legal debt limit after a suspension of the limit expires Sunday.

Beginning Monday, Lew said the Treasury Department will take "extraordinary measures" to keep the government from defaulting on its debt. Those include a halt to new investments in federal employee pension funds, a moratorium on deposits from state and local governments, and drawing down a $23 billion currency stabilization fund.

Lew did not say how long those measures would last. But the Bipartisan Policy Center, which tracks the finances underlying the national debt, estimates that the government will run out of borrowing ability completely sometime between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.

Since 1917, Congress has set an overall limit, or debt ceiling, to the amount that the Treasury can borrow. But after a number of high-stakes battles over raising the debt limit in recent years, Congress simply suspended the law.

The latest suspension expires Sunday, resetting the new debt limit at the current level of about $18.1 trillion.

Lew specifically ruled out other alternatives — like selling off government assets in what Lew called a "fire sale" — to stay under the debt limit.

"Selling the nation's gold to meet payment obligations would undercut confidence in the United States both here and abroad, and would be extremely destabilizing to the world financial system," Lew said.

Slovakian PM: Western sanctions on Russia are not in the interests of Slovakia and Czech Republic


Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico

Sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine "are not in the interests of Slovakia and the Czech republic", Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Friday.

Addressing a congress of the Czech Social Democratic Party in Prague, Fico noted unanimity of opinion among the Slovak and Czech authorities on sanctions against Russia. While urging European politicians to ease off on existing restrictions, Prague and Bratislava are pursuing their own national interests, he said.

"We should protect our national interests - the interests of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And we have managed this," Fico said. He also thanked his Czech counterpart Bohuslav Sobotka, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, for his "courageous stance" on the sanctions issue.

The Slovak premier recalled that "both the Czech and the Slovak governments spoke out against certain economic restrictions, the European Union planned to impose on Moscow".

EU governments on Friday decided to prolong sanctions on a list of Ukrainian and Russian individuals and companies accused of "undermining Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence", the European Council said.

The asset freezes and travel bans on 150 people and 37 organizations were extended for a further six months, until September 15, it said, adding that details would be published in the EU's Official Journal on Saturday.

The decision was a formality after EU foreign ministers agreed in late January to extend the sanctions against Ukrainian and Russian individuals and companies, saying they were responsible for the conflict in Ukraine.

Putin approval rating at 88%, highest point in 15 years of his presidency

© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian presidential press service/TASS

, winning 88% performance approval and the highest vote of confidence in his presidency recorded over 15 years, pollsters say.

This was announced at TASS headquarters on Friday as Russian Public Opinion Research Center head Valery Fedorov unveiled latest results from annual assessments carried out since Putin was first elected head of state.

Pollsters gathered views among 1,600 survey respondents in 130 Russian localities. Returns registered a continuing rise in support for the president since the last poll in 2014.

North Korean Foreign Minister makes surprise visit to Moscow

© REUTERS/ Vasily Fedosenko

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong, who has arrived in Moscow on an unscheduled visit, met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The two top diplomats "exchanged opinions about bilateral relations, situation on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, as well as on several international issues of bilateral concern," the ministry said in a statement.

The North Korean minister was last in Russia in the fall of 2014, staying in the country for 10 days.

The two countries have had diplomatic relations since the 1940s, then through the Soviet Union, and share a border.

Earlier in the week, North Korea's state news agency reported that 2015 would be a "year of friendship with Russia," marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is set to visit Russia in May to attend WWII Victory Day celebrations.