Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Smart swallows caught on YouTube opening parkade doors -

Smart swallows caught on YouTube opening parkade doors - 

Nesting swallows at the University of Victoria are an online sensation after a YouTube video showing them operating motion sensor doors to a new campus bike centre went viral.

The barn swallows have built about eight to 10 nests inside the bike centre, which opened in November as part of an underground parkade.

Because the parkade has been a nesting site for swallows for years, the bike centre was built with motion sensor doors to keep the swallows out.

But the swallows didn't swallow that plan.

Grant Hughes, who uploaded the video, says he noticed the swallows opening the doors earlier this month when he was locking up his bike.

He heard the doors open, looked to see who was coming in, but no one was there.

A few minutes later, he heard the doors open again but again nobody was there.

That's when he realized the swallows were opening and closing the doors so he whipped out his camera and recorded the same incident at least five or six different times.

Hughes thinks the birds may have been locked in when the doors were added during construction of the new centre.

See it for yourself and judge whether the swallows have figured out how to use the sensors.

The swallows can be seen swooping in front of the door sensors, and entering and exiting at will, with not an angry bird in sight.

Read more -

Facebook to appeal class action lawsuit - liked a company to get information on it and wound up endorsing it -

Facebook to appeal class action lawsuit - liked a company to get information on it and wound up endorsing it - 

Social-media giant Facebook says it will appeal a court ruling that will allow a Vancouver woman to launch a class action lawsuit against the company.

B.C. Supreme Court Judge Susan Griffin ruled yesterday that there is enough evidence to support allegations made by Debbie Douez that a Facebook advertising product used the names and images of members without their consent.

Griffin says the product, called "Sponsored Stories," included the names and images of members, an advertising logo and product information, which were sent to other Facebook members.

Griffin also says there's enough evidence to support allegations the company breached the province's Privacy Act.

The judge has suggested the parties arrange another hearing to address how class members will be notified, as well as any changes to the litigation plan.

Facebook says "Sponsored Stories" are no longer available to advertisers and the lawsuit has no merit.

Through the program, companies pay Facebook a fee so when their business is "liked" by users, that information is published to the users' friends as proof of their endorsement.

Rhone argues no one should be able to use your likeness and name to endorse a product without your permission, claiming it violates B.C.'s Privacy Act.

"When their names and portraits are being taken, and put into advertisements for the gain of the company,  that's just wrong," Rhone said.

Tough mudders
Debbie Douez says she wound up endorsing Ocean Village Resort in Tofino and Tough Mudders fitness company to all her friends despite her strict privacy settings. (Facebook)

Douez, a Vancouver videographer, says that's exactly what happened to her. Two years ago she logged on to the Facebook site "Tough Mudders" and clicked on the "like" button because it was the only way to get more information on the fitness company's programs. She also "liked" Ocean Village Resort in Tofino.

The next thing she knew, her name and photo were popping up on her friends' Facebook pages endorsing the companies she knew little about.

Douez, who does some marketing work herself, says Facebook is going too far.

"I think there's a very fine line to providing a service and manipulating the public. And I think this is a situation where people are being manipulated and in particular, manipulated for commercial gain," she said.
Facebook argues users automatically give their consent when they sign up, or when they click "like" or take so-called "social actions" on web pages. 

Computer keyboard
Facebook says consent is automatic under its terms of use. (CBC)

Some media reports have suggested you can "opt out" of endorsing sites, but Douez doubts that. 

"I did change my privacy settings. In fact, I had the tightest privacy settings that you could have in a profile," she said.

"Yet, in this particular case, you are not allowed to opt out."

In its ruling authorizing the lawsuit, Griffin says one of the key questions to be decided is whether B.C. users of social media websites run by a foreign corporation have the protection of the B.C Privacy Act.

"Given the almost infinite life and scope of internet images and corresponding scale of harm caused by privacy breaches, BC residents have a significant interest in maintaining some means of policing privacy violations by multi-national internet or social media service providers," Griffin writes in her 74-page decision.

Griffin says the central issue in the lawsuit is whether Facebook's terms of use and the online tools it provides its users constitute consent to use the person's name or portrait for advertising purposes.

Douez said other B.C. Facebook users are welcome to join the class action suit. 


Friday, 30 May 2014

Pooping dog forces emergency plane landing... -

Pooping dog forces emergency plane landing... - 

Twitter was abuzz Wednesday with pictures -- and complaints -- after a dog poo'd in the middle of a Philadelphia-bound flight, forcing an emergency landing.

Yes, you read right -- dog poop forced an emergency landing, according to passengers aboard US Airways Flight 598 from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Those passengers took to Twitter to document the smelly ordeal.

Passengers said that the large dog went to the bathroom in the plane's aisle as many as three times, making people nearby physically ill.

"The second time after the dog pooped they ran out of paper towels, they didn't have anything else. The pilot comes on the radio, ‘Hey, we have a situation in the back, we're going to have to emergency land,'" passenger Steve McCall told Inside Edition.

The plane was diverted to Kansas City, Missouri, where a cleaning crew cleaned the messes, before eventually making its way to Philadelphia, according to passengers.

The emergency landing wasn't the only headache for those travelers. Before takeoff, Flight 598 was delayed on the tarmac at LAX for two hours for fuel problems.


3 a.m. Northeast Georgia SWAT team drug raid tosses a flash-bang grenade into a 1-year-old's playpen -

3 a.m. Northeast Georgia SWAT team drug raid tosses a flash-bang grenade into a 1-year-old's playpen - 

Members of a Northeast Georgia SWAT team are "devastated" after a drug raid in which a flash-bang grenade landed in a 1-year-old's playpen, seriously injuring the child, the Habersham County sheriff said Friday.
The police officers involved have been called baby killers and received threats following the incident, Sheriff Joey Terrell said.
"All I can say is pray for the baby, his family and for us," he told CNN.
The SWAT team, made up of six or seven officers from the sheriff's department and the Cornelia Police Department, entered the Cornelia residence Wednesday before 3 a.m.
A confidential informant hours earlier had purchased methamphetamine at the house, the sheriff says. Because the suspected drug dealer, Wanis Thonetheva, had a previous weapons charge, officers were issued a "no-knock warrant" for the residence, Terrell said.
When the SWAT team hit the home's front door with a battering ram, it resisted as if something was up against it, the sheriff said, so one of the officers threw the flash-bang grenade inside the residence.
Once inside the house, the SWAT team realized it was a portable playpen blocking the door, and the flash-bang grenade had landed inside where the 19-month-old was sleeping, the sheriff said.
A medic on the scene rushed the baby outside to administer first aid, and a nearby ambulance was summoned. Authorities wanted to transport the baby via Life Flight to Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, 75 miles southwest of Cornelia, but weather conditions wouldn't allow it. The baby was driven to the hospital.
A Grady official said it's hospital policy not to disclose patients' conditions, but the child's mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told CNN affiliate WSB that doctors had put her son into an induced coma.
She further told the station the family was sleeping at her sister-in-law's house when police arrived, and the grenade seared a hole through the portable playpen after exploding on the child's pillow.
"He didn't deserve any of this," Phonesavanh told WSB. "He's in the burn unit. We go up to see him and his whole face is ripped open. He has a big cut on his chest."
Thonetheva, 30, was not at the home at the time of the raid, but the toddler's mother and father and their other three children were inside. Thonetheva's mother was also at the house, Terrell said.
The baby's family had moved into the Cornelia residence after their Wisconsin home burned, Terrell told CNN affiliate WXIA, and while the family members were aware of drug activity in the home, "they kept the children out of sight in a different room while any of these going-ons were happening."
Thonetheva was arrested at another Cornelia residence, along with three other people, shortly after the raid, Terrell said. He is charged with distribution of methamphetamine. Habersham County Chief Assistant District Attorney J. Edward Staples said Thonetheva could also be charged in connection with the baby's injuries.
Thonetheva was already out on bond for an October 2013 charge of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony -- the felony being distribution of methamphetamine, Staples said.
Because the Habersham County public defender's office is representing Thonetheva's co-defendant in the October case, they are unable to represent Thonetheva on the charges handed down this week, Staples said. It will take five to seven days to appoint him a new attorney, the prosecutor estimated.
Thonetheva made his first appearance before a magistrate Friday, but no bond was set because of the circumstances regarding the public defender. The court wouldn't have accepted a plea from Thonetheva because he has yet to speak to counsel, Staples said, adding that it will be up to a county Superior Court judge to set Thonetheva's bond after he's assigned a lawyer.
He is presently being held at the Habersham County Detention Center without bond. His rap sheet shows nine arrests since 2002 and includes charges of drug possession, carrying a concealed weapon, driving while his license was withdrawn and contempt of court.
Thonetheva faces no weapons charge in this week's incident, and as for drugs, Terrell said officers found only residue in the home.
No officers have been suspended, and Staples said he expects the review of the incident -- being conducted by Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brian Rickman -- to take about a week.


How Britain Calculates Its Hooker "GDP Boost": 60,879 Prostitutes x 25 Clients Per Week x £67.16 Per Visit -

How Britain Calculates Its Hooker "GDP Boost": 60,879 Prostitutes x 25 Clients Per Week x £67.16 Per Visit - 

First it was Italy which, as we reported last week, had decided to "boost" its GDP by adding the estimated impact of cocaine and hookers. And now, riding on the coattails of this economics gimmick designed solely to make the economy appear more solvent, it is Britain's turn, whose Office for National Statistics will also add add up the "contribution" made by prostitutes and drug dealers.

According to the Guardian "for the first time official statisticians are measuring the value to the UK economy of sex work and drug dealing – and they have discovered these unsavoury hidden-economy trades make roughly the same contribution as farming – and only slightly less than book and newspaper publishers added together."

How big of a "contribution" by hookers and coke are we talking?

Illegal drugs and prostitution boosted the economy by £9.7bn – equal to 0.7% of gross domestic product – in 2009, according to the ONS's first official estimate.

A breakdown of the data shows sex work generated £5.3bn for the economy that year, with another £4.4bn lift from a combination of cannabis, heroin, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines.
Here's the problem: since one can't put down on their tax return form that they have paid sex or deal drugs for a living, the ONS will have to estimate the economic contribution by these illegal professions. This is how it has gone about doing it:

According to the estimates there were 60,879 prostitutes in the UK in 2009, who had an average of 25 clients per week – each paying on average £67.16 per visit.
That's right: there is now an excel model to calculate what the hypothetical GDP boost to a nation is. Making things even more surreal, and confirming the GDP calculation is officially a statistical joke, here is how drugs are accounted for:

The statisticians reckon there were 2.2 million cannabis users in the UK in 2009, toking their way through weed worth more than £1.2bn. They calculate that half of that was home-grown – costing £154m in heat, light and "raw materials" to produce.
The models will need updating: "The ONS will work in the coming months to bring the data more up to date. The figures will then be included in the broad category of household spending on "miscellaneous goods and services" alongside life insurance, personal care products and post office charges."

It is unclear if the ONS will pay for its agents to conduct due diligence in various brothels, or alternatively conduct "inhouse" sessions at the headquarters.

What is clear is that quite soon the largest marginal provider of "growth" not just in Britain but all of Europe will be otherwise illegal activities:

The more inclusive approach brings the ONS into line with European Union rules, and will eventually allow comparisons of the size of the shadow economy in different member states.

Joe Grice, chief economic adviser at the ONS, said: "As economies develop and evolve, so do the statistics we use to measure them. These improvements are going on across the world and we are working with our partners in Europe and the wider world on the same agenda.

"Here in the UK these reforms will help ONS to continue delivering the best possible economic statistics to inform key decisions in government and business."
"Best possible" indeed.

Some are already using puns to justify the new methodology:

He said the ONS would attempt to "fill in the gaps" left by available studies but it would be impossible to measure illegal activities as accurately as other components of GDP. Other activities are measured using questionnaires but the response rate in the sex and drugs trades are unlikely to be high.
It is indeed unlikely.

Others are already spinning the justification:

Alan Clarke, a UK economist at Scotiabank, said that although the government would not feel the benefit of illegal work in terms of income tax take, there would be a spending boost. "A drug dealer or prostitute won't necessarily pay tax on that £10bn, but the government will get tax receipts when they spend their income on a pimped up car or bling phone."
Others are openly scratching their head at the New Hooker and Blow Normal:

Steve Pudney, professor of economics at the University of Essex, said he was sceptical about the methods used by the ONS to estimate the size of the drugs market.

"In my view, the ONS estimate of the size of the drug market is unlikely to be very accurate. It rests on some heroically large assumptions which would be difficult to test, and it also uses a measure of demand that is likely to understate systematically the true scale of drug use."

He added: "They are using a demand-side approach which loosely involves multiplying a survey estimate of the number of drug users by another estimate of the amount consumed by the average user.

"Average retail prices of drugs come from other sources – mainly police/customs/security service intelligence sources – and, multiplying this by the estimated demand, gives the size of the market in cash terms."
What Steve doesn't seem to get is that at this point all GDP numbers are about as made up as can be, and are merely fabricated on the spot to justify the prevailing economical narrative. Case in point: the history of Q1 2008 GDP revisions over time, as we showed earlier:

If nothing, it will certainly provide comedians with fresh joke fodder. This should at least boost their take home pay and result in higher disclosed taxes.

And since this is just the beginning for a world which is slowly coming to grips with just how insolvent its non-shadow economy is, we eagerly look forward to the next bold move by economist everywhere: estimating the number of undocumented drug dealer and prostitutes and adding them to the monthly nonfarm payroll total. Think of it as a Birth/Death adjustment. Only more like a Blowjob/Drugs adjustment.


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Holy Sh*t Moments 2014 - seven minutes worth of people feeling the luck of the Irish -

Holy Sh*t Moments 2014 - seven minutes worth of people feeling the luck of the Irish -

It’s Official: Most American Kids Are Physically Unfit -

It’s Official: Most American Kids Are Physically Unfit - 

You’ve probably heard the complaints since you were a kid yourself – children aren’t getting enough exercise. Now there are numbers behind this notion.
According to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of adolescents aged 12 to 15 are considered physically unfit.
The authors of the report tested more than 600 young teenagers on treadmills to measure cardiorespiratory fitness, a measure of how well the heart and lungs can move blood to supply muscles during exercise.
They found that just half of all boys and only a third of all girls in the study met the bare minimum threshold of being called “fit.” Taken as a whole, this meant that only 42 percent of kids were fit. In 2000, by comparison, this figure was 52 percent – lackluster for sure, but still a majority.
Not surprisingly, overweight and obese children were less fit than those who had a healthy weight; only 30 percent of overweight children and 20 percent of obese passed the minimum standards to be called fit. But even so, only 54 percent of children with normal weight – barely half – had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness.
Dr. Jaime Gahche, the lead author of the report, said the solution is clear – children simply need to get up and move.
“Children should spend at least 60 minutes daily,” Gahche said, “mostly doing aerobic exercise, like walking, running, participating in team sports or martial arts.”
Keith Ayoob, director of nutrition at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Rose R. Kennedy Clinic, agreed that the findings are a clear signal that American children need more physical activity.
“We have got to make sure that no kid is left on his behind,” said Ayoob, who was not involved with the study.
Competing for kids’ time with these activities, of course, is a growing proportion of the day devoted to computers, tablets and other forms of screen time.
“Kids come home after school nowadays and don’t even leave the house,” said Dr. Dyan Hers, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Weill Medical College, who was also not involved with the study. “Especially teenage girls – they chat, they text, they go online. It’s really a sad state.”
Doctor’s Take
The fact that less than half of the next generation of Americans meets the minimum standards for fitness is a major cause for concern. If we are unable to stop this trend, the decades to come will see us all living in a very sick country.
Fortunately, there is a lot that we can do to stem the tide of poor fitness. As both Ayoob and Hers note, physical activity doesn’t necessarily mean running marathons or forcing kids to do team sports. Simple encouragement to go outdoors, walk, and spend less time in front of television screens may go a long way.
And even though this study was only in teenagers, the results should prompt all of us to improve our own levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. After all, children and teens adopt the habits of people around them, especially their parents.


BREAKING: Wikipedia Is NOT A Doctor -- And A Study Confirms It -

BREAKING: Wikipedia Is NOT A Doctor -- And A Study Confirms It - 

Your high school teacher said it best: Wikipedia is not a reliable source.

The online encyclopedia that can be edited by experts and idiots alike is an easy source of information when trying to learn about a new topic. But a new study confirms what we all (hopefully) already know: Many entries -- especially medical entries -- contain false information, so don't use Wikipedia in place of a doctor.

Dr. Robert Hasty of Campbell University in North Carolina, along with a team of researchers, published the study in this month's issue of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. The study calls the information published in 20,000-plus medical-related Wikipedia entries into question.

For the study, researchers identified the "10 costliest conditions in terms of public and private expenditure" -- which included diabetes, back pain, lung cancer and major depressive disorder -- and compared the content of Wikipedia articles about those conditions to peer-reviewed medical literature. Two randomly assigned investigators found that 90 percent of the articles contained false information, which could affect the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Now for those of you who are saying that it's not the doctors themselves checking Wikipedia, you'd be wrong. According to a pair of studies from 2009 and 2010, "70% of junior physicians use Wikipedia in a given week, while nearly 50% to 70% of practicing physicians use it as an information source in providing medical care."

Pew research suggests that 72 percent of Internet users have looked up health information online in the last year. False information on Wikipedia accounts -- like a edited information about the side effects of a medication or false information about the benefits of one course of treatment over another -- could encourage some patients to push their doctors toward prescribing a certain drug or treatment.

Moral of the story: Wikipedia can't tell you if those sniffles are a symptom of the common cold or the West Nile Virus, so consult your doctor if you have health concerns. If you're a doctor, we don't know what to tell you, except maybe get off Wikipedia. (Isn't that what med school was for?)


CLAIM: Supplements May Make Body Age Faster...

CLAIM: Supplements May Make Body Age Faster...

Think antioxidants will make you live longer? Think again: We spend millions on them but now researchers say supplements may make our bodies age FASTER

We all want to stay as healthy and young-looking as possible, which is why millions of us dutifully take antioxidant supplements such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene, as well as splashing out on costly antioxidant 'superfoods' such as blueberries.
For years we've swallowed the line from scientists that antioxidants could slow the rate at which our cells - and therefore our bodies - age.  
The theory is that antioxidants reduce the 'oxidising' damage caused by free radicals - corrosive molecules produced by our bodies as we process oxygen, and which we also breathe in from polluted air and smoking.

It is thought that when these free radicals attack proteins and lipids (fats in the cells), it breaks down the cell membrane and damages the DNA inside. This in turn may cause cancerous mutations, as well as making the cells age more rapidly. Free-radical damage to brain cells is also believed to cause the sort of drops in cognitive functioning associated with ageing.
In Britain, we spend £175 million a year on antioxidant supplements - but a new study suggests we might be wasting our money. Not only do free radicals not cause ageing, say researchers at McGill University in Canada, but taking antioxidant pills may actually make our bodies age faster- making them a short cut to an early grave. So what is going on? 

When free radicals interact with the cells, proteins and DNA in the body, they can cause damage by interfering with their chemical structure. Until now, it has been believed that, as a result, we inevitably suffer the ravages of ageing, from normal physical ageing to diseases such as cancer.
But the Canadian study, published in the respected journal Cell, says the opposite. Researchers found that free radicals can make our cells live longer. 
This happens by altering a mechanism called apoptosis. This is a process by which damaged cells are instructed to commit suicide in a variety of situations, such as to avoid becoming cancerous when their DNA has mutated dangerously, or to kill off viruses that have invaded the cell.
Researchers found that free radicals can actually make our cells live longer
Researchers found that free radicals can actually make our cells live longer
The scientists have found that free radicals can stimulate this 'suicide mechanism' to do something completely different in healthy cells - bolstering  their defences and increasing their lifespan. 
Siegfried Hekimi, professor of biology at McGill University, who led the study, says: 'The so-called free-radical theory of ageing is incorrect. We have turned this theory on its head.' 
Professor Hekimi says that when he raised levels of free radicals in nematode worms (these simple roundworms are used because their nervous system performs many of the same functions as higher organisms), he got the creatures to live 'a substantially longer life'.
His study reinforces suspicions raised by other scientists. Last year, for example, researchers at the Multimedica Cardiovascular Research Institute in Italy warned that our bodies need the stress caused by free radicals to stimulate them to fight infectious disease and to properly regulate vital bodily functions such as our cardiovascular system.
The Milan-based researchers had surveyed all previous research evidence and concluded in The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology: 'Increasing the levels of antioxidants in our bodies may harm our health. Balanced levels of antioxidants are important for our cardiovascular system and for healthy ageing.'
The theory behind this idea is called hormesis - which may be more described as 'what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger'. 
Scientists believe our bodies have evolved an array of defence mechanisms for surviving tough environments, but that these systems are not switched on unless we are challenged. And that is where free radicals come in. 
The problem with antioxidants is that they may neutralise this 'protective' effect. It may also  help explain why antioxidant pills have been found to produce some unexpectedly harmful results. 
For instance, laboratory studies have shown how high doses of antioxidants such as N-acetyl cysteine - a popular antioxidant supplement - may promote the spread of breast cancer cells. 
Meanwhile, the antioxidants beta carotene and vitamin A have been linked to an increased risk of death from lung cancer and lung disease.

Read more: - 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Japan Begins Purposely Dumping 100s Of Tons Of Radioactive Water From Fukushima Into The Pacific -

Japan Begins Purposely Dumping 100s Of Tons Of Radioactive Water From Fukushima Into The Pacific - 

How do you get rid of hundreds of tons of highly radioactive water?  You dump it into the Pacific Ocean of course!  In Japan, the  Tokyo Electric Power Co. has made the “painful decision” to begin purposely dumping massive amounts of radioactive water currently being stored at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear facility directly into the Pacific.  This is being done even though water radiation levels near Fukushima spiked to a brand new all-time record high just a few days ago.  The radioactive material that is being released will enter our food chain and will potentially stay with us for decades to come.  Fukushima is an environmental nightmare that never seems to end, but the mainstream media in the United States decided to pretty much stop talking about it long ago.  So don’t expect the big news networks to make a big deal out of the fact that Japan is choosing to use the Pacific Ocean as a toilet for their nuclear waste.  But even though they aren’t talking about it, that doesn’t mean that radioactive material from Fukushima is not seriously affecting the health of millions of people all over the planet.

According to the Japan Times, Tepco released 560 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific on Wednesday, and Tepco says that for the foreseeable future we should expect another 100 tons of radioactive water to be released into the ocean every single day…

Tokyo Electric Power Co. began dumping groundwater from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the Pacific on Wednesday, in a bid to manage the huge amounts of radioactive water that have built up at the complex.

The utility, which says the water discharged is within legal radiation safety limits, has been fighting a daily battle against contaminated water since Fukushima No. 1 was decimated by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

Tepco said 560 tons of groundwater captured and stored before it entered reactor building basements was to be released Wednesday, using a bypass system that funnels it toward the ocean after checking for radiation levels.

Using the bypass, Tepco hopes to divert an average of 100 tons of untainted groundwater a day into the ocean.
Tepco is assuring us that the radioactive water that is being released is within “legal radiation safety limits”.

But this is the same company that could not tell us why radiation levels in water near Fukushima reached a new all-time high just a few days ago…

Radiation has spiked to all-time highs at five monitoring points in waters adjacent to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power station, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday.

The measurements follow similar highs detected in groundwater at the plant. Officials of Tepco, as the utility is known, said the cause of the seawater spike is unknown.
Three of the monitoring sites are inside the wrecked plant’s adjacent port, which ships once used to supply it.

At one sampling point in the port, between the water intakes for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, 1,900 becquerels per liter of tritium was detected Monday, up from a previous high of 1,400 becquerels measured on April 14, Tepco said.

Nearby, also within the port, tritium levels were found to have spiked to 1,400 becquerels, from a previous high of 1,200 becquerels.
So do you trust Tepco?

I certainly do not.

And this is not just a Japanese issue.  Radioactive material from Fukushima has literally been found all over the planet.  For example, a nuclear fuel fragment from Fukushima has been found as far away as Norway.

Once this radioactive material gets into the ocean and into our food chain, there is no telling where it may end up.

If the mainstream media really did care about “the environment”, they would be talking about this.  But instead, there seems to be a conspiracy of silence.  Just consider the comments that Martin Fackler of the New York Times made during one recent interview…

Yeah… it’s so hard in Japan to talk about the radiation issue, like how bad is it really… There is a sense that if you even talk about these issues, you’re hurting the poor people of Fuksuhima. Therefore, we shouldn’t talk about it. That’s just not right… The folks who don’t want us to talk about it are the government, because they don’t want to pay compensation… I feel like there is a lot going on in Fukushima that just doesn’t get talked about in the local media, not necessarily for government cover-up sort of issues, but self restraint or self censorship. Even papers that are pretty strong in their reporting on Tepco in some ways, like the Tokyo Shimbun, won’t talk about these issues because they’re afraid that somehow its unpatriotic to talk about radiation. There’s a lot of questions and issues that are not being talked about, and I think they should be talked and if there is damage to the people of Fukushima that’s the responsibility of Tepco…
And the U.S. media certainly doesn’t seem to want to talk about how radiation from Fukushima could be affecting the west coast of our country.

But the evidence continues to mount that something very unusual is happening.

Just consider what is happening to young sea lions along the coast of California…

Sea lions are once again struggling to survive and are washing ashore, many of them pups dehydrated, malnourished and on the brink of death.

The year started off quieter than last year, and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center’s director of development, Melissa Sciacca, thought they were in the clear – until about a month ago, when the calls started coming in nonstop. The center, in Laguna Beach, is near capacity, with about 100 sea lions being treated so they can be returned to the wild once they are strong enough.

“We thought it was going to be a nice calm year; in the last month it’s just spiked,” she said. “The rescues just keep coming in at a steady pace.”
And as I wrote about just the other day, something is causing millions of fish to die in mass death events all over the globe right now.

Could Fukushima be a contributing factor?

A lot of people out there are attempting to downplay the impact that the Fukushima nuclear disaster has had on the Pacific Ocean.

I believe that this is a huge mistake.

Nuclear radiation causes cancer.

Nuclear radiation kills.

The total amount of nuclear material released from Fukushima just continues to increase and slowly accumulate in our food chain.  When these nuclear particles get into you, they can literally start cooking you from the inside out.  In a previous article, I included a quote from an opinion piece by Helen Caldicott that was published in the Guardian….

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.
Doesn’t that sound lovely?

And it has been documented that radioactive material from Fukushima has been getting into the seafood being sold in North America.

For example, back in 2012 the Vancouver Sun reported that cesium-137 was being discovered in a very high percentage of the fish that Japan was selling to Canada…

• 73 percent of the mackerel

• 91 percent of the halibut

• 92 percent of the sardines

• 93 percent of the tuna and eel

• 94 percent of the cod and anchovies

• 100 percent of the carp, seaweed, shark and monkfish

So why was radiation testing for seafood subsequently shut down in Canada?

Since that time, as I detailed in one of my previous articles, a high school student up in Canada tested seafood bought at local grocery stores for radioactive contamination.  What she found was absolutely stunning…

A Canadian high school student named Bronwyn Delacruz never imagined that her school science project would make headlines all over the world.  But that is precisely what has happened.  Using a $600 Geiger counter purchased by her father, Delacruz measured seafood bought at local grocery stores for radioactive contamination.  What she discovered was absolutely stunning.  Much of the seafood, particularly the products that were made in China, tested very high for radiation.  So is this being caused by nuclear radiation from Fukushima?  Is the seafood that we are eating going to give us cancer and other diseases?
Why aren’t we being warned about this?

Earlier this year, a fish that was caught just off the coast of the Fukushima prefecture was discovered to have 124 times the safe level of radioactive cesium.

But virtually nobody in the mainstream media considers this to be important enough to talk about.

A lot of people seem to think that the Fukushima nuclear disaster is old news.  But in many ways the biggest problems for North America may just be beginning.  For example, according to scientists at the University of South Wales, the main radioactive plume of water from Fukushima has finally crossed the Pacific Ocean and is going to hit our shores at some point during 2014…

The first radioactive ocean plume released by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster will finally be reaching the shores of the United States some time in 2014, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales — a full three or so years after the date of the disaster.
The following graphics come directly from that study…

Fukushima Radiation - University Of New South Wales

Fukushima Radiation - University Of New South Wales

So as the main plume of nuclear radiation reaches our shores, what will that do to our wildlife, our fishing industry and our beaches?

And what kind of danger does this radioactive water pose to those living along the west coast?

These are very important questions, but unfortunately those in power and those working for the mainstream media don’t really want to talk about these things.


Friday, 23 May 2014

Hookers And Blow - Italy will include prostitution and illegal drug sales in the GDP calculation this year -

 Hookers And Blow - Italy will include prostitution and illegal drug sales in the GDP calculation this year - 

A year ago it was the US which first "boosted" America's GDP by $500 billion - literally out of thin air - when it arbitrarily decided to include "intangibles" to the components that 'make up' GDP (in the process cutting over 5% from the US Debt/GDP ratio). Then Spain joined the fray. Then Greece. Then the UK. Then Nigeria, which showed those deveoped Keynesian basket cases how it is really done, when it doubled the size of its GDP overnight when it decided to change the base year of its GDP calculations. Now it is Italy's turn, and like everything else Italy does, this latest "revision" of the definition of GDP easily wins in the style points category. As Bloomberg reports, "Italy will include prostitution and illegal drug sales in the gross domestic product calculation this year." Yup: blow and hookers. And that, ladies and gents, how it's done.

Alas for Keynesian economists everywhere, since this "adjustment" largely shows that what one includes in GDP is now absolutely meaningless and for lack of a better word, a joke, it also means that the core concept of economic growth measurement has now officially jumped the shark.

But at least one will get a laugh out of the Italian GDP line items for hookers and blow. Bloomberg has the full story:

Drugs, prostitution and smuggling will be part of GDP as of 2014 and prior-year figures will be adjusted to reflect the change in methodology, the Istat national statistics office said today. The revision was made to comply with European Union rules, it said.

Renzi, 39, is committed to narrowing Italy’s deficit to 2.6 percent of GDP this year, a task that’s easier if output is boosted by portions of the underground economy that previously went uncounted. Four recessions in the last 13 years left Italy’s GDP at 1.56 trillion euros ($2.13 trillion) last year, 2 percent lower than in 2001 after adjusting for inflation.
The punchline:

“Even if the impact is hard to quantify, it’s obvious it will have a positive impact on GDP,” said Giuseppe Di Taranto, economist and professor of financial history at Rome’s Luiss University. “Therefore Renzi will have a greater margin this year to spend” without breaching the deficit limit, he said.
And that's what it is all about: literally making numbers up allowing the government to spend even more money it doesn't have on ridiculous political schemes, kickbacks, crony deals and corruption, and then when the people start to riot, blaming it all on "austerity."


Doctors Urge 'Fist-Bumps' Instead Of Handshakes To Prevent Illnesses... -

Doctors Urge 'Fist-Bumps' Instead Of Handshakes To Prevent Illnesses... - 

It’s one of the oldest greetings. A way to develop trust, the handshake is the universal sign of a deal. But some healthcare facilities are now urging their employees to do away with the handshake.
“My informal policy is if you’re sick, I don’t shake your hand, but there’s not a formal policy here,” said Dr. Brad Jones of his Irving-based medical office. The Baylor physician admits he’s strict about hygiene.
A recent article from the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that “handshake free zones” are a healthier alternative than what’s considered the norm. The article states that there’s a well-established link between hand transmission of pathogens and disease.
The JAMA article said the common cold, flu and and transmission of Clostridium bacteria and Norovirus can result from a simple handshake. Thus, healthcare professionals are faced with finding a solution. And what they have come up with is yet another universal greeting, only this time, on the basketball court or football field. Health care workers suggest a simple wave, a hand over the heart, even a fist-bump, is much better than a traditional handshake.
“It’s probably a good initiative, but it’s going to be hard to implement,” said Dr. Jones.
Replacing handshakes with fist-bumps may come off as unprofessional, or even rude. Therein lies the problem. But JAMA even goes so far as to suggest that handshakes could eventually become as socially taboo as smoking. Until then, old school methods will have to suffice.
“We have hand sanitizer everywhere and wash our hands as much as we can,” said physician office representative Alicia Saxon.


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Could you be allergic to your mobile phone? -

Could you be allergic to your mobile phone? - 

If you have ever noticed itching, redness or swelling near your cheekbones, jaw or hands you could be allergic to the metal in your mobile phone, scientists have warned

They have been accused of frying our brains; altering our posture and ruining our grasp of the English language but now scientists claim mobile phones could also bring us out in a rash.
If you have ever noticed swelling, redness, itching or blistering near your cheekbones, ears, jaw or hands, you may be allergic to your phone.
A new study suggests the nickel, chromium and cobalt found in common phones made by BlackBerry, Samsung and LG among others, can cause skin irritations.
Danish and US researchers found at least 37 incidents since 2000 where contact dermatitis was caused by mobile phones.
For those allergic to metals, symptoms range from dry-itchy patches on the face or ears to redness, blistering, lesions, and sometimes oozing.

Half of BlackBerry, 75 per cent of Samsung’s and 70 per cent of Motorola phones tested had nickel or cobalt on the keypad or headset. No Apple iPhones, Nokias or Androids were found to contain metal.
Most suffers developed skin problems on their face, although some reported rashes on their hands and thighs.
One 17-year-old French teenager was left with a rash on her chest after keeping her mobile phone tucked into her bra.
Most people reported problems after using their phone continuously for 30 minutes or for more than an hour throughout the day.
Report authors said doctors should be aware that many phones have nickel and cobalt in their headsets, screen surrounds or buttons, which could cause allergic reactions.


Is Your Handshake As Dangerous As Smoking? -

Is Your Handshake As Dangerous As Smoking? - 

It’s a fairly standard greeting … the “hello” handshake. Whenever I meet a new patient, I say Hi, introduce myself, and stick my hand out for a shake. And if it’s someone I have seen before, there’s a Hi, how have you been, with a simultaneous handshake.
But if infectious disease experts from UCLA have their way, my handshake may go the way of leeches and bloodletting — replaced by a long distance wave or salute.
A commentary in the Journal Of The American Medical Association says it’s time to say goodbye to the handshake greeting in a health care setting. Or for that measure, goodbye to the goodbye handshake as well.
Sure, a firm handshake can be seen as a sign of greeting and compassion, but it’s also believed to be one of the easiest methods to transmit germs. We’ve actually believe this for a long time but perhaps there is new urgency in the mysterious new world of diseases like MERS.
So the recommendation is to treat handshakes like smoking. In other words, since there are a lot of places that simply have smoke free zones, it seems like a good idea to have handshake free zones.
That means educational programs, signage (I guess a stencil of a handshake with a big “X” through it), and perhaps penalties for violating the no-handshake policy.
The authors write: “Removing the handshake from the healthcare setting may ultimately become recognized as an important way to protect the health of patients and caregivers, rather than a personal insult to whoever refuses another’s hand.”
They recommend we develop an alternate greeting that doesn’t involve touching. And one that won’t insult someone.
A text? A phone call? A megaphone hello from down the hallway?
It all makes me wonder, if no contact is allowed, how am I supposed to do an exam?
I mean, that involves actually touch someone to figure out what’s wrong. Perhaps I’m supposed to use a glove attached to the end of an 8 foot long stick. From the hallway.
Now that’s insulting.
In the meantime, I will continue to wash my hands between patients. Use soap. Hand sanitizer. Whatever.
I still think with common sense proper hygiene, personal contact with your doctor creates a bond that aids a key relationship. I’m not ready to toss it away quite yet.

Read more -

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Top 12 Things That Bother American Drivers The Most -

The Top 12 Things That Bother American Drivers The Most - 

With Memorial Day rapidly approaching and the onset of summer - and the inevitable spike in the number of drivers on the road, Expedia decided to poll American drivers to understand what really pisses them off the most. The 2014 Road Rage Report ranks "The Texter" as the most aggravating driving behavior beating out "The Tailgater". Perhaps most interestingly, 7 in 10 Americans report having been "flipped off" by a fellow motorist (while only 17% admitted to the aggressive act) and the rudest drivers live in the largest cities (71% rank NYC as the rudest).

Via The Expedia 2014 Road Rage Report:

The full list of driving behaviors ranked as "most annoying or offensive" includes (percentage identifies behaviors ranked in the top five):

The Texter (drivers who text, email or talk on a phone while driving): 69%

The Tailgater (drivers who follow others far too closely): 60%

The Multi-tasker (applying makeup, eating, reading, etc.): 54%

The Drifter (either straddling two lanes or weaving between them): 43%

The Crawler (driving well below the speed limit): 39%

The Swerver (failing to signal before changing lanes or turning): 38%

The Left-Lane Hog (drivers who occupy the passing lane without moving): 32%

The Inconsiderate (those who do not let others merge): 30%

The Speeder (driving well past the speed limit at length): 27%

The Honker (drivers who slam the horn at will): 18%

The Unappreciative (drivers who do not give a wave or gesture of thanks): 13%

The Red Light Racer (drivers who inch ever closer to the light when red): 12%

Despite the fact that Americans identify texting as the most offensive driving violator, 55% of Americans do admit to using their mobile phone at least some of the time while driving.

In addition, 70% of Americans also admit to having been guilty of aggressive driving behavior, including speeding (58%), tailgating (28%) and yelling and/or swearing at fellow drivers (28%). Men are only slightly more likely to admit to aggressive driving than women (74% to 67%). 
The rudest drivers are found in the largest cities. 33% of Americans name New York City as home to the least courteous/most rage-inducing drivers. 71% of Americans put New York among the top five rudest driving cities. Los Angeles (22%) ranked second, while Atlanta (9%) came in third. Only 5% of Americans believe Boston features the country's rudest drivers, but 27% of Americans place Boston in the top five.

62% of Americans believe 16 is too young to drive

85% of American drivers are "always pleasantly surprised" to receive a wave of thanks from a fellow driver

Classic rock is the preferred road trip music for 40% of Americans, followed by:

Country (28%)
Golden Oldies (25%)
Top Hits (24%)
Pop (23%)
Easy Listening (22%)
Hip Hop (15%)
Heavy Metal (10%)


Florida car thief arrested after crashing stolen auto into alligator...

Florida car thief arrested after crashing stolen auto into alligator...

A suspected auto thief was captured after the stolen car he was driving struck an alligator as the animal was crossing a Florida road, police report.

Calvin Rodriguez, 22, was driving a hot Honda Civic Tuesday when he was spotted by Port St. Lucie Police Department officers. Rodriguez sped off with cops on his tail.

According to a police report, the vehicle “began driving at a high rate of speed and was lost sight of.” Rodriguez’s escape, however, was not without complications, cops noted.

“The Honda was later discovered to have crashed into an alligator, causing it to crash into a median,” police reported. A search of the 1999 Honda yielded a set of “shaved keys” that Rodriguez reportedly told police he used to “boost” cars. “This shows that Calvin was in control of the Honda that struck the alligator and the median,” investigators noted.

A police spokesperson told TSG that he was unaware whether the alligator survived the collision.  

One of Rodriguez’s alleged accomplices told officers that he “steals cars, drives them for a few days, and gets rid of them.” After being read his Miranda rights, Rodriguez confessed to the auto theft, saying that he learned to steal cars “by growing up in a tough town in Connecticut.”


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Russia Dumps 20% Of Its US Treasury Holdings As Mystery "Belgium" Buyer Adds Another Whopping $40 Billion -

Russia Dumps 20% Of Its US Treasury Holdings As Mystery "Belgium" Buyer Adds Another Whopping $40 Billion - 

Back in mid-March, there was a brief scare after the start of the Ukraine conflict, when Fed custody holdings plunged by a record $104.5 billion (if promptly bouncing back the following week), leading many to believe that Russia may have dumped its Treasurys, or at least change its bond custodian. We noted that we wouldn't have a definitive answer until the May TIC number came out to know for sure how much Russia had sold, or if indeed, anything. Moments ago the May TIC numbers did come out, and as expected, Russia indeed dumped a record $26 billion, or some 20% of all of its holdings, bringing its post-March total to just over $100 billion - the lowest since the Lehman crisis.

But as shocking as this largely pre-telegraphed dump was, it pales in comparison with what Zero Hedge first observed, is the country that has quietly and quite rapidly become the third largest holder of US paper: Belgium. Or rather, "Belgium" because it is quite clear that it is not the country of Begium who is engaging in this unprecedented buying spree of US paper, but some account acting through Belgian custody.

This is how we explained it last month:

... to clarify for our trigger-happy Belgian (non) readers: it is quite clear that Belgium itself is not the buyer. What is not clear is who the mysterious buyer using Belgium as a front is. Because that same "buyer", who to further explain is not China, just bought another whopping $31 billion in Treasurys in February, bringing the "Belgian" total to a record $341.2 billion, cementing "it", or rather whoever the mysterious name behind the Euroclear buying rampage is, as the third largest holder of US Treasurys, well above the hedge fund buying community, also known as Caribbean Banking Centers, which held $300 billion in March.

In summary: someone, unclear who, operating through Belgium and most likely the Euroclear service (possible but unconfirmed), has added a record $141 billion in Treasurys since December, or the month in which Bernanke announced the start of the Taper, bringing the host's total to an unprecedented $341 billion!
Make that an unprecedented $381 billion because as we just learned "Belgium" bought another $40 billion in March!

Curiously, this happened as Japan sold $10 billion in TSYs, and as China remained unchanged.  Further, foreign official accounts actually declined from $4.069 trillion to $4.054 trillion, which means this is what the US Treasury would classify as a "Private" buyer. 

So to summarize, of the total $60 billion increase in foreign Treasury holdings, which rose from $5.89 trillion to $5.95 trillion, "Belgium" accounted for two thirds, most likely doing the purchases under the guise of a "private", unofficial account! 

And once again, it is Belgium in "", because whoever is buying through the tiny European country, whose GDP is just double its reported total TSY holdings, is neither its government nor its people.

The question remains: who? Who has bought a whopping $200 billion in Treasurys using Belgium as a proxy since October?


How Might Food Dye Be Affecting Your Health? -

How Might Food Dye Be Affecting Your Health? - 

Artificial food colouring in packaged food tends to be listed on ingredient labels, but until now, the amount of food dye in brand name food products was a mystery.  

But a new study published in the journal, Clinical Pediatrics, looks at just how much artificial food dye is in those popular products. 

Laura Stevens is a research associate at Purdue University’s Nutrition Science department in West Lafayette, Ind. She said the data collected allows parents to look at what their kids eat and determine how much food dye they're ingesting. 

The research indicates a meal of two cups of Kraft Dinner,237 mL or eight ounces of Orange Crush and a bag of Skittles for dessert adds up to 102 milligrams of artificial food dye in one sitting.
Stevens said the data revealed surprises like lemon pudding tinted yellow with artificial dyes, and marshmallows and white icing tinted with multiple shades of food colouring. 

"I thought it was interesting that pickles have yellow and blue dye to make them green, and I’ve looked through the pickles at our grocery store and haven’t found any that don’t contain those dyes," she said.

This issue has been looked at before, but supermarket shelves and buying habits have changed a lot since then.

"There’s been a lot of studies back in the '70s and '80s that used 26-27 milligrams of dyes and found that very few kids seemed to react to that amount," Stevens said.  

"But when they increased it to 50-100 milligrams then a greater proportion of children reacted."

That initial amount of 26 milligrams used in the original studies seems pretty tame now, considering one serving of Kool-Aid’s Burst Cherry drink has twice that amount.

While nothing definitive has been found, artificial food dyes have long been studied for links to behavioural issues in kids.

"There were studies done in the U.K. recently that gave food dyes to a large group of healthy children, including ADHD kids," Stevens explained.  

"And they found that not only did some of the ADHD kids react to the dyes, but also some of the children without ADHD reacted. And they reacted with more hyperactivity and inattention."

The results of that study were motivation enough for the European Union to start labelling foods with high amounts of food dye, linking them to potential behavioural problems in some kids.

The European Food Safety Agency said that though the effects of food dyes on behaviour were somewhat uncertain, the lack of nutritional benefits from the food colouring meant removing them wouldn't compromise a healthy diet. 

And while no study has statistically proven the potential connection between food dye and behaviour problems, consumer pressure is forcing some companies to make changes.

Kraft has removed some dyes from its macaroni and cheese products, Pepperidge Farm switched to natural dyes for its coloured Goldfish crackers a few years ago and Frito-Lay has removed some artificial food dyes from several of their products.

While future studies are likely to continue looking for links between behaviour and artificial food dyes, Stevens said parents can try an elimination diet protocol with their own kids at home.

"All they have to do is avoid the foods that are coloured for a week or two. Then get the little bottles of red and green and yellow and blue food dye, put a few drops in a glass of water and ask their child to drink it. Then observe the behaviour."

Stevens said to watch for things like hyperactivity, runny nose, muscle aches, inattentiveness or higher levels of frustration. 

Read more -