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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Mysterious orb spotted at U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum

© Screen Capture Youtube

Titusville, Florida - A strange object was caught on surveillance video at the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville.

Employees have noticed an orb-shaped object a couple of times and have no idea what it is.

On two separate occasions in just the last week, the orb was spotted by surveillance cameras.

This video, which has garnered more than 500 views on YouTube, was taken May 12 in a room filled with artifacts, memorabilia and photos from the Mercury and Gemini space programs.

The video shows the mysterious object come into frame, leaves, then comes back before suddenly disappearing.

In a video, taken May 15, you can see it quickly move around toward the bottom of the screen before vanishing once again.

"We can't explain it, nor can the (person) who put in the system for us," Charlie Mars, the president of the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum.

Mars said in both instances the lights and air conditioning were turned off, which is why he rules out that that it's a glare or a floating dust ball, like some staffers think it is.

"There were many items in here that were brought in by people who are no longer with us. They could be coming back to check on it," said Mars.

Mars said this type of unexplainable activity is nothing new for the space museum, which just moved into the 100-year-old building after spending the last 10 years just down the street.

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"We have had a number of things like that have occurred over the past 10 to 12 years that we don't have an explanation for and we do love speculating about it," said Mars.

Some wonder whether it could be a ghost in the historic building, which once served as a county records facility.

But for the staff here, whether it's a glare dust ball or perhaps the spirit of Neil Armstrong, it's something for them to talk about.

"We love having something come in unexplainable. and it gives us a chance to interchange with each other and talk about what it will possibly be," said Mars.

Universal musical sounds: Playing a Didgeridoo for the herd

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Majority of European men descended from just 3 ancestors, study finds

© Reuters/Paul Hackett

Two-thirds of modern-day European males trace their genetic roots to just three Bronze Age forbears, who almost literally launched the "population explosion" many centuries ago, a new DNA study suggests.

Before coming to this conclusion, a research team from the University of Leicester analyzed the DNA sequences of 334 modern European men from 17 different European and Middle Eastern populations, focusing on the large portions of the Y-chromosome passed exclusively from fathers to sons.

Their findings were published in the .

After that they compared the DNA from each population in order to trace the key mutations in the genomes and find out when they might have occurred. Such an approach allowed the scientists to trace paternal lines down through a long period of history.

One mutation they found originated around 4,750 to 7,340 years ago and is prevalent in Norwegian and Orcadian populations. The second occurred between 3,700 and 6,500 years ago and has spread throughout Spain, Italy, France, England and Ireland. The third dated from about 3,470 to 5,070 years ago is prominent in the Sami in Lapland, Norwegians, Danes and Friesian populations in the Netherlands, as well as being found in France, Hungary, Serbia and Bavaria, the study reports.

According to the researchers, these three paternal lines account for about 63 percent of modern European men. That means that from 371.25 million males currently living in Europe around 233 million are descendants of just three men, as reported by the

Those branches of the European genetic tree are fairly young, which suggests most modern populations settled in Europe only after the spread of farming during the Neolithic era, rather than during the period of hunter-gatherers moving across the continent in the Paleolithic era, as previously thought.

According to the scientists, the time of was also a period of social, economic and technological advances.

Professor Mark Jobling, a lead researcher and geneticist at the University of Leicester, said.

he added.

Although it is still unclear who exactly the 'fathers' in these paternal lineages were, or even if they were born in Europe, the scientists believe they were influential and powerful individuals, likely tribal chieftains.

According to the researchers, people in positions of power would tend to travel more widely and father far more children than their subjects, so their lineages became dominant.

Dr. Chiara Batini, a co-author of the research and a geneticist at the University of Leicester, said.

The scientists are now planning to continue their study, as it can help them to gain deeper understanding of how the three identified paternal lineages spread across Europe.

Batini said.

she added.

Ancient asteroid impacts might have boiled the oceans and made life on earth hell

Roughly 3.3 billion years ago, Earth's early life forms were plunged into an unimaginable hell, when a series of massive asteroids smashed into the young planet, vaporizing the oceans and scorching the skies.

© Johan Swanepoel/Shutterstock

We've heard about one of these asteroids before—a 58 kilometer-across object that, upon impact 3.26 billion years ago, shook the entire planet for a half hour. Now, geologist Don Lowe of Stanford University presents us with two other 50 to 100 kilometer-across impactors from the same time period. Each of these asteroid collisions would have boiled Earth's oceans, reducing global sea levels by up to 100 meters. As Lowe told Science News, the cataclysmic events probably had a dramatic impact on the early evolution of life:

"These impacts would have a profound influence on any life trying to evolve into more complex, low-temperature organisms. They'd keep getting whacked by these giant impactors and driven to extinction or near extinction."

The new findings come from studying a geologic formation in South Africa known as the Barberton greenstone belt. Within this belt are 8 distinct layers that chronicle asteroid impacts occurring some 3.5 to 3.2 billion years ago. The two layers discussed in the current study are filled with tiny silica pellets, which the geologists interpret as indicators of molten rock rainstorms that took place after asteroids fried the Earth's surface.

Exactly how much of the world's ocean volume evaporated can only be roughly estimated from the geologic record, but based on earlier modeling work, the surface oceans probably boiled for over a year. It's amazing that anything at all managed to survive, but then, microbes always do seem to miraculously find a way.

Andromeda and the Milky Way might collide sooner than expected

Andromeda’s halo is gargantuan. Extending for at least 2 million light years, if we could see in our night sky it would be 100 times the diameter of the Moon or 50 degrees across!

The merger of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy won't happen for another 4 billion years, but the recent discovery of a massive halo of hot gas around Andromeda may mean our galaxies are already touching. University of Notre Dame astrophysicist Nicholas Lehner led a team of scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope to identify an enormous halo of hot, ionized gas at least 2 million light years in diameter surrounding the galaxy.

The Andromeda Galaxy is the largest member of a ragtag collection of some 54 galaxies, including the Milky Way, called the Local Group. With a trillion stars — twice as many as the Milky Way — it shines 25% brighter and can easily be seen with the naked eye from suburban and rural skies.

Six examples of quasars photographed with the Hubble. Quasars are distant, brilliant sources of light, believed to occur when a massive black hole in the center of a galaxy feeds on gas and stars. As the black hole consumes the material, it emits intense radiation, which is then detected as a quasar. Lehner and team measured Andromeda’s halo by studying how its gas affected the light from 18 different quasars.

Think about this for a moment. If the halo extends at least a million light years in our direction, our two galaxies are MUCH closer to touching that previously thought. Granted, we're only talking halo interactions at first, but the two may be mingling molecules even now our galaxy is similarly cocooned.

Lehner describes halos as the "gaseous atmospheres of galaxies". Despite its enormous size, Andromeda's nimbus is virtually invisible. To find and study the halo, the team sought out quasars, distant star-like objects that radiate tremendous amounts of energy as matter funnels into the supermassive black holes in their cores. The brightest quasar, 3C273 in Virgo, can be seen in a 6-inch telescope! Their brilliant, pinpoint nature make them perfect probes.

To detect Andromeda’s halo, Lehner and team studied how the light of 18 quasars (five shown here) was absorbed by the galaxy’s gas.

"As the light from the quasars travels toward Hubble, the halo's gas will absorb some of that light and make the quasar appear a little darker in just a very small wavelength range," said J. Christopher Howk , associate professor of physics at Notre Dame and co-investigator. "By measuring the dip in brightness, we can tell how much halo gas from M31 there is between us and that quasar."

Astronomers have observed halos around 44 other galaxies but never one as massive as Andromeda where so many quasars are available to clearly define its extent. The previous 44 were all extremely distant galaxies, with only a single quasar or data point to determine halo size and structure.

Andromeda's close and huge with lots of quasars peppering its periphery. The team drew from about five years' worth of observations of archived Hubble data to find many of the 18 objects needed for a good sample.

© NASA; ESA; Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI; T. Hallas; and A. Mellinger
This illustration shows a stage in the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, as it will unfold over the next several billion years. In this image, representing Earth’s night sky in 3.75 billion years, Andromeda (left) fills the field of view and begins to distort the Milky Way with tidal pull.

The halo is estimated to contain half the mass of the stars in the Andromeda galaxy itself, in the form of a hot, diffuse gas. Simulations suggest that it formed at the same time as the rest of the galaxy. Although mostly composed of ionized hydrogen — naked protons and electrons — Andromeda's aura is also rich in heavier elements, probably supplied by supernovae. They erupt within the visible galaxy and violently blow good stuff like iron, silicon, oxygen and other familiar elements far into space. Over Andromeda's lifetime, nearly half of all the heavy elements made by its stars have been expelled far beyond the galaxy's 200,000-light-year-diameter stellar disk.

You might wonder if galactic halos might account for some or much of the still-mysterious dark matter. Probably not. While dark matter still makes up the bulk of the solid material in the universe, astronomers have been trying to account for the lack of visible matter in galaxies as well. Halos now seem a likely contributor.

The next clear night you look up to spy Andromeda, know this: It's closer than you think!

For more on the topic, here are links to Lehner's paper in and the Hubble release.

FLASHBACK: Halotherapy: Taking a mound of salt for what ails you


© lexey Swall/ Wall Street Journal
Spending time in salt caves has long been considered therapeutic in Eastern Europe. And now, in the U.S., indoor "salt rooms" or "salt caves" have been popping up from New York to Los Angeles.

indoor salt roomswhose owners say small salt particles can soothe respiratory and skin conditions. Scientific evidence in English-language publications is scant and some doctors urge caution for asthmatics.

Across the U.S., salt rooms have been popping up in cities such as New York, Orlando, Naples, Fla., Boulder, Colo., Chicago and Los Angeles.

While most of us associate salt air with the beach, from a medical standpoint, the experience is designed to mimic salt caves, which have long been considered therapeutic in Eastern Europe. Salt room owners say salt can help skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and a range of respiratory ailments, including colds, asthma, allergies and bronchitis.


Lissette Garcia, left, and her mother Miriam Santos relaxed in the Salt Cave.

Sometimes called halotherapy chambers, the rooms are designed to provide a relaxing and unusual experience. The walls and ceilings are salt-coated, and grains are often scattered a few inches deep on the floor. Children are often allowed to play in it, as in a sandbox. Some places have cave-like decor, complete with salt-coated stalactites.

Some facilities just pile up salt in the room, while others use special "salt generators," machines that grind the salt into very tiny breathable particles and blow it into the air. Orlando's Salt Room uses a generator sold by Indium Top LLC of Tallinn, Estonia. Halo Air LLC of New York, which recently opened a Halo/Air salt room in Manhattan, uses a generator from Halomed UAB, of Vilnius, Lithuania. Halo Air hopes to open dozens more locations in the U.S.

Generally, pure salt from natural sources is used; Halo Air uses rock salt from a cave in Ukraine. The smell of a salt room is a little like ocean air and visitors experience a salty taste on the lips, says Richard Zagrobelny, owner of Iris Salt Rooms LLC, a Kitchener, Ontario, firm that builds salt rooms using Indium Top's Iiris machine. Costs for a session vary, depending on location and privacy; some rooms offer discounts for multiple sessions. A one-hour adult session in a communal room at the Salt Room in Orlando costs $45. Halo Air says a private room with a personal television costs $100 for an hour. If you like you can wear nothing but a thin robe and booties on your feet.

So far the Iiris machine hasn't been studied clinically. The Halomed device has been shown effective for respiratory and skin conditions in Russian-language research publications, says Russian pulmonologist Alina Chervinskaya, a minority owner of Halomed. The machine is set to different levels of salt concentration depending on the condition being treated, she says. Halo Air says concentrations in its salt rooms range from five to 10 milligrams per cubic meter of air for adults.

Salt helps respiratory conditions by drawing water into airways, thinning mucus and improving the function of cilia, or small hairs that help move mucus out of the lungs, Dr. Chervinskaya says. In higher concentrations, salt therapy also can help skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis, she says.

And a 160-person study Dr. Chervinskaya presented last year at a Vienna medical conference found that a tabletop salt generator, not available in the U.S., helped prevent colds. Dr. Chervinskaya says the tabletop unit produces a dry salt aerosol comparable to the Halomed generator used in salt rooms.

English-language studies on salt rooms are rare. Often quoted by salt rooms as evidence of their efficacy is a landmark study that found improvement in cystic-fibrosis symptoms from salt therapy. But the study used a handheld nebulizer twice daily to deliver a concentrated salt mist into the mouth, and the results don't apply to salt rooms, says Australian scientist Mark R. Elkins, the lead author of the 2006 paper.

Orlando pulmonologist Daniel Layish says rigorous studies are lacking on salt rooms, but he has found cystic-fibrosis patients he has referred to the Orlando Salt Room are experiencing "less shortness of breath, less coughing and decreased sinus pressure."

Springfield, N.J., allergist Leonard Bielory, chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's integrative-medicine committee, says it's logical that salt rooms could help a variety of respiratory conditions—but probably only in the short term. "It's like a massage," he says. "Great while you get it but after that [the benefit is] gone."

Dr. Bielory and others caution that asthma could potentially be worsened. Salt is an irritant that could cause airways to constrict, posing a serious danger to asthmatics, says allergist Alvin M. Sanico, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Salt, by stimulating nerves in the nasal passages, may worsen allergy symptoms, he adds.

Dr. Chervinskaya says that 10 to 20 sessions in salt rooms using the Halomed machine can have long-term benefits of up to six months or a year. Generators should be set to a lower dose for asthma patients to minimize irritation, she adds, and patients with any serious lung issues should consult their doctors before using a salt room. Halo Air says it follows Dr. Chervinskaya's recommendations. Salt rooms in rare cases can cause mild irritation to the skin and eyes, and a scratchiness in the throat that goes away after drinking water.

Monsanto bets $45 Billion on a pesticide-soaked future


© sakhorn/Shutterstock

Once an industrial-chemical titan, GMO seed giant Monsanto has rebranded itself as a "sustainable agriculture company." Forget such classic post-war corporate atrocities as PCB and dioxin—the modern Monsanto "uses plant breeding and biotechnology to create seeds that grow into stronger, more resilient crops that require fewer resources," as the company's website has it.

That rhetoric may have to change, though, if Monsanto succeeds in buying its Swiss rival, pesticide giant Syngenta. On Friday, Syngenta's board rejected a $45 billion takeover bid. But that's hardly the end of the story. Tuesday afternoon, Syngenta's share price was holding steady at a level about 20 percent higher than it was before Monsanto's bid—an indication that investors consider an eventual deal quite possible. As The Wall Street Journal's Helen Thomas put it, the Syngenta board's initial rejection of Monsanto's overture may just be a way of saying, "This deal makes sense, but Syngenta can hold out for more."

The logic for the deal is simple: Syngenta is Monsanto's perfect complement. Monsanto ranks as the globe's largest purveyor of seeds (genetically modified and otherwise), alongside a relatively small chemical division (mainly devoted to the herbicide Roundup), which makes up just a third of its $15.8 billion in total sales.

Syngenta, meanwhile, is the globe's largest pesticide purveyor, with a relatively small sideline in GMO seeds that accounts for a fifth of its $15.1 billion in total sales.
Combined, the two companies would form a singular agribusiness behemoth, a company that controls a third of both the globe's seed and pesticides markets. To make the deal fly with US antitrust regulators, Syngenta would likely have to sell off its substantial corn and soybean seed business, as well its relatively small glyphosate holdings, in order to avoid direct overlap with Monsanto's existing market share, the financial website Seeking Alpha reports. So the combined company would have somewhat smaller market share than what's portrayed below:
In trying to swallow Syngenta, Monsanto is putting its money where its mouth isn't—that is, it's contradicting years of rhetoric about how its ultimate goal with biotech is to wean farmers off agri-chemicals. The company has two major money-making GM products on the market: crops engineered to carry the insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, which is toxic to certain insects but not to humans; and crops engineered to withstand the herbicide glyphosate, an herbicide Monsanto sells under the brand name Roundup.

The company markets both as solutions to farmers' reliance on toxic chemicals. Bt crops "allow farmers to protect their crops while eliminating or significantly decreasing the amount of pesticides sprayed," Monsanto's website declares; and its Roundup Ready products have" allowed farmers to ... decrease the overall use of herbicides."

Both of these claims have withered as Monsanto's products have come to dominate US farm fields. Insects and weeds have evolved to resist them. Farmers have responded by unleashing a gusher of pesticides—both higher doses of Monsanto's Roundup, and other, more-toxic chemicals as Roundup has lost effectiveness.

Monsanto's lunge for Syngenta and its vast pesticide portfolio signals that the company thinks more of the same is in the offing.

One immediate winner would be the Monsanto's formidable PR department. Battle-tested by years of defending the company from attacks against GMOs and also from the World Health Organization's recent finding that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans," the department would also find plenty of opportunity to flex its muscles if Syngenta came on board.

Syngenta is the main US supplier of the herbicide atrazine, which has come under heavy suspicion as an endocrine-disrupting chemical that messes with frogs' genitalia and seeps into people's drinking water. Syngenta is also one of two dominant purveyors of neonicotinoids—blockbuster insecticides (annual global sales: $2.6 billion) that have been substantially implicated in declining health of honeybees and other pollinators, birds, and water-borne animals. Both atrazine and neonics are currently banned in Europe, and widely, albeit controversially, used in the US.

All of which would make it ironic if, as some observers have speculated, Monsanto hopes to use the deal as an excuse to move its corporate HQ to Syngenta's home base in Europe, in order to avoid paying US taxes.

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USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.9 - 184km W of Lata, Solomon Islands

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Carding: Canada's version of 'stop and frisk'

Last week, we showed how police brutality is one of America's most popular exports to the UK. It's gaining ground in Canada too, with their own cases of deaths at the hands of police, brutality, tasering, raids and unnecessary animal killings. We just don't always hear about it, what with our own average of three citizen deaths a day by police. It's hard to beat the U.S. at a Police State, but Canada is on its way to full emulation.

In the U.S. getting "carded" - asked for ID when buying alcohol or cigarettes - can either be an annoying occurrence or a little self-esteem boost depending on age. "Carding," however, is an ominous word in Canada because it's their word for "stop and frisk" which is regarded as controversial. It's conducted differently there (see below).

The efforts to unite and stop police brutality and press for accountability have been fragmented by blurring the actions and highlighting them as racism. However, when it comes to carding, race does play a role because it includes the next victim of harassment, just as in stop and frisk.

Toronto's new and first black police chief is finding it a little difficult to explain to the entire community why carding and profiling are "necessary."

Carding is also called "street checks" by police, involves interrogation and ends with request for ID and recording the person's information. But the ID is not why it's called carding.

From National Post:

the practice of stopping and collecting information from someone who is not under investigation and recording that encounter on a paper or electronic form known variously as a "contact card," "check-up slip," "field information report" or "information only" report.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Union says, "This is a national issue - Policies are very much needed to restrict police activities when they don't have grounds to detain somebody."

Although Chief Mark Saunders is firmly sticking with carding practices - he does so despite growing ire, especially among black Canadians who feel targeted.

After just four days into the job, and after being pressed at the African Canadian Summit in North York, he said:

Abolishing [carding] is not the way in which we are going to say 'Everything's going to be better.'

From Toronto Sun:

If we remove the ability of our officers to engage with the community, all I can tell you is it will put us in a situation where there will be an increase in crime.

It was the first time residents demanded a stop to it. He minimized their concerns and never used the term, "carding" in the initial speech:

It wasn't that what we were doing was catastrophic.

He calls what the police do with carding "social costs" and vowed community safety, although one audience member said that was code for "over policing." "If anybody thinks tomorrow is a new day, it's not," he said.

Instead, he vaguely promised incremental changes, focus on "officer training," wanting to eliminate the idea of "random" stops (whatever that means), and future talks with community leaders - but he is adamantly going forth with carding. He said arguing about how policies are worded wasn't going to bring any change - change wouldn't happen over night. I think Canadians don't care so much about the word, but the actions.

This guy is a wordsmith and a master him-hawer. He is telling Ontario residents to expect nothing by complicating his words about how "complicated" law is - too complicated for them to understand, apparently. This is what master manipulators do when faced with a direct demand. Plus, they try to look appeasing while getting their agenda. Regardless, carding will continue, he says. We need intelligence for gang culture, he says outright to the people repeatedly abused by police and not feeling safe at all.

Even with increased public pressure to stop the practice, Canadian officials are painting the practice as "vital intelligence gathering." As you might imagine, some people are repeatedly targeted for interrogation, 50 times in one case, even though the "intelligence" gathered on cards and repeat encounters should let officers know about the person. Repeat encounters instill paranoia and distrust. Which, of course, signals that the police are actually picking on people they target. What's in my file? People are left to wonder. It's based on the officer's perception.

Stop and frisk or carding should be ended immediately, regardless of what name it goes by or in what manner it is performed. No matter what TV tells us, people have a right to travel and walk unmolested; they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. They are not to be harassed and molested for thought crimes based on how they look or on an officer's whim and career boost. The same person should not be harassed for the rest of his or her life because of God-given appearances. You can't end crime with a crime.

With full rights and freedom, people of good character get to bask in that freedom and maintain their personal power. With law enforcement acting as Orwellian authority instead of public servant, and taking aside whomever they please, the dream is a nightmare with cartels run amok who have all the power.

See the "Campaign to Stop Police Carding Now" at StopPoliceCarding.com. I highly recommend this editorial which explains how the problem grew out of control and also shows how Canadians are getting just as sick of these practices as we are.

Children are subject to carding too - to the point where they need their own legal defense!

Pay to drive: Oregon to tax motorists for using public roads

© alternativeconsumer

In order to replace revenue being lost due to more fuel efficient cars on American roads, the state of Oregon is set to launch a pay-per-mile tax program that will charge motorists for their use of public roads.

Starting on July 1, Oregon will allow 5,000 residents to voluntarily sign up to be taxed per-mile rather than pay the gas tax at the pumps. Volunteers will be charged 1.5 cents every mile traveled on taxpayer-provided roads, reports AP News.

From :

The current program, called OreGo, will be the largest yet and will be open to all car types. Of these, no more than 1,500 participating vehicles can get less than 17 miles per gallon, and no more than 1,500 must get at least 17 miles per gallon and less than 22 miles per gallon.

Volunteers will still be paying the fuel tax if they stop for gas. But at the end of the month, depending on the type of car they drive, they will receive either a credit or a bill for the difference in gas taxes paid at the pump.

Private vendors will provide drivers with small digital devices to track miles; other services will also be offered. Volunteers can opt out of the program at any time, and they'll get a refund for miles driven on private property and out of state.

Oregon is one of many states now considering the use of such programs to make up for lost revenues. California, and Washington state have also pondered upon the idea of taxing motorists per-mile.
According to a January 2014 report by the nonprofit organization , the State of Oregon is approximately $86.7 billion in debt. The plan to tax drivers by the mile can come as no surprise as the state is wildly out of control with spending.

Privacy concerns have been raised by the ACLU over the program's requirement for digital devices to be placed in vehicles in order to track location and miles traveled.

"This is the government collecting massive amounts of data and we want to ensure the government doesn't keep and use that data for other purposes," ACLU's interim executive director Jann Carson told AP News.

The ACLU's concerns sparked moves by the state to allow drivers to use a device absent of a GPS. For those that do use the GPS, Oregon will guarantee the destruction of all data collected after 30 days.

Western intelligence agencies exploiting progressive social causes to further imperial agenda


© GCHQ/Public Affairs Office

Over the weekend, the British surveillance agency GCHQ — the most extremist and invasive in the West — bathed its futuristic headquarters with rainbow-colored lights "as a symbol of the intelligence agency's commitment to diversity" and to express solidarity with "International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia." GCHQ's public affairs office proudly distributed the above photograph to media outlets. Referring to Alan Turing, the closeted-and-oppressed gay World War II British code-breaker just memorialized by an Oscar-nominated feature film, Prime Minister David Cameron's office celebrated GCHQ's inspirational lights:
This is so very moving. Gay Brits are now just as free as everyone else to spy on people, covertly disseminate state propaganda, and destroy online privacy. Whatever your views on all this nasty surveillance business might be, how can you not feel good about GCHQ when it drapes itself in the colors of LGBT equality?

This is all a stark illustration of what has become a deeply cynical but highly effective tactic. Support for institutions of militarism and policies of imperialism is now manufactured by parading them under the emotionally manipulative banners of progressive social causes.

The CIA loves this strategy. It now issues press releases hailing LGBT Pride Month and its "Agency Network of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Officers and Allies (ANGLE)," which "heralded the start of Pride Month by unveiling a photography exhibit at CIA Headquarters showcasing LGBT officers, allied employees, and their families." Last month, the spy agency actually set up a recruiting tent at the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade. Also last month, it summoned Maureen Dowd to Langley to interview female agents — ones whom the NYT columnist hailed as a "perky 69-year-old blond" and a mid-30s "chic analyst" — to produce a glowing portrait of "the C.I.A. sisterhood." What Good Progressive could possibly view such such a pro-gay and feminist institution with disdain?

Neocons have long adeptly exploited this tactic and are among its pioneers. Before the invasion of Afghanistan, Americans were inundated with stories about the Taliban's oppression of women: as though feminism was part of the cause of that war. To help justify the invasion of that country, the Bush State Department suddenly discovered its profound concern for the plight of "Afghan women and girls." Some American feminist groups dutifully took up the cause as U.S. bombs were falling and U.S. soldiers were invading that country, as though it were some sort of War for Feminism and the Liberation of Afghan Women.

What Good Progressive could oppose a war like that? The fact that the U.S. not only refrained from invading, but lavishly supported, all sorts of regimes that were at least as repressive to women as the Taliban went unmentioned. That might suggest that liberation of women was merely a propagandistic pretext for that war rather than an actual desired outcome — just as Saddam Hussein's "gassing of his own people" and other human rights abuses (committed when he was a close U.S. ally) had exactly zero to do with that war other than providing a feel-good means for liberals to support it.

These days, animosity toward leading U.S. adversaries — Vladimir Putin and Iranian mullahs — is bolstered through a sustained focus on their maltreatment of their LGBT citizens. The most war-craving neoconsendlessly focus on the plight of gay Iranians — as though that's what motivates their hostility, as though neocons care about any of that in the slightest — while completely ignoring brutal LGBT suppression byregimes that are highly deferential to the U.S. and Israel. All of this, though blatantly manipulative, is also a remarkably effective tactic: Obama-aligned gay groups in the U.S. such as Human Rights Campaign regularly churn out anti-Russia screeds, and do the same for Iran.

Like any effective propaganda, all of this is grounded in some semblance of truth. The Taliban really are grotesquely oppressive to women; Saddam really was a severe human rights violator; Iran really does punish and sometimes even executes its gay citizens, while Putin has cultivated an anti-gay climate for domestic political benefits.

But none of that has the even the remotest connection to U.S. foreign policy or to the reasons these countries are deemed American adversaries. Just as is true for the Taliban's treatment of women, the regimes the U.S. loves and supports the most are at least as oppressive to LGBT individuals as Iran is (or, when compared to Russia's actual record on gays, far more oppressive). The U.S. government doesn't mind in the slightest if a government is oppressive to its gay or female citizens: quite the contrary, as a look at its closest allies proves. It just exploits those social issues as a means of propagandizing the public into hating the regimes that oppose its dictates, and well-intentioned people then dutifully march into line (just as some Iraq War supporters, and Libya War supporters, genuinely got convinced that invading and bombing those countries would somehow improve "human rights" — as though that were the goal or the likely outcome).

As a general matter, this tactic for Washington is far from new. The U.S. media has long hyped human rights and civil liberties abuses when perpetrated by governments disliked at the moment by the U.S. government, while ignoring far worse ones committed by subservient regimes. That's why "Pussy Riot" has become a household name among Americans, and why the U.S. media developed an acute interest in the press freedom record of Ecuador as soon as it granted asylum to Julian Assange, but there is almost no interest in hearing about the systematic abuses of the Gulf tyrannies most commonly hailed by the U.S. media as "Our Friends and Partners in the Region." This is human rights concerns as a cynical propaganda tactic, not anything remotely approaching an actual belief.

But the exploitation of these specific progressive social issues — especially women's and LGBT rights — is a relatively new modification of this long-standing tactic. It has found expression in the "pink washing" of Israeli aggression: all Good Progressives are supposed to side with Israel because they provide better treatment to LGBT citizens than Palestinians do. Anti-Muslim fanatics use this same tactic constantly (literally every day, I'm told I should never oppose persecution and imperialistic aggression against Muslims because of "their" anti-gay fanaticism: why are you defending "them" since "they" would throw you off a roof, etc.). Similarly, the (genuinely exciting) milestone of the first African-American president was effectively used to obscure what the CIA itself in 2008 regarded as Obama's irreplaceable value in protecting status quo militarism, while the milestone of the first female president will be used to obscure Hillary Clinton's similar role.

Figuratively dressing up American wars in the pretty packaging of progressive social causes, or literally decorating pernicious spy agencies with the colors of the LGBT cause, should leave no doubt about what this tactic is. Militarism and aggression don't become any more palatable because the institutions that perpetrate them let women and gays participate in those abuses, nor do American wars become less criminal or destructive because their targets share the same primitive social issue stances as America's closest allies.

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Blowing smoke: Netanyahu vows commitment to two-state solution


© AP Photo/ Dan Balilty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised his commitment to two-state solution of the crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations on Wednesday for the first time since his reelection.

Before the March election in Israel, Netanyahu had said he would oppose the creation of a Palestinian state if reelected.

"I want to reiterate my commitment to peace...My position hasn't changed. I don't support a one-state solution. I don't believe this is a solution at all. I support the vision of two states for two peoples - a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state," Netanyahu told EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, as quoted by the newspaper.

The Israeli leader also stated that the country had taken several steps in recent months to ease the situation for the Palestinian people, and is prepared to go further.

Palestinians have been seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since they were occupied by Israel in 1967. Israel has been building settlements on the occupied lands, disregarding international condemnation.

Ignite the Truth: Andrew Wakefield conference

© Land Destroyer Report

Recently, Dr. Andrew Wakefield spoke at a Moms In Charge event to introduce a new documentary about CDC and vaccine whistleblowers and the consequences of repeated disregard. No one knows how better to handle blowing the whistle than Wakefield himself.

His name is synonymous with "discredited" and "debunked" - an oft repeated line that lets you know when a mainstream journalist is either incredibly lazy and obtuse or is knowingly following lockstep with orders like a good corporate sycophant. Such adjectives are nothing compared to the ones leveled at vaccine skeptics of all walks and stations. When a man like Wakefield is stripped of everything for unwittingly - not going to "war on vaccines" like the media regurgitates - he now has nothing to lose by igniting the truth.

Here, Wakefield briefly alludes to his own story and shines light on media and corporate tactics of deception. The power to crush someone's reputation for questioning vaccines is paramount. However, so is the power to blow the lid on the whole illusion. As you see from his information, vaccines are not prompted by genuine care for children, but rather steamroll on despite full knowledge of deadly and devastating risks.

The people who wish to acquiesce in order to be on the "winning" team because they themselves don't see the damages, need to understand that they are running toward a tsunami that will destroy them with hundreds of vaccines planned for a newly compulsory pipeline. What can you do when you find out the truth too late and can no longer say "no"? There is only so much money in Viagra - vaccines are where the real profits lie.

Here, you will get an inside look in the precise timing and coordination needed by whistleblowers so that they and their information doesn't go out with the tide:

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For more information and to support the new documentary - Feast of Consequences - please click here.

Freak dust storm in north India leaves 7 dead in Rajasthan

© Virender Singh Gosain/ HT Photo
The dust storm kept many indoors while the rest had no option but to take cover.

A severe dust storm and light rain hit vast swathes of north India, leaving seven people dead and damaging houses in Rajasthan and affecting Metro rail services in the national capital.

A minor girl and a woman were among those killed in Rajasthan by Tuesday's freak storm, which left a trail of destruction across the state, damaging buildings, uprooting trees and electricity poles and disrupting power supply in many districts.

Five people were killed and 10 more injured in Bharatpur district in Rajasthan. Two people were killed in Bikaner while six others were injured, officials said.

While many parts of the state were hit by a massive sand storm followed by thunder squalls, there were reports of hailstorms in some areas where unseasonal rains in March had left many dead and damaged crops, triggering one of the worst agrarian crises in Rajasthan.

In Delhi, the storm and rains brought some relief from the sweltering heat but affected the Metro, which operated trains on a single track between Janakpuri West and Subhash Nagar, causing problems for commuters.

Metro services were hit because an overhead electric line was damaged by the storm.

Officials in Rajasthan said rains accompanied by high velocity winds hit Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Nagaur, Alwar Jaipur, Bharatpur, and Jaisalmer districts in the afternoon.

© Sanjeev Verma/ HT Photo
A car falls down in drain after the sudden dust storm at service road near NH-8 between Rao Tula Marg and Mahipalpur, in New Delhi.

Hailstorms were reported from Bikaner, Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Bharatpur districts.

The storm brought down the searing heat several notches.

The government said Rs 4 lakh will be paid as compensation to the families of the dead.

The Met department said the sudden change in weather was caused by a movement of spiral winds over northwest Rajasthan and a high pressure gradient and heat.

The weatherman warned of more rain and hailstorms on Wednesday.

FBI visits NJ high school to warn students about Islamic State recruitment threat


© Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi

The FBI has paid a visit to a New Jersey high school, warning students about the online recruitment tactics of ISIS. The agency told the teens not to believe the terror group's propaganda, as it is trawling the internet to recruit vulnerable young people.

The Tuesday event, held at Bergen Arts and Science Charter School in Hackensack, NJ, was led by a senior FBI intelligence analyst who did not want to be named for security reasons.

During the talk, he told students that Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) was using social media and glossy magazines to train terrorists and make its mission seem appealing.

One of the tactics mentioned was a sophisticated recruitment video, aimed at luring young people into joining the terror group.

The footage features a Canadian man who says that anyone can play a role in ISIS's mission, failing to mention the atrocities inflicted by the terror group. That same man later died while fighting for the group in Syria.

The event, part of the FBI's outreach campaign to warn about the terror threat, seemed to have accomplished its intended goal on some of the students.

Brayan Liz, a senior, said the talk was useful because "100 percent of students are on social media," reported.

Another senior, Robert Harris, told that he is "more interested than scared," adding that he "wants to know how to find terrorists; how to stop them from doing things."

"It definitely was eye-opening," said high school senior Zoey Zibor. "You know, you learn that it's in your own backyard. It's Americans citizens wanting to join these terrorist groups."

The FBI analyst stressed that the talk was about ISIS as a terror group, not a religious one. Still, some students expressed frustration about the event.

"I did kind of feel offended because they're putting a bad reputation on Islam in general. That has nothing to do with Islam," said junior Safiye Taspinar.

That sentiment was shared by Glenn Katon, legal director for the civil liberties group Muslim Advocates.

He tweeted that Muslims account for only about 6 percent of extremist violence in the US, but the FBI focuses all of its anti-extremism measures on Muslims.

"The FBI keeps peddling 'radicalization' rubbish," he wrote.

The presentation was requested by the school's security director, Leo McGuire, "to educate and inform students so they don't get dragged into the recruitment tools that some of the terrorist organizations are using."

He added that students have a "part to play in count-terrorism operations."

The FBI plans to take its message to other schools in the tri-state area.

More than 150 Americans - some of them teenagers - have traveled abroad to join ISIS, according to the FBI. The agency's intelligence analyst said that all of the bureau's 56 field offices have had cases of people being recruited to join the terror group.

China to further strengthen alliance with Russia by boosting investments 150% in 5 years


© Reuters / Sergei Ilnitsky / Pool

China may more than double its investment in the Russian economy to $10 billion within 5 years if conditions are favorable, said the Deputy Secretary-General of the China Overseas Development Association He Zhenwei.

"Chinese investments abroad currently amount to $140 billion, with about $4 billion investment into Russia. This can be doubled at least to $8 billion, although not within one year. We can increase the investment to $10 billion step by step within five years, especially in terms of investment projects as road and railway construction requires large amounts," the Chinese official told TASS on Tuesday.

Many Chinese enterprises are oriented to cooperate with Chile and Brazil because of the investment climate, although Russia's location is much better in terms of logistics, he added. There are no reasons for Chinese investors not to invest in Russia, especially due to the good interstate relations between Russia and China at the highest level, He Zhenwei was cited as saying by TASS.

Russia-China economic cooperation has been booming, mostly in energy and finance. Moscow and Beijing have signed an impressive number of energy, trade and finance deals earlier this month during Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Beijing will invest around $6 billion in the construction of Russia's first high-speed rail line between Moscow and Kazan which is to be extended to China. The railway will become part of the grand Silk Road project.