Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sun has 'flipped upside down' - Nasa - its north and south poles reversed -

Sun has 'flipped upside down' - Nasa - its north and south poles reversed - 

The sun has fully "flipped upside down", with its north and south poles reversed to reach the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, Nasa has said.

Now, the magnetic fields have once again started moving in opposite directions to begin the completion of the 22 year long process which will culminate in the poles switching once again.

"A reversal of the sun's magnetic field is, literally, a big event," said Nasa's Dr. Tony Phillips.

"The domain of the sun's magnetic influence (also known as the 'heliosphere') extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space."

To mark the event, Nasa has released a visualisation of the entire process.

At the beginning, in 1997, the video shows the sun with its positive polarity on the top (the green lines), and the negative polarity on the bottom (the purple lines).

Over the next 11 years, each set of lines gradually move toward the opposite pole, eventually showing a complete flip.

By the end, both set of lines representing the opposing magnetic fields begin to work their way back, which will eventually culminate in the completion of the full 22 year magnetic solar cycle in approximately 11 years, before the whole process starts over again.

"At the height of each magnetic flip, the sun goes through periods of more solar activity, during which there are more sunspots, and more eruptive events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections," said Nasa's Karen C. Fox.

"Cosmic rays are also affected," added Dr. Phillips. "These are high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy."

Read more -

Rabbi Sued After Baby's Penis Severed During Circumcision... -

Rabbi Sued After Baby's Penis Severed During Circumcision... - 

A local rabbi is being sued after allegedly botching a bris, the traditional Jewish circumcision ritual, and severing a newborn boy’s penis.
The incident detailed in the lawsuit happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill within the last year.
The Jewish circumcision ceremony was performed by Pittsburgh Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg – who is also a mohel.

Sometime during the bris, according to the lawsuit, Rosenberg severed the baby boy’s penis.
The baby was rushed to Children’s Hospital, where doctors performed emergency microsurgery.
“If your finger, your thumb was cut off and was put back on, that is pretty exciting,” said renowned UPMC plastic surgeon Dr. Joe Losee.
Dr. Losee was not involved in the boy’s treatment and he can’t talk specifics.
But our sources say it took eight hours. The baby needed six blood transfusions and was hospitalized for nearly two months. Sources describe the reattachment procedure as successful.
Dr. Losee says microsurgery advances every day, but it’s risky.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t always work,” he says. “When you’re reattaching a portion where you include nerves, sometimes the nerves don’t heal well beyond where you reattached it. So there are limitations for sure.”
On his website, Rabbi Rosenberg says he is recognized as a “certified mohel by the American Board of Ritual Circumcision.” His site also says “a doctor’s medical circumcision, usually performed in the hospital, is not considered valid according to Jewish law.”
“That is extraordinarily serious and is extraordinarily rare,” said attorney David Llewellyn.
Llewellyn handles cases involving injury during circumcision – injury brought on by both doctors in the hospital and mohels in religious ceremonies.
“Your average pediatric urologist probably spends about 20 percent of his or her time repairing children who have been circumcised,” Llewellyn says.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one in every 500 newborn boys experience significant acute complications as a result of circumcision.
“This is pretty much unregulated,” Llewellyn said.
He says there is no regulated standard for training or certification of mohels, or any place for reporting injuries from circumcision.

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STUDY: Brain function boosted for days after reading good novel... -

STUDY: Brain function boosted for days after reading good novel... - 

Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.

Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition - for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

21 students took part in the study, with all participants reading the same book -  Pompeii, a 2003 thriller by Robert Harris, which was chosen for its page turning plot.

“The story follows a protagonist, who is outside the city of Pompeii and notices steam and strange things happening around the volcano,” said Prof Berns. “It depicts true events in a fictional and dramatic way. It was important to us that the book had a strong narrative line.”

Over 19 days the students read a portion of the book in the evening then had fMRI scans the following morning. Once the book was finished, their brains were scanned for five days after.

The neurological changes were found to have continued for all the five days after finishing, proving that the impact was not just an immediate reaction but has a lasting influence.

“Even though the participants were not actually reading the novel while they were in the scanner, they retained this heightened connectivity,” added Prof Berns. “We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory.”

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The U.S. consumes more than 50 tons of antibiotics a day—80% of which is not used for humans -

The U.S. consumes more than 50 tons of antibiotics a day—80% of which is not used for humans - 

The United States consumes more than 50 tons of antibiotics a day—80% of which is not used for humans.

Rather, about 40 tons goes to promote agricultural production, such as giving antibiotics to cattle and chickens.

This practice has dire ramifications for human health, two experts warn, as the abundance of antibiotics in the food chain has resulted in drug-resistant bacteria that can leave people vulnerable to infections and other illnesses.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a critical threat to public health,” Aidan Hollis and Ziana Ahmed wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine. “The value of antibiotics for human health is immeasurable.”

Hollis, an economics professor at the University of Calgary, and Ahmed, an economist at the University of Toronto, estimated the U.S. goes through 51 tons of antibiotics a day. They estimate that each year The U.S. uses 13,540,000 kilograms (kg) for livestock, 3,290,000 kg for humans, 150,000 for aquaculture, 150,000 kg for pets and 70,000 kg for crops.

But, “the main use of this invaluable resource is rather disappointing: approximately 80% of antibiotics in the United States are consumed in agriculture and aquaculture,” they wrote.

Hollis and Ahmed say there is “a great deal of concern” that the overuse of antibiotics is “contributing to the development and spread of resistant organisms. Agricultural industry groups, in line with their short-term financial interests, argue that there is no conclusive proof that the antibiotics used in agriculture harm human health. Unfortunately, evidence is mounting that resistant pathogens are emerging and being selected for at least partly because of nonhuman uses of antibiotics”

Farmers and other agricultural industry groups have come to rely too much on these drugs to boost food production and achieve short-term financial gains, Hollis and Ahmed say. One solution, they argue, would be to impose a user-fee on the non-human application of antibiotics. This would discourage farmers from overusing these medicines.

“Modern medicine relies on antibiotics to kill off bacterial infections,” Hollis told Homeland Security News Wire. “This is incredibly important. Without effective antibiotics, any surgery—even minor ones—will become extremely risky. Cancer therapies, similarly, are dependent on the availability of effective antimicrobials. Ordinary infections will kill otherwise healthy people.”

He added: “The real value of antibiotics is saving people from dying. Everything else is trivial.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

Read more -

Saturday, 28 December 2013

First 3D Printed Organ Expected Next Year... -

First 3D Printed Organ Expected Next Year... - 

Approximately 18 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. But that may change someday sooner than you think -- thanks to 3D printing.

Advances in the 3D printing of human tissue have moved fast enough that San Diego-based bio-printing company Organovo now expects to unveil the world's first printed organ -- a human liver -- next year.

Like other forms of 3D printing, bio-printing lays down layer after layer of material -- in this case, live cells -- to form a solid physical entity -- in this case, human tissue. The major stumbling block in creating tissue continues to be manufacturing the vascular system needed to provide it with life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients.

Organovo, however, said it has overcome that vascular issue to a degree. "We have achieved thicknesses of greater than 500 microns, and have maintained liver tissue in a fully functional state with native phenotypic behavior for at least 40 days," said Mike Renard, Organovo's executive vice president of commercial operations.

A micron is one-millionth of a meter. To better understand the scale Renard is describing, think of it this way: A sheet of printer paper is 100 microns thick. So the tissue Organovo has printed is the thickness of five sheets of paper stacked on top of each other.

Printing hepatocytes -- the cells that make up most liver tissue -- isn't enough, however. There are multiple types of cells with different functions in tissue that must be combined to create a living human organ.

Organovo's researchers were able to bring together fibroblasts and endothelial cells, which perform the function of developing tiny vascular networks, allowing the company to achieve thick tissue with good cell viability, Renard said.

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Young users see FACEBOOK as 'dead and buried'... -

Young users see FACEBOOK as 'dead and buried'... - 

A study of how older teenagers use social media has found that Facebook is “not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried” and is being replaced by simpler social networks such as Twitter and Snapchat.
Young people now see the site as “uncool” and keep their profiles live purely to stay in touch with older relatives, among whom it remains popular.
Professor Daniel Miller of University College London, an anthropologist who worked on the research, wrote in an article for academic news website The Conversation: “Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it.
“This year marked the start of what looks likely to be a sustained decline of what had been the most pervasive of all social networking sites. Young people are turning away in their droves and adopting other social networks instead, while the worst people of all, their parents, continue to use the service.
“Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things.

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Friday, 27 December 2013

America Is Addicted To Porn -

America Is Addicted To Porn - 

With food prices soaring, and alcohol demand on the rise, it seems the American public is turning to the only thing left... porn. Every 30 minutes a porn video is made, 30,000 people are 'consuming' pornography every second, and the industry earns over $13 billion per year which has led to 200,000 Americans described as "porn addicts" - spending 11 hours or more per week online looking at porn... but what are the consequences...

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Python strangles man at luxury hotel on Bali -

Python strangles man at luxury hotel on Bali - 

A python strangled a security guard near a luxury hotel on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Friday, and then escaped into nearby bushes following the deadly attack, police and a hotel employee who witnessed the incident said.

The incident happened around 3 a.m. as the 15-foot-long python was slithering across a road near the Bali Hyatt hotel, said Agung Bawa, an assistant security manager at the hotel, which is closed for renovations until 2015.

The victim, Ambar Arianto Mulyo, was a 59-year-old security guard at a nearby restaurant.

He had offered to help capture the snake, which had apparently been spotted several times before near the hotel, located in Bali's Sanur area, Bawa said.

Mulyo managed to secure the snake's head and tail and put it on his shoulders, but the python wrapped itself around his body and strangled him, said Bawa, who was present during the attack.

People watching the incident were unable or unwilling to help and called the police, who came but failed to save the man. The python escaped into nearby bushes, and police were still searching for it.

Denpasar police Capt. Gusti Ngurah Yudistira said Mulyo died of suffocation.

"It happened so fast," Bawa said. "We were sad because we could not do anything to help him."

Yudistira warned people to be alert since the snake was still on the loose in the area, which is popular with tourists.

Read more -

Friday, 20 December 2013

STUDY: Walking each day cuts heart attack, stroke risk...

STUDY: Walking each day cuts heart attack, stroke risk...

Taking just 2,000 extra steps a day could help people prone to heart attacks and stroke cut their risk by eight per cent, claim researchers.
The exercise is equivalent to walking 20 minutes a day at a moderate pace, says a study in The Lancet medical journal (must credit).
The health benefits are gained by anyone doing 2,000 extra steps for a year on top of their normal levels of activity.

But doing 4,000 extra steps - 40 minutes of additional daily walking - matches the benefits from taking a statin, says study leader Dr Thomas Yates, of the Diabetes Research Unit at Leicester University.
He said ‘Doing 4,000 extra steps a day reduces your cardiovascular risk by about 16-20 per cent, which is the equivalent of taking a statin.
‘However, a statin has side effects and only reduces cholesterol, whereas walking has a much bigger range of health benefits.’

The study looked at 9,306 adults from 40 countries who had impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), which can lead to diabetes, or other heart disease risk factors.
Using a pedometer, researchers recorded usual walking activity in terms of average number of steps taken per day over a week, both at the start of the study and again 12 months later.
The researchers analysed the relationship between the number of steps taken per day and the risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease after taking account of a wide range of factors such as body-mass index, smoking status, diet, clinical history, and medication use.
Altogether 531 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks were recorded.


Elk Rescued After Christmas Lights and Candy Canes Get Stuck In Antlers -

Elk Rescued After Christmas Lights and Candy Canes Get Stuck In Antlers - 

Banff residents got quite the holiday display this week after an elk got tangled up in some Christmas lights and decorations. 

A resident spotted the bull elk wandering around with the lights and some candy cane ornaments strung up in his antlers near the Albertan mountain town Wednesday. 

Parks Canada, who responded to the call, tranquilized the elk to get him untangled from the lights. About four and a half metres of lights were trailing behind him. 

"We thought that it could get wrapped up in its legs and cause some injury and or get wrapped up in a bush and somewhat hold that elk hostage to the bush," said resource management officer Blair Fyten. 

Out of concern an incident could happen again, more drastic action was taken. 

Antlers taken off 

"This elk is one that frequents the edge of the townsite and we just thought there could be another possibility that he could find himself wrapped up in some more Christmas lights, so instead of putting him through the drugging situation again we decided to cut his antlers off." 

The elk is doing fine without his antlers, said Fyten. The animal's antlers grow back every year. 

"Every couple of years we'll get an animal that's got Christmas lights on him and sometimes they're able to shed the lights themselves, and sometimes they're wrapped up so tight that we have to intervene."

This year, at least two animals have been trapped in Christmas lights, he said. 

Parks Canada is warning residents who live in areas frequented by deer or elk to string lights onto their houses rather than trees or shrubs, where some wildlife feed.


1,250 Bags Of Heroin Stamped Obamacare’ Seized -

1,250 Bags Of Heroin Stamped Obamacare’ Seized - 

Four people are facing drug trafficking charges after Massachusetts State Police say a Trooper found 1,250 plastic bags of heroin in their vehicle. The heroin packages were all marked with stamps that read either “Obamacare” or “Kurt Cobain.”
Officials say Trooper Joseph Petty had pulled over a car on Interstate 91 in Northampton when a passing vehicle committed “several violations,” State Police said.
Trooper Petty caught up to the vehicle in Hatfield and pulled it over.
During the stop, Trooper Petty says he noticed illegal drugs in the car.
A K-9 unit was called in and allegedly found 1,250 individual plastic bags of heroin in the vehicle.
All four people in the vehicle were arrested.

Read more- 

5 Surprising Things We Feed Cows -

5 Surprising Things We Feed Cows - 

In addition to the old standbys of corn, soy, hay (and, uh, drugs), "there's a lot of stuff which the general public might not think of as feeds which are actually quite common," says Cory Parsons, a livestock nutrition expert at Oregon State University. For example:

Sawdust: Decades ago, when Bob Batey, an eastern Iowa entrepreneur, observed cows gobbling up sawdust hosed down from his paper mill, he had an idea: Why not make the stuff into a commercial cattle feed? Sawdust is made largely of cellulose, a carbohydrate, but it's bound together with a compound called lignin, which makes it hard to digest. To strip the lignin, Batey soaked some of the stuff in nitric acid, and voilĂ ! The cows were ready to chow down. "They like it," he says. "It's good for them. It's economical. And it's green." 

But it was only after a 2012 drought laid waste to local hay and grass that Batey put his idea into action. He teamed up with local feed producers to devise a mix of sawdust, corn, vitamins, and minerals. While ranchers have not yet widely adopted the sawdust feed, Byron Leu, a regional beef specialist at Iowa State University, said with corn prices high, the stuff could catch on "pretty fast." The Iowa City Gazette noted that in tests, the cows ate the stuff "like candy." Speaking of which…

Candy, wrapper and all: Ranchers report feeding their beef steers and dairy cows a variety of bulk candy, including gummy worms, marshmallows, hard candy, sprinkles, chocolate, candy corn, and hot chocolate mix. Candy provides sugar that cows would usually get from corn, giving them more energy and making them fatter. When corn prices skyrocketed, the practice became popular: In fall 2012, one candy supplier who sells farmers and ranchers "salvage" chocolate—that's imperfect and broken chocolates—said the price of the stuff had recently doubled.

In some cases, ranchers found, the candy feed comes wrapped. Asked if he was concerned about his cattle eating plastic, one animal nutrition expert in Tennessee said he was not worried. "I think it would pass through just like excess fiber would."

Chicken shit: What's not to love about the fecal waste of America's 36-million-plus broiler chickens? It's plentiful and cheap. But according to a recent OnEarth story by Brad Jacobson, the problem may be less the poop itself than the smorgasbord of other substances it frequently comes with, including feathers, heavy metals, bacteria, antibiotics, and bits of rodents. Jacobson also notes that the practice could promote the spread of mad cow disease. 

Ground limestone: Strange as feeding rocks to cows may sound, limestone can be found in cattle troughs all over the United States. The stuff is a cheap source of calcium, and it also seems to promote growth. As one study put it, cows that ate limestone late in life "tended to have more desirable carcasses" than cows that didn't. 

Crab guts: For ranchers and feedlots near the coast, the guts and other undesirable parts of fish, crabs, shrimp, and crawfish can be an abundant source of cheap protein. Ground up into a tasty meal, seafood byproducts can be mixed into other feeds. Fish-meal cattle feed isn't a new idea; Marco Polo observed in his diary that cows ate it "without any sign of dislike." 

Read more -

Study: Your Dog Probably Recognizes Your Face — Even In Photos -

Study: Your Dog Probably Recognizes Your Face — Even In Photos - 

Your dog may be able to recognize your face in a photo.
That’s the latest from the University of Helsinki, which published the results of its study in the journal Animal Cognition this December.
According to Science News Daily, the researchers had dogs look at facial images of familiar humans (such as their owner) and other dogs in the family, as well as unfamiliar humans and dogs they’d never encountered. Then the researchers measured the dogs’ eye movements as they viewed the photos.
Scientists say that while the dogs viewed the faces of other dogs for longer than the human faces (backing up findings from previous studies), the canines studied also studied the faces of familiar humans for longer than unfamiliar ones.
Additionally, when the dogs were given upside-down photos of faces to view, they viewed those in much the same way that humans do. While the pups stared at the inverted pictures for just as long, they tended to focus more on the eye area of the upright photos.
“Familiar faces and eyes attracted more fixations than the strange ones, suggesting that dogs are likely to recognize conspecific [relating to the same species] and human faces in photographs,” the study’s authors conclude.
It’s just more proof that “dogs are people, too.”


OOps - Nelson Mandela Tribute Billboard Uses Picture of Morgan Freeman... -

OOps - Nelson Mandela Tribute Billboard Uses Picture of Morgan Freeman... - 

Actor Morgan Freeman earned kudos for his portrayal of South African leader Nelson Mandela in the Clint Eastwood drama Invictus.
Perhaps Freeman's performance in the 2009 was too good as it lead to some confusion for an Indian-based billboard artist.
An owner of a billboard dedicated to Nelson Mandela was red-faced on Thursday after the discovery that a photo of actor Morgan Freeman was used instead of one of the anti-apartheid hero.
The billboard was erected on the side of a road in Coimbatore as part of memorials across India and the world to Mandela, who died on December 5.


SUV Vs. Moose -

SUV Vs. Moose - 

moose crash

Pictures released by Alberta RCMP of an SUV that collided with a moose, from which the driver walked away unscathed, can only be described as a Christmas miracle.

According to police, North Star resident Kevin McFadgen was heading to his job site in Peace River the morning of Dec. 17, when a northbound semi-trailer passed his vehicle, creating a whiteout situation.

Although he slowed his SUV, McFadgen spotted a moose just ahead in the lane on Highway 35, with no time to slow down. Instead, he ducked down below the dash and into the passenger seat, his vehicle smashing into the massive animal.

Police say the moose was flipped onto the hood of the SUV, peeling back the roof in the impact.

Unbelievably, McFadgen was able to remove himself from the wreck and call for help. He was taken to hospital with only minor injuries. The moose, however, did not survive.

"Judging by the extent of the damage seen on the vehicle, this is a perfect example of a driver who was paying attention to the road therefore able to quickly respond", said Sgt. Thomas Howell of the RCMP Manning detachment, in a press release.

"Without Mr. McFadgen's quick action and thinking, he may not be here today to tell this story."

moose crash

moose crash


Fully Functional, Life-Size Lego Car -

Fully Functional, Life-Size Lego Car - 

Fullsize Lego car powered by air

We've seen some pretty amazing machines made out of Lego bricks over the past several years, but this project (shown in the video below), built by Steve Sammartino and Raul Oaida, takes the cake as the most impressive. After all, not only is it built in full scale, it can move under its own power with human beings on board. Powered by four engines with a total of 256 pistons and a couple of high-pressure air tanks, its creators claim it can potentially hit speeds of up to 32 km/h (20 miles per hour).

The Super Awesome Micro Project, as it's being called, was built in Romania and then shipped to Melbourne, Australia. It apparently took some 500,000 individual Lego bricks to build, and while we're not sure we'd have gone with a yellow and black hot rod motif, we're suitably impressed by the result.

We offer a hearty pat on the back to the car's builders, and to the 40 Australian backers who donated some cash after reading a single tweet from one of its builders. 


Scientists believe death could be reversible... -

Scientists believe death could be reversible... - 

Scientists are stretching the boundaries of understanding what happens as the body dies - and learning more about ways to perhaps interrupt the process, which takes longer than we might suppose.

Death is the final outcome for 100 percent of patients. But there's growing evidence that revival is possible for at least some patients whose hearts and lungs have stopped working for many minutes, even hours. And brain death - when the brain irreversibly ceases function -- is also proving less open and shut.

For decades, doctors have recorded cases where people immersed in very cold water have been revived after hours have gone by. Normally, brain cells start dying within a few minutes after the heart stops pumping oxygen.

Many studies have found that hypothermia protects the brain by decreasing its need for oxygen and staving off cell death. Body cooling has become common for many patients after cardiac arrest.

However, cooling more a few degrees below normal temperature can also cause cell damage.

Cardiologists are still tinkering to find the best approach. Two recent studies presented at the American Heart Association's scientific meeting in Dallas in November tried to see whether early cooling by paramedics after they get a heart restarted is helpful (it didn't seem affect survival or brain damage) or whether cooling to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 96.8 degrees during the first day in the hospital brings better results (again, not much difference).

Then there's the issue of how long to perform CPR. One 2012 study found the median duration in hospitals was 20 minutes for patients that didn't survive; 12 minutes for those who did. The AHA recommends bystanders keep performing CPR until emergency medical services arrive.

A Japanese study presented at the AHA meeting, based on six years of data on cardiac arrest survival across Japan, concluded it is worthwhile to continue CPR for 38 minutes or longer and still have a chance to avoid major brain damage.

Defining brain death is becoming more complex as researchers find signs of activity in both human and animal subjects whose brain waves at first show they've "flat-lined" to the point that there is no brain function. While some doctors use the EEG as a final check for signs of life in the brain, most rely on a series of reflex and respiration tests given over several hours to determine brain death.

Scientists at the University of Montreal reported in September on the case of one Romanian patient who was in an extreme deep coma after treatment with a powerful anti-epileptic drug. Although the electroencephalogram (EEG) showed no activity in the man's cortex (the master processor of the brain), there was activity in the hippocampus, the region responsible for memory and learning.

The Montreal team, which reported their findings in the journal PLOS One, recreated the same coma state in 26 cats, and observed the same type of oscillations being generated in the hippocampus of each one.


"The Chinese Don't Want Dollars Anymore, They Want Gold" - London's Gold Vaults Are Empty -

"The Chinese Don't Want Dollars Anymore, They Want Gold" - London's Gold Vaults Are Empty - 

Today gold slid under $1200 per ounce, dropping to a level not seen in three years. Judging by the price action one would think that gold is not only overflowing from precious metal vaults everywhere, but can be found thrown away on the street, where nobody even bothers to pick it up. One would be wrong. In fact, as Bloomberg's Ken Goldman reports, "you could walk into a vault in London and they were packed to the rafter with gold, and the gold would trade from me to you to somebody else. You could walk into these vaults today and they are virtually empty. All that gold has been transferred out of London, 26 million ounces...." To find out where it has gone and why it is never coming back, watch the clip below (spoiler alert: listen for the line: "the Chinese don't want US dollars anymore, they want gold").

Read more -

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Prescription ADHD Drugs Gives Kids Dangerous Erections -

Prescription ADHD Drugs Gives Kids Dangerous Erections - 

Drug warriors concentrated on protecting the children from marijuana should instead prioritize on  their legal prescriptions. Common prescribed medication for children could be acting as kiddie Viagra instead.

According to an AP report, the FDA has issued a warning that a stimulant found in treatments for the childhood condition ADHD can trigger priapism — a painful erection that can last several hours in rare cases.

Methylphenidate is a stimulant contained in treatments for ADHD such as Ritalin, Concerta, and Daytrana. The FDA says patients taking a methylphenidate product who experienced priapism were as young as 8 years old, with a median age of 12 and a half.

So far, kids who have received cannabis treatments for illnesses such as epilepsy and leukemia have no reported unhealthy erections to date.


Ancient toe fossil reveals inbreeding common among Neanderthals... -

Ancient toe fossil reveals inbreeding common among Neanderthals... - 

Researchers examining the DNA extracted from the fossilized toe of a 50,000-year-old Siberian Neanderthal woman believe that the woman was the child of an incestuous relationship.
The scientific journal Nature, which published the findings, also asserted that incest among Neanderthals was not taboo. The toe bone, found in 2010, yielded to scientists the woman’s genome, and that information was then processed through a number of simulated inbreeding scenarios. The scientists ascertained that the woman’s parents were either half-siblings born from the same mother or double first cousins. It also was theorized that the woman’s parents could have come from different generations of the same extended family.
University of California at Berkley population geneticist Montgomery Slatkin, a researcher on the project, said that the possible parental combinations could include an aunt/nephew, uncle/niece, grandfather/granddaughter, or grandmother/grandson.
Deputy Director of the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA Jeremy Austin said the period in which the Neanderthal woman lived was an era during which the Neanderthals were going extinct. Consequently, there were fewer choices for breeding. He stated, "On that basis, it's not particularly surprising. You can imagine they would have been living in very small and isolated family groups."
The team of researchers was led by scientists from Germany's Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. They found that the genome sequence of the woman showed low levels of genetic diversity, indicating a small, sedentary population. The researchers also found that the genome sequence hinted that Neanderthals interbred with the Denisovans and that another human ancestor may have been part of the pattern, possibly Homo erectus.
Austin was more interested in the possibility of interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovans than inbreeding among only Neanderthals. He said, "This new DNA sequence from this toe bone suggests that Denisovans and Neanderthals were also interbreeding.”
There has already been evidence of interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans, as well as between Denisovans and modern humans. 


The Taper is ON - 8 Ways that this is going to affect you and your family -

The Taper is ON - 8 Ways that this is going to affect you and your family - 

The unelected central planners at the Federal Reserve have decided that the time has come to slightly taper the amount of quantitative easing that it has been doing.  On Wednesday, the Fed announced that monthly purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds will be reduced from $45 billion to $40 billion, and monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities will be reduced from $35 billion to $30 billion.  When this news came out, it sent shockwaves through financial markets all over the planet.  But the truth is that not that much has really changed.  The Federal Reserve will still be recklessly creating gigantic mountains of new money out of thin air and massively intervening in the financial marketplace.  It will just be slightly less than before.  However, this very well could represent a very important psychological turning point for investors.  It is a signal that “the party is starting to end” and that the great bull market of the past four years is drawing to a close.  So what is all of this going to mean for average Americans?  The following are 8 ways that “the taper” is going to affect you and your family…
1. Interest Rates Are Going To Go Up

Following the announcement on Wednesday, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries went up to 2.89% and even CNBC admitted that the taper is a “bad omen for bonds“.  Thousands of other interest rates in our economy are directly affected by the 10 year rate, and so if that number climbs above 3 percent and stays there, that is going to be a sign that a significant slowdown of economic activity is ahead.

2. Home Sales Are Likely Going To Go Down

Mortgage rates are heavily influenced by the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries.  Because the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is now substantially higher than it was earlier this year, mortgage rates have also gone up.  That is one of the reasons why the number of mortgage applications just hit a new 13 year low.  And now if rates go even higher that is going to tighten things up even more.  If your job is related to the housing industry in any way, you should be extremely concerned about what is coming in 2014.

3. Your Stocks Are Going To Go Down

Yes, I know that stocks skyrocketed today.  The Dow closed at a new all-time record high, and I can’t really provide any rational explanation for why that happened.  When the announcement was originally made, stocks initially sold off.  But then they rebounded in a huge way and the Dow ended up close to 300 points.

A few months ago, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke just hinted that a taper might be coming soon, stocks fell like a rock.  I have a feeling that the Fed orchestrated things this time around to make sure that the stock market would have a positive reaction to their news.  But of course I absolutely cannot prove this at all.  I hope someday we learn the truth about what actually happened on Wednesday afternoon.  I have a feeling that there was some direct intervention in the markets shortly after the announcement was made and then the momentum algorithms took over from there.

In any event, what we do know is that when QE1 ended stocks fell dramatically and the same thing happened when QE2 ended.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

Of course QE3 is not being ended, but this tapering sends a signal to investors that the days of “easy money” are over and that we have reached the peak of the market.

And if you are at the peak of the market, what is the logical thing to do?

Sell, sell, sell.

But in order to sell, you are going to need to have buyers.

And who is going to want to buy stocks when there is no upside left?

4. The Money In Your Bank Account Is Constantly Being Devalued

When a new dollar is created, the value of each existing dollar that you hold goes down.  And thanks to the Federal Reserve, the pace of money creation in this country has gone exponential in recent years.  Just check out what has been happening to M1.  It has nearly doubled since the financial crisis of 2008…

M1 Money Supply 2013

The Federal Reserve has been behaving like the Weimar Republic, and this tapering does not change that very much.  Even with this tapering, the Fed is still going to be creating money out of thin air at an absolutely insane rate.

And for those that insist that what the Federal Reserve is doing is “working”, it is important to remember that the crazy money printing that the Weimar Republic did worked for them for a little while too before ending in complete and utter disaster.

5. Quantitative Easing Has Been Causing The Cost Of Living To Rise

The Federal Reserve insists that we are in a time of “low inflation”, but anyone that goes to the grocery store or that pays bills on a regular basis knows what a lie that is.  The truth is that if the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.

Most of the new money created by quantitative easing has ended up in the hands of the very wealthy, and it is in the things that the very wealthy buy that we are seeing the most inflation.  As one CNBC article recently stated, we are seeing absolutely rampant inflation in “stocks and bonds and art and Ferraris and farmland“.

6. Quantitative Easing Did Not Reduce Unemployment And Tapering Won’t Either

The Federal Reserve actually first began engaging in quantitative easing back in late 2008.  As you can see from the chart below, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is lower today than it was back then…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

The mainstream media continues to insist that quantitative easing was all about “stimulating the economy” and that it is now okay to cut back on quantitative easing because “unemployment has gone down”.  Hopefully you can see that what the mainstream media has been telling you has been a massive lie.  According to the government’s own numbers, the percentage of Americans with a job has stayed at a remarkably depressed level since the end of 2010.  Anyone that tries to tell you that we have had an “employment recovery” is either very ignorant or is flat out lying to you.

7. The Rest Of The World Is Going To Continue To Lose Faith In Our Financial System

Everyone else around the world has been watching the Federal Reserve recklessly create hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air and use it to monetize staggering amounts of government debt.  They have been warning us to stop doing this, but the Fed has been slow to listen.

The greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy does not involve the short-term effects that most people focus on.  Rather, the greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy is the fact that it is destroying worldwide faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt.

Right now, far more U.S. dollars are used outside the country than inside the country.  The rest of the world uses U.S. dollars to trade with one another, and major exporting nations stockpile massive amounts of our dollars and our debt.

We desperately need the rest of the world to keep playing our game, because we have become very dependent on getting super cheap exports from them and we have become very dependent on them lending us trillions of our own dollars back to us.

If the rest of the world decides to move away from the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt because of the incredibly reckless behavior of the Federal Reserve, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble.  Our current economic prosperity greatly depends upon everyone else using our dollars as the reserve currency of the world and lending trillions of dollars back to us at ultra-low interest rates.

And there are signs that this is already starting to happen.  In fact, China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars.  This is one of the reasons why the Fed felt forced to do something on Wednesday.

But what the Fed did was not nearly enough.  It is still going to be creating $75 billion out of thin air every single month, and the rest of the world is going to continue to lose more faith in our system the longer this continues.

8. The Economy As A Whole Is Going To Continue To Get Even Worse

Despite more than four years of unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, the overall U.S. economy has continued to decline.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “37 Reasons Why ‘The Economic Recovery Of 2013′ Is A Giant Lie“.

And no matter what the Fed does now, our decline will continue.  The tragic downfall of small cities such as Salisbury, North Carolina are perfect examples of what is happening to our country as a whole…

During the three-year period ending in 2009, Salisbury’s poverty rate of 16% was about 3% higher than the national rate. In the following three-year period between 2010 and 2012, the city’s poverty rate was approaching 30%. Salisbury has traditionally relied heavily on the manufacturing sector, particularly textiles and fabrics. In recent decades, however, manufacturing activity has declined significantly and continues to do so. Between 2010 and 2012, manufacturing jobs in Salisbury — as a percent of the workforce — shrank from 15.5% to 8.3%.

But the truth is that you don’t have to travel far to see evidence of our economic demise for yourself.  All you have to do is to go down to the local shopping mall.  Sears has experienced sales declines for 27 quarters in a row, and at this point Sears is a dead man walking.  The following is from a recent article by Wolf Richter…

The market share of Sears – including K-Mart – has dropped to 2% in 2013 from 2.9% in 2005. Sales have declined for years. The company lost money in fiscal 2012 and 2013. Unless a miracle happens, and they don’t happen very often in retail, it will lose a ton in fiscal 2014, ending in January: for the first three quarters, it’s $1 billion in the hole.

Despite that glorious track record, and no discernible turnaround, the junk-rated company has had no trouble hoodwinking lenders into handing it a $1 billion loan that matures in 2018, to pay off an older loan that would have matured two years earlier.

And J.C. Penney is suffering a similar fate.  According to Richter, the company has lost a staggering 1.6 billion dollars over the course of the last year…

Then there’s J.C. Penney. Sales plunged 27% over the last three years. It lost over $1.6 billion over the last four quarters. It installed a revolving door for CEOs. It desperately needed to raise capital; it was bleeding cash, and its suppliers and landlords had already bitten their fingernails to the quick. So the latest new CEO, namely its former old CEO Myron Ullman, set out to extract more money from the system, borrowing $1.75 billion and raising $785 million in a stock sale at the end of September that became infamous the day he pulled it off.

So don’t believe the hype.

The economy is getting worse, not better.

Quantitative easing did not “rescue the economy”, but it sure has made our long-term problems a whole lot worse.

And this “tapering” is not a sign of better things to come.  Rather, it is a sign that the bubble of false prosperity that we have been enjoying for the past few years is beginning to end.


What Happened The Last Time A Major Central Bank "Tapered" QE? -

What Happened The Last Time A Major Central Bank "Tapered" QE? - 

After having followed a zero interest rate policy strategy and facing a further deteriorating economy in an environment of falling prices (deflation), the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced the introduction of QE on 19 March 2001 and kept it in place until 9 March 2006. The BoJ chose for a very orderly and gradual unwinding of its government securities portfolio, by continuing its regular purchases of these securities (i.e a taper and not sale).  The market rejoiced at the normalization for a week or 2... before dropping 24% in the following 2 months. Of course, that was a "policy mistake"; the Fed knows this time is different.

to end -75%.

Awkwardly that lines up with the 1920/30s analog we have previosuly noted...

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