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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Gay teens jumped by 20 kids, 'not a hate crime' say police, victims will be charged

Homophobic slurs shouted during a fight at an Atlanta high school that wounded at least one gay student with a screwdriver, will not merit a hate or bias investigation, according to authorities. At least 100 students watched "a fight amongst kids" during an April 20 scuffle outside Carver High School, as described by Atlanta Police Department, despite a 16-year-old victim's claims that the attack was premeditated because of his sexual orientation.

"They don't like us cause we're gay," victim Timothy Jefferson told WXIA—TV, showing off a gash on the right side of his face where one attacker allegedly sliced him with a screwdriver. A parent drove Jefferson and a second victim, 17-year-old Zy'derryo Brown, to the hospital. Brown had a bloody mouth and loose teeth after being kicked in the head, a police report states.

"They beating them f-----s," and "gay a-- n----r" are just some of the profanity-laced insults witnesses say they heard batted around the fight. Both Jefferson and a second victim came out as gay in 2013.

A police report filed on Tuesday initially described the assault as two friends being jumped by a mob of 20 teens "because they were gay," though police spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy said that's no longer the case, citing surveillance footage.

She does not dispute his injuries, but rather the fight's motive after the report funneled through the department's LGBT liaison.

"He may tell a different story, but for our investigation, it's not going to be classified as a bias (or hate) crime," Espy told the Daily News.

Brown will be charged with disorderly conduct while the three other teens will face charges of affray.

Jefferson also claimed he and his mother, Sabrina Giles, warned Carver High School administration of the fight, but were ignored, a claim that Atlanta Public Schools spokeswoman Kimberly Willis Green would not verify to the Daily News pending the district's investigation.

Earthquake, Avalanche, 18 Dead on Everest, Over 1,400 in Nepal

© BigStock
Mount Everest

An earthquake measuring 7.8 in magnitude rocked Nepal today—killing over 1,400 people—and triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest that has left at least 18 climbers dead at the South Base Camp and an unknown number missing or trapped.

With the climbing season in full swing, 700 climbers are in the region and over 300 are on the mountain itself, according to the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

"The avalanche apparently happened between the Khumbu Icefall and base camp," Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association reported to

posted on Facebook: "A huge avalanche off Pumori covered many tents in base camp. Many of our friends in base camp have been seriously injured and killed. With the help of nearly every able bodied friend in base camp, we moved our clinic to the IMG camp where we are caring for patients. We very limited communications at the moment. Pray for Nepal, friends. Namaste."

Carsten Lillelund Pedersen, a 45-year-old from Denmark who was in base camp at the time of the avalanche, told NBC News that he hid behind a rock until the avalanche had passed. He reports that his group has constructed a makeshift hospital in their base camp dining tent to treat the injured.

"We are treating casualties—like smaller fractures to the head, shoulder injuries, etc," he said to NBC via a Facebook interview.

Climbers in Camp 1, above the Khumbu Icefall, report being safe, as well as all teams on Annapurna, known for avalanches and closer to the center of the earthquake.

The epicenter struck between Kathmandu and Pokhara, according to the US Geological Survery. A number of historical buildings, including Kathmandu's landmark Dharahara tower and other Unesco world heritage sites, were destroyed.

It is the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in 81 years.

[embedded content]


#everest #earthquake Update: US female mountaineer Melissa Arnot and her team are safe on south side

— Ivan Braun (@ivanbraun) April 25, 2015

#Everest base camp has hit extremely hard, 18 bodies recovered many missing and injured. Climbers need heli evacuation. #NepalQuake

— Northmen PK (@NorthmenPK) April 25, 2015

#Everest rescue operation is on hold, as per reports 6 helicopters are holding in Lukla to launch rescue mission. #NepalQuake

— Northmen PK (@NorthmenPK) April 25, 2015

Two earthquakes rattle Canadian west coast and B.C. Interior

© The Canadian Press
A 6.1 magnitude earthquake has struck British Columbia's north coast. The quake, 167 km southeast of the Village of Queen Charlotte, was felt from Haida Gwaii and along the north coast. There have been no reports of damage or injuries.

Two earthquakes rattled British Columbia late Thursday and early Friday morning, but they didn't cause any damage.

The first quake, which measured 4.2 ML, struck just south of the border in Idaho around 10:43 p.m PT Thursday. It was felt in the Kootenay communities of Castlegar and Creston.

It was one of three small quakes in the area since Thursday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The second quake, which was measured as 6.1 ML by Earthquakes Canada (M6.2 by the USGS) struck in the ocean just off the southern tip of Haida Gwaii at 6:56 a.m. PT Friday.

The quake was felt on Haida Gwaii and along the North Coast, but there was no damage reported and no tsunami warning was issued.

The Haida Gwaii earthquake was near the junction of three of the earth's tectonic plates, where earthquakes are common. As recently as Tuesday, a 3.6 ML earthquake was reported in the same region.

Magnitude 6.3 earthquake rocks New Zealand

© Unknown
Map of New Zealand with a Kaikoura locator.

A strong 5.9-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand on Friday, seismologists said, panicking shoppers and residents but causing no major damage.

The quake hit at 3:36 pm (0336 GMT) with its epicentre about 66 kilometres (41 miles) from the South Island town of Kaikoura at a depth of 55 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

The local GeoNet monitoring service measured the quake at 6.2 and said it was felt across the entire country, but was unlikely to cause damage because it was so deep.

"I am advised that MCDEM (emergency management) hasn't received any reports of major injuries or damage," Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye said.

However, there were widespread outages on landline and mobile networks, while some rail services were briefly suspended as tracks were inspected for damage.

Kaikoura District Council chief executive Stuart Grant told TVNZ the quake felt like two tremors in quick succession, describing the second as a "big jolt".

He said the council building was evacuated as a precaution but appeared undamaged.

The manager of Kaikoura's Mitre 10 hardware store James Hills said the quake dislodged items from shelves and sent panicked customers fleeing from the building.

"(There was a) fair bit of panic... everything was falling off the shelves," he said.

"There's been a little bit of damage, certainly not heaps, but yeah, there's a lot of stuff fallen over."

Local resident Caleb McNabb said on Twitter that buildings "swayed" in Kaikoura's main street, while Wellington's Mandy Simpson tweeted "that was a long, horrid shake".

The quake struck in the same region as a 4.7 tremor on Thursday that jolted office buildings in Wellington.

There were also two 6.5-magnitude quakes around the same area in July and August 2013. GeoNet data manager Kevin Fenaughty said it was unclear if there was a direct relationship.

"We cannot be certain that it hasn't been triggered by stresses from all those quakes over time," he said.

A devastating tremor hit the South Island city of Christchurch in February 2011, killing 185 people.

New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the "Ring of Fire", and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.

US Military performing drills in public, army manual states need to 'reeducate dissidents on US soil'


© Reuters / James Lawler Duggan
Rick Scott of security contractor Camber Corp impersonates a hostile shooter during a training exercise at Quantico Middle High School in Quantico, Virginia

S Army field manuals admit that public drills are aimed at dealing with political dissidents that need to be "reeducated to gain a new appreciation of US policies," Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars Editor at Large told RT's In the Now.

RT: The police in the US are accused more than ever now of militarization. A video has appeared online showing armed national guardsmen conducting exercises near a children's playground in Virginia. We contacted the infantry brigade - here's what they told us: coordination was made with the Staunton Police Department, these are freshers who are training on basic military subjects like drill and ceremonies, basic first aid, military courtesies and the guns they carry are replicas. What is wrong with it?

Paul Joseph Watson: What is wrong with that is the fact that they are doing it not on base but in public. And we have to put this in the context of a spate of videos which have emerged in the recent weeks with not only National Guard but US Army troops in some cases working with police conducting these public drills which in some cases, not in this case but others, are based around crowd control and civil unrest. And the line they always give us that it's designed for overseas combat, foreign operations. But if you then read the US Army's actual manuals that they release, it's clear that it's for dual purpose, it's for "dissidents" on US soil. So the media regurgitate this claim that all these drills are just foreign operations. Yet they are doing it in public, in plain sight, while privately in their own field manuals admitting that it's to take on "dissidents within the continental US." That's why people are concerned about it and a lot of our audience is National Guard or former or current US military. They are concerned about these public drills. They didn't enlist to police the US people which is a lot of this seems to be geared towards.

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RT: Why are we seeing such a rise in the methods riot police are using? How do you secure any kind of security in this state without these kinds of institutions to keep the peace so to say?

PJW: Keeping the peace is one thing, but when they identify, for example CNN reported a few days ago... demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri are called "enemy forces". No matter what you think about the motive behind those demonstrations - that's of concern. When they identify people in New Hampshire, occupy activists, libertarians, 'free staters' as domestic threats and that's why they are buying the armored vehicles and that's why people are concerned. The police chief in New Hampshire said "We need to buy these armored vehicles to deal with domestic political activists," not with genuine security threats, but with protestors and demonstrators. So that's why this has caused such concern.


© Reuters/Adrees Latif
National Guard troops stand at a staging area located at a shopping center parking lot in Ferguson, Missouri

RT: But in Ferguson, Missouri we saw not just rioting, but looting and setting buildings on fire. How can it be dealt with without the National Guard involved?

PJW: I'm not against the National Guard providing security but you have to read their own manuals. For example Civil Disturbance Operations - this is US Army manual - which states that they will take on and "reeducate dissidents on US soil domestically," as part of their wider training agenda for these civil disturbance operations. So this is not about dealing with violent threats, in their own manuals they say its political dissidents that need "to be reeducated to gain a new appreciation of US policies." So this is clearly politically geared towards dealing with protestors both on the left and on the right, occupy activists as well as tea parties. And they admit that in their own manuals. So again this is not about just dealing with violent protest - nobody would be against that. It's about political targeting of demonstrators.

RT: Why are we seeing such a rise in targeting of the so-called dissident in the United States? Is it the fear that the protests will worsen somehow?

PJW: That's definitely the fear, that's why they are buying all these bullets, as well as buying riot gear. The economist Robert Johnson at the Davos economic forum back in January said that the elite buying these secret hideaways in these remote places like New Zealand because they are expecting more events like Ferguson, Missouri because of the lack of faith in the political system, the lack of credence in the political system and wealth inequality. So they expect civil unrest in the US. That doesn't mean they are about to impose martial law it just means they are preparing for it because of these factors- wealth inequality and a complete collapse in a faith in the political system - being prime amongst them.

RT: How much of accountability is there with these forces?

PJW: The positive thing about this is they handed it out surveys to US troops National Guard in the past stretching back ten years or more where they asked them "in an event of a national emergency will you fire on US citizens, in the event of mass confiscation program will you fire on US citizens?" And the vast majority of the US Army and National Guard have always said "no." So that gives us hope if they are commanded to follow these orders they will refuse to do so. And again a lot of these videos are forwarded to us by our own listeners who are ex-military and even current military. So it shows that they don't support in many cases what they are being ordered to do in terms of this potential domestic repression.

Found in 14th century manuscript, Yoda was

© British Library

In most versions of the Biblical story of Sampson, the ancient Israelite gained incredible strength through his hair, but if a 14th century image currently making the rounds on the Web is accurate, he might have also had some help from a certain Jedi master.

It's hard to deny that this illustration of a monk bears a striking resemblance to the popular character Yoda, as Mashable pointed out on Thursday. Yoda was spotted in the Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma (also known as the Smithfield Decretals) by historian Damien Kempf while he was researching for his book .

According to the website, Kempf said during a recent interview that he "actually couldn't believe it" when he spotted the Yoda-like monk in a 700-year-old manuscript. Julian Harrison, curator of pre-1600 historical manuscripts at the British Library, told NPR that the artist who illustrated the manuscript "clearly had a vivid imagination."

© Lucasfilm/Disney

14th century depictions of Star Wars characters and beyond

NPR went on to explain that the Smithfield Decretals were created in southern France between 1300 and 1340, and were a collection of papal letters combining doctrine and decrees on church law.

The image was also highlighted recently, along with several other odd images, by historians Damien Kempf and Maria L. Gilbert on the Library's Medieval Manuscripts blog.

Among the other creatures featured in pictures on the blog were a big-eared race known at the Panotii that somewhat resemble the Ferengi race from , a half-woman, half-bird hybrid, and an apocalyptic beast with six heads and ten horns. The Library started posting these pictures on the Internet back in 2010, Harrison said in an interview with

When the blog was first launched, he said it was "a niche thing for a niche audience," but now, the Library uses it "to promote what we do. One popular post explains why we don't wear white gloves to handle manuscripts, but we also try to cater for a non-academic readership."

"Our most popular post is Knight v. Snail that looks at why images of armed knights fighting snails are common in illuminated manuscripts," Harrison continued, adding that the blog now has "an incredibly international readership," and draws more than 36,000 readers per day. Not bad, when you consider they started off with a modest two visitors per day, but not surprising.

After all, who can pass up a blog that features Yoda in a 14th century manuscript? Not us!

Rare waterspout seen off the coast of Nanaimo, Canada


© Denys Carrier.
Photo of the Nanaimo waterspout.

If you were in Nanaimo on Thursday and saw what looked like a water tornado, you weren't dreaming.

A waterspout watch was issued by Environment Canada yesterday at 5 p.m after one was spotted a few kilometers off the city's coast.

They form in much the same way as land tornadoes, created from air and water mist moving upward from an ocean or lake. Global BC meteorologist Kristi Gordon says a strong storm that moved down the Strait of Georgia on Thursday created the conditions necessary for this one.

While waterspouts can happen on B.C.'s waters, they are rare - this was just the second on the Georgia Strait this year.

Meteor lights up sky over Kerala, India

© english.manoramaonline.com
Sky lights up again in Trippunithura, meteor suspected.

Trippunithura: Fireballs were seen in the evening sky here on Friday, reminding one of a similar incident some time ago. During heavy showers in the evening, the fireball was seen around 9.30 pm.

The fireball was associated with bright light and it seemed to move from the east to the west at a low altitude. The phenomenon lasted only for a few seconds. Unlike in the earlier instance, the fire ball was not accompanied by any sound.

Scientific observer Dr Rajagopal Kammath opined that this could have been a meteor and that there is no room for concern. He said that this is the time of the year when meteors called Lyrids drop to the surface of the earth. They travel from east to west and up to 20 have been cited in an hour at various places. He said that they would be more visible after midnight.

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.6 - 49km E of Lamjung, Nepal

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Atypical animal behaviour: White rhino battles with elephants in territorial row in South Africa


© The Luxury Safari Company/Sanctuary Retreats

White rhino are unlikely to take on a group of elephants, making Sergeant's defensive behaviour unusual.


The peace of a morning game drive in South Africa was broken this week when a disgruntled male white rhino saw his territory invaded by a herd of breeding elephants.

Sergeant, a proud white rhino, confronted the large mammals as they made their way across the floodplain, watched by safari guests.

While black rhinos are known to show aggression, white rhinos are normally passive, making Sergeant's decision to take on the group highly unusual.

The elephants kicked up dust, blew their trumpets and charged at him in an attempt to stand their ground while protecting their young calf.


Sergeant, however, refused to budge, defending his patch against the intruders.

Elephants are the only land mammals larger than white rhinos, whose male sex can weigh up to 2,000 - 2,300 kg (4,400 - 5,100 lb). Even black rhinos would be unlikely to take on a group of elephants, making Sergeant's actions even more atypical.


The elephants made their retreat into the reserve, which cannot be named, amid recent concerns that geotagging on mobile devices leaves a digital footprint that can help poachers track down rare animals.

According to statistics from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, 1,215 more rhinos were poached in 2014 - more than double the 2011 figure of 448.

Sergeant has been involved in stand-offs before. The Luxury Safari Company and Sanctuary Retreats, which captured the images, said he earned his name after a previous fight with another rhino bull, which left him with a large cut on his ear.

Rose Hipwood, founder of company, said: "To watch elephants and rhino do anything is amazing due to their extremely endangered status, but to see this stand off and feel the soil vibrate under the car is the stuff of dreams."


Turkish Airlines plane makes emergency landing in Istanbul after engine fire

© ‏@airlivenet
Turkish Airlines #TK1878 with an engine on fire at Ataturk International Airport

A plane travelling to Milan has made an emergency landing after one of its engines caught fire

A Turkish Airlines plane returning from Milan made an emergency landing in Istanbul on Saturday after one of its engines caught fire.

Footage on NTV television showed smoke and flames coming from plane's right engine as firefighters rushed to meet the Airbus 320 as it touched down.

It was the latest in a string of such incidents in recent weeks that have forced Turkey's national flag-carrier to make emergency landings or divert flights.

"All 97 passengers have been taken to the terminal with no health issues. The reason for the incident will become clear after the investigation," Turkish Airlines spokesman Ali Genc wrote on Twitter.

It was not clear whether the plane had caught fire as it landed or mid-air.

The NTV broadcast conversations between the control tower and the plane revealing that the pilot remained calm throughout the emergency.

© @airlivenet
The Turkish Airlines A320 landed safely at Ataturk Airport


Ataturk International Airport, the country's main hub, was temporarily closed due to the incident and planes were diverted to Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the Asian side of the city.

Dogan news agency said the same plane's cockpit window had shattered on Thursday during a flight from the German city of Frankfurt to Istanbul and the plane was given permission to fly out after the window was changed.

Earlier this month a Turkish Airlines passenger jet flying from the German city of Duesseldorf to Istanbul was forced to make an emergency landing in Nuremberg after a crack was discovered in the cockpit window.


Coup in a small town: Missouri cops block newly elected mayor from taking office

© AP
April 23, 2015: Kinloch city attorney James Robinson, left, asks Kinloch Mayor-elect Betty McCray if he can show the impeachment papers to the media at the Kinloch City Hall, in Kinloch, Mo

On April 7th, Betty McCray was elected mayor of the town of Kinloch, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. However, after she was sworn in earlier this week, she headed toward city hall to start her term, when she was stopped by nearly two dozen police officers in front of the building (I should add that there are over 50 members of the police department for this town of 300 residents). They claimed that she had been suspended and served impeachment papers for voter fraud.

If all you read was the local mainstream news, you'd think this was a cut-and-dried case. It wouldn't be hard to believe either. Political corruption isn't exactly unheard of in America.

But in reality, there are a few holes in this story.

Countercurrent news reported on this strange situation last night.

Political opponents met her at the door and wrongly told her that she had been "impeached" before even taking the job. But that's simply not true.

Mayor McCray has not been impeached and she won the April 7th election. But police were there in what seems to be a small town coup of sorts, enforcing an illegal bar on the newly-elected mayor and preventing her from taking office.

"I won. The people spoke," McCray explained. "I was sworn in by the St. Louis County. Today I take office. I want them out, I want the keys."

Local Fox 2 reports that "after election results were certified earlier this week by the St. Louis County Board of Elections, Kinloch's outgoing administration refused to allow the city clerk to give McCray the oath of office, claiming voter fraud."

But in spite of these claims, there has been no evidence whatsoever to back it up.

McCray was elected. The St. Louis County Board of Elections certified the results. But the police are enforcing an illegal "coup" of sorts.

"Coup" sounds about right. The city attorney claimed that she had been sent the articles of impeachment in the mail, but she says that isn't true. She was later sworn in by the St. Louis City Clerk, but the city attorney and the incumbent administration don't seem to recognize it. Either way, according to Missouri state law, impeachment hearings cannot be held until thirty days after those papers are delivered. It's hardly been three weeks since she was elected. Even if she did commit voter fraud and they could prove it, they don't have the authority to keep her from starting her term.

Something very strange is going on here. Either the incumbent administration is using police force to maintain their office, or she did in fact commit voter fraud, and the city government doesn't care about following proper legal procedure. Neither of those possibilities bode well for the future political landscape of America.

NASA plans to use spy telescopes in dark-energy mission - report

Two former spy telescopes are now being scrutinized by NASA for use in a new scientific space mission, which would study mysterious dark energy, according to a senior official involved in the project.

The satellites given to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office intelligence agency, could be used in a project named WFIRST-AFTA (the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets). The launch date is planned for around a year 2024, a report by Space.com says.

The aims of the WFIRST-AFTA project are reportedly ranging from studying dark energy, which is thought to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, to a search for exoplanets (planets that orbit a star other than the sun).

The two former spy telescopes considered for use in this mission have the same resolution as NASA’s famous Hubble Space Telescope, but a field view, which is 200 times wider.

We are going to use these telescopes as they are and we do not have to make modifications, but we do have to resurface the mirror, as it's been sitting in storage, and we also need to design a spacecraft and the instruments to take advantage of their properties,” Paul Hertz, NASA's astrophysics chief, told Space.com.

If the program is approved, one telescope will be used for space observations and the other will be an engineering test bed on the ground for some time and then will be freed for other uses, Hertz added.

So far, the NASA scientists have been addressing the issue of the first telescope’s space location. They are debating whether it should it be closer to Earth so it can send the data to the researchers more quickly, or farther away, so the telescope can get a broader view without being blocked by planet Earth.

These alternatives suggest placing the telescope either in an orbit a few thousand miles from Earth or at a stable gravitational point Earth-sun L2 around 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from our planet.

Giving an exact start date to the WFIRST-AFTA mission could prove tricky, as it will take a lot of time and effort in order for the project to come to fruition.

In mid-March, WFIRST-AFTA's team presented an overview of the proposed space mission. However, it still has to overcome a number of reviews if it will ever see the light of day. Firstly, it has to get approval from NASA's astrophysics division. Then it needs to get the green light from NASA’s budgetary and request program. If all goes to plan it will be sent to the White House in time for the 2017 budget and finally Congress must approve it.

Should the project be financed, the selection of the contractors will take roughly four more years.

In addition, the total cost of WFIRST-AFTA is not yet known and NASA has already come under fire for cost overruns on its programs. “So we don't want to be surprised, and we don't want to underestimate that cost and give people a false impression," Hertz commented on the financial aspect of the project.

NASA received the two telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in 2012. They were originally intended for the ‘Future Imaginary Architecture’ program, aimed at creating a new generation of reconnaissance satellites for US intelligence.

However, it was later canceled and labeled “the most spectacular and expensive failure in the 50-year history of American spy satellite projects” by the New York Times.

According to David Spergel, co-chair for WFIRST-AFTA's science-definition team, the NRO’s donation of the two telescopes came as a surprise. The telescopes are still in storage with a contractor awaiting NASA’s decision about what to do with them.

Two brothers injured by bears in India


Bear print

Two persons were allegedly attacked by bears in the foothills of Poigai Malai in Aralvoimozhi on Thursday morning. S. Seelan (34) and his brother S. Jegan (32) were on a visit to their agricultural land along with their father Selvaraj when they noticed the bears in close proximity. Even as they tried to run to safety, Seelan sustained injuries in the attack by the bears and Jegan escaped with minor injuries. Their father escaped unhurt.

The brothers were admitted to a private hospital and Seelan was later shifted to Kanyakumari Government Medical College Hospital, where his condition is said to be stable. When contacted, District Forest Officer Vismiju Viswanathan said he was yet to receive any information on the bear attack.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will usher in the death of the republic

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government. — Article IV, Section 4, US Constitution

© wilderutopia.com

A republican form of government is one in which power resides in elected officials representing the citizens, and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law.

In , James Madison defined a republic as "a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people . . . ."

On April 22, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that would override our republican form of government and hand judicial and legislative authority to a foreign three-person panel of corporate lawyers.

The secretive TPP is an agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other countries that affects 40% of global markets. Fast-track authority could now go to the full Senate for a vote as early as next week. Fast-track means Congress will be prohibited from amending the trade deal, which will be put to a simple up or down majority vote. Negotiating the TPP in secret and fast-tracking it through Congress is considered necessary to secure its passage, since if the public had time to review its onerous provisions, opposition would mount and defeat it.

Abdicating the Judicial Function to Corporate Lawyers

James Madison wrote in :

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. . . . "Were the power of judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for would then be . . . ."

And that, from what we now know of the TPP's secret provisions, will be its dire effect.

The most controversial provision of the TPP is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) section, which strengthens existing ISDS procedures. ISDS first appeared in a bilateral trade agreement in 1959. According to , ISDS gives foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever the government passes a law to do things that hurt corporate profits — such things as discouraging smoking, protecting the environment or preventing a nuclear catastrophe.

Arbitrators are paid $600-700 an hour, giving them little incentive to dismiss cases; and the secretive nature of the arbitration process and the lack of any requirement to consider precedent gives wide scope for creative judgments.

To date, the highest ISDS award has been for $2.3 billion to Occidental Oil Company against the government of Ecuador over its termination of an oil-concession contract, this although the termination was apparently legal. Still in arbitration is a demand by Vattenfall, a Swedish utility that operates two nuclear plants in Germany, for compensation of €3.7 billion ($4.7 billion) under the ISDS clause of a treaty on energy investments, after the German government decided to shut down its nuclear power industry following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

Under the TPP, however, even larger judgments can be anticipated, since the sort of "investment" it protects includes not just "the commitment of capital or other resources" but "the expectation of gain or profit." That means the rights of corporations in other countries extend not just to their factories and other "capital" but to the profits they expect to receive there.

In an article posted by Yves Smith, Joe Firestone poses some interesting hypotheticals:

Under the TPP, could the US government be sued and be held liable if it decided to stop issuing Treasury debt and financed deficit spending in some other way (perhaps by quantitative easing or by issuing trillion dollar coins)? Why not, since some private companies would lose profits as a result?

Under the TPP or the TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership under negotiation with the European Union), would the Federal Reserve be sued if it failed to bail out banks that were too big to fail?

Firestone notes that under the Netherlands-Czech trade agreement, the Czech Republic was sued in an investor-state dispute for failing to bail out an insolvent bank in which the complainant had an interest. The investor company was awarded $236 million in the dispute settlement. What might the damages be, asks Firestone, if the Fed decided to let the Bank of America fail, and a Saudi-based investment company decided to sue?

Abdicating the Legislative Function to Multinational Corporations

Just the threat of this sort of massive damage award could be enough to block prospective legislation. But the TPP goes further and takes on the legislative function directly, by forbidding specific forms of regulation.

Public Citizen observes that the TPP would provide big banks with a backdoor means of watering down efforts to re-regulate Wall Street, after deregulation triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression:

The TPP would forbid countries from banning particularly risky financial products, such as the toxic derivatives that led to the $183 billion government bailout of AIG. It would prohibit policies to prevent banks from becoming "too big to fail," and threaten the use of "firewalls" to prevent banks that keep our savings accounts from taking hedge-fund-style bets.

The TPP would also restrict capital controls, an essential policy tool to counter destabilizing flows of speculative money. . . . And the deal would prohibit taxes on Wall Street speculation, such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax that would generate billions of dollars' worth of revenue for social, health, or environmental causes.

Clauses on dispute settlement in earlier free trade agreements have been invoked to challenge efforts to regulate big business. The fossil fuel industry is seeking to overturn Quebec's ban on the ecologically destructive practice of fracking. Veolia, the French behemoth known for building a tram network to serve Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, is contesting increases in Egypt's minimum wage. The tobacco maker Philip Morris is suing against anti-smoking initiatives in Uruguay and Australia.

The TPP would empower not just foreign manufacturers but foreign financial firms to attack financial policies in foreign tribunals, demanding taxpayer compensation for regulations that they claim frustrate their expectations and inhibit their profits.

Preempting Government Sovereignty

What is the justification for this encroachment on the sovereign rights of government? Allegedly, ISDS is necessary in order to increase foreign investment. But as noted in , investors can protect themselves by purchasing political-risk insurance. Moreover, Brazil continues to receive sizable foreign investment despite its long-standing refusal to sign any treaty with an ISDS mechanism. Other countries are beginning to follow Brazil's lead.

In an April 22nd report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, gains from multilateral trade liberalization were shown to be very small, equal to only about 0.014% of consumption, or about $.43 per person per month. And that assumes that any benefits are distributed uniformly across the economic spectrum. In fact, transnational corporations get the bulk of the benefits, at the expense of most of the world's population.

Something else besides attracting investment money and encouraging foreign trade seems to be going on. The TPP would destroy our republican form of government under the rule of law, by elevating the rights of investors - also called the rights of "capital" - above the rights of the citizens.

That means that TPP is blatantly unconstitutional. But as Joe Firestone observes, neo-liberalism and corporate contributions seem to have blinded the deal's proponents so much that they cannot see they are selling out the sovereignty of the United States to foreign and multinational corporations.

Anticipating financial collapse? JP Morgan accumulating largest stockpile of silver in history

Why in the world has JP Morgan accumulated more than 55 million ounces of physical silver? Since early 2012, JP Morgan's stockpile has grown from less than 5 million ounces of physical silver to more than 55 million ounces of physical silver. Clearly, someone over at JP Morgan is convinced that physical silver is a great investment.

But in recent times, the price of silver has actually fallen quite a bit. As I write this, it is sitting at the ridiculously low price of $15.66 an ounce. So up to this point, JP Morgan's investment in silver has definitely not paid off. But it will pay off in a big way if we will soon be entering a time of great financial turmoil.

During a time of crisis, investors tend to flood into physical gold and silver. And as I mentioned just recently, JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon recently stated that "there will be another crisis" in a letter to shareholders...

Some things never change — there will be another crisis, and its impact will be felt by the financial market.

The trigger to the next crisis will not be the same as the trigger to the last one - but there will be another crisis. Triggering events could be geopolitical (the 1973 Middle East crisis), a recession where the Fed rapidly increases interest rates (the 1980-1982 recession), a commodities price collapse (oil in the late 1980s), the commercial real estate crisis (in the early 1990s), the Asian crisis (in 1997), so-called "bubbles" (the 2000 Internet bubble and the 2008 mortgage/housing bubble), etc. While the past crises had different roots (you could spend a lot of time arguing the degree to which geopolitical, economic or purely financial factors caused each crisis), they generally had a strong effect across the financial markets

And Dimon is apparently putting his money where his mouth is.

If Dimon believes that another great crisis is coming, then it would make logical sense to stockpile huge amounts of precious metals. And in particular, silver is a tremendous bargain for a variety of reasons. Personally, I like gold, but I absolutely love silver - especially at the price it is at right now.

Over the past few years, JP Morgan has been voraciously buying up physical silver. Nobody has ever seen anything quite like this ever before. In fact, JP Morgan has added more than 8 million ounces of physical silver during the past couple of weeks alone...

According to a detailed report from The Wealth Watchman JP Morgan Chase has been amassing a huge stockpile of physical silver, presumably in anticipation of a major liquidity event.

They're baaaaack. Yes, "old faithful" is back at it again!

Of course, they never really left silver, and have been rigging it non-stop in the futures market, but for awhile there, there were at least no admissions of newly-stacked silver being made in their Comex warehousing facilities.

Yet, after a 16 month period of "dormancy" within their Comex warehouse vaults, these guys have returned with a vengeance.

In fact, our old buddies at JP Morgan Chase, not only see value in silver here, but they're currently standing for delivery in their own house account in such strong numbers, that it commands our attention. Let me show you what I mean.

Here's a breakdown of the Comex's most recent silver deliveries to JP Morgan:

April 7th: 1,110,000 ounces
April 8th: 1,280,000 ounces
April 9th: 893,037 ounces
April 10th: 1,200,224 ounces
April 14th: 1,073,000 ounces
April 15th: 1,191,275 ounces
April 16th: 1,183,777.295 ounces

This is a huge bout of deliveries in such a short space of time. In fact, within the realm of Comex world, it's such an exceptionally large amount, that it even creates quite a spike on the long-term chart of JP Morgan's vault stockpile:

All in all, JP Morgan has added over 8.3 million ounces of additional silver in just the past 2 weeks alone.

The Wealth Watchman (via Steve Quayle and Realist News)

***** So why is JP Morgan doing this?

Do they know something that the rest of us do not?

Meanwhile, JP Morgan Chase has made another very curious move as well. It is being reported that the bank is "restricting the use of cash" in some markets, and has even gone so far as to "prohibit the storage of cash in safe deposit boxes"...

What is a surprise is how little notice the rollout of Chase's new policy has received. As of March, Chase began restricting the use of cash in selected markets, including Greater Cleveland. The new policy restricts borrowers from using cash to make payments on credit cards, mortgages, equity lines, and auto loans. Chase even goes as far as to prohibit the storage of cash in its safe deposit boxes . In a letter to its customers dated April 1, 2015 pertaining to its "Updated Safe Deposit Box Lease Agreement," one of the highlighted items reads: "You agree not to store any cash or coins other than those found to have a collectible value." Whether or not this pertains to gold and silver coins with no numismatic value is not explained.

What in the world is that all about?

Why is JP Morgan suddenly so negative about cash?

I think that there is a whole lot more going on behind the scenes than we are being told.

JP Morgan Chase is the largest of the six "too big to fail" banks in the United States. The total amount of assets that JP Morgan Chase controls is roughly equal to the GDP of the entire British economy. This is an institution that is immensely powerful and that has very deep ties to the U.S. government.

Could it be possible that JP Morgan Chase is anticipating another great economic crisis?

We are definitely due for one. Just consider the following chart from Zero Hedge. It postulates that our financial system is ready for another "7.5 year itch"...

JP Morgan certainly seems to be preparing for a worst-case scenario.

What about you?

Are you getting ready for what is coming?

Three earthquakes rattle Idaho with tremors felt from Washington state to Montana

Three earthquakes are felt in Idaho.

Three earthquakes up to magnitude-4.2 and nearly a half-dozen aftershocks jolted northern Idaho, with residents from Washington state to Montana saying they felt the tremors.

A Bonner County emergency dispatcher in Sandpoint said Friday morning that no injuries or damage were reported. The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-4.1 quake hit first, around 7:32 p.m. Thursday, centered 30 miles northeast of Hayden.

"It was crazy, the whole house was shaking," said Charity Hadley, 37, of Sagle, who was outside on her deck with her dog, Bella. "She was running around the yard and barking and looking around like, 'What is this?'"

She said nothing was damaged in the house during the quake that she estimated lasted several minutes.

A second quake of magnitude-4.2 struck a little more than three hours later, waking up Hadley and her dog. That quake was centered 38 miles northeast of Hayden. Then, a magnitude-3.3 temblor hit at 1:28 a.m. Friday in the same area.

Also Friday, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck British Columbia's north coast, but a tsunami was not expected and no injuries or damage were reported.

After the Idaho temblors, hundreds of people logged onto the Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information website to report feeling them.

Mike Stickney, senior research geologist at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology based in Butte, Montana, said four aftershocks of up to magnitude-2.5 occurred after the first quake and another small aftershock followed the second quake.

He said the shaking was almost certainly caused by a slip on a fault, though there are no known active faults in the area. However, there are many old faults—millions of years old that occurred with the formation of the Rocky Mountains—that likely caused the quakes, Stickney said.

The Lucky Friday Mine, a silver mine and one of the nation's deepest at about a mile, is about 60 miles from where the quakes struck, but they weren't felt there and work was going on as usual, said Mike Westerlund of Hecla Mining Co. A small earthquake closer to the mine in February briefly slowed production.

Stickney said he had no reason to believe the recent quakes might lead to something larger but had no guarantees.

"It's not one of the more seismically active regions in Idaho," he said. "But as this well-proves, nowhere in the state is immune from the possibility of earthquakes."

Losing the War on Drugs: Russian drug czar claims global drug market approaching scale of oil & gas industry

© Reuters / Ricardo Rojas

The dark underworld of drug trafficking will soon be bigger than the world's $3.7 trillion oil and gas market, and is already bigger than the global auto industry, the director of Russia's drug control agency said.

Viktor Ivanov said during a ministry meeting with BRICS countries to discuss the war on drugs.

Ivanov singled out Afghanistan and South America as major drug production hubs, noting that more than 80 percent of heroin is produced in Afghanistan and 100 percent of cocaine in South America, by his estimates.

said Ivanov.

Before, Ivanov estimated that underground drug dealers in the informal sector inject $1 trillion into the global financial system per annum. Many of these drug revenues end up being funneled to criminal organizations, and often terrorism.

Sales of autos in the US alone was $1.1 trillion in 2014. Revenues from the top 10 car retailers already surpassed $1 trillion in revenue, not even counting some of the smaller players like Kia, Chrysler, Renault or Mazda.The global oil and gas market in 2015 will see more than $4 trillion in revenue, according to IBIS World's Global Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Market Research Report released in March 2015.

It is difficult to precisely quantify the exact figure of the illegal drug market, as most transactions are kept off the books due to their illicit nature. The lack of data and assumptions that must be made allow for a large margin of error.

Putting a human face on homelessness

Sandy Sheller understands that, sometimes, the best counseling session might take place just waiting for the bus.

Sheller, the coordinator of mental health training for the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia, vividly remembers a client who was having trouble making it to a drug rehabilitation program. A caseworker informed Sheller that the woman, who was in her late 30s, was being "noncompliant" by refusing to go to the rehab program, which was a requirement for her to stay in the shelter.

Instead of lecturing the woman, demanding an explanation or jumping to conclusions, Sheller asked the client to talk about her situation. The key, Sheller says, was asking in an empathetic, nonjudgmental way. "I wasn't trying to make her do anything, and she knew that," says Sheller, who worked as an art and family therapist in an inner-city Salvation Army family shelter for about five years before becoming a coordinator a year ago.

The client explained that the rehabilitation program had changed locations, meaning she now had to take multiple buses to get there. Waiting for the first bus, the client had experienced panic attacks that prevented her from making it to the rehab program. Eventually, Sheller says, she and the client worked on the triggers and history that fed into the woman's panic attacks, but first they took it slow and brainstormed more immediate solutions.

Sheller asked if going to the program was something the woman wanted to do and thought she could do, and the woman confirmed that it was. Together, they decided it would help if Sheller stood outside the shelter with the client as she waited for the bus. "She said, 'I think I just need somebody to be there, to remind me it's just waiting for a bus and I'll be OK,'" Sheller remembers. After about a week of waiting for the bus together, the client felt she was ready to handle the wait on her own. From then on, she came back to Sheller each day and reported how things had gone.

Much of the work Sheller does with clients facing the challenges of homelessness is simply about recognizing them as fellow human beings, she says. Given different situations or circumstances, any of us could find ourselves in the same position. "If I had gone through your life experiences," Sheller tells her clients, "there's no telling if I wouldn't be where you are."

Waiting at that bus stop was one of many experiences that taught Sheller the importance of simply being there for clients who are confronting homelessness. "To work effectively in the shelter means you have to really be where they are and go where they need to go," says Sheller, a member of the American Counseling Association and assistant clinical professor in Drexel University's Hahnemann Creative Arts in Therapy Program. "It requires you to be open and nonjudgmental, to be there for what's needed. Get rid of the preconceived ideas that counseling is sitting in an office — be there in a very humanizing way."

Nowhere to turn

Homelessness leaves people feeling they have no one to turn to and nowhere to go, Sheller says. "It's the sense of feeling very isolated, very helpless, very alone and, at the same time, very stigmatized by society. You feel like a failure. The sense of feeling helpless is one of the hardest things that we, as human beings, endure. No one who's homeless wants to be homeless." There are complex situations underlying why each person becomes homeless, says Sheller, adding that she's never met anyone who wants to be in that situation.

Michael Brubaker, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati's School of Human Services and academic coordinator in the addiction studies program, says the stigma surrounding homelessness stems in part from the Protestant work ethic on which the United States was built. Not only are people thought to be responsible for pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and getting themselves out of homelessness, he says, but there also exists a general bias that these individuals are solely responsible for their becoming homeless in the first place.

Brubaker has worked with homelessness for the past 12 years and conducted a study that involved taking counseling students to a shelter to learn from the residents. "We realized that we, as counselors, are not immune to influences from society," he says. "(The shelter residents) can probably teach us better than we can teach them what their circumstances are about." Brubaker, a member of ACA, emphasizes that homelessness is more of a situation and less of a population. Approximately 80 percent of those who become homeless in a given year are transitionally, not chronically, homeless, he says.

A large percentage of people in shelters have trauma in their history, Sheller says. Many of the shelter residents she sees grew up in foster care, aged out of the system, had children and are now homeless. They've had little or no consistent support for the long haul, she says.

The experience of being homeless can be traumatic in itself. "That experience of losing support — of realizing that family is not there to support, that friends are not there to support, to realize that society is not there to support — can be a very disheartening and even traumatic experience," Brubaker says. The physical aspect of being on the streets is also traumatic, he says, in part because people experiencing homelessness are vulnerable to attacks by youth and predators, as well as harassment from authorities.

Sonya Lorelle, a doctoral candidate in the Old Dominion University Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling, says systemic barriers can provide significant hurdles for people attempting to overcome homelessness. Lorelle, an ACA member who spent time as a counselor in a shelter system in Norfolk, Va., recalls instances in which parents secured a job on the late shift in hopes of providing their family some financial stability. But, Lorelle says, barriers popped up from every angle — the bus route back home would stop running at a certain hour or child care wouldn't be available after 6 p.m. "During a holiday when child care and school were closed or when the child became ill or had a doctor's appointment, the balance would be thrown off," she says. "More than once, I saw a parent lose a job for having to take a day off to take care of their children, putting them back at square one. Everything had to be perfectly balanced."

Telling the story

Because of the struggling economy and the shortage of housing, Sheller estimates the current average length of stay for residents in many of the Salvation Army shelters is approximately a year. "It's a really long time that you can get to work with them and create healing environments for them," she says. Many shelters must refer clients out to other agencies for mental health care, but Sheller and other counselors who work with homelessness say having in-house mental health services, whenever possible, is helpful.

Although none of the shelter residents were required to see Sheller for counseling, she tried to build relationships with them and improve their experience within the "system." Many shelter residents had encountered authority figures elsewhere who were supposed to help them but instead made them feel powerless and at fault for their circumstances, which only added to their sense of shame. "We (as counselors) are changing the paradigm," she says. "We tell them in words and in actions, 'You're not sick. You're not bad. It's what has happened to you. Let's tell the story, and let's help you out of it.' It's a trauma-informed perspective counselors should adopt when working with the homeless and one I have found extremely useful."

Society's biases against the homeless are often internalized by the people who experience homelessness, Brubaker says. "We offer something unique as counselors in our ability to help expand the perspective and encourage change," he says. That means helping people take the blame and burden off themselves, while simultaneously empowering them to take the lead in changing their circumstances.

The counselors interviewed for this article agree that the first step in helping is simple and straightforward: Simply listen. "Having someone just listen to your story is really important. They haven't been heard, they haven't been validated. They would tell me, 'I feel like a number. No one cares about me,'" says Lorelle, reflecting on her work in the shelter system.

The real key is listening with an open mind, Sheller adds. "Homelessness doesn't fit into a neat, stereotyped box. It's an experience that anyone could have. Therefore, we shouldn't have any preconceived ideas about what a homeless person is and what he needs — it has to come from the person." Someone might arrive at a shelter with the attitude that all people in authority roles are evil, she says. Rather than telling the individual that isn't true, it's important to be respectful, listen and try to understand how that perception has been formed by the person's past experiences, Sheller says. Many of the systems the homeless go through want these individuals to change themselves, she says. "But they just want someone to understand them first."

Given their immediate needs and their sometimes-negative experiences within systems theoretically set up to "help" them, it may seem a daunting task to convince shelter residents that counselors have much to offer. "Much of our convincing will not be in words, but rather in our deeds," Brubaker says. "Are we physically available to those in need? Are we willing to step out of our offices and meet with individuals on a park bench or over a meal at a shelter? Are we quick to judge a person who lives without a home? A caring presence can make a huge difference."

A place to belong

The specific approach counselors use with these individuals isn't the most important thing, Sheller says. "Whatever (technique) you use, the basic ability to relate to people and to build those relationships are really the most important," she says. Homelessness can feel isolating and disconnecting, she explains, so forming relationships can build connection and empowerment. "From that, people can rise up. You're fostering an experience where they feel like they're OK and it's going to be OK."

Building relationships with homeless clients begins with simply getting to know them, Sheller says. Counselors can strengthen the relationship by being open, joining them where they are and focusing on being with them instead of imposing requirements or restrictions, she says. Counselors should strive to reach a level in the relationship where they can readily recognize when the person is struggling. If Sheller noticed that a resident didn't seem quite right, she might ask that person to take a walk with her to Dunkin' Donuts. Counseling in shelters doesn't adhere to hourly appointments in an office, Sheller says. "You have to build relationships and build community, not just be in an office waiting. You're just there and available and real."

One part of getting to know clients is understanding why they act in certain ways, Sheller says. She recalls a particular shelter resident who seemed to be having unnecessary trouble getting food stamps and setting up her gas and electric accounts so she could move to available housing. Instead of jumping to conclusions, Sheller sat down with the client and asked what the problem was.

"What I really needed to understand was that it wasn't her being noncompliant or resistant, but something else was going on that was preventing her from doing that," Sheller says. The woman revealed she was frightened that if she followed through on those tasks and moved into new housing, a perpetrator from her past would be able to find her at her new address. Avoiding the move and remaining at the shelter felt safer, she told Sheller. Sheller helped the woman find ways to make herself safer, including getting a restraining order, and also helped her work through some of the trauma she had experienced. After that process, the woman was able to fulfill the requirements to move out of the shelter. "Don't always assume the behaviors that seem to be uncooperative or unmotivated are really that," Sheller says. "They may be behaviors people have adapted to help them survive."

Many people who have experienced homelessness have also experienced trauma, which often makes them hypervigilant and hyperalert, Sheller says. Creating a safe environment — an environment that isn't further disempowering or demoralizing — will encourage these clients to seek out the counselor. "If people can't feel safe, it's really going to be hard for them to move forward in their lives," she says. Safety encompasses feeling safe within yourself and learning how to handle your own emotions, Sheller says.

Loss is also inherent in homelessness, Sheller adds. Many people find themselves in shelters after a loved one becomes ill or dies, someone loses a job or a home burns down. Helping people deal with their losses is critical, Sheller says, and one way of doing that is through building a sense of community because when people break through their isolation, they realize they aren't alone in their problems. In addition to community meetings and therapeutic groups, Sheller has organized rituals to help shelter residents deal with loss. For example, she led a "balloon memorial" during which individuals wrote down a loss they wanted to let go of and then attached the paper to the string of a balloon. "It could be a tangible loss or a loss such as loss of missed years while I was using, loss of childhood innocence because of abuse, etc.," Sheller says. "The balloons were simultaneously released as a group on the grounds of the shelter. We held hands and had a few minutes of silence together. It was very powerful."

The most important component to building trust with homeless clients is following through and doing whatever you say you're going to do. "If I said I was going to make a call for them, I needed to make that call. Otherwise, the trust was broken," Lorelle says.

Contrary to what most traditional counseling teaches, Sheller says it can be helpful for counselors to be vulnerable and share their feelings when working with homeless clients. Let these clients know that you're sad or hurt or angry about what has happened to them, Sheller tells counselors.

Changing the path

Looking back, Brubaker says the most important thing he learned about helping people who have experienced homelessness is to focus on their strengths — what they are doing well and what has enabled them to survive on the streets. "The mere use of the word homeless is a deficit-based identifier," he says. "The biggest change for me was seeing the strengths of individuals and being mindful of that. I wish I had been trained from the beginning to really look for that. That's made a huge difference in my approach and how effective I can be."

Considering the high incidence of trauma among people who experience homelessness, Brubaker says training in trauma would serve counselors well. "This will hopefully wake up many counselors to their need to obtain training in the area of crisis and trauma work," he says. "Counselors should also know their limitations, consult with others who know this population and advocate for the best services possible. No counselor should feel alone in their pursuits, so networking with competent professionals, indigenous healers and other service providers is essential."

Counselors agree that working with homelessness is very demanding. It's challenging emotionally, Lorelle admits, and if a counselor feels hopeless for too long, burnout might be waiting around the corner. "The lesson I learned is that you have to find that hope and find the value in what you're doing. It may not (come in) huge leaps and bounds, but appreciating the small things along the way and celebrating their successes, that's an important piece, and that's what kept me going."

No counselor can fix everything, Sheller says, and it's important for counselors to accept that truth while maintaining the proper perspective. "You might not ever see the change; you might just be planting the seed," she says. "You have to go in there and believe that if you can create an experience that is different, that you're setting the course. You're changing the path for that person, and that's all you ever have control of."

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Whoops, how'd those get there? Iraqi fighters find Israeli weapons in ISIS position

© AP Photo/ Sakchai Lalit

Iraqi volunteer forces, Hashid Shaabi, found Israeli-made weapons in a position of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists in Anbar province on Thursday.

According to Al-Mayadeen television, the Iraqi volunteer forces found Israeli-made weapons in an ISIL position in al-Karmah city in Anbar province.

The ISIL Takfiri terrorists currently control shrinking swathes of Syria and Iraq. They have threatened all communities, including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, Ezadi Kurds and others, as they continue their atrocities in Iraq.

Senior Iraqi officials have blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some Persian Gulf Arab states for the growing terrorism in their country.

The ISIL has links with Saudi intelligence and is believed to be indirectly supported by the Israeli regime.