Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Violent TV May Make Children More Susceptible to Advertising Messages -

Violent TV May Make Children More Susceptible to Advertising Messages - 

A study by a University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism researcher has found that children who watch television shows with action or violence are more susceptible to messages in the advertisements shown during the programs.

Eunji Cho, a graduate student in UW-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, says the excitement of a violent show causes children to be focused and attentive, an effect that carries over to commercial breaks.

To perform this study, Cho returned to her native South Korea and observed four different kindergarten classes. Each class was randomly assigned to watch either “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” or “A Dog of Flanders,” a calm Japanese program. The kids were then shown an ad for chocolate at commercial breaks.

Afterward, the children were asked to choose which candy bar they wanted — the one advertised in the commercials or a generic brand. Cho found that students who watched the violent show overwhelmingly favored the advertised product, while those who watched the calm show were indifferent about which candy bar they chose.

She also discovered that children who watched “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” remembered the details of the advertisement better than those who watched “A Dog of Flanders.” They exhibited a higher brand preference and purchase intention than those who watched the nonviolent program.
Cho says the study shows how important it is for children to be defensive when it comes to advertising.

“We have to teach children what is advertised here. Sometimes they get confused between TV programs and advertising,” Cho says. “When they watch advertising, they have to be ready.”
Cho hasn’t always been on the research side of advertising. After getting a bachelor’s degree in communication and media from Seoul Women’s University, she worked for Diamond Ogilvy Group, the Korean branch of worldwide ad company Ogilvy & Mather. She spent three years there as an accounting executive, planning global advertising campaigns for clients such as Nike and LG Mobile.

Wanting to learn more and see advertising from the other side, Cho left the industry to attend graduate school. Upon getting her master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Cho began working toward her doctorate at UW-Madison in 2010.

It was here that her perspective changed.

“I was really on the marketing side,” Cho says. “I would always think about how we sell more products, what can be better strategies to attract more people.”

Cho developed a special interest in how mass media affects youth through advertising thanks to a course taught by Karyn Riddle, an associate professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Riddle later became Cho’s advisor on her research.

“The fact that (Cho) did this project on her own (was) really ambitious,” Riddle says. “A lot of grad students (will) wait until their advisor initiates a study, but she initiated this.”

In collaboration with Seung-Chul Yoo, an assistant professor of digital advertising at Loyola University in Chicago, Cho published her findings earlier this fall in the International Journal of Advertising.


PONZI = U.S. Treasury Issues $1T in New Debt in 8 Weeks -- To Pay Old Debt...- & only took in $341B in revenue -

PONZI = U.S. Treasury Issues $1T in New Debt in 8 Weeks -- To Pay Old Debt...- & only took in $341B in revenue - 

The Daily Treasury Statement that was released Wednesday afternoon as Americans were preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving revealed that the U.S. Treasury has been forced to issue $1,040,965,000,000 in new debt since fiscal 2015 started just eight weeks ago in order to raise the money to pay off Treasury securities that were maturing and to cover new deficit spending by the government.

During those eight weeks, Treasury took in $341,591,000,000 in revenues. That was a record for the period between Oct. 1 and Nov. 25. But that record $341,591,000,000 in revenues was not enough to finance ongoing government spending let alone pay off old debt that matured.

Record Revenue through Nov. 25, 2014

The Treasury also drew down its cash balance by $45.057 billion during the period, starting with $126,568,000,000 in cash and ending with $81,511,000,000.

The only way the Treasury could handle the $942,103,000,000 in old debt that matured during the period plus finance the new deficit spending the government engaged in was to roll over the old debt into new debt and issue enough additional new debt to cover the new deficit spending.

This mode of financing the federal government resembles what the Securities and Exchange Commission calls a Ponzi scheme. “A Ponzi scheme," says the Securities and Exchange Commission, “is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors,” says the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“With little or no legitimate earnings, the schemes require a consistent flow of money from new investors to continue,” explains the SEC. “Ponzi schemes tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out.”

In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee in October 2013, Lew explained why he wanted the Congress to agree to increase the federal debt limit—and why the Treasury has no choice but to constantly issue new debt.

“Every week we roll over approximately $100 billion in U.S. bills,” Lew told the committee. “If U.S. bondholders decided that they wanted to be repaid rather than continuing to roll over their investments, we could unexpectedly dissipate our entire cash balance.”

“There is no plan other than raising the debt limit that permits us to meet all of our obligations,” Lew said.

“Let me remind everyone,” Lew said, “principal on the debt is not something we pay out of our cash flow of revenues. Principal on the debt is something that is a function of the markets rolling over.”

The vast amount of debt that the Treasury must roll over in such a short time frame is driven by the fact the Treasury has put most of the debt into short-term “bills” and mid-term “notes”—on which it can pay lower interest rates—rather than into long-term bonds, which demand significantly higher interest rates.

At the end of October, according to the Treasury’s Monthly Statement of the Public Debt, the total debt of the federal government was $17,937,160,000,000.

Of this, $5,080,104,000,000 was what the Treasury calls “intragovernmental” debt, which is money the Treasury has borrowed and spent out of trust funds theoretically set aside for other purposes—such as the Social Security Trust Fund.

The remaining $12,857,056,000,000 was “debt held by the public.” This part of the debt included $517,029,000,000 “nonmarketable” Treasury securities (such as savings bonds) and $12,340,028,000,000 in “marketable” Treasury securities, including bills, notes, bonds and Treasuring Inflation-Protected Securities.

But only $1,547,073,000,000 of the $12,857,056,000,000 in marketable debt was in long-term Treasury bonds that mature in 30 years. These bonds carried an average interest rate of 4.919 percent as of the end of October, according to the Treasury.

The largest share of the marketable debt--$8,192,466,000,000—was in notes that mature in 2,3,5,7 or 10 years, and which haf an average interest rate of 1.807 percent as of the end of October.

Another $1,412,388,000,000 of the marketable debt was in Treasury bills, which carry “maturities ranging from a few days to 52 weeks,” says the Treasury. These $1.4 trillion in short-term Treasury bills had an average interest rate of 0.056 percent as of the end of October, according to the Treasury.

The continual rolling over of these short-term, low-interest bills helped drive over the $1-trillion mark the new debt the Treasury had to issue in the first eight weeks of this fiscal year.

The Treasury has taken out what amounts to an adjustable-rate mortgage on our ever-growing national debt.

If the Treasury were forced to convert the $1.4 trillion in short-term bills (on which it now pays an average interest rate of 0.056 percent) into 30-year bonds at the average rate it is now paying on such bonds (4.919 percent) the interest on that $1.4 trillion in debt would increase 88-fold.

Red more -

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ebola Questions Now Greet Visitors To Canada At Border Crossings when they return from Black Friday shopping -

Ebola Questions Now Greet Visitors To Canada At Border Crossings when they return from Black Friday shopping - 

Cross-border bargain hunters will be met with a new slate of questions from Canadian border guards when they return home this week.

Thousands of Canadians are expected to shop for deals on Black Friday in the U.S.

The Canada Border Service Agency has started asking travellers more pointed and specific questions about Ebola.

Border agents at land border crossings have recently started asking those entering Canada if they have been in contact with someone suspected of having Ebola, have travelled to a location known to be dealing with the disease and whether they feel sick.

Jean Pierre Fortin, the national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, says the new questions aren't expected to create a backlog at border crossings.

"On Black Friday, I don't think the questionnaire would have a huge impact, but it's the volume that will have an impact on the time waiting," he said.

If travellers have been to an Ebola stricken country, they will be asked more in-depth questions.

"If somebody would say or we would feel the person is sick or the person actually looks like he is having fever or any kind of symptoms immediately the person would be isolated," Fortin said.

Fortin says the border agents are comfortable asking these questions.

He doesn't know of any incidents at the border that prompted the new inquires.

The local health unit  in Windsor, Ont., directly across from Detroit, Mich., raised concerns during the summer.

There is no strict screening process at North America's busiest land border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge, and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the unit's public health adviser, says the fact border-crossers are in vehicles makes it even more difficult to identify sick people.

"I don't think that there is anything that we can do to protect ourselves, unless the person is really symptomatic and the border security forces identify them as an ill person and may contact us," Ahmed said.


Israeli police in Jerusalem have been caught on video spraying Palestinian neighborhoods and schools with “skunk spray” -

Israeli police in Jerusalem have been caught on video spraying Palestinian neighborhoods and schools with “skunk spray” - 


Israeli police in Jerusalem have been caught on video recently spraying East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods with a concoction they call “skunk spray”. The liquid is a mixture of sewage and rotting animal roadkill.

The result of the police hosing down neighborhoods, elementary schools and protesters with the mix is a putrid smell that seems almost impossible to get off or be around without inducing nausea. As a result, thousands of East Jerusalem children have been forced to stay home from school.

In the neighborhood of At-Tur (The Mount of Olives), police hosed down local elementary schools at 5:30 p.m., according to Khader Abu Sabitan, a member of the parents’ committee. He told 972mag that he “was on the road and saw them pass with their machine, and saw how they began shooting water at the school. I’m telling you – there was nothing there. It is Friday at 5:30 in the evening, and there was no one in the school or on the streets. Nothing. Everyone was home. They went to all four schools in the neighborhood, shot the water, and left.”


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Ebola Survivor has been Quarantined after his semen tested positive for the virus -

Ebola Survivor has been Quarantined after his semen tested positive for the virus - 

An Ebola survivor has been quarantined in India after his semen tested positive for the virus, health officials there have announced.
The 26-year-old man, an Indian national, traveled to New Delhi from Liberia on November 10, almost two months after he was hospitalized in the West African nation after showing symptoms of the illness, India's health ministry said in a statement.
He was released from the Liberian hospital on September 30 with documents declaring him free of clinical signs linked to Ebola, the ministry added.
As a precautionary measure, Indian authorities carried out tests on his body fluids, which confirmed traces of the virus in his semen, the statement said.
"Currently, this person is not having any symptoms of the disease. However, he would be kept under isolation in the special health facility of (the) Delhi Airport Health Organization, till such time his body fluids test negative and he is found medically fit to be discharged," it said.
Passenger surveillance
 Ebola death toll rises in Sierra Leone Economist: Ebola hurting Africa's economy World Bank: Nigeria a great success
In the wake of the first detection of the deadly virus in India, the country's health minister, J.P. Nadda, held talks with top officials from various departments, the government said.
The minister advised strengthening passenger surveillance at the country's airports and seaports, the government said. He also ordered expert teams to visit states and report back to him on preparedness to deal with the virus, it added.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Birds are getting drunk and passing out all over Yukon - Authorities had to set up a Drunk Tank to help them sober up -

Birds are getting drunk and passing out all over Yukon - Authorities had to set up a Drunk Tank to help them sober up - 

Birds are getting drunk and passing out all over Yukon

Friends, don’t drink and fly.

Birds are having a bit of trouble holding their liquor in the Yukon. As the cold weather approaches, Bohemian waxwings are busy stuffing their faces full of mountain ash berries in preparation to wait out the frosty season. But the declining temperatures are affecting the bird’s favourite snack in a way you’d never expect.

“What happens around this time of year is that after the frost, the berries will ferment and so the birds actually can get a little intoxicated from eating these berries and they do in fact get drunk,” Meghan Larivee with the animal health unit at Environment Yukon told the CBC.

A “little intoxicated” is probably an understatement. The alcohol makes the birds’ flight patterns a little wonky, and they’ve begun crashing into windows and other objects. As a solution, Environment Yukon set up an avian drunk tank to help the birds sober up. Residents are even being encouraged to pick up any drunk or unconscious birds they find and bring them in so the animals can ride out what’s sure to be a nasty hangover.

And for any birds that require a little extra care, they’re sent to a rehab (we’re not kidding) at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Never. Drinking. Again.


Friday, 14 November 2014

Apple Now Worth More Than Entire Russian Stock Market - with enough money left over to purchase over 190M iPhone6 + -

Apple Now Worth More Than Entire Russian Stock Market - with enough money left over to purchase over 190M iPhone6 + - 

With Apple at record highs, its market capitalization is now bigger than Russia's entire stock market (the 20th largest market in the world). What's more, as Bloomberg notes, there would be enough money left over after selling Apple and buying Russia to purchase over 190 million contract-free 64Gb iPhone6 Pluses (enough for every Russian).

As Bloomberg adds,

If you owned Apple Inc., and sold it, you could purchase the entire stock market of Russia, and still have enough change to buy every Russian an iPhone 6 Plus.

Russia, the 20th largest among the world’s major markets, is not the only one Apple has surpassed. The company, which forecasts a record holiday-sales quarter and has $155 billion in cash, is also bigger than 17th-ranked Singapore and 18th-ranked Italy.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Doctors testing Seniors for cocaine, heroin, and “angel dust” -- and Medicare pays the bill -

Doctors testing Seniors for cocaine, heroin, and “angel dust” -- and Medicare pays the bill - 

Dont do drugs.. Drugs are bad.... Mkay.<br /> Peace!. DONT DO DRUGS.. Drugs are bad mkay. downers, man

Doctors are testing seniors for drugs such as heroin, cocaine and “angel dust” at soaring rates, and Medicare is paying the bill.

It is a roundabout result of the war on pain-pill addiction.

Medical guidelines encourage doctors who treat pain to test their patients, to make sure they are neither abusing pills nor failing to take them, possibly to sell them.

Now, some pain doctors are making more from testing than from treating.

Spending on the tests took off after Medicare cracked down on what appeared to be abusive billing for simple urine tests. Some doctors moved on to high-tech testing methods, for which billing wasn’t limited.

They started testing for a host of different drugs—including illegal ones that few seniors ever use—and billing the federal health program for the elderly and disabled separately for each substance.

Medicare’s spending on 22 high-tech tests for drugs of abuse hit $445 million in 2012, up 1,423 percent in five years.

The program spent $14 million that year just on tests for angel dust, or PCP. Sue Brown, a laboratory director in Brunswick, Ga., said she has never seen someone over 65 test positive for angel dust, in 25 years in the business.


America's best-selling drug is ... Viagra? Prozac? Nah, it's actually an anti-psychotic called Abilify -

America's best-selling drug is ... Viagra? Prozac? Nah, it's actually an anti-psychotic called Abilify - 

America's best-selling drug is ... Viagra? Prozac? Nah, it's actually an anti-psychotic called Abilify that comes with two surprising factoids: It's designed to treat severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but is now also widely prescribed for depression, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can't explain how it works, the Daily Beast reports.

Americans, meanwhile, spent $6.9 billion on the drug between April 2013 and March 2014, topping sales of all other major anti-depressants combined. So what is Abilify? Ads by the drug's maker, Otsuka America, compare it to "a thermostat" that restores balance, PLOS Medicine reports, while a company rep says the drug's "mechanism of action" is described in a USPI insert that accompanies the medication.

Only problem: The USPI says that the "mechanism ... is unknown." "However, it has been proposed" that Abilify works "through a combination of partial agonist activity at D2 and 5-HT1A receptors and antagonist activity at 5-HT2A receptors," the USPI adds—yet that's only a proposal.

Testing has shown that Abilify successfully improves "quality of life" for schizophrenics, Reuters reports, but critics say that that makes Abilify "like a bazooka" compared to other anti-depressants.

Meanwhile, Abilify's ads promote the drug as a supplement to other anti-depressants. Abilify will surely add to the debate over whether anti-psychotics help people or simply zone them out, the Daily Beast notes, adding that Abilify "is extremely powerful medicine, being prescribed at an astonishingly high rate." (One study says that anti-depressants "change feelings of love.")


Scientists attempt a landing on a comet - like landing the head of a pin on the head of a pin, traveling at 84,000 mph -

Scientists attempt a landing on a comet - like landing the head of a pin on the head of a pin, traveling at 84,000 mph - 

Landing a probe on a comet whizzing through deep space isn't easy, but this week, the European Space Agency (ESA) will attempt to do just that. If successful, it will be the first time a probe has landed on the surface of a comet. 

Officials working with ESA's Rosetta mission are planning to land the robotic Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's surface Nov. 12. You can track Philae's historic progress in live webcasts from ESA and NASA starting Nov. 11 and throughout the day Wednesday. Officials on Earth should know if the landing went well by 11:02 a.m. EST on Nov. 12.

The landing is a risky operation.

Detailed mapping of Comet 67P/C-G only began in August, when Rosetta arrived carrying Philae. The comet's surface is strewn with boulders and cracks, and Philae's landing system has no way to maneuver at the last minute. [See amazing images from the Rosetta mission]

It will take about 7 hours for scientists on Earth to find out if Philae's trip to the surface was successful. A NASA video has even dubbed that block of time "7 hours of terror," an homage to the NASA Curiosity rover's "7 minutes of terror" video that described the Mars rover's landing sequence.

"This comet is very, very rough," Andreas Accomazzo, Rosetta operations manager at the European Space Agency, said in a Google+ Hangout Friday (Nov. 7). "But this is what we have, and this is what we are trying to do. We have to be a bit lucky as well."

First Comet Landing

If Philae's landing is successful, it will crown Rosetta's decade-long journey in space. The mission is doing the first orbit of a comet right now. Rosetta has already become the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, and if Philae safely touches down on Comet 67P/C-G, the lander will be the first to make a soft landing on a comet.

A comet is a tough environment. The gravity is so low that Philae will need to deploy a harpoon into the surface in order to stay put on Comet 67P/C-G. During landing, the spacecraft will face a dusty environment — not to mention, rocks on the surface. Success will also largely depend on how well the probe's hardware and software perform during those final few hours on the way down.

Rosetta planners will spend Nov. 10 and Tuesday looking at the landing orbit and preparing the parent spacecraft to release Philae. One of the busiest times will be late Tuesday night, when controllers have only 4 hours to send commands to Philae and make sure it's ready to go. [See more news about the Rosetta mission]

"We have 4 hours to put them together, check to verify they are consistent, uplink to the spacecraft ... and double-check they are OK to the spacecraft," Accomazzo said. "It's a pretty dense set of activities we have to do."

The plan then calls for Rosetta to release Philae Wednesday at 3:35 a.m. EST. (ESA officials on the ground will find out if the release was successful 28 minutes and 20 seconds later, once the signal reaches Earth.)

The spacecraft is too far away for controllers to do anything but hold their collective breath as the probe makes its descent. ESA mission controllers should acquire a signal from Philae during its descent at about 5:53 a.m. EST. Once that signal is established, Rosetta can start beaming back science information gathered by Philae on its way down to the comet's surface.

And by about 11 a.m. EST, scientists should know if Philae reached the surface.

Rosetta will also need to make several maneuvers to stay in touch with Philae during its descent, landing and post-landing activities. ESA added that both Rosetta and Philae appear to be in good shape to date, so they are planning for the best.

Not all science would die with Philae

Even if Philae doesn't successfully land, ESA anticipates that only 20 percent of the scientific findings expected to be gathered from the Rosetta mission would be lost. The remaining science would come from the orbital mission, which is projected to remain active until at least December 2015 — five months past Comet 67P/C-G's closest approach to the sun.

Philae's potential landing would make it the seventh location in which spacecraft have touched down outside Earth. The other bodies visited include Venus, the moon, Mars, Saturn's moon Titan, and asteroids 433 Eros and Itokawa.

"It's a very, very risky business, but it's a business in which we have invested a lot of know-how — a lot of technical know-how, a lot of scientific know-how and a lot of cooperation," Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin, head of European Space Operations Centre communications, said in the same webcast.

"Sometimes, we wake up and wonder if this dream is going to be true," she added. "Sometimes, we know it can go wrong. But we are ready for every option, and are still very confident we can make it."


Friday, 7 November 2014

A Creepy Website Is Streaming From 73,000 Private Security Cameras -

A Creepy Website Is Streaming From 73,000 Private Security Cameras - 

It shouldn't be so easy to peer into a stranger's bedroom, much less hundreds of strangers' bedrooms. But a website has collected the streaming footage from over 73,000 IP cameras whose owners haven't changed their default passwords. Is this about highlighting an important security problem, or profiting off creepy voyeurism—or both?

Insecam claims to feature feeds from IP cameras all over the world, including 11,000 in the U.S. alone. A quick browse will pull up parking lots and stores but also living rooms and bedrooms. "This site has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings," the site's about page says. But it's also clearly running and profiting off ads.

To be sure, the streaming feeds aren't anything a determined person couldn't already find through Google or Shodan, the latter of which lets you look for connected devices like IP cameras. But the website puts all those streams into one easily and creepily accessible place. A lawyer tells Motherboard that the site "a stunningly clear violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act" in the U.S since it involve hacking into someone's password-protected account, even if it's a default password-protected account. It's unclear who exactly is behind the site, though the domain is registered with GoDaddy with a IP address linked to Moscow.

At least there is an easy fix to get your private camera off of Insecam, which is just putting in a new password. But that's assuming people know about the site's existence at all. 


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Japan scientists make see-through mice -

Japan scientists make see-through mice - 

Invisibility may still be the stuff of fictional works like Harry Potter, but researchers in Japan have developed a way to make mice almost totally transparent.
Using a method that almost completely removes colour from tissue -- and kills the mouse in the process -- researchers say they can now examine individual organs or even whole bodies without slicing into them, offering a "bigger picture" view of the problems they are working on.
The techniques will give scientists a "new understanding of the 3D structure of organs and how certain genes are expressed in various tissues," said Kazuki Tainaka, the lead author of a research paper published in the US-based Cell magazine.
"We were very surprised that the entire body of infant and adult mice could be made nearly transparent," he said in a statement issued by Japanese research institute RIKEN and its collaborators
The work, which also involved the University of Tokyo and the Japan Science and Technology Agency, focuses on a compound called haem, the constituent that gives blood its red colour and is found in most tissues of the body.
The process involves pumping a saline solution through the mouse's heart, pushing the blood out of its circulatory system and killing the creature.
A reagent is then introduced, which works to divorce the haem from the haemoglobin that remains in the animal's organs.
The dead mouse is skinned and soaked in the reagent for up to two weeks to complete the process.
A sheet of laser light, which can be set to penetrate to a specific level, builds up a complete image of the body, much as a 3D printer creates physical objects in layers.
"Microscopes have so far allowed us to look at things in minute detail, but that has also deprived us of the context of what we are looking at," Tainaka told AFP.
The new method, which cannot be applied to living things, "will give us details while enabling us to grasp the bigger picture," he said.
Hiroki Ueda, who led the research team, said in the statement that the method "could be used to study how embryos develop or how cancer and autoimmune diseases develop at the cellular level.
It was hoped the method would lead "to a deeper understanding of such diseases and perhaps to new therapeutic strategies".
"It could lead to the achievement of one of our great dreams: organism-level systems biology based on whole-body imaging at single-cell resolution."


Iran to punish Dog owners with 74 lashes... -

Iran to punish Dog owners with 74 lashes... - 

For people around the world, owning a dog comes as a rite of passage. However in Iran, lawmakers are trying to pass a new bill that would harshly punish anyone who buys, sells or walks a dog in public with either a fine ranging from 100 to 100 million rials (NIS 142 to NIS 14,177) or 74 lashes, according to a report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

According to an English translation of the bill, proposed by 32 members of Iran's parliament, a law like this would chastise “[a]nyone who takes a pet like a monkey or a dog in public and damages the Islamic culture or the health and tranquility of the people - particularly children and women."

In addition to physical or monetary discipline, the pets would be taken away and put in a zoo or what is described as "a desert," with the owner footing the bill for the animal's transfer. 

The proposed legislation seemed to say that punishment will only be given to those who continue to break the law after receiving a warning from police, though details of what type of warning  police would give was not described. 

In response, the NCRI said “The sporadic and politically motivated campaigns against dog ownership are aimed at further suppressing the youth and women in Iran who have, in past few weeks, held protests against the acid attacks on women that have been carried out by state-sponsored gangs.”

In the past year, Iranians have been punished for "crimes" that go against the conservative Iranian laws. In May, six young men and women were given jail time and lashes for creating a spoof of Pharrell's "Happy" music video and on Sunday, a British-Iranian woman was sentenced to a year in jail for attending a volleyball game.


The AP and other press outlets have agreed not to report on any suspected cases of Ebola in the US -

The AP and other press outlets have agreed not to report on any suspected cases of Ebola in the US - 

An eyebrow-raising admission at the end of a Forbes article written by pharmacologist David Kroll reveals that the media has agreed not to report on suspected Ebola cases in the United States.

In a piece entitled Liberian Traveler At Duke Hospital Shows Preliminary Negative Result For Ebola, Kroll describes attending a press conference involving Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos.

After revealing that “an unnamed official abruptly called the press conference to a close” when Wos was asked a difficult question about the suspected Ebola victim, Kroll then drops a bombshell.

“The Associated Press and other press outlets have agreed not to report on suspected cases of Ebola in the United States until a positive viral RNA test is completed,” he writes.

Kroll then felt the need to justify why he was talking about the suspected Ebola case at Duke Hospital, which subsequently turned out to be negative, explaining that he was, “covering tonight’s announcement of a potential Ebola case because it has been reported in my area, and at Duke University Medical Center, an institution where I hold an unpaid adjunct associate professor appointment in their Department of Medicine.”

The agreement between major media outlets and health authorities – presumably the CDC – not to report on potential Ebola cases in the United States was apparently made behind the scenes with no public discussion whatsoever. This is sure to heighten criticism of the CDC’s handling of the Ebola outbreak in the U.S., which is already under close scrutiny.

While the CDC will almost certainly claim that such an arrangement is necessary to prevent hysteria, many will see this as another example of how the mainstream press is more interested in acquiescing to government demands than keeping the American people informed.

In an interview on the Alex Jones Show last month, Doctor James Lawrenzi revealed that health authorities are covering up potential Ebola cases in the United States and disappearing patients in an effort to avoid hysteria.

With flu season fast approaching, experts have warned that the reporting of Ebola-like symptoms which are in fact influenza could overwhelm health authorities. Medical professionals have predicted that the U.S. could see over one hundred Ebola cases by the end of the year.

Last week we reported on how the government had sent 250,000 Hazmat suits to Dallas, while the CDC is also set to purchase over 1.4 million surgical gowns and nearly 10,000 body bags in response to the outbreak.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

US Mint Sells Out Of Silver Eagles Following "Tremendous" Demand -

US Mint Sells Out Of Silver Eagles Following "Tremendous" Demand - 

When it comes to buyers of physical assets as opposed to traders of paper representations of such assets, there is one key difference: the latter, more than anything, enjoy looking at "heatmaps", chasing trends and jumping on momentum, the result being the most recent massive selloff in such "paper" representations of precious metals as the GLD and SLV ETFs, and various gold futures.

On the other hand, those who prefer to hold the metal in their hands, as well as others such as China whose ravenous apetite for gold over the past 4 years has been extensively covered here in the past, take every advantage of selloffs, and - inconceivably - demonstrate how Econ 101, namely supply and demand, really works, leading to ever greater demand the lower the price. Demand so high, in fact, that the underlying commodity that is being sold through paper conduits, sells out.

This is precisely what happened at the U.S. Mint, which just sold out of all silver American Eagle silver bullion coins, following "tremendous" demand in the past several weeks, according to Reuters reports.

This should hardly come as a surprise: over the weekend we reported that "Silver Coin Sales At US Mint Soar To Highest In Two Years."

Sales surged to 5.79 million ounces, the most since January 2013, the month that set an all-time high at 7.5 million, Bloomberg reports. "Today, sales jumped 33 percent in one of the busiest times this year", Tom Jurkowsky, a spokesman at the Washington-based mint, said in an interview. Last month’s total was 4.14 million.

“We saw demand surge over the past two days,” Michael Kramer, the president of New York-based MTB Inc., a dealer authorized to purchase coins directly from the mint, said in a telephone interview. “Business was almost triple than what it has been over the past few months.”

Logically, as a result of the surge in physical demand, silver futures for December delivery dropped 1.9 percent to close at $16.106 an ounce on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the price touched $15.635, the lowest for a most-active contract since Feb. 25, 2010.

Because when it comes to precious metals, thanks to the BIS and the central banks, Paper beats Rock every time.

Which brings us to today, when according to an alert issued to dealers across the US, some 2 million ounces of silver sold out just after noon, Eastern time, following the sale of over 1 million ounces in just the first two days of the month.

In a statement sent to its biggest U.S. coin wholesalers, the U.S. Mint says it will continue to produce 2014-dated coins. The Mint will advise when additional inventory will become available for sale without providing further details.

The announcement has not been made available to the public, but a U.S. Mint spokesman confirmed that it has sent the statement to its authorized participants.

A sharp break in gold prices to their lowest in more than four years last week has unleashed a surge in demand for silver and gold coins in North America and Europe.
As A-Mark, one of the largest bullion distributors in the country added, "The US Mint has just announced that they are temporarily sold out of American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins.  They are in the process of producing more and will advise when additional inventory is available.  If you previously received fixed premium pricing from us, it is no longer valid."

So... even lower prices coming, right?

And since everything else in the New Normal is now flipped on its head, it only makes sense that the continued price collapse for precious metals is, as it turns out, driven by ever greater demand!


ScratchJr – Teaching pre-school kids how to write computer code - craft their own interactive stories and games -

ScratchJr – Teaching pre-school kids how to write computer code - craft their own interactive stories and games - 

A computer programming app has been released that is so easy to use that even kids aged five can do it according to its inventors.

ScratchJr is the brainchild of researchers in Massachussets, who are currently testing it out on kindergarten children there. 

Specifically designed for children as young as five who haven’t yet learned to read, the app allows kids to craft their own interactive stories and games, by stringing coding blocks together in order to make animated characters move, jump, and change size or colour. 

“To control the characters in their stories in ScratchJr, children snap together graphical building blocks, much like putting together Lego pieces, and each block tells the character what to do,” explained ScratchJr co-developer, Mitchel Resnick. 

ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language also developed by the MIT Media Lab and already used by millions of children aged eight and up around the world. The ScratchJr team redesigned the interface and language to make it appropriate for younger children. 

“There’s been a growing interest in helping people learn to code, but we see ScratchJr as the first programming language that was designed specifically for children as young as five years old to really meet their needs and their developmental abilities,” said Resnick.

The initiative is intended to transform children’s interaction with the screen from the traditional practice of consuming content that is largely in the form of entertainment. 

“It’s clear some parents are worried about too much screen time, and it’s also clear that there are some parents who are really proponents of technology. So, you have to think about how it fits within your parents’ world and how they want their child to be raised,” said Dr Sandra Calvert, director of the Children’s Digital Media Centre at Georgetown University.

Its developers say that while teaching coding to children who might not even know how to read yet may sound strange, the idea is to expose kids to computer programming early to eventually make it accessible to everyone.


Man uses wife's urine to try to pass drug test -- discovers she's pregnant! -

Man uses wife's urine to try to pass drug test -- discovers she's pregnant! - 

An Egyptian bus driver who tried to avoid a drugs test by using his wife's urine has been busted after it turned out his wife was pregnant, it's reported.

The man had been selected for a standard drugs test along with other public bus drivers, but did not submit his own urine sample, instead using his wife's, the Al-Yawm al-Sabi website reports. What he didn't know was that his wife was two months' pregnant. Before revealing the news, officials asked the driver to confirm the sample was in fact his own, according to Tamer Amin, a presenter on the political talk show Bottom Line. After the driver said it was, the officials reportedly responded: "Congratulations, you're pregnant."

"This story despite being funny has several lessons," Mr Amin says. "First, that drugs have become available to many and have become as common as cigarettes. This is a calamity." In future, the transport authority will require a blood test as well as urine tests to prevent people giving fake samples, a source at the Public Transportation Authority Hospital tells Al-Yawm al-Sabi.

About 12,000 people are killed on Egypt's roads each year, a rate of 42 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation. Drug use has also been on the rise in recent years, with the painkiller tramadol proving particularly popular as a cheap - but addictive - energy booster.

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