Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Sunday, 30 June 2013

UK government bans GMOs from its own Parliament restaurants while telling public to embrace genetic poisons -

UK government bans GMOs from its own Parliament restaurants while telling public to embrace genetic poisons - 

Since the mid-to-late 1990s when genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) were first being thrust onto the market by governments working in lockstep with the biotechnology industry, the U.K. Parliament has effectively barred their use in all food items served to government officials at Parliament restaurants, according to new reports. This, despite the fact that prominent elected officials in the U.K. are right now pushing GMOs on a public that is largely opposed to them, effectively shining the spotlight on their own insane hypocrisy with regards to the GMO issue.

As recently reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, news of the Parliament’s ban on GMOs at its own restaurants comes amid the procurement of a massive pro-GMO propaganda campaign being led by this very same Parliament against the interests of its own people. Biotech industry hacks like Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson, for instance, who actually claims GMOs are safer than non-GMOs, is currently pushing for more GMO acceptance in his country even though he does not eat GMOs himself.

Paterson, who regularly dines on only the highest quality non-GMO fare at fancy Parliament restaurants like the Portcullis House and the Pavilion buffet, is quoted as blaming starvation in third world countries on widespread rejection of GMOs in the U.K. and elsewhere. Resistance to GM “Golden Rice,” for instance, is apparently the reason why millions of children have gone blind or died, according to Paterson, whose vehement advocacy of GMOs borders on maniacal.

“Over the last 15 years, despite offering the seeds for free to those who would need them, every attempt to deploy this Golden Rice has been thwarted,” exclaimed Paterson in a recent nonsensical statement. Completely untrue in every sense, as Golden Rice has never been approved anywhere, nor has it ever been offered for free to any country, Paterson’s fantasy views reflect the same lunatic sentiments as those held by many others in the Parliament, who themselves have opposed GMOs from the very beginning.

Sanctimonious government officials order the people to do as they say, not as they do

In essence, the common folk are basically expected to openly embrace untested GMOs while their overlords in government gorge on all-natural foods that have not been shown to cause cancerous tumors, digestive destruction, and other major health problems. This is further evidenced by a recent statement put forth by the company that prepares and serves food for the Parliament, which admits that Parliament members do not personally want to ingest GMOs.

“In line with its procurement policy, the House of Commons Catering Service avoids, wherever identifiable, the procurement of foods that contain genetically modified organisms,” reads a statement by the U.K. Parliament’s food supplier. “To this end, as part of the tendering process, food suppliers are required to work to a strict GM organisms policy and give assurances that goods supplied be free from genetically modified materials,” adds the group, noting that “customer choice” is responsible for keeping GMOs out of Parliament cafeterias.

In other words, GMOs are unacceptable for the self-appointed elite in the highest ranks of the government, who have decided to personally reject them in favor of real food. But for everyone else, GMOs are needed to end world hunger, save the planet, and return the global ecosystem to some type of Garden of Eden where nobody goes hungry and everybody lives forever, or something along these farcical lines.

“GM crops are not the solution to the food challenges we face,” says Clare Oxborrow from Friends of the Earth, countering the blatant dissimulation being propagated by corrupt individuals like Paterson. “They are largely being developed to benefit multinational biotech firms that are gaining control of the seed industry, not to feed poor people in developing countries. World food production needs a radical overhaul, but this should be based on less intensive practices that increase agricultural diversity, deliver resilience to the impacts of climate change and benefit local communities.”

Read more -

Bert and Ernie come out in the NEW YORKER... -

Bert and Ernie come out in the NEW YORKER... - 

new yorker

No, not even Muppets are spared in our culture war. Below is the cover of the new issue of The New Yorker.

“It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime,” said Jack Hunter, the artist behind the cover.  “This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.”

Then again, in response to an 2011 online petition calling for Bert and Ernie to tie the knot, the Sesame Workshop’s Facebook page offered this statement:

“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics…they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

Platonic Muppets. Something to ponder.

Read more -

Friday, 28 June 2013

Scientists in Japan have cloned a mouse from a single drop of blood -

Scientists in Japan have cloned a mouse from a single drop of blood - 

Scientists in Japan have cloned a mouse from a single drop of blood.

Circulating blood cells collected from the tail of a donor mouse were used to produce the clone, a team at the Riken BioResource Center reports in the journal Biology of Reproduction.

The female mouse lived a normal lifespan and could give birth to young, say the researchers.

Scientists at a linked institute recently created nearly 600 exact genetic copies of one mouse.

Mice have been cloned from several different sources of donor cells, including white blood cells found in the lymph nodes, bone marrow and liver. (QNA)

Read more -

Man accidentally paints himself, his dog and his SUV Beige -

Man accidentally paints himself, his dog and his SUV Beige - 

A man accidentally repainted the interior of his SUV beige during a single-vehicle accident in Washington State earlier this week.

Jalopnik reports that the man was driving with his dog and several 5-gallon buckets of paint southwest of Belfair on Tuesday afternoon when he somehow lost control of the vehicle and veered off the road.

The buckets of paint were sent hurtling through the air during the incident, and exploded all over the man, his dog and the inside of the truck.

The man, although shaken up and thoroughly soaked with latex paint, had only minor injuries. He was taken to an area hospital as a precaution.

His paint-soaked dog, meanwhile, was attended to by a Washington state police trooper and a firefighter, who recruited a nearby resident to hose off the dog with some shampoo.

The dog was then taken to an area animal shelter until the owner was able to come and pick him up.

No word on how or if the interior of the SUV will be salvaged (but at least it was a nice, neutral colour).


Researchers Use Video Game Software to Steer Cockroaches - could one day be used as search-and-rescue animals -

Researchers Use Video Game Software to Steer Cockroaches - could one day be used as search-and-rescue animals - 

Cockroach hooked up to a Microsoft Kinect video game console. (Alper Bozkurt/NCSU)

Using video game technology, researchers have figured out how to put the roaches on autopilot, directing them along a pre-designed path. They hope that one day, the technology could be used to send the bugs into areas that are unsafe for humans to enter, such as collapsed buildings or other disaster areas.

[VIDEO: 'Cheetah Cub' Robot Runs Like a House Cat]

And by fitting the roaches with microphones and speakers, rescuers could detect the voices of individuals trapped in buildings, researchers said.

"We may even be able to attach small speakers, which would allow rescuers to communicate with anyone who is trapped," said co-author Alper Bozkurt, in a statement.

The team of researchers had previously developed technology that allowed users to steer the roaches remotely, but ran into problems because the people operating the controls made mistakes while piloting the insects.

"We used joysticks, like the kind you fly remote airplanes with," Bozkurt told ABC News. "But some of our insects didn't respond well to our commands."

This new step in their research allows the team to create pre-planned paths for the insects to follow.

The researchers used Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect system to plug in a plotted path for the roach and track its progress. The controls are harnessed to the roaches' bodies, connecting to their antennae and sensory appendages. The researchers use the wires attached to the sensory appendages, or cerci, to spur the roach into motion, while wires attached to the antennae send small electrical impulses that steer the roach in a certain direction, according to the report.

[READ: XBox One Unveiled]

"We want to build on this program, incorporating mapping and radio frequency techniques that will allow us to use a small group of cockroaches to explore and map disaster sites," Bozkurt said in the statement. "The autopilot program would control the roaches, sending them on the most efficient routes to provide rescuers with a comprehensive view of the situation."

In their experiments, Bozkurt either physically or digitally sketches a path for the roaches, ABC News reported. The Kinect system detects where the cockroach is relative to the path, and can send a signal that is transmitted to a circuit on the roach's back if it veers off track.

Bozkurt also said that the Kinect software brings other advantages, like being able to control the roaches in the dark, according to Slate.

Although the Kinect would not be able to see through rubble and debris in a collapsed building, Bozkurt told ABC News that a colleague of his is creating a different way to visualize the environment, using radio waves to locate the cockroaches.


UK may approve creating babies with DNA from 3 people... -

UK may approve creating babies with DNA from 3 people... - 

Britain may allow a controversial technique to create babies using DNA from three people, a move that would help couples avoid passing on rare genetic diseases, the country's top medical officer says.

The new techniques help women with faulty mitochondria, the energy source in a cell, from passing on to their babies defects that can result in such diseases as muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, heart problems and mental retardation. About one in 200 children is born every year in Britain with a mitochondrial disorder.

For a woman with faulty mitochondria, scientists take only the healthy genetic material from her egg or embryo. They then transfer that into a donor egg or embryo that still has its healthy mitochondria but has had the rest of its key DNA removed. The fertilized embryo is then transferred into the womb of the mother.

Some groups oppose artificial reproduction techniques and believe the destruction of eggs or embryos to be immoral. British tabloids jumped on the procedure when it was first announced in 2008 and labeled it the creation of a three-parent baby -- the mother, the donor and the father -- a charge scientists claim is inaccurate because the amount of DNA from the donor egg is insignificant.

"Scientists have developed ground-breaking new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on," Britain's chief medical officer, Dr. Sally Davies, said in a statement on Friday. "It's only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can."

Similar research is going on in the U.S., where the embryos are not being used to produce children.

Earlier this year, the U.K.'s fertility regulator said it found most people supported the new in vitro fertilization methods after a public consultation that included hearings and written submissions. Critics have previously slammed the methods as unethical and say there are other ways for people with genetic problems to have healthy children, like egg donation or tests to screen out potentially problematic embryos.

In a response to the public consultation, the charity Christian Medical Fellowship said the techniques were unethical. "We do not consider that the hunt for `therapies' that might prevent a small number of disabled children (with mitochondrial disease) being born justifies the destruction of hundreds if not thousands of embryonic human lives," the group said. It also said there were lingering concerns about the safety of the techniques.

British law forbids altering a human egg or an embryo before transferring it into a woman, so such treatments are currently only allowed for research. The government says it plans to publish draft guidelines later this year before introducing a final version to be debated in the U.K. Parliament next year. Politicians would need to approve the use of the new techniques before patients could be treated.

If British lawmakers agree, the U.K. would become the first country in the world where the technique could be used to create babies. Experts say the procedures would likely only be used in about a dozen women every year.

"Many of these (mitochondrial) conditions are so severe that they are lethal in infancy, creating a lasting impact upon the child's family," said Alistair Kent, director of the charity, Genetic Alliance U.K., in a statement. "An added option for families at risk of having a child with such a condition is welcome."

Read more: - 

7 million college students will see their borrowing costs double next week - to 6.8 percent up from 3.4 percent -

7 million college students will see their borrowing costs double next week - to 6.8 percent up from 3.4 percent - 

senate student loan

Some 7 million college students will see their borrowing costs double next week after Republicans and Democrats paid little attention to the issue for 11 months, then spent the past month vainly squabbling over a solution.

Senate Democrats on Thursday rallied against a potential bipartisan compromise ahead of Monday’s deadline. Republicans ruled out a temporary one-year delay. The White House played both sides in the hopes of avoiding blame for the interest rate hike.

“Students across this country would rather have no deal than a bad deal,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

If the political stalemate holds, during the upcoming school year more than 7 million undergraduates from lower- and middle-income households will take out subsidized Stafford loans that will carry interest rates of 6.8 percent, rather than 3.4 percent. Though the federal government pays the interest while borrowers remain enrolled in school, the increase will lead to an extra $1,000 owed over the typical 10- to 12-year life of the average borrower's loan.

Read more -

'Happy Endings' Now Legal In China -

'Happy Endings' Now Legal In China - 

A recent ruling by a court in Guangdong province is sure to be welcome news for Chinese men looking for a little something extra with their massages.

Last year, the Intermediate People's Court in the city of Foshan ruled that performing masturbation on another person in exchange for money is not illegal and those who perform such acts should not face prosecution, according to a Nandu Daily report translated by the Global Times.

Prostitution is still illegal in China, as it has been since it was banned by the Communist Party in 1949. However, the Foshan court ruled that manual masturbation and "breast massage," in which a woman massages a man with her breasts, are not sex acts, and therefore do not constitute prostitution, Nandu Daily notes.

The case arose in July 2011 when four men were busted for running a massage parlor in Guangdong province that offered “happy endings” and “other erotic massage services” to customers, according to the South China Morning Post. The men were convicted of “organizing prostitution” and spanked with five-year sentences by the Foshan Court of First Instance.

Hoping to beat the charge, the men appealed their convictions to the Intermediate People's Court, where they were found “not criminally responsible” due to “unclear facts and improper application of the law” and granted a quick release.

Masturbation, which is referred to colloquially in Chinese as "hitting the airplane," "playing with little brother," and "visiting Miss Five," has long been an offering at some massage parlors in China. A 1999 Xinhua report found that one in five Chinese massage parlors were involved in prostitution, the Associated Press notes.

In Guangdong, locals were nonplussed by the new ruling on happy endings. "Girls come up to you and ask if you need it," Zhang Qian, a resident in Shenzhen, told the Global Times. "Of course, it should not be counted as prostitution because there is no actual sex involved."

The ruling did rub some people in China the wrong way. According to the Global Times, Beijing police released a statement Thursday clarifying that massage parlors providing happy endings in the capital city would still be prosecuted based on a 2001 decree that oral sex and masturbation count as prostitution.


Thursday, 27 June 2013

Porn app "Tits & Glass" returns to Google Glass -- without the porn -

Porn app "Tits & Glass" returns to Google Glass -- without the porn - 

The world's first Google Glass pornographers are back.
Seattle company MiKandi released the first pornographic app for Google Glass at the beginning of the month -- and Google promptly changed its policies to outlaw adult content. On Thursday the company relaunched its pornographic app, but this time in a safe-for-work version that skips the nudity.
"The biggest change to the Tits & Glass adult app is that Glass users are no longer allowed to share intimate racy experiences with other Glass users. We’ve added a feature to filter out pornographic material from appearing on the Glass app," explained the company in a blog post.
MiKandi CEO Jesse Adams told FoxNews.com in early June that changes were needed in order to work around Google's ban.
“Although the app is still live and people are using it, at this point we must make changes to the app in order to comply with the new policies,” Adams said at the time.
The app was meant to share racy content directly with others and browse through adult content using Glass, a wearable computer that developers are currently poking and prodding. MiKandi's vision was to send alerts about new content directly to a user’s Glass, just like a news app would. But these headlines raised eyebrows and alarm at Google HQ.
Google defended the ban at the time, stating that the official policy makes explicit content against the rules.
“Our policies make it clear that Glass does not allow Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sexual acts, or sexually explicit material. Any Glassware that violates this policy will be blocked from appearing on Glass,” a Google spokesman told FoxNews.com.
But that policy wasn’t in place when MiKandi began developing the app, Adams wrote.
“When we received our Glass and started developing our app two weeks ago, we went through the policy very carefully to make sure we were developing the app within the terms. We double checked again last week when making the site live on the Internet and available for install for testing during last week’s announcement.”
Although the new app doesn't beam nude photos directly to your device, MiKandi said users would still be able to share their own original photos onto the company's site.
"And because we don’t want you to get totally bored with your now-kinda-boring device, we partnered with top photographers around the globe to preload the app with irresistibly hot, *non-pornographic* photos of some of the world’s most beautiful models."

Read more: - 

Marijuana Flavoured Pigs.. Seriously - "Pot Pig" bacon is $17 a pound while chops go for $16.90 a pound -

Marijuana Flavoured Pigs.. Seriously -  "Pot Pig" bacon is $17 a pound while chops go for $16.90 a pound - 

The white van with tinted windows pulled up to the driveway with its cargo - cardboard boxes full of marijuana. And the customers eagerly awaited it, grunting and snorting.

The deal was going down for three hungry Berkshire pigs from a Washington state farm, and a German television crew was there to film it.

Part flavour experiment, part green recycling, part promotion and bolstered by the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington state, pot excess has been fed to the hogs by their owners, pig farmer Jeremy Gross and Seattle butcher William von Schneidau, since earlier this year.

Gross and von Schneidau now sell their "pot pig" cuts at von Schneidau's butcher shop in Seattle's Pike Place Market at a premium price — bacon is $17 a pound while chops go for $16.90 a pound.

"He's like 'let's see what kind of flavour it gives it.' So we ran it and it gave good flavour," Gross said. "It's like anything else, what you feed them is what they're going to taste like. It's almost like a savory alfalfa fed cow or alfalfa fed pig."

The meat, though, won't get people high.

It's just a flavour infusion.

While the passage of recreational marijuana inspired the experiment, Gross and von Schneidau get the marijuana excess — roots, stems, and other part of the plant that are grinded and not used for consumption — from a medical marijuana dispensary. At the butcher shop, cuts from the pot pigs are signed with a little drawing of a marijuana leaf stuck on them with a toothpick.

"It tastes like the best pork chop you've ever had," said Matt McAlman, who runs Top Shelf Organic, the dispensary that is providing the pot plant waste for the pigs to eat.

The idea has brought worldwide attention. On a recent afternoon, Gross hosted a crew from a German science show while von Schneidau has already been interviewed dozens of times.

The men, though, are relishing the spotlight to advertise von Schneidau's idea of locally sourced food. Gross' hogs at his Snohomish, Wash., farm were being fed recycled byproduct before the marijuana idea.

While Gross raises pig on his property, he works full time as a construction foreman. The only way he can stay in the pig business, he said, is the free feed he collects from a local distillery and brewery. He feeds his pigs barrels of the distillery wheat "mash" every day, fortified by a nutrient mix his veterinarian created. Gross gets his free pig feed, while the distillery and brewery get rid of waste.

Gross is applying that model to the medical marijuana excess and von Schneidau hopes it's an example people use as production of marijuana ramps up under the state-approved system.

"Absolutely, it's a good opportunity to help people get rid of their waste," said von Schneidau, who is also attempting to start a privately-owned mobile slaughterhouse.

But currently the state draft rules say pot plant waste must be "rendered unusable" by either grinding it or mixing it with non-consumable, recycled solid waste, such as food waste, compost, soil and paper waste. The state's rules for medical marijuana do not say how to get rid of marijuana byproducts.

John P. McNamara, a professor at Washington State University's Department of Animal Sciences, doesn't find the experiment amusing.

"Of all the crazy things I've seen in my 37-plus years, this is the dumbest things I've ever seen in my life," he said.


License-plate readers let police collect millions of records on drivers -

License-plate readers let police collect millions of records on drivers - 

When the city of San Leandro, Calif., purchased a license-plate reader for its police department in 2008, computer security consultant Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city for a record of every time the scanners had photographed his car.

The results shocked him.

The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars, can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift. Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions, including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.
Katz family plate reader
That photograph, Katz-Lacabe said, made him “frightened and concerned about the magnitude of police surveillance and data collection.” The single patrol car in San Leandro equipped with a plate reader had logged his car once a week on average, photographing his license plate and documenting the time and location.

At a rapid pace, and mostly hidden from the public, police agencies throughout California have been collecting millions of records on drivers and feeding them to intelligence fusion centers operated by local, state and federal law enforcement.

Click for larger image
An image captured by a license-plate reader in 2009 shows Katz-Lacabe and his daughters stepping out of a car in their driveway. The photograph made Katz-Lacabe “frightened and concerned about the magnitude of police surveillance and data collection,” he says.
Credit: San Leandro Police Department photo courtesy of Michael Katz-Lacabe

With heightened concern over secret intelligence operations at the National Security Agency, the localized effort to track drivers highlights the extent to which the government has committed to collecting large amounts of data on people who have done nothing wrong.

Read more -

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Half-billion-year-old creature discovered - 520 million years old newfound species, Helicocystis moroccoensis -

Half-billion-year-old creature discovered - 520 million years old newfound species, Helicocystis moroccoensis - 

A fossilized, cigar-shaped creature that lived about 520 million years ago has been unearthed in Morocco.
The newfound species, Helicocystis moroccoensis, has "characteristics that place it as the most primitive echinoderm that has fivefold symmetry," said study co-author Andrew Smith, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, referring to the group of animals that includes starfish and sea urchins. Modern echinoderms typically have five-point symmetry, such as the five arms of the starfish or the sand dollar's distinctive pattern.
The primitive sea creature, described June 25 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, could even change its body shape from slender to stumpy. Researchers say it is a transitional animal that could help explain how early echinoderms evolved their unique body plans, Smith said. [Photos of Newfound Species & Other Cambrian Creatures]
Cambrian explosion
In 2012, Smith and his colleagues were excavating in sediments dating to about 520 million years ago in the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco, when they uncovered several specimens of the strange fossil.
The creature lived on the ancient supercontinent called Gondwana during the Cambrian Explosion, a period when all creatures inhabited the seas and life on the planet diversified dramatically.
One of the oldest known echinoderms, Helicoplacus first unearthed in the White Mountains in California had a spiral but asymmetrical body plan. And all modern echinoderms start off as larvae with bilateral symmetry, raising the question of how and when the creatures' distinctive five-point body plan originated.
New creatures
H. moroccoensis, named after the country where it was found, had a cylindrical body that extended up to 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) long. The echinoderm's mouth was on the top of its body, and it sported a cup made of checkered plates with a small stem at its base. It had a latticelike skeleton made of calcite.
"It's a cigar-shaped beast, and it was able to expand and contract that cigar shape," Smith told LiveScience. "Sometimes it could be short and fat, and sometimes it could be long and thin."
The tiny sea creatures changed shape using a spiraling arrangement of five ambulacra, or grooves coming from the mouth that opened and closed to capture bits of food floating in the water.
The newly discovered species is the oldest known echinoderm with five ambulacra, and could shed light on how echinoderms evolved their unique body plans, Smith said.
H. moroccoensis was also found in sediments containing several other bizarre echinoderms, many of which had wacky body plans, ranging from completely asymmetrical to bilaterally symmetrical. That wide variety suggests the creatures were going through a period of dramatic diversification around that time period, Smith said.
"The important thing about the whole fauna is that there is already, by this time, a remarkable diversity in body form," Smith said. "And yet this is only 10 [million] to 15 million years after the calcite skeleton evolved."

Read more: - 

A new iPhone app called "Heard" (as in "I heard you) - records all audio all the time -

A new iPhone app called "Heard" (as in "I heard you) - records all audio all the time - 

A new iPhone app called Heard (as in "I heard you), is taking audio recording to a new level and raising some eyebrows in the process.

The app automatically records everything within earshot of the iPhone's microphone and keeps it in the device's memory for five minutes. If the user wants to keep the audio, it can be saved, or it will automatically be erased.

Tech expert Shelly Palmer says he doesn't think it's a good app.

The heard app was available for downloading this week, but an Apple representative told us it is offline because of technical issues, though there is high demand for it and it will be available again soon.

The app's creator explained to Fox 5 why a person needs it when the iPhone already has recording options.

Read more: - 

Three new super-Earths that could support life, relatively nearby -

Three new super-Earths that could support life, relatively nearby - 

A team of astronomers has announced that a star in the (relatively) nearby Scorpion constellation hosts a system of six planets -- three of which are super-Earths sitting in the habitable zone where liquid water, and therefore life, could exist.

The discovery sets a new record: astronomers have never before found three planets like this all in the habitable zone of the same system. Super-Earths are planets with more mass than our Earth but less than a planet like Uranus or Neptune.

According to the announcement, this star, Gliese 667c, is very well studied -- three planets had already been discovered orbiting it, one of which sits in the habitable zone. 

But the new discovery occurred after a team led by researchers in Germany and the U.K. re-examined the star using data from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile; the Magellan II telescope, also in Chile; the Keck telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii; and other pre-existing research.

"Instead of looking at ten stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and find several of them,” said co-author Rory Barnes of the University of Washington in a statement. In theory, that means there could be a higher number of habitable planets in the solar system.

Gliese 667c is a third of the mass of our sun and sits 22 light years away in a triple star system -- so anyone sitting on one of the newly-discovered planets and looking up would see a regular sun and two very bright stars that, at night, would provide as much light as a full moon, according to the announcement.

The discovery of the new planets means the system is so chock-full it could not support the orbit of another planet.

The research will appear in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.


25% Of Chicago Workforce Called In Late, Sick Following Blackhawks' Victory... -

25% Of Chicago Workforce Called In Late, Sick Following Blackhawks' Victory... - 

The Blackhawks were the talk of Chicago on Tuesday, but all that celebrating might not be good for business.

CBS 2′s Mai Martinez takes a look at how the big win means a big loss in productivity.

For companies like the Sports Authority, the win is certainly good business.

However, if hawking Blackhawks gear is not your business, Monday night’s championship win might be bad for your bottom line.

Monday night’s celebrations in Chicago gave way to a wave of sick calls, late starts and half days.

“I got in about 2 a.m.,” said Bill Baran. “Don’t tell my boss.”

He didn’t call in, but others did.

How many?

It’s too early to tell, but estimates are in.

John Challenger, the CEO Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said: “In Chicago, 25 percent of the workforce is coming in late.”

Challenger says that means big losses for companies.

“We see millions of dollars in productivity losses.”

Challenger says national post-Super Bowl numbers are a good gauge.

“Up to $242 million in lost productivity for every 10 minutes of unproductive work time,” he said.


The Trigger Has Been Pulled And The Slaughter Of The Bonds Has Begun -

The Trigger Has Been Pulled And The Slaughter Of The Bonds Has Begun - 

What does it look like when a 30 year bull market ends abruptly?  What happens when bond yields start doing things that they haven’t done in 50 years?  If your answer to those questions involves the word “slaughter”, you are probably on the right track.  Right now, bonds are being absolutely slaughtered, and this is only just the beginning.  Over the last several years, reckless bond buying by the Federal Reserve has forced yields down to absolutely ridiculous levels.  For example, it simply is not rational to lend the U.S. government money at less than 3 percent when the real rate of inflation is somewhere up around 8 to 10 percent.  But when he originally announced the quantitative easing program, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that he intended to force interest rates to go down, and lots of bond investors made a lot of money riding the bubble that Bernanke created.  But now that Bernanke has indicated that the bond buying will be coming to an end, investors are going into panic mode and the bond bubble is starting to burst.  One hedge fund executive toldCNBC that the “feeling you are getting out there is that people are selling first and asking questions later”.  And the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries just keeps going up.  Today it closed at 2.59 percent, and many believe that it is going to go much higher unless the Fed intervenes.  If the Fed does not intervene and allows the bubble that it has created to burst, we are going to see unprecedented carnage.

Markets tend to fall faster than they rise.  And now that Bernanke has triggered a sell-off in bonds, things are moving much faster than just about anyone anticipated…

Wall Street never thought it would be this bad.

Over the last two months, and particularly over the last two weeks, investors have been exiting their bond investments with unexpected ferocity, moves that continued through Monday.

A bond sell-off has been anticipated for years, given the long run of popularity that corporate and government bonds have enjoyed. But most strategists expected that investors would slowly transfer out of bonds, allowing interest rates to slowly drift up.

Instead, since the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, recently suggested that the strength of the economic recovery might allow the Fed to slow down its bond-buying program, waves of selling have convulsed the markets.

In particular, junk bonds are getting absolutely hammered.  Money is flowing out of high risk corporate debt at an astounding pace…

The SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond exchange-traded fund has declined 5 percent over the past month, though it rose in Tuesday trading. The fund has seen $2.7 billion in outflows year to date, according to IndexUniverse.

Another popular junk ETF, the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond, has seen nearly $2 billion in outflows this year and is off 3.4 percent over the past five days alone.

Investors pulled $333 million from high-yield funds last week, according to Lipper.

While correlating to the general trend in fixed income, the slowdown in the junk bond business bodes especially troubling signs for investment banks, which have relied on the debt markets for fully one-third of their business this year, the highest percentage in 10 years.

The chart posted below comes from the Federal Reserve, and it “represents the effective yield of the BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index, which tracks the performance of US dollar denominated below investment grade rated corporate debt publically issued in the US domestic market.”  In other words, it is a measure of the yield on junk bonds.  As you can see, the yield on junk bonds sank to ridiculous lows in May, but since then it has been absolutely skyrocketing…

Junk Bonds

So why should the average American care about this?

Well, if the era of “cheap money” is over and businesses have to pay more to borrow, that is going to cause economic activity to slow down.

There won’t be as many jobs, part-time workers will get less hours, and raises will become more infrequent.

Those are just some of the reasons why you should care about this stuff.

Municipal bonds are being absolutely crushed right now too.  You see, when yields on U.S. government debt rise, they also rise on state and local government debt.

In fact, things have been so bad that hundreds of millions of dollars of municipal bond sales have been postponed in recent days…

With yields on the U.S. municipal bond market rising, local issuers on Monday postponed another six bond sales, totaling $331 million, that were originally scheduled to price later this week.

Since mid-June, on the prospect that the Federal Reserve could change course on its easy monetary policy as the economy improves, the municipal bond market has seen a total of $2.6 billion in sales either canceled or delayed.

If borrowing costs for state and local governments rise, they won’t be able to spend as much money, they won’t be able to hire as many workers, they will need to find more revenue (tax increases), and more of them will go bankrupt.

And what we are witnessing right now is just the beginning.  Things are going to get MUCH worse.  The following is what Robert Wenzel recently had to say about the municipal bond market…

Thus, there is only one direction for rates: UP, with muni bonds leading the decline, given that the financial structures of many municipalities are teetering. There is absolutely no good reason to be in municipal bonds now. And muni ETFs will be a worse place to be, given this is relatively HOT money that will try to get out of the exit door all at once.

But, as I wrote about yesterday, the worst part of the slaughter is going to be when the 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives time bomb starts exploding.  If bond yields continue to soar, eventually it will take down some very large financial institutions.  The following is from a recent article by Bill Holter…

Please understand how many of these interest rate derivatives work.  When the rates go against you, “margin” must be posted.  By “margin” I mean collateral.  Collateral must be shifted from the losing institution to the one on the winning side.  When the loser “runs out” of collateral…that is when you get a situation similar to MF Global or Lehman Bros., they are forced to shut down and the vultures then come in and pick the bones clean…normally.  Now it is no longer “normal,” now a Lehman Bros will take the whole tent down.

Most people have no idea how vulnerable our financial system is.  It is a house of cards of risk, debt and leverage.  Wall Street has become the largest casino in the history of the planet, and the wheels could come off literally at any time.

And it certainly does not help that a whole host of cyclical trends appear to be working against us.  Posted below is an extended excerpt from a recent article by Taki Tsaklanos and GE Christenson…


Charles Nenner Research (source)

Stocks should peak in mid-2013 and fall until about 2020.  Similarly, bonds should peak in the summer of 2013 and fall thereafter for 20 years.  He bases his conclusions entirely on cycle research.  He expects the Dow to fall to around 5,000 by 2018 – 2020.

Kress Cycles by Clif Droke (source)

The major 120 year cycle plus all minor cycles trend down into late 2014.  The stock market should decline hard into late 2014.

Elliott Wave Cycles by Robert Prechter (source)

He believes that the stock market has peaked and has entered a generational bear-market.  He anticipates a crash low in the market around 2016 – 2017.

Market Energy Wave (source)

He sees a 36 year cycle in stock markets that is peaking in mid-2013 and down 2013 – 2016.  “… the controlling energy wave is scheduled to flip back to negative on July 19 of this year.”  Equity markets should drop 25 – 50%.

Armstrong Economics (source)

His economic confidence model projects a peak in confidence in August 2013, a bottom in September 2014, and another peak in October 2015.  The decline into January 2020 should be severe.  He expects a world-wide crash and contraction in economies from 2015 – 2020.

Cycles per Charles Hugh Smith (source)

He discusses four long-term cycles that bottom roughly in the 2010 – 2020 period.  They are:  Credit expansion/contraction cycle;  Price inflation/wage cycle; Generational cycle;  and Peak oil extraction cycle.

Harry Dent – Demographics (source)

Stock prices should drop, on average for the balance of this decade.  Demographic cycles in the United States (and elsewhere) indicate a contraction in real terms for most of this decade.


I was stunned when I originally read through that list.

Is it just a coincidence that so many researchers have come to such a similar conclusion?

The central banks of the world could attempt to “kick the can down the road” by buying up lots and lots of bonds, but it does not appear that is going to happen.

The Federal Reserve may not listen to the American people, but there is one institution that the Fed listens to very carefully - the Bank for International Settlements.  It is the central bank of central banks, and today 58 global central banks belong to the BIS.  Every two months, the central bankers of the world (including Bernanke) gather in Basel, Switzerland for a “Global Economy Meeting”.  At those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet.

And the BIS has just come out with its annual report.  In that annual report, the BIS says that central banks “cannot do more without compounding the risks they have already created”, and that central banks should “encourage needed adjustments” in the financial markets.  In other words, the BIS is saying that it is time to end the bond buying…

The Basel-based BIS – known as the central bank of central banks – said in its annual report that using current monetary policy employed in the euro zone, the U.K., Japan and the U.S. will not bring about much-needed labor and product market reforms and is a recipe for failure.

“Central banks cannot do more without compounding the risks they have already created,” it said in its latest annual report released on Sunday. “[They must] encourage needed adjustments rather than retard them with near-zero interest rates and purchases of ever-larger quantities of government securities.”

So expect central banks to start scaling back their intervention in the marketplace.

Yes, this is probably going to cause interest rates to rise dramatically and cause all sorts of chaos as the bubble that they created implodes.

It could even potentially cause a worse financial crisis than we saw back in 2008.

If that happens, the central banks of the world can swoop in and try to save us with their bond buying once again.

Isn’t our system wonderful?


How About Meat-Scrap Ice Cream with Animal Waste? - “Animal protein hydrolysates” -

How About Meat-Scrap Ice Cream with Animal Waste? - “Animal protein hydrolysates” -  

If you have a “sweet tooth” or are under the age of 15, an ice cream shop can seem like heaven on earth—coolers filled with tubs of the cold, smooth, sweet stuff, in countless different flavors and colors. Sometimes ice cream makers reach a little too far in their flavor creations, and recent developments in meat processing could push that envelope way too far, in using animal meat waste as an ice cream ingredient.

Up to 50% of animal tissues, bones, and the like are “wasted” in the meat processing industry. These proteins are usually composted or burned because there simply isn’t anything else that can be done with them. Until now. Researchers have been looking for ways to minimize this waste and are in the process of developing protein-rich powders and products that can be reintroduced into the food marketplace.

“Animal protein hydrolysates” are liquid or powdered protein blends that can be added to supplements and food to boost their protein and nutritional content. As of now, developers see this waste-slurry as being a gold mine for the protein supplement industry and for people who are in need of supplemental nutrition due to illness or disease.

Several companies are in on the product development. After all, if 50% of animal weight is currently wasted, this could prove to be a cash-cow if it can be exploited.

The technology for the project is being tested by a Belgian food company, called PROLIVER. It is hoping to enhance the nutritional quality of its protein hydrolysates, already sold in dietary, health and sports food supplements. A project partner, Mobitek-M of Russia, specializes in the production of protein-enriched processed foods. They are spearheading the effort to get the meat-waste slurry added to ice cream. A plant has already been built that will transform the waste into useable protein at a rate of one hundred tons per day when at capacity.

We are admittedly a world of excess consumption and waste. Bucking this wasteful attitude is just one of the reported advantages of using the blood, bones, tendons, and other animal parts. But, for the processed food industry, the availability of cheap protein that can be labeled “natural” and not synthetic is also alluring. If scientists can show that these protein-powders and liquids can be absorbed more quickly or better than regular protein sources, they can be marketed as beneficial dietary supplements on a global scale. And it’s not a stretch of the imagination to foresee wealthy companies and governments feeding the hungry in poorer countries this meat-trash soup and patting themselves on the backs for it.
While it isn’t in circulation yet, it’s only a matter of time. And one has to wonder if we’ll be made aware of the presence of these meat-leftovers in our foods or if our next venture into a new ice cream flavor will have us ignorant to the tendons, fat, and organs that made it possible.


Baby Wipes Clogging Sewer Systems In Smaller MN Towns -

Baby Wipes Clogging Sewer Systems In Smaller MN Towns - 

Cleaning wipes for babies are becoming increasingly popular, and some are even labeled “flushable.”

But for a number of small communities in Minnesota, so many wipes are getting flushed that they are clogging up local sewer systems.

In the tiny town of Avon, Utilities Superintendent Jon Forsell checks the sewer pumps every day. The reading on this day is good. Many times, Forsell has had to open up the sewer cover, bring in a crane and pull away wipes that are clogging pumps. Forsell said the wipes are difficult to extract.

“When these are wet and wound around something they are incredibly strong. You cannot tear them with your hands,” Forsell said.

A representative for Kimberly Clarke said it manufactures both flushable and non-flushable wipes, and that their flushable wipes are safe to flush.

But Bob Brand, the director of external communications for Kimberly Clarke, went onto say consumers need to read labels of the wipes they buy to see if they really can be flushed down the toilet.

The City of Avon has sent out a flyer to all residents telling them not to flush any of their wipes. Officials said replacing one of their sewage pumps costs $16,000. The city administrator said especially for small communities, the stakes are high.

“If you have ongoing unexpected expenses, it blows the budget for a small community,” Jim Thares said.

Forsell’s advice is simple.

“The only product that should be going down the toilet is toilet paper,” he said.

The City of Avon said if left unchecked, the wipe problem could get so bad it could shut down their entire sewer system.


Orders for Paula Deen cookbook surge - by nearly 1,300% in the last 24 hours -

Orders for Paula Deen cookbook surge - by nearly 1,300% in the last 24 hours - 

Advance orders for Paula Deen’s new cookbook have surged since the Food Network and Smithfield Foods axed her for using a racial slur.
Orders for “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up” surged on Amazon by nearly 1,300% in the last 24 hours.
The cookbook was ranked 115th on Tuesday, compared to a ranking of 1,592nd on Monday
“Paula Deen’s New Testament” is not available until October. Deen’s agent did not immediately return a message from CNNMoney about the book sales.
Scripps Networks Interactive’s Food Network announced June 21 that it would not renew Deen’s contract after reports emerged that she admitted, during a court deposition in May, using racial slurs.
“Yes, of course,” said Deen, when asked by a lawyer if she had ever used the “N word.”
Deen’s television contract expires at the end of June.
Pork producer and former Deen sponsor Smithfield Foods cut its ties on Monday.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

17 Signs That Most Americans Will Be Wiped Out By The Coming Economic Collapse -

17 Signs That Most Americans Will Be Wiped Out By The Coming Economic Collapse - 

The vast majority of Americans are going to be absolutely blindsided by what is coming.  They don't understand how our financial system works, they don't understand how vulnerable it is, and most of them blindly trust that our leaders know exactly what they are doing and that they will be able to fix our problems.  As a result, most Americans are simply not prepared for the massive storm that is heading our way.  Most American families are living paycheck to paycheck, most of them are not storing up emergency food and supplies, and only a very small percentage of them are buying gold and silver for investment purposes.   They seem to have forgotten what happened back in 2008. 

When the financial markets crashed, millions of Americans lost their jobs.  Because most of them were living on the financial edge, millions of them also lost their homes.  Unfortunately, most Americans seem convinced that it will not happen again.  Right now we seem to be living in a "hope bubble" and people have become very complacent.  For a while there, being a "prepper" was very trendy, but now concern about a coming economic crisis seems to have subsided.  What a tragic mistake.  As I pointed out yesterday, our entire financial system is a giant Ponzi scheme, and there are already signs that our financial markets are about to implode once again. 

Those that have not made any preparations for what is coming are going to regret it bitterly.  The following are 17 signs that most Americans will be wiped out by the coming economic collapse...

#1 According to a survey that was just released, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  But most Americans are acting as if their jobs will always be there.  But the truth is that mass layoffs can occur at any time.  In fact, it just happened at one of the largest law firms in New York City.

#2 27 percent of all Americans do not have even a single penny saved up.

#3 46 percent of all Americans have $800 or less saved up.

#4 Less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.

#5 Wages continue to fall even as the cost of living continues to go up.  Today, the average income for the bottom 90 percent of all income earners in America is just $31,244.  An increasing percentage of American families are just trying to find a way to survive from month to month.

#6 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

#7 Small business is becoming an endangered species in America.  In fact, only about 7 percent of all non-farm workers in the United States are self-employed at this point.  That means that the vast majority of Americans are depending on someone else to provide them with an income.  But what is going to happen as those jobs disappear?

#8 In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent.  Today it is up to 154 percent.

#9 Today, a higher percentage of Americans are dependent on the government than ever before.  In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  So what is going to happen when the government handout gravy train comes to an end?

#10 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#11 It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes.

#12 It has been estimated that there are approximately 3 million "preppers" in the United States.  But that means that almost everyone else is not prepping.

#13 44 percent of all Americans do not have first-aid kits in their homes.

#14 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies stored up.

#15 53 percent of all Americans do not have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes.

#16 One survey asked Americans how long they thought they would survive if the electrical grid went down for an extended period of time.  Incredibly, 21 percent said that they would survive for less than a week, an additional 28 percent said that they would survive for less than two weeks, and nearly 75 percent said that they would be dead before the two month mark.

#17 According to a survey conducted by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation, 55 percent of Americans believe that the government will come to their rescue when disaster strikes.

Just because you are living a comfortable middle class lifestyle today does not mean that it will always be that way.

If you doubt this, take a look at what is going on in Greece.  Many formerly middle class parents in Greece have become so impoverished that they are actually dumping their children at orphanages so that they won't starve...

Scores of children have been put in orphanages and care homes for economic reasons; one charity said 80 of the 100 children in its residential centres were there because their families can no longer provide for them.
Ten percent of Greek children are said to be at risk of hunger. Teachers talk of cancelling PE lessons because children are underfed and of seeing pupils pick through bins for food.
If the U.S. economy crashes and you lose your job, how will you and your family survive?

Will you and your family end up homeless and totally dependent on the government for your survival?

Get prepared while there is still time.  If you do not know how to get prepared, my article entitled "25 Things That You Should Do To Get Prepared For The Coming Economic Collapse" has some basic tips, and there are dozens of excellent websites out there that teach people advanced prepping techniques for free.

So there is no excuse.  You can trust that Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama have everything under control, but as for me and my family we are going to prepare for the giant economic storm that is coming.

I hope that you will be getting prepared too.

Read more -