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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Moral decisions can be influenced by tracking the eyes

Eye tracking

© Lund University

The study is the first to demonstrate a connection between gaze and moral choices, but it is based on previous studies which have shown that for simpler choices, such as choosing between two dishes on a menu, our eye movements say what we will eat for dinner before we have really decided.

Our opinions are affected by what our eyes are focusing on in the same instant we make moral decisions. Researchers at Lund University and other institutions have managed to influence people's responses to questions such as "is murder defensible?" by tracking their eye movements. When the participants had looked at a randomly pre-selected response long enough, they were asked for an immediate answer. Fifty-eight per cent chose that answer as their moral position.

The study shows that our moral decisions can be influenced by what we are looking at when we make the decision. Using a new experimental method, the researchers tracked participants' eye movements and demanded an answer when their eye rested on a randomly pre-selected answer.

The researchers, from the Division of Cognitive Science at Lund University, University College London (UCL) and the University of California, Merced, studied in real time how people deliberate with themselves in difficult moral dilemmas. The participants had no idea that the researchers were carefully monitoring how their gaze moved in order to demand an answer at the right moment. The results showed that the responses were systematically influenced by what the eye saw at the moment an answer was demanded.

"In this study we have seen that timing has a strong influence on the moral choices we make. The processes that lead to a moral decision are reflected in our gaze. However, what our eyes rest on when a decision is taken also affects our choice," explained Philip Pärnamets, cognitive scientist at Lund University and one of the authors of the study.

The study is the first to demonstrate a connection between gaze and moral choices, but it is based on previous studies which have shown that for simpler choices, such as choosing between two dishes on a menu, our eye movements say what we will eat for dinner before we have really decided.

"What is new is that we have demonstrated that if eye movements are tracked moment by moment, it is possible to track the person's decision-making process and steer it in a pre-determined direction," said Petter Johansson, a reader in cognitive science at Lund University.

The thought process needed to reach a moral position is thus interlinked with the process of viewing the world.

"Today, all sorts of sensors are built into mobile phones, and they can even track your eye movements," said Daniel Richardson, director of the Eye Think Lab at UCL. "By documenting small changes in our behaviour, our mobiles could help us reach a decision in a way that has not been possible before."

Journal Reference:

Philip Pärnamets, Petter Johansson, Lars Hall, Christian Balkenius, Michael J. Spivey, Daniel C. Richardson. Biasing moral decisions by exploiting the dynamics of eye gaze. , 2015; 201415250 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1415250112

US weaponry has habit of going AWOL

US weapons

© www.sma-syria.com

Made in the USA, now lying on Syrian sand.

The reported that the Pentagon can't say what happened to more than $500 million worth of gear—including "small arms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies"—it had given to the Yemeni government. The news comes as Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed groups vie to control the country following the collapse of the country's US-backed regime in January. The noted that the Pentagon has stopped further shipments of aid, but the damage has been done. "We have to assume it's completely compromised and gone," an anonymous legislative aide said.

This isn't the first time US military aid to allies has gone AWOL or wound up in the wrong hands. A few notable examples:

Libya: In late 2012, the reported that weapons from a US-approved deal had eventually gone to Islamic militants in Libya. The deal, which involved European weapons sent to Qatar as well as US weapons originally supplied to the United Arab Emirates, had been managed from the sidelines by the Obama administration.

Syria: More than once, American arms intended to help bolster the fight against ISIS in Syria and northern Iraq have ended up in the group's control. Last October, an airdrop of small arms was blown off target by the wind, according to the . ISIS quickly posted a video of its fighters going through crates of weapons attached to a parachute.

Iraq: American weapons supplied to the Iraqi army have also found their way to ISIS via theft and capture. And weapons meant for the Iraqi army have also gone to Shiite militias backed by Iran. This isn't a new problem: As much as 30 percent of the weapons the United States distributed to Iraqi forces between 2004 and early 2007 could not be accounted for.

Afghanistan: It's been widely documented that American forces invading Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 had to face off against weapons the United States had once supplied to mujahideen fighters battling the Soviets in the '80s.

Somalia: In 2011, Wired reported that as much as half of the US-supplied arms given to Uganda and Burundi in support of the fight against al-Shabaab was winding up with the Somali militant group.

Comment: Perhaps this issue is one of many deflections on the part of the US to distance itself from being the creator of, provider for and underwriter of factions and ideologies unacceptable to the US public-at-large. Who in the MIC will spill the beans when the profits for arms sales (reaped from all sides and factions) continue to roll into the US coffers via US arms manufacturing.

What has the US learned over decades of destabilizing countries for its own selfish purposes? Provocate, create and pit factions against each other (including arming opposing militaries), sit back and further an empirical agenda at a profit while removing rival or problematic elements in absentia. If that is not the case and given the US just may not be that savvy, then it all boils down to exceedingly exceptional incompetence at its very finest.

Netanyahu won. Now what?

Likud supprters

© Reuters/Nir Elias

Likud party supporters react after hearing exit poll results in Tel Aviv March 17, 2015.

So he won and I have to say I am relieved. There will be no more endless cycles of pointless 'negotiations' with Israel pretending that some day it will agree to a two-state solution while continually escalating both settlement (colony) building and the maltreament of the Palestinians. Now everyone will see that the Palestinians were right all along and that Israel has never been a partner for negotiations.

There is no real political Left in Israel and if the other side got to form a government, all we would have seen is more of the same. Now we'll see if the EU has the decency and conviction to enact proper sanctions. Then of course there is the US. The US Administration might stall for a while, but we'll see if they have what it takes to do the right thing. Israel is no friend to the US and the sooner they realise it the better.

Israel is on a slippery slope of its own making. Get your popcorn, sit and watch. Israel is becoming more radicalised than ever before. Certainly much more than when I was growing up there. Of course I could be wrong — and I hope I am — but I think Israel's pathological siege mentality will now become more pronounced and more evident to outsiders. Israel has for a long time been readying itself for when the time comes, to bunker down, live with austerity and give up the fancy lifestyle the country has become increasingly accustomed to in the last 20-25 years. They can do this.

Israel has always prepared itself psychologically and economically to being isolated. All that openness to the rest of the world that Israel has enjoyed increasingly in the last generation or so, and Israel's acceptance by others, have always been seen as temporary in the eyes of most Israeli Jews. They had always expected it to end and had the mentality of 'let's enjoy it while it lasts and make the most of it while we can'. Fundamentally Israeli Jews believe that the world hates them because they are Jewish (in their mind it has nothing to do with colonialism or the Palestinians). So although Israel has brought its own situation upon itself, that is not how Israeli Jews see it. They believe things are 'happening to them' for no fault of their own. They expect isolation and have dropped all pretences to pander to the West and are behaving more in line now with their true nature. Even less radical people will become radicalised now in Israel. There will be even more propaganda and more brainwashing than ever before.

Netanyahu really does represent most Israeli Jews even though some of them do not like him. But the reasons they do not like him are not what you expect. Most Israeli Jews identify with Netanyahu's perception and understanding of what the rest of the world is like and of the world's relationship with Israel. After all Netanyahu is a product of Israeli society just like I was, and believe me, when you have that kind of psychology and that incredibly effective, powerful propaganda machine all around you, it is easy to believe that what you see is really how it is... Israeli Jews have always lived in a psychological ghetto and it's that ghetto that I got out of back in 1991.

Life will get very difficult for Jews in Israel soon enough, and many with dual citizenship will abandon ship. Those who remain will be the die-hard fanatics and zealots who are dangerous because they might have the psychology of murder suicide. I believe that before it is over, things will get really bad there and extremely dangerous. Israel will become much more fanatic and extremist than ever before with a lot less inhibitions.

I am therefore worried about the Palestinians and wonder how much more of this they could possibly take and what they can expect in the next few months and years. Israel isolating itself is more dangerous for the Palestinians because world public opinion will no longer be a moderating factor on Israel's behaviour. And believe it or not, it did have a moderating effect. What you have been seeing so far and what Palestinians have been experiencing is not yet the worst. Gaza gives you the idea of what Israel has in mind for all Palestinians.

So the message to those of us who support the Palestinians is to get ready to escalate our support. It is about to get very very tough. With Netanyahu at the helm the end of colonialism and occupation is nigh, but it is about to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Cossack group to unveil bronze bust of Putin as a Roman emperor

© PiterTV/Youtube/Русские Сериалы

The clay cast of the bust depicting Putin as a Roman Emperor is in the workshop of St Petersburg's Academy of Arts.

The St Petersburg's Cossack community has promised to mark Russia's anniversary of the allied victory over the Nazis by unveiling a bronze bust of Russian president Vladimir Putin depicted as a Roman emperor.

Andrey Polyakov, the leader of the St Petersburg Cossack group Irbis - a popular organisation which stresses the importance of traditional Slavic values and military valor - told local press the planned sculpture will be cast from bronze and installed near the underground station of Parnas in north St Petersburg.

According to Polyakov the idea to honour Putin with a monument arose a year ago when pro-Russian forces, backed by Putin, seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

"Such a remarkable event in the history of Russia such as the accession of Crimea has to be immortalised," Polyakov told local news agency Nevskye Novosti yesterday. "I believe that Putin is one of our brightest, positive heads of state we have had in the last hundred years or so. This is a man who is worthy to have a monument in his lifetime."

Polyakov listed, among Putin's achievements, the Russian president's apparent ability to "bring order and end wars" in the territories of Georgia and Moldova, where Russia has been backing separatist efforts to secede from the countries they are currently parts of.


"Thank God we do not have war," Polyakov added, making no reference to the presence of Russian soldiers in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region who have been fighting government loyal forces since last year.

Pavel Greshnikov, the sculptor who has designed and created bust says it was his idea to portray Putin as a Roman emperor, sporting a regal tunic and a laurel wreath.

"This is how I imagined him," Greshnikov said. He settled on the design after scrapping other ideas which included depicting Putin in a suit and tie, a knight's armor or in military fatigues, according to local media. "I even had a few glances at [Czar] Peter the First," the artist said. The cast is currently with Greshnikov at his workshop in the St Petersburg Academy of Arts.

Once the bust is unveiled, St Petersburg Cossacks plan on honouring Greshnikov an award for his service and Polyakov expressed his hope the artist will make a bid to join the Cossack community.

Cossack groups have grown in popularity in Russia and other Slavic countries since the fall of Communism although their purpose varies. Inspired by the Cossack warrior people who historically inhabited swathes of land in eastern Europe and Eurasia, modern Cossack groups value military service highly and adhere to the traditions of Russian Orthodox Christianity, while some have been given partial police duties in localities in Russia and work to assist official authorities.

Cossack volunteer paramilitary groups have also participated in conflicts in eastern Europe during 1990s and into the 2000s including the Chechen wars, as well as the Georgian and Transnistrian conflict and more recently - Ukraine.

Putin is not the first post-Soviet Russian leader to be immortalised in stone - a monument to Boris Yeltsin, the man whom Putin succeeded as president in 1998, was unveiled in Yekaterinburg in 2011.

'Exclusively For White People' signs appear on businesses in Austin,Texas

© AP

Racially charged stickers have flooded the city of Austin, Texas leaving residents and business owners in awe, with some considering it racist, while others called it a joke.

Having the city's logo on them, the stickers read: "exclusively for white people," and were put on at least six businesses.

The racist remarks were discovered by passersby, employees and business owners.

Brianna Smith was walking by a store this week when she spotted one.

"This just goes to show racism is very much alive TODAY," she wrote on her Facebook page. "And by this being sponsored by the city of Austin absolutely DISGUST me."

Having the city's logo on them, the stickers read: "exclusively for white people," and were put on at least six businesses.

At a local bake shop, April Jensen was working and notice something on the front door that read "exclusively for white people," with an offensive message underneath, also having a city logo on it.

"My reaction was basically shock and confusion. I was a little hurt," Jensen said.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a statement, condemning this racist act and denying the city's sponsorship or giving anyone the authority to use its logo.

"This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in the city," the statement read.

The statement also acknowledged that the businesses that were defaced with the stickers "neither made, nor knowingly displayed them."

State lawmakers took to Facebook to expressed displeasure with the event.

"Some jokes are not funny," State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) wrote. "If this is a joke at all, it is tasteless. ... I will be damned if this will occur in my House District ... in this historical black community or any community."

Many people believe an outsider is behind these racist stickers.

"Doesn't seem like in a Texan's nature to want to hurt our small businesses on the east side," Windmill Bicycles shop owner said.

Austin has seen some demographic transformations within the past 15 years. According to Census Bureau data, the African-American population in East Austin has drastically decreased from 1990 to 2000, from 80% to less than 20% in some areas.

Austin Police are currently investigating. Those caught posting the stickers will face graffiti charges, according to police.

Government - the beneficent leader of The Group

(The Underground, Jon Rappoport)

More and more, education is entraining children to think of themselves as part of a group.

This is one basic way to cut off the consciousness of being an individual and what it really means.

The government, the State, has now become the beneficent leader of The Group, and if you need confirmation, just ask any politician. He'll give you a sound bite or two.

People enmeshed in the current culture don't realize that, as recently as 25 years ago, the promotion of America as One Group played like a faint tune in the far distance.

Now, it's being urged by the State with wall-to-wall rhetoric straight out of some cheesy TV church; and the pastor-hustler is taking in contributions with one hand while doling out bribes with the other.

Only he's got militarized police all over the land and an awesome surveillance apparatus to back him up.

But he loves you. He really cares.

And suckers from Maine to Chula Vista are buying in. Count on the brief appearance of some messianic figure in the Presidential Primaries who will try to out-Obama, Obama, if only as a keynote speaker at a convention.

Behind the freebies and the "we're all in this together" lurks, however, the same monolithic State, obsessed with control. Domination.

The Individual is the target. The objective? Convincing people that conceiving of themselves as distinct from the herd is a delusional, outmoded, cruel, psychotic, hopeless act.

"You're against The Group. You don't care about humanity. You reject the force that is trying to bring aid to everyone everywhere: that force is government."

This is part of the con. The hustler's larger role involves strolling up to his mark and purring in his ear, making promises, offering sympathy.

It's ancient.

It's all about "we" and "us" and "everybody" and "humanity" and "the people." It's syrup poured on the innocent and the confused.

The Left argues that the mega-corporations are in charge. The Right argues it's government. As Robert Anton Wilson once wrote: "They're both right."

The Corporate State, looked at from any angle, is in the business of reducing the individual to undifferentiated mush.

The technocratic wet dream of hooking 10 billion brains to a super-computer, and thus giving birth to "enlightened consciousness," is the pseudoscientific version of a collective utopia. The "right answers" to all questions are fed back down a pipeline into every mind.

But it turns out there is the right to be wrong, which is to say, the individual has the freedom to dissent from any and all groups.

He can think, and act on what he thinks, without consulting a manual. He can perceive reality on his own terms. He can go further and invent realities.

He can oppose the mob and the machine.

If none of this ignites a spark in his mind, he can lie down and wait for the steamroller.

Somehow, the most diehard advocates of the State ignore American foreign policy: war, wholesale destruction. They studiously develop amnesia on that front. They don't bother trying to probe the personality of a government that professes to solve the problems of 300 million people at home, when that government pursues perpetual war abroad.

"...when he [the independent individual] merges his person into an organizational structure, a new creature replaces autonomous man, unhindered by the limitations of individual morality, freed of humane inhibition, mindful only of the sanctions of authority." (Stanley Milgram, "Obedience to Authority," 1974)

Yes, inside The Group, authority takes over, and its prescriptions replace ethics.

"We are not talking about mere instinctive conformity — it is, after all, a perennial failing of mankind. What we are talking about is a rationalized conformity — an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values are not only expedient but right and good as well." (William H Whyte, Jr.)

Replacing individual values with group values invokes a formula: "the greatest good for the greatest number of people." This is magnetically attractive for the young on two counts. One, it seems to involve a simple rational calculation. And two, it spreads "the good" around like jam to "everyone."

Of course, it's a con. Who decides what the greatest good is, in any given situation? And who enforces it with laws and guns and courts and prisons?

"If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak...Instead—she did not know why—they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes." (George Orwell, , 1945)

The Group does not move forward, it devolves. It reverts back to primitive impulses, while justifying its so-called principles as instruments of the highest order.

"One egg, one embryo, one adult—normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress... 'Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!' The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm. 'You really know where you are. For the first time in history.' He quoted the planetary motto. 'Community, Identity, Stability.' Grand words. 'If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved.'" (Aldous Huxley, , 1932)

Yes, the perfect Group. Humans made in hatcheries, according to plan. Group identity replacing individual identity. The All of the All.

Why bother with individual achievement? Why bother with "thoughts that separate one person from another?" Why-can't-we-just-get-along becomes: why can't we all think the same thoughts?

We can, with enough generations of programming. With synthetic production lines in birth-hatcheries.

Greatest good for the greatest number becomes a different kind of number.

For those who don't want to take things that far, there are less radical versions of The Collective Glob in the propaganda mall. From the mystical to the political, there is a whole range of messages.

They all include the word "we". For some reason, I never signed up for that "we." Maybe you didn't either. This article is for you.

Russia-led peacekeepers ready to head to Donbass region once approved by UN

© Reuters / John Trast

A building in Debaltsevo destroyed by shelling

The head of the CSTO military bloc says the organization is ready to send peacekeepers to Donbass once such a move is sanctioned by the United Nations.

"The Collective Security Treaty Organization has peacekeeping potential, our forces are constantly undergoing the necessary training. If the United Nations makes this decision we would be ready to provide such units," CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha told reporters on Thursday.

"But this will happen only after the use of peacekeepers is recognized as reasonable," he said.

At the same time, the official emphasized the military potential of such blocs as CSTO or NATO should never go beyond peacekeeping operations. "We consider this counterproductive. What is happening in Ukraine is an internal conflict. It must be settled by Ukrainian authorities and the Donbass people, they must find common language, consensus and start agreeing on joint activities. I repeat it again - neither the CSTO collective forces nor NATO can be used in these events," Bordyuzha was quoted as saying by Belarusian news agency BelTA.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia was ready to discuss the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, but only on condition that it's agreed with Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in Donbass. "To be honest, we see no arguments against looking into any suggestions. But for this we must talk to the sides of the conflict," he said.

Bordyuzha first suggested the use of CSTO units for securing peace in Ukraine in late August last year. At that time, the official said that such move would require the go-ahead from leaders of all member countries.

The CSTO is a military bloc uniting six ex-Soviet nations - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia. Currently, Russia holds the rotating presidency of the organization.

Western proxy army ISIS claims responsibility for Tunisia museum attack

© Reuters / Zoubeir Souissi

People surround an ambulance carrying the bodies of the victims of an attack by gunmen on Tunisia's national museum in Tunis March 18, 2015

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the deadly museum attack on Wednesday in Tunisia that claimed over 20 lives, according to an online audio recording cited by Reuters.

The three-hour attack took place at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia's capital on Wednesday. As a result 23 people died, including 18 foreign tourists, five Tunisians and two gunmen, Health Minister Said Aidi said on Thursday. Fifty more were injured.Among the foreigners killed were one British national, three Japanese, four Italians, two Colombians, two Spaniards, an Australian, a Pole and a French citizen, according to the Tunisian PM Habib Essid's statement.

The recording distributed online praised the two gunmen calling them "knights of the Islamic State."

Security forces arrested nine people connected to the attack, according to a statement issued by the president's office on Thursday. Five of the arrested were directly connected, while four others were from a supporting terrorist cell, it added.

The PM said one of the terrorists was already known to Tunisia's intelligence services. Essid identified two attackers as Yassine Labidi and Saber Khachnaou in an interview with French radio station RTL. Labidi was known to the security services, he was flagged and monitored," Essid said.

Demonstration against terrorism on steps of municipal theatre downtown Tunis #Tunisia #BardoAttack http://bit.ly/1x5VH9V

— Eric Reidy (@Eric_Reidy) March 18, 2015

On Wednesday, demonstrations were held in Tunis against terrorism, as people gathered on the capital's main street, Avenue Habib Bourguiba, waving national flags and singing songs from the 2011 Arab spring revolution. A silent demonstration was planned for Thursday outside the Bardo museum.

The latest attack is the deadliest involving foreigners since the 2002 suicide bombing on a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, where twenty-one people died, including 14 Germans, two French tourists and five Tunisians.

Islamic State militants have gained a foothold in war-torn Libya, Tunisia's neighboring state. Formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, the jihadists currently control territories in Iraq and Syria and operate in other unstable regions of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, including the Sinai Peninsula.

Local media reported the two militants, who were gunned down by security forces in the museum attack on Wednesday, visited Iraq and Libya. However, this information has not been confirmed by officials.

On Thursday, the Tunisian president's office issued a statement saying army forces will be sent to large cities to reinforce security.

The 'can o' tuna' vaccination argument makes no sense

tuna vaccination

Certainly if you are on the frontlines of the vaccine debate you've heard the argument from pro vaxxers 'hey well, y'know, a can of tuna has about the same amount of mercury in it that a vaccine does.' Or about aluminum, 'a muffin has as much aluminum as a vaccine containing aluminum'. It is a silly argument but it shows you the mindset of some of these people that don't question and research the very vaccine inserts or information available to them before they are injected.

First of all, anyone with a basic knowledge of biology should know the difference between injection and ingestion, one goes to the bloodstream, the other to the GI Tract. Biologically they are much different, and that should end the argument right there with just simple biological logic. Let's go a little deeper but also try and keep it simple.

Thimerosal is a vaccine preservative and well known neurotoxin which is 49.55% mercury by weight (56.73% "ethyl mercury" by weight).

When ingested, most of the mercury in tuna does not enter the body, but passes out in the stool. The mercury that does absorb is methylmercury. Absorbing through the gut, first through the liver. This is called "First pass". The mercury going through the liver is conjugated by glutathione. Then that conjugated glutathione is passed out in bile and then stool. (Dr. Robert Murdoch)

The mercury in thimerosal is ethylmercury, when injected it is metabolized (converted) into the more toxic and harmful methylmercury. Because it is injected, it avoids the 'first pass' through the liver where it could be filtered, instead it circulates through all other tissues and organs. Mercury has a high affinity (binds well with) certain tissues, including neurological tissue, brain, kidneys, etc. So, in short then, the most harmful, long-term-toxic, "inorganic" mercury is retained in bodily tissue (Dr. Murdoch, Dr. Paul G. King). Anyone can look up bioaccumulation of mercury in the body and the half life. It's not pretty.

Further, "It is distributed primarily in the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, and skin. Mercury crosses the blood brain barrier and the placenta; infants and the fetus are the most at risk for toxicity to occur. Mercury exposure by expecting mothers has been shown to cause neurological abnormalities. Infants exposed in utero to mercury have shown developmental delays. In addition, the possibility of a link between mercury exposure and neurological disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has been evaluated.

Concentrations of thimerosal in vaccines and immunoglobulins range between 0.005 and 0.02%, a non-toxic concentration. However, a concern exists, not from exposure to a single vaccine, but that over a relatively short time span, children can be exposed to multiple vaccinations containing thimerosal. This repeated exposure might put children at risk for mercury toxicity.

The FDA has admitted that the safety of Thimerosal, when used as a preservative, has not been established to the regulatory standard, "sufficiently nontoxic..." This fact was established in a three-year investigation by a United States House Committee and set forth in the "A. Findings" section of its published 2003 report as set forth in Title 21 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR) at paragraph 610.15(a)[21 CFR 610.15(a)]

The problem is the House Committee study only looked into the effects of a single product, not the effect of multiple products (many different vaccines over a short period of time). There are no studies showing the safety of mixing different heavy metals such as Al (Aluminum) and Thimerosal, there are physical studies of mercury and aluminum in open air experiments which show rapid oxidative stress and violent reactions. No tests have been done on what happens when these elements meet together in lets say the brain or organs.

The literature that comes with most vaccines admits that...'has not been evaluated for its carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or its potential to impair fertility'

The fluval vaccine warns 'safety and efficacy has not been established in pregnant women' and yet it continues to be recommended to them. So what happens when all these substances are mixed?

Synergistic Toxicity

And that brings us to consider synergistic toxicity , that is the combining of more than one toxic substance in a cocktail to be injected and the dangers that entails.

Safeminds explains:

"...when exposed to two toxins [or more], the toxicity level is far greater than the additive toxicity levels of the two toxins."

"A good example demonstrating 'synergistic toxicity' is a 1978 study on mice (Shubert et al. Combined Effects in Toxicology -- A Rapid systematic Testing Procedure: Cadmium, Mercury & Lead. J. of Toxicology & Environmental Health 4:763, 1978). The study took the amount of mercury salt that kills 1 in 100 mice and 1/20th of the amount of lead salt that kills 1 in 100 mice. When these amounts of mercury salt and lead salt were administered, the synergistic toxicity of these two toxins killed 100 in 100 mice:"

"If Additive toxicity, one would expect 1 + 0.05 = 1.05 mice to die (1 or 2)" "With Synergistic toxicity, the results were: 1 + 0.05 = 100 mice died" And further "There is significant potential for unexpected 'synergistic toxicity' effects from vaccines, particularly for a susceptible population that may already have high toxin levels due to a lessened ability to excrete toxins. Yet synergistic toxicity of vaccines has not been studied -- studies have focused on only individual toxicity of a single component of the vaccines (e.g. mercury or measles virus)" [Emphasis mine]

Out of all the vaccine debates I have watched since my research on vaccines began back in 2009 I have yet to hear synergistic toxicity brought up once. This seems acutely important and integral to the debate. Certainly Aluminum is toxic as well, as I will show later. Some other synergistic toxicity studies have been done showing low level concentrations of metals, but when combined, caused toxicity.

So, let's get this straight, thimerosal was never tested by any of our health agencies and was used in vaccines anyway from 1930-2004 (and still in some), and finally removed from most because of public outcry and then the government began to study it and decided yes, it's probably not safe (see footnotes above). The same will likely happen with Aluminum in 20-30 years after the public outcry again, but how many children and people will have had to suffer until then? Short 2 minute video clip of Hearings on Thimerosal.

Pro vaxxers say "Ah but there's no Thimerosal in vaccines anymore!!" It's interesting to note is that of the few vaccines that is given to infants that still has thimerosal in it is Hep B and DipTet (and Flu shot that is recommended to mothers now). So, the claim that it has been removed from all vaccines is a lie and misdirection. If they give it to all newborns then all the newborns are getting that thimerosal. "It was removed from many child vaccines in 2002 but remains in some vaccines (e.g., hepatitis B virus and influenza)" . And they get multiple doses of different cocktails.

Summing Up

As you can probably tell, the Can of Tuna Argument is moot at this point, and as you continue reading the studies below you'll begin to see even clearer why. They can't hide the fact that these substances are toxic even at low doses, and especially in multiple doses. Considering the other factors such as synergistic toxicity and the Governments own findings (as well as studies below) we can put that lame argument to rest. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out $3.1 billion dollars to vaccine injury/death claims so far, when will they admit that they are not safe? Even the Supreme Court had to admit that vaccines were in a category of 'unavoidably unsafe' products.

The real question now is, after all the government hearings, findings and studies, why is thimerosal, or aluminum, still being used at all? And why do our health Czars keep lying to us?

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Lavrov criticizes Reuters MH17 'new witnesses' report


© RIA Novosti Evgeny Biyatov

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has condemned a news report of witnesses' statements, in which people said they had seen a rocket fired at the time of Malaysian Boeing crash in Ukraine in July 2014. "Looks like a stovepiping," Lavrov said.

"Attempts at distorting facts, enforcing versions on what could have happened continue to exist, with some based on openly dirty intentions," Lavrov told journalists on Thursday. Commenting on last week's Reuters report on "new evidence on the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine," the minister said that it looked like the "respected agency" had published "a so-called stovepiping."

"[There are] some witnesses, who contradict one another, and express things amusing for any specialist. For instance, some wiggling rocket, separating rocket stages, blue clouds of smoke," the minister said, adding such information has been provided by alleged eyewitnesses, who managed to see the crash despite being 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from it, in cloudy weather.

According to Reuters, villagers in eastern Ukraine "saw a missile flying directly overhead just before a Malaysian airliner was shot out of the sky on July 17 last year, providing the most detailed accounts to date that suggest it was fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels."

Having published stories of several people living in a village some 20 kilometers from the crash site, the report concluded that "the accounts do not conclusively prove the missile launched [from there] was the one that brought down the airliner, because none of the villagers saw it actually being launched."

"Nor could they shed light on a contention of officials in Kiev and in Western states, that the BUK missile battery was brought in from Russia and was operated by a Russian crew," Reuters reported.

Russia closely follows the investigation and examines any facts that could shed light on it and help determine the identities of those who were in charge, Lavrov said at a press-conference in Moscow.

"We call for an objective, unbiased, professional examination of each and all facts and versions, and consider it unacceptable for anyone to assume that they have a monopoly on truth before such investigation finishes," the minister said.

There have been a number of other witnesses' reports, "recorded on camera," Lavrov reminded reporters, saying that such evidence has been dismissed both by Western counterparts and the media. Citing witnesses who saw a fighter jet flying at the time of the crash, and reports of a person who worked at a Ukrainian military base who said one of the jets "returned there without one rocket," Lavrov said opposing accounts have not been given deserved attention.

Questions posed by Russia's defense ministry remain unanswered, the foreign minister added, saying there are still no promised images from American satellites or recordings of Ukrainian air traffic controllers' communications with the plane and other aircraft at the time of the crash.

"I have no hope of getting answers to these questions any more," Lavrov said, adding that Russia will continue to study all available information to get to the truth of what happened to MH17 flight.

With an official investigation into the crash dragging on for months, Moscow has criticized the slow process that doesn't provide much information several times before, and called for a more proper and open probe. Despite all the hype around the crash, the investigators do not seem to be in a hurry, Russian FM has previously said.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was allegedly taken down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. The investigation of the crash is led by the Netherlands, as the majority of its victims were Dutch.

Anti-government militia in eastern Ukraine have been largely blamed by Kiev and its western allies for shooting down the airliner, with the use of a Russian-made BUK anti-aircraft missile system. While the rebels have been denying their involvement in the crash, the Russian Defense Ministry has published radar data pointing to other possibilities, including an attack by a Ukrainian fighter jet as the cause of the tragedy.

On Thursday, the ministry also condemned a report on the Malaysian Boeing investigation, earlier released by the Ukrainian Security Council. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said a Ukrainian statement claiming that its security council has studied 5.5 billion webpages after the crash is "surprising."

"It is easy to count [whether the Ukrainian security officials]...went through 23 million pages a day - or some 700 pages a second," Konashenkov said, adding anyone could decide for themselves if it was "physically possible."

The official also questioned pictures of an alleged parts of Russian BUK damage elements, reportedly found during the investigation. He said that elements on the released pictures could have been parts of BUK modifications owned by the Ukrainian army, with Russian BUKs having different types of these elements. He expressed hopes for a "more professional" investigation.

Moscow expects response from Europe over Ukraine's Donbass status laws

© RIA Novosti / Anton Denisov

Moscow expects its European partners from the 'Normandy Four' to give their appraisals of the freshly-approved Ukrainian laws on self-rule in the southeastern regions.

"We have not yet heard any judgments on the part of our colleagues and partners. We still hope that such judgments will appear," Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

He added that if the Minsk peace accords are undermined as a result of Kiev actions the situation would demand urgent involvement of all guarantors of the ceasefire.

"We support any dialogue," Peskov stated. However, he said that at the moment the Normandy Four had not yet agreed on a new meeting.

He also said that if the presence of US and British military advisers in Ukraine, if true, did not contribute to the security in this country.

On March 17, the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed the law on special status for the Donbass regions, granting the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk special self-rule status, but postponing its introduction until the regions hold new elections under Ukrainian laws.

MPs also approved a special statement that recognized the two republics as 'temporary occupied territories' and voted that the status should remain until the Ukrainian military fully restores control.

The leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics called these decisions "shameful" and said that by passing the documents that were not agreed with them Kiev demonstrated that it was completely incapable of responsible negotiations.

On March 18, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the Kiev steps "a glaring breach of the Minsk ceasefire agreements" and said that he had urged foreign ministers of Germany and France to take a trilateral joint demarche in regards to Ukraine in order to force it to return to the dialogue with the Donbass republics.

Earlier, Lavrov has said that Russia was ready to discuss the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission to Ukraine, but only on condition that it is agreed both with Kiev and self-proclaimed republics in Donbass.

"To be honest, we see no arguments against looking into any suggestions. But for this we must talk to the sides of the conflict," he said.

Several reported dead in escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

© RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated on Thursday leaving several military dead. Different figures were produced by each side, ranging from at least three, up to 20 people in the disputed enclave in the South Caucasus.

The defense ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which is an unrecognized state populated mostly by ethnic Armenians and completely surrounded by Azeri territories, reported that three of its servicemen were killed and several others injured in an attack from the Azerbaijan side on Thursday.

"On Thursday morning a reinforced group of [Azerbaijan's] special operation forces attacked the Karabakh positions," the ministry said in its statement, adding that the Armenian soldiers serving in that region repelled the attack and "totally defeated" the military group.

Three Armenian servicemen died in the fight, and four more were injured, the ministry's press-service said.

The Azerbaijani side called these reports intentional "disinformation," and said that its troops killed and wounded up to 20 Armenian military.

"As a result of military clashes on March 19 on the front line, Azerbaijan's armed forces conducted a heavy attack up-front on the Armenian side, and eliminated and wounded up to 20 Armenian servicemen," the Azerbaijani defense ministry said in its statement.

Both sides have repeatedly accused each other of trying to reignite a conflict that broke out in 1988 when the Nagorno-Karabakh region announced its plans to seek independence from Azerbaijan and become part of Armenia.

Ebola cases in Guinea rise as 3 doctors infected

Guinea has suffered a setback in its fight against Ebola with a rash of new cases, including three doctors infected by the virus, with officials blaming weak surveillance and a failure to follow safety procedures.

The outbreak, which began in eastern Guinea more than a year ago and has killed over 10,000 people in the three West African countries worst hit, had appeared to be on the wane, but Guinea has seen cases rise for three consecutive weeks, according to World Health Organization data.

A government health report from the weekend showed there were 21 new cases in a single day, a spike from the recent daily average of eight.

President Alpha Conde said on Tuesday that everything must be done to end the outbreak by mid-April, ahead of a meeting with donors scheduled around that date.

Ending Ebola could reboot Guinea's mining-dependent economy that has been hammered by the outbreak which has scared investors, he said.

"With Ebola, it is easier to go from 100 cases to 10 cases than from 10 cases of to zero. To end it, we need ten times more effort than when the outbreak was at its height," he said.


A big source of concern is a chain of new infections that can be linked back to a woman who died of Ebola and was not buried safely, according to Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, spokeswoman for the U.N.'s Ebola emergency response mission UNMEER.

"It's a major setback .... It's due to individual behaviors. That is having a devastating effect on the community. People are simply not practicing the safety rules that we have been talking about for a year," she told Reuters.

Of the other two countries worst hit, Sierra Leone has also seen a spate of new cases while Liberia has no known cases at present and is waiting to be declared free of the disease.

The new cases in Guinea are in the capital and the southwestern town of Forecariah but if the situation is not brought under control they could spread across borders, said Lejeune-Kaba.

Guinea officials said the new cases came from high risk Ebola contacts who had left Forecariah and developed symptoms elsewhere, pointing to poor surveillance.

Sakoba Keïta, Guinea's anti-Ebola task force coordinator, said on Tuesday that the government was putting in place new measures including strict rules regulating the movement of corpses and contact tracing.

"There are numerous gaps in the Ebola response in Guinea, notably in surveillance of contacts, and that explains the difficulty in making any lasting progress towards ending the epidemic," said a spokesman for medical charity MSF.

The three doctors were infected at the Ignace Deen hospital in Conakry, which is not an Ebola center. More than 50 doctors in Guinea have caught the virus during the outbreak.

A personal account of life in Sevastopol one year after Crimea re-joined Russia

The last year changed many things in my life, so it will be appropriate to summarize certain intermediate results associated with the changes in Sevastopol borne of the Crimean spring. I decided not to group this in blocks, so I simply write what came to my mind during the attempts to recall what has changed over a year.

1. Crimea stopped being a part of Ukraine and became a part of Russia. I wished for this event for many years, so here my dream simply came true. Those people whose dreams come true must understand very well how this feels like.

2. Ukrainian flags and Ukrainian insignia disappeared from the city. Only very rarely one can meet Ukrainian text or old advertisement banners in Ukrainian. The city speaks Russian and after the cancellation of the obligatory use of Ukrainian, which they previously tried to implant by force, the Ukrainian language simply disappeared because it wasn't needed, even though there is no special ban on the use of Ukrainian - if one wants, one can put banners in Ukrainian, the law permits it. If one wants to speak Ukrainian, one is free to do so. All of these rights are present, but nobody uses them because there is no need to do so.

3. One may now go to a movie theater without fearing the obligatory translation of the movies to Ukrainian in a city where 99% speak Russian. For several years I didn't go watch movies for the language reasons; in the last year I was there more often than in the previous 5 years.

4. Everything is now in Russian in the state institutions. The obligatory process of filling out documents in Ukrainian has disappeared. The same is true for the judicial branch. Even the officials who earlier had to learn the ugly Surzhyk to put it on paper for the Russian-speaking citizens are now happy.

5. The "miraculous Ukrainian history" disappeared from schools, nobody is telling fairy-tales about the UPA heroes, Cossack-submariners, and ancient Ukrainian camels to the people. People now laugh at this period at the mention of the Tripolian shards, Jesus of Carpathians, and battle healers.

6. The Ukrainian monuments disappeared from Sevastopol. They were accurately removed and sent to their historical Motherland. They decided to keep Shevchenko, because there are no reasons to give the monopoly on Shevchenko to the bander-logs..

7. Two fleets are in Sevastopol no longer, only one is now stationed - the Russian one. It is just as old, only somewhat increased in size due to the ships that remained from Ukraine. They planned to build new piers for the "Mistral" and the appropriate infrastructure, but the process got stuck for well-known reasons.

8. Almost everyone who used to form the local "elite" disappeared from the city authorities. Unlike in Crimea, there was a more radical revolution in Sevastopol, which was actively assisted by Aleksey Chalyi. There are many new faces in the leadership, both locals and from mainland Russia, starting from the governor Menyaylo. As for Menyaylo himself, he left a mixed feeling over the last year: on the one side he didn't accept bribes and actively removed squatters, on the other side some questions of the city development were stuck in bureaucratic red tape. In the March of this year there were even rumors that Menyaylo will be removed.

9. The nationalization did happen here, but it was quite limited: such half-measures weren't expected from the local authorities, although the fact that the shipyard was finally taken away from Poroshenko was pleasing to many.

10. The banking collapse has been overcome over the last year and now, despite the sanctions, the banking system is working, albeit with an effort. The crucial banks for Sevastopol became the RNCB (which recently made it to the sanctions list), and Genbank.

11. The communications more or less settled, although their quality leaves much to be desired. The process of disconnecting from Ukrainian cellular networks ended up being fairly painful, although by now the process of migrating to the Russian numbers is effectively over.

12. The transport flow situation worsened, there are more cars in the city now (visitors, tourists, refugees), so the city transport network is now overloaded. The problem of parking in the downtown is very prominent.

13. The increase in salaries and prices wasn't uniform. In the first months the tempos of salary increases were ahead of the tempos of price increases. In the second half of the year the situation changed. The prices gradually equalized mid-Russian ones. The Ukrainian goods disappear from stores and are gradually replaced by the Russian goods.

14. Regarding the promises, they were given during the stable ruble and expensive oil, so under the conditions of the ongoing war with the USA, the announced volume of promises will be hard to fulfill. Nevertheless, the work on building the bridge through Kerch strait has begun, the Sevastopol shipyard workers will get the promised orders in the coming months, they eagerly wait for those.

15. The crime level in the city reduced, the security organs gradually transferred to the Russian standards and there is no longer a major need to send the MIA employees from the Moscow region here.

16. The reduction in crime levels is not in the least part due to stringent measures for regulating the alcohol market. The ban on selling booze during the night hours sharply reduced the number of drunks on the streets and the number of crimes associated with alcohol abuse. The difficulties of obtaining a license for selling alcohol sharply reduced the number of outlets where it is possible to buy anything stronger than beer. The road police officers take much fewer bribes now, and correspondingly it got much harder for drivers to avoid responsibility.

17. There is little change with respect to communal utilities, pretty much the same stuff. The tariffs increase, but not as fast as in Ukraine. There is some improvement with respect to cleanliness, but the city is still fairly dirty - there is still room for improvement.

18. For the first time in many years the Internet became more expensive after the ruble collapse. 100 rubles were added on top of the previous tariff. The quality of the internet remains very good here, almost like in Moscow. After Rostov I'm a bit ashamed of cursing our provider. The copyright holders squeezed it somewhat for running a network tracker, but the guys are clever, they made a new tracker and pretended that it is not theirs. Overall, everything remains the same here: download&share.

19. Despite the end of the rebellion, the city is still quite politicized. The symbols of Novorossia, the DPR, the militia insignia can be often encountered. The events in Donbass are constantly discussed - the hottest topics in the city are the relations with America, sanctions, and the war in Donbass.

20. Those who want to return to the Ukraine are few. Even those who wanted to leave the "Russian occupation" in the summer sharply lost their desire to go to Ukraine after the start of mobilization. It is one thing to argue on the Internets and it is a quite different thing to get an assault rifle and depart to Donbass to get slaughtered. It's not that there are absolutely no idiots, but that there are very few of them.

21. The city became more militarized, one can see military patrols, the movement of columns, flights of military jets more often these days. In this respect the city returned to its historical role of a Russian military stronghold. Furthermore, according to plans, there will be further development in this direction.

22. The question of the airport remains unresolved. The military are not going to give up Belbek for the civilian needs, so the projects of building an airport somewhere close to the city are constantly being discussed, so that one doesn't have to go to Simferopol.

23. About passports - the question was closed already by the end of the summer. Effectively everyone who wanted it already managed to obtain Russian documents, so the gigantic lines in passport offices became history. The refugees had a harder time, who are currently able to get the Russian passport only through a court by proving that some of their relatives lived in Crimea. For the most part people got used to the refugees, now people are mostly indifferent to them, they pity women and children and view men with suspicion because they believe that men must be fighting in Donbass, where the residents of Sevastopol went to fight along with everyone else. The humanitarian aid for Donbass is still collected.

24. The tension in the relationship with the Tartars is not felt in the city, overall everything is the same with them as it used to be. Sevastopol was always aside from these conflicts that pursued Crimea, so here there is peaceful coexistence in this respect. Furthermore, the majority of Crimean-Tartar radicals left Crimea.

25. Chalyi is still the most popular person in the city, his authority among the common residents is huge. The first "people's governor" of the Russian Spring remains one of its symbols, although in the context of the events in Donbass his star is no longer as bright, after the rivers of blood and massive destruction in Donbass, after which the spring romance of the spring of 2014 evaporated and the harsh routine of protracted war that smells of dirt and blood came.

26. Fares for public transportation stabilized at 8-10 rubles and remained there. Shuttle buses remain one of the most popular means of transportation in Sevastopol. The gas is 4-5 rubles more expensive here than in Rostov or in Krasnodar. The evaluations of gas stations differ: some do a good job, others "suck".

27. There are many problems with e-commerce: the sanctions are not all that painful, rather, they are annoying. The freelancers did take a hit. The blockade of PlayMarket ended up being unpleasant for many, but upon leaving Crimea it is possible to download everything that is blocked in Crimea.

28. The political life of the city is half dead, just like before. Boring officialdom, local scandals. The scandal from the last year between Menyaylo and Chalyi was pretty much a hurricane if compared to the swamp of these days. Plus, the separatist movement cancelled itself for obvious reasons, so the reasons to get loud - with a pretense or without one - became much fewer.

29. Major Russian companies are reluctant to come to us, they are afraid of sanctions. So, for now either the obscure intra-Russian companies show up or the big business cheats and deploys various "offspring" companies here, while pretending to be uninvolved.

30. The Communist movement in the city is average: there is a weak CPRF office (from the personnel of the former CPU), plus various groups of Marxists, Trotskyites, and worker organizations. After not taking the lead during the Crimean spring, the communist organizations now undergo a difficult period of reorganization.

31. The anti-American sentiment in the city is very strong. Only the junta and the banderovites are hated more, who created a bloodbath in the Ukraine. Yanukovich and the Party of Regions are constantly remembered as being guilty in what happened. People often lament that they didn't have the balls to execute "Euromaidan".

32. The tourist season is expected to be better than last year, when there was a certain decrease in the number of tourists (the flow of tourists from Ukraine was narrower). Overall, the city is not likely to focus on the resort aspect of its development, because the major focus will be on army, fleet, and ship repair.

33. Nobody counts on foreign investments too much, so without many illusions they focus on intra-Russian projects. Plus, they naturally expect government investments in production and infrastructure.

34. Some of the Ukrainian military who transferred to the Russian service continue to serve, although they are trying to route them through other fleets with the confines of strengthening their loyalty. Also there are programs of patriotic education, because the service to Ukraine naturally left its mark.

35. They are not going to turn Balaklava into a military base. They also don't intend to restore the shaft-base and the Backup Command Office of the Black Sea Fleet "Alsu-2", which were ruined by the Ukraine. These projects are too expensive, so they clearly won't give money for those now. On the other hand, the airports and the military camps are brought into order, plus they also deploy new materiel in them. Earlier this had to be negotiated with Kiev, now one can bring whatever, up to strategic bombers. The military people are jubilant.

36. The housing prices increased. Furthermore, considering the holiday season, further increase in prices is unavoidable. The apartments are purchased by refugees from Ukraine and also by the residents of mainland Russia, who want to get here to live "close to the sea" or to have the opportunity for long-term recreation in the summer. The mess with the registries is mostly over, so the housing market gradually went back to normal.

37. The medical care is still conditionally free: just like during Ukraine the help is free but they would be very grateful if a patient will buy some drugs for the department, of which there is always a shortage. Overall, little has changed here.

38. Ukrainian channels effectively disappeared from the TV screens, although everything is still present on cable networks. Some even watch the Ukrainian TV specifically "for the laughs". So people sit and watch it with the utterances like "Did you see that, did you see these idiots?". A comedy of sorts. Kiselyov isn't liked much: too sugary. Solovyov's program is the most popular among the political shows. As before, I don't watch TV.

39. There is still unemployment, although it is partially hidden. New vacancies are expected due to the implementation of various infrastructural projects, which are currently in the preparation stage.

40. People in the city became somewhat more friendly, the cumulative effect from the last year's union for reaching the common purpose is still active. The sudden outburst of collectivism showed people that it is possible to achieve results if they come together. This played an important role in the growth of the civilian conscience of the Sevastopol residents, who indeed felt that they are citizens and not just population. It is always more pleasant to talk to citizens. People like that.

Overall, the city changed quite dramatically and continues to change, just like the world around it. Sevastopol, having realized its dream, now lives with the expectations of the fulfillment of the promises given in the spring of 2014 and is at the same time preparing for the trials it has to go through together with Russia.

And, of course, my life also changed a lot - a year ago I could afford to intellectualize on a sofa without much responsibility, and exactly a year ago I could simply be honestly jubilant about my involvement in the events I dreamt about. A year later I mark this holiday away from home, not far away from the fighting in Donbass to which my life is now bound. Back then Donbass arose together with us and continues to fight for that which we obtained relatively easily, on the background of what the residents of Novorossia had to go through. Besides the fulfillment of my dream, this year also gave me the feeling of responsibility for those people who continue to fight and whom I can't abandon on the road to their dream - of ending the war and of Novorossia being free. So for me the today's holiday is both happy and sad. I cannot be happy enough about what happened a year ago, but I'm also sad and hurt that Novorossia ended up having a much rougher road to freedom.

Once again, I wish everyone a happy holiday and urge you to remember about our comrades, who started together with us and continue to fight for what is right. I am confident that we will win and that Novorossia will happen.

Is a gold-backed ruble in Russia's future?

originally appeared at KOPP Online. Translated for RI by Alexander Samarkin

Russia is struggling with a number of liabilities these days. The price for oil, Russia's most important export good, has reached historical lows. During the previous weeks the Ruble could only recover slightly from its devastating slump against the Dollar, that has been lasting for a year now.

Compared to February last year, the Russian currency now has about 40% less purchase power than the Greenback. Russia and USA are in the middle of a currency war that threatens to become an armed conflict. Not even during the cold war has the ,diplomatic" talk between USA and Russia been that harsh.

Even from elitist circles come ominous warnings of an acute geopolitical danger. The continuing sanctions against Russia in the process of the Ukraine-crisis hurt the Russian economy additionally. The Russian government has to take radical measures to enhance the attractiveness of the Ruble for investors. In this context a gold backing seems more probable than ever.

As good as gold

To understand why the Ruble might face a long-term revaluation one has to take a look at the past of the USA. Since the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944, the gold backed American Dollar prevailed as world reserve currency.

Many market observers today forget about the fact, that since 1971 the US Dollar is a pure fiat currency that can be created arbitrarily by the Fed out of thin air. At that time president Nixon closed the ,gold window" and ended Bretton Woods. Therefore all currencies pegged to the Dollar automatically became pure paper currencies as well. Ever since we all are participants in a gigantic experiment - the worldwide paper currency standard without physical backing.

A golden sign

Russia could set an example now. For generations, gold has been the anchor for stability of a currency. During the past decades this fact was totally forgotten. Not till the financial crisis in 2008 Russia, China and other BRICS countries started buying the ,barbaric relic" as John Maynard Keynes called it. According to the World Gold Council Russia's gold reserves as of February 2015 amount to approximately 1208 tonnes, an increase of 173 tonnes in 2014.

Amazingly the Russian made a mark in April last year and placed an impressive gold coloured Ruble in front of its head office, in order to point out the stability of the Russian currency due to its underlying gold reserves. First signs for a change in central bank politics towards a gold backing?

The power structure is shaking

Russia takes up a big part of the Eurasian continent, which is the geostrategically most important on the globe. American policy advisers like Zbigniev Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger are aware of that and take advantage of the weakness of the Ruble. It can be manipulated through western interference, which prevents a resurrection of Russia. Mayer Amschel Rothschild, banker and co-founder of the Rothschild Dynasty, once said:

A gold backing of the Ruble could make Russia more robust against hostile interference and set the course for a new Eurasian Great Power. However it can't be ruled out that such a gold backing might make Russia prone to external attacks. During a stage of economic recession the Ruble might drag the gold price down with it. Hence the move toward a Gold Ruble should be regarded as long-term investment of Russia into her monetary future.

Gold plated gas?

The Russian Great Power is mainly based on an abundance of resources. However nearly all oil deals worldwide are being settled in American Dollars, hence the name Petro-Dollar. The selling of the Russian energy resources gas and oil in a gold backed Russian currency would tantamount to an assault on that system. Because in the long run the Ruble would be very attractive compared to all other currencies that keep constantly inflating.

Simultaneously, with such a move Russia could expand her up to now accumulated gold reserves enormously. This would be the case if Russia kept exporting more than importing. Because foreign countries would run short on Rubles and new Rubles would only be issued for gold. The downside is that investors might exchange their Ruble stocks for physical gold and therefore plunder the Russian gold reserves. The only precedent is the collapse of the London Gold Pool, that went through a similar scenario in 1968. But this could only happen if Russia had a sustainable trade gap.

A weakening of the Dollar and the billing of oil reserves in a gold backed Ruble are also not necessarily beneficial to some trade partners. Neither will the EU show interest in depleting her own gold reserves for purchase of energy resources, nor will China be eager to condone a devaluation of the Dollar and thus relinquish her own Dollar stocks to impairment. China, however, would have the option to trade Russian oil and gas directly for goods like machines and technology and that way avoid the Gold Ruble in bilateral trade. The EU countries would be barred from this option due to the current sanctions.

Derivatives as fire accelerates

However, the financial apocalypse is lurking from a different side. Entire nations and financial systems are linked by derivatives, that amount to a total value of more than 700 trillion US-Dollars by now. These derived financial instruments could plunge the global financial system into the abyss and drag entire national economies with them.

Extremely fluctuating exchange rates of the Ruble to other currencies within minutes, as can set in with a sudden gold backing, might trigger a derivatives crash.

An initial foretaste to such a scenario was given at the beginning of this year by the decision of the Swiss Central Bank, to unpeg the Franc from the Euro. However, Russia could peg the Ruble to the gold price at the current exchange rate, which would have little market related consequences and leave the derivatives market unimpressed.


A sudden gold backing of the Ruble would be sensational and would make it into history books of future generations without fail. However, the consequences are politically highly explosive. The USA are unlikely to accept the decline of their currency. To sell energy reserves in the domestic currency is not a new idea of Putin, however, up to now unrealizable. In the long run, the Ruble could become a haven of stability. Moreover it is reasonable to assume that in the medium term other central banks - at least from economically strong and solid countries like Switzerland, Norway or Singapore - might follow the Russian example.

Further gold purchases by the Russian central bank should be under scrutiny. The reaction of the financial world to the Swiss Central Bank's decision was already a puzzled outcry, horrified silence could follow in case of a positive decision of the Kremlin in favor of gold backing. Already the Romans were aware of the impact of gold when they stated:

People have spoken: Over half of Ukrainians fed up with Poroshenko - Almost 60% don't believe stories published by Ukrainian press

© Reuters / Mykola Lazarenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (R) talks to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk

A recent poll by a Ukrainian research group shows how unhappy the country is with their politicians. Only eight percent say the country is going in the right direction, while almost two-thirds assert they don't approve of the president's actions.

The figures should make for worrying viewing for President Petro Poroshenko and his government as Ukraine is currently mired in economic turmoil and political instability. A poll carried out by the Kiev-based Research & Branding Group from March 6-16, shows just how fed-up Ukrainians are with the way their country is being run.

Poroshenko may have been in power for just over nine months, but it would appear his 'honeymoon' period has well and truly ended. Just a third of those asked believe he is doing a good job, while almost 60 percent say they aren't happy with the way the billionaire is running the country. If elections were carried out today, just under 20 percent of Ukrainians would back Poroshenko, while 30 percent would either vote against every candidate or not bother going to the polls.

However, Poroshenko seems to be getting off lightly. Ukraine's nationalist Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk is even less popular with less than a quarter of those surveyed believing he is doing a good job in helping to run the country.

The Ukrainian media has repeatedly been reporting stories of how thousands of Russian troops are supposed to be helping anti-government militia's in the east of the country in their fight against Ukrainian government forces. But the vast majority of those asked think their media and the stories they produce are untrustworthy, with almost 60 percent not believing the stories published and broadcast by the Ukrainian press.

The most damaging statistics for the Ukrainian government show that a meager eight percent say they are happy with the direction their country is taking and only five percent say Ukraine is politically stable.

Политическая ситуация в Украине. рейтинги партий и политиков: Компанией Research & Branding Group в период с 6... http://bit.ly/1CAQWb5

— rb_group (@rb_group) March 19, 2015

The hryvnia has lost more than half its value during 2015, while the weakening currency has led to massive inflation, which has reached 272 percent by some estimates.

Despite receiving a $5-billion loan from the IMF on March 13, which is the first tranche of a $17.5-billion loan from the organization, the country's Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko says it's not enough and the country needs more funds from the West.

"The package that we have is going to stabilize the financial banking system, but it's not enough to seriously restart growth and promote growth," said Jaresko after a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on March 16. "I'm looking for more support," she added.

The poll was carried out across all regions in Ukraine, apart from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. A total of 1,501 adults were surveyed, while the Research & Branding Group, which is a non-governmental marketing and sociological research company said there was a three-percent margin of error.

Bark beetles are decimating our forests which may be a good thing

beetles and trees

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Into the woods...

They gobble up trees and send politicians into a frenzy. But do the bugs know more about climate change than we do?

There is an eerie feel to this grove of lodgepole pines that I can't quite put my finger on as entomologist Diana Six tromps ahead of me, hatchet in hand, scanning the southwestern Montana woods for her target. But as she digs the blade into a towering trunk, it finally hits me: the smell. There's no scent of pine needles, no sharp, minty note wafting through the brisk fall air.

Six hacks away hunks of bark until she reveals an inner layer riddled with wormy passageways. "Hey, looky!" she exclaims, poking at a small dark form. "Are you dead? Yeah, you're dead." She extends her hand, holding a tiny black oval, maybe a quarter of an inch long. Scientists often compare this insect to a grain of rice, but Six prefers mouse dropping: "Beetle in one hand, mouse turd in another. You can't tell them apart." She turns to the next few trees in search of more traces. Pill-size holes pock their ashen trunks—a sign, along with the missing pine scent, of a forest reeling from an invasion.

These tiny winged beetles have long been culling sickly trees in North American forests. But in recent years, they've been working overtime. Prolonged droughts and shorter winters have spurred bark beetles to kill billions of trees in what's likely the largest forest insect outbreak ever recorded, about 10 times the size of past eruptions. "A doubling would have been remarkable," Six says. "Ten times screams that something is really going wrong."

Mountain pine, spruce, piñon ips, and other kinds of bark beetles have chomped 46 million of the country's 850 million acres of forested land, from the Yukon down the spine of the Rocky Mountains all the way to Mexico. Yellowstone's grizzly bears have run out of pinecones to eat because of the beetles. Skiers and backpackers have watched their brushy green playgrounds fade as trees fall down, sometimes at a rate of 100,000 trunks a day. Real estate agents have seen home prices plummet from "view shed contamination" in areas ransacked by the bugs. And the devastation isn't likely to let up anytime soon. As climate change warms the North American woods, we can expect these bugs to continue to proliferate and thrive in higher elevations—meaning more beetles in the coming century, preying on bigger chunks of the country.


From 2000 to 2014, bark beetles destroyed large swaths of forests in the American West—and they're not done yet.


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Problem solved.

In hopes of staving off complete catastrophe, the United States Forest Service, which oversees 80 percent of the country's woodlands, has launched a beetle offensive, chopping down trees to prevent future infestations. The USFS believes this strategy reduces trees' competition for resources, allowing the few that remain to better resist invading bugs. This theory just so happens to also benefit loggers, who are more than willing to help thin the forests. Politicians, too, have jumped on board, often on behalf of the timber industry: More than 50 bills introduced since 2001 in Congress proposed increasing timber harvests in part to help deal with beetle outbreaks.

But Six believes that the blitz on the bugs could backfire in a big way. For starters, she says, cutting trees "quite often removes more trees than the beetles would"—effectively outbeetling the beetles. But more importantly, intriguing evidence suggests that the bugs might be on the forest's side. Six and other scientists are beginning to wonder: What if the insects that have wrought this devastation actually know more than we do about adapting to a changing climate?


An adult mountain pine beetle lays her eggs under the bark. On her way, she disperses fungi that turn the trees' tissue into food for her babies, eventually killing the tree.

THOUGH THEY'RE OFTEN described as pesky invaders, bark beetles have been a key part of conifer ecosystems for ages, ensuring that groves don't get overcrowded. When a female mountain pine beetle locates a frail tree, she emits a chemical signal to her friends, who swarm to her by the hundreds. Together they chew through the bark until they reach the phloem, a cushy resinous layer between the outer bark and the sapwood that carries sugars through the tree. There, they lay their eggs in tunnels, and eventually a new generation of beetles hatches, grows up, and flies away. But before they do, the mature beetles also spread a special fungus in the center of the trunk. And that's where things get really interesting.

Six focuses on the "evolutionary marriage" of beetle and fungi at her four-person lab at the University of Montana, where she is the chair of the department of ecosystems and conservation sciences. Structures in bark beetles' mouths have evolved to carry certain types of fungi that convert the tree's tissue into nutrients for the bug. The fungi have "figured out how to hail the beetle that will get them to the center of the tree," Six says. "It's like getting a taxi." The fungi leave blue-gray streaks in the trees they kill; "blue-stain pine" has become a specialty product, used to make everything from cabins to coffins to iPod cases.

A healthy tree can usually beat back invading beetles by deploying chemical defenses and flooding them out with sticky resin. But just as dehydration makes humans weaker, heat and drought impede a tree's ability to fight back—less water means less resin. In some areas of the Rocky Mountain West, the mid-2000s was the driest, hottest stretch in 800 years. From 2000 to 2012, bark beetles killed enough trees to cover the entire state of Colorado. "Insects reflect their environment," explains renowned entomologist Ken Raffa—they serve as a barometer of vast changes taking place in an ecosystem.

Typically, beetle swells subside when they either run out of trees or when long, cold winters freeze them off (though some larvae typically survive, since they produce antifreeze that can keep them safe down to 30 below). But in warm weather the bugs thrive. In 2008, a team of biologists at the University of Colorado observed pine beetles flying and attacking trees in June, a month earlier than previously recorded. With warmer springs, the beetle flight season had doubled, meaning they could mature and lay eggs—and then their babies could mature and lay eggs—all within one summer.

That's not the only big change. Even as the mountain pine beetles run out of lodgepole pines to devour in the United States, in 2011 the insects made their first jump into a new species of tree, the jack pine, in Alberta. "Those trees don't have evolved defenses," Six says, "and they're not fighting back." The ability to invade a new species means the insects could begin a trek east across Canada's boreal forest, then head south into the jack, red, and white pines of Minnesota and the Great Lakes region, and on to the woods of the East Coast. Similarly, last year, the reddish-black spruce beetle infested five times as many acres in Colorado as it did in 2009. And in the last decade, scientists spotted the southern pine beetle north of the Mason-Dixon Line for the first time on record, in New Jersey and later Long Island. As investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk put it in his 2011 book on the outbreaks Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America's Great Forests, we now belong to the "empire of the beetle."


But Six has a different way of looking at the trees' plight: as a battle for survival, with the army of beetles as a helper. She found compelling evidence of this after stumbling across the work of Forest Service researcher Constance Millar, with whom she had crossed paths at beetle conferences.

Millar was comparing tree core measurements of limber pines, a slight species found in the eastern Sierras of California that can live to be 1,000 years old. After mountain pine beetles ravaged one of her study sites in the late 1980s, certain trees survived. They were all around the same size and age as the surrounding trees that the beetles tore through, so Millar looked closer at tree ring records and began to suspect that, though they looked identical on the outside, the stand in fact had contained two genetically distinct groups of trees. One group had fared well during the 1800s, when the globe was still in the Little Ice Age and average temperatures were cooler. But this group weakened during the warmer 1900s, and grew more slowly as a result. Meanwhile, the second group seemed better suited for the warmer climate, and started to grow faster.

When beetle populations exploded in the 1980s, this second group mounted a much more successful battle against the bugs. After surviving the epidemic, this group of trees "ratcheted forward rapidly," Millar explains. When an outbreak flared up in the mid-2000s, the bugs failed to infiltrate any of the survivor trees in the stand. The beetles had helped pare down the trees that had adapted to the Little Ice Age, leaving behind the ones better suited to hotter weather. Millar found similar patterns in whitebark pines and thinks it's possible that this type of beetle-assisted natural selection is going on in different types of trees all over the country.

When Six read Millar's studies, she was floored. Was it possible, she wondered, that we've been going about beetle management all wrong? "It just hit me," she says. "There is something amazing happening here."

map tree damage

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Last year, Six and Eric Biber, a University of California-Berkeley law professor, published a provocative review paper in the journal Forests that challenged the Forest Service's beetle-busting strategies. After scrutinizing every study about beetle control that they could get their hands on, they concluded that "even after millions of dollars and massive efforts, suppression...has never effectively been achieved, and, at best, the rate of mortality of trees was reduced only marginally."

Six points to a stand of lodgepoles in the University of Montana's Lubrecht Experimental Forest. In the early 2000s, school foresters preened the trees, spacing them out at even distances, and hung signs to note how this would prevent beetle outbreaks. This "prethinned" block was "the pride and joy of the experimental forest," Six remembers. But that stand was the first to get hit by encroaching pine beetles, which took out every last tree. She approached the university forest managers. "I said, 'Boy, you need to document that,'" Six says. "They didn't. They just cut it down. Now there's just a field of stumps."

Six and Biber's paper came as a direct affront to some Forest Service researchers, one of whom told me that he believes changing forest structure through thinning is the only long-term solution to the beetle problem. Politicians tend to agree—and beetle suppression sometimes serves as a convenient excuse: "It is perhaps no accident that the beetle treatments most aggressively pushed for in the political landscape allow for logging activities that provide revenue and jobs for the commercial timber industry," Six and Biber wrote in the Forests review.

Take the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, proposed in 2013 by then-Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and championed by then-Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). The bill sought to designate "Revenue Areas" in every national forest where, to help address insect infestations, loggers would be required to clear a certain number of trees every year. Loggers could gain access to roadless areas, wilderness study areas, and other conservation sites, and once designated, their acreage could never be reduced. The zones would also be excluded from the standard environmental-review process.

Six and other scientists vehemently opposed these massive timber harvests—as did environmental advocates like the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife, the latter warning that the harvests would take logging to "to unprecedented and unstable levels." The bill passed the House but died in the Senate last year. But Daines, now a senator and one of 2014's top 10 recipients of timber money, vows to renew the effort so as to "revitalize Montana's timber industry" and "protect the environment for future generations."

This summer, Six plans to start examining the genes of "supertrees"—those that survive beetle onslaughts—in stands of whitebarks in Montana's Big Hole Valley. Her findings could help inform a new kind of forest management guided by a deeper understanding of tree genes—one that beetles have had for millennia.

If we pay close enough attention, someday we may be able to learn how to think like they do. University of California-Davis plant sciences professor David Neale champions a new discipline called "landscape genomics." At his lab in Davis, Neale operates a machine that grinds up a tree's needles and spits out its DNA code. This technology is already being used for fruit tree breeding and planting, but Neale says it could one day be used in wild forests. "As a person, you can take your DNA and have it analyzed, and they can tell you your relative risk to some disease," Neale says. "I'm proposing to do the same thing with a tree: I can estimate the relative risk to a change in temperature, change in moisture, introduction to a pathogen."

Right now, foresters prune woodlands based on the size of trees' trunks and density of their stands. If we knew more about trees' genetic differences, Neale says, "maybe we would thin the ones that have the highest relative risks." This application is still years off, but Neale has already assembled a group of Forest Service officials who want to learn more about landscape genomics.

Six, meanwhile, places her faith in the beetles. Whereas traditional foresters worry that failing to step in now could destroy America's forests, Six points to nature's resilience. Asked at TEDx how she wants to change the world, she responded, "I don't want to change the world. We have changed the world to a point that it is barely recognizable. I think it's time to stop thinking change and try to hold on to what beauty and function remains."

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