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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Our European ancestors brought farming, languages and a love of dairy, study shows

© The Independent, UK
Thousands of Bronze Age migrants from the Caucuses came to northern Europe in a major movement of prehistoric people in the third millennium BC.

The making of modern Europe began in earnest about 5,000 years ago when a mass migration of people from what is now southern Russia and Georgia introduced new technology, languages and dairy farming to the continent, a study has found.

Thousands of Bronze Age migrants from the Caucuses came to northern Europe in a major movement of prehistoric people in the third millennium BC, according to the largest research project of its kind that analysed the genetic makeup of more than 100 ancient skeletons from the period.

The migrants brought new metal skills, spoke what became the basis of almost every other European language - from Greek and Latin to German and English - and carried a genetic mutation that allowed adults to drink cow's milk.

This lactose-tolerance gene, which enables adults to digest the sugar in milk, is still more prevalent in north Europeans today than in most other regions of the world. This illustrates the historic importance of dairy food in the North European diet, the scientists said.

The mass migration was one of the most significant in European history, equivalent to the colonisation of the Americas, and was a transformative period in terms of the change in languages and culture that it brought about, the researchers believe.

"The single most important finding from our study is that the Bronze Age, which is relatively recent, is when the major genetic landscape affecting modern-day Europeans was formed. It's a surprise as it happened so recently," said Eske Willerslev, professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of Copenhagen.

"Our study is the first, real large-scale population genomic study ever undertaken on ancient individuals. We analysed genome sequence data from 101 past individuals. This is more than a doubling of the number of genomic sequenced individuals of prehistoric man generated to date," Professor Willerslev said.

"The results show that the genetic composition and distribution of peoples in Europe and Asia today is a surprisingly late phenomenon, only a few thousand years old," he said.

The genomic analysis, published in the journal , indicates that the Yamnaya people who lived in the Caucuses about 5,000 years ago were responsible for spreading not just their innovative cultural ideas and languages, but their DNA across a vast area extending from the Urals to Scandinavia.

They effectively replaced the older Neolithic farmers and hunter-gatherers who had occupied the northern Europe for thousands of years previously, presumably aided by the Yamnaya's ability to smelt bronze and copper and herd cattle, Professor Willerslev said.

Heartburn meds may increase heart attack risk

© Ohmega1982/iStockphoto

A class of drugs widely used to treat heartburn could raise heart attack risk, new research suggests.

While the study results need to be confirmed, commentators say the research provides another reason to reduce unnecessary use of the drugs --called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) -- which are both prescribed and sold over the counter in Australia.

The drugs include the active ingredients omeprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole, lansoprazole, which all work by reducing the amount of stomach acid produced.

"These drugs may not be as safe as we think," says senior author Dr Nicholas Leeper, an assistant professor of vascular surgery and of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University.

The new research, published today in the journal , relied on mining data from millions of electronic medical records in the United States.

"The risk is small," says lead author Dr Nigam Shah also from Stanford, whose team developed the data mining method used in the study.

"If 4357 people take proton pump inhibitors for two weeks, this will mean one additional heart attack."

But, he says, given how widely used the drugs are, this could result in many additional heart attacks

"Even if it's a tiny elevation of risk at the individual level, at a population level it adds up to pretty large numbers."

The market for PPIs is worth $13 billion worldwide, say the researchers.

According to NPS MedicineWise, PPIs are one of the most widely used medicines in Australia, dispensed over 19 million times and contributing to around $350 million to the PBS expenditure in 2013-14.

Electronic medical records

Shah, Leeper and colleagues analysed data from the electronic medical records of over 30 million people in the US. They identified around 250,000 people who had acid reflux and were able to compare the number of heart attacks in those who took PPIs with those who didn't.

The researchers then combined these findings with an ongoing study that was following 1500 patients, some of whom were taking PPIs.

"All things considered those who took the proton pump inhibiter drugs had about a 20 per cent higher rate at getting heart attack than those on other acid reflux drugs," says Shah.

"We found this association in people who are under 55 who are not at risk of a heart attack just because of their age."

The researchers say their study has limitations. For example, it is possible that some of the people prescribed PPIs actually had angina, and had been wrongly diagnosed as having reflux.

But, they say the suggestion that PPIs actually increase heart attack risk is supported by a previous study they carried out that found PPIs damages blood vessels.

"That basically provides a mechanism by which these drugs could be associated with heart attack," says Shah.

Ideally, the researchers say the link needs to be confirmed in a large, prospective, randomised trial comparing the effect of PPIs and another class of reflux drug, called H2 blockers.

But they estimate any trial would need to have about 4000 subjects to pick up the small risk.

"It would be so prohibitively expensive," says Shah.

Unnecessary use

Dr Katie Ellard, secretary of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia, says the findings needs confirmation, but are another reason to avoid unnecessary use of PPIs.

"They're pretty safe but the trouble with them is they're so widely used," says Ellard.

She says the risk increased identified by Shah, Leeper and colleagues is not "screamingly great" but it still may be important.

"I want people to realise it's not just like taking an antacid," she says.

There has been recent concern expressed by the gastroenterologists world-wide, about the overuse of PPIs, as well as by the RACGP and NPS MedicineWise in Australia.

"The reason for that is it's costly, lots of people don't need to be on them, and there are some potential but not terribly clear risks associated with them," says Ellard.

Apart from common side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, PPI use has also been associated with serious, though rare side effects such as bone fractures, pneumonia, gut infections, inflammation of the kidneys, or certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, according to NPS MedicineWise.

Ellard says before recommending PPIs, doctors should be encouraging people to do things like reduce weight, coffee intake and fatty foods first.

"I say to a lot of my patients if you can lose five kilos you won't need to take the medication," she says.

Australia's drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is aware of the new research.

"The TGA will review this information to ascertain what, if any, action is required in the Australian context," says a TGA spokesperson.

Report: Hundreds of women & children forced into sex by United Nations "peacekeepers"

© The Free Thought Project

This week, a report from the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), indicated that "peacekeepers" working in Haiti were guilty of raping Haitian women at an alarming rate. The report also indicated that a large number of the victims were underage.

According to the report, there were 231 people in Haiti who claimed they were sexually violated by UN peacekeepers, and were forced to perform sexual acts in exchange for food and supplies that were intended as relief packages.

For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the 'triggering need,'" the report said, adding that UN workers coaxed women and girls into sexual activities with "church shoes, cell phones, laptops and perfume,

"In cases of non-payment, some women withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media," the report said

This is not the first time that UN workers have been accused of these types of crimes. After the UN has entered areas like Cambodia, Mozambique, Bosnia, Sudan and Kosovo, there was an explosion of sex trafficking and numerous reports of abuse. Just this year, the UN was caught attempting to cover-up the fact that their workers had raped starving and homeless boys in the Central African Republic.

There are almost too many cases to list in which high-profile public figures or organizations were accused in pedophilia or human trafficking cases. However, they almost always dodge any prosecution or public scrutiny due to their control of the legal system and media.

There have been many cases in recent history where establishment figures have been caught up in child prostitution rings but quickly had the story swept under the rug.

One such case was on June 29 1989, when the ' Paul M. Rodriguez and George Archibald reported on a Washington D.C. prostitution ring that had intimate connections with the White House and President George H.W. Bush. It was suspected that this was connected with the Franklin prostitution ring that was being exposed at the same time, in a different part of the country.

That story involved the manager of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union in Nebraska. His name was Lawrence "Larry" King and he was also a prominent politician. Various unconnected victims accused him of transporting them around the country to be used as sex slaves for politicians. When the accusations finally came to light, the victims were railroaded out of court and threatened into recanting their statements, thus making themselves guilty of perjury in the process.

The perjury was unfortunately enough to drop the case and actually send some of the victims to jail. The truth of the matter didn't come out until former Nebraska State Senator John DeCamp went back to reexamine the case and discovered that the accusations were indeed true.

Human trafficking is an industry of the ruling class, it always has been. Your average blue-collar, white-collar people aren't buying slaves, and they certainly aren't selling them either! This is still very much a part of western culture, even companies with major government contracts have been accused of organizing full-scale slave rings. These companies have not only been protected by their governments, but they were also able to keep the contracts and subsidies that they had prior to the accusations.

Some of the world's largest multinational corporations such as DynCorp and Halliburton were exposed as major players in the global human trafficking market. These companies did not work alone, but cooperated with each other through various subsidiaries and had the luxury of government protection.

When suspicion was brought upon these companies it was swept under the rug by government officials. Even high-ranking members of the establishment such as Donald Rumsfeld were implicit in covering up this scandal. On March 11th 2005, he was questioned by Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and he admitted on the record that the allegations did have credibility, but he pushed the blame off onto a few "rogue" employees. He used the "few bad apples" line that the government always dishes out when they are caught up in a scandal.

Although Rumsfeld and other high-ranking officials claimed that they would look into the situation, they actually prevented any serious investigations from taking place. This happens every day, even organizations like the UN and NATO have come under fire for running slave rings out of third world countries when they are on "peacekeeping missions."

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Pat Robertson to grieving mother: God killed your baby to prevent the next Hitler

© 700 Club

Pat Robertson let his inner a**hole out on Tuesday when he told the mother of a dead child that God killed her baby to prevent the next Hitler or Stalin.

During his program that airs on Disney-owned ABC Family, Robertson took a question from a viewer who asked the TV preacher what she should say to a grieving co-worker whose baby recently died.

After her co-worker asked her "Why did God allow my baby to die?" she told the mother that "God sees the whole picture," but wanted to know if Robertson had anything to add.

First, Robertson tried to absolve God of any blame for the baby's death, instead suggesting that the death could be due to human error.

"More and more in the New Testament era, we have come to realize that human beings have an agency, that have responsibility, and a lot of things happen because humans do. I mean people die in hospitals because of medical malpractice - somebody cuts the wrong thing, somebody dies. It happens all the time. Nurse gives the patient the wrong medicine - are you going to blame that on God? That's not God, that's people."

And then Robertson heartlessly stated that God may have killed her baby to prevent the child from growing up to be a serial killer or murderous tyrant.

"As far as God's concerned, he knows the end from the beginning and He sees a little baby and that little baby could grow up to be Adolf Hitler, he could grow up to be Joseph Stalin, he could grow up to be some serial killer, or he could grow up to die of a hideous disease. God sees all of that, and for that life to be terminated while he's a baby, he's going to be with God forever in Heaven so it isn't a bad thing."

Here's the video via Right Wing Watch:

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This is perhaps the most unbelievably callous bullshit Robertson has ever uttered. He has told poor people to keep tithing the church and has called for physically abusing children until they accept the Christian faith, but this goes beyond cruel. Not only does this grieving mother have to deal with the fact that her baby died, she's now being told that her baby might have been killed by God because the child could have been a mass murderer or a evil monster. That is far from comforting a mother who is in pain. It's downright despicable.

What kind of a "Christian" would say such a terrible thing? The answer is a fake one who is also a sh**ty human being who lacks compassion for others. It's time for Pat Robertson to retire.

'Marriage is simply too important:' Christian couple vows to divorce if gays allowed to wed

"MY wife and I just celebrated our 10-year anniversary. But later this year, we may be getting a divorce. The reason has nothing to do with the state of our marriage. We were married at 21 after being high-school sweethearts for several years before that. In fact, my wife is the only woman I have ever loved, the mother of our children, my perfect match...

After our divorce, we'll continue to live together, hopefully for another 50 years. And, God willing, we'll have more children. We'll also continue to refer to each other as "husband" and "wife" and consider ourselves married by the Church and before God.

So why do this? It will certainly complicate our lives as we try to explain our marital status on the sidelines during Saturday sport. The reason, however, is that, as Christians, we believe marriage is not a human invention.

Our view is that marriage is a fundamental order of creation. Part of God's intimate story for human history. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman before a community in the sight of God. And the marriage of any couple is important to God regardless of whether that couple recognises God's involvement or authority in it.

My wife and I, as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognise the government's regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same sex couples...

When we signed that official-looking marriage certificate 10 years ago at Tuggeranong Baptist Church, we understood that the state was endorsing marriage, as currently defined, as the fundamental social institution - with all that this implied.

But if this is no longer the case, then we no longer wish to be associated with this new definition. Marriage is sacred and what is truly 'marriage' will only ever be what it has always been.

This has been a big decision for my wife and I. Some will accuse of us being bigoted or too hateful to share. But this couldn't be further from our intentions.

The truth is, 'marriage' is simply too important. It is a sacred institution, ordained by God. It has always been understood to be that exclusive relationship where one man and one woman become "one flesh". Any attempt to change the definition of marriage by law is not something in which we are able to partake."

US: Rare auroras and lightning visible side by side



A solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field during the late hours of June 7th, sparking a G2-class geomagnetic storm. In the United States, surprised sky watchers from Maine to Washington witnessed a rare display of summer auroras. Outside of Rochester, Minnesota, photographer Marcella Chester recorded the green glow alongside a June thunderstorm:

"I've never seen auroras and lightning visible side by side before," marvels Chester. "These photos were taken between 2 and 3 am on Monday, June 8th."

At about the same time in Hartford, Wisconsin, Jake Stehli witnessed a similar display. "The auroras were visible to the naked eye with lightning in a thunderhead on the horizon as well," he says.


© Jake Stehli

Researchers have long known that geomagnetic storms happen most often in spring and fall. In other words, auroras prefer equinoxes. That's why seeing them so close to the summer solstice is remarkable.

The show is subsiding, but might not be finished. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on June 10th as the solar wind continues to blow.

Saturn's outermost ring stuns astronomers

© NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The biggest planetary ring in the solar system is much bigger than previously thought, say scientists.

A new study, reported today in , has found that Saturn's outermost ring is nearly 300 times the size of the planet it orbits.

That's more than 30 per cent larger than scientists had thought.

"Nobody expected [planetary] rings to ever be this large," says lead author, Professor Douglas Hamilton of the University of Maryland.

"The textbooks all say that rings are small, located close to their planet."

Saturn's largest was originally discovered by Hamilton and colleagues in 2009, and is named after the Saturnian moon Phoebe, which is the source of the particles that make up the ring.

In the previous study the ring was detected between distances of 128 and 207 Saturn radii, but new measurements using NASA's WISE spacecraft have given the researchers a better picture and increased its size by 30 percent.

"Before we knew [the Phoebe ring] was big, but we didn't know exactly how big, and now we have that answer. It's nearly 300 times the size of the planet Saturn," says Hamilton.

Particle size

The new study studied the size of the particles in Saturn's outermost ring, providing new insights into how the ring formed.

Millimetre to centimetre-sized chunks of ice in the tails of passing comets continually bombard Phoebe, producing a constant stream of debris that forms the giant ring.

The observations in 2009 couldn't determine the size of the particles in the ring, but the new more detailed picture shows it is composed of mostly very small dust particles.

Hamilton and colleagues worked out the size of ring particles by examining how the brightness of the ring changed as the spacecraft moved across it.

Larger rocks, between fist and soccer-ball-sized, only make up around 10 per cent or less of the ring's total composition, the researchers say.

"We didn't really expect the smallest ones to be dominant," says Hamilton.

He says larger particles collide to form smaller particles, and these smaller particles are eventually lost by interacting with sunlight.

However, because the ring is so large, individual particles don't collide very often so this means the ring could be very old, says Hamilton.

"Most of these particles can last for millions to billions of years because there's so much space and so few particles, and they're moving so slowly that the collision rate is so slow."

Two faced moon

When small particles are lost from the Phoebe ring, they move inwards towards Saturn until they cross the orbit of the neighbouring Saturnian moon Iapetus.

"Iapetus is a moon that's unlike anything else in the solar system, it's black on one side and white on the other due to this Phoebe ring," says Hamilton.

Just like the Earth's Moon where the same face is always locked towards Earth, Iapetus orbits Saturn with the same face always leading in its orbit. That forward looking face is turned black by the black dust grains from the Phoebe ring striking it during its orbit.

"That's really what led us to go looking for this outer ring in the first place," says Hamilton.

Saturn's many rings

Saturn's famous main rings are composed of chunks of ice that are between the size of a house all the way down to millimetre-sized particles. The particles in these rings are very densely packed and constantly colliding with each other on time scales of minutes to hours.

Beyond Saturn's main rings is the E ring which is produced by geysers erupting from fissures at the south pole of the moon Enceladus.

These geysers are spraying water into space which quickly freezes into very fine ice grains, which remain in orbit for around a hundred years until they're swept up again by Enceladus.

"Finally we go out the Phoebe ring which is a totally different regime, where most of the particles are fine dust, although not as small as particles in the E ring," says Hamilton.

Sott Exclusive: Where's my cookie?! Anti-government protests in Ukraine ignored by US and EU

© RT
Large anti-government protests took place in Kiev this week

The third Ukraine 'Maidan' came quickly, and was quenched just as fast. Unlike the protests that began in late 2013 and turned into the months-long 'EuroMaidan' that ended with the coup against the legitimate government of Yanukovych, this time, there were no entrenched cadres of hardened protestors in camps, no pitched battles with police, no occupation of government buildings. Why not?

Almost immediately on the heels of the Gay Rights parade that fizzled out on Friday with a spectacular whimper after being attacked by neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs (the same ones Kiev has been dutifully utilizing in their 'anti-anti-terrorist operation' in the east), similar brain dead fascist drones did the same thing to the massive anti-government march in Kiev this weekend.

The thousands of protesters that marched to and camped out on Maidan Square were airing their grievances against the so-called government of greedy, inept, bloodthirsty leaders. That is, protestors were attempting to engage with the full spirit of that new-found Ukrainian-American democracy that was gifted to them last year by way of the US-sponsored coup. You know, protesting against things like poverty, criminally low pensions, and a useless, costly, ineffective war in the east. Some protesters were calling for Poroshenko's impeachment, saying the government can't handle the country's current problems.

But apparently their grievances are not so grievous, mainly because they don't jive with the 'strategic interests' of the US government, unlike the previous Maidan protests of last year that had the god fatherly blessings of the glorious United States, complete with Nuland cookies, Right Sector barbarism, and provocateur snipers. The spoils of that little Maidan went to Poroshenko. This little Maidan may as well have stayed home. All they got was the privilege of going wee, wee, wee all the way to prison. Now, if Poroshenko were to have a brain transplant and suddenly say something remotely favorable about Putin, THAT would be a different story. In that case, the beneficent flow of cookies, arms, and support would no doubt come freely, along with a US government demand that Poroshenko "had to go".

But that's not how things went down. Instead, a group of about a hundred of those ubiquitous 'young men in masks' (the better to cover their Swastika-tattooed faces, one would venture to guess) attacked the tents of the protesters early Monday morning, destroying the camp and beating the protesters.

Ukraine's security forces dutifully showed up to rain democratic justice upon the masked attackers, but were regrettably unable to capture them. Instead, they decided to do the next-best-democratic thing: arrest some protesters, including Ruslan Tashbaev, a U.S.-nationalized Ukrainian, on accusations of being Kremlin trolls sent to cause unrest against a saintly government that can do no harm. Because the only possible reason for being remotely upset with the Ukrainian government is because you are a Donetsk or Lugansk "terrorist" personally trained by Vladimir Putin... Everyone knows that.

But Tashbaev is anything but a Putin fan. He's apparently more Russophobic than Poroshenko, whom Tashbaev believes isn't doing enough to beat those dastardly Russians posing as miners from the east. Which makes the following events even more ironic:

However, the story had an unexpected twist - Tashbaev came online today saying that he was not deported. He was detained by the police, passed to the custody of unknown masked men, and taken to the forest - to be beaten, tortured, and probably killed. It is unknown why they dumped him in the forest instead - maybe because Tashbaev's lawyers started asking head of State Security about his whereabouts (Nalivaychenko answered that he is detained and giving evidence about his ties to terrorist organizations), or maybe they hoped he would not be able to make it out of the forest in his state. Anyway, Tashbaev made it out. Here are the photos he posted of himself - taken after he walked two hours to the nearest residential area.

He flew out of Ukraine some hours later and underwent medical evaluation in a US hospital. He vows those responsible will be brought to justice. PS. Wanna bet if any mass media outlets run stories on this? The same exact thing has been going on for a year, and nothing so far...Maybe it'll turn out he "beat himself up to blame police", just like 40 protesters in Odessa "burned themselves to slander innocent patriots".

Ah! Now THIS is what I'm talking about: good ol' fashioned American-Ukrainian democracy! John McCain would be proud. As for the face of this strange brand of democracy, here it is:
Ukraine should be proud. It has almost - just - achieved the model of the ideal American democracy, complete with crippling, suicidal debt, no economic or foreign policy to speak of, the torture and murder of civilians, brazen lies, insane rhetoric, and brutal psychopathy. Glory to Ukraine, indeed.

Harrison Koehli (Profile)

Harrison Koehli hails from Edmonton, Alberta. A graduate of studies in music performance, Harrison is also an editor for Red Pill Press and has been interviewed on several North American radio shows in recognition of his contributions to advancing the study of ponerology. In addition to music and books, Harrison enjoys tobacco and bacon (often at the same time) and dislikes cell phones, vegetables, and fascists.

Meteor soars through the sky over Santa Fe, New Mexico


© Jan Curtis

Took while sleeping. Occurred at 1:23:36 AM MDT, looking east from just south of Santa Fe in the direction of the moon. Used Nikon d7000, iso 1000, 35mm Nikkor lens @ f/2.0 for 8sec. Note a few explosive bursts before terminating. Used PS 6.0 to increase contrast due to strong moonlight from RAW image. Estimate magnitude -5.

Fireball captured by three separate cameras in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo, Brazil


© Screen grab via YouTube

A fireball has been captured by 3 cameras exploding in the sky over Brazil on June 7, 2015.

The cameras were situated in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo! Amazing!

The space rock was filmed by EXOSS cameras flying over three states at 05:20 am.

Such a triangulation is very rare and permitted to calculate precisely the route of the bright meteor:

The meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere at an angle of 25.5 degrees and at an altitude of 116.7 km. It disintegrated at an altitude of 79 km at a speed of 57 km/s after a flight of about 88 km in 1.5 seconds.

No reports of booms yet!

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Engineer develops inexpensive, bacteria-powered origami battery

© Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University Photographer
Origami batteries like this one, developed by Binghamton University researcher Seokheun Choi, could one day power biosensors for use in remote locations.

Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, can be used to create beautiful birds, frogs and other small sculptures. Now a Binghamton University engineer says the technique can be applied to building batteries, too.

Seokheun "Sean" Choi developed an inexpensive, bacteria-powered battery made from paper, he writes in the July edition of the journal .

The battery generates power from microbial respiration, delivering enough energy to run a paper-based biosensor with nothing more than a drop of bacteria-containing liquid. "Dirty water has a lot of organic matter," Choi says. "Any type of organic material can be the source of bacteria for the bacterial metabolism."

The method should be especially useful to anyone working in remote areas with limited resources. Indeed, because paper is inexpensive and readily available, many experts working on disease control and prevention have seized upon it as a key material in creating diagnostic tools for the developing world.

"Paper is cheap and it's biodegradable," Choi says. "And we don't need external pumps or syringes because paper can suck up a solution using capillary force."

While paper-based biosensors have shown promise in this area, the existing technology must be paired with hand-held devices for analysis. Choi says he envisions a self-powered system in which a paper-based battery would create enough energy -- we're talking microwatts -- to run the biosensor. Creating such a system is the goal of a new three-year grant of nearly $300,000 he received from the National Science Foundation.

Choi's battery, which folds into a square the size of a matchbook, uses an inexpensive air-breathing cathode created with nickel sprayed onto one side of ordinary office paper. The anode is screen printed with carbon paints, creating a hydrophilic zone with wax boundaries.

Total cost of this potentially game-changing device? Five cents.

Choi, who joined Binghamton's faculty less than three years ago as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, earned a doctorate from Arizona State University after doing undergraduate work and a master's degree in South Korea. Choi, who holds two U.S. patents, initially collaborated on the paper battery with Hankeun Lee, a former Binghamton undergraduate and co-author of the new journal article.

Choi recalls an actual "lightbulb moment" while working on an earlier iteration of the paper-based batteries, before he tried the origami approach. "I connected four of the devices in series, and I lit up this small LED," he says. "At that moment, I knew I had done it!"

Sun halo captured in Maine skies



A lot of people in Maine posted photos on social media on Saturday (June 6) of a ring around the sun. I saw two rainbow rings but didn't go all double rainbow guy. Here's what caused the ring to appear overhead.

According to an article by The University of Illinois, the phenomenon is called a 22 degree halo. The website explains, "Halos form when light from the sun or moon is refracted by ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds....A 22 degree halo is a ring of light 22 degrees from the sun (or moon) and is the most common type of halo."

Stephen Lenz

Usually the ring is white but on more rare occasions it has color like a rainbow.

I also saw a second ring on Saturday which it turns out is a 46 degree halo. They're less common than a 22 degree halo, but form the same way.

In even more rare instances, a sun dog will form which looks like a mini sun on each side of the halo. Isn't science fun?


© Stephen Lenz

Did you get a picture of the 22 degree halo Saturday? Share it with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Toba supervolcano showing large emissions of steam and foul smelling gas

Photo from Indonesia press showing new activity (June 2015) at Mount Sinabung, prompting evacuations around the area.

Western Indonesia's Mount Sinabung has been placed on high alert for what is being called a "mega-eruption" for several km/miles around the volcano.

Video reports coming out from the region show ash, steam, and eruptive blasts currently occurring.

In addition to the large eruption at Mount Sinabung, we now have other reports that the nearby Toba supervolcano is showing large emissions of steam (from the ground), as well as foul smelling gas.

According to reports from Indonesian press, locals are alarmed by these recent developments.

Toba supervolcano is indeed a "super-volcano" by all measurements. Actually LARGER in eruptive power to the other more well known "Yellowstone" super volcano (located in Wyoming / United States).

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Worthy to note, the Toba caldera produced the worlds largest eruption in the past 2 million years, and has not showed eruptive signs in over 75,000 years.
From Oregon state University:

"Toba caldera produced the largest eruption in the last 2 million years. The caldera is 18 x 60 miles (30 by 100 km) and has a total relief of 5,100 feet (1700 m).

The caldera probably formed in stages. Large eruptions occurred 840,000, about 700,000, and 75,000 years ago. The eruption 75,000 years ago produced the Young Toba Tuff. The Young Toba Tuff was erupted from ring fractures that surround most or all of the present-day lake. "

Comparison of volumes produced by some of the greatest volcanic eruptions. The Young Toba Tuff has an estimated volume of 2,800 cubic kilometers (km) and was erupted about 74,000 years ago. The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, erupted at Yellowstone 2.2 million years ago, has a volume of 2,500 cubic km. The Lava Creek Tuff, erupted at Yellowstone 600,000 years ago, has a volume of 1,000 cubic km. The May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens produced 1 cubic km of ash. Not shown is the Fish Canyon Tuff of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The Fish Canyon Tuff was erupted 27.8 million years ago and has an estimated volume of 3,000 cubic km.

quote volcano discovery:

"About 74,000 years BP, more than 2500 cubic kilometers of magma were erupted. The eruption led to the final formation of one of earths largest calderas, the 35×100 km wide Toba caldera. Eruptions of this size are extremely rare and are called supervolcano-eruptions. T

The Toba caldera is in fact the Earth's largest Quaternary caldera.

It was formed during four major Pleistocene ignimbrite-producing eruptions beginning at 1.2 million years ago and culminating with the colossal Young Toba Tuff (YTT) eruption about 74,000 years ago. The YTT emplaced about 2500-3000 cu km (dense rock equivalent) of ignimbrite and airfall ash from vents at the NW and SE ends of present-day Lake Toba."

Hot steam out of the ground resahkan citizens Toba Samosir

"Villagers Sitoluama, District Laguboti, Toba Samosir, North Sumatra, troubled by unusual events. Ground beside the houses steaming hot and smelling like gas.

Suspected hazardous vapors appear on Wednesday (27/5), exactly in the yard beside the house Purasa, located about ten kilometers from Balige, Toba Samosir regency capital.

"Hot steam and smelling like gas coming out of the pores of the soil it is feared to threaten the safety of people around, so we report them to the government," said one resident, Purasa Silalahi in Sitoluama, Saturday (30/5).

Indeed, continued Purasa, since the last three weeks the temperature around the house is very hot, both day and night. In fact, ceramic floor house feels hot.

Feeling suspicious of these conditions, he intends to dig the ground next to his house and turns as deep as 50 centimeters shaped steam to heat the smoke arose from the pit excavation. Due to fear of the conditions that made excavation, the hole covered immediately returned.

"Steam and smell make us feel fear gas that can be burned, so that the findings are reported directly to the head of the local village," explains Purasa.

Village Head Sitoluama, Moppo Old Pangaribuan said hot steam disturbing residents had been reported to the Department of Environment Toba Samosir.

Admittedly, in the area of ​​research is already been there 20 years ago and there is no sign or marker that in that area there is oil.

"In the past there was a study in this area. But the results until now there is no certainty, and now suddenly appeared in the form of gas. We hope that relevant agencies can re-examining the sake of convenience of the public," said Mappo.

Meanwhile, Head of the Environment Agency Toba Samosir, Parulian Siregar said it was continuing reports of citizens discovery on discovery of disturbing the hot steam.

"We are trying to coordinate with the Department of Mines and Energy of North Sumatra and stakeholders to determine definite vapor source, including handling solutions," said Parulian."

German banker says Europe is being ruined by following US dictates

Interviewed on June 6th by German Economic News, the chief economist at Bremer Landesbank, Folker Hellmeyer, says that because of Obama's sanctions against Russia, German exports declined year-over-year by 18% in 2014, and by 34% in the first two months of 2015 (no later figures), but he asserts that "The damage is much more comprehensive than these statistics show," because those are only the "primary losses," and there are in addition "secondary effects," which get even worse over time.

For example: "European countries with strong business in Russia, including Finland and Austria, are economically hit very hard. These countries consequently place fewer orders from Germany. Moreover, considering that European corporations will circumvent the sanctions, to create production facilities at the highest efficiency level in Russia, we lose this potential capital stock, which is the basis of our prosperity. Russia wins the capital stock," at the EU's expense, even though the sanctions are targeted against Russia.

But the nub is this:

For the future, Germany and the EU place their economic reliability into question with Russia. The relationship of trust is broken by Germany and the EU. In order to build such confidence, it takes several years. Between signature and delivery are up to five years. ... Siemens is now thrown out from a major project for this reason [i.e., because the requisite predictability has been lost]. Alstom has likewise lost the contract for the railway line from Moscow to Beijing. Consequently, the potential for damage is much more massive than the current figures show, not only for Germany, but for the entire EU.

Then, he says:

More [projects] still in planning include the axis from Peking to Moscow as part of the Shanghai Corporation and the BRIC countries, the largest growth project in modern history, the construction of the infrastructure of Eurasia, from Moscow to Vladivostok, to Southern China and India. How far the EU and Germany's sanctions-policy regarding Russia figures in these developing-countries' mega-projects will depend upon whether we'll be seen as hostile in other emerging countries than Russia. [Note from Eric Zuesse: Obama speaking 28 May 2014 to graduating West Point cadets: ' His attitude toward developing countries is clear — they are enemies, to be dealt with via the military, not economic partners to advance with us in economic cooperation.] But, obviously, there is a lack that some participants in European politics [and inside the White House!] have in their abilities to think abstractly on our behalf.

Asked who will be paying the price for this, he says:

"The measurable damage is loss of growth, in lost wages, losses in contributions to the social system and in tax revenue. This is true for the past 12 months, and it is valid for the years ahead. The people in Germany and the EU will pay the price through lost prosperity and stability. The unmeasurable damage lies in an elevated geopolitical risk situation for the people in the EU."

Asked about the situation in Ukraine, Hellmeyer says:

"It is indeed irritating. People who are focused not only on Western 'quality media' are amazed at those media hiding the aggression of Kiev and the discriminatory laws implemented by the Government in Kiev, which constitute a serious challenge to the claim that Western values and democracy are being supported by the West. I believe, to Mr Steinmeier's credit, that he is in fact talking plainly about these matters behind closed doors. The question is whether the behavior of the Atlantic alliance supports Mr. Steinmeier. I refer in this regard especially to Victoria Nuland. The fact is that by the coup in the Ukraine, an oligarchy friendly towards Moscow was replaced by an oligarchy now oriented toward the United States. It's geopolitics, which benefits third forces, but definitely not Germany, not the EU, not Russia, and not Ukraine."

So, he sees U.S. as having gained at the expense of every other country, but especially at Europe's expense.

Asked about the future, Folker Hellmeyer says:

For me, the conflict has already been decided. The axis Moscow-Beijing-BRIC wins. The dominance of the West is through. In 1990 those countries accounted for only about 25% of world economic output. Today, they represent 56% of world economic output, and 85% of world population. They control about 70% of the world's foreign exchange reserves. They grow annually by an average of 4% - 5%. Since the United States were not prepared to share power internationally (e.g., by changing the voting-apportionments in the IMF and World Bank), the future rests with those countries themselves, to build in the emerging markets sector on their own financial system. There lies their future. The EU is currently being drawn into the conflict, which the United States caused because she did not share power and want to share. The longer we pursue this [mono-polar, hegemonic, Imperial, supremacist, internationally dictatorial, aggressive] policy in the EU, the higher the price [to Europe will be].

He goes on to say:

The fact is that the emerging countries emancipate themselves from US control. This is evident in the creation of competitive institutions of the World Bank (AIIB) and the IMF (New Development Bank) by the axis of the emerging countries. This displeases the still prevailing hegemon. The current international hot spots of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, to the Ukraine, are an expression of this, in the background, as a clearly identifiable power-confrontation [between the U.S. and every other country]. If we were there intending to establish democracy and freedom, let's look at the success in achieving those goals. [His implication: it's failure.]

asks: "The contempt with which the US government deals with the Europeans is remarkable, such as the NSA tapping the Chancellor's phone, and Nuland's famous 'Fuck the EU' statement. Have European politicians no self-respect, or are they just too cowardly?"

Hellmeyer responds:

"The person who is a true democrat takes seriously his duties as a politician for the public's well-being, and does not allow his nation's self-determination to be so contemptuously trampled underfoot, such as has followed from that remark. The person who is not a true democrat, has with respect to the above values and canon, severe deficits."

Concluding Remarks

Why is there not, in Europe, a huge movement to abandon NATO, and to kick out the U.S. military?

Whom is the U.S. 'defending' Europeans from, after the Warsaw Pact ended in 1991?

Why did not Gorbachev demand that NATO disband when the Warsaw Pact did — simultaneous (instead of one-sided) disbanding of the Cold War, so that there would not become the foundation for international fascism to arise to conquer Russia (first, to surround it by an expanding NATO — and ultimately via TPP & TTIP), in the aftermath?

Why is there not considerable public debate about these crucial historical, cultural, and economic, matters?

Why is there such deceit, which requires these massive questions to be ignored so long by 'historians'? How is it even possible for the world to move constructively forward, in this environment, of severe censorship, in the media, in academia, and throughout 'the free world'?

Why is there no outrage that the Saudi and other Arabic royals fund islamic jihad (so long as it's not in their own countries) but America instead demonizes Russia's leaders, who consistently oppose jihadists and jihadism?

Why are America's rulers allied with the top financiers of jihad?Why is that being kept so secret? Why are these injustices tolerated by the public?

Who will change this, and how? When will that desperately needed change even start? Will it start soon enough? Maybe WW III won't occur, but the damages are already horrible, and they're getting worse.

This can go on until the end; and, if it does, that end will make horrible look like heaven, by comparison. It would be worse than anything ever known — and it could happen in and to our generation.

New Jersey lawmaker seeks to ban smoking in car with kids under 16-years old

A New Jersey state senator wants to stop smokers from lighting up in vehicles if children 16 and under also are present.

Joseph Vitale said the measure he introduced last month would protect children from being exposed to tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in confined spaces. The Middlesex County Democrat chairs the Senate's Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Violators would face a $100 fine, but would not face surcharges or points on their driving or insurance records. The smoking ban would be a secondary offense, meaning violators could only be cited if drivers are stopped for committing a moving violation.

Many smokers and critics are panning the proposal, saying that it's well-intentioned but not needed. They also believe it will be difficult to enforce.

"Most parents who smoke do what they can to not expose their kids to second-hand smoke," Christine Miller of Ewing said while smoking outside a Trenton office building this week. "In my case, I rarely smoke inside my house and I don't smoke in my car when my daughters (ages 5 and 7) are with me. I know he's seeking to protect kids and I can understand his thinking, but I think there are more important issues that our lawmakers and law enforcement people can be working on."

But the proposal does have supporters, including children's right advocates and nonsmokers.

"If people want to kill themselves by smoking, that's their choice," said Richard Jordan, a Trenton resident and nonsmoker who is the father of three teenage boys. "But don't force other people to deal with the smoke and carcinogens. Don't make them sick because you can't stop your smoking addiction."

Comment: More anti-smoking nonsense! Smoking tobacco is actually good for some people. Certainly, the chemically-laden, commercially processed sheet tobacco found in your average pack of smokes is as not good for you as natural or organic tobacco, but its not as 'evil' as this article states:

The alleged dangers of Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) are entirely fictional.

Smoking does not cause lung cancer. There is even some anecdotal evidence that it protects against lung cancer.

Smoking can protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and it can reduce the psychiatric, cognitive, sensory, and physical effects of schizophrenia.

And the children? One study conducted in Sweden observed two generations of Swedish children and found that children of smokers had lower rates of allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, eczema, and food allergies.

In fact, the health benefits of smoking tobacco appear to extend way beyond all that.

See: Let's All Light Up!

See also: Health Benefits of Smoking Tobacco

France paid €30,000 to buy Mohamad Merah film detailing links with French intelligence


Pictured: Mohamed Merah. Eyewitnesses who saw the shootings in 2011 stated that the gunman was "quite fat" with "European looking".

The father of one of the victims of Toulouse killer Mohammed Merah accused the French spy service of paying Merah's father thousands of euros for a clip of his final minutes detailing his links with the agency.

Albert Chennouf-Meyer, whose son Abel, a soldier, was killed by Merah in March 2012, filed a legal complaint in France for "destruction of evidence."

Merah went on a killing spree that year, gunning down a total of seven people, including three soldiers, three Jewish children and a teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

Chennouf-Meyer alleges that the DGSE paid Merah's father 30,000 euros for two 20-minute clips he was reportedly sent by his son during the final hours of his life. Merah was killed by elite police after a 32-hour siege of his apartment in Toulouse.

The clips are said to contain recorded messages from Mohammed Merah detailing his links and activities for the spy agency.

Merah's father was deported by France on Friday, police sources said.

Authorities said he been in the country illegally for months after authorities refused to renew his residency permit in March.

A source close to the case said the father, Mohamed Benalel Merah, was arrested near the cemetery where his son was buried.

He was questioned and put on a flight to Algeria.

The deportation angered the lawyers working for Chennouf-Meyer who expressed "indignation at the hastiness of the public authorities whereas it was absolutely imperative that he be questioned about the videos recorded and the money handed over in exchange for his silence".

"This is a magnificently botched chance to clarify the situation," lawyer Frédéric Picard was quoted by the Telegraph as saying. "If you wanted to feed the conspiracy theories, you couldn't go about it a better way," said Béatrice Dubreuil, another lawyer, according to the report.

Merah's father was the first to mention the existence of the clips, which according to an Algerian paper, detailed the self-styled al-Qaeda terrorist's links with French intelligence.

Chennouf-Meyer said through his lawyers that he was convinced a deal was struck when he was approached by Algerian intelligence agents while on a trip to Algeria in 2012 who reportedly told him that "he will never know the truth as the videos were bought by the DGSE from Merah's father".

French authorities have said they questioned Mohammed Merah in 2011 when he returned to France from Pakistan but nothing more.

An Italian paper citing French and Israeli intelligence sources wrote that the DGSE allegedly used Merah as an informant during his travels to Jordan, Afghanistan and Israel in 2010.

The report said Merah was allowed to travel freely in exchange for information.

"Merah was considered to fit the profile of the kind of young man who could infiltrate terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and provide crucial intelligence to western countries," according to the Italian report.

French authorities denied the claims.

Soldier and conscientious objector: 'I feel as if my own government is torturing me'


© Robert W. Weilbacher
Spc. Robert Weilbacher during an outing on Dobongsan Mountain in South Korea. He says he would go to the picturesque area “to escape the military and clear my head.” Another way he dealt with stress while stationed in South Korea was to meditate in Buddhist temples.

The military in the United States portrays itself as endowed with the highest virtues—honor, duty, self-sacrifice, courage and patriotism. Politicians, entertainers, sports stars, the media, clerics and academics slavishly bow before the military machine, ignoring its colossal pillaging of state resources, the egregious war crimes it has normalized across the globe, its abject service not to democracy or freedom but corporate profit, and the blind, mind-numbing obedience it inculcates among its members. A lone soldier or Marine who rises up inside the system to denounce the hypermasculinity that glorifies violence and war, who exposes the false morality of the military, who refuses to kill in the service of imperial power, unmasks the military for what it is. And he or she, as Chelsea Manning has learned, swiftly pays a very, very heavy price.

Spc. Robert Weilbacher as a new Army combat medic stationed in South Korea listened to stories told by combat veterans, many suffering from trauma and depression, about the routine and indiscriminate slaughter of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was horrified. He had believed the propaganda fed to him over the years. He considered himself a patriot. He had accepted the notion that the U.S. military was a force for good, intervening to liberate Iraqis and Afghans and fight terrorists. But after hearing the veterans' tales, his worldview crumbled. He began to ask questions he had not asked before. He began to think. And thinking within any military establishment is an act of subversion. He soon decided he did not want to be part of an organization that routinely snuffed out the lives of unarmed people, including children. He applied in February 2014 for a classification known as Conscientious Objector (1-0).

He instantly became a pariah within his unit. No one wanted to associate with him. He was taunted as a "traitor," "coward," "faggot" and "hippie." He was assigned to the most demeaning jobs on the base. And the military bureaucracy began making him jump through hoops that he is still trying to negotiate two years later. He became an example to his fellow soldiers of the physical and emotional harassment, as well as humiliation, that is visited on all who dare within the military to challenge the sanctity of war and discipline.

"I feel as if my own government is torturing me," he said when I reached him by phone in his barracks at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Weilbacher, 27, grew up in poverty, raised by a single mother, in the inner city of Columbus, Ohio. As a student at Ohio State University, where he was a political science and English major, he started two organizations to help feed the homeless. He was an idealist. He wanted to serve humanity. And, in the warped culture in which he lived—American culture—the best way to do that was to join the military, which was organized, he thought, around "noble ideals."

"The public perception, including at Ohio State, which has a big ROTC program, is that soldiers are heroic," he said. "They're serving their country. They're in the best Army in the world. I didn't question this. I watched the commercials with the climatic background music for the Marine Corps—'the few, the proud, the Marines.' The Marines have the biggest masculine factor. I thought, I have the credentials to be a Marine officer."

"Every message given to me by popular culture was that violence was a means of conflict resolution," he said. "This was especially true in the inner city where I grew up and where there is a lack of education. Video games, such as 'Call of Duty,' normalize violence. You don't realize the impact it has. Your conscience is subverted. In 'Call of Duty' you get rewarded for killing—you rank up in the system. The message is if you like 'Call of Duty' you'll like the military. And, of course, the military also incentivizes killing. If you do well at marksmanship you get rewarded with three-day passes. You only think about the points you can get from becoming an expert marksman. You don't think about the act of taking a human life. Every aspect of popular culture incentivizes violence, from television shows to movies like 'American Sniper.' Killing is presented as noble. Those who kill are supposed to be heroes. And this prepares us for the military."

When he graduated from college he signed up for Marine Officer Candidates School and was sent to Quantico, Va., for boot camp.

"When we marched in formation we shouted out cadences," he said. "Most of the cadences were about killing. We shouted 'Kill! Kill! Kill!' We shouted 'What makes the green grass grow? Blood! Blood! Blood!" We shouted 'AT&T. Reach out and touch someone.' The intent of OCS [Officer Candidates School] was to normalize violence, to condition us. It was very effective. Again, I didn't think about what I was doing. All I was thinking about was being a Marine Corps officer."

But four weeks into his training in early 2012 he was injured and had to drop out. He was devastated. He did not want to begin the whole application process again with the Marines, and he enlisted in the Army in April 2013. He went to Fort Sill, Okla., for basic training. He was then trained as a medic (68W) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He enrolled in airborne school at Fort Benning, Ga., and during the second week of training was injured during a practice for landing falls.

In December 2013 he was deployed to Camp Hovey in South Korea, 10 miles from the border with North Korea. He was attached as a medic to the 4-7 Cavalry. He began to hear disturbing stories about the wars in the Middle East, not the glorified stories spun out by recruiters, the media or the entertainment industry, but stories about whole families being blown up or gunned down by U.S. troops in the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan. He lived among soldiers who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Many were drinking heavily. He listened to them talk about being prescribed anti-depressants by Army doctors and then being redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He may have been a medic, but he was required to carry a weapon and to use it in combat. He knew that for him, to do so would be impossible.

"I joined the military because I wanted to help people, to fight for the greater good," he said. "And then I learned about innocent people being routinely blown up in war. I started researching the statistics on collateral damage in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"A medic in the Army weaponizes soldiers so they can go back out and kill," he said. "When we are trained as medics we are told that our task is to preserve fighting strength. Being a medic in the Army is not about helping the people who need it most. Treatment is first directed towards casualties that have the best chance to survive. Army medics exist to perpetuate warfare."

He discovered the Iraq Body Count website and was appalled by what he learned there. He began to devour the writings and statements of Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, the Rev. John Dear, Muhammad Ali and the Dalai Lama. He could no longer watch violent movies or play violent video games.

"I began to read about the wars in Vietnam and World War II," he said. "I read about Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Agent Orange, radiation and how it's still affecting people today, how people are still dying or being born with congenital defects. I found Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. I had never heard of them. I guess there was a good reason I had never heard of them. I read "A People's History of the United States", by Zinn. I read "Understanding Power", by Chomsky. A lot of my influences, even though I am an atheist, came from religious figures like Gandhi, Father John Dear and King. I read "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence". I know why they do not tell us the truth about war. We have a volunteer Army. If people knew the truth it would decrease the numbers who want to join. I had been betrayed." Then, in early February of 2014, he went online to the website of the Center on Conscience & War, led by Maria Santelli and Bill Galvin. Soon he contacted the two activists and told them he was a conscientious objector.

Everything about the military culture, from its celebration of violence and hypermasculinity to its cult of blind obedience, began to disturb him. He was disgusted by the military's exploitation of Filipino women who worked in the numerous bars and clubs near the base where he was stationed in South Korea.

"Filipino women were brought over to sing in the bars," he said. "They were great singers. They worked in bars where Korean women had been 'comfort women' during the Japanese colonization. The bar owners took the passports of the Filipino women. ... Soldiers bought drinks and sexual services from these exploited women. I had a big issue with that. It demonstrated a lack of values."

When he was off base he would meditate in Buddhist temples. That helped, he said, to keep him sane.

Although Army regulations required that his application be sent to the Department of the Army Conscientious Objector Review Board (DACORB) within 90 days, it took more than 200 days for the document to arrive there. On Dec. 16, 2014, he was granted status as a conscientious objector and an honorable discharge. But the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for review boards, Francine Blackmon, unilaterally overrode the DACORB determination and denied his application, even though Army regulation AR 600-43, Par. 2-8, states that a review board decision is final. Now, in a final bid to achieve conscientious objector status, he has turned to the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I have obeyed the rules during the whole process," he said. "But in the military there is a double standard. If I do not obey the regulations I get court-martialed. If they do not obey the regulations nothing happens. It is I who suffers. If I lose this last bid I cannot reapply."

This will be his last bureaucratic battle with the Army. He has followed the rules for two years. He will not, he said, be in the Army in 2017 at the scheduled end of his tour.

"If I'm forced to remain in the Army, I expect to eventually receive an order that I—as an objector—will be unable to comply with, resulting in a court-martial."

Paleontologist discovers blood and soft tissue preserved in dinosaur fossils

© Reuters / Charles Platiau
Tyrannosaurus rex

An amazing discovery could rewrite textbooks, after a paleontologist accidentally found blood and soft tissue preserved in tattered dinosaur fossils. If proven, science expects answers to age-old questions, including: "Can we resurrect dinosaurs?"

The red blood cells and collagen fibers were discovered by chance when Imperial College London's Sergio Bertazzo and Susannah Maidment were examining the buildup of calcium in human blood vessels. Bertazzo wanted to perform a few tests using electronic microscopes and ended up asking the Natural History Museum for some fossils to test his findings, according to the IB Times.

They received eight pieces, all estimated at 75 million years old.

What the pair found could prove we've consistently been looking at dinosaurs in the wrong way: it suggests that nearly every fossil science studied in the past century could contain similarly well-preserved blood and tissue samples, answering questions on dinosaur evolution, physiology, behavior, and whether their DNA could also be intact. From there on in, we're entering sci-fi territory.

The accompanying study was published in the journal .

Most of the fossils studied by the pair were very poorly-preserved fragments, including toes and claws from what could be several different species.

While collagen - the protein that helps form skin - had previously been found in a very well-preserved bone, finding it together with blood cells in a shabby one is remarkable, according to Maidment and Bertazzo. It means we could go about re-examining every bone in the museum and come up with potentially ground-breaking findings that enable us to understand how creatures lived in prehistoric times.

© Washington Post
This fossilised claw of a meat-eating Gorgosaurus carried apparent blood cells.

"One morning, I turned on the microscope, increased the magnification, and thought 'wait - that looks like blood!'" Bertazzo said, according to the Guardian. He had already been examining the fragments for months.

At first, the two scientists thought it might have been contamination from a museum worker with a cut on their finger. But mammal blood cells don't contain nuclei, while these blood cells did. This fact ruled out human blood.

"I thought there must be another explanation. That it was bacteria, or pollen or modern contamination. We went into it with a great deal of skepticism then attempted to eliminate every other possibly hypothesis there could possibly be," Maidment told the IB Times.

Similar to the discovery of blood, the pair found amino acids that make up collagen, embedded inside the bone fragments. Its presence could be used to identify previously unknown specimens, unraveling whole dinosaur family trees.

Blood has its own set of secrets. The scientists believe its discovery in the fossils to be the first step towards understanding whether dinosaurs were cold, or warm-blooded, and when the switch began to occur and why.

"I think one of the key things from the blood cells is that there's a very well constrained relationship to do with metabolic rate and blood cells size among vertebrates," Maidment explained. "Within specific vertebrate groups, the smaller the blood cells the faster the metabolic rate. Animals with a faster metabolic rate tend to be warm-blooded, whereas those with a slow metabolic rate tend to be cold-blooded.

"The ancestors of dinosaurs are thought to have been cold-blooded animals, while birds' descendants are warm-blooded, so somewhere along that evolutionary lineage, from proto-dinosaurs up through to birds, you've got the evolution of warm-bloodedness," she continued.

"That's been a subject of interest among paleontologists for some time because if they were warm-blooded that gives you the idea that these are very active, very bird-like animals. And perhaps much more bird-like than they were reptilian. If they were cold-blooded that gives us more this reptilian idea of their behavior, their habits and lifestyles."

It's time now for more detailed studies, the pair says. "It may well be that this type of tissue is preserved far more commonly than we thought. It might even be the norm," said Maidment, as cited by the . "This is just the first step in this research."

Bertazzo believes the discovery "opens up the possibility of loads of specimens that may have soft tissue preserved in them, but the problem with DNA is that even if you find it, it won't be intact. It's possible you could find fragments, but to find more than that? Who knows?"

Could overuse of antibiotics play a key role in triggering celiac disease?

© iStockphoto

There's no denying that celiac disease (CD) is more prevalent now than ever. In the US, rates of CD have increased at least 5-fold over the past few decades, and prevalence in Finland has doubled. (1, 2, 3) The incidence of CD has also increased four-fold in the UK and three-fold in the Netherlands in the past 20 years, and the incidence of pediatric CD in Scotland has increased 6.4-fold. (4, 5, 6)

So naturally, everyone is wondering - why? We know that there's a strong genetic component to celiac disease (and our ability to detect the disease has vastly improved), but the rising rates have occurred too quickly to be explained by a genetic shift in the population.

Besides, the genes that predispose an individual to CD are actually relatively common in the population, but only a very small percentage of those people actually develop the disease. In other words, genetics appear to be necessary - but not sufficient - for someone to develop CD.

Antibiotics can cause intestinal dysbiosis and infection

Clearly, something has changed in the environment to trigger celiac disease in a higher proportion of genetically susceptible people. Multiple factors probably play a role, but evidence indicates that one big factor is the intestinal microbiota. And a major contributor to disordered intestinal microbiota is antibiotic overuse.

In my previous article on the effects of antibiotics, I reviewed several studies that demonstrate how drastically antibiotics can alter the gut microbiome. Just a single course of antibiotics can reduce the richness and diversity of the intestinal microbiota, and in many cases, people never completely regain the diversity they lost.

Even if a person doesn't develop an overt, clinically-diagnosable infection such as C. difficile, imbalances in the types of bacteria that colonize the gut can still cause serious problems. But to understand how antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis could trigger celiac disease in genetically-susceptible individuals, it helps to first understand some of the basic mechanisms behind celiac disease.

Celiac disease involves an immune reaction to both gliadin and tissue transglutaminase

The biological mechanisms behind celiac disease are complicated and still not fully understood, but the general idea is that gluten - a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley - triggers an autoimmune response that results in severe damage to the epithelial lining of the intestine.

Gliadins and glutenins are the two main components of gluten, with gliadins being the primary trigger for celiac disease. These proteins are very difficult for the body to digest fully, but in most people, this isn't a problem. However, in people with celiac disease, certain cells (known as "antigen-presenting cells") get a hold of these large, undigested fragments of protein and present them to T-cells, triggering an immune response. (7, 8)

An enzyme called tissue transglutaminase (TG2) is also important in the development of CD. This is because antigen-presenting cells only bind certain types of proteins, and they don't usually bind normal gliadin fragments. (9) On the other hand, TG2 readily binds gliadin, and actually modifies it to make the gliadin much more attractive to antigen-presenting cells. This vastly increases the likelihood of an immune response.

Once this happens, the body starts creating antibodies against gliadin. But because the gliadin is usually bound to TG2, the body also creates antibodies against TG2, its own enzyme. This attack of "self" is what earns CD the classification of "autoimmune."

Intestinal dysbiosis and infection can lead to up-regulation of tissue transglutaminase

In healthy individuals, TG2 plays a role in tissue repair, as well as in other processes such as regulation of cell death; it's not an enzyme that's "supposed" to interact with gluten. (Interestingly, TG2 also plays a role in other diseases, such as Parkinson's and Huntington's, by modifying proteins that it isn't supposed to modify.) (10)

Most TG2 appears to be either stored safely inside cells or inactive under normal conditions, and is only activated in the event of tissue injury, bacterial or viral infection, or another source of inflammation. (11, 12) This indicates that tissue damage or inflammation in the intestine (and subsequent TG2 up-regulation) might actually be necessary for the development of CD.

Without substantial TG2 activity, it's unlikely that the antigen-presenting cells would bind and present enough gluten fragments to provoke a major immune response. But a bacterial or viral infection could create inflammation and tissue damage that would activate TG2, and thus trigger the cascade of events eventually leading to celiac disease.

Intestinal dysbiosis and infection can contribute to leaky gut

Another factor to consider is the location of tissue transglutaminase. Nearly all TG2 is found in the sub-epithelial region of the intestine, a place that gluten shouldn't have access to. This means the intestinal barrier would need to be compromised in some way for gluten proteins to significantly interact with TG2. (13)

This fits with previous work done by researchers such as Alessio Fasano, who have hypothesized that a person cannot develop an autoimmune condition such as CD if they don't have leaky gut. If the intestinal barrier is intact, the immune system will never "see" the antigens, so it won't mount an immune response.

But one big risk factor for developing leaky gut is intestinal dysbiosis or infection. Bacterial components such as lipopolysaccharides can induce inflammation and increase intestinal permeability, which would allow gluten into the sub-epithelial region of the intestine where it could be modified by TG2 and trigger CD. (14)

Candida infection may trigger celiac disease through cross-reactivity

So far, we've been talking about dysbiosis in a general sense, but there's evidence that specific microbes could trigger celiac disease as well. A recent study (hat tip to Questioning Answers for the find) found that an overabundance of the yeast Candida albicans could contribute to the development of CD, and unfortunately, antibiotic use is a big risk factor for developing a candida infection. (15)

Candida is a normal part of the intestinal microbiome of healthy individuals, but problems can arise when it overgrows relative to other inhabitants of the intestine. Remember how tissue transglutaminase (TG2) readily binds gliadin? Well, it turns out that candida expresses a protein named Hwp1 that also binds TG2, potentially leading to immune activation and cross-reactivity with gluten.

The study found that people without CD who had candida infections produced anti-gliadin antibodies, as well as the expected anti-Hwp1 antibodies. People with CD produced antibodies to both proteins as well. This means that in theory, a person who is genetically susceptible to CD but who doesn't have the disease could develop the disease in response to a candida infection.

So, what does this mean for you?

As you can see, there are several ways in which antibiotic overuse and subsequent intestinal dysbiosis or infection could lead to the development of celiac disease. As I've said before, antibiotics can be lifesaving and are necessary in some situations, but that doesn't mean they're free of consequences.

It's becoming more and more clear how vitally important it is to use antibiotics responsibly, whether that's not using them at all, or properly rehabilitating the gut during and after a course when they're deemed necessary.

Has a derivatives bomb just gone off?

I've never seen so many sophisticated Wall Street'ers this scared in my entire career.

This comment comes from a very well-connected Wall Street/DC insider and is in reference to how illiquid the bond markets have become.

Something deep and dark has transpired behind the Orwellian "curtain" used by the elitists to hide the inner workings of the financial markets, especially with regard to big bank balance sheets and OTC derivatives. What's happening right now reminds of the movie "Jurassic Park." You can hear and feel the monster coming but you can't see it yet and you don't know it will pop up in your face or how big it is.

It was the sudden firing of Deutche Bank's co-CEOs this past weekend - The Brown Stuff Is About To Hit The Fan - that prompted me to spend more time analyzing a sequence of events which indicate to me some sort of derivatives position, possibly at Deutsche Bank, has exploded. In addition, the stock and bond markets have been emitting some curious signals which reflect that fact that something happened in the global economic and financial system.

Let's look at some charts first (click on any chart to enlarge). The first graph below shows a 1-yr plot Dow Jones Transportation Average vs. the S&P 500:

As you can see, the DJ Transports and the S&P 500 were tightly correlated until the end of April 2015. The Transports hit an all-time high on October 25, 2014, which is about when the Fed formally ended its QE program. The DJT began to under-perform the S&P 500 at the end of April. Since then it began to diverge quite negatively from the S&P 500. The DJ Transports are largely made up of trucking, railroad and delivery services stocks. This sector of the market reflects the heart-beat of economic activity, especially as it relates to consumer spending in the United States. The Transports are down 9.4% from its all-time high. I wrote about the collapsing U.S. economy a week ago: LINK The behavior of the Dow Jones Transports is the market's confirmation that the U.S. economy is contracting.

A collapsing global economic system will exert an unanticipated and extreme amount of stress on highly leveraged financial systems. This stress is "magnified" by the enormous amount of derivatives which are connected to the disastrous amount of global debt.

An even more curious chart is the relationship between the yield on the 10yr Treasury bond and the DJ Transports:

As you can see, the yield on the 10yr Treasury bond has been trending higher since the beginning of February while the DJ Transports has been trending lower. Notice a problem? In a "clean" market - i.e. a market free from Central Bank and Government interventions, interest rates and the DJ Transports should be positively correlated. If the economy is contracting, as reflected by the direction in the DJ Transports, the yield on the 10yr Treasury should be declining - not rising. You can see that when the DJ Transports ran up to an all-time high, the 10yr yield spiked up, reflecting the markets perception that the U.S. economy might be strengthening.

It does not make sense that the 10-yr Treasury yield is moving higher - quite rapidly - while the DJ Transports are tanking - quite rapidly. In the first week of June, the yield on the 10yr Treasury bond spiked up from 2.09 to 2.40, a 14.8% move. This is a big move for yields in just 5 trading days, especially in the context of a rapidly weakening economy. Worst case, 10yr yields should have remained flat.

I believe the illogical movement in 10yr Treasury yields reflects the fact the Fed is losing control of its tight grip on the bond market and longer term interest rates. Note that German bunds have also experienced a similar spike up in interest rates and volatility. In the context of my view that there was a derivatives accident somewhere in the global banking system in the last two weeks, it could well have been an OTC interest rate swap bomb that detonated.

As of the latest OCC quarterly report on bank derivatives activity (Q4 2014), JP Morgan held $63.7 trillion notional amount of derivatives, $40 trillion of which were various interest rate derivatives. If you look at the ratio of interest rate derivatives to total holdings for the top 4 U.S. banks, they all own roughly same proportion of interest rate derivatives as percent of total holdings. Deutsche Bank is reported to have about a $73 trillion derivatives book. If we assume that ratio of interest rate derivatives is likely similar to JP Morgan's, it means that DB's potential derivatives exposure to interest rates is around $46 trillion. I will elaborate on this below.

But first, one more graph related to interest rates:

This graph shows the price of the 10yr Treasury bond futures contract going back to May 2014. Interestingly, the price of the 10yr moved abruptly higher after the Fed ended QE. This is the opposite of what many of us would have expected. It wasn't until early February that 10yr bond price began to decline (yields move higher). As you can see on the right side of the graph above, the 10yr bond price plunged below the blue uptrend line. The 10yr bond price also crashed through its 200 day moving average - an ominous technical signal. Both of these events happened within the last week.

Again, I believe that this action in the bond market is pointing to the fact that the Fed is losing control of the markets. I also believe that the catalyst for this loss of control is a big derivatives accident of some sort in the last two weeks.

Another clear indication that something has melted down "behind the scenes" recently is an ominous market call by self-made hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, founder and CEO of Elliott Management. In his latest letter to investors, released the last week of May, he stated that the best trade in a generation is to short "long term claims on paper money."

A savvy investor like Paul Singer would not make a public market call like that unless 1) he had already positioned his fund accordingly 2) he had some sort of insight about what was happening "behind the scenes" either first-hand or from insiders who were in a position to give him information and 3) he was 99% certain that his insight and information was correct. In other words, it highly likely Singer had already made huge position bets for his fund and his own money which would capitalize on a systemic disruption of some sort (Elliott Management was one of the hedge funds with which I dealt when I traded junk bonds in the 1990's. I knew them to be methodical and always looking for inside information).

Finally, I believe that whatever type of financial explosion occurred is related to the sudden firing of Deutsche Bank's co-CEOs, Anshu Jain and Jurgen Fitschen. Fitschen is the equivalent of corporate executive abortion. He's under investigation for tax evasion and on trial for giving false testimony in a long-running legal battle related to the collapse of the Kirch media conglomerate (one of Germany's biggest media empires. It's incredulous to me that he wasn't fired a long time ago. It tells us just how recklessly this bank is managed by the Board of Directors. It also suggests a grand failure by German bank regulators.

It's the firing of Jain that caught my interest. In a management shake-up a little over two weeks ago, Jain was given more power by the Board and shareholders. So why was Jain suddenly and unexpectedly fired less than three weeks after having been given more control over the bank?

As I wrote yesterday, Jain's raison d'etre was to build Deutsche Bank into the world's largest derivatives dealer. On May 26, it was announced that Deutsche Bank had reached a settlement with the SEC for improperly valuing its its risk exposure to its Leveraged Super Senior trades book of business (credit derivatives). This in and of itself was not the cause of the Bank's reversal on Jain. But I can guarantee that this is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to fraud and risk exposure connected to Deutsche Bank's derivatives business under Jain's stewardship. We found out in 2008 that bank CEOs and CFOs not only lie to each other and their employees, they also lie to regulators.

I referenced Deutsche Bank above in connection to big bank interest rate derivatives exposure. I believe that the high volatility in the global fixed income markets has triggered some kind of derivatives blow-up at Deutsche Bank. While the smoking gun points to some kind of interest rate-related derivatives melt-down, it could also have been related to Greece sovereign debt credit default swaps or energy-related derivatives.

While I'm fairly certain that all the evidence points to Deutsche Bank as the source of what I believe is a derivatives accident that has occurred in the last two weeks, don't forget that the majority of banks and hedge funds globally are linked directly or indirectly through the "magic" of OTC derivatives and counter-party default risk. We saw this "natural" law of derivatives risk in action in 2008 and recently when a small German bank blew up from its exposure to an Austrian bank which choked to death of Greece-connected credit default swaps.

There's other signals which I didn't cover, like the fact that the S&P 500 is has dropped 2.5% in the last 10 trading days since hitting an all-time high May 21. In addition, the US dollar index has plunged 170 basis points in the last six trading days. This is a huge move for a currency in such a short time period. Having said that, regardless of which bank and what "flavor" of derivative may have blown up, I believe that something big and hidden melted down in global financial system during the last two weeks.

This could be the start of the big financial markets inferno that many of us have been expecting for quite some time.

My best advice for anyone who wants to protect themselves financially is to get as much money OUT of the system as you can. It's up to you whether or not you convert your cash into physical gold and silver, but I think at this point only an idiot would leave his money in the system and denominated in paper dollars.