Roberto Abraham Scaruffi: October 2012

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

SOTT Focus
Laura Knight-Jadczyk
The Dot Connector Magazine
2010-10-30 16:59:00


This article was first published in The Dot Connector Magazine, official publication of

When you think of Halloween, what is the first image that comes to mind? I took a little informal poll among my friends, family and associates. Guess what image came in first? Jack-o-lanterns! Bet you thought I was going to say "witches". Well, I sure thought it would be witches, but they only came in a close second!..

When I think of Halloween, I think of grade-school art projects where we cut out silhouettes of witches to paste onto large yellow moons made of construction paper. The witch was always on a broom with her black dress flying in the wind, accompanied by a black cat sitting on the back of the broom. I wondered even then how the cat managed to stay on and why anybody would think that straddling a broomstick as a seat would be even remotely comfortable.
--- Best of the Web
Muhammad Sahimi
2012-10-30 17:56:00


When the Bush-Cheney administration was in power, Dick Cheney tried hard to find an excuse for military attacks on Iran. After all, according to Gen. Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO from 1997 to 2000, Cheney and other hawks had plans for attacking and destroying seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa over five years in order to transform them into U.S. client states, and he wanted to "accomplish" as much as possible before leaving office. Various options were considered. As reported by Seymour Hersh, in late 2007 the Bush-Cheney administration received congressional approval for its request for $400 million to launch major covert operations against Iran, and a presidential finding signed by Bush authorized a secret program for destabilizing Iran by supporting puppet groups purporting to represent the Iranian Arabs living in the oil province of Khuzestan, the Baluchi people, and other separatist "organizations." Aside from terrorist operations that killed many innocent Iranians, the program failed. Other venues were also tried, ranging from fabrications about Iran's alleged interference in Iraq to huge shows of force in the Persian Gulf and a campaign of lies and exaggerations.

Another option that was considered was provoking the Iranians to attack the U.S. forces, hence justifying counterattacks by the U.S. Given the long history of the attacks by the U.S. Navy on Iranian ships and offshore oil installations in the Persian Gulf, and the destruction by the U.S. Navy of the Iranian passenger jet in July 1988 that killed 290 people, creating an "incident" in the Persian Gulf to justify the attacks seemed only "natural." Then, in January 2008 five Iranian patrol boats supposedly made aggressive moves toward three U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz. Bush called the incident "provocative" and "dangerous," and it appeared momentarily that Cheney's wish had been realized. But less than a week later the Pentagon acknowledged that it could not positively identify the Iranian boats as the source of the threatening radio transmission that the press had initially reported coming from the boats. In fact, it had come from a prankster.
2012-10-31 17:36:00


Snow in Springtime in Australia; deluge in the UK, Nigeria, southern Spain and the US; fireballs seen everywhere; tornadoes and strong winds in southern France; another zombie cannibal attack, this time in China; a hurricane in northeastern US; UFOs diving into volcanoes; large earthquakes; sudden sinkholes swallowing and killing people in China's been another bizarre month here on the Big Blue Marble.

Puppet Masters
Allison Deger, Adam Horowitz and Annie Robbins
2012-10-31 16:10:00


The Supreme Court has denied the Holy Land Five appeal and will not be issuing a decision in the case. This almost definitely marks the end of the legal appeal process.

The Holy Land Five -- Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammad el-Mazain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, Abulrahman Odeh -- were convicted of providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza through zakat committees allegedly connected with Hamas. The case relied on "secret evidence" from an anonymous Israeli intelligence source. Four of the five defendants are now serving sentences in a Communication Management Unit, or CMU, an "experimental" detention facility outside of oversight from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where two-thirds of the inmates are Arab and/or Muslim. Detainees in these facilities are subject to arbitrary policies that restrict their movement within prison cells, and minimal contact with the families and attorneys.
Daily Mail
2012-10-31 09:25:00


A police officer has appeared in court after it is alleged he used his Taser gun on a 10-year-old schoolboy who refused to clean his patrol car.

Officer Chris Webb is accused of saying to the boy he would be shown 'what happens to people who do not listen to police' during the event at Tularosa Intermediate School in New Mexico.

He is then reported to have fired the 50,000-volt weapon at the boy.

Rachel Higgins, legal representative for the seven-stone boy, known only as RD, told Santa Fe County Court he had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident on May 4.

According to the complaint filed on behalf of the boy: 'Defendant Webb asked the boy, RD, in a group of boys, who would like to clean his patrol unit.

'A number of boys said that they would. RD, joking, said that he did not want to clean the patrol unit.'

Webb is accused of responding by aiming his Taser at the child before saying: 'Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police.' He then allegedly stunned RD.

The complaint continued: 'Instead of calling emergency medical personnel, Officer Webb pulled out the barbs and took the boy to the school principal's office.'
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research
2012-10-30 08:03:00


Rigged Inflation Measure Understates Inflation

Since mid-2009 the US has been enjoying a virtual recovery courtesy of a rigged inflation measure that understates inflation. The financial Presstitutes spoon out the government's propaganda that prices are rising less than 2%. But anyone who purchases food, fuel, medical care or anything else knows that low inflation is no more real that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction or Gadhafi's alleged attacks on Libyan protesters or Iran's nuclear weapons. Everything is a lie to serve the power-brokers.

During the Clinton administration, Republican economists pushed through a change in the way the CPI is measured in order to save money by depriving Social Security retirees of their cost-of-living adjustment. Previously, the CPI measured the change in the cost of a constant standard of living. The new measure assumes that consumers adjust to price increases by lowering their standard of living by substituting lower quality, lower priced items. If the price, for example, of New York strip steak goes up, consumers are assumed to substitute the lower quality round steak. In other words, the new measure of inflation keeps inflation down by reflecting a lowered standard of living.
Rory McCarthy
2009-03-25 16:44:00
Human Rights Watch report claims Israel committed war crimes in its use of air-burst white phosphorus artillery shells.


Israel's military fired white phosphorus over crowded areas of Gaza repeatedly and indiscriminately in its three-week war, killing and injuring civilians and committing war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today.

In a 71-page report, the rights group said the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus artillery shells in populated areas of Gaza was not incidental or accidental, but revealed "a pattern or policy of conduct".

It said the Israeli military used white phosphorus in a "deliberate or reckless" way. The report says:

- Israel was aware of the dangers of white phosphorus.

- It chose not to use alternative and less dangerous smoke shells.

- In one case, Israel even ignored repeated warnings from UN staff before hitting the main UN compound in Gaza with white phosphorus shells on 15 January.
Meron Rappaport
2006-10-23 12:00:00
Israel has acknowledged for the first time that it attacked Hezbollah targets during the second Lebanon war with phosphorus shells. White phosphorus causes very painful and often lethal chemical burns to those hit by it, and until recently Israel maintained that it only uses such bombs to mark targets or territory.

The announcement that the Israel Defense Forces had used phosphorus bombs in the war in Lebanon was made by Minister Jacob Edery, in charge of government-Knesset relations. He had been queried on the matter by MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz-Yahad).
Emma Graham-Harrison and James Meikle
The Guardian, UK
2012-10-30 00:00:00


Two Gurkhas shot at Helmand checkpoint, bringing to 11 the number of UK troops killed in 'green-on-blue' attacks this year.

Two British soldiers were killed when a man wearing an Afghan police uniform opened fire on them in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

The soldiers, from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, were shot dead at a checkpoint in Nahr-e Saraj on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence said. Their families had been informed.

Major Laurence Roche, spokesman for taskforce Helmand, said: "The loss of these soldiers is a huge blow to The Royal Gurkha Rifles and everyone serving in taskforce Helmand. Our thoughts are with their families, friends and fellow Gurkhas at this time."

An investigation has been launched into what appears to have been the latest insider or "green-on-blue" attack on coalition troops by members of Afghan security forces, a trend that Nato's secretary general has admitted is sapping trust and has already forced the US military to limit joint operations with Afghan troops.

The surge in attacks has also led to doubts that Afghan forces will be ready for the planned takeover from international troops in 2014.
Chris Borowski
The Globe and Mail
2012-10-30 10:04:00


Polish prosecutors denied a newspaper report that investigators found traces of explosives on the wreckage of the government jet that crashed in Russia two years ago, killing Poland's president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others.

Rzeczpospolita daily said on Tuesday that Polish investigators who examined the remains of the plane in Russia found signs of TNT and nitroglycerine on the wings and in the cabin, including on 30 seats.

The report strengthened accusations by rightists groups that investigators ignored evidence of outside involvement and prompted opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of Lech, to call for the government to resign.

But Polish military prosecutors said they were sticking to their finding that the crash was not an assassination and no explosives were found on the remains of the government Tu-154 that crashed during its approach to a small airport near the Russian city of Smolensk on April 10, 2010.

"It is not true that investigators found traces of TNT or nitroglycerine," said Colonel Ireneusz Szelag from the military prosecutors' office.
Philip Pullella
2012-10-30 03:26:00


Rome - Italy passed an anti-corruption law on Tuesday, the latest move by the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti to shed the country's image tarnished by former leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Monti, who took office last November to replace the scandal-plagued Berlusconi, made approval of the law a confidence motion in his administration in order to speed its passage through both houses of parliament.

The new law increases prison sentences for public officials convicted of demanding bribes, abuse of office or influence peddling. It also increases penalties for corruption in the private sector.

The law bans those who have been definitively convicted of corruption from running for public office and obliges local and regional administrations to institute an anti-corruption plan and renew it every year.

It guarantees anonymity for whistle blowers and obliges local administrations to post their budgets and the cost of public works on their internet sites.

The law, which has been kicking around parliament for more than a year, became definitive when the lower house passed the provision with a vote of 460 for and 76 against.
Muhammad Sahimi & Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi
Al Jazeera
2012-10-28 21:16:00


Sanctions imposed on Iran's banks and financial institutions could lead to a humanitarian crisis.

During their debate about foreign policy last Monday, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney both agreed that the crippling unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran by the the United States and its allies must continue, until the Islamic Republic recalibrates its nuclear ambitions.

Both seem to have also adopted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's favoured refrain that "Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear capability" and that such a capability constitutes a "red line" not to be crossed at any cost. Previously the inveterate refrain had been "Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon".

The definition of "capability" has continued to remain vague and ill-defined, and a number of analysts have concluded that the Islamic Republic is already nuclear capable and has all the necessary components it would need in order to assemble a bomb if it so desired. Once a country has mastered enrichment technology it is generally accepted that the decision to weaponise largely becomes a political one.

Both Israeli and American intelligence continue to hold that Iran has not yet taken any such a decision. A crucial caveat is of course is that as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with all its enrichment sites subject to IAEA inspections, if it desired to make a dash for the bomb, Iran would have to withdraw from the NPT. An act that would immediately raise alarm bells across the world and most likely provoke a rapid Western military response.

Apart from the vague and shifting red lines which continue to afflict the thick fog of Western national security rhetoric vis-a-vis Iran, not a single word was uttered by either men about the plight and suffering of the Iranian people who have had no role in the decisions made by the Islamic Republic's leaders. But, the fact is that the sanctions, exacerbated by government incompetence, have the potential to give rise to a major human catastrophe.
Jeff Nall
2012-10-26 00:00:00


If you believe that poverty is the domain of the comfortably poor, black, unemployed, unmotivated and uneducated among us, you have been sadly misled. Prepare to be astonished by numbers that tell a very different story.

You're in the grocery store checkout aisle. Time to cash out. You pull out your food-stamp EBT card. You're overcome with a sense shame one feels for being broke in a world that measures self-worth according to net-worth.

You hide the card behind your bank debit card - the one that has nearly nothing in it - and try to act natural as you slide it through the machine. "Cash or Food," it asks. You hit food. No one in the aisle with you is the wiser. But the cashier knows. You wonder if he's now scrutinizing your food purchases. If he's so poor how can he afford organic tomatoes? (After all, pesticides only harm the wealthy!) But at least the people behind you aren't in on it.

"OK, the balance is $10.99," the cashier says. You forgot about the laundry detergent. Now you've been outed to everyone. "He's buying this stuff with our money," you imagine people around you thinking.

People who feel the shame-inducing scrutiny of many judgmental Americans aren't paranoid. When the subject of welfare is brought up in my classrooms, many students immediately talk about people they see cheating the system. Whether the people they have in mind really are cheating the system or not, poor people are routinely conceptually linked with those of the lowest common denominator: lazy, stupid, cheats.
The Associated Press
2012-10-27 00:00:00
Allege bias against special investigator on human rights in occupied Palestinian territories

The UN special investigator on human rights in the Palestinian territories called Wednesday for a boycott of all companies that have dealings with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until they adhere to international rights standards and practices.

Israel, the U.S. and Canada all rejected Richard Falk's report, accusing the UN special rapporteur of bias against Israel and calling for his removal.

In a report presented to the UN General Assembly, Falk said a number of Israeli-owned and multinational corporations headquartered in the U.S., Europe and Mexico appear to be violating international human rights and humanitarian laws by exploiting Palestinian resources and helping Israel construct illegal settlements and provide security for them. However, he said further investigations will be made to determine whether the allegations are well-founded.

Falk said the call for a boycott is an effort to take infractions of international law seriously and "use what influence we have to change behaviour." He said the pace of Israeli settlement building has accelerated and Israel has ignored UN resolutions condemning the practice, so "there is a sense that what the UN says doesn't count."
Joe Vialls
2002-09-11 18:15:00
"T" Stands For "Torture" In The Brave New Gulag Archipelago
There is a precedent for Huntley's psychiatric abuse. During 1996, Australian remand prisoner Martin Bryant was held in illegal strict solitary confinement for 150 days, and "helped" by psychiatrists and psychologists until he finally pleaded guilty to the Port Arthur massacre. At no time did Australian police ever try to corroborate Bryant's false "guilty" pleas


Ian Huntley, who stands accused of the murder of British ten-year-old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, was rushed from Rampton high-security psychiatric prison to a court at Peterborough in Cambridgeshire at noon on 10 September 2002. Having run the gauntlet of the obligatory media hate mob pre-positioned outside in the street, Huntley was rapidly processed through the Magistrates Court to the [higher] Crown Court in less that one hour, an all time record for the British legal system which normally allows eight days for this process.

Once in the Crown Court, Huntley was charged with attempted "Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice", for allegedly lying to police during their investigations. Having been charged with this further startling offence, Ian Huntley was immediately remanded back to Rampton high security psychiatric prison for a further 28 days of psychiatric evaluation.
Dan Williams
2012-10-29 16:48:00


* Israel has more targets for new war with Hezbollah

* Hezbollah may attack if Israel strikes Iran atomic sites

Israel would use a lot fewer cluster munitions in any future war with Hezbollah than it did in their 2006 conflict, even though it would go into southern Lebanon earlier and harder, a senior Israeli military officer said on Monday.

The disclosure confirms Israel already has detailed planning for an offensive aiming to avoid some controversial tactics used in the 34-day push against the Iranian-backed guerrillas.

Israel has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, whose adoption in 2008 was spurred partly by Lebanese casualties of the bomblets, some of which lay scattered and unexploded until they were accidentally detonated by civilian passersby.

"Due to a whole range of considerations -- legitimacy, our non-indifference to the treaty, effectiveness and other factors -- cluster use is expected to be reduced in combat in the rural areas," the officer told foreign journalists.
Comment: The original article title tries to imply that Israel is doing a really kind thing by 'limiting' their use of cluster bombs.
Society's Child
Jesse McKinley
2012-10-29 00:00:00


Riverside, California - Both the prosecution and the defense involved in a trial set to start here on Monday basically agree on the following: Before dawn on May 1, 2011, 10-year-old Joseph Hall went to his family's living room armed with a snub-nosed revolver, pointed it at his father's head as he lay sleeping on the couch, and shot and killed him.

From there, the two sides are likely to differ on both the events that preceded the shooting and Joseph's exact motive, elements complicated by his age and the fact that his father, Jeff Hall, was a rabid neo-Nazi. And those facts raise several more philosophical quandaries that, depending on how the judge weighs the answers, may determine the outcome of the trial. Among them: whether virulent racism can amount to parental abuse, whether a child exposed to such hate can understand the difference between right and wrong, and whether someone who grows up in such toxic circumstances can be blamed for wanting a way out.

The prosecutor, Michael Soccio, says that the actions of Joseph Hall have little to do with Nazism, but rather with his anger at being punished and spanked by his father at a party the day before the killing and the boy's worries that his father would leave his family. Though he says he sympathizes with Joseph and his upbringing - "There's a sweet side to him," Mr. Soccio said in an interview this month - he also has little doubt that the boy is a killer.
Dirk Lammers and Kristi Eaton
Seattle pi
2012-10-30 00:00:00


Sioux Falls, South Dakota - A South Dakota inmate was executed Tuesday night for the 1990 rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl who disappeared after leaving her home to buy sugar at a nearby store so she could make lemonade.

Donald Moeller, 60, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls, marking South Dakota's second execution this month in an unusual surge for a state that has carried out just two other death sentences since 1913.

When asked if he had any last words, Moeller replied, "No sir," and then said, "They're my fan club?"

Moeller then was administered a lethal injection at 10:01 p.m. He took about eight heavy breaths before the breathing stopped and Moeller turned slightly pink.

Moeller's eyes remained open, and his skin turned ashen, then purple. The coroner checked for vital signs, and Moeller was pronounced dead at 10:24 p.m.

Moeller kidnapped Becky O'Connell from a Sioux Falls convenience store, where she'd gone to buy sugar to make lemonade at home. He drove her to a secluded area near the Big Sioux River, then raped and stabbed the girl. Her naked body was found the next day; investigators said her throat had been slashed.
Khalil Hamra
Associated Press
2012-10-30 23:03:00


Cairo - It's early in the morning, and 13-year-old Ezzat is hard at work in one of Cairo's pottery workshops in an ancient part of the Egyptian capital. He sorts through the day's production. In the same area of workshops, three barefoot boys under the age of 12 carry clay pieces from inside the factory out into the sun to dry.

"I go to school, but I decided not to go today because it is time to paint the clay," said Ezzat, whose brother runs the workshop. Ezzat refused to give his last name.

The Egyptian government estimates that some 1.6 million minors work - almost 10 percent of population aged 17 or under - often in arduous conditions. Other experts put the number at nearly twice that, given that so many work in informal sectors and are difficult to track. In 2011, a U.S. Department of Labor report said Egypt had made some efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, but it said the country has not addressed gaps in legal enforcement to protect children.

Some child labor activists worry that protections for children could be loosened further under the new constitution still being written. Earlier this month, the Egyptian Coalition for Children's Rights warned that early drafts of the document did not include as firm prohibitions on child labor as past constitutions.
Secret History
Ian O'Neill
Discovery News
2012-10-30 17:02:00


Voyager 1 is the most distant man-made object and is thought to have recently escaped the sun's sphere of influence. The probe, launched 35 years ago, is therefore mankind's first interstellar vehicle careening into the vast expanse of space between the stars.

Needless to say, as one of two deep space probes launched in 1977, Voyager 1 has explored previously unknown regions of the solar system, making groundbreaking discoveries as it went. Now, in a new paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, scientists analyzing data streaming from the spacecraft have uncovered a small mystery right at the solar system's magnetic boundary with the interstellar medium. She may be old, but you can't keep a good probe down.

As the sun travels through the galaxy, it carries its magnetic field with it, creating a magnetic "bubble" -- the heliosphere -- that all planets, spacecraft and people live inside. Until recently, Voyager 1 (and her sister probe Voyager 2) have also existed completely inside the sun's environment. Both probes could detect the high energy particles streaming from the sun and they 'felt' the solar magnetic field. At time of writing, Voyager 1 is nearly 122 AU from the sun (over three times the average Pluto-sun distance) and it takes over 17 hours for a signal to travel from the probe to Earth.

So, in an effort to detect when the Voyager probes might exit the heliosphere, scientists have kept a watchful eye on two key pieces of data -- particle energy counts and magnetic field strength (and orientation).
Earth Changes
Kris Maher
Wall Street Journal
2012-10-31 07:19:00


Parts of West Virginia were digging out from up to three feet of snow dumped in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a deluge that cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents and shut down main highways.

The thick blanket of snow at higher elevations across the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, including in parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania, also brought concerns that rivers and creeks in low-lying areas could flood later in the week as the snow melts, with temperatures expected to reach 60 degrees. Falling trees and storm-related traffic accidents claimed the lives of three people in Maryland, three in Pennsylvania and one in West Virginia, state officials said Tuesday.

Close to 300,000 West Virginia residents were without power Tuesday afternoon, as high winds and heavy snow snapped branches and downed power lines, and officials expected the number to rise. Outages at several utilities had left some areas without access to water, and officials were sending out trucks to deliver bottled water.
Steve Lyttle and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
2012-10-31 07:14:00


Strong winds and heavy snow whipping around superstorm Sandy battered western North Carolina Tuesday, closing schools, making roads slick and prompting Gov. Bev Perdue to declare a state of emergency for 24 mountain counties.

The superstorm dropped more than a foot of snow on some mountain counties, said James Oh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's office in Greer, S.C. And more was expected to fall until Tuesday night.

The snow will enable one North Carolina ski resort to schedule its earliest season opening ever. Sugar Mountain, in the town of Banner Elk, announced it will open for skiing Wednesday. The Halloween opening is its earliest ever, breaking the record of Nov. 5, set in 1976. Resort officials said both skiing and snowboarding will be available.

Gusty winds were felt as far south as Charlotte, where a wind advisory was in effect Tuesday.

The snow and bad road conditions closed schools in Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties. Appalachian State University canceled classes.
Albanian Screen
2012-10-31 06:31:00
"Albania has a "cold snap" now, too," says reader Argiris Diamantis. "The first snow has fallen there quite early this year."

The first snow has fallen in the district of Kukes. The snows covered the areas over 1500 meters above sea level, approaching the villages of Shishtavec, Kalis, Gryke, Cajë, Arrën, Topojan, Zapod and several others.

Thanks to Argiris Diamantis in the Netherlands for this link

"The whole Northern Hemisphere is experiencing 'cold snaps' at the same time," says Argiris. "Whatever happened to global warming?"
2012-10-31 06:29:00
Dozens of road accidents were reported in the canton on Saturday evening following the heavy snowfall which has affected almost the whole of the country.

As many of the deciduous trees still have their leaves, many trees have suffered under the weight of the snow and branches have broken off, some of them falling on to roads and blocking them. Woodland in both cantons of Basel is particularly affected, especially above 400 metres. The authorities there have advised people not to walk in woods, or even on the edge of them.

The Zurich Cantonal Police have advised motorists to adapt their speed to the prevailing wintery conditions accordingly. They have reported a number of accidents caused by people still driving with summer tyres.

Several accidents were reported in the canton of Schwyz, too, with the mountain road between Schindellegi and Sattel particularly badly affected.

Nine accidents were reported in the canton of St Gallen, with the fire brigade busy clearing roads of fallen trees.

The photograph shows an overturned car in Bonau in the neighbouring canton of Thurgau.
First Post
2012-10-31 06:25:00
Scott DiSavino
2012-10-30 12:09:00
Hurricane Sandy slowed or shut a half-dozen U.S. nuclear power plants, while the nation's oldest facility declared a rare "alert" after the record storm surge pushed flood waters high enough to endanger a key cooling system.


New York - Exelon Corp's 43-year-old Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey remains on "alert" status, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said early Tuesday. It is only the third time this year that the second-lowest of four emergency action levels was triggered.

"Oyster Creek is still in an alert but may be getting out of it as long as water levels continue to drop," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told Reuters.

The alert came after water levels at the plant rose more than 6.5 feet above normal, potentially affecting the "water intake structure" that pumps cooling water through the plant.

Those pumps are not essential to keep the reactor cool since the plant has been shut for planned refueling since October 22. Exelon however was concerned that if the water rose over 7 feet it could submerge the service water pump motor that is used to cool the water in the spent fuel pool, potentially forcing it to use emergency water supplies from the in-house fire suppression system to keep the rods from overheating.

Exelon also moved a portable pump to the intake structure as a precaution in case it was needed to pump cooling water.
Fire in the Sky
Jennifer Watson
2012-10-31 07:43:00


Update on reports of fireball earlier in the sky from Dr. Bill Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center:
"This was NOT a Taurid meteor; probably a random interloper from the asteroid belt. Doppler weather radar shows a meteoritic "rain", indicating that there are meteorites on the ground in Alabama. The radar signature is stronger than the recent California fireball, which produced meteorites in the San Francisco area. We are still working out a precise location for the meteor impact."
Though the meteor was not from the Taurid Meteor shower, there was one that was from the Taurid Meteor Shower that passed over parts of eastern and central Tennessee just after 6:00 am. Below is a statement from Dr. Bill Cooke and an image of the path of the fireball.
"So the bolide appeared some 44 miles above a point midway between the towns of Stanton and Mason, and moved slightly north of east at a speed 3 times faster than that of the International Space Station, finally terminating above the town of Pinson, which is southeast of Jackson, TN. Altitude at last visibility was 18.1 miles, which is fairly low for a meteor."
Multiple reports on social media and phone calls have come into the station about a fireball in the sky late this afternoon and early this evening. Actually this is not the first report of a fireball in the sky today, there were reports of a fireball earlier today in Arkansas. Two meteor showers occur during the month of October, one which was the Orionid Meteor shower that peaked a couple weeks ago. The second is the Taurid Meteor Shower that started October 20th. NASA states that, "Taurids are slow, and you might see bright fireballs. The Orionids are fast and mostly faint." The Taurid Meteor Shower does not peak until November 10th and even then only seven meteors per hour are expected. So obviously it is more modest, but long lasting meteor shower. Likely the fireball seen in the sky early this evening was a meteor. The Taurid Meteor Shower is an annual meteor shower that radiates from the constellation Taurus the bull, hence it's name, as Earth passes through debri from the comet Encke.
Comment: All these exploding fireballs raining down meteorites from coast to coast, and which are NOT part of the usual background meteor showers, begs the question: just what the heck is going on?!
Ana Rodriguez
2012-10-31 07:30:00


Alabama residents across the state have reported the sight of a meteor or fire ball at about 5:40 this evening.

Holly Britton, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Birmingham, confirmed that several people have called the station to report similar sightings. Britton said she has received calls from as far north as Winston, Ala. and as far south as Clanton. The local radar, however, did not pick up anything significant, she said.

Fox 6 reports that the Blount County Sherriff has received confirmation from the Birmingham Emergency Management Agency that the streaks of light reported were in fact caused by a meteor shower.

Earlier today, James Spann tweeted that more than 300 Alabama residents have reported the sighting on his Facebook page.

According to, the sightings could be attributed to the Taurid meteors, sometimes called the "Halloween fireballs," because they appear each year between mid-October and mid-November.
According to, the sightings could be attributed to the Taurid meteors, sometimes called the "Halloween fireballs," because they appear each year between mid-October and mid-November.
Except that it wasn't:
Update on reports of fireball earlier in the sky from Dr. Bill Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center:
"This was NOT a Taurid meteor; probably a random interloper from the asteroid belt. Doppler weather radar shows a meteoritic "rain", indicating that there are meteorites on the ground in Alabama. The radar signature is stronger than the recent California fireball, which produced meteorites in the San Francisco area.We are still working out a precise location for the meteor impact."

Adam Henry
2012-10-30 07:24:00


Recent booms and flashing lights across the Tennessee Valley have some people wondering what all the ruckus in the sky is.

According to NASA, it's the perfect time of the year for scattered meteor showers.

A fireball was spotted across the sky in Jackson, Tennessee, Tuesday morning; it could be seen from Kentucky, Alabama and even Louisiana, according to Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office.

A fireball, also a meteor, is given a separate name because of its brightness. In order to be classified as a fireball, the meteor must be brighter than the planet Venus.

Cooke said this fireball was brighter than the moon.
Cooke said it's possible that Jupiter is concentrating the meteors into a group, thus making them more visible from the ground.
NASA needs to sack Cooke and hire a better liar!
Health & Wellness
2012-10-29 16:33:00


Timing of AAAS statement on GMO labeling is highly suspicious

With about a week to go before California voters head to the polls to decide the fate of Proposition 37, which would require GMO foods to be labeled, I expected an already ugly campaign to get even uglier.

But the latest gift to the No on 37 campaign smells especially bad. Last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS - goes by "Triple A-S") released this "statement" on GMO labeling that sounds like it was drafted by Monsanto. The statement ends with the non-scientific but very quote-worthy conclusion that "mandating such a label can only serve to mis­lead and falsely alarm consumers." While Prop 37 is never mentioned, what purpose could the timing serve other than persuading Californians to vote no on the measure?

This paragraph of the AAAS press release sounds especially familiar:

Several current efforts to require labeling of GM foods are not being driven by any credible scientific evidence that these foods are dangerous... Rather, GM labeling initiatives are being advanced by "the persistent perception that such foods are somehow 'unnatural,'" as well as efforts to gain competitive advantages within the marketplace, and the false belief that GM crops are untested.

These talking points come straight from the No on 37 campaign. For example, "gain competitive advantages"? What does that have to do with science? Nothing, but it's a favorite refrain from the No side, which I know because it showed up on the mailer sent to my home.
Charlotte Vallaeys
2012-10-30 16:21:00


For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has weighed in on organic foods for children. Its news release was widely covered in the national media.

While the AAP should be commended for acknowledging the potentially harmful effects of pesticide residues on conventional foods, their report - and associated press coverage - is seriously flawed in its basic approach to agrochemical contamination in our food supply and the associated threat to public health.

Even though the AAP acknowledges that many pesticides are neurotoxins, that studies have linked exposure to pesticides to neurological harm in children, and that a recent peer-reviewed study correlated higher pesticide residue levels in children with higher rates of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the AAP is cautious about reaching a conclusion regarding the harmful effects of pesticides.
Dr. Mercola
2012-10-31 16:02:00


We all know that labeling genetically engineered foods is a common sense right that is enjoyed by over 50 other countries, including China, India, and Russia.

But for Americans, that right has been taken away from us. The chemical companies and the junk food companies have done everything possible to hide the truth from Americans for the sake of their profits.

I knew going into this battle, that it would be a significant challenge and risk to me personally. You see, when you fight against major chemical companies like Monsanto, you're sure to get a little dirty along the way.

The processed food and chemical companies have paid over $40 million to hide the science experiment that has secretly ended up on the dinner plates of hundreds of millions of unknowing Americans. These multinational corporations are worried, and will do anything to keep you in the dark.

Keep in mind that the top six funders of "No on 37" are also the six largest pesticide companies in the world! That alone should tell you that their stance has nothing to do with your health and well-being.

This was just one of the ads that Monsanto & company have been sending voters to discredit me with lies. This is no surprise, considering how many people - inlcuding farmers, Monsanto has attacked in the past.
2012-05-04 18:13:00


It's funny. Once you realize the relationship between nutrition, disease, health, and metabolism is complicated, complex, and completely interdependent, things somehow get a bit simpler. Everything is connected to everything else. Chronic stress begets chronic inflammation, which chronically elevates cortisol, which induces insulin resistance and belly fat accumulation. Celiacs are usually intolerant of casein, too. Diabetics get heart disease more and have higher cancer mortality rates. Diabetics are often insulin resistant and usually overweight. Celiacs are often Type 1 diabetics. The are overweight sleep less, work more, and get less sun than leaner folks.

Now, it'd be difficult to map out the precise relationships between myriad maladies and their nutritional triggers or risk factors. To do so definitively would produce a mostly unreadable mess. What we do instead is speculate. Make good guesses based on clinical, anecdotal, even anthropologic evidence. We look at what those people with chronic inflammation, obesity, autoimmune disease, diabetes, and celiac are eating, sleeping, and exercising, and we go from there. The precise physiological mechanisms behind some of these relationships have yet to be fully teased out, but the relationships exist and that's usually enough to get results. Hence, simplicity.
Elizabeth Renter
Activist Post
2012-10-28 17:57:00


Are statins safe? When unknowing patients go to their doctor and are found to have high cholesterol or heart disease risk factors, they are usually given a pill rather than given instructions on how to reverse the conditions naturally. And that pill they are given is usually a statin. But, research is showing that these drugs do more harm than good - despite doctors doling them out in increasing and alarming numbers.

Are Statins Safe?

According to the Harvard Health blog, more than half of American men between the ages of 65 and 74 and 39% of women over the age of 74 are on statin drugs. That's huge, and accounts for millions of older adults. What's so frightening about this isn't that these people might have high cholesterol and be at risk for heart disease (the cholesterol myth has been debunked, by the way), but that the statins they are taking could actually be making things worse.

A study recently published in Atherosclerosis found that statins actually increase the risk of calcified arteries. This doesn't just mean a little plaque - it means the plaque has gotten so bad, it is in the latter stages of hardening of the arteries.
Science of the Spirit
Anne Trafton
MIT News
2012-10-30 15:35:00


Using optogenetics, McGovern neuroscientists identify a brain region that can switch between new and old habits. Habits are behaviors wired so deeply in our brains that we perform them automatically. This allows you to follow the same route to work every day without thinking about it, liberating your brain to ponder other things, such as what to make for dinner.

However, the brain's executive command center does not completely relinquish control of habitual behavior. A new study from MIT neuroscientists has found that a small region of the brain's prefrontal cortex, where most thought and planning occurs, is responsible for moment-by-moment control of which habits are switched on at a given time.

"We've always thought - and I still do - that the value of a habit is you don't have to think about it. It frees up your brain to do other things," says Institute Professor Ann Graybiel, a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. "However, it doesn't free up all of it. There's some piece of your cortex that's still devoted to that control."

The new study offers hope for those trying to kick bad habits, says Graybiel, senior author of the new study, which appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It shows that though habits may be deeply ingrained, the brain's planning centers can shut them off. It also raises the possibility of intervening in that brain region to treat people who suffer from disorders involving overly habitual behavior, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Lead author of the paper is Kyle Smith, a McGovern Institute research scientist. Other authors are recent MIT graduate Arti Virkud and Karl Deisseroth, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University.
Tia Ghose
2012-10-30 16:03:00


Independent of a watch or the sun's position in the sky, humans somehow can figure out how much time has ticked by, and a new study reveals how. The study suggests the brain has no master clock, but instead that every individual brain circuit can learn to tell time.

"People think when you need to time something, that there's some clock circuit in the brain that we look to," said study co-author Geoffrey Ghose, a University of Minnesota neuroscientist.

"What our study indicates is it's actually very different. For every little task or every little action or decision you make, you could potentially develop timing representations."

A sense of time is fundamental to living creatures, Ghose told LiveScience.

"Often, you use external cues and events to figure out what time it is, like looking outside and seeing where the sun is or looking at a clock," Ghose said. "But you have a sense of time that's independent of all of that."
High Strangeness
The Siberian Times
2012-10-29 18:40:00


DNA 'tests' of hair supposedly from a Yeti in a Siberian cave show it comes from an unknown mammal closely related to man, it was claimed last night.

The alleged findings were revealed on the official website of a regional government in Russia.

It claimed that two tests were carried out in Russia and one in the US. These had agreed the hair came from a human-like creature which is not a Homo sapien yet is more closely related to man than a monkey, it was reported.

'We had ten samples of hair to study, and have concluded that they belong to mammal, but not a human, and not the animals known to the area where they were found, like a bear, or wolf, or goat, or any other animal,' Professor Valentin Sapunov was quoted as saying.

'It was a branch of our university in St Petersburg that carried out a DNA test, and the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences. The tests were performed by laboratory of electronic microscopy and laboratory of molecular genealogical classification.'
Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
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