Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 29 November 2013

Comet Ison 'May Have Survived' Brush With Sun -

Comet Ison 'May Have Survived' Brush With Sun - 

Comet Ison and the sun

Astronomers tracking what they hoped would be the "comet of the century" say some of it may have survived its close encounter with the Sun.

It was first reported that the Comet Ison's nucleus and tail had been destroyed by the Sun's radiation and tidal forces but the European Space Agency (ESA) said the "story continues".

The agency tweeted on Friday: "Well, well, seems reports of comet #Ison's demise have been greatly exaggerated."

The latest pictures appear to show a brightening of a chunk of the comet which has caused a surge in excitement among skygazers.

It is hard to know what has happened but experts say dust and gas are being released and the tail may be growing back.

If it is visible in the night sky, it is too soon to know how bright it will be or how long it will last.

Comet Ison, which had been hurtling through space at speeds of 845,000mph, was due to pass within 730,000 miles of the surface of the star last night at 6.37pm UK time.

It was expected to be met with temperatures of about 2,700C (4,892F) and an intense gravitational pull as it prepared for its solar slingshot.

Read more -

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Drone used to deliver contraband at Georgia prison - 

A southeast Georgia sheriff says four people accused of using a remote-controlled drone to fly contraband into a state prison have been arrested.

Calhoun County Sheriff John Hilton told WSB-TV Wednesday that officials noticed the device hovering over the gates at the Calhoun State Prison in Morgan and later searched a car with Gwinnett County tags.

Hilton says investigators found the drone, between 1 and 2 pounds of tobacco and several cellphones in the car. Hilton says the suspects also used a pair of binoculars to monitor the device as it made its deliveries.

Hilton says the four people who were arrested were from Snellville and Decatur and are now free on bond.

Morgan is about 30 miles west of Albany.


RIP, Comet ISON? Evidence is mounting that Comet ISON did not survive its brush with the sun on Nov. 28th -

RIP, Comet ISON? Evidence is mounting that Comet ISON did not survive its brush with the sun on Nov. 28th - 

COMET ISON, R.I.P.: Evidence is mounting that comet ISON did not survive its brush with the sun earlier today. At 01:45 EST on Nov. 28th, Thanksgiving Day in the USA, the comet was supposed to pass a little more than a million miles above the surface of the sun. As a new movie from SOHO shows, the comet had already disintegrated. Click to set the scene in motion, and pay careful attention to the head of the comet:



Bunny boiler app: Spy software lets you track your partner's movements, listen in on calls -

Bunny boiler app: Spy software lets you track your partner's movements, listen in on calls - 

It’s bad enough checking your partner’s phone when they leave the room, or taking a peek at their Facebook page, yet a new app takes this level of snooping not just a step further, but a giant leap forward.
The mSpy app works on select smartphones including Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone and can be used to gain access to an unprecedented level of personal information.
It records phone calls, tracks a person’s location, lets users remotely read texts, Skype, Facebook and Viber messages, view browsing history and even see how much battery the phone has left.

According to Oregon-based mSpy’s website the app is designed for 'monitoring your children, employees or others on a smartphone or mobile device’. 
However, it adds the person doing the spying must own the device being tracked, or the person being tracked must give their permission. 

To use the app, spies must pay a monthly fee that starts at £24.99 for a limited range of features, up to £44.99 for access to them all. 
Spies can also use the app to view videos and photos stored on a device, see the phone owner's list of applications and software updates, open their calendar, notes and tasks, and even get hold of the phone’s unique IMEI number.
They can additionally remotely lock or wipe a device, block websites and calls from certain contacts as well as record the person’s surroundings.
People wanting to use the app do need to physically install it onto the phone they wish to track, yet once installed mSpy promises the app is 100 per cent undetectable.

This is because the app runs it what the company calls ‘stealth mode’  and doesn’t appear in the phone owner’s apps list.
It works in a similar way to encryption lockers that are designed to be hidden deliberately and can only be found by the installer. These apps, however, are designed to protect information and privacy.
Subscribers can choose to sync the data automatically, only over Wi-Fi, or manually and if automatic sync is selected the data is updated every 30 minutes.
Users can then track this information from anywhere by signing into an online account and viewing it all on a dashboard. 
The dashboard produces charts that show which apps have been used and how often, while the person’s location is plotted on to a map.
‘We do have quite a large portion of our customers who use mSPY specifically to catch a cheating spouse," mSPy’s Tatiana Ameri told ABC 22 news.
But added ‘We do ask our users to make sure they've got their monitored partners consent.’
According to mSpy the app works on Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Symbian, however, it will only work on jailbroken iOS devices and doesn’t work with iOS 7. Android phones, similarly, need to be rooted. 

Read more: - 
Japan Wants To Turn The Moon Into A Giant Power Plant - 


Shimizu Corporation, a Japanese architecture and engineering firm, has a plan to effectively turn the moon into a giant solar power plant, reports Inhabitat.

It proposes building a massive collection of solar panels (a "Luna Ring") 6,800 miles long by 12 miles wide on the moon's surface. That's certainly a heavy-duty construction job for human beings, so Shimizu plans to get the work done with robots, only involving humans in supervisory roles.

Once complete, this hypothetical plant could continuously send energy to "receiving stations" around the globe by way of lasers and microwave transmission. This idea gets around two major hurdles for solar power, as there is no weather or darkness to curb electricity production on the moon. If operating in ship-shape, Shimizu says it could continuously send 13,000 terawatts of power back to Earth. By comparison, it took the United States all of 2011 to generate 4,100 terawatts of power.

It's big thinking that we're skeptical will ever see fruition, but we like where Shimizu's coming from. It believes that "virtually inexhaustible, non-polluting solar energy is the ultimate source of green energy that brings prosperity to nature as well as our lives. Shimizu Corporation proposes the Luna Ring for the infinite coexistence of mankind and the Earth."


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Who in their right mind will be going around saying “It's Brown Thursday!”? sounds like they are excited to go poop -

Who in their right mind will be going around saying “It's Brown Thursday!”? sounds like they are excited to go poop - 

There is no better time for family and friends to get together than the holiday of Thanksgiving.

Everyone is gathering around to see all the food that is cooking or they are cheering on their football team. It is a time to relax and have a huge feast. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to do that, as most retailers have started to open their doors for their customers as early as 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night, denying people enough time with their families. But, now the media has decided to come up with the most ridiculous headline: Thanksgiving is now being called Brown Thursday.

First off, that just sounds disgusting. Who in their right mind will be going around saying “It’s Brown Thursday!”? It sounds like they are excited to go poop. But, the problem is how the media loves to try to make up buzz words to catch on. Yes, there is Black Friday, but that has been long known as a day that retailers would be able to turn a profit and have their stores go from the red (a loss) to the black (a profit).

Jimmy Kimmel summed up his feelings on this phase when he did his monologue Thursday night:


Tongue piercing allows paralyzed to drive wheelchairs... -

Tongue piercing allows paralyzed to drive wheelchairs... - 

An experimental device is letting paralyzed people drive wheelchairs simply by flicking their tongue in the right direction.

Key to this wireless system: Users get their tongue pierced with a magnetic stud that resembles jewelry and acts like a joystick, in hopes of offering them more mobility and independence.

Researchers reported Wednesday that 11 people paralyzed from the neck down rapidly learned to use the tongue device to pilot their wheelchairs through an obstacle course full of twists and turns, and to operate a computer, too.

"It's really powerful because it's so intuitive," said Jason DiSanto, 39, of Atlanta, who was among the first spinal cord-injured patients to get his tongue pierced for science and try out the system. "The first time I did it, people thought I was driving for, like, years."

The team of researchers in Atlanta and Chicago put the Tongue Drive System to the test against one of the most widely used assistive technologies, called sip-and-puff, that users operate by breathing into a straw. Using the tongue, patients operated their wheelchairs a bit faster but just as accurately - and on average, they performed about three times better on video game-like computer tests, said lead researcher Maysam Ghovanloo, director of Georgia Tech's bionics lab.


STUDY: Seeing Natural Wonders Increases Belief in God... -

STUDY: Seeing Natural Wonders Increases Belief in God... - 

Amazing natural sights such as the the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights might increase people's tendency to believe in God and the supernatural, according to new research by US scientists.
The findings suggest that awe-inspiring sights increase our motivation to make sense of the world around us, and may underlie a trigger of belief in the supernatural.
Psychological scientist Doctor Piercarlo Valdesolo, of Claremont McKenna College in the United States, said: ‘Many historical accounts of religious epiphanies and revelations seem to involve the experience of being awe-struck by the beauty, strength or size of a divine being, and these experiences change the way people understand and think about the world.

‘We wanted to test the exact opposite prediction: it's not that the presence of the supernatural elicits awe, it's that awe elicits the perception of the presence of the supernatural.’
Dr Valdesolo and his colleague Jesse Graham, of the University of Southern California, tested the prediction by having participants watch awe-inspiring scenes from BBC's Planet Earth documentary series or neutral video clips from a news interview.

Afterwards, the participants were asked how much awe they felt while watching the video, and whether they believed that worldly events unfold according to some god's or other non-human entity's plan.

Overall, the participants who had watched the awe-inspiring video tended to believe more in supernatural control, and were more likely to believe in God when compared with the news-watching group. 
The effect held even when awe-inspiring but impossible scenes, such as a massive waterfall through city streets, were presented.
Another study showed that participants who watched the awe-inspiring clips became increasingly intolerant of uncertainty. 
This particular mindset - a discomfort with uncertainty - may explain why feelings of awe produce a greater belief in the supernatural, according to the researchers.
Dr Valdesolo said: ‘The irony in this is that gazing upon things that we know to be formed by natural causes, such as the jaw-dropping expanse of the Grand Canyon, pushes us to explain them as the product of supernatural causes.’
However, the researchers also pointed out that the figures could also shed light on why certain individuals seek to explain the world through secular and scientific means.
The experience of awe may simply motivate us to search for explanations, no matter what kinds of explanations they are.
Dr Valdesolo said this might be why, in another experiment, participants who watched the awe-inspiring video showed greater discomfort and were more likely to believe a random string of numbers was designed by a human hand.
Based on their preliminary findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, the researchers are now looking at factors that modulate the effect of awe on belief in the supernatural.
For example, they are testing whether adopting submissive body postures, which make us feel less powerful, might dispose us to experiences of awe. 
Dr Valdesolo said such a link could perhaps explain the presence of such postures in religious practice, such as kneeling, bowing, and gazing up.
He added: ‘The more submissive we act, the more awe we might feel, and perhaps the stronger our beliefs become.’

Read more: - 

Germ-killing nanosurface opens up new front in hygiene - a forest of spikes just 500 nanometres high -

Germ-killing nanosurface opens up new front in hygiene - a forest of spikes just 500 nanometres high - 

Imagine a hospital room, door handle or kitchen countertop that is free from bacteria -- and not one drop of disinfectant or boiling water or dose of microwaves has been needed to zap the germs.

That is the idea behind a startling discovery made by scientists in Australia.

In a study published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, they described how a dragonfly led them to a nano-tech surface that physically slays bacteria.

The germ-killer is black silicon, a substance discovered accidentally in the 1990s and now viewed as a promising semiconductor material for solar panels.

Under an electron microscope, its surface is a forest of spikes just 500 nanometres (500 billionths of a metre) high that rip open the cell walls of any bacterium which comes into contact, the scientists found.

It is the first time that any water-repellent surface has been found to have this physical quality as bactericide.

Last year, the team, led by Elena Ivanova at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, were stunned to find cicada wings were potent killers of Pseudomonas aeruginsoa -- an opportunist germ that also infects humans and is becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Looking closely, they found that the answer lay not in any biochemical on the wing, but in regularly-spaced "nanopillars" on which bacteria were sliced to shreds as they settled on the surface.

They took the discovery further by examining nanostructures studding the translucent forewings of a red-bodied Australian dragonfly called the wandering percher (Latin name Diplacodes bipunctata).

It has spikes that are somewhat smaller than those on the black silicon -- they are 240 nanometres high.

The dragonfly's wings and black silicon were put through their paces in a lab, and both were ruthlessly bactericidal.

Smooth to the human touch, the surfaces destroyed two categories of bacteria, called Gram-negative and Gram-positive, as well as spores, the protective shell that coats certain times of dormant germs.

The three targeted bugs comprised P. aeruginosa, the notorious Staphylococcus aureus and the ultra-tough spore of Bacillus subtilis, a wide-ranging soil germ that is a cousin of anthrax.

The killing rate was 450,000 bacterial cells per square centimetre per minute over the first three hours of exposure.

This is 810 times the minimum dose needed to infect a person with S. aureus, and a whopping 77,400 times that of P. aeruginosa.

If the cost of making black silicon is an obstacle, many other options are around for making nano-scale germ-killing surfaces, said the scientists.

"Synthetic antibacterial nano-materials that exhibit a similar effectiveness... can be readily fabricated over large areas," they wrote.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Chart Of The Day: How In Five Short Years, China Humiliated The World's Central Banks -

Chart Of The Day: How In Five Short Years, China Humiliated The World's Central Banks - 

The concept of the "liquidity trap" is well-known to most: it is that freak outlier in an otherwise spotless Keynesian plane, when due to the need for negative interest rates to boost the economy (usually resulting from that other inevitable Keynesian state: the bursting of an asset bubble) - a structural impossibility according to most economists although an increasingly more probable in Europe - central banks have no choice but to offset a deleveraging private banking sector and directly inject liquidity into the banking sector with the outcome being soaring asset prices, and even more bubbles which will eventually burst only to be replaced with even more failed attempts at reflation. Sadly, very little of this liquidity makes its way to the broad economy as the ongoing recession in the developed world has shown for the 5th year in a row, which in turn makes the liqudity trap even worse, and so on in a closed loop.

Since there is little else in the central bankers' arsenal that is as effective in boosting the "wealth effect" - which is how they validate their actions to themselves and other economists and politicians - they continue to do ever more QE. And since banks are assured at generating far greater returns on allocated capital in the markets, where they can use the excess deposits they obtain courtesy of the Fed's generous reserve-a-palooza as initial margin for risk-on trades, the liquidity pipelines remain stuck throughout the world, and loan creation - that traditional money creation pathway - is permanently blocked (as is the case empirically in both the US and Europe, where private-sector loan creation is declining at a record pace).

Everywhere except the one place that has yet to actually engage in conventional quantitative easing: China. At least explicitly, because loan creation by China's state-controlled entities and otherwise government backstopped banks, is anything but conventional money creation. One can, therefore, claim that China's loan creation is a form of Quasi-QE whereby banks, constrained from investing in a relatively shallow stock market, and unable to freely transfer the CNY-denominated liquidity abroad, are forced to lend it out knowing that if things turn soure at the end of the day, the PBOC will bail them out. Paradoxically, this "non-QE" is exactly how QE should work in the US and other developed markets.

That's the long story.

The short story is far simpler.

In order to offset the lack of loan creation by commercial banks, the "Big 4" central banks - Fed, ECB, BOJ and BOE - have had no choice but the open the liquidity spigots to the max. This has resulted in a total developed world "Big 4" central bank balance of just under $10 trillion, of which the bulk of asset additions has taken place since the Lehman collapse.

How does this compare to what China has done? As can be seen on the chart below, in just the past 5 years alone, Chinese bank assets (and by implication liabilities) have grown by an astounding $15 trillion, bringing the total to over $24 trillion, as we showed yesterday. In other words, China has expanded its financial balance sheet by 50% more than the assets of all global central banks combined!

And that is how - in a global centrally-planned regime which is where everyone now is, DM or EM - your flood your economy with liquidity. Perhaps the Fed, ECB or BOJ should hire some PBOC consultants to show them how it's really done.

Read more -

Weight loss chip implanted in arm tells you when to stop eating -

Weight loss chip implanted in arm tells you when to stop eating - 

A weight loss chip that could be implanted in a woman’s arm by her GP is being developed by scientists.
The genetic chip would constantly check for fat in the blood and, when someone has eaten too much, release a hormone that sates hunger.
In tests on mice, an early version of the device led to obese creatures eating less fatty food and shedding weight.
Importantly, the gizmo stopped releasing the diet drug when they reached a normal weight.
The Swiss researchers hope that within five to ten years they will have a version the size of a coin that can be slipped under the skin of a slimmer’s arm.
If effective, it would provide an alternative to diet pills, which have to be taken several times a day, as well as to expensive and invasive obesity survey such as gastric banding.
It is also hoped it will be free of major side-effects.
The journal Nature Communications reports that the chip contains two genes that work together keep appetite in check.
The first constantly monitors fat levels in blood. When they get too high, it tells the second to make the appetite suppressant.
The chip’s inventor, Professor Martin Fussenegger said he hopes it could be used to prevent obesity, as well as to treat it.
Chips containing other combinations of genes could be developed to tackle other illnesses.
In Britain, just 34 per cent of men and 39 per cent of women are of a healthy weight.

Being obese can knock up to nine years off a person’s life and raise the risk of a host of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, infertility, depression and some cancers.
A spokesman for the researchers said: ‘Humankind has a weight problem.
‘According to the World Health Organisation, over half the population in many industrialised countries is overweight, one in three people extremely so.

Read more: 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Pet Owners Turn To Medical Marijuana To Help Ailing Animals... -

Pet Owners Turn To Medical Marijuana To Help Ailing Animals... - 

When it comes to sick pets many owners will go to great lengths to help them feel better.

Now, some have started to take matters into their own hands and have turned to a remedy that isn’t even legal in some states, CBS 2′s Maurice Dubois reported Friday.

Rowyn Capers’ dog, “Luna,” was suffering from late-stage lymphoma and was put on an intense schedule of chemotherapy. The treatments came with devastating side effects.

“Her lymph nodes were like golf balls and she was coughing constantly and she couldn’t breath and I just thought it’s time to say goodbye,” Capers said.

Capers gave Luna medical marijuana to help ease her suffering.

“The first time I dosed her I was so scared. We were looking at her all night,” Capers said, “The more I increased her cannabis dose the less side effects that she had. The vomiting stopped, the diarrhea stopped.”

The cannabis came in the form of a concentrated oil in a capsule. Capers said the results have been remarkable.

“When you see them enjoying life and feeling better and not being sick you know you’ve hit something,” she said.

Certified animal behaviorist Darlene Arden is a strong advocate for the use of medical marijuana on pets. She called cannabis a “legitimate medication.”

“I think we can now see marijuana for exactly what it is and what it can do. Not a street drug but a legitimate medication to be used under proper supervision,” she said.

Read more -

Friday, 22 November 2013

China Announces That It Is Going To Stop Stockpiling U.S. Dollars -

China Announces That It Is Going To Stop Stockpiling U.S. Dollars - 

China just dropped an absolute bombshell, but it was almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media in the United States.  The central bank of China has decided that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”.  During the third quarter of 2013, China’s foreign-exchange reserves were valued at approximately $3.66 trillion.  And of course the biggest chunk of that was made up of U.S. dollars.  For years, China has been accumulating dollars and working hard to keep the value of the dollar up and the value of the yuan down.  One of the goals has been to make Chinese products less expensive in the international marketplace.  But now China has announced that the time has come for it to stop stockpiling U.S. dollars.  And if that does indeed turn out to be the case, than many U.S. analysts are suggesting that China could also soon stop buying any more U.S. debt.  Needless to say, all of this would be very bad for the United States.

For years, China has been systematically propping up the value of the U.S. dollar and keeping the value of the yuan artificially low.  This has resulted in a massive flood of super cheap products from across the Pacific that U.S. consumers have been eagerly gobbling up.

For example, have you ever gone into a dollar store and wondered how anyone could possibly make a profit by making those products and selling them for just one dollar?

Well, the truth is that when you flip those products over you will find that almost all of them have been made outside of the United States.  In fact, the words “made in China” are probably the most common words in your entire household if you are anything like the typical American.

Thanks to the massively unbalanced trade that we have had with China, tens of thousands of our businesses, millions of our jobs and trillions of our dollars have left this country and gone over to China.

And now China has apparently decided that there is not much gutting of our economy left to do and that it is time to let the dollar collapse.  As I mentioned above, China has announced that it is going to stop stockpiling foreign-exchange reserves…

The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.

“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan wrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting. Neither Yi nor Zhou gave a timeframe for any changes.

It isn’t going to happen overnight, but the value of the U.S. dollar is going to start to go down, and all of that cheap stuff that you are used to buying at Wal-Mart and the dollar store is going to become a lot more expensive.

But of even more importance is what this latest move by China could mean for U.S. government debt.  As most Americans have heard, we are heavily dependent on foreign nations such as China lending us money.  Right now, China owns nearly 1.3 trillion dollars of our debt.  Unfortunately, as CNBC is noting, if China is going to quit stockpiling our dollars than it is likely that they will stop stockpiling our debt as well…

Analysts see this as the PBoC hinting that it will let its currency fluctuate, without intervention, thus negating the need for holding large reserves of the dollar. And if the dollar is no longer needed, then it could look to curb its purchases of dollar-denominated assets like U.S. Treasurys.

“If they are looking to reduce these purchases going forward then, yes, you’d have to look at who the marginal buyer would be,” Richard McGuire, a senior rate strategist at Rabobank told CNBC in an interview.

“Together, with the Federal Reserve tapering its bond purchases, it has the potential to add to the bearish long-term outlook on U.S. Treasurys.”

So who is going to buy all of our debt?

That is a very good question.

If the Federal Reserve starts tapering bond purchases and China quits buying our debt, who is going to fill the void?

If there is significantly less demand for government bonds, that will cause interest rates to rise dramatically.  And if interest rates rise dramatically from where they are now, that will set off the kind of nightmare scenario that I keep talking about.

In a previous article entitled “How China Can Cause The Death Of The Dollar And The Entire U.S. Financial System“, I described how China could single-handedly cause immense devastation to the U.S. economy.

China accounts for more global trade that anyone else does, and they also own more of our debt than any other nation does.  If China starts dumping our dollars and our debt, much of the rest of the planet would likely follow suit and we would be in for a world of hurt.

And just this week there was another major announcement which indicates that China is getting ready to make a major move against the U.S. dollar.  According to Reuters, crude oil futures may soon be pricedin yuan on the Shanghai Futures Exchange…

The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) may price its crude oil futures contract in yuan and use medium sour crude as its benchmark, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals.

China, which overtook the United States as the world’s top oil importer in September, hopes the contract will become a benchmark in Asia and has said it would allow foreign investors to trade in the contract without setting up a local subsidiary.

If that actually happens, that will be absolutely huge.

China is the number one importer of oil in the world, and it was only a matter of time before they started to openly challenge the petrodollar.

But even I didn’t think that we would see anything like this so quickly.

The world is changing, and most Americans have absolutely no idea what this is going to mean for them.  As demand for the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt goes down, the things that we buy at the store will cost a lot more, our standard of living will go down and it will become a lot more expensive for everyone (including the U.S. government) to borrow money.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about any of this at this point.  When it comes to economics, China has been playing chess while the United States has been playing checkers.  And now decades of very, very foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us.

The false prosperity that most Americans are enjoying today will soon start disappearing, and most of them will have no idea why it is happening.

The years ahead are going to be very challenging, and so I hope that you are getting ready for them.


CIA, withholding JFK files, admits operative may have known Oswald -

CIA, withholding JFK files, admits operative may have known Oswald - 

Fifty years after shots rang out in Dealey Plaza, killing a larger-than-life figure and abruptly ushering in what one historian has called “the decade of shocks” – from Dallas to Watergate – the federal agency that stood at the center of seemingly all the intrigues and conspiracy theories of that shadowy era is still holding onto an estimated 1,100 documents relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The Central Intelligence Agency told Fox News this week through a spokesman that the National Archives now has custody over those tantalizing documents, along with a larger group of 90,000 or so pages of agency files on the assassination that have already been released.

Federal law mandates that all known records relating to the assassination will be released by 2017, unless any agency objects, in which case the Assassination Records and Review Board would consider the appeal; but the spokesman said the CIA as of now has no plans to pose any such objections.

Among the material that remains classified are the files of a number of long-deceased CIA officials who are believed by researchers to have had knowledge about the movements and actions of Lee Harvey Oswald, the president’s assassin, in the months before Dealey Plaza.

Some of these officials are also believed to have helped CIA conceal this knowledge from the staff members of the two major official probes into the assassination: the Warren Commission, which concluded in its 1964 report that Oswald was the sole assassin; and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), whose final report in 1979 determined that there was a “high probability” that two gunmen fired at the president that day. 

The CIA spokesman, who discussed these matters under condition of anonymity, dismissed "CIA conspiracy theories" as "pure fiction." However the official did acknowledge that one CIA official "may have come into contact with Oswald." 

The official in question is the late George Joannides, an undercover CIA officer who worked in Miami and New Orleans in the early 1960s. 

Researchers say that on the evening of Nov. 22, 1963, Joannides was busy at work distributing materials to the news media that tied Oswald to pro-Castro groups, among other mysterious actions he took in the aftermath of the assassination. And when the HSCA reopened the Kennedy case in the late 1970s, Joannides was brought out of retirement to serve as the agency’s liaison to the committee. Researchers tend to agree that Joannides should more properly have appeared as a witness before HSCA.

While he believes that the evidence firmly establishes that Oswald killed President Kennedy, political scientist Larry Sabato, author of The Kennedy Half Century, does not rule out that the CIA could have played some role in the assassination – and he remains troubled by the agency’s conduct over the years. “The fact that they appointed George Joannides to be the liaison between the CIA and the House Select Committee on Assassinations tells me that they consciously were determined to withhold information from this second major investigation of the Kennedy assassination,” Sabato told Fox News this week.

“[Joannides] never revealed the fact that he had a direct conflict of interest, that he had been involved in one of the organizations that could potentially have been guilty of involvement in the assassination of the president,” Sabato said. “Nor did he reveal his activities on November 22nd, 1963. In addition, he consistently refused to cooperate with staff members of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He was trying to withhold information from them. He convinced the director of the [panel] that his young staff was pushing the CIA too hard, too unfairly; and so the director tended to pull them back.”

Former Washington Post editor Jefferson Morley has spent years researching the assassination – the last 10 of them locked in litigative combat with Langley. He moderates a website, JFKFacts.org, that keeps readers updated on Morley’s work, as well as other new trends and developments in assassination research. In Morley v. CIA, first filed in 2003 and still pending, with motions in the case filed just recently, the historian is seeking to pry open the Joannides papers before the 2017 date.

“That's what's striking about Joannides: both that he's well positioned to report on Oswald in 1963 and then fifteen years later is called out of retirement to deal with the congressional investigators,” Morley told Fox News, in an interview from Dealey Plaza on the anniversary of the assassination. “But he never discloses his own role in the events of 1963. I find that highly suspicious and I'm trying to clarify that. ... I mean, that was felonious behavior. He was obstructing Congress there. So you've got to wonder why was he doing that, and I think that's still a big question after fifty years.”

The disclosure by the CIA to Fox News that Joannides may have known Oswald was one Morley found astonishing. “Not even I’ve gone that far!” he said, when apprised of the agency’s statement, adding that he planned to make it known to the judge presiding over Morley v. CIA.

In studying “the possible relationship of Oswald to the CIA,” Sabato in his book posits that Langley withheld from investigators what it knew about the assassin, and when, because the CIA planned, or had already begun, to use the troubled 24-year-old ex-Marine as an asset of some kind. “The agency could have viewed Oswald as a malleable potential low-level operative with an unusual combination of background experiences and contacts,” Sabato writes.

But Peter Savodnik, author of The Interloper: Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union, a deeply researched new study of the assassin’s interior psychology, doubts there was any such relationship.

“These are, in the end, large government bureaucracies and they are shot through with inefficiencies and turf battles,” Savodnik said during an interview on “The Foxhole” on Nov. 21. “I can't explain why it is that there are certain pages that have been withheld. … He was on their so-called radar screen. But I don't think that that means anything more than exactly that. The idea that somehow he was somehow a puppet or a patsy or being controlled by larger forces mysteriously, clandestinely makes for nice theatre, but there's no truth behind it.”


Great video of Comet ISON Timelapse - As seen from the Teide observatory, Canary Islands - Captured at dawn Nov 22 -

Great video of Comet ISON Timelapse - As seen from the Teide observatory, Canary Islands - Captured at dawn Nov 22 -

Fed Minutes Reveal a Dangerous Power Grab by New York Fed -

Fed Minutes Reveal a Dangerous Power Grab by New York Fed - 

Just when it seemed one could no longer be shocked by the corruption, hubris and lack of accountability in the American financial system, along comes yesterday’s release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes for the October 29-30 meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

While mainstream media focuses on what the minutes revealed about when the Fed might begin to reduce its monthly $85 billion in bond purchases, receiving scant attention is a brazen power grab boldly stated on page two of the eleven pages of minutes.

Back on October 31, wire services reported that the temporary dollar and foreign currency swap lines that had been put in place between central banks on a temporary basis during the financial crisis had been turned into standing arrangements.

The Associated Press explained the action as follows: “Six of the world’s leading central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, say they will provide each other with ready supplies of their currencies on a standing basis, extending arrangements set up to steady the global financial system during post-2007 turbulence.”

In other words, without public deliberations, an action that was adopted as a temporary, emergency operation, now had become a permanent part of world finance – on the basis of minutes and details yet to be seen by Congress or the general public.

When those minutes were released yesterday, alarm bells should have rang out from the business press. Not only did this temporary emergency measure become permanent, but the full FOMC committee is reduced to voting on its continuance but once a year and the conduct of the program has been effectively delegated to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and a man the American people have never heard of, Simon Potter, the Manager of the System Open Market Account and Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

According to the minutes, ten members of the FOMC Committee, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his likely replacement, Vice Chairman, Janet Yellen, unanimously voted in favor of the plan. The comments of those opposing the plan are opaquely described in the minutes as follows:  “The Committee considered a proposal to convert the existing temporary central bank liquidity swap arrangements to standing arrangements with no preset expiration dates.  The Manager [Potter] described the proposed arrangements, noting that the Committee would still be asked to review participation in the arrangements annually.  A couple of participants expressed reservations about the proposal, citing opposition to swap lines with foreign central banks in general or questioning the governance implications of these standing arrangements in particular.”

Instead of the full FOMC committee, which includes Federal Reserve Board Commissioners and Presidents of the regional Federal Reserve banks, approving these interventions in foreign currencies, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve will simply now consult with a subcommittee. But more troubling, the New York Fed has gained enormous power in the process. The minutes state: “authority to approve subsequent drawings of a more routine character for either the dollar or foreign currency liquidity swap lines may be delegated to the Manager [Potter], in consultation with the Chairman.”

Simon Potter already wields enormous and nontransparent power in financial markets. Potter is head of the Markets Group which oversees a sprawling trading operation at the New York Fed. Of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, only the New York Fed has a trading floor rivaling that of Goldman Sachs. Potter is also Manager of the System Open Market Account (SOMA) at the New York Fed. According to the Fed’s web site, SOMA operations are designed to influence bank reserves, money market conditions, and monetary aggregates.


Federal contractors set up roadblocks in 30 U.S. cities to harvest DNA samples -

Federal contractors set up roadblocks in 30 U.S. cities to harvest DNA samples - 

(Source: A. Drey Photography)

Federal contractors have been setting up roadblocks in cities across the country with the purpose of collecting DNA samples from passing motorists.  The multi-million dollar federal program has been disturbing drivers and alarming civil libertarians.

The checkpoints consist of uniformed agents blocking a public road and flagging drivers into a testing area or a parking lot.   There, the drivers are requested to submit a saliva or blood sample to the federal government.

The roadblocks were part of a study orchestrated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The agency contracted the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, based in Calverton, MD, to perform the roadblocks.  The program costs taxpayers $7.9 million over 3 years, according to NBC News Dallas-Fort Worth.

The agency confirmed that the operation is currently being launched in 30 different U.S. cities.

Drivers are offered cash for surrendering DNA samples.  The going rate is $10 for a cheek-swab and $50 for blood drawn from the vein.  The goal, according to the NHTSA, is to decrease impaired-driving accidents by analyzing raw bodily fluids fresh off the street.

“They want to find out of all the people surveyed, how many people were driving with alcohol in their system, or prescription drugs, things like that,” said Lt. Freddie Turrentine of the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, in Pell City, Alabama.

Voluntary or not?

The NHTSA says that the samples are “voluntary,” but drivers have had varying experiences.

“How voluntary is it when you have a police officer in uniform flagging you down?”
Kim Cope, of North Fort Worth, Texas, said that the checkpoint she experienced was not voluntary at all.  She was forced off the road into a parking lot on November 15th and pressured into submitting to a breathalyzer.  Cope was on her lunch break when she was forced into the checkpoint.  ”I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn’t let me and forced me into a parking spot,” she said to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

“They were asking for cheek swabs. They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that.” But Cope was not interested in getting paid. “I finally did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave.”

“How voluntary is it when you have a police officer in uniform flagging you down?” asked Susan Watson, executive director of the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Are you going to stop? Yes, you’re going to stop.”

“Although this was voluntary it was not voluntary that you stop and hear the DNA for CASH pitch,” said Alabama resident ‘J. Bosey‘ after experiencing a checkpoint in June.

“It just doesn’t seem right that you can be forced off the road when you’re not doing anything wrong,” said Cope, discovering the tyranny of police checkpoints.  “None of it felt voluntary.”


Doctors Warn Against 'Cotton Ball Diet' Craze Among Teenaged Girls... -

Doctors Warn Against 'Cotton Ball Diet' Craze Among Teenaged Girls... - 

 Doctors and nutritionists are warning against what may be a new weight loss fad…the “cotton-ball diet.”

Several Youtube videos have been popping up claiming it’s a good way to lose weight, reports MedicalDaily.com.

In the videos, young girls girls soak cotton balls into orange juice or lemonade in order to add taste.

The idea is to eat the cotton balls to limit the amount of food a person eats during the day.

Extreme dieters say the cotton expands in the stomach and tricks the body into thinking its full.

But health care professionals fear the diet craze could be dangerous.

“You’re really kind of playing russian roulette when you use these types of diets,” treatment professional at the Eating Recovery Center of California, Jennifer Lombardi, told KCRA.

“The biggest concern is it can cause a blockage in the digestive system, and if that happens to a certain extent, they are going to end up in surgery. Just like with any extreme diet, it is very dangerous because you’re depleting your body of needed nutrients.”

“The problem being that taking the non-nutritive foods is you’re not getting the vitamins, the minerals, the calories, the proteins, the fats that our bodies need to survive off of,” manager of Fairwinds Eating Disorder Program, Kourtney Gordon, told WTSP. “So you can have a lot of growth and development issues, you can have complications of being malnourished.”

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