Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 14 August 2015

Drug trafficking carrier pigeon "Narcopigeon" detained carrying 14g of cocaine and 14g of marijuana -

Drug trafficking carrier pigeon "Narcopigeon" detained carrying 14g of cocaine and 14g of marijuana - 

A homing pigeon was intercepted by police at a prison near San Jose, Costa Rica, after it was seen by a guard landing in the jail’s courtyard with a bag tied to its body.
On inspection, the black zipper bag was found to contain 14g of cocaine and the same amount of marijuana. Authorities suspect the bird was looked after and fed by an inmate in the medium-security wing of La Reforma prison, Costa Rica’s biggest penitentiary, before someone smuggled it out of the prison only to load it with illicit cargo ahead of its return route.
The director of Costa Rica’s prison police force told the media after the ruse had been exposed last Tuesday that the pigeon was able to fly perfectly well despite the drug-stuffed pouch strapped against its breast.
Pablo Bertozzi, who said he had seen cases of cats being used to transport drugs strapped to their tails, added that the homing pigeon incident would lead to a redoubling of efforts to clean the jail of controlled substances.
“The real problem is that there is a lot of consumption. If there weren’t consumers, the drugs wouldn’t be arriving”, Mr Bertozzi said.
The bird, which has affectionately been nicknamed “narcopigeon” (narcopaloma) by Costa Ricans, has been handed over by the authorities to a zoo, where it is being kept under observation before being housed in a larger enclosure.
“Because of the way it came to us, it can never be freed,” a zoo worker told local media, adding that the bird was reluctant to eat, probably because it had become used to being hand-fed by one person.
In 2011, prison guards in Bucaramanga, Colombia, found a pigeon attempting without success to fly over the wall into the jail laden with 45g of marijuana. Two years ago, police in Buenos Aires smashed a marijuana-trafficking ring which used pigeons as a risk-free manner to transport the drug to their home base.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Did The EPA Intentionally Poison the Animas River To Secure SuperFund Money? -

Did The EPA Intentionally Poison the Animas River To Secure SuperFund Money? - 

A week before The EPA disastrously leaked millions of gallons of toxic waste into The Animas River in Colorado, this letter to the editor was published in The Silverton Standard & The Miner local newspaper, authored by a retired geologist detailing verbatim, how EPA would foul the Animas River on purpose in order to secure superfund money...

"But make no mistake, within seven days, all of the 500gpm flow will return to Cememnt Creek. Contamination may actually increase... The "grand experiment" in my opinion will fail.

And guess what [EPA's] Mr. Hestmark will say then?

Gee, "Plan A" didn't work so I guess we will have to build a treat¬ment plant at a cost to taxpayers of $100 million to $500 million (who knows).

Reading between the lines, I believe that has been the EPA's plan all along"

Sound like something a government entity would do? Just ask Lois Lerner...

As we concluded previously,

The EPA actually has no concern for the environment, they just happen to use the environment as a cover story to create laws and gain an advantage for the companies that lobbied for exemptions to the agency’s regulations, and to collect money in fines. There are solutions outside the common government paradigm, and that is mainly the ability for individuals, not governments, to hold polluters personally and financially accountable.


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

American Oligarchy: 400 Families Represent 50% Of Money Raised by 2016 Presidential Candidates So Far -

American Oligarchy: 400 Families Represent 50% Of Money Raised by 2016 Presidential Candidates So Far - 

Ever since I started this website in 2012, one of my primary objectives was to convince readers that the American system of government is nothing like what we are told in school and via the oligarch-owned mainstream media. That the country has become so captured and corrupted by sociopathic oligarchs, that a neo-feudal modern serfdom was emerging where the opportunities to enjoy rising standards of living for the vast majority of people was rapidly becoming a pipe dream.

I think many readers appreciated my warnings, but it wasn’t until an academic study from Princeton and Northwestern came out and factually proved it, that it become undeniable to many people. Here’s a brief excerpt from that post titled, New Report from Princeton and Northwestern Proves It: The U.S. is an Oligarchy:

Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.
Ever since that study came out, I’ve noticed more and more people publicly admitting that the U.S. in nothing more than an oligarchy. Even former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said it last week.

Meanwhile, just today, I came across the latest shocking proof of how bought and paid for “our” political system really is. We find out from the New York Times, that only 400 families account for nearly half of all spending on the 2016 Presidential election so far. The Dark Ages almost look democratic by comparison.

From the NY Times:

Fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.

The vast majority of the $388 million backing presidential candidates this year is being channeled to groups that can accept unlimited contributions in support of candidates from almost any source. The speed with which such “super PACs” can raise money — sometimes bringing in tens of millions of dollars from a few businesses or individuals in a matter of days — has allowed them to build enormous campaign war chests in a fraction of the time that it would take the candidates, who are restricted in how much they can accept from a single donor.

A New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service records shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of the richest Americans.
And that’s exactly how the oligarchs like it.

To peruse the top donors in presidential politics is to take a cross section of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. At least 67 are billionaires or married to one, according to Forbes.

“In the donor world, it is primarily a love of economic freedom,” said Chart Westcott, a Dallas private equity investor who has contributed $200,000 to Unintimidated PAC, a group backing Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. “That’s the biggest drive for most donors — more prosperity for the country as a whole, as well as for themselves.”
“More prosperity for the country as a whole…”

Really? Where is this widespread prosperity, at the end of the rainbow in a leprechaun’s hat?

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, has raised the most cash from the fewest donors. A collection of super PACs supporting Mr. Cruz raised $37 million, nearly all of it from three families. Robert Mercer, a deeply private hedge fund investor from New York, contributed $11 million, making him the top known political donor in the country so far this election cycle.
Ted Cruz knows how to say the right things, but he knows where his bread is buttered.

But millions of dollars also came from corporate entities with no clear link to a known individual or business: One million-dollar donor to the pro-Bush super PAC is Jasper Reserves, a limited liability corporation established two years ago in West Virginia, where records provided few clues about its owners.

Big donors are not only patrons of the candidates but also confidantes, with great access to the candidates — and, sometimes, business before them.

Mr. Braman has previously subsidized Mr. Rubio’s salary, and employed his wife. Mr. Fernandez, who became a billionaire after building several health care companies, emailed with Mr. Bush often when he was governor of Florida to ask about doing business with the state, Mr. Bush’s emails show.

The largest single donation to America Leads, a group supporting Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, came from a Boston investor seeking to build a $4 billion casino resort there. At least five donors to Mr. Walker’s super PAC are companies that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid from Wisconsin’s economic development agency, according to state records.

“Are they going to return people’s phone calls? Yeah, I’m sure they’re going to return people’s phone calls,” Mr. Keating said. “But I don’t think it’s going to drive policy.”
Apparently Mr. Keating never heard of a little family called “The Clintons.”


Thursday, 23 July 2015

The “Tree of 40 Fruit” - professor created a tree capable of bearing 40 different kinds of fruit! -

The “Tree of 40 Fruit” - professor created a tree capable of bearing 40 different kinds of fruit! - 

Technology is only as limited as the human mind, and when one can conceive a grand vision, it will no doubt be made manifest at some point or another.

Such statement applies to the enchanting-looking tree (pictured below) which is capable of bearing  40 different types of stone fruit, including peaches, nectarines, apricots, and almonds. Artist and Syracuse University professor Sam Van Aken is responsible for this magnificent wonder and achieved it by harnessing an ancient technique called “chip grafting.”

As NationalGeographic shares, the process is one of patience. Over a period of several years, Van Aken tediously spliced branches with buds of various varieties into a base branch called the “working tree.”

But his work is worth it, as once springtime comes, the “Tree of 40 Fruit” beautifully bears pink and purple blossoms. By summer, the tree begins to bear all kinds of fruit for harvest.

“Part of the idea behind the Tree of 40 Fruit was to plant them in locations that people would stumble upon them,” said Van Aken speaking to National Geographic in the video above. “And once they happened upon one of these trees, they would start to question ‘Why are the leaves shaped differently?’ ‘Why are they different colors?’”
Dozens of these trees have been planted around the U.S. You can find out here if a Tree of 40 Fruit is near you. - http://www.treeof40fruit.com/

Read more -

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

New US Pentagon manual declares journalists can be enemy combatants -

New US Pentagon manual declares journalists can be enemy combatants - 

The Pentagon’s new thick book of instructions for waging war the legal way says that terrorists also can be journalists.

The description appears in a 1,176-page, richly footnoted “Department of Defense Law of War Manual” that tells commanders the right and wrong way to kill the enemy. It says it’s OK to shoot, explode, bomb, stab or cut the enemy. Surprise attacks and killing retreating troops also are permitted. But a U.S. warrior may not use poison or asphyxiating gases.

Going back decades, this is the Pentagon’s first comprehensive, all-in-one legal guide for the four military branches, who over the years had issued their own law of war pamphlets for air, sea and ground warfare.

The manual pushes aside the George W. Bush-era label of “unlawful enemy combatant” for al Qaeda and the like. The new term of choice: “unprivileged belligerent.”

An eye-catching section deals with a definition of journalists and how they are expected to stay out of the fight.

The manual defines them this way: “In general, journalists are civilians. However, journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents.”

Lumping terrorist writers with bona fide scribes prompted one officer to call the paragraph “odd.” A civilian lawyer who opines on war crime cases called the wording “an odd and provocative thing for them to write.” 


Leap second on June 30 will be 'mini-Y2K' - U.S. exchanges will pause around the leap second as a precaution -

Leap second on June 30 will be 'mini-Y2K' - U.S. exchanges will pause around the leap second as a precaution -  

Short on time? Don't worry. This month you'll get an extra second.

A "leap second" will be added on June 30 at midnight Coordinated Universal Time (or 8 p.m. EDT). Leap seconds are added occasionally to help keep the atomic clock synced up with the earth's rotation.

"The earth's spin isn't uniform, it's not constant," Nick Stamatakos, the chief of earth orientation parameters at the United States Naval Observatory, told USA TODAY Network.

Because of the earth's inconsistent speed, scientists in the 1950s created an atomic clock to keep precise track of time. However, as the earth's rotation sped up and slowed down, the atomic clock continued steadily ahead and the two time indicators grew farther apart.

To fix that inconsistency, scientists then created the UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) to help bridge the gap between the earth time and the atomic clock. However, the atomic clock continues to race ahead, so at least once every 10 years scientists add an extra second to the UTC to keep them closer together. It's particularly important for things like GPS navigation, Stamatakos said.

"The GPS will tell a user where his location is relative to the GPS spacecraft," he said. In order to do that, the GPS spacecraft has to know time very accurately and that time has to incorporate the earth speeding up and slowing.

"If you don't know the time accurately you can mistake where you are and your speed," according to Stamatakos.

"Having these leap seconds every so often is like having a mini Y2K every couple years," Stamatakos said. In advance, many people working with computer systems have tested them to see how they will deal with the extra second, he said.

The stock market is sometimes impacted because computers are so fast now that trading can happen in a second or less.

"Some U.S. exchanges will pause around the leap second as a precaution or will halt after-hours trading beforehand," according to MarketPlace's Mitchell Hartman.

"In every-day life, this extra second has practically no importance. However, in every field where exact time is needed (e.g. astronomy, navigation, spaceflight, but also computer networks for stock markets or energy supply, and much more) this second is of great importance," Wolfgang Dick, a spokesman for the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, the organization that maintains global time, told USA TODAY Network in an email.

What will you do with your extra second?


Obama And Hillary Both Had No Problem Using Confederate Flag During Presidential Campaigns -

Obama And Hillary Both Had No Problem Using Confederate Flag During Presidential Campaigns - 

In the wake of the Charleston shooting, and subsequent pictures of the shooter posing with a Confederate flag, Barack Obama this week said that the flag belongs in a museum.
It seems he has changed his tune in the last three years somewhere, however, given that he was using the symbol during his 2012 re-election campaign.

Indeed, Obama had his own Confederate flag campaign badge, which states “Where the confederate flag still flies, we have built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.”
The quote was taken from Obama’s racially heated speech in 2008, during which he also praised his mentor former pastor the controversial Reverend Wright.
Obama was not alone in using the symbol of the Confederate flag, synonymous with the South, to solicit political support.
Hillary clinton had her own brand of Confederate merchandise in 2008.

She’s also staying quiet about her husband’s previous use of the ‘racist’ symbol.

Strange given that she has also stated that the flag has no place in the US today.

And the fact that it flew above her house for 12 years:

While online auction site eBay declared it would prohibit Confederate flag merchandise, these items still remain available.

Walmart and other retailers have jumped on the bandwagon to ban a flag, as if this will make any difference to racial tensions currently playing out across the nation.
As Deborah Simmons wrote in her column for The Washington Times yesterday, “I ask, what happens after the flag comes down? Are racism and bigotry supposed to go poof?”
“It’s undeniable that the history and the heritage of South Carolina, rebel U.S. state of the first order, are intertwined. Period.” Simmons added, urging that the flag represents heritage.
“You cannot give true due to South Carolina and its history and heritage without marking the roles that blacks have played, as well as their history and heritage.” Simmons added.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Ultimate Moral Hazard: 70% of Greek Mortgages Are In Default - "if the nation doesn't pay its debt, why should we" -

The Ultimate Moral Hazard: 70% of Greek Mortgages Are In Default - "if the nation doesn't pay its debt, why should we" - 

Just as we warned earlier in the year, total uncertainty about the future of Greece has enabled a growing sense of moral hazard as "if the nation doesn't pay its debt, why should we" sweeps across the troubled nation. As Greeks' tax remittances to the government, which were almost non-existent to begin with, have ground to a halt, so The FT reports, so-called 'strategic defaults' have become a way of life among Greece's formerly affluent middle-class..."I still owe money on the car and motorboat I can’t afford to use. Even a holiday loan I’d forgotten about...I’m living with my mother looking for work and waiting for the bank to come up with another restructuring offer."

As we detailed earlier this year, it appears taxpayers everywhere are learning from the best: their insolvent governments. In this case, Greek (non) taxpayers have decided to slow down their mandatory remittances to the government even more because the government may just not exist in two short weeks:

Most taxpayers have chosen to delay their payments, given that the positions of the two main parties leading the election polls are diametrically opposite: Poll leader SYRIZA promises to cancel the ENFIA and even write off bad loans, while ruling New Democracy acknowledges the difficulties but is avoiding raising issues that would generate problems and fiscal consequences.

The dwindling state revenues will not only hamper the next government’s fiscal moves, but, given that the fiscal gap will expand, also negotiations with the country’s creditors. The Finance Ministry will have to make plans for new measures and make sure that salaries, pensions and operating expenses are covered, especially in case the creditors do not pay the bailout installments which are already overdue.

Speaking to Kathimerini, a top ministry official confirmed the major slowdown in the rate of applications for debt settlement, and referred to post-election consequences from the shortfall in state revenues. The tax collection mechanism appears to be largely out of action while expired debts are swelling due to taxpayers’ wait-and-see tactics and the reduction in inspections. The same official pointed out that it is normal for revenues to lag during election periods, adding that this time there is no scope for shortfalls.
And now, as The FT reports, the situation has got far worse...

Strategic defaults have become a way of life among Greece’s formerly affluent middle-class. Many borrowed heavily as local banks competed to offer consumer loans at accessible interest rates after Greece joined the euro in 2001.

When the crisis struck they resisted changes to their lifestyle, convinced that it was only a blip on a continuous upward path to income levels matching those of Italy and Spain.

But they have since been forced to make harsh adjustments. With their own savings depleted and the country’s immediate future so uncertain — will Greece default on its debts and leave the euro? — many have simply stopped making payments altogether, virtually freezing economic activity.

Tax revenues for May, for example, fell €1bn short of the budget target, with so many Greek citizens balking at filing returns.
The government, itself, has contributed to the chain of non-payment by freezing payments due to suppliers. That has had a knock-on effect, stifling the small businesses that dominate the economy and building up a mountain of arrears that will take months, if not years, to settle.

“Business-to-business payments have almost been paused,” one Athens businessman says. “They are just rolling over postdated cheques.”

For Greek banks, mortgage loans left unserviced by strategic defaulters have become a particular headache, especially since the Syriza-led government says it is committed to protecting low-income homeowners from foreclosures on their properties

“There’s a real issue of moral hazard . . . Around 70 per cent of restructured mortgage loans aren’t being serviced because people think foreclosures will only be applied to big villa owners,” one banker said.
After six years of living in straitened circumstances, middle-class Greeks have also grown accustomed to shedding valuables inherited from their grandparents.

“There’s a big underground market in family heirlooms . . . many people feel a sense of shame at having to part with them so it’s not much talked about,” said Angelos, an appraiser for a Geneva-based antiques dealer.

“For buyers there are opportunities that only come along when there’s a real economic upheaval . . . in Greece it hasn’t happened since the second world war,” he adds.
As one middle-class father concluded, he is no longer embarrassed by his inability to pay, he says, because so many other parents are in the same situation.

”In the good years we took all these things for granted,” she says. “But the way Greece is headed with these people in charge [the Syriza government] I wonder whether I’ll ever have them again.”


When "Likes" Trump "Everyday Low Prices": Facebook Is Now Bigger Than Walmart -

When "Likes" Trump "Everyday Low Prices": Facebook Is Now Bigger Than Walmart -

Spot The Difference...

Lamb Genetically Modified with Jellyfish Sold as Meat by Paris Butcher - Yummy -

Lamb Genetically Modified with Jellyfish Sold as Meat by Paris Butcher - Yummy - 

The following article takes the concept of Frankenfood to a whole other level.

French authorities are looking into how a lamb genetically modified with jellyfish protein was sold as meat to an unknown customer, a judicial source told AFP on Tuesday.

The jellyfish-lamb, called “Rubis”, was sent to an abattoir from the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Paris late last year and somehow ended up on a butcher’s slab.


“A female lamb born to a sheep that was genetically modified as part of a medical research program was sold to a person in the Parisian region in October 2014,” said the National Institute for Agricultural Research in a statement, confirming a story first reported by Le Parisien newspaper.

The case has been taken up by a public health court in Paris, a judicial source told AFP. 

Rubis “found itself on a plate! Who ate it? No one knows,” exclaimed Le Parisien on Tuesday.

France remains one of the staunchest opponents of GM research, ever since environmental protesters pressured the government into banning GM crops in the 2000s.

The European Union authorised the import and sale of 19 GM crops in April, but is likely to pass legislation allowing individual countries to block their use – in part thanks to demands from France.

Don’t worry my fellow Americans, that is France, something like this could never happen here. After all, Congress is hard at work making sure future Americans will have as difficult a time as possible identifying the source of their meat.

For example, let’s revisit last month’s post, Congress Moves to Eliminate Labels Showing Consumers Where Meat Comes from Following WTO Ruling, where we learned that:

A House committee has voted to get rid of labels on packages of meat that say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

The House Agriculture Committee voted 38-6 to repeal a “country-of-origin” labeling law for beef, pork and poultry Wednesday — just two days after the World Trade Organization ruled against parts of the law. The labels tell consumers what countries the meat is from: for example, “born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States” or “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”

As usual, Congress is hard at work on behalf of their corporate sponsors.

Read more -