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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

'Rape and sodomy': Leaked UN report details French soldiers' abuse against African boys

© Reuters / Goran Tomasevic
A military plane lands next to a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs), located at Bangui International Airport.

A damning UN report about how French soldiers raped and sodomized starving and homeless boys in the Central African Republic, some as young as nine, has been leaked to the Guardian, and the UN official who blew the whistle is facing dismissal.

French peacekeeping troops were supposed to be protecting children at a center for internally displaced people at M'Poko Airport in CAR's capital Bangui, when the abuse reportedly took place between December 2013 and June 2014. It was at a time when the UN's mission at the country, MINUSCA, was in the process of being set up.

An internal investigation was ordered by the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights (UNHCR), after reports on the ground of sexual abuse of children displaced by the conflict.

A member of staff from the high commissioner of human rights and a specialist from UNICEF interviewed the children between May and June last year. Some of the boys were able to give good descriptions of individual soldiers who abused them.

Officials in Geneva reportedly received the report in summer 2014.

Swedish national, Anders Kompass, a senior UN aid worker who has been involved in humanitarian work for over than 30 years, passed the document on to French prosecutors because of the UN's failure to take action, sources close to the case told the .

The newspaper reports that after receiving the confidential UN report entitled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces, French authorities traveled to Bangui to investigate the allegations.

A French judicial source said that the prosecutor's office had received the UN report in July 2014 and that a preliminary investigation had been launched.

"A preliminary investigation has been opened by the Paris prosecutor since July 21, 2014. The investigation is ongoing," he said, as quoted by Reuters.

The UN also confirmed Monday that it had given an unredacted report to the French authorities on the alleged abuse of children by French soldiers in CAR.

"The unedited version was, by a staff member's own admission, provided unofficially by that staff member to the French authorities in late July, prior to even providing it to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' (OHCHR) senior management," the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General said in a statement.

The report made its way to Paula Donovan from the organization Aids Free World, who then passed it to the .

"The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations' appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn't uncommon. The UN's instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks - ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble - must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access, top to bottom, and full subpoena power," she said.

Last month, Mr Kompass was accused of leaking a confidential UN report and breaching protocols.

Kompass was dismissed last week as director of field operations and is now under investigation by the UN office for internal oversight service (OIOS). One senior UN official even said that "it was his [Kompass's] duty to know and comply" with UN protocols on confidential documents.

Bea Edwards from the US based Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, blasted the UN for what is little more than witch-hunt against someone who sought to protect children.

"We have represented many whistleblowers in the UN system over the years and in general the more serious the disclosure they make the more ferocious the retaliation. Despite the official rhetoric, there is very little commitment at the top of the organization to protect whistleblowers and a strong tendency to politicize every issue no matter how urgent."

France's Operation Sangaris in CAR began in December 2013. It is now being wound down as Paris hands over security to an 8,500-strong UN peacekeeping force deployed to contain the deadly conflict.

"Purge" Night 3: Protests Spread To NYC - Live Feed

Is the so-called "purge" spreading? Hundreds have now gathered in Union Square in New York in a show of solidarity with the protesters in Baltimore who have demanded justice for the death of Freddie Gray. More from NBC

Organizers had urged various activist groups to rally at Union Square "to show the people of Baltimore that we stand in solidarity with them and with their resistance because their resistance is for justice and their justice is our justice," according to one press release. 

The demonstrations were being held simultaneously as the ones in Baltimore, which were mostly peaceful compared to the violent rioting that rocked the city the day of

Gray's funeral Monday…

Umaara Elliott, one of the New York rally organizers, said she encouraged the message protesters in Baltimore were trying to send. 

Live feed..

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream


...and the visuals...


Why I killed Jeffrey Dahmer

© Getty Images
Jeffrey Dahmer and Christopher Scarver

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was done in by his uncontrollable lust for human flesh, the man who whacked him in prison 20 years ago told , revealing for the first time why the cannibal had to die.

Christopher Scarver — who fatally beat the serial killer and another inmate in 1994 — said he grew to despise Dahmer because he would fashion severed limbs out of prison food to taunt the other inmates.

He'd drizzle on packets of ketchup as blood.

It was very unnerving.

"He would put them in places where people would be," Scarver, 45, recalled in a low, gravelly voice.

"He crossed the line with some people — prisoners, prison staff. Some people who are in prison are repentant — but he was not one of them."

Scarver, who arrived at Wisconsin's Columbia Correctional Institution around the same time as Dahmer in 1992, knew right away to keep a safe distance from the serial killer.

Scarver said the madman had a personal escort of at least one guard at all times when he was out of his cell because of his friction with other inmates.

"I saw heated interactions between [Dahmer] and other prisoners from time to time," Scarver said, adding that he didn't think much of Dahmer.

"There was no impression," he said.

Like a lone wolf, Scarver watched Dahmer from afar on the prison yard, but never approached him, because he did not want to become a target of his sickening humor.

"I never interacted with him," he said.

But that all changed on the morning of Nov. 28, 1994, when Scarver doled out his vigilante justice in a gymnasium of the Portage, Wis., prison.

Dahmer, 34, Scarver and a third inmate, Jesse Anderson, were led unshackled to clean the bathrooms by correction officers, who left them unattended.

Scarver, who was repulsed by the youth-molesting cannibal's lust for flesh, kept in his pocket a newspaper article detailing how Dahmer killed, dismembered — and in some cases ate — 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991.

Scarver, then a 25-year-old convicted murderer, had just retrieved his mop and was filling a bucket with water when someone poked him in the back.

"I turned around, and [Dahmer] and Jesse were kind of laughing under their breath," Scarver recounted. "I looked right into their eyes, and I couldn't tell which had done it."

The three men then split up, and Scarver followed Dahmer toward a staff locker room.

Scarver grabbed a metal bar from the weight room and confronted Dahmer with the news story he had been carrying in his pocket.

"I asked him if he did those things 'cause I was fiercely disgusted. He was shocked. Yes, he was," Scarver said.

"He started looking for the door pretty quick. I blocked him," Scarver said.

With two swings of the bar, Scarver crushed Dahmer's skull.

"He ended up dead. I put his head down," he said.

He then casually crossed the gym and entered a locker room where Anderson, 37, was working.

"He stopped for a second and looked around. He was looking to see if any officials were there. There were none. Pretty much the same thing [happened] — got his head put out," Scarver said of Anderson, who was serving a life term for killing his wife in 1992.

Scarver believes it was no accident that he ended up alone with Dahmer — since prison officials knew he hated the madman and they wanted him dead.

"They had something to do with what took place. Yes," said Scarver, noting that the guards disappeared just before he clobbered Dahmer with the 20-inch, 5-pound metal bar.

But Scarver refused to elaborate out of fear for his own safety.

"I would need a good attorney to ensure there would not be any retaliation by Wisconsin officials or to get me out of any type of retaliatory position they would put me in," Scarver said.

Wisconsin's Columbia Correctional InstitutionPhoto: Getty Images

Wisconsin Correction Department spokeswoman Joy Staab did not return calls for comment about those claims — but an investigation following the killings determined he acted alone.

Scarver initially pleaded insanity to the murders but later changed it to "no contest" in exchange for a transfer to a federal penitentiary.

He was sentenced to two life terms on top of the life sentence he was already serving.

Scarver was locked up for killing his former boss during a robbery in 1990.

After getting fired from a job-training program at the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, Scarver started drinking heavily and said he heard voices that called him "the chosen one."

He returned to his former workplace with a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol and demanded cash from site manager John Feyen. When he gave only $15, Scarver put a bullet in the head of a
worker, Steven Lohman.

He shot Lohman two more times before Feyen knocked the gun out of his hands and ran off.

Hours later, cops arrested Scarver sitting on the stoop of his girlfriend's apartment building.

After the killings, Scarver bounced from prison to prison until he landed at his current home: Centennial Correctional Facility in Canon City, Colo.

Scarver says he has been evaluated by 10 to 20 prison doctors but still doesn't understand his mental issues.

He partly blames prison food for his insanity.

"I found out in my own research what the problem is: Certain foods I eat cause me to have a psychotic break — bread, refined sugar," he said. "Those are the main culprits."

He now spends his days writing poems for his site. He also has self-published poetry books for sale on Amazon.

The case that blew the lid off the World Bank's secret courts


With two historic global trade deals almost complete, here's how Bolivian protesters and global activists exposed the dark side of global trade pacts and paved the way for the battles to come. It's time we end the corporate power play against our basic democracy.

There's an international awakening afoot about a radical expansion of corporate power — one that sits at the center of two historic global trade deals nearing completion.

One focuses the United States toward Europe — that's the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — and the other toward Asia, in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both would establish broad new rights for foreign corporations to sue governments for vast sums whenever nations change their public policies in ways that could potentially impact corporate profits.

These cases would not be handled by domestic courts, with their relative transparency, but in special, secretive international tribunals.

t's a stupendously powerful tool and a double win for the corporations: It's a money machine that loots public treasuries and a potent tool to stifle unwelcome regulations, all wrapped in one. As Senator Elizabeth Warren recently wrote in the , "Giving foreign corporations special rights to challenge our laws outside of our legal system would be a bad deal." But it's a deal U.S. lawmakers are rapidly preparing to make as they debate extending "fast-track" trade promotion authority to President Barack Obama.

The system of closed-door trade tribunals has been around for decades now, nestled like a ticking time bomb into hundreds of smaller bilateral trade agreements between nations. But not so long ago, the trade tribunal system wasn't the stuff of high-profile op-eds by U.S. senators. It was virtually unknown except among a small cadre of international lawyers and trade specialists.

The case that brought the system into broad public view was born 15 years ago this month on the streets of a city high in the Andes. How that case was won holds powerful lessons today for the battles over the TTIP, the TPP, and the effort to hand global corporations enormous new legal powers.

The Water Revolt

It started here in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in April 2000, when citizens rebelled against the takeover of their public water system by a foreign corporation.

In what became known as the Cochabamba Water Revolt, thousands of Bolivians faced down bullets and batons to take back their water from Bechtel, the California engineering giant. Within weeks of taking over the local public water system, Bechtel's Bolivian company had hit water users with price increases averaging more than 50 percent, and often far higher. Families faced stark choices between keeping water running from the tap or food on the table.

So they rebelled.

Protesters shut down this city of half-a-million people three times with blockades and general strikes. The right-wing government sent in soldiers and police to defend Bechtel's contract, killing a teenage boy and leaving hundreds of others wounded. But the protests only increased, and finally Bechtel was forced to flee Bolivia, returning the water to public hands.

A year later, however, Bechtel struck back — this time in a World Bank trade court. The company demanded not only the $1 million it had invested in the country, but a full $50 million — the rest being the future "profits" the company claimed it had forgone by leaving.

Bechtel's case against Bolivia sparked a second rebellion. This one was global and just as powerful, a citizen action campaign that stretched worldwide. In the end, Bechtel would walk away not with the $50 million that it demanded from Bolivians, but just 30 cents and a badly damaged public image. The case also ripped the mask off a system of secret trade courts that today sits at the heart of the trade debate.

A System Designed for Corporate Advantage

Here in Bolivia, a soccer team from anywhere else would be foolish to play a match against a Bolivian team in La Paz, the nation's capital. At nearly 13,000 feet above the sea, most foreigners find it a serious challenge just to climb a staircase, much less chase a ball for 90 minutes.

The legal venue chosen by Bechtel — the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) — has a similar quality. It's a playing field tilted deeply to corporate advantage.

It's no small irony that Bechtel went to the World Bank, since it was the World Bank that set the Cochabamba Water Revolt in motion to begin with.

In 1997, World Bank officials made the privatization of Cochabamba's public water system a condition of loans the bank was issuing to expand water service in the country. So Bolivia's government was compelled to offer a 40-year lease to Bechtel, complete with a guaranteed annual profit of 16 percent — a gouging deal backed by the willingness of the government to shoot its own people if required.

The World Bank's ICSID and other international tribunal systems are a corporate dream. The tribunals that decide these cases are made up of lawyers who move from being highly paid corporate defenders in one case to supposedly impartial judges in the next, a blatant conflict of interest. It's a system where testimony is commonly sealed and where cases are heard thousands of miles away from the communities involved.

Unsurprisingly, corporations win either a full or partial victory more than half the time.

The Court of Public Opinion

The citizen campaign that took on Bechtel refused to wage its fight in the confines of Bechtel's carefully chosen judicial comfort zone.

The organization I run, the Democracy Center, and our Bolivian and global allies took aim at Bechtel instead on the battlefield where citizen movements do best: the court of public opinion. That campaign became a powerful early prototype for how to organize in the age of the Internet, driven not so much by an orchestrated grand plan as by sheer, viral inspiration.

Through our own articles and our work with journalists from the , PBS, and elsewhere, the Democracy Center kept telling, over and over again, the powerful narrative of a David and Goliath victory on the streets of Cochabamba. Water Revolt leaders from Bolivia also traveled across the world to share their story directly.

We hung that story not just around Bechtel's corporate neck, but the neck of its CEO and namesake, Riley Bechtel. We even released his personal email address to thousands of people. As people reached out to us to get involved, we armed them with the hard evidence and some advice on strategy, encouraging them to take whatever action they were moved to take that could build pressure on the corporation.

The result was a beautiful, global spectacle of citizen power.

In San Francisco, activists shut down Bechtel's headquarters by chaining themselves together in the lobby. A local coalition also got the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass a city resolution calling on Bechtel to drop its Bolivia case — just as the company was negotiating a major city contract.

In Amsterdam, people mounted a ladder outside Bechtel's local office and renamed the street for the teenager killed by soldiers during the Cochabamba Revolt. In Washington, protesters picketed the house of the president of Bechtel's Bolivian water subsidiary. At the South Africa Earth Summit, Bolivian activist Marcela Olivera recruited organizations to join a "Citizens Petition to the World Bank" calling on Bechtel to drop the case. EarthJustice filed a legal petition demanding public participation, and the Institute for Policy Studies mobilized Washington NGOs.

From one corner of the world to another, Bechtel was seized upon by angry Lilliputians tying a mighty corporate Gulliver to the ground.

The Power of Storytelling

In January 2006, besieged Bechtel officials flew to Bolivia and signed a deal with the Bolivian government under which it dropped its World Bank case for two shiny coins — the cost of a local bus fare. No other major corporation, before or since, has ever been forced to drop such a major trade case by a campaign of citizen pressure waged against it.

In the end, Bechtel was defeated by something very simple: a story. It was a narrative about people fighting for their water, and of a corporation content to see them killed in order to squeeze the poor for profits it never earned. The mighty corporation could never escape the moral power of that story. We hit Bechtel with it using not just one tactic, but every tactic we could think of — from legal briefs to direct action. We didn't waste time debating which approach was more worthy.

The trade battles before us today, including the TPP and TTIP, must also be fought with stories that lift the issue above technical jargon and into popular understanding.

And there's no shortage of stories to tell. The tobacco giant Phillip Morris demands $2 billion from Uruguay for the sin of strengthening health warnings on cigarette packages. The people of El Salvador face a $300-million case from a Canadian-Australian mining company because El Salvadorans were able to block toxic mining operations. Germany faces a demand of €700 million from a nuclear energy company because, in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, popular movements won a moratorium on new nuclear power plants in the country.

Telling the stories of cases like these is essential to building a broader public understanding of what's at issue in these arcane negotiations: a corporate power play against basic democracy.

"It is impossible to overstate the impact of the people's victory in Cochabamba against Bechtel," Noami Klein observed recently. "At a time when winning real victories seemed like a distant dream, we suddenly saw that it was still possible to win, even against a giant U.S. multinational." In the battle of the Bolivian people against Bechtel, David beat Goliath not only once, but twice. In the midst of the current battles on trade, the spirit of both those victories and their concrete lessons well deserve our remembrance.

SOTT FOCUS: EMF pollution - What is EMF?


© (Richard Box’s ‘FIELD’ February 2004 Photo: Stuart Bunce, www.richardbox.com) [With permission – Henshaw 1]
Fluorescent tubes lit by overhead power line

This article is part of a series of articles that will start with some background, proceed through a detailed description of man-made sources of EMF, discuss past study results, and finish with what you can do to measure your EMF exposure, and what steps you can take to minimize it.

What becomes a chronic disease condition, no doubt, has many potential causes including genetics, deficient diet, toxin exposure, and even repressed emotional expression. Research over the past two decades has mounted in support of adding Electromagnetic Field (EMF) exposure to the top-level list of chronic disease causes (including genome damage). It is likely that a chronic disease condition results from a unique and individual combination of these top-level causes, so EMF exposure should be considered in the context of other source causes as suggested in Figure 1.


© Sott.net
Figure 1 EMF health effects in the context of diet and toxin exposure



Throughout millions of years of evolution, humans have enjoyed very low electromagnetic field (EMF) background levels. These natural EMF background sources are associated with the cosmos, the sun and the planet, with each of these dominating various parts of the spectrum from extremely low frequency (ELF/ULF) to gamma rays of the very highest energy. To the best of our collective knowledge, this spectrum has remained relatively stable over millions, perhaps billions of years with the exception of solar events (magnetic field effects) and cosmic supernovae (gamma radiation).

Only in the last 100 years or so has this spectrum come to be overwhelmingly dominated by the electronic products of an increasingly technology-based civilization. For instance, in 1977 the average power density across 15 cities (dominated by the UHF/VHF bands) was found to be 50 million times greater than natural background. Since 1977 we have seen an explosion of electronics, computers, and communication devices that have brought increasing levels of EMF exposure in the forms of dirty power (50/60 Hz), ELF AC magnetic/electric fields, and a huge array of wide-band digital RF (radio frequency) wireless signals.

Can we really expect that this exposure level to EMFs will have little or no effect on our collective health - not to mention all the plants and animals that depend on a relatively clean environment to thrive? The latest independent and unbiased studies say no, there are measurable detrimental health effects in every category of EMF exposure - in plants, animals and humans. Interestingly (or maybe predictably), many of those 'scientific' studies that measured little or no effect involved industry participation or funding. These same industries stand to lose the most should the results reflect detrimental health effects due to EMF exposure and become widely disseminated. Although the threat is clear, our collective fascination with anything from the latest iphone/app to the counter-top whiz-ma-jig, blinds us to the risks to our environment, ourselves, and especially our children - a situation where wishful thinking may prove very deadly indeed.

In the last two decades there has been a significant increase in the number of electro-sensitive (ES) individuals. These patients suffer rapid deterioration in a host of symptoms after relatively short exposure times. The effect is so direct and overwhelming that some of these people can directly detect AC magnetic fields, dirty power, and wireless signals in their environment. Electro-sensitivity requires many such people to plan their trips carefully so as to minimize EMF exposure and thereby minimize recovery time. This short description of ES may remind some readers of gluten sensitivity and the reference to the "Celiac Iceberg" made by Sayer Ji in his article The Dark Side of Wheat where he likened Celiac to the visible tip of a large iceberg representing the detrimental effects of gluten on the health of everyone that consumes it. Like ES individuals, Celiac sufferers get immediate and painful feedback. In the referenced article, Sayer provided evidence that the greatest threat from gluten consumption is deteriorating health, chronic disease, and early death for everyone. ES sufferers may be telling us the same thing about EMFs. In other words, ES and Celiac sufferers may be the proverbial canaries in a coal mine.

Natural EMF

Before addressing the sources of harmful man-made EMF, let's first look at a source of EMF that has likely been around throughout the evolution of life on this planet. This source involves the Sun and the Earth as shown in Figure 2.


© wikipedia
Figure 2 High energy protons and electrons ejected from the Sun are deflected by the Earth’s magnetic field (magnetosphere) causing the field lines to distort and the buildup of charge in the ionosphere

Variations in the number and speed of protons and electrons from the sun produce variations in the Earth's magnetic field in and around the planet as the magnetosphere acts to shield us from the bulk of incoming particles (See Figure 2). The Earth's ionosphere collects those charged particles which leak through the shield and interact with the earth's surface through cloud-to-ground lightning as well as discharges (currents) between layers of the atmosphere. These interactions excite various modes of EMF propagation in the spherical shell defined by the Earth's surface and the ionosphere - a spherical layer separating two differently charged regions (spherical waveguide). These modes are constrained by the size of the earth and the ionosphere around it. Since the Earth has rarely been without a magnetic field (except during short periods of polarity reversal), we can assume that these characteristic modes of Sun-driven EMF propagation have been around for perhaps billions of years, and have influenced the development of life on the planet from the very start.

So what does this EMF look like? Figure 3 shows a 4 second time measurement of the magnetic field at a point on the Earth.


© Sott.net
Figure 3 The human EEG compares very well with the spectrum of Schumann resonances derived from magnetic field measurements on the Earth. [Adapted from http://bit.ly/1GIJOe9 and http://bit.ly/1DCTuiD ]

Just below it is a 1 second trace of a human EEG (electroencephalogram). The time scales are preserved so that we can see that they are very similar in variation. If we analyze the frequency content of the magnetic field time traces, we find the bumps in the lower graph (Figure 3) to be the Schumann2 resonances associated with the earth (actually the earth-ionosphere waveguide). The primary mode/resonance occurs at 7.8 Hz (cycles per second) - a spot squarely in the range of the alpha wave component of the human EEG [alpha wave dominance in the human EEG is associated with relaxed alert awareness]. These Schumann resonances extend out to about 45 Hz and span a range closely matched to the human (and probably other animals) EEG range.

So what we have here is an EMF source that has likely been ingrained into our evolutionary development from the earliest of times. It is part of our 'home' environment and is seemingly expressed in the signals of each human brain. As above, so below?

This EMF source likely provides a homeostatic balancing function for life forms (including humans) and suggests the question: What happens if this EMF is masked or dominated by other environmental EMFs? Do we cascade toward chronic diseases of the mind and body? Is this what's happening to the bees (and other animals)?

We do know that severe solar storms alter these natural EMFs significantly and can last for several days. These periods have been linked to illness, depression, and suicide - some of the same effects of known EMF source exposure in many people. This link to severe solar storms might just be a clue suggesting that it is not man-made EMF exposure alone that is the problem; it is the masking of the natural EMF over long periods that causes or contributes to many disease conditions including the symptoms of ES.

If the earth had no magnetic field, there would be little shielding of high energy charged particles from the sun - a very harsh environment for the development of life3. It is estimated that the earth has had a substantial magnetic field for about 3.5 billion years4. It would be no surprise to find that life forms evolved to make use of this field for navigation and possibly other purposes - and that these capabilities are still in use today. Figure 4 illustrates this on a rough timeline showing the development of magnetotactic bacteria, birds, humans, and the beginning of electrification (about 130 years ago). Much of the life on this planet may express this heritage in latent or unknown forms. For example, cows and wild deer tend to align their bodies north-south while relaxing, but not when the animals are under high voltage power lines.


Figure 4 Evolutionary timeline on a Log scale showing that early life forms made use of Earth’s magnetic field
[with permission – Henshaw1]

Over the last two decades there have been many peer reviewed papers suggesting effects due to geomagnetic variation on humans including melatonin production in the pineal, behavior, depression/suicide, heart rate disturbance, arterial blood pressure, EEG, sudden infant death syndrome, and other biological effects. All this research activity suggests that even the human animal is very much connected to the primordial through earth-sun geomagnetic phenomena. This research also suggests, indirectly, that man-made EMFs may interfere with the natural signaling that we all depend on to maintain healthy functioning minds and bodies.

In the next part to this series we'll begin with man-made EMF sources and what significant past studies suggest regarding the health effects of these sources.


1. Denis Henshaw, Professor Emeritus (retired), School of Physics, University of Bristol

2. Measurement of Schumann waves is currently being studied for earthquake prediction. A success rate of 85% is claimed within 100 square miles of a sensor suite. "Schumann resonances also have gone beyond the boundaries of physics, into medicine, where it has raised interest in the interactions between planetary rhythms and human health and behavior" (for more detail see, here).

3. Only 1% of solar wind energy is coupled to the magnetosphere, and most of this remains contained and isolated from the earth surface. [PDF]

4. A paleomagnetic study of Australian red dacite and pillow basalt has estimated the magnetic field to have been present since at least 3.45 billion years ago (wikipedia.org)


Larry Bowers (Profile)

Born Joplin, Missouri.

Schooling/Profession - Electrical Engineer (Retired)

15+ years of research into esoteric aspects of all religions and the nature of this reality - Truth. Much time spent identifying the threads and integrating them into the bigger picture - Ponerology is a big part.

Currently continuing research into many areas and writing for Sott.net

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Small conscience: Israel evacuates surrogate babies from Nepal, leaves their mothers

© Jack Guez—AFP/Getty Images
An Israeli gay man carries his baby born to a surrogate mother in Nepal as he is cheered by relatives at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on April 28, 2015, following his repatriation from the quake-hit Himalayan nation.

An Israeli Boeing-747 returned from Nepal to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, and among its 229 passengers were 15 Israeli babies, all born within the past six weeks to surrogate mothers in Nepal.

Some of the babies were with their Israeli parents and others were cared for by Israeli passengers. None of the surrogate mothers were allowed to travel.

The infants' arrival completed the evacuation of 26 surrogate Israeli babies from Nepal, where a devastating earthquake on Saturday killed more than 4,000. The rescue process, coupled with widely published photos of the newborns being cradled by Israeli medics on the Tel Aviv tarmac, has thrust Israel's reliance on Nepalese surrogates into the spotlight, revealing a little known link between Nepal and Israel and starting a debate here about the ethics of international surrogacy.

Only heterosexual couples can easily employ surrogate mothers in Israel. Gay couples and single parents tend to look abroad to bear children with surrogates. For many years, India — where costs are low but the standard of medical care is generally high — was the preferred surrogacy option for Israelis, but a change to the law there in 2013 prevented gay men and couples who had been married for less than two years from engaging surrogate mothers. The shift in the law caught many Israelis midway through the surrogacy process. The Indian women traveled to Nepal to give birth and the Israeli surrogacy agencies then switched their operations from India to Nepal.

The first Israeli baby was born to a surrogate mother in Nepal in January 2014, and it is now the destination of choice for Israelis who do not have access to surrogacy in Israel. Many Asian and European countries ban commercial surrogacy, and it can cost up to $150,000 in the U.S. and Canada but only $30,000 in Nepal.

But while the Israeli government scrambled to evacuate the 26 Israeli newborns and their Israeli parents from Nepal, a further 100 women, some Nepalese, some Indian, are still carrying babies for Israelis. The Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he would allow the most heavily pregnant to be flown to Israel to give birth and outgoing Interior Minister Gilad Erdan promised to remove immigration hurdles for the rest. "We have decided to hold off on all the procedures, even if it causes a problem with the Nepalese or Indian governments, so as to bring over the babies as soon as possible," Israeli news sources quoted him as saying on Monday.

The ordeal of the infants and their surrogates has dominated the news coverage of the quake here, with some pundits criticizing the use of government funds to send a rescue mission, and others demanding that Israel reevaluate its own surrogacy laws in the wake of the crisis. An opinion piece in the newspaper went one step further, accusing the Israeli public of showing selective empathy by focusing only on the newborn infants, and not the women who had carried them.

"How can it be that none of the human interest stories or compassion-filled posts mentioned these women, who came from a difficult socioeconomic background ... to rent their wombs ... who now, like the babies they've just had, are also stuck in the disaster zone?" writer Alon-Lee Green asked.

Officials on Tuesday said they were continuing to explore options for evacuating the pregnant women. Meanwhile, a delegation from the Red Star of David, Israel's national emergency medical response organization, remained on the ground in Katmandu, where Israel has set up a field hospital.

Yonatan Yagodovsky, director of the Red Star of David's international department, said that in addition to operating the field hospital and assisting local doctors, the evacuation of the newborn children had been his organization's top priority. On Tuesday, all of the infants underwent medical examinations in Israel, and two remained hospitalized.

The future of Israeli surrogacy in Nepal remains up in the air. "The main concern right now is lack of clean water and things like that," said Dana Magdassi, founder of Israel's Lotus Surrogacy Agency. "I'm not going to send someone in for treatment right now, but in one or two months, I think we can definitely reconsider."

Mysterious X-rays could mark stellar graveyard


Astronomers are baffled by the discovery of a mysterious fog of high energy X-rays blasting out of the centre of our galaxy.

The discovery, reported in the journal , challenges our understanding of the physics taking place in the galactic centre.

The astronomers speculate the mysterious cloud could be generated by a vast graveyard of thousands of stellar remnants clustered in the shadow of the supermassive black hole.

But the source still eludes them.

"This is something that has never been seen before, I only wish we knew what it is that we discovered," says one of the study's authors Professor Chuck Hailey of the University of Columbia in New York.

"We have quite a few theories of what it could be, but none of them fits the facts, so at this point it's something of a mystery."

The international team of scientists discovered the huge X-ray cloud during observations using the NuSTAR X-ray Observatory to study a region 30 light-years wide around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy.

"There really was no evidence to suggest that there should be this diffused foggy type of high energy X-rays in the region around the central black hole," says Hailey.

Stellar graveyard

The galactic centre contains a disproportionally large population of stellar objects, including a large number of both massive hot young stars and burnt out dead stars.

The X-rays could be produced by an unusually large population of white dwarf stars, the stellar corpses of Sun-like stars after they've stopped shining.

"White dwarfs can emit fairly intense high energy X-rays, and they are fairly common in the universe because there are many stars similar to our Sun," says Hailey.

"Although if they're the explanation, they're a bit unusual, because it would imply these white dwarfs are somewhat more massive than other white dwarfs seen elsewhere in the galaxy. So it's very strange to find all these very heavy white dwarfs close to the supermassive black hole."

Alternatively, the X-rays could be produced by another type of dead star called a pulsar, the superdense remains of a star far more massive than the Sun, which exploded as a supernova when it ran out of fuel and stopped shining.

"If this is the explanation, then there must be a very large population of them around the supermassive black hole, and in fact many theorists have speculated that there should be large numbers in that vicinity," says Hailey.

"As these stars spin, they emit very strong pulses of radio emissions. However we've never detected any of these radio pulsations from objects near the supermassive black hole, so it would be really unusual to detect them in X-rays but not radio.

"So that's an explanation that would be very exciting and really interesting."

But the most exciting possibility, according to Hailey, are stellar mass black holes, which is formed when stars even more massive than those that form pulsars go supernova and die.

"These stellar black holes would have another star orbiting around them in a binary system, and they often emit very high energy X-rays because material swirls off the living star and gets captured or eaten by the black hole producing copious X-rays," says Hailey.

"But again the problem with this theory is that it would require a huge number of these stellar mass black hole binaries in the region of the supermassive black hole at the galactic centre, and we don't see a lot of evidence of that, but that would be just amazing!"

Or not a graveyard at all

However, the X-rays could just as easily be produced by the supermassive black hole itself.

"We know black holes in the centres of galaxies produce jets of particles, and these very energetic particles could collide with gas in the vicinity around the supermassive black hole, producing very high energy X-ray emissions," says Hailey.

"This discovery tells us that the galactic centre with the supermassive black hole, and a whole bunch of stars crowded into a very small region is very peculiar.

"In virtually every aspect when we look at the galactic centre we see something that looks very different from out in the disk or in the halo where the density of stars is much lower."

DPR: Kiev planning Victory Day provocations, OSCE confirms violations

The OSCE data confirms that Kiev is preparing for provocations on Victory Day

The Ministry of Defense of the Donetsk People's Republic continues to receive confirmation that Ukrainian security forces are planning a provocation on Victory Day, said the deputy commander of the Ministry of Defense Corps Edward Basurin, earlier today.

"Once again, we have evidence of the preparations for a large-scale provocation by the Ukrainian security services, who set a goal to disrupt the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War over Nazi invaders" - said Basurin.

He also added that: "The report of the special monitoring mission of the OSCE in Ukraine for April 22, on their official website, you can read the information, which states that north of the villages of Lugansk and Debaltseve, under the control of Ukrainian security services, local residents have been warned that they need to leave town until May 9 due to the possibility of renewed hostilities. This is confirmed by preparing a large-scale provocation and thorough training. "

Defense officials stressed that the DNR still insists on resolving the conflict peacefully and urges the international community to influence the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev to obey the Minsk agreement, and refrain from provocations.

Comment: You can read the OSCE's latest report, highlighting the violations, here. Even the OSCE - largely a European organization, and one not too keen to focus on the decidedly one-sided nature of ceasefire violations lest Russia come out looking like roses - can't keep the lid on Kiev and the volunteer battalions' gross violations of the Minsk agreements.

Smoke from forest fires in Chernobyl could spread dangerous radiation far and wide

Smoke from burning forests in the Chernobyl exclusion zone is capable of spreading contaminants across great distances, even after the fire has been stopped, ecology experts told RT.

The forest fire near the crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant started on Tuesday and triggered an emergency alert, with police and National Guard mobilized to bring the flames under control.

By Wednesday, the country's Emergency Ministry, as well as the prime minister, who went to the affected area, said the spread of the fire had been stopped and firefighters were containing the remaining flames. Later on Wednesday, Ukrainian TV reported the flames in areas containing radioactive waste have been put out. New hot spots were discovered, but they are outside the exclusion zone.

The fire occurred within 30 kilometers of the Chernobyl power plant, inside the exclusion zone which was abandoned and cordoned off almost 30 years ago. In 1986, an explosion and fire in Chernobyl's Reactor 4 caused a release of radioactive particles into the air, which contaminated the surrounding area and caused an increase in radiation levels in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and across Europe. It was the worst ever nuclear disaster in terms of casualties and clean-up costs. The crippled reactor itself was sealed under a sarcophagus of reinforced concrete.

Although the sarcophagus remains untouched by the fire, decades-old contaminants could still be released and travel far and wide, borne aloft by the smoke, nuclear safety expert John H. Large told RT:

[embedded content]

"Brush fires and forest fires were the greatest concern in terms of the means by which you can disperse a secondary radiological impact from the original dissipation that occurred in 1986," he said.

John went to Chernobyl in 2006 to assess the situation there and spoke to dozens of scientists working on containing the contamination.

"In the exclusion zone and further away you have an area that has been abandoned for farming, abandoned for man management," John says. "That means you've got lots of brush and young wood growing out of control, and that means there's a big fuel load to have a fire."

He says the high temperatures and volumes of smoke produced in a forest fire can take contaminants hundreds of kilometers away from the exclusion zone: "Radiation really doesn't respect any international boundaries."

Forest fires have happened in the area before, but have never been so serious, Timothy Mousseau, biology professor at the University of South Carolina, told RT:

"Previous forest fires had re-released about eight percent of the radiation from the original catastrophe. The fire that we're seeing today seems to be on a much larger scale, and so we could see a re-dispersion of a very significant component of the original radiation."

Another problem is that as the trees that have absorbed contaminants burn up and release smoke, this turns radioactive particles into a much more dangerous form than if they simply lie in the ground.

"Internal radiation from inhalation - in other words, if you inhale something radioactive and it gets inside you - is very much more dangerous than just the background radiation that comes off the ground," says Christopher Busby, the scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks.

French nuclear safety research institution IRSN created this simulation video, modelling the spread of caesium-137 from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Christopher Busby commented on how far radioactive particles can potentially spread: "After Chernobyl itself, they ended up in the atmosphere and they went right across the Baltic States and into Finland, and over Sweden, and then to the United Kingdom, where they caused significant increases in cancer."

However, other scientists believe the danger is minimal, because instead of being absorbed from the ground into the vegetation, contaminants actually sank deeper: "30 years on, the radiation in the soil is not on the surface, it has sunk down. New plants have grown on the spot, which contain very small doses of radiation," Leonid Bolshov, from the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute for safe atomic energy development, told RIA Novosti.

He said systems are in place to monitor radioactivity in the area: "When there were [forest] fires in 2010, our institute created a special method of determining the impact of the fires. Back then, we found no danger. The sensors that have been placed everywhere, including the Chernobyl zone, are not supposed to react - and they are not reacting. We checked the sensor in Pripyat today; its readings have been the same for the past two days." Pripyat is the abandoned town closest to the Chernobyl power plant.

Baltimore protests: Violent demonstrations or demonstrations against injustice and violence?


© Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators run by a damaged Baltimore police vehicle during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015

Successive US governments have tried to refashion the world in America's image. Meanwhile, they've ignored the domestic race issue, which has now exploded again.

I know what the anti-RT brigade in the corporate media are expecting here. They imagine I'll take great satisfaction from current events in Baltimore. No, I don't. There's nothing good about watching a nation or city fragment along ethnic or racial lines.

Just as there's no joy in Ukraine's current predicament, where the State Department stoked festering ethnic tensions and destroyed a country. Nor was there anything positive about the civil war that raged in Ireland's north-east corner when I was growing up a couple of hundred miles south.

Throughout history, countries and empires have waged war. Sadly, it continues today, both overtly and covertly. However, no international conflict ever leaves behind the bitterness that lingers after a Civil War or matches the ferocity of contemporaneous feeling when a tribe splits. In America and Europe, there are still exiled White Russian families who won't talk to those they consider 'Reds' and Irish Catholics in Boston who wouldn't date a Protestant. Of course, it's boneheaded, but it happens.

They put a man on the moon

Back in 1963, Communists luxuriated in the Birmingham, Alabama troubles which erupted in April of that year. They predicted the collapse of the US, driven by racial and sociological strife. The 60's tensions eventually helped lead to the Civil Rights Act of July 1964. However, in the 15 months between the 2 events, America had lost charismatic President Jack Kennedy. By the end of the decade, the equally magnetic Martin Luther King Jr. would also be dead. So too, the late President's brother Bobby.

Yet, the USA did not crumple. Instead, in 1969 it put a man on the moon. A great country survived a great crisis by reaching for greatness and achieving it. Today things are more complicated but there's also no chance of the country conking out. Rather, the real danger to Washington is the continued loss of US moral authority. A country that can't control its own cities is hardly one to aspire to follow. Especially when Baltimore is a mere 38 miles from the White House itself.

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Today, the politicians certainly have less integrity and ability but African Americans are not discriminated against to the same extent as in the 60's. In fact, at least on the surface, they've never had it so good. A black President and also, since Monday, a black Attorney General in the shape of Loretta Lynch. The question, however, is whether this is just window dressing.

From Birmingham to Baltimore

We see - almost exclusively white - media commentators lambasting the Baltimore activists for not remaining peaceful. Amid a near-enough total mainstream media blackout of the real action on the ground , viewers are fed a narrative of authorities good, protesters bad. We hear constant lectures about the constitution and property rights from public officials. What we don't hear much of are the reasons why so many angry people are smashing up the streets of Baltimore.

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What needs to be discussed is whether the Baltimore crisis is actually about violent demonstrations or is it about demonstrations against violence and injustice? Assuming it's the latter, if the huge government show of martial force stabilizes the situation, it will be akin to placing an adhesive band aid on a seeping laceration. It might stem the flow for an instant, but the pressure will soon see it break-out again.

Who is the 'real' Obama?

Let's be clear here. The ruckus in Baltimore is a result of the conditions the African American population is forced into in Maryland and all around the country. Institutionalized racism hasn't gone away in the US. On the contrary, outside of a few cosmopolitan cities, it's as bad as, if not worse than, ever. Just as Moscow is not Russia, tolerant Manhattan is not America. Megalopolises in huge countries have a habit of masking the real soul of the nation.

Only last week, nearly the entire police force of a Midwestern town quit after the residents elected the town's first ever black female mayor. They cited "safety concerns." Now, if a Serbian town rejected a Croatian mayor, for example, the State Department would be chomping at the bit like a Doberman who just discovered the pleasures of fillet steak. Yet, the US mainstream media has showed little interest in Tyrus Byrd's story. Parma happens to be in Missouri, a state which witnessed race riots in the small city of Ferguson last year.

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The reaction of national authorities to the recent upheaval has been quite un-American. Over the winter, the sight of special forces training in cities became increasingly familiar.

All this has happened on the watch of Barack Obama, America's first black President. Perhaps, if he spent less time indulging neocons as they attempt to destabilize the planet and more time worrying about his legacy at home, the world would be a better place.

When seeking election in 2008, Obama delivered a Berlin speech which looks ever-more bizarre with the passage of time. It was a comical attempt to copy the previous President to have emerged from a minority, in Kennedy's case Irish Catholic. An apathetic Berlin closed its ears but the city remains in love with JFK.

I was in Berlin that day. In the Tiergarten. I remember being reminded of Lloyd Bentsen who told Dan Quayle: "I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy." Despite the hype, nobody expected the then-candidate to be another JFK. Nevertheless, was it too much to have hoped he'd be Barack Obama? The real Obama has one last chance to prove he still exists, if he ever did.

The War on Cash Escalates: Chase Cracks Down on Cash... Is Your Bank Next?

The Federal Reserve bank and its owners, the largest banks on Wall Street, want badly to be able to charge you interest for the privilege of depositing your funds. The problem is getting you to stand for it.

Depositors already complain vigorously about zero percent returns on checking and savings accounts. If they must start actually paying the bank to hold funds on deposit, many will opt to simply withdraw the cash and stuff it under their mattress or into a safe deposit box. That simply won’t do.

The Goal Is to Force You to Deposit Cash and Charge YOU Interest

Bankers in the U.S. can learn something from the Swiss. The Swiss National Bank recently implemented negative interest rates without first solving the "problem" of how to prevent cash from fleeing the banks. Predictably, depositors started doing some math.

In one example, a sizable Swiss pension fund, calculated it would save 25,000 francs for every 10 million it held in the bank by simply withdrawing those millions and taking the bales of paper francs to be kept in a vault. The vault storage fees are less expensive than the negative interest rate.

Jumping the gun on the implementation of negative rates put the Swiss banks in an awkward situation. Like all fractional reserve lenders, they don’t have anywhere near enough cash to make good on the withdrawals that may be coming. The bank holding the pension money had little choice but to refuse the client’s demand for millions of francs – funds the client is contractually entitled to. Telling clients “sorry, you can’t make a withdrawal” never goes over too well!

Nevertheless, the Swiss National Bank is sticking to its guns. It is encouraging retail banks to be “restrictive” with regards to cash withdrawals. And it is berating actors such as the pension fund for trying to circumvent negative interest rates. Apparently no one should be questioning the wisdom behind the policy! But the bluster isn’t hiding the fact that bankers stand upon shaky legal ground. The potential for a run on the banks remains.

Insiders here look anxious to avoid a similar situation. Willem Buiter, the chief economist at CitiBank, thinks he’s got the answer to this banker’s quandary. Simply abolish cash. Or tax it punitively. He isn’t the only one supporting this radical solution. Other economists, including the prominent Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff, also think banning cash is a grand idea.

If depositors’ response to negative interest rates is predictable, so is the reaction from central planners. Effective herding is all about limiting the escape routes for members of the herd.

Eliminating physical cash may well be a longer-term project, but it is not something the Fed can likely implement any time soon. In the meantime, there are other ways to prevent depositors from making their escape.

For starters, officials can criminalize the use of cash above certain amounts.

Banks can also implement new policies of their own. Joseph Salerno from the Mises Institute discovered JPMorgan Chase leading the way. The bank very recently began test driving new rules in Cleveland as well as other markets.The bank will no longer accept cash from customers who want to use it to make mortgage payments, pay credit card balances or to cover their automobile loan.

No Cash or Bullion Allowed in Safe Deposit Boxes

Chase also rolled out new restrictions on what can be put into safe deposit boxes. The “Updated Safe Deposit Box Lease Agreement” customers must sign states, “You agree not to store any cash or coins other than those found to have a collectible value.”http://bit.ly/1EDJRWh

Expect other banks to follow suit shortly. The new rules go on top of decades of inflationary monetary policy, making paper currencies worth perpetually less over time. Clearly bankers are plumbing customers’ tolerance for pain.

More and more people will be looking for ways to make it stop. This is where things promise to get interesting for gold and silver investors.

Financial repression, the attempt to force citizens to accept the government shears, has long been a driver of demand for physical precious metals. This demand will accelerate as measures become more draconian. Some bank customers, perhaps even the Swiss pension fund mentioned above, will decide that bullion is a better option than sitting on bales of depreciating paper currency or paying banks to hold deposits.

Here in the U.S., the banks are central to just about all bureaucratic efforts at control. Look for droves of people to try and sidestep the banks and the dollar itself. The next decade or two is almost certain to see rapid innovation in alternative ways to store value and transact. Ways that preserve privacy and are beyond the reach of bureaucrats. As these new systems seek to gain trust and acceptance, precious metals are almost certain to play a much bigger role.

The difference between a mature relationship and an immature relationship

Mature couples don't "fall in love," they step into it. Love isn't something you fall for; it's something you rise for.

Falling denotes lowering oneself, dropping down and being stuck somewhere lower than where you started. You have to get up from falling.

Love isn't like that — at least not with people who are doing it right. Immature couples fall; mature couples coast. Because love is either a passing game, or it's forever. Love is either wrong, or it's right. A couple is either mature or immature.

How do you know? How can you tell if your relationship is in it for the long haul or the two-month plummet everyone predicted behind your love-obsessed back?

First, it should be easy, from the beginning to end. There are no passionate fights with passionate make-up sex. There's no obsessive calling, texting or worrying.

There's no real drama. Because drama is for kids. Drama is for people who don't know how to have a relationship — who live by idealistic, preconceived notions that love must be wild and obsessive.

Love is easy. It's the easiest thing you've ever done. It's the calmest place in your life, the safest blanket you've ever worn. It's something that happens naturally; it doesn't need to be fought for day in and day out.

When you love someone, and he or she loves you, and there's no doubt to his or her feelings and no doubt to yours, that's peace of mind. A peace of mind you've never had before.. the kind that humbles and revives you.

A mature relationship lives by this peace of mind; immature ones drown in it.

Immature relationships are all about doubts. Does he love me? Is she cheating on me? Will we be together in two months?

Mature couples don't need to ask questions. They already know the answers, and they don't need reassurance from their partners.

They are comfortable and secure and free of doubt because mature love isn't about all those small questions, but a comfort in knowing the big one is answered.

There's a void in immature relationships, an apparent absence and incessant worry that something's missing.

It eats away at you when you go to sleep or leave each other for just a few hours. It burns dimly when you're together, but you wave it off with sex and constant chatter.

Mature relationships have no void. There are no empty spaces or tiny cracks. There is never a feeling that something has been taken away or is leaving with the other person.

The love between the two mature people fills every crack in the fiber of their being they didn't know they had.

Immature relationships are formed by two incomplete people. They are two halves trying to make one whole.

They are two people looking for something that can't be found in another person. They dominate each other, force themselves together and make one flawed mesh of a human.

Mature couples never strive to be one. They are two individual people looking to make two better people. The love between the two of them isn't about making both of them whole again, but more individual.

It's about pushing each other to pursue their passions, interests and become the best person possible.

We all get wrapped up in love. It's easy to spend days in bed and weekends in the hazy world of blankets and kisses.

But eventually, that smothering love is replaced with motivated love — a type of love that comes when you want to make a life with someone and work hard to get that life. Immature couples never get to this.

They never feel that motivation to leave each other only to come back more successful and more determined to make a life for the two of them.

Fighting is natural; texting is not. Mature couples do not spend their days bickering over a screen.

When they have something to work out, they do it face to face — where the meanings can't be misconstrued by emojis and auto correct. Immature couples fuel their relationship with incessant bickering and lengthy messages.

Immature couples see long texts as evidence of their "relationship" and find comfort in spending hours hiding behind their phones. They argue just to argue; mature couples fight for their future.

Relationships are only for two complete people looking for companionship, yet many incomplete people look for it to complete them. This is when mature relationships and immature ones split.

You can't have a healthy relationship with two unhealthy people. When you're trying to use someone to complete you, you're creating an incomplete relationship.

There are always going to be people in your life, pasts to each person and surprises behind closed doors.

Mature couples, however, do not feel threatened by strangers and past lovers. They are confident in their love and their partner's love.

Immature couples find threats in everyone. They're delusional and paranoid because their love is superficial. They do not have a strong enough foundation to effortlessly glide past all the distractions and threats.

There's no right or wrong time to move in together. There's no specific year to get married and definitely not a timeline for your life together.

When you're in love, things happen at their own pace. You feel things, and you follow your heart.

Immature couples, however, don't have those feelings, those instincts and those effortless moments. They make up rules and guidelines and assume time is the only thing that makes or breaks their relationship.

We all have a past, and in many cases, one we're not proud of. We can't help what happened to people before we knew them. All that matters is how they are now. Immature couples, however, refuse to see beyond the past.

Mature couples don't just accept one another's pasts but want to help heal the wounds. They look beyond the mistakes and the flaws toward the beauty in the future together.

Lapita colonised Tonga within two generations

© Dave Burley
Lapita pottery was decorated with these characteristic dentate stamped patterns.

It only took a generation or two for the first settlers of Polynesia to spread from their original colonisation site in Tonga, a new study has found.

The rapid spread could have been driven by resource depletion and sibling rivalry, says archaeologist Professor Marshall Weisler of the University of Queensland.

"We now have a precise chronology for the settlement of Tonga and the radiating out and occupying the islands of Tonga," says Weisler.

"Within one human generation or so the first settlers explored the rest of the archipelago and put down additional daughter communities."

In 2012, Weisler worked with Professor David Burley of Simon Fraser University to establish that the first humans to colonise the Pacific arrived at Nukuleka, on the Tongan island of Tongatapu, around 2838 years ago.

Their conclusions were based on uranium isotope dating of coral abraders used by the Lapita people to make fish hooks, ornaments and tools.

Now, in a paper published in , Weisler and colleagues have got a picture of how long it took the Lapita to spread to other islands in Tonga, and how long daughter populations stayed in touch with the founder population.

The researchers dated 65 samples (including coral abraders, animal bones, shell tools and charcoal from ovens) from 20 Lapita sites across the Tongan archipelago.

They combined uranium- and radiocarbon-dating techniques in a so-called 'Bayesian model' to get the most precise chronology of early Polynesian movement.

The chronology was also aided by an analysis of pottery styles, which changed over time.

Rather than taking hundreds of years before occupying the rest of Tonga, the findings suggest it only took the early settlers 20 or 50 years, says Weisler.

"The process of settlement is far more rapid than we thought before," he says. "It's generational."

Weisler says archaeological evidence suggests that there was some depletion of resources at the original site, which could have been one reason why some people went in search of new homelands.

But, he says, sibling rivalry could possibly also have contributed to the split.

"In Polynesian societies, the first-born male inherits the good stuff. They become the head of their lineage in time, they inherit property," says Weisler.

"If you're second-born it's not good because you don't get any of these things. This creates a tension between siblings."

Weisler says another factor is the Lapita's long-standing tradition of seafaring. In other words, they may have dispersed just because they were adventurers.

In a separate study Weisler and colleagues have found evidence that daughter populations in other parts of Polynesia tended to stay in contact with their parent population for about 300 years before breaking off completely.

The findings are a result of analysing the chemical fingerprints of stone adzes, which were essential tools for early Polynesians.

Weisler and colleagues now plan to investigate reasons for the break off between daughter and parent communities.

Putin vows to support state and independent media

At the Truth and Justice Second Media Forum of Independent Local and Regional Media on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged his support for both government-owned and private media. Russia's president also went a step further to challenge all media to reach toward high credibility standards. His message is timely, given the western mainstream media's apparent lack of credibility recently.

The president made the statement before the forum organized by the Russian Popular Front, the political support organization made up of those who support his policies but choose not to join any particular political party. In response to a complaint of an independent journalist working for a private company, Mr. Putin addressed the disparity in state-owned versus independent media subsidies. The reporter told Putin:

"We are surviving on our own during the crisis and we have found ourselves in completely non-market conditions."


© Kremlin
Vladimir Putin listens to journalist’s input


State supported media receive such benefits as low office or facilities rents, along with subsidized transportation and other perks. In answer to the complaint, Putin quickly retorted:

"We must develop the system of support that would help everyone. Your job is to ensure that the problems that exist everywhere in our country be resolved in a civilized fashion."

He went on to applaud the Russian Popular Front with regard to ongoing regional support, and mentioned the organization's direct access to the cabinet and the president. Putin suggested the "system" be used more efficiently and broadly in order to assist media more actively. Despite this, Mr. Putin supported prevention of abuses by "various forces". Putin continued:

"We must surely push for the situation when no one would even attempt to use the mass media to achieve some business ends or any other interests not connected with the objectives of society or the regions".

The Russian president went on to criticize media outlets that allow an excessive amount of advertising. He chastised unnamed newspapers for being "spots for ads", rather than hubs of information. Putin went on to discuss such issues as credibility, monetization of media, business news and interdependence, and other key information/communications issues facing Russian media. He even went so far as to accuse business of "buying off" unwanted press, something the world has rarely heard from a noteable state leader. If transparency in government is even a valid concept any more, Putin's revelation to this group is a vivid characterization of what is wrong with ALL world media today. As for lending financial, legislative, and general support for all media, Putin gave this assurance:

"For my part, I assure you that I will do everything I can to support you."

For more on Russia's Popular Front please visit the Wikipedia arcticle here.

Saudi royal reshuffle likely to ensure kingdom’s US loyalty for decades

In a move that is likely to solidify ties with the US for decades to come, King Salman of Saudi Arabia has undertaken a major reshuffle, appointing Mohammed bin Nayef as his new successor and his son Mohammed bin Salman as second in line to the throne.

The decision by King Salman, who succeeded his late brother King Abdullah, who died on January 23, replaces his half-brother Prince Muqrin with Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince and heir to the Saudi throne.

Mohammed bin Salman, who is 34 years-old, is King Salman’s son. In his position as defense minister, the new deputy crown prince has been overseeing the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign against anti-government Houthi forces in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman (Reuters / Jim Bourg)

Both princes are part of a generation of grandsons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, the late King Abdulaziz al-Saud, whose sons have passed power from brother to brother since his death in 1953.

The majority of the family’s Allegiance Council approved both appointments. The selections are seen as a shift away from the princes who had been favored by King Salman’s predecessor, King Abdullah.

The 55 year-old Mohammed Bin Nayef is seen as a close friend of the US and has been effective in the country’s fight against Islamic militants. The crown prince speaks excellent English and studied in Portland Oregon in the US during the 1980’s. Mohammed Bin Nayef is “well liked” in US circles, having served as Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism chief and later as interior minister.

In December, he met with US President Barack Obama and discussed terrorism and regional issues. Obama praised “Saudi Arabia’s contributions to the global coalition to counter ISIL’s extremist ideology,” and expressed “appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s important role in upholding regional peace and security.”

During his visit to the Oval Office, one prominent international affairs professor at Texas A&M, F. Gregory Gause III, described Mohammed bin Nayef as “America’s favorite Saudi official.”

Meanwhile, a senior official in the Obama administration added, “What he has — and which American officials have grown to appreciate in particular — is that he’s quite pragmatic and not particularly ideological,” the Washington Post reported.

The crown prince has been widely praised in all circles for his tough stance on terrorism, something he has experience of first hand. In 2009, Al-Qaeda sent an assassin to try and kill Mohammed bin Nayef. The suicide bomber, disguised as a defector, approached the man before setting off a bomb concealed in his clothes. The first in line to the Saudi throne survived the attack unscathed.

Mohammed bin Nayef’s stance on Yemen has been equally strong, with the crown prince being a staunch supporter of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is currently in exile in Saudi Arabia.

This viewpoint is shared by the deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who has taken a hands on role in the Yemeni conflict, overseeing the bombing raids against the Houthi rebels.

The airstrikes, currently in their fifth week, have seen parts of the country devastated. The UN agency for children, UNICEF, reported that at least 115 children have been killed, though the death toll could be higher, while at least 30 schools and 23 hospitals have been damaged during the conflict.

On Wednesday, King Salman ordered all military and security personnel to be given a one-month salary bonus on Wednesday to convey his “appreciation of their efforts,” in what is most likely a reward for the current campaign in Yemen.

Royal bonuses are common in Saudi Arabia during times of political change. In January, King Salman ordered payment of two months extra salary and pensions to government employees and retirees.

Smoke billows from the international airport of Yemen's capital Sanaa after it was hit with air strikes by Saudi-led coalition April 28, 2015. (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)

In his position as the head of the country’s defense, the deputy crown prince is also responsible for huge arms purchases from the US. The UK also sells billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and planes to Saudi Arabia, some of which have been used the ongoing campaign in Yemen.

Mohammed bin Salman is by far the youngest Saudi in a senior decision making role. With 60 percent of the Kingdom’s population under the age of 21, King Salman’s son has been keen to portray himself in the Saudi media, which is owned by his father, as the leader of a new younger generation of Saudi’s.

Human rights groups are unlikely to welcome the news of King Salman’s appointments, citing Mohammed bin Nayef’s past track record in dealing with government opponents.

“What’s very troubling about his record is that he is the principle architect of this massive onslaught against dissidents and human rights activists,” said Adam Coogle, a Saudi-based Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch. “He is the chief, number one hard-liner, and he is persecuting moderate, independent voices for reform,” the Washington Post reported.

Coogle mentions that Mohammed bin Nayef’s policies are more extreme than his father’s, Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, who was crown prince when he died in 2012. While his father would lock up opponents for a few days to teach them a lesson, Mohammed bin Nayef has taken a much tougher line.

He has implemented a system with actual trials and charges for citizens who criticize the regime, with jail sentences of 10 to 15 years common.

Human Rights Watch has been routinely critical of Saudi Arabia’s record on the treatment of political opponents and the country’s inability to protect the rights of around nine million foreign workers in the region.

In May 2014, a Jeddah court convicted activist Raif Badawi and sentenced him to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” by founding a critical liberal website and for his comments during television interviews.

This move brought condemnation from governments across the globe. However, a number of Western countries who have voiced criticism are still happy to back the Saudi regime and supply it with weapons in exchange for the billion dollar contracts they receive.

US nation just hoping next President can prevent country's decline from being totally humiliating

Over 90 percent of registered voters say the next administration’s top priority should be minimizing the country’s collective embarrassment as the U.S. backslides into mediocrity.

WASHINGTON—As momentum builds toward the 2016 election, citizens across the nation told reporters this week they simply hope the next president of the United States can prevent the country's decline from being an utterly humiliating experience for the American public.

Rather than discussing policy issues they feel strongly about, U.S. voters spoke instead of their desire to just put someone in the White House capable of getting America through the next four years of increased income inequality, environmental degradation, and catastrophic international entanglements with some shred of its dignity intact.

"This time around, I'm really only asking for a president who can keep us from embarrassing ourselves any more than we already have as our country continues sliding backward," said 36-year-old Cleveland resident Michael Shapiro, adding that he will throw his full support behind any candidate who demonstrates a clear vision for navigating the country through its unavoidable downfall with as much self-respect as can be mustered. "We need a leader who will help us bow out as gracefully as possible, so we can just transfer the reins to China or whoever without making a huge deal about it."

"We're already kind of a global laughingstock when it comes to things like health care, education, and our middle class," he continued. "So if whoever's in charge could just make sure we hold on to, say, our basic housing infrastructure and relatively clean water supply during our tailspin, that'd be great."

According to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted last month, 64 percent of Americans said their vote will hinge entirely on whichever candidate, regardless of party, can help the nation preserve some semblance of integrity while its moral standing in the world continues to plummet. Meanwhile, 58 percent reported they were desperate for a leader who can assume the responsibilities of commander-in-chief without making the country look completely helpless and ineffective in every single international dispute.

In addition, 87 percent of citizens confirmed that during the next presidential term, they merely hope to occasionally read something about their country in the news that doesn't leave them feeling ashamed, angry, depressed, or completely mortified.

"It's pretty simple, really: Just lay out a clear-cut, straightforward plan for a future in which we don't totally go down in flames on a grand stage, and you've got my vote," said Allison Joyce, a 47-year-old middle school teacher from Bethesda, MD. "Look, I don't need to be inspired; I don't need to be assured our future is bright; I don't need to be told I'm strong and resilient in the face of hardship. Just convince me we can get through the next decade in the least demeaning way possible given all our problems with childhood poverty, gun violence, and people dying because they can't afford medical treatment. That's it."

"That's seriously all I want from my president going forward," she added. "Just the faintest of silver linings that I can hold on to while everything else goes down the drain."

Though they admitted to reporters that no one in the current field of presidential hopefuls seems likely to spare the country much humiliation while its infrastructure crumbles and its reputation is reduced to tatters, most voters expressed optimism that such a candidate will eventually emerge.

"We know what's in store for America, so if we could elect someone who's committed to keeping things somewhat tolerable while the whole place goes to hell, that'd be great," said Seattle-based tax attorney Greg Hudson, 57. "It's really our best hope at this point. The British Empire kind of just gradually fell by the wayside without too much embarrassment. Maybe we can, too. Who knows, we might still be able to go out with a little bit of class."

"Then again," Hudson added, "maybe at this point the best option is to put someone in the White House who will just bite the bullet and get this whole thing over with as quickly as possible."