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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Patents for technology to read people's minds hugely increasing

© The Independent, UK
Patents include technology to artificially alter people’s mood and control video games, as well as more conventional healthcare applications.

Companies are taking out a huge amount of patents related to reading brainwaves, according to analysis, with a range of different applications.

Fewer than 400 neuro-technology related patents were filed between 2000-2009. But in 2010 alone that reached 800, and last year 1,600 were filed, according to research company SharpBrains.

The patents are for a range of uses, not just for the healthcare technology that might be expected. The company with the most patents is market research firm Nielsen, which has 100. Microsoft also has 89 related patents.

Other uses of the technology that have been patented include devices that can change the thoughts of feelings of those that they are used on.

But there are still medical uses — some of those patents awarded include technology to measure brain lesions and improve vision.

The volume and diversity of the patents shows that we are at the beginning of "the pervasive neurotechnology age", the company's CEO Alvaro Fernandez said.

"Neurotech has gone well beyond medicine, with non-medical corporations, often under the radar, developing neurotechnologies to enhance work and life," said Fernandez.

Mysterious supernova still astounds astronomers

© NASA/ESA/Hubble
Supernova SN 1987A.

This is Supernova SN 1987A, one of the brightest stellar explosions since the invention of the telescope more than 400 years ago.

Supernova 1987A exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy about 168,000 light-years away. The light from the supernova arrived here in 1987. Dominating the image are three glowing loops of stellar material, formed when the fast expanding supernova collided with the dense, slower moving material in the stellar wind.

This stellar wind was ejected by the former star about 20,000 years before it went supernova. These collisions cause intense heating and the production of powerful optical and X-ray energy emissions.

Outer, ejected materials lit up first, followed by the innermost materials powered by radioactive isotopes, such as cobalt-56, which decayed into iron-56.

There are still many mysteries surrounding these structures, and their origin remains largely unknown. Another mystery is that of the missing neutron star at the heart of the supernova.

The star that exploded to create SN1987A was a blue supergiant known as Sanduleak -69° 202. Blue supergiants can have surface temperatures of over 50,000°C, and can be a million times as luminous as the Sun.

The violent death of a high-mass star, such as SN 1987A, leaves behind a stellar remnant in the form of either a neutron star or a stellar mass black hole.

However astronomers have been unable to find a neutron star in the remnants of SN1987A, possibly because it's surrounded by an extremely dense cloud of thick dust. It's also possible that so much material fell back onto the neutron star that it further collapsed into a stellar mass black hole.

Lopsided blast

Now, new data from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, shows that the star exploded in a lopsided or asymmetrical blast, sending most of the ejected debris and material flying off in one direction, and the stellar core in the other.

NuSTAR found the "smoking gun" in the form of a radioisotope called titanium-44 which is produced at the core of a supernova explosion, providing astronomers with a direct probe into the mechanisms of a detonating star.

Titanium-44 continues to blaze in the supernova remnant due to its long half-life of around 60 years.

The NuSTAR data reveals that titanium-44 is moving away from us with a velocity of 2.6 million kilometres per hour.

The new findings follow similar observations made by NuSTAR last year of another supernova remnant, called Cassiopeia A, which also produced evidence of an asymmetrical explosion.

Together, these results suggest that lopsidedness is at the very root of core-collapse supernovae.

The image is based on observations undertaken with the High Resolution Channel of the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

An outrage to history: U.S. & Europe boycott Russia's celebration of its May 9th 1945 victory over Hitler


© Unknown
Putin and Obama at last year's D-Day victory celebration and commemoration in Normandy, France - which Putin had the character strength and good will to show up for - despite the turmoil the West had already created for the Ukraine and for Russia.

At first, a few progressive heads-of-state in Europe were appalled at U.S. President Barack Obama's pressure for them to reject Russia's invitation to an upcoming 9 May 2015 celebration of victory against Hitler, and Czech President Milos Zeman even came out publicly saying, in a conspicuous face-slap to Obama, on 3 January 2015, that the U.S. overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 had been a coup and that "only poorly informed people" were comparing that to Czechoslovakia's own "Velvet Revolution" against communism on 29 December 1989. Zeman even said that Ukraine's 22 February 2014 U.S. overthrow of Yanukovych, or the event (under the cover of public demonstrations at the) "Maidan, was not a democratic revolution" but instead a coup. Or, as the head of Stratfor, the private CIA firm, has acknowledged, it was even "the most blatant coup in history," because it was so well doumented in videos taken by bystanders at the time, as well as by internal intelligence leaks (such as this and this). So: indeed, "only poorly informed people" didn't know about it. (And some still don't.)

On 2 January 2015, the progressive Zeman — a passionate opponent of Hitler and of his Nazis and their nazism — courageously stated his intention to go to Moscow for its upcoming May 9th victory-over-Nazism celebration; but, on 8 April 2015, the Czech deputy prime minister, who leads a conservative party, caved to pressure from the U.S. Ambassador, and said that Zeman would have to do it at his own personal expense if at all; and, so, two days later, on April 10th, Zeman said that he wouldn't attend — the pressure from the U.S. was just too great.

Then, on 3 May 2015, France's Boulevard Voltaire, as translated at Fort Russ, reported that no Western leader would be attending, and Fort Russ headlined on May 9th, "Putin 'all by himself in Red Square' — with the leaders of half the planet." (The only Western official to attend is Greece's Speaker of Parliament.) Obama had, indeed, succeeded at blocking virtually all Western representation at Russia's 70th-Anniversary victory celebration against nazism.

Mr. Obama had earlier paid homage to Hitler, the historical founder of nazism or racist fascism, by making the U.S., on 21 November 2014, one of only three countries in the entire world to vote against a resolution at the United Nations condemning the recent upsurge in racist fascism in many countries. Although Hitler wasn't even mentioned in it, Obama had his U.N. representative vote against it — vote against condemning Hitler's ideology.

Even before that, in February 2014, Obama was the first-ever U.S. President to perpetrate a coup overthrowing a democratically elected head-of-state and installing a racist-fascist, or ideologically nazi, regime as its replacement. This is what he did in Ukraine.

That regime subsequently engaged in an ethnic-cleansing campaign, which Obama supports.

All of this is due to Obama's obsession to defeat Russia, which, of course, is adjoining Ukraine, which proximity makes Obama's takeover of Ukraine especially useful for his main foreign-policy goal of defeating Russia.

According to Western accounts, the whole problem started on 21 November 2013, right after Ukraine's freely elected President Viktor Yanukovych announced his rejection of the EU's offer, but America's planning for the coup actually started back in Spring of 2013, not after 21 November 2013; and Yanukovych had good reason to reject the EU's offer, because it would have cost Ukraine an estimated $160 billion. So, that account in Western media is demonstrably false, insofar as it pertains to what had actually caused those public demonstrations. It was Obama's determination to defeat Russia.

Obama's TPP and TTIP international-trade deals are part of that — to lock out both Russia and China. But Obama even opposes the policy, which is already in place in all industrialized countries except America, and even in some underdeveloped countries, that basic healthcare is not a privilege that should be available only to persons who have the financial ability to pay for it, but is instead a basic human right, which must be made available to all citizens regardless of how rich they are.

Obama even places higher priority on defeating Russia than on defeating ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Some people say that none of this can be true, because it doesn't fit with Obama's rhetoric. But no intelligent person trusts his rhetoric anymore. Too much is established by his record, for anyone today still to be trusting his mere rhetoric. But anyway, as President he has argued to the U.S. Supreme Court (and the Court unanimously agreed) that the right to lie in politics is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be limited by any state.


Pentagon report on Chinese military capabilities


Lijian UAV

China's military plans to produce nearly 42,000 land-based and sea-based unmanned weapons and sensor platforms as part of its continuing, large-scale military buildup, the Pentagon's annual report on the People's Liberation Army (PLA) disclosed Friday.

China currently operates several armed and unarmed drone aircraft and is developing long-range range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both intelligence gathering and bombing attacks.

"The acquisition and development of longer-range UAVs will increase China's ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance and strike operations," the report said.

China's ability to use drones is increasing and the report said China "plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023."

Four UAVs under development include the Xianglong, Yilong, Sky Saber, and Lijian, with the latter three drones configured to fire precision-strike weapons.

"The Lijian, which first flew on Nov. 21, 2013, is China's first stealthy flying wing UAV," the report said.

The drone buildup is part of what the Pentagon identified as a decades-long military buildup that last year produced new multi-warhead missiles and a large number of submarines and ships.

Additionally, the Pentagon for the first time confirmed China's development of an ultra-high speed maneuvering strike vehicle as part of its growing strategic nuclear arsenal.

"China is working on a range of technologies to attempt to counter U.S. and other countries' ballistic missile defense systems, including maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRV), [multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles], decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding," the report, made public Friday, states.

"The United States and China acknowledge that the Chinese tested a hypersonic glide vehicle in 2014," the report noted.

It was the first time the Pentagon confirmed the existence of what is known as the Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle, a strike weapon that travels at the edge of space at nearly 10 times the speed of sound.

The Wu-14, designed to deliver nuclear weapons through U.S. missile defenses, was first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon, which reported on three tests conducted in 2014.

"Together with the increased mobility and survivability of the new generation of missiles, these technologies and training enhancements strengthen China's nuclear force and bolster its strategic strike capabilities," the report said.

"China will likely continue to invest considerable resources to maintain a limited, but survivable, nuclear force to ensure the PLA can deliver a damaging responsive nuclear strike."

Rick Fisher, a China military affairs analyst, said the report is the Pentagon's most detailed assessment in recent years.

"By far it is the most detailed PLA report in terms of explaining near to medium term threat vectors but does not venture enough into the far term, the later 2020s and beyond," said Fisher, with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

The report also highlights the threat facing Taiwan. "It is a tragedy that the Obama administration does not pay attention to these assessments when it continually denies Taiwan new weapons systems it requires to continue to deter China," Fisher said.

The Chinese military, once a backward, ill-equipped force, is rapidly becoming a very sophisticated high-technology military organization that is focused on developing asymmetric warfare capabilities that will allow it to defeat the United States or other advanced militaries in a future conflict.

The new capabilities include anti-satellite weapons, including a high-earth orbit missile capable of hitting strategic satellites as high as 22,000 miles in space, and cyber warfare capabilities.

But the major weapons systems that receive the most attention in Chinese defense spending, estimated by the Pentagon to be more than $175 billion annually, are missiles.

China's Second Artillery Corps, as its nuclear and conventional missile service is called, is building several new classes and upgrades of offensive missiles, including hypersonic vehicles.

More than 1,200 short-range missiles are now deployed within range of Taiwan, with which China has vowed to reunite, with force if necessary, since the island broke away at the end of the 1940s civil war against the Communists.

"China is increasing the lethality of its conventional missile force by fielding a new ballistic missile, the CSS-11 (DF-16), which possesses a range of 800-1,000 km [500 to 620 miles]," the report said.

"The CSS-11, coupled with the already deployed conventional variant of the CSS-5 (DF-21) medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), will improve China's ability to strike not only Taiwan, but other regional targets."

Additionally, deployment of another new weapon, the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, continued last year. The missile has a maneuverable warhead and can attack ships at ranges of up to 930 miles in the western Pacific Ocean.

Numerous long-range precision-strike cruise missiles also are deployed or nearing deployment.

Its 50 to 60 long-range missiles include multi-warhead variants, and three road-mobile ICBMs also are deployed or in development.

"A new generation of mobile missiles, with warheads consisting of MIRVs and penetration aids, are intended to ensure the viability of China's strategic deterrent in the face of continued advances in U.S. and, to a lesser extent, Russian strategic [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] ISR, precision strike, and missile defense capabilities," the report said.

China asserts its policy on nuclear war is not to be the first to use nuclear arms in a conflict, but the report said there is "ambiguity" about whether or not China would be the first to fire nuclear missiles.

The military, unlike most other nations' armed forces, remains an arm of the ruling Communist Party and its top priority is not to defend the nation but preserve the power of the party, the report said.

Four ballistic missile submarines, known as the Jin-class, have been deployed and another is under construction. The submarines will carry JL-2 missiles and their first patrols are expected this year.

The People's Liberation Army is also developing military "information operations" for a future conflict that will involve cyber attacks to create an "information blockade using both military and non-military attacks against space satellites."

"China's investments in advanced EW systems, counterspace weapons, and cyberspace operations - combined with more traditional forms of control historically associated with the PLA and CPC systems, such as propaganda and denial through opacity - reflect the emphasis and priority China's leaders place on building capability for information advantage," the report said.

Offensive cyber attacks will be used to support other high-tech weapons and will strike "critical nodes to disrupt adversary networks throughout the region."

On cyber warfare, the Pentagon said China's cyber warriors will be used for intelligence and offensive cyber attacks, slowing an enemy's military actions, and that they will be used in combination with conventional or nuclear weapons.

China's military has identified information warfare as "integral to achieving information superiority and an effective means for countering a stronger foe," the report said.

China's government last year was directly linked to cyber attacks on Pentagon networks, including the U.S. Transportation Command.

The cyber penetrations "are similar to those necessary to conduct offensive cyber operations," the report said.

China's space warfare capabilities continue to expand. Beijing, in July 2014, conducted an anti-satellite missile test that was similar to the one in 2007 that destroyed a weather satellite and left thousands of pieces of dangerous floating debris. The July test, however, did not create debris.

The U.S. government protested the test "due to the evidence suggesting that this was a follow-up to the 2007 destructive test," the report said.

The report also confirmed that the May 13, 2013 anti-satellite missile test reached 18,641 miles into space - enough to hit all U.S. spy and communications satellites.

"The launch profile was not consistent with traditional space-launch vehicles, ballistic missiles or sounding rocket launches used for scientific research," the report said. "It could, however, have been a test of technologies with a counterspace mission in geosynchronous orbit."

The test of what the Pentagon calls a DN-2 ASAT (anti-satellite) missile was first reported by the Free Beacon.

The report sought to highlight increased military exchanges between the United States and China but noted that "there are still incidents that highlight the need for continued dialogue in order to reduce risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding."

Notable was an August 2014 incident involving a PLA Navy fighter jet that flew within 30 feet of a Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft on a routine mission in international airspace over the South China Sea.

"The United States protested the dangerous intercept," the report said, adding, there have been no similar intercepts reported since.

On submarines, the report said China has placed a high priority on building up its submarine forces. China's submarine fleet currently includes four nuclear missile submarines and 53 diesel attack submarines.

Other elements of China's submarine fleet include 13 Song-class and 13 Yuan-class vessels. The Yuan has quiet running air independent propulsion, and 20 more are scheduled for production.

For its Jin-class missile submarines, up to five are additional vessels are being built, and an entire new class of missile submarine also being developed.

Aircraft include two new stealth fighters, the J-20 and J-31.

"The prototype, referred to as the J-31, is similar in size to a U.S. F-35 fighter and appears to incorporate design characteristics similar to the J-20," the report said.

Regarding regional maritime disputes, the report said China is using its military and coast guard for "low-intensity coercion" in the South China Sea against Vietnam and Philippines and against Japan in in the East China Sea over the disputed Senkaku Islands.

The report also revealed that China's reliance on imported energy resources is increasing, raising concerns China will continue to expand its power to control waterways and areas of the world that provide oil and gas resources.

China last year imported about 60 percent of its oil supply and the figure is expected to grow to 80 percent by 2035.

Chinese nationalism is also on the rise. The report said Communist leaders are exploiting nationalist sentiment among the Chinese "to bolster the legitimacy of the Party, deflect domestic criticism, and justify their own inflexibility in dialogues with foreign interlocutors."

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Mother's Day blizzard underway in South Dakota


© South Dakota DOT/Handout/Reuters
Snow covers the ground off Interstate 90 east of Sturgis, South Dakota, in this view from a highway camera taken Sunday.

Blizzard Warnings are in place for parts of South Dakota through 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening. Elsewhere Winter Storms Warnings are in effect that include the panhandle of Nebraska.

Area's in the panhandle, such as Chadron, could see more than a foot of the white stuff by the time all is said and done. Meanwhile, the Black Hills and Rapid City, SD could see up to two feet of snow! Winds are going to be whipping it around as well, they could see gusts near 60 mph.

This is a very late season storm, likely to break records. You'll remember back to the blizzard of October 2013 when western South Dakota and Nebraska panhandle picked up unprecedented snowfall. Some areas saw over four feet. The early season storm was to blame for weeks-long power outages and the deaths of millions of cattle and livestock. Our own Brad Sugden was working in the area at the time covering that blizzard.


© wowt.com


Putin urges Western countries to build global security system on non-aligned basis


© Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS

Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged Western countries to build a system of global security on a non-aligned basis, to abandon the phobias of the past and look forward to the future.

"As for getting rid of fear, this is an internal state of those who is scared. One needs to overcome it, make a step forward, to abandon the phobias of the past and to look forward to the future," he told a news conference following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Russian leader thus commented on a question about the apprehensions of a number of countries about the security system proposed by Russia. In this connection the president recalled the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. According to Putin, the Soviet Union exerted every effort to counter Nazism in Europe. "All these attempts failed," he noted, adding that this forced the Soviet Union to take steps to avoid direct armed conflict with Germany. As a result of this, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed. "This pact did make sense in ensuring the Soviet Union's security," he said.

As for Poland, it "took some steps aimed at annexing part of the Czech territory." After Poland's division, "it proved to be a victim of the policy it tried to pursue in Europe."

"We must bear all this in mind and not forget anything. A truly effective security system can be built on a non-aligned basis, on the basis of ensuring an equal approach for promoting the security of all parties to international dialogue," the Russian leader said. "If we are able to build work on the basis of the UN, I think we will achieve success," he added.

The iceman cometh? A chilly era for humanity


© 20th Century Fox

President Obama, Al Gore and other alarmists continue to prophesy manmade global warming crises, brought on by our "unsustainable" reliance on fossil fuels. Modelers like Mike Mann and Gavin Schmidt conjure up illusory crisis "scenarios" based on the assumption that carbon dioxide emissions now drive climate change. A trillion-dollar Climate Crisis industry self-servingly echoes their claims.

But what if these merchants of fear are wrong? What if the sun refuses to cooperate with the alarmists?

"The sun is almost completely blank," meteorologist Paul Dorian notes. Virtually no sunspots darken the blinding yellow orb. "The main driver of all weather and climate ... has gone quiet again during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century. Not since February 1906 has there been a solar cycle with fewer sunspots."

"Going back to 1755, there have been only a few solar cycles that have had a lower number of sunspots during their maximum phase," Dorian continues. This continued downward trend in solar sunspot cycles began over 20 years ago, when Earth stopped warming. If it continues for a couple more cycles, Earth could be entering another "grand minimum," an extended period of low solar activity.

That would mean less incoming solar radiation, which could have a marked cooling effect - as happened during previous decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The "Maunder Minimum" lasted 70 years (1645-1715), the "Dalton Minimum" 40 years (1790-1830); they brought even colder global temperatures to the "Little Ice Age."

Solar activity is in free fall, Reading University (UK) space physicist Mike Lockwood confirms, perhaps "faster than at any time in the last 9,300 years." He raised the likelihood of another grand minimum to 25% (from 10% three years previously). However, he claims a new little ice age is unlikely.

"Human-induced global warming is already a more important force in global temperatures than even major solar cycles," Professor Lockwood insists. That warmist mantra may keep him from getting excoriated for even mentioning solar influences. But it ignores Earth's long history of climate change.

And what if Lockwood is wrong about human influences and the extent of a coming cold era? Habibullo Abdussamatov, director of Russia's space research laboratory and its global warming research team, is convinced another little ice age is on its way. (See pages 18-21 of this report.) That would be LIA #19.

A couple degrees warmer, with more carbon dioxide in the air, would be good for humanity and planet. Crops, forests and grasslands would grow faster and better, longer growing seasons over larger areas of land would support more habitats, wildlife, agriculture and people - especially if everyone has access to ample, reliable, affordable energy, especially electricity, and modern farming technologies. Most people, including the elderly, can easily handle such warmth, especially if they have air conditioning.

But a couple degrees would bring serious adverse consequences for habitats, wildlife, agriculture and humanity. Though geologists say we are overdue for one, this does not mean another Pleistocene ice age - with glaciers obliterating forests and cities under mile-thick walls of ice across North America, Europe, Asia and beyond. Maybe Lockwood is right, and it won't be a full-blown Little Ice Age déjà vu.

However, Antarctic sea ice just set a new April record. Ice conditions are back to normal in the Arctic. Winters have become longer, colder and snowier. With less meltwater, sea levels are barely rising.

Moreover, a 2-degree drop in average global temperatures would shrink growing seasons, cropland and wildlife habitats. Agriculture would be curtailed across Canada, northern Europe and Russia, putting greater pressure on remaining land to feed hungry families without turning more habitats into cropland. Governments might even have to stop mandating corn for ethanol and devote the land to food crops.

Our ability to feed Earth's growing population would be seriously impaired, especially since the same factions that wail about fossil fuels, fracking and "dangerous manmade climate change" also despise the chemical fertilizers, insecticides, biotechnology and mechanized farming that would enable us to get far more food per acre under colder conditions, even if crops are starved for plant-fertilizing CO2.

Generally colder conditions can also bring more unpredictable storms and cold snaps during shortened growing seasons. That happened frequently during the last Little Ice Age (1350-1850), resulting in frequent crop failures and bouts of hunger, malnutrition, starvation and disease in much of Europe.

Worst of all, cold kills. Modern homes and buildings with affordable heat make it easy to survive even brutal winters in comfort. However, carbon taxes, restrictions on coal and natural gas, renewable energy mandates and other ill-conceived programs have sent electricity and home heating prices soaring.

When energy is rationed, expensive and unpredictable, businesses lay people off or close their doors. Forced to go on welfare, people's health and well-being suffer. The elderly are especially susceptible. In Britain, many pensioners now ride buses or sit in libraries all day to stay warm, while others burn used books in stoves (they are cheaper than coal or wood). Thousands die of hypothermia, because they can no longer afford proper heat.

In Germany, Greece and other countries, rising energy costs have caused a surge in illegal tree cutting, as desperate families try to stay warm. Hungry, unemployed families are also poaching wildlife. Meanwhile, forests of wind turbines generate minimal expensive electricity but do slaughter millions of birds and bats every year, leaving crops to be eaten by hordes of insects, across Europe and the United States.

These realities portend what will likely happen on a far larger scale, if we do enter another prolonged cold era under anti-fossil fuel rules imposed in response to global warming hysteria. The spectre of widespread turmoil, rising death tolls and climate refugees by the millions could become reality.

And still alarmists say, even if temperatures aren't rising, we should force developed nations to curtail their energy use and living standards - and modernize developing countries in a "sustainable" manner. We should use the "climate crisis" to "move the world in a greener, more equitable direction."

As though wind, solar and biofuel energy and widespread organic farming are sustainable, under any objective standard. As though government elites have a right to tell poor countries what level of development, what energy technologies, what farming methods they will be "permitted" to have - and what level of poverty, disease, malnutrition and early death they must continue to suffer.

Ending this insanity must begin with the climate scientists and modelers. They are taking our tax dollars and promoting constant scare stories. They owe it to us to be objective, transparent and willing to discuss and debate these issues with those who question human influences on climate change. They owe it to us to get the predictions right, so that we can be properly prepared, especially if the iceman cometh again.

That means basing their models on all the forces that determine global temperature and climate fluctuations: the sun, cosmic rays, deep ocean currents, volcanoes and other natural forces, as well as the 0.04% of Earth's atmosphere that is carbon dioxide. It means comparing predictions with actual (non-averaged, non-manipulated) real-world observations and data. If the improved models still do not predict accurately, it means revising hypotheses and methodologies yet again, until they square with reality.

Meanwhile, our politicians owe it to us to start basing energy and environmental policies on reality: on how Earth's climate and weather actually behave - and on how their policies, laws and regulations affect job creation and preservation, economic growth and opportunities, and human health and welfare, especially for poor and minority families, and even more so for the poorest people on our planet.

Azov militants claim gunning down apartment buildings is sheer fun


© Twitter

Who would be surprised to see people shooting at a building while laughing, especially if these very same people have posed with Hitler portraits?

A man dressed in the infamous Ukrainian Azov regiment uniform had a blast delivering heavy machine gun fire at a residential building in Eastern Ukraine.

The purported Azov fighter yelled that he would "hit separatists" and opened fire on a block of flats with a DShK — a heavy machine gun delivering 12.7 mm cartridges.

[embedded content]

After a string of gunfire, the shooter expressed his pleasure while using profanity.

The "firing range" was organized on the outskirts of Mariupol — the city Azov claims to be protecting.

The volunteer Azov regiment (earlier a battalion) was formed in May 2014, and has been widely slammed as a magnet for neo-Nazis. Its emblem mirrors that of Nazi German units, including the SS Panzer Division.

This formation is registered in the ranks of Ukraine's Interior Ministry.

Revolutionary machine extends lung transplant window to 24 hours

© Reuters/Carlos Barria

A new technique is enabling a patient's lung to keep breathing for up to a day outside their body. Doctors are hailing it as a success that could see the number of transplants in a year double and allow them to save hundreds more lives.

Until now, donor organs have had to be placed in a refrigerated box and stored in ice to keep them working as new as they were being ferried to and from hospitals. But that only allowed the organ to live for six hours.

The machine at London's Royal Brompton and Harefield hospital can stretch this to 24 hours.

The Organ Care System, or OSC, not just stores the organ, but keeps it in the same condition as it exists in the body. It consists of a sealed plastic box, a pump that feeds blood to the organ and a device to inflate and deflate the lung.

The technology could also improve the lung's condition, the developers say. That in itself increases the likelihood of the lung's suitability for a patient; it should be noted that, at present, only about 20 percent of donor lungs are good.

© transplants.ucla.edu
The Organ Care System, or OSC

The hospital, Brompton Royal, already made headlines last year with their technique for keeping donor hearts alive. Its head of transplant surgery, Andre Simon, already has 12 OCS surgeries under his belt.

He underlines its importance in that we can finally avoid putting organs on ice. "Previously we had no alternative," he told the Daily Mail.

OCS can "quadruple the length of time an organ can be kept before transplant, potentially doubling the number of surgeries and revolutionizing lung transplantation," he said.

There have been numerous other strides in the field taking place in the course of the past several years, including Australian doctors transplanting dead hearts into living patients last year, as well as the world's first self-regulating artificial heart transplant in France in late 2013.

'Banderastan' and Russia - a study in hatred and love

© Mstyslav Chernov

I am sitting in front of my computer and watch the movie , by Arkadii Mamontov, about the May 2nd Odessa massacre. The movie is very well made and I hope that somebody will subtitle it in English. It shows a lot of video footage of various events, which all took place last year. Scenes include the intercepted telephone calls of local Ukronazi leaders, the smiling faces of the young Ukrainian girls preparing Molotov cocktails, the applause from the crowd, with the Ukronazi lynch mob approaching the square where the anti-Maidan demonstrators had their tents. Two things in particular amaze me: the absolute burning hatred of the Ukronazis for the "separy" or "colorady" (the anti-Maidan Ukrainians) and the fact they are all speaking in Russian! Not a single word is uttered by these Russia-haters, in their beloved Ukrainian language.

And I ask myself - are these Russians or not?

I suppose that it depends on your definition of Russians. For me, a Russian is any person who loves, and cares for Russia. It is not an ethnicity or a language, but a "civilizational realm", just like there are Indian or Chinese civilizational realms. By those criterions, these Ukronazis are not Russians.

In that logic, history is literally irrelevant.

Let's imagine an imaginary people who lived for 5000 years on an island with no contact with the outside world. And yet, one day, some of them, for whatever reason, decide to declare that they are a totally different nation, with nothing in common with the rest of the islanders. They invent themselves a language, a history and some ersatz of a culture. It is all utter nonsense, of course, and any historical investigation will reveal this fraud. But even if all their founding myths completely contradict the historical record, even if their language is completely artificial and invented, and even if their entire claim to a separate identity is based on nothing, nothing at all, there is one thing which cannot be impugned, one thing which is undeniably real: their seething hatred for their own people, culture and history. That hatred by itself does not need to be based on anything, it can appear and no amount of logical demonstrations will weaken it.

Superficially, one could look at the footage of the Odessa massacre and say that these were Russians killing Russians. But this is a deeply misguided view. Because of "russian-ness" or "being Russian" is something which originates in the soul and identity of a person, then you cannot be Russian and hate Russia. Even if you come from 100 generations of "pure" Russians (whatever that means), you cease to be 'Russian' the moment you start hating Russia. You become a Russian-speaking Ukronazi.

© RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov

There is also another crucial difference between Russians and Ukronazis. You can watch any Russian TV show, read any article, and watch thousands of hours of footage made in the streets of Novorussia or Russia proper and you will see the same thing over and over again: people moved by love. Love of their country, love of their people, love of a socially just, social order, love of the memory and examples of those who gave their lives in defense of freedom.

Che Guevara once wrote:

"Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality. This is perhaps one of the great dramas of a leader; he must combine an impassioned spirit with a cold mind and make painful decision without flinching. Our vanguard revolutionaries must idealise their love for the people, for the most hallowed causes, and make it one and indivisible. They cannot descend, with small doses of daily affection, to the terrain where ordinary men put their love into practice. "

The Che wrote this about Cuba, but it very much applies to Novorussia today: the Novorussian revolution (that is what it is, of course, a revolution) is moved by love.

Compare that with the Nazi-occupied Ukraine I call "Banderastan":

  • How do you burn cops who are ordered to stand down and not fight back?
  • How do you gouge out the eyes of an already wounded cop?
  • How do you shoot your own demonstrators?
  • How do you betray every pledge you make?
  • How do you rejoice at the sight of people burned alive?
  • How do you take pride in shelling your own people, all civilians?
  • How do you voluntarily accept to be a foreigner's puppet?
  • How do you massacre hundreds of foreigners, who just happen to fly across your airspace?
  • How do you deprive your own people from basic necessities to fight an unwinnable war?
  • How do you spend all your time, day in and day out, lying, lying, lying and then lying some more?
  • How do you so sell - literally - your own country, people and culture to foreign vultures?
You do that when you are moved by a burning, raging, seething hatred.

But where does this hate come from? Centuries of oppression and vicious 'russification'? Hardly, one cannot oppress for "centuries" something which was only born 100 years ago. The famous "Holodomor"?! Nope. Every single nation of the Soviet Union did suffer terribly under the Soviet rule, not just the Ukrainians. I would add that the historical record shows that the Ukrainians were over-represented in the Soviet political system and that they had it better, not worse, than the rest of the Soviet people. So what is the cause of such hatred?

Could it be that deep inside themselves they know that they are a fraud? That their national identity has no positive expression? That Ukrainian identity is nothing more than 'russophobia'? Can you imagine how humiliating it must be for them to only score "victories" against unarmed civilians? Or how it feels when your national Parliament declares that Russia is an "aggressor state" and Russia simply ignores this? Or how these nationalists feel when they look at the "score board" of the Ukrainian nationalist movement: the Ukrainian People's Republic (1917) was a total disaster, as were the equally short-lived Hetmanate and Directorate. Then, after the usual Polish meddling, the "independent Ukraine" was finished. It took the "independent Ukraine" only 5 years to end in total chaos by 1922. It reemerged in 1991 as the richest ex-Soviet Republic. This time it took the Ukrainians over 20 years to completely destroy all the immense human and material capital the Soviet Union had built: first came the "glorious" independence, followed by a no less "glorious" Orange Revolution and it all climaxed in an even more "glorious" Euro-Maidan. Now the country is ruined, broken up into at least 5 regions (Crimea - gone, Donbass - gone, and South, Central and West regions) ruled by local feudal lords. Russia, in the meanwhile, has achieved an economic miracle and is probably in the process of achieving a second one, all this, while staring down the entire Western Empire. Yeah, if I was an Ukronazi, I would probably also hate Russia.

Banderastan today, is a spiritual, intellectual and moral cesspool, filled with hatred, ignorance and envy. Paradoxically, it is this dark and nasty nature, which makes it so un-Russian, so truly alien to Russia and to the Russian people. In a sad and tragic way, the Ukronazis have achieved their dream - they have created an anti-Russia, a polar opposite of the Russian civilizational realm.

What we are seeing today in the Donbass, is similar to what happens when you mix matter and anti-matter, it is a clash of Russia with anti-Russia, and it results in a volatile rupture, an implosion which has already claimed many lives and which will claim many more, before it is finally over.

It gives me no joy, no Schadenfreude, to see how ugly, nasty, vicious and depraved this rump-Ukraine has become. When I think of Kiev, the "mother of all Russian cities," as it has been known since antiquity, occupied by Nazi freaks, I think of the words of the Scripture about the "abomination of desolation standing in the holy place" and I only feel an immense sadness.

© RIA Novosti. Evgeny Biyatov
Kiev is demanding that Russia stops sending convoys with humanitarian aid to southeastern Ukraine.

I hope and pray that there will be enough love in Russia to overcome this hatred and that one day the Ukraine will recover her past identity and glory. Yes, for the time being, Darkness has really completely engulfed this land, but as long as the Donbass remains unconquered, there is still hope. As long as there is love and truth anywhere in the ex-Ukraine, the Nazis have not won. I take immense solace in the fact that after over a year of hateful anti-Russian propaganda and after an endless series of ugly provocations, there *still* is no anti-Ukrainian hatred in Russia. This fact, somehow unnoticed by most, is almost miraculous by itself. The junta in Kiev has literally done everything conceivable to enrage Russia, and yet there are no anti-Ukrainian feelings in Russia at all.

It will take a lot of love and compassion from the Russian people to rescue whatever will be left of the Ukraine, by the time the Nazis are fully defeated. Nobody else will do it, least of all the EU or US, if only because they themselves suffer a sharp deficit of love or compassion.

Until that day comes, Russia will have to protect her people from the hateful maniacs which have taken over the Ukraine and her soul, from the contagion of hatred. I believe that she can do it.

From 1938 to now, how definition of happiness has changed - UK study


© Getty Images

How beliefs about what makes us happy have changed in the last 80 years.

Eighty years ago the top three things people thought were most important for happiness were security, knowledge and religion.

By 2014 only security was still in the top three, and the other two spots had changed to good humour and leisure.

Meanwhile religion had dropped to tenth, and last place.

The results come from two surveys carried out almost 80 years apart.

For both surveys people in Bolton, England replied to an advert asking them to answer the question "What is happiness?"

Here are some of the responses form both 1938 and 2014:

"Enough money to meet everyday needs and a little for pleasure." (1938)

"Knowing that my rent is paid on time and I can afford to eat healthily." (2014)

"I would like a little home, not many possessions ... congenial and satisfying companionship, the availability of good music and books." (1938)

"Engaging in my hobbies, spending time that is free of worry ... Simple things like enjoying a nice meal or receiving care and affection." (2014)

"When I come home from the pit and see my kiddies and wife, I am happy." (1938)

"Simple things like going out for a walk.......you don't need tons of material things to be happy, you just have to be happy in the place you live and with the people around you." (2014)

Despite the changes in the top three, Sandie McHugh, one of the study's authors, pointed out that there were a lot of similarities:

"The overall impression from the correspondence in 1938 is that happiness factors were rooted in everyday lives at home and within the community.

In 2014 many comments value family and friends, with good humour and leisure time also ranked highly."

The results were presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Liverpool.

Venezuelan President: US is going after Russia, Venezuela as it loses its ability to bully other nations

© RT
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Washington is losing its weight in the international arena and this makes it target Russia and Venezuela, as well as attempt to curtail China's growth, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told RT's Spanish-language channel in an exclusive interview.

In March, the US declared Venezuela a threat to its national security which is usually the first step in starting a US sanctions program. Maduro said the country found great support in Latin America after this attack, which forced Washington to backpedal on its pressure.

"All those countries stood against it even before the Summit of Americas started exactly a month ago and demanded that [US President] Barack Obama repeal the executive order that declared Venezuela a threat. It was very convincing," he said. "President Obama realized that Venezuela was not alone, that it would have help and support. We were united in our multiplicity."

The Venezuelan president, who continued a policy of opposing the influence of the US in Latin America that his predecessor Hugo Chavez started, believes that Washington is unnerved by the growth of political and economic power in countries it does not control.

"The US see they are losing influence and it makes them target countries like Russia to find a way to stop them. The US creates barriers and problems for such countries. They try to hamper their natural development. So they continue their attacks on peaceful countries like Venezuela and oppose the development of powerful nations like China," he said.

© RT
President Nicolas Maduro interview on RT Spanish channel

According to Maduro, nations can successfully withstand American pressure with enough determination, as evidenced by the example of Cuba. After decades of economic blockade and sanctions, Washington sought re-engagement with the Caribbean nation.

"Barack Obama was brave enough to admit in his December 17 speech that the blockade and oppression of Cuba failed. But he was also speaking from an imperialist point of view... Now they are trying to influence Cuba," he said.

"I am certain that, sooner rather than later, the US will go the way the British empire did 70 years ago. It used to be a powerful empire that ruled entire regions of Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa for 300 years. They ruled the world. But then they had to adopt to new historic circumstances," Maduro said. "We believe the same thing will happen to America and that they would have to go through a series of conflicts."

Maduro is sure Europeans are hurting themselves again by alienating Russia, which now turns towards Asia for strategic partnership. The Venezuelan leader was among those who visited Russia this weekend to participate in V-Day commemorations.

"I arrived here with a good purpose, to be with the Russian people in this hour of great challenges. I am certain that peace will prevail," Maduro told RT.

While leaders of countries like China, India, Vietnam, Serbia and Cuba came to Moscow for the occasion, many European leaders allied with the US chose to reject their invitations. Maduro says they succumbed to pettiness.

"It was probably a case of short-sightedness on the part of today's western leaders," he said. "It's about conspiring and petty grudges... But humanity has enough strength and values not to allow this pettiness to win."

The Venezuelan leader said similar notions were prevailing in Europe when the rise of politicians like Germany's Hitler, Italy's Mussolini and Spain's Franco was ignored in other nations in the hope that these anti-communist regimes would target the Soviet Union.

"Europe partially turned a blind eye and bet on the creation of an insane monster who would finish off the Soviet Union. It was apparent what would that bring on their heads. Hitler had been supported at the time by the bourgeoisie, by financiers in all of Europe, not just Germany, and even in the US... Humanity had to pay a great price for that bet," he said.

Experts warn Japan may have entered an era of great earthquakes and volcanic eruptions

Mt. Fuji is located only about 25 kilometers from Mt. Hakone. While Mt. Fuji is also an active volcano, will the increased volcanic activity of Mt. Hakone have any effects on Mt. Fuji?

"The magma chambers located beneath Mt. Hakone and Mt. Fuji are not connected, so there is no effect on Mt. Fuji," said Toshitsugu Fujii, who chairs the Japan Meteorological Agency's Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions. The agency has not observed any signs of impending eruption in Mt. Fuji and therefore has not raised the eruption alert level for the mountain.

However, since the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in March 2011, volcanoes in the country have shown signs of increased activity. Currently, a Level 2 eruption alert, which restricts access around the volcanic vent, is in effect for 10 volcanoes, while a Level 3 alert, which restricts approach to the volcano, has been issued for three volcanoes.

Meanwhile, on Sakurajima island in Kagoshima Prefecture, there have been 505 explosive eruptions this year, as of 6 p.m. Thursday, a number already exceeding last year's.

In light of the situation, Fujii said, "Japan might have entered an era of great earthquakes and volcanic eruptions" because, in the past, there have been large-scale volcanic eruptions before or after major earthquakes around the world.

For example, a massive magnitude-9.1 earthquake occurred off Sumatra, Indonesia, in 2004, and nearby Mt. Merapi erupted about one year later. In Japan, in 1707 during the Edo period, the Hoei Earthquake with a magnitude of 8.6 occurred in the Nankai Trough, and Mt. Fuji erupted 49 days after that.

"Since the beginning of the 20th century, Japan's active volcanoes have been too quiet," Fujii said. "As there have been signs of increased volcanic activity, it is necessary to keep alert not just on Mt. Hakone, but on other volcanoes as well."

SOTT Exclusive: More strange noises in the sky: The best of 2015 (so far...)


© idoubtit.wordpress.com

More video recordings of eerie, groaning, howling, trumpet-like noises that seem to come from the sky are still appearing on Youtube. Many more of these 'strange noise' videos have been recorded and uploaded by people from many different parts of the globe. They have been reported in the UK, Germany, Canada, U.S., Iceland, Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, Hong Kong, France and Russia, to name a few.

The cause of these strange sounds is still unknown. For your listening pleasure, we've captured the best of 2015 - so far.

Strange sounds happening again in Terrace British Columbia - 5/7/2015

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Strange Sounds - Noises - Trumpet in Sky - in Kentucky - 5/5/2015

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Strange weird trumpet sounds in sky of Iceland 2015 - 4/29/2015

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Strange Sounds Heard in the Skies of Japan 2015 - 4/6/2015

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Strange UFO sounds heard in Jersey City, New Jersey - 3/26/2015

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UK: Strange sounds trumpets sounds dogs going mad - 2/10/2015

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Strange sounds in the sky - Minas Gerais/Brazil - 2/1/2015

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Strange mysterious sounds in Yosemite's National Park - 1/2/2015

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So what is this? Earth changes? Hoax? HAARP? Signs of the apocalypse?

Criminologist Likens Bill and Hillary To “Ordinary Criminals”


As a criminologist I see one common thread among the numerous items in the Clintons’ baggage—the unfair exploitation of opportunity for relatively quick pleasures.  I also see that they have very little regard for the long-term negative consequences of those decisions.  They have low self-control, in other words, just like all “ordinary criminals.”  Ordinary criminals are the vast majority of arrestees almost everywhere.  You don’t have to be a criminologist to figure it out.

Not voting for the Clintons because they have lousy character is very different than not voting for them because one disagrees with their public policies.  Severe character flaws are non-negotiable with the voters.  Therefore, especially in regard to the crucial independent vote and narrow margins in swing states, Bill and Hillary know that they must somehow project enough high humanity to deflect attention away from their well-documented history of exploiting unfair advantage.  Nobody really knows the minimum amount of extra humanity that is needed to put Hillary into the White House, but every bit helps.  It’s simple identity management.

The smarter wrongdoers, including executives of large corporations, proactively create highly visible positive moral behaviors to counteract negative perceptions about their integrity.  Unfortunately for Hillary and Bill, they require a very high number of really good behaviors to override strong negative public perceptions about their motives.

This strategy of trying to cancel out bad behaviors by focusing on good ones is known as “metaphor of the ledger.”  Defense attorneys at felony sentencing hearings use it all the time, for instance.  The term “metaphor of the ledger” originates from Karl Klockars’s 1975 ethnography about a professional dealer in stolen goods.  Klockars identified the metaphor when the offender bragged about the positive community image he had actively created for himself despite his well-known participation in illegal behavior.  The Clintons are world-class players of this kind of identity management, as evidenced by Bill’s treatment as a demigod by the Democratic National Convention.  The crowd roared for him, despite his impeachment and despite the fact he was disbarred from practicing law in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for the rest of his life, for perjury.

The Clinton Foundation is obviously the center stone of the Bill and Hillary “metaphor of the ledger.” It’s global.  It addresses the worst social and economic problems faced by the most non-fortunate persons on the planet.  And the perpetuity of the Foundation recursively messages and reinforces Clintonian good morality.  But even with all this, will the Foundation be seen as “selfless” enough to blot the Clinton baggage out of enough people’s minds?  Before we can answer that question, we have to determine what the Foundation is up against.

Only one Clinton is running for president, but they are to an almost indescribable extent inseparable.  Although Hillary is projecting her own personage and politics in her campaign rhetoric, the two are nevertheless so utterly conjoined in people’s eyes that it is virtually impossible for the good and bad actions of one not to reflect well or not well on the other.  We know they are in cahoots.  Their moral identity management operations must, therefore, concentrate on the Clinton brand as a whole.

Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi define the pursuit of immediate gratification in a nutshell—the seeking of “money without work,” “sex without courtship,” and “revenge without court delays.”  All of them—easy money, easy sex, and easy revenge—involve finding and then seizing opportunities to exploit unfair advantage over others for direct or indirect personal gain, virtually always  without concern for ensuing penalties.  It is important to analyze the ways in which the Clintons’ lower self-control has materialized across all three of these dimensions to give us some idea about an overall public negative perception of Bill and Hillary on these character problems.   A few of the better known examples are used here, but there are many others from which to choose that also reflect immediate gratification and the failure to consider long term consequences.

For “money without work,” we blatantly have the exorbitant perquisites from the Clinton Foundation.  And yes, Bill “worked” for his $500,000 speeches.  But he did far less work than if he would have had to create the same amount of money elsewise.  Let’s not forget the questionable billing by Hillary at the Rose Law Firm related to Whitewater, or Whitewater for that matter.  Or things like the Lincoln Bedroom racket.  Opportunities for “money without work” have manifested in many forms for the Clintons while they have been in public life, from the common embezzlement of White House property to sophisticated influence peddling in uranium deals.  

Embezzlement, which involves the misappropriation of something that you already legally possess but do not own, is criminologically significant because it represents one of the easiest ways to get money without working for it—all someone has to do is not give something back.  The easy opportunity associated with embezzlement is an especially strong lure for persons with lower self-control.  Such individuals would be predicted to commit embezzlement at a high rate if they have the chance because of the minimal effort involved.  In other words, it may have been much more noteworthy criminologically if the Clintons did not embezzle White House property.   That they did should be no surprise.

For the “sex without courtship” dimension of lower self-control, Bill has repeatedly been accused of unwanted sexual advances, including forcible rape (e.g., Juanita Broaddrick).  Forcible sexual assault epitomizes exploitation.  Note that the forcible rape of a person with normal intelligence equates on the unfair advantage scale to consensual sex with someone who is mentally retarded—both are seen as equal in the eyes of the law.  The Monica Lewinsky affair is of course another prime example of a shortcut to sexual relations.  You can fill in the details with however many instances you need to illustrate the point here on sex without courtship for either one of them (and there are many such allegations in the numerous books about Bill and Hillary), but remember that you are looking for their pursuit of relatively immediate pleasures without thought to the consequences, not sex.

“Revenge without court delays” is caused by a low frustration tolerance—one wants to eliminate both momentary and longer-term annoyances far more quickly than it would take to do it in a more proper (and sometimes more legal) way.  For instance, Hillary was fired early in her career from the Nixon investigation because of false legal work.  Rather than nail Mr. Nixon fairly and according to the rule of law, Hillary chose to exploit an opportunity to find quick revenge, and people are still talking about it.  “Travelgate” is surely relevant here where Hillary is seen as inflicting unfair revenge against innocent federal employees who refused to enrich her friends, raising real anger control questions about her.  And if it wasn’t for the famous blue dress, Monica Lewinsky would have continued to have been vengefully bullied by the Clintons as a promiscuous temptress.  

“Revenge without court delays” often plays out into a crime of violence when it involves one or more people of lower self-control, such as in domestic disputes.  But revenge can take on many different forms when sought by those with official government powers.  Of greatest concern is the misuse of legal power to suppress opposing political speech (such as in the IRS-Tea Party scandal). “Do we want to give presidential executive powers to someone who has a demonstrated history of shortcutting angry revenge?” is the kind of question that the Clinton identity management strategy has to currently deal with on this issue for Hillary.  

Lying is another personality trait that goes along with exploitative behavior patterns as a normal response to low frustration tolerance.  Falsehoods are thought to extricate the person from an immediately uncomfortable accusatory situation, and the fact that the lies are usually easily falsified makes the immediacy of the gratification more obvious.  Lying to official authorities (such as an independent counsel or a civil court judge while under oath) is a particularly acute indication of lower self-control.

A big part of the Clintons’ identity management program involves trying to keep the bad stuff off the record in the first place.  The destruction of evidence and the silencing of witnesses in attempts to eradicate events altogether represent behaviors that are among the severest forms of lying and low frustration tolerance.  For a known event that is problematic for them, the Clintons will try to focus on rejecting the event’s wrongfulness to keep it off the “bad” side of the ledger.  Several methods are deployed here (in addition to parsing words), all of which have been identified by criminologists for almost sixty years as excuses used by rule-breakers to de-legitimate accusations of immoral behavior.  They were originally put forth by Gresham Sykes and David Matza in 1957 in relation to adolescent criminals.

We will start with the method that is absolutely used automatically by the Clintons—condemnation of the accuser. This is accomplished either by pointing to the critic’s previous immoral behavior or by claiming that he, she, or “they” are part of “a right wing conspiracy.”  Absent the accuser’s moral standing to accuse, the accusation becomes hypocritical or meaningless.  Blaming others first and oneself last sometimes works for good identity management.  It is also a classic behavior of a lower self-control personality.

Another reduction strategy used by the Clintons is to admit the deed but deny responsibility for doing it, especially the idea that the act was “not my fault” (refiling five years’ worth of Clinton Foundation tax returns because of a “mistake” in reporting millions of dollars in donations—they are only human).  A third method in downplaying the bad side is to deny that there was any injury associated with the action—no harm, no foul (e.g., “What does it matter?”).  Fourth, a selfless appeal to a higher loyalty is used to counteract any alleged immoral motives, such as “We took in that money to help the people reached by our Foundation.”  (Apparently unbeknownst to the Clintons, this strategy only works when they themselves derive no benefit.)

In sum, the Clintons have a great many lower self-control incidents in a variety of contexts to reconcile.  It is the lack of self-control that people remember most.  Many may not be able to quite put their finger on it exactly.  But they somehow know there is a significant level of unfair and exploitative personal gain associated with virtually all of the couple’s controversies.  As I said earlier, you don’t have to be a criminologist to figure it out.  

Against all this Bill and Hillary are putting up the Clinton Foundation.  Naturally, they will also actively promote odds and ends related to the building of a moral identity, including their selfless public service, the humanity of their public policy views, and lots of good deeds.  The Clintons surely have amassed by now one of the world’s greatest collections of photo-ops with people like the Pope, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela—these and similar “good character by association” items always put forth positive implications of selflessness.  

But their big enchilada is the Clinton Foundation.  Will its global good deeds be enough, especially considering the salient questions being asked about how much of its “donations and grants” actually go to charity?  Assuming that the Foundation entity doesn’t backfire as a fraudulent morality front for bribe-taking, the Foundation may actually help the Clintons’ identity management game.  All that is really needed is just enough independent voters to forgive the Clintons’ exploitative behaviors just enough for Hillary to win the general election.  

However, a documented behavior against either one of them may be so egregious that no identity management strategy will be able to overcome it.  Bill Whittle has asserted that Hillary’s destruction of emails is a felony under 18 U.S.C. Section 2071.  Others have discussed 18 U.S.C. Section 201 (the federal bribery statute) in relation to the Foundation and Hillary as Secretary of State.  Such crushing blows may be impossible to combat, even for the Clintons.  After all, Hillary can’t condemn the enforcement of the U.S. Code without also condemning the rule of law.  “It’s not my fault” and “What does it matter?” are also highly unlikely to work against both of these serious charges.  From now on for the Clintons, then, the most important factor affecting their bottom line moral image may well be Loretta Lynch, our new Attorney General.

Dr. Gary S. Green (Ph.D. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1981) is retired Professor of Government at Christopher Newport University.  He has taught white collar crime courses for 30 years and is the author of Occupational Crime (Nelson-Hall, 1997) as well as more than thirty articles, book chapters, and reviews in criminology and justice.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant: A disaster in the making

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

All nuclear power plants are inherently unsafe - aging, poorly maintained ones most of all.

Entergy Corporation's Indian Point nuclear plant is located 38 miles north of New York City. It was commissioned in 1974. It experienced numerous incidents warranting concern - the latest on May 9.

A transformer exploded. Fire and black smoke were visible. The plant's Unit 3 was shut down after the incident. Officials claimed no threat to public safety.

Whether true or not, who knows. When incidents like this happen, the public is systematically lied to.

Nuclear experts cite Indian Point's notorious history of unaddressed health hazards, safety violations, numerous accidents and pollution - issues persisting throughout its operating life.

Waste water emitted from its facilities killed millions of Hudson River fish and other aquatic life forms.

High levels of cancer occur in communities close to all nuclear power plants - notably in the case of Indian Point.

Documented evidence shows infant mortality rates drop significantly in communities near shuttered nuclear plants.

Indian Point is located on or near three earthquake faults. Officially, the facility is built to withstand a 6.1 magnitude event.

Seismologists predict an eventual major earthquake far more powerful than Indian Point can tolerate.

Experts want the facility closed. It's outlived its useful period of serviceability, they say.

It needs to be shuttered to avoid a potentially catastrophic incident. Millions of New York City and state residents are at risk.

Imagine the possibility of turning the entire area into an uninhabitable dead zone - like around Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Investigations conducted by the and others show Indian Point's fire detection and suppression systems to be woefully inadequate.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the facility's failure to comply with federal fire regulations "reckless and unacceptable."

US nuclear facility operators notoriously ignore vital safety regulations. People living in the vicinity of these plants face potentially major hazards. Information about them is suppressed.

Nuclear expert Harvey Wasserman says "US reactors are riddled at thousands of key junctures with (so-called) 'fire protection' materials that burn while leaving a dangerous char that hampers fire fighters."

"America's toothless regulators have given reactor owners no reason to shore up their (woefully inadequate) fire protection."

A 2011 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)/Riverkeeper report (conducted by Synapse Energy Economics) urged closing River Point - replacing it with safe alternative energy options.

The facility isn't needed to supply New York with energy. A risk analysis assessment "compare(d) the human and financial costs of the Fukushima disaster to the potential risks of a nuclear crisis at Indian Point..."

It showed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) "underestimates the danger posed to Indian Point from seismic activity."

"An accident at one of (its) reactors on the scale of the recent catastrophe in Japan could send a fallout plume south to the New York City metropolitan area, requiring the sheltering or evacuation of millions of people, and cost ten to 100 times more than Fukushima's disaster."

Wind, solar and other renewable energy options would make New York much safer. They could be in use within 10 years or sooner, the report said.

New York has a surplus of electricity generating capacity. It permits plenty of time to phase in safe, reliable options.

Indian Point's license comes up for renewal this year for an additional 20 years. It's currently running under a "period of extended operation" while relicensing proceedings continue.

They're not expected to be completed before at least 2018 or later. Meanwhile, operations aren't affected.

Hazards remain. Critics want Indian Point decommissioned before a potentially catastrophic one occurs.

Violence in media creates symptoms of PTSD despite no real-life exposure to trauma - study


© Medpagetodaycom


Study author Dr. Pam Ramsden, of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Bradford in the UK, and colleagues recently presented their findings at the Annual Conference of the British Psychology Society.

Past studies have found health care workers who help victims of traumatic events or situations may experience "vicarious traumatisation," in which they become psychologically and emotionally affected by victims' suffering.

But for their study, Dr. Ramsden and colleagues wanted to see whether exposure to violent and traumatic events via social media would have a similar effect.

"Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail," says Dr. Ramsden. "Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact on our daily lives."

"In this study we wanted to see if people would experience longer lasting effects such as stress and anxiety, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs) from viewing these images."

22% of participants affected by videos, images of violent news events

The team enrolled 189 men and women with an average age of 37. The participants were exposed to a number of videos and images of violent news events - including suicide bombings, school shootings and the 9/11 terror attack - via social media or the Internet.

After viewing these videos and images, the participants were asked to complete a vicarious trauma assessment and questionnaire and a personality questionnaire, as well as undergo a clinical assessment for PTSD.

The researchers found that 22% of the participants scored highly on clinical assessments of PTSD, despite only being exposed to videos and images of the traumatic events, not the events themselves.

The more often the participants viewed media of the traumatic events, the more affected they were, the team found.

In addition, the researchers found that participants who were more extrovert were more likely to be affected by the videos and images of violent events.

Dr. Ramsden says the team's findings are "worrying," adding:

"With increased access to social media and the internet via tablets and smartphones, we need to ensure that people are aware of the risks of viewing these images and that appropriate support is available for those who need it."

In January, Medical News Today reported on a study conducted by the Pew Research Center's Internet Project, which suggests that social media use does not increase stress levels.
In fact, the researchers found that some use of social media may actually reduce stress levels, particularly for women.

Excessive technology use causes decreased emotional sensitivity in children

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Researchers suggest children's social skills are declining as they have less time for face-to-face interaction due to their increased use of digital media, according to a UCLA psychology study. Scientists found that sixth-graders who went five days without even glancing at a smartphone, television or other digital screen did substantially better at reading human emotions than sixth-graders from the same school who continued to spend hours each day looking at their electronic devices.

The study, published in the journal , studied two groups of sixth-graders from a Southern California public school. One group was sent to the Pali Institute, an outdoor education camp in Running Springs, Calif., where the kids had no access to electronic devices. For the other group, it was life as usual.

"Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs," said Patricia Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology in the UCLA College and senior author of the study. "Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues -- losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people -- is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills."

At the beginning and end of the study, both groups of students were evaluated for their ability to recognize other people's emotions in photos and videos. The students were shown 48 pictures of faces that were happy, sad, angry or scared, and asked to identify their feelings.

They also watched videos of actors interacting with one another and were instructed to describe the characters' emotions. In one scene, students take a test and submit it to their teacher; one of the students is confident and excited, the other is anxious. In another scene, one student is saddened after being excluded from a conversation.

The children who had been at the camp improved significantly over the five days in their ability to read facial emotions and other nonverbal cues to emotion, compared with the students who continued to use their media devices.

You can't learn nonverbal emotional cues from a screen in the way you can learn it from face-to-face communication," said lead author Yalda Uhls, a senior researcher with the UCLA's Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles. "If you're not practicing face-to-face communication, you could be losing important social skills."

If today's young people don't reduce their use of wireless mobile devices, they may suffer an "epidemic" of the disease in later life.

In a commentary for the journal Pediatrics, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine reviewed available types of interactive media and raised "important questions regarding their use as educational tools".

The researchers said that though the adverse effects of television and video on very small children was well understood, society's understanding of the impact of mobile devices on the pre-school brain has been outpaced by how much children are already using them.

The researchers warned that using a tablet or smartphone to divert a child's attention could be detrimental to "their social-emotional development".

"If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?" the scientists asked.

Use of interactive screen time below three years of age could also impair a child's development of the skills needed for maths and science, they found, although they also said some studies suggested benefits to toddlers' use of mobile devices including in early literacy skills, or better academic engagement in students with autism.

Jenny Radesky, clinical instructor in developmental-behavioural pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, published her team's findings. She urged parents to increase "direct human to human interaction" with their offspring.

Radesky encouraged more "unplugged" family interaction in general and suggested young children may benefit from "a designated family hour" of quality time spent with relatives -- without any television and mobile devices being involved.

A Wake-Up Call For Educators

There's a big takeaway for schools, Greenfield says.

"A lot of school systems are rushing to put iPads into the hands of students individually, and I don't think they've thought about the [social] cost," she explains. "This study should be, and we want it to be, a wake-up call to schools. They have to make sure their students are getting enough face-to-face social interaction. That might mean reducing screen time."

The results of the UCLA study seem to line up with prior research, says Marjorie Hogan, a pediatrician at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Common sense tells me that if a child's laying on his or her bed and texting friends instead of getting together and saying, 'Hey, what's up,' that there's a problem there," she says. "I want people interacting ... on a common-sense level, and an experiential level. It does concern [me]."

Hogan relates the UCLA study's findings back to research on infants.

"When babies are babies, they're learning about human interaction with face-to-face time and with speaking to parents and having things they say modeled back to them," she says. "That need doesn't go away."

Exploring The Relationship Between Humans and Electronic Devices

Some international collaborative research on the topic has been conducted in Italy and the UK (e.g., Fortunati, Katz, & Riccini, 2003; Vincent & Fortunati, 2009), and in the U.S. exploring the relationship between humans and machines, especially with regard to the body, intimacy and emotion.

These research efforts have brought about work such as the perspective, which implies that "the technologies 'become' extensions and representative of the communicator." Not will future technology extend human body and sensory systems into the public domain, but it will also be into the human body and become part of a means of expressing identity and emotions. This need many people have to always be connected has engendered a close attachment to their devices, emphasized by the mass adoption of mobile phones and tablet devices.

As a whole, more research will be directed to explore the intricately changing boundary between humans and electronic devices and the role emotions play in the dynamics. Furthermore, there will be a need to explore the gap between the research on social platforms with a special emphasis on mobile communication.


Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.