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No Agenda 505 - Speculation Analysis

By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM.

Speculation Analysis

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By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM.


Art By: Dennis Cruise

See All The Art in the Generator


By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM.

Speculation Analysis

Executive Producers: Black Baron Foley,Sir A.J. Rystad

Associate Executive Producers: Anonymous from Brussels, Richard Gardiner, James Murray, Iain Kilmurray, Sir Kent O'Rourke, Ed LeBouthillier

505 Club Members: Black Baron Foley, Sir A.J. Rystad

Become a member of the 506 Club, support the show here

Knighthoods: Nelson Ferreira -> Black Knight

Titles: Sir Robert Goshko -> Baronet

Art By: Dennis Cruise

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Zydecos Menu


Menu from producer Carter Hutchinson's Cajun joint in Mooresville, IN. Hilarious!


Sir Chris Wolf

zMenu - zydecos

Tennessee General Assembly >> Legislation Dwarfisim Awareness Month

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Archived Version

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:50

Bill SummaryAbstract summarizes the bill.

Fiscal NoteNo fiscal note for this bill.

VotesNo Senate Votes on SJR0299No House Votes on SJR0299

Bill HistoryAmendments on BillVideo Clips

Bill HistoryActions Taken on SJR0299Action DateConcurred, Ayes 90, Nays 004/17/2013SJR placed on H. consent cal. 2 for 4/17/1304/17/2013Engrossed; ready for transmission to House04/17/2013Adopted, Ayes 32, Nays 004/17/2013Placed on Senate Consent Calendar cal. for 4/17/201304/15/2013P2C, ref. to S. Cal. Comm.04/11/2013Intro., P1C.04/10/2013Filed for intro.04/08/2013No amendments for SJR0299.

No amendments for .

Videos containing keyword: SJR0299

TV Ratings Monday: 'The Voice' Hits a High, 'Dancing With the Stars' Up; 'How I Met Your Mother', '2 Broke Girls', 'Castle' & 'Hawaii Five-0'Ó Down - Ratings

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 12:41


On NBC, The Voice earned a season high 5.1 adults 18-49 rating, up 2 percent from last week's 5.0 adults 18-49 rating. It was the show's best 18-49 numbers since March 12, 2012. The news special Terror In Boston scored a 3.1 adults 18-49 rating, up 41 percent from Revolution's 2.2 in the time period last week.

ScoreboardNBCABCCBSFOXUNICWAdults 18-49: rating/Share4.5/122.2/62.1/62.0/51.5/40.3/1Adults 18-34: Rating/Share3.4/101.3/41.5/51.5/41.2/40.3/1Total Viewers (million)12.47812.4067.1796.0593.4990.822-

Note: There were numerous local market preemptions Monday night due to coverage of the Boston bombings. Ratings may be subject to more than typical adjustment in the finals.

NBC was number one with adults 18-49 and with total viewers.

On NBC, The Voice earned a season high 5.1 adults 18-49 rating, up 2 percent from last week's 5.0 adults 18-49 rating. It was the show's best 18-49 numbers since March 12, 2012. The news special Terror In Boston scored a 3.1 adults 18-49 rating, up 41 percent from Revolution's 2.2 in the time period last week.

On CBS, How I Met Your Mother scored a season low 2.6 adults 18-49 rating down 4 percent from a 2.7 on March 25. Rules of Engagement earned a season low 2.0 among adults 18-49 down 9 percent from a 2.2 on March 25. 2 Broke Girls garnered a series low 2.3 adults 18-49 rating down 23 percent from a 3.0 on March 25. Mike & Molly notched a series low 2.2 among adults 18-49 down 15 percent from a 2.6 on March 25. Hawaii Five-O tied its series low with a 1.8 adults 18-49 rating down 14 percent from a 2.1 on March 25.

On ABC, Dancing with the Stars scored a 2.2 adults 18-49 rating up 5 percent from last week's 2.1. Castle earned a 2.1 down 5 percent from a 2.2 adults 18-49 rating on April 1.

On FOX, Bones garnered a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating down 5 percent from a 2.0 on April 1. The Following earned a series low 2.1 down 5 percent from last week's 2.2 adults 18-49 rating.

On the CW, the season premiere of Oh, Sit notched a 0.4 adults 18-49 rating down 20 percent from a 0.5 for the series premiere on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. 90210 earned a 0.2 adults 18-49 rating matching its last original on March 11.

Broadcast primetime ratings for Monday, April 15, 2013:

-Late Night Ratings:

In Late-Night Metered Markets Monday night:

In Nielsen's 56 metered markets, household results were: "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," 2.7/7 with an encore telecast; CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman," 2.2/6 with an encore; and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," 2.9/8.In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, adult 18-49 Wednesday results were: ''The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,'' 1.0/5 with an encore; "Late Show," 0.7/3 with an encore; and "Jimmy Kimmel Live," 0.9/5.From 12:35-1:05 a.m. ET Wednesday night, ABC's "Nightline" averaged a 1.8/6 in metered-market households and a 0.6/4 in 18-49 in the Local People Meters.From 12:35-1:35 a.m. ET, "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (1.3/5 in metered-market households with an encore) beat CBS's first-run "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" (1.1/4). In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, "Late Night" (0.6/4 in 18-49 with an encore) topped "Late Late Show" (0.4/3).At 1:35 a.m., "Last Call with Carson Daly" averaged a 0.9/4 in metered-market households with an encore and a 0.4/4 in adults 18-49 in the 25 markets with local people meters.Definitions:

Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings, including demographics, are available at approximately 11 AM (ET) the day after telecast, and are released to subscribing customers daily. These data, from the National People Meter sample, are strictly time-period information, based on the normal broadcast network feed, and include all programming on the affiliated stations, sometimes including network programming, sometimes not. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. For example, with a World Series game, Fast Affiliate Ratings would include whatever aired from 8-11PM on affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone, following the live football game, but not game coverage that begins at 5PM PT. The same would be true of Presidential debates as well as live award shows and breaking news reports.

Rating: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.

Share (of Audience): The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. (See also, Rating, which represents tuning or viewing as a percent of the entire population being measured.)

Time Shifted Viewing '' Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data '' Live, Live+Same Day (Live+SD) and Live+7 Day. Time shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+Same Day (Live+SD) include viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3:00AM local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live+7 Day ratings include incremental viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

For more information see Numbers 101 and Numbers 102.

VIDEO-Micky Hoogendijk - YouTube

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 23:46

Follow the Pipes EQ Machine

Quake Hits Iran, Pakistan; Death Toll in Question - ABC News

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:44

A major earthquake flattened homes and offices on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border Tuesday, rattling buildings as far away as New Delhi and Dubai. Iranian state media said at least 46 people died, but later Iranian reports offered a far milder picture.

The discrepancies and apparent backtracking in the Iranian reports could not be immediately reconciled, but Iran has faced two large quakes in less than week and authorities could seek to downplay casualties.

Iran's state-run Press TV initially said at least 40 people were killed on the Iranian side, but later removed the figure from its website and news scroll. Other state-controlled outlets, including the official IRNA news agency, mentioned no deaths and only injuries, quoting a local official.

The website of Tehran Geophysics Center said the quake, measured at least magnitude 7.7, lasted 40 seconds and called it the strongest in more than 50 years in one of the world's most seismically active areas. Press TV called it "massive."

It also was the second deadly quake to hit Iran in less than a week after a magnitude 6.1 temblor struck near Bushehr, on Iran's Persian Gulf coast, killing at least 37 people and raising calls for greater international safety inspectors at Iran's lone nuclear reactor nearby.

Press TV said the quake was centered near Saravan, about 50 kilometers (26 miles) from the Pakistani border. The U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 7.8 and at a depth of 15.2 kilometers (nine miles).

Press TV said least 40 people were killed, but gave no other immediate details on the extent of damage or casualties. Later, the reference to the death toll was dropped from Press TV's website and the news agency IRNA said only that at least 27 people were injured.

State-run Pakistan Television, meanwhile, said at least six people were killed on its side of the border and at least 47 others were injured. Up to 1,000 mud homes were damaged, it added.

A Pakistani police officer, Azmatullah Regi, said nearly three dozen homes and shops collapsed in one village in the Mashkel area, which was the hardest hit by the quake. Rescue workers pulled the bodies of a couple and their three children, aged 5 to 15, from the rubble of one house, he said.

The Pakistani army ordered paramilitary troops to assist with rescue operations and provide medical treatment. Additional troops are being moved to the area, and army helicopters were mobilized to carry medical staff, tents, medicine and other relief items.

In Iran, the Red Crescent said it was facing a "complicated emergency situation" in the area with villages scattered over desolate hills and valleys.

The quake was felt over a vast area from New Delhi '-- about 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) from the epicenter '-- to Gulf cities that have some of the world's tallest skyscrapers, including the record 828-meter (2,717 -foot) Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Officials ordered temporary evacuations from the Burj Khalifa and some other high-rises as a precaution.

A resident in the quake zone in Iran, Manouchehr Karimi, told The Associated Press by phone that "the quake period was long" and occurred "when many people were at home to take a midday nap."

Pakistani news channels showed buildings shaking in the southern city of Karachi, where people in panic came out from offices and homes.

In a message posted on Twitter, British Foreign Secretary William Hague sent condolences to families of those lost in the Iran earthquake.

In 2003, some 26,000 people were killed by a magnitude 6.6 quake that flattened the historic southeastern Iranian city of Bam.


Associated Press writer Abdul Sattar in Quetta, Pakistan, contributed to this story.

M7.8 - 83km E of Khash, Iran 2013-04-16 10:44:20 UTC

Pressing Ahead With Iran Pipeline, Pakistan Calls Washington's Bluff

'Bill Clinton tried to dismantle Israeli natural gas revenue committee'.

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Source: DaDenMan news feed

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 08:17

Former Israeli finance minister reveals how the former American president tried to influence Knesset legislation and committee hearings on behalf of U.S. energy corporations.

President Barack Obama talks with former President Bill Clinton. Both tied to intervene on behalf of energy companies, but the White House disengaged from the issue towards the end of 2010 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Former Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed that former U.S. President Bill Clinton tried to have the Sheshinski Committee for natural gas revenues dismantled. According to Steinitz, Clinton, along with several members of congress whose names weren't revealed, tried to stop the Israeli government's attempt to increase the tax burden on American corporations.

Yair Lapid replaced Mr. Steinitz at the Finance Ministry when the new Netanyahu government was formed.

Several years ago, the unexpected discovery of huge natural gas fields off Israeli shores led to a heated public debate '' which continues to this day '' regarding the relatively low tax burden on local energy companies and their international partners. The Sheshinski Committee, formed by the finance minister in 2010, was instructed to examine the contracts between the state and the energy companies and come up with a new tax policy. Its work was accompanied by an intense lobbying effort on behalf of the gas companies.

At the time, sources in the Infrastructure Ministry claimed that former U.S. President Bill Clinton was hired by Noble Energy to raise the issue with the Israeli government.

In an interview with Maariv earlier this month, Steinitz shed light on the former U.S. president's role on behalf of the international energy corporation:

''The '... scary moment was when pressure from the White House began. The energy companies hired American lobbyists, including former president Bill Clinton, who sent letters and led talks in order to dismantle the Sheshinsky Committee and stop the [new] tax bill. American Congress members asked me for clarifications. There was a sense of pressure, as if we are doing something wrong with regards to the commerce relations between the two states. I tried to explain that we are in the lowest rank in the world in terms of state profits from gas and oil discoveries, that we get nothing and that Israeli citizens have a moral right to benefit from resources just as much as private companies.

The pressure went on, Steinitz says, until late 2010, when the Obama administration decided to stop its involvement in the issue, paving the way for the legislation of a new tax law in 2011. Prime Minister Netanyahu, however, introduced some changes to the Sheshinski Committee's recommendations in favor of the gas companies.

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.


'Daily News' doctored front-page photo from Boston bombing.

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Source: WT news feed

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:33

The New York Post was derided Tuesday for apparent inaccuracies in its reporting on the bombing at the Boston Marathon. And now, its rival tabloid, the Daily News, is facing criticism over an apparent photo touch-up.

On yesterday's cover wrap, the News ran a photo taken by John Tlumacki of The Boston Globe showing an injured woman lying in a pool of blood while being tended to by a civilian.

It was one of many widely circulated images capturing the moments after explosives were detonated near the finish line of the marathon on Monday afternoon, killing at least three and wounding more than 170 in a likely terrorist attack about which police are still scrambling to scare up leads.

But the version published by the News seemed to erase a gory wound to the woman's leg that was visible in other publications that used the photo. On Tuesday evening, a link to a blog post exposing the manipulation began circulating among News journalists, some of whom were none-too-pleased about the situation, multiple newsroom sources told Capital.

"If you can't stomach the gore, don't run the photo. Period," wrote Charles Apple, the author of the blog post and an editor at the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif. He also noted that Newark's Star-Ledger ran the same photo on page one exactly as it had been taken by the Globe photographer.

In deciding to run the photo, the News was confronted with the same conundrum facing all news outlets covering the Boston tragedy, or any violent story for that matter: Whether or not certain images are simply too grisly for public consumption.

But in altering it, the paper violated a basic journalistic principle.

"Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context," according to the ethics code for the National Press Photographers Association, a professional society. "Do not manipulate images ... in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects."

Several News insiders told Capital the decision to alter the photo came straight from the top of the masthead.

"Photographers and editors are so embarrassed and saddened by this," said one source.

Reached for comment this morning, a News spokesperson would only say: "The Daily News does not comment on its editorial decision-making."

A spokesperson for the Globe also declined to comment.

UPDATE, 11:56 A.M. - The News spokesperson, Ken Frydman, changed course on commenting.

"The Daily News edited that photo out of sensitivity to the victims, the families and the survivors," he said. "There were far more gory photos that the paper chose not to run, and frankly I think the rest of the media should have been as sensitive as the Daily News."

RELATED: From The Boston Globe, graphic footage from the scene at the marathon's finish line Monday afternoon.

I hate to make an accusation here, but'... Charles Apple

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 13:01

A blog reader has pointed out a discrepancy between a jarring but important picture the Boston Globe's John Tlumacki shot in the aftermath of yesterday's Boston Marathon bombings and the version of that photo as used today by the New York Daily News.

Here's the original photo, as posted last night by the Boston Globe's Big Picture blog'...

'...and here it is as a wrap around today's Daily News. Pay attention to the leg of the woman in the background, just to the right of the man's foot.

Can you see it. On the left, here, is the original image. On the right is a closeup from the Daily News' version.

Looks to me like somebody did a little doctoring of that photo to remove a bit of gore. If you can't stomach the gore, don't run the photo. Period.

The Newark Star Ledger used that same picture today on page one. But without the apparent manipulation.

If anyone from the Daily News would like to contact me and try to explain this: I'm all ears.

Thanks to a sharp-eyed Andy Neumann, a sports designer at Gannett's Louisville Design Studio, for making the catch.

This entry was posted 3 p.m. April 16 and is filed under NYC tabloids, Photojournalism, Visual ethics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Boston Marathon Bombings: Pressure Cooker Lid Found On Building Roof CBS Boston

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:14

Evidence from Boston Marathon bombing. (Photos from FBI via AP)

BOSTON (CBS/AP) '-- Authorities investigating the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon have found the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building, CBS News reported Wednesday.

According to the Associated Press, investigators also recovered a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices.

Photos: Boston Marathon Bomb Evidence

A person close to the investigation previously told the AP the bombs consisted of explosives put in 1.6-gallon pressure cookers, one with shards of metal and ball bearings, the other with nails.

Investigators in white jumpsuits fanned out across the streets, rooftops and awnings around the blast site in search of clues on Wednesday.

Investigators in white jumpsuits fanned out across Boylston Street in search of clues on Wednesday. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

They combed through debris amid the toppled orange sports drink dispensers, trash cans and sleeves of plastic cups strewn across the street at the marathon's finish line.

Also Wednesday, a doctor at Boston Medical Center said two patients, including a 5-year-old child, remain in critical condition there. Dozens of others have been released from hospitals around Boston.

The blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard, of Boston, and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Medford. The Shenyang Evening News, a state-run Chinese newspaper, identified the third victim as Lu Lingzi. She was a graduate student at Boston University.

(TM and (C) Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

A Closer Look At Today's German Stock Market Flash Crash

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Source: Zero Hedge

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:32

While most of the US was in deep REM sleep, the Germany stock index, the DAX, had a flashback to May 2010: starting at 3:44 am EDT, in the span of 6 minutes or much faster than the gradual drop that led to the US flash crash from three years ago, the DAX went from well and solidly-bid to having zero liquidity... and dumping nearly 200 points in the process. Whether it was rumors of a (subsequently validated) rating agency downgrade, or just an algo testing its quote stuffing ability, the moves showed vividly that when the current rosy paradigm shifts abruptly and violently, all those hoping to be the first out of the door and hit the sell button, simply won't be able to do so. Because sadly there is no such thing as a free "4 year long zero volume levitation" - one must always pay the piper in the end.

Charts below from Nanex:

1. June 2013 DAX Futures Depth of Book.

Shouldn't demand increase as prices drop?Only if it is demand for physical gold it seems.

2. June 2013 eMini Futures Depth of Book.

eMini basically shrugs it off, DAX influence weak.

Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 5(3 votes)

Gold's VIX Term Structure 'Most Inverted' Since Lehman | Zero Hedge

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 10:27

While there are obviously sellers in the gold market, there is also a dramatic spike in demand for protecting what is still being held (remember there is a buyer for every seller). Gold's short-term VIX (implied volatility) has spiked to 18 month highs above 29% but it is the steepness of the term-structure of volatility that shows just how much protection is being sought. The difference between the one-month volatility and one-year volatility is almost 10 vols - the highest level of inversion (short-term risk higher than long-term) since Lehman. It seems the market is extremely fearful of further volatility in the short-term but less concerned longer-term. What is also worrisome is that the last two times that Gold's VIX was this much higher than the S&P's VIX was June 2006 (when the first hedge funds started to implode from Subprime) and Sept 2008 (Lehman). It appears that gold volatility is signalling counterparty risk concerns once again.

Gold's short-term VIX is its highest relative to medium-term VIX since Lehman as protection is bid...

and it seems the last two times that goldprotection was in such big demand relative to stocks was when counterparty risk was rising once again...

Charts: Bloomberg

Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 5(8 votes)

Gold and Stocks Crash '... Terrorist Attack In Boston? | Washington's Blog

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 10:26

Something Wicked this Way Comes?Gold is crashing the most in 30 years.

Zero Hedge notes:

The rapidity of gold's drop is impressive, concerning, and disorderly. We have seen two other such instances of disorderly 'hurried' selling in the last five years. In July 2008, gold quickly dropped 21% '' seemingly pre-empting the Lehman debacle and the collapse of the western banking system. In September 2011, gold fell 20% in a short period '' as Europe's risks exploded and stocks slumped prompting a globally co-ordinated central bank intervention the likes of which we have not seen before. Given the almost-record-breaking drop in gold in the last few days, we wonder what is coming?

Zero Hedge also points out that the extreme volatility in gold indicates counter-party risk concerns.

Stocks '' and virtually all asset classes '' are currently down:

In addition, 2 explosions at the Boston marathon today have killed several people and injured scores more.

The explosions are reported to have come from a trash can.

There is no indication yet whether this is a terrorist attack (or false flag), although there is panic like during 9/11. For example, the Boston Globe tweets.

Finish line volunteers told to run. Describe fear ''like 9/11 or the tsunami.''

Gold Wipes $560 Billion From Central Banks as Equities Rally - Bloomberg

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 10:25

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Would Cyprus Gold Sale Set Dangerous Precedent?

Investors are dumping gold funds at the fastest pace in two years in favor of equities, compounding a slump that has wiped $560 billion from the value of central bank reserves.

Exchange-traded products linked to gold dropped $37.2 billion in 2013 as the metal reached a two-year low yesterday. Gold funds suffered net outflows of $11.2 billion this year through April 10, the most since 2011, while global and U.S. equity funds had net inflows of $21.25 billion, according to Cambridge, Massachusetts-based EPFR Global.

Central banks are among the biggest losers because they own 31,694.8 metric tons, or 19 percent of all the gold mined, according to the World Gold Council in London. After rallying for 12 straight years, the metal has tumbled 28 percent from its September 2011 record of $1,923.70 an ounce. Growing economies and corporate profits, along with slowing inflation, boosted global equities by $2.28 trillion this year at the expense of the traditional store of value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

''There's a perception that risk has been lessened, and with that, investors are looking for assets that either generate income or have growth potential, neither of which gold has,'' Anthony Valeri, a market strategist with LPL Financial Corp. in San Diego, which oversees $350 billion. ''We've seen a grab for yield, and without a yield, gold has been left out.''

Bear MarketGold futures in New York slumped 17 percent this year, the worst start since 1981, after a 9.3 percent drop on April 15 that capped the biggest two-day decline since January 1980. The metal tumbled into a bear market on April 12, losing more than 20 percent since the record close in August 2011, the common definition of bear market.

Bullion lost ground as the U.S. recovery gained momentum, the dollar rose and Federal Reserve policy makers signaled they may scale back on stimulus, curbing demand for gold as a haven. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said April 10 that the turn in the gold cycle was quickening and that investors should sell gold.

The metal's appeal as a hedge against inflation has been eroded partly by the slowing rise in consumer prices even after five years of government stimulus. The cost of living in the U.S. fell 0.2 percent in March, the first drop in four months, as cheaper gasoline and clothing kept consumer prices in check, Labor Department data showed yesterday. Inflation expectations as measured by the break-even rate for five-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities reached the lowest since Jan. 2.

Attractive EquitiesAt the same time, the S&P 500 has more than doubled from its 12-year low in 2009, helped by the Federal Reserve's unprecedented bond purchases, record-low interest rates and three straight years of profit growth.

''The equity trade is looking attractive because the fundamentals in the U.S. economy continue to improve,'' John Stephenson, a senior vice president and portfolio manager who helps oversee C$2.8 billion ($2.74 billion) at First Asset Investment Management Inc. in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. ''It's been a great 12-year run, but there's increasingly less reason to be in gold.''

Gold, which typically doesn't pay interest or generate profits on its own, has traditionally become more popular when investors are concerned that values of other assets will be eroded by inflation.

'Bubble'''If you think about the intrinsic value of gold, there's not a lot,'' Guy Debelle, assistant governor at Australia's central bank, which owns 79.9 tons, said at a business lunch in Canberra on April 16. ''Gold often has a high price because people believe that other people believe that it's worth a lot. When you describe other markets like that, the word 'bubble' gets thrown about.''

Individual investors added $19.5 billion this year to mutual funds holding U.S. equities, after removing $400 billion in the previous four years, according to the Washington-based Investment Company Institute.

''Since the opportunity cost to hold gold was very high, people moved to the more remunerative assets like equities and cash,'' said Walter ''Bucky'' Hellwig, who helps manage $17 billion of assets at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

Remaining BullishSome investors remain bullish.

Billionaire John Paulson, 57, is sticking with his bet on higher prices. He started 2013 with about $9.5 billion invested across his hedge funds, of which about 85 percent is invested in gold share classes. This year's slump through April 15 erased $1.5 billion of his personal wealth, on paper. Paulson is sticking to the thesis that the metal is the best hedge against inflation and currency debasement as countries pump money into their economies, according to the New York-based firm that manages about $18 billion.

''The outlook for gold for us is really positive in the long term,'' Catherine Raw, a fund manager in London at BlackRock Inc., which oversees about $3.8 trillion globally, said in an interview yesterday on Bloomberg Television with Francine Lacqua. ''The probability of inflation over the next five years is higher, not lower, than it was last year. Other things, such as cash losing money, the Cyprus event, savings being targeted, means people are looking for alternatives.''

Top HoldersBlackRock is the top holder in the iShares Gold Trust, with 5.9 percent, and the fifth-biggest in the SPDR Gold Trust, an exchange-traded fund backed by the metal. Paulson & Co. is the largest investor in the SPDR at 5.7 percent, according to government filings. Holdings in that fund fell to 1,145.92 tons on April 16, the lowest since April 23, 2010.

Global ETP holdings are down 9.7 percent this year. Assets reached a record 2,632.5 tons in December. The value fell on April 15 to $103.24 billion, the lowest since May 2011.

Gold's slump has eroded the value of reserves held by the world's central banks and the International Monetary Fund to about $1.4 trillion from the record $1.96 trillion, based on World Gold Council data. Policy banks added 534.6 tons last year, the most since 1964, according to the group.

The U.S. and Germany are the biggest holders, with the metal accounting for more than 70 percent of their total reserves. Russia, the seventh-biggest holder with 976.9 tons, boosted buying in the past seven years.

The selloff was sparked by mounting concern that Cyprus would be forced to sell gold from its reserves and ''potentially reflecting a larger monetization of gold reserves across other European central banks,'' Goldman Sachs analysts said in a report yesterday. The island nation owns 13.9 tons, according to the council.

'Extremely Concerning'The gold price decline is ''extremely concerning,'' South Africa Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus told reporters in Cape Town yesterday. The bank, which holds 125.1 tons, won't adjust its reserve policy following the slump, Marcus said.

Sri Lanka's central bank governor said falling prices are an opportunity for nations to raise gold reserves and that the island will ''favorably'' examine buying more. The Bank of Korea said the plunge isn't a ''big concern'' because holding the metal is part of a long-term strategy for diversifying currency reserves.

About $773 billion was wiped from the value of all gold holdings globally on April 15, to about $7.5 trillion from $8.3 trillion last week, based on futures and a 2011 estimate by the World Gold Council that 171,300 tons of the metal have been mined. The amount erased is greater than the market capitalization of all the stocks trading in Singapore, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Investors Selling''People are moving to equities as it is the most remunerative asset,'' Jeffrey Sica, who helps oversee more than $1 billion as the president of SICA Wealth Management in Morristown, New Jersey, said in an interview yesterday. Sica said he cut his gold holdings to about 7 percent from 20 percent of assets on concern that the plunge may continue.

Billionaire investor George Soros, who called bullion the ''ultimate asset bubble'' in 2010, reduced his stake in the SPDR gold fund by 55 percent in the fourth quarter.

''Gold has somehow lost the safe-haven status,'' said Robert Keck, the president of Princeton-based 6800 Capital LLC, which manages about $630 million. ''A lot of money has definitely flown into equities this year. While the economic data may have some hits and misses, equities are being clearly preferred over gold.''

To contact the reporters on this story: Debarati Roy in New York at; Joe Richter in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at

Enlarge imageGold Wipes $560 Billion From Central Banks as Equities RallyAthit Perawongmetha/Getty Images

Exchange-traded products linked to gold dropped $37.2 billion in 2013 as the metal reached a two-year low yesterday.

Exchange-traded products linked to gold dropped $37.2 billion in 2013 as the metal reached a two-year low yesterday. Photographer: Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images


April 17 (Bloomberg) -- Dominic Schnider, head of commodity research at UBS AG's wealth-management unit in Singapore, talks about gold prices and demand. He speaks with Susan Li on Bloomberg Television's "First Up." (Source: Bloomberg)


April 17 (Bloomberg) -- Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, talks about global commodity markets and investment strategy. Rogers also discusses the outlook for the U.S. dollar. He speaks with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television's "On the Move." (Source: Bloomberg)


April 16 (Bloomberg) -- Catherine Raw, fund manager at BlackRock Inc., discusses the investment appeal of platinum and palladium, and the outlook for gold prices. She speaks with Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television's "On the Move." (Source: Bloomberg)


April 17 (Bloomberg) -- Robert Aspin, Singapore-based investment strategist at Standard Chartered Bank, talks about global stocks, commodities including gold, and his investment strategy. He also discusses the outlook for China and Japan's economies with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television's "On the Move." (Source: Bloomberg)

After Gold Crash, Experts Point to Central Bank Manipulation

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 18:49

In the wake of gold prices cratering in recent days, more than a few prominent experts have already started pinning the blame on Western central banks '-- especially the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB).

According to numerous analysts, the central bankers are desperate to salvage their fiat currencies and eliminate competition as ''monetary authorities'' continue to create ever-greater quantities of euros and dollars out of thin air.

Some experts, whistleblowers, traders, and former officials say the Fed dumped as much as 400 or even 500 tons of ''paper gold'' on the market '-- metals that it might not even have '-- as part of a naked short sale aimed at driving down the prices. Other analysts, especially among the establishment, pointed to the ECB chief's recent suggestion that struggling European authorities in countries such as Cyprus would have to sell their precious metals to keep receiving bailouts.

Gold prices plummeted from above $1,550 an ounce on April 11 to below $1,400 by Tuesday, with April 15, seeing the biggest single-day drop in some three decades. Prices for silver witnessed similarly massive declines, dropping to below $24 from around $28 less than a week ago. Analysts referred to the plunges as a ''blood bath'' that triggered even more sell orders.

However, all of the economic fundamentals that sent gold soaring from about $400 an ounce a decade ago to more than $1,900 an ounce '-- wild currency-printing binges by privately owned central banks such as the Fed, for example '-- remain in play. Indeed, monetary authorities in the West have actually expanded their unprecedented so-called quantitative easing (QE) programs in recent years amid a supposed effort to revive the economy.

Economist Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, assistant treasury secretary during the Reagan administration and former editor of the Wall Street Journal, is one of many experts who argue that the recent collapse in gold and silver prices was carefully orchestrated by the Fed and a coalition of allied mega-banks. In a widely cited analysis of the recent plunge in precious metals entitled ''Assault On Gold Update,'' he said the U.S. central bank was ''rigging all markets'' '-- bond prices, interest rates, and of course, the bullion market.

The purpose, Roberts argued, is to protect the value of the dollar while the Fed continues adding to the supply of fiat U.S. currency faster than demand increases. If the dollar's exchange rate were to fall, prices would rise, the Fed would lose control over interest rates, the bond market would collapse, and turmoil would reign in the financial system, Roberts noted. So, the U.S. central bank had to act. According to Roberts and other experts, it did so by selling ''paper'' gold that may not even really exist '-- naked short selling, in other words.

''Rapidly rising bullion prices were an indication of loss of confidence in the dollar and were signaling a drop in the dollar's exchange rate,'' Roberts explained. ''The Fed used naked shorts in the paper gold market to offset the price effect of a rising demand for bullion possession. Short sales that drive down the price trigger stop-loss orders that automatically lead to individual sales of bullion holdings once their loss limits are reached.''

Ex-Goldman Sachs employee and veteran London metals trader Andrew Maguire, who soared to prominence after blowing the whistle on the Fed's manipulation of gold and silver prices, offered a stunning analysis of what happened in the bullion markets in recent days as well. In an interview with King World News, Maguire said that more than 500 tons of ''paper gold'' had been dumped on the market on April 12 '-- the day gold prices started dramatically tumbling.

''It just amazes me how people concentrate on what's happening in one paper market,'' Maguire explained, adding that he expected a rebound in prices as shortages develop in the physical gold market amid massive central bank purchases out of countries like China, Russia, Brazil, and India. ''I think we've reached a point of capitulation. I cannot see how the central bank buying cannot overwhelm all of these short sales, despite the leverage.''

Former U.S. Treasury policy chief Roberts cited Maguire and agreed, pointing to ''powerful'' circumstantial evidence of Fed intervention in the gold market. However, despite dramatic central bank manipulation, the scam could be on the verge of coming apart at the seams, Roberts explained, citing strong signals that the Fed would not be able to come up with the physical supply on demand.

''Unless the authorities have the actual metal with which to back up the short selling, they could be met with demands for deliveries,'' Roberts noted, pointing to the Fed's bizarre decision not to send Germany's gold after it was formally requested. ''Unable to cover the shorts with real metal, the scheme would be exposed.''

So what does it all mean? ''I see the orchestrated effort to suppress the price of gold and silver as a sign that the authorities are frightened that trouble is brewing that they cannot control unless there is strong confidence in the dollar,'' Roberts concluded. ''Otherwise, what is the point of the heavy short selling and orchestrated announcements of gold sales in advance of the sales?''

Of course, Roberts is hardly the only prominent expert expressing deep suspicion about what is going on in the bullion markets. Robert Fitzwilson, founder of the investment management and financial advisory firm The Portola Group, argues that what is happening is essentially a heist aimed at looting the wealth of innocent people worldwide '-- indeed, an act of ''terrorism'' perpetrated by the establishment against unsuspecting victims.

''It is a robbery,'' he explained matter-of-factly. ''It is about taking that person's money or other valuable items. The purpose of Friday's mugging was not to send a message. It was about confiscating wealth through fear, and it worked beautifully. Untold billions of real wealth was forcibly transferred to concentrated positions at certain institutions and countries through this act of financial terrorism. It is not personal. It is simply about taking your wealth.''

James West, publisher of the influential investment-focused Midas Letter, argued that the recent collapse in metals prices was actually the best example yet of how the Fed-sponsored ''American Syndicate of Collusion and Manipulation (AMSCAM)'' operates. ''It's as plain as the false U.S. economic recovery, and anybody who can't see it should consider a lobotomy,'' he wrote.

Simplified, West said, the scam works through an unholy alliance of mega-banks such as Goldman Sachs building up massive short contract positions in the futures market without executing the trades, putting up only five percent of the cash for the contracts. The Fed-backed bankers then get the establishment press to encourage shorting gold, pointing to an alleged ''recovery'' in the U.S. economy. Finally, the trade is executed; sending prices plummeting and encouraging holders of physical gold to start selling while the bankers ''mop up'' as the market craters. ''Rinse and repeat,'' West wrote of the scam.

''The sheer intensity of the Friday gold assault is indicative of the depth of commitment by the members of AmScam's group to the destruction of gold's price correlation to economic and currency health,'' he added. ''This latest attack on gold is a direct response to the Japanese launch of its intensified $1.4 trillion asset purchase program. The move by the Japanese has notched up the currency devaluation competition, and AMSCAM realized that this move would drive investors away from currencies generally and into precious metals. This is a bald-faced attempt to destroy the appeal of gold as a safe haven against debased fiat currencies.''

Even as much of the ''establishment'' gloats about the crashing of gold prices '-- The New York Times' discredited Keynesian ''economist'' Paul Krugman was quick to celebrate the news as a vindication of his radical theories '-- countless experts say now may be a good time to buy more physical metals at a discount. This writer attempted to purchase some today; the little store was packed and most of the bullion was sold out, including silver that had not even arrived yet. Indeed, the fundamentals have not changed: central banks are ramping up the currency printing, none of the systemic problems that led to the recent financial crisis has actually been addressed, and the economy has hardly entered a true, sustainable ''recovery.''

''It seems to me that what is intact at the moment is the determination of central banks to print their way out of trouble, which is terrifically bullish for gold over the long term,'' James Grant, publisher of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, told Bloomberg in a TV interview about the recent crash in prices. ''Gold is not so much a hedge against inflation as it is against monetary disorder.'... I am indeed bullish on the stuff '-- bullish but chagrined.''

Citing a wide array of experts, The New American magazine explained in detail how the Fed was manipulating markets, including gold and silver prices, in a 2010 report about how monetary authorities have essentially rigged markets in everything from stocks and bonds to bullion. ''Central banks stand ready to lease gold in increasing quantities, should the price of gold rise,'' then-Fed boss Alan Greenspan told the House Banking Committee in 1998. In other words, if gold prices go up, the central bank will make sure they come back down. The Fed has publicly admitted as much.

Even before Greenspan's infamous admission, a ''confidential'' Fed document dated April 5, 1961, available in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis' archives, revealed the central bank's hand in the metals market. ''Monetary authorities in the United States '... have maintained the stability (and primacy) of the dollar in the international currency structure by standing ready to buy gold from, and sell it to, foreign monetary authorities who either need or acquire dollars for exchange purposes,'' reads the paper, entitled ''U.S. Foreign Exchange Operations: Needs and Methods.'' The minutes from Fed ''Open Market Committee'' meetings showed the central bankers jubilantly admitting that even mentioning a possible gold sale would drive the price down. The Fed, of course, also admits that it is a privately owned institution.

As of noon Eastern Time on April 16, gold had rebounded by about $40, though even the most determined bulls say the price could go even lower. Still, numerous experts say it may be a good time to buy '-- especially if there really is a shortage in the physical market developing, as evidence and analysts suggest. Meanwhile, as The New American reported in February, 2012 saw a record demand for gold, with much of it coming from central bankers in BRICS countries.

''On the other end of this ripple [caused by the Fed dumping gold], almost the same amount of gold is being purchased by the Chinese,'' explained CEO Art Thompson with The John Birch Society, a conservative organization and affiliate of this magazine that follows the issue closely. ''Those that have the gold rule; that's the way it is. Follow the flow of gold, you can see the flow of power '-- that is an ancient reality.'' He added that the establishment media was also pumping out articles aimed at getting average people to sell their precious metals, but the reality of what is going on is not being addressed.

The socialist and communist-minded regimes ruling the BRICS countries, meanwhile, recently signed their latest declaration calling for a global currencymanaged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that would presumably replace the U.S. dollar as the world reserve eventually. They also called for Third World rulers to have a larger role in the international monetary system. As they continue gobbling up gold at what strongly appear to be artificially depressed prices, the BRICS rulers may ultimately get what they want '-- at least if and when the dollar finally loses its prized status as the global reserve, forcing a complete redesign of the global system. In the end, if nothing is done, Americans will likely end up among the biggest losers.


Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more.He can be reached at

Related articles:

Fed Manipulations in the Crosshairs

BRICS Regimes Forge New World Bank, Call for Global Currency

Amid Record Demand in 2012, Central Banks Scramble to Buy Gold

Arizona Legislature Approves Gold and Silver as Money

Waking up to a World Currency

The Emerging Global Fed

Gold Plunges Most in 33 Years in Record-High Trading

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U.S. Troops Faced Pressure Cooker IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 01:16

The crude explosive devices used against runners and spectators at the Boston Marathon were similar to the kitchen pot bombs aimed at U.S. troops on foot patrol in Afghanistan, law enforcement and Congressional officials said Tuesday.

For nearly 10 years, presidential directives, Homeland Security Department reports and local law enforcement officials have warned of the eventual threat within the U.S. of ''pressure cooker'' bombs developed by terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.

After briefings from law enforcement and U.S. intelligence officials, Rep. Randy McCaul (R-Tex.) said that the two devices which detonated in Boston appeared to be ''pressure cooker'' bombs. Law enforcement officials later confirmed that the investigation was proceeding on the basis that the devices were ''pressure cooker'' bombs.

But Rick DesLaurier, the FBI's special agent in charge in Boston, stressed that ''the investigation is in its infancy.'' At a news conference in Boston, DesLauriers said there had thus far been ''no claims of responsibility and the range of suspects and motives is wide open.''

DesLauriers asked the public to contact authorities if they knew anyone who had recently expressed a special ''interest in research in how to create explosive devices.''

In Afghanistan, Taliban operatives who lacked the wherewithal or expertise to build ''improvised explosive devices'' capable of destroying the huge, V-shaped hull MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) turned to ''pressure cooker'' bombs as anti-personnel devices. They would be placed along paths expected to be used by U.S. troops on foot patrol.

In the summer of 2011, explosives specialists from the 2nd Battalion, Eighth Marines, showed several of the devices they had found and defused to an embedded reporter. One of the devices had even been placed in a tree, the specialists said.

The terrorists would take a simple kitchen pot, a pressure cooker was preferred, pack it with ammonium nitrate and metal filings, nails and even rocks to increase the lethality, and rig the device to detonate by wire or by a remote device, sometimes a garage door opener.

When triggered, the blast would seek the path of least resistance and most of the force and the debris would blow out the top of the pressure cooker, in effect acting much like a military ''shaped'' charge that concentrates the force of an anti-tank shell.

As far back as 2004, a Homeland Security Department memo warned of the pressure cooker bomb threat, calling it ''a technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.''

''Typically, these bombs are made by placing TNT or other explosives in a pressure cooker and attaching a blasting cap at the top of the pressure cooker,'' the memo said.

The attraction of the pressure cooker bomb for the terrorist is that they are cheap, relatively easy to make, and lethal.

A presidential directive on homeland security in 2007 warned that ''The threat of explosive attacks in the United States is of great concern considering terrorists'ability to make, obtain, and use explosives, the ready availability of components used in IED construction, the relative technological ease with which an IED can be fashioned, and the nature of our free society.''

In 2010, a joint FBI and Homeland Securty intelligence report issued in 2010 warned that ''Placed carefully, such devices provide little or no indication of an impending attack.''

Two years ago, ''Inspire,'' the online magazine of Al Qaeda in the Arabian, published an article on how to make a pressure cooker bomb. The title of the article was ''How To Make A Bomb In The Kitchen Of Your Mom.''

April 17th, 2013 | IED War | 199521

Same lady at Sandy Hook Shooting was at the Boston...

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Same lady at Sandy Hook Shooting was at the Boston Marathon yesterday @adamcurry #noagenda #recyclingslaves

Wait a sec.... Analytic cameras? "Advanced Software Network"? WTF?

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''It is quite the counterterrorism effort,'' said Mr. Roman, who runs Roman & Associates, a New York firm.

For major events in New York and other large cities, Mr. Roman said the police would typically weld manhole covers shut, while also examining the entire route just before the race. They would also place snipers on rooftops, with helicopters overhead. Analytic cameras in the city would also be used, he said.

''They have all the analytic cameras in the city focusing on the race with their advanced software network, reading license plates,'' Mr. Roman said.

Source: BadChad's ThoughtPile

Mon, 15 Apr 2013 16:23

BOSTON '-- A series of bombs exploded near the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday, leaving two people dead and more than two dozen injured, according to the Boston Police Department.

A third explosion was heard just before 4 p.m., about an hour after the first two blasts. The police were apparently aware of that device before the explosion occurred.

The Associated Press, citing an intelligence official, said that two other devices were found at the marathon and were being dismantled.

People were being cleared from an area near the Copley Plaza Hotel because a package was found on a footbridge nearby.

The blasts took place about four hours after the start of the men's race, which meant that there were still several thousand runners yet to finish the race.

The Boston police confirmed they were looking into the explosions, but made no further comment. A senior United States government official said that the Boston police and the F.B.I. said they had received no reports in recent days about a threatened attack on the marathon and that there was no warning on Monday.

Several news outlets reported that a loud explosion was heard on the north side of Boylston Street, near a photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another explosion was heard several seconds later.

The Associated Press reported that authorities were helping injured runners leave the scene and that bloodied spectators were being carried to a medical tent that was being used for runners.

Eyewitnesses said the explosions were about 15 seconds apart. A few runners stopped and turned around after they heard the blasts. Some runners were seen crying and some said they saw limbs on the ground. Runners were directed to the runners' meeting area and hotels several blocks away.

Bruce Mendelsohn, who was at a party in a building near the explosion, said on Twitter that he saw blood on the sidewalks and about a dozen casualties.

Authorities in large cities are typically on the highest level of alert for events like a marathon, said Anthony Roman, a security expert.

''It is quite the counterterrorism effort,'' said Mr. Roman, who runs Roman & Associates, a New York firm.

For major events in New York and other large cities, Mr. Roman said the police would typically weld manhole covers shut, while also examining the entire route just before the race. They would also place snipers on rooftops, with helicopters overhead. Analytic cameras in the city would also be used, he said.

''They have all the analytic cameras in the city focusing on the race with their advanced software network, reading license plates,'' Mr. Roman said.

The Boston Marathon is one of running's most storied events, established in 1897 and one of the six World Marathon Majors. The event typically attracts an estimated 500,000 spectators and requires certain qualifying times for runners to compete.

The course winds throughout downtown Boston as well as several outlying cities, including Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley and Newton.

Unlike many sporting events that take place in closed arenas, marathons are known and heralded for their sprawl, allowing throngs of spectators to line the 26.2-mile course.

Within minutes of the explosions on Monday, social media and cable networks projected the images of gray smoke on Boylston Street, with emergency crews on the scene.

After the explosions, a spokesman for the New York Police Department said security was being increased at hotels and other prominent locations in New York. The Police Department has sent officials to Boston as well.

Reporting was contributed by Steve Eder, William K. Rashbaum and Mary Pilon from New York, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

UM Coach: Bomb Sniffing Dogs, Spotters on Roofs Before Explosions | Mobile AL, Pensacola FL News, Weather, Sports | WPMI-TV

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 19:56

University of Mobile's Cross Country Coach, who was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a series of explosions went off, said he thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines.‹"They kept making announcements to the participants do not worry, it's just a training exercise," Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15.Stevenson said he saw law enforcement spotters on the roofs at the start of the race. He's been in plenty of marathons in Chicago, D.C., Chicago, London and other major metropolitan areas but has never seen that level of security before.‹"Evidently, I don't believe they were just having a training exercise," Stevenson said. "I think they must have had some sort of threat or suspicion called in."Stevenson had just finished the marathon before the explosions. Stevenson said his wife had been sitting in one of the seating sections where an explosion went off, but thankfully she left her seat and was walking to meet up with him.

"We are just so thankful right now," Stevenson said.

Cordite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 19:47

UK Government factoriesIn Great Britain cordite was developed for military use at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, and at the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills from 1889 onwards.

In World War I a great cordite factory, HM Factory, Gretna, which straddled the Scotland-England border at Gretna was opened to manufacture cordite for the British Army and for British Commonwealth forces. A separate factory, The Royal Navy Cordite Factory, Holton Heath, was opened to manufacture cordite for the Royal Navy. Both the Gretna and the Holton Heath cordite factories closed at the end of World War I; and the Gretna factory was demolished.

By the start of World War II Holton Heath had reopened, and an additional factory for the Royal Navy, The Royal Navy Propellant Factory, Caerwent, opened at Caerwent in Wales. A very large Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Bishopton, was opened in Scotland to manufacture cordite for the British Army and the Royal Air Force. A new cordite factory at Waltham Abbey and two additional ROF's'--ROF Ranskill and ROF Wrexham'--were also opened. Cordite produced in these factories was sent to Filling Factories for filling into ammunition.

MoS Agency Factories and ICI Nobel in World War IIThe British Government set up additional cordite factories, not under Royal Ordnance Factory control but as Agency Factories run on behalf of the Ministry of Supply (MoS). The company of ICI Nobel, at Ardeer, was asked in 1939 to construct and operate six factories in southern Scotland. Four of these six were involved in cordite or firearm-propellant manufacture. The works at MoS Drungans (Dumfries) produced guncotton that was converted to cordite at MoS Dalbeattie (triple-base cordite) and at MoS Powfoot (monobase granulated guncotton for small-arms). A smaller site at Girvan, South Ayrshire, now occupied by Grant's distillery, produced cordite and TNT.[9] The ICI Ardeer site also had a mothballed World War I Government-owned cordite factory.[10]

35% of British cordite produced between 1942 and 1945 came from Ardeer and these agency factories.[11] ICI ran a similar works at Deer Park near Melbourne in Australia and in South Africa.[11]

Overseas suppliesAdditional sources of propellant were also sought from the British Commonwealth in both World War I and World War II. Canada, South Africa and Australia, had ICI-owned factories that, in particular, supplied large quantities of cordite.

World War ICanadian Explosives Limited was formed in 1910 to produce rifle cordite, at its Beloeil factory, for the QuebecArsenal. By November 1915 production had been expanded to produce 350,000 lb (159,000 kg) of cordite per month for the Imperial Munitions Board.[12]

The Imperial Munitions Board set up a number of additional explosives factories in Canada. It built The British Cordite Ltd factory at Nobel, Ontario, in 1916/1917, to produce cordite. Production started in mid-1917.[12]

Canadian Explosives Limited built an additional cordite factory at Nobel, Ontario. Work stated in February 1918 and was finished on 24 August 1918. It was designed to produce 1,500,000 lb (681,000 kg) of cordite per month.[12]

Factories, specifically ''heavy industry'' (Long, and Marland 2009) ones, were very important to war and were a large source of the creation of munitions that soldiers needed during the war. Cordite factories were typically employed by women and this presented women's involvement in the war effort (Cook 2006). The cordite factory workers put their life in danger every day they packed the shells but regardless of the risks they continued their work. Cordite factories and the dangerous work which was done inside improved and excelled the direction of war and the munitions soldiers had available to them.

World War IIThe United States did not use cordite, however, several ammunition filling factories were set up in Canada in World War II to fill American propellant supplied by the USA under Lend-Lease. India, Pakistan and Australia were also approached. Cordite was used in "Little Boy", the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during World War II. A modified anti-aircraft cannon barrel using cordite fired one subcritical piece of U-235 at another to form a supercritical mass.

Whistler Question Mobile

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Heiliger 'stunned' by explosions, but escapes injury in marathon finish-line blasts

Runners getting set to take part in the Boston Marathon were warned beforehand that they were going to die, said a Squamish resident who took part in the race.

Mike Heiliger, 59, said a woman holding several bags was telling runners who were picking up their pre-race packages in downtown Boston on Saturday (April 13) that they were going to die if they participated in the event.

''I was downtown on Saturday and you know, you see these people on the street and think it's just some nutbar,'' he told The Chief from his Boston hotel on Monday (April 15). ''It was a little creepy because you can identify who the runners are and I heard her say to this runner two feet away from me that, 'If you run tomorrow you're going to die.'''

Heiliger said he thought about telling the woman that the race was Monday, but decided not to correct her.

Heiliger was in the process of calling the police after his conversation with The Chief.

''I thought it was just a nut and maybe she was a nut but she was holding a couple of bags like she just got off a plane and was accosting runners on Saturday,'' he said.

The Squamish resident was one of a group of about 15 runners from the North Shore and he said they're all fine.

''We all run in a run club and as far as I know all of our people are OK,'' he said. ''Some of them didn't get to finish, unfortunately, because when the bomb went off '-- that was it. They [race officials] stopped everybody.''

Heiliger finished the race in 3:29:51 and was making his way back to his hotel when the explosions went off.

''I was just coming to the hotel and I heard all these sirens,'' he said. ''But you're in a big city and when you hear sirens you think nothing of it.''

It was the fourth time Heiliger had raced in Boston and said the scene was disturbing.

''I'm just stunned right now,'' he said. ''It's a terrible situation. Boston has really embraced this race, they really get up for this thing and they're so friendly. For something like this to happen it's mind boggling.''

He said whoever set up the explosions had put some thought into it.

''Whoever did this knew what they were doing,'' he said. ''They knew where to put where the most people were.''

Despite the disastrous day, Heiliger said the tragedy will not dampen his enthusiasm for the race.

''I think I would still come back to Boston,'' he said. ''I bet security will be insane from here on in but I take the attitude that if you stay away, you let the crazies win. Time will tell what comes of this. This is huge. They [locals] want to hang someone out on the streets.''

For updates on this developing story, check back with or see this week's print edition of The Chief.

Listen to interview

Boston to Deploy Mass-Casualty Tablet Device During Marathon

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:09

Press ReleaseCreated: April 12, 2013

Related ContentResources

Related Terms

MoreBoston EMS is deploying a new, off-the-shelf, lightweight mobile device for the first time at the Boston Marathon on April 15.

The platform, from SafetyPAD, is intended for use in mass-casualty situations gives EMS personnel the ability to carry into crowds and assess a patient upon arrival, document in realtime, transmit data to transport units before they arrive, and other features.

Boston EMS will utilize the new Android-based program for bike and gator teams along race route.

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Eyewitness: Authorities Announced ''Drill'' Before Boston Explosions

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:06

UM coach ''thought it was odd'' bomb sniffing dogs were at start and finish lines

Paul Joseph April 15, 2013

An eyewitness to the two explosions at the Boston Marathon today said that a ''drill'' was repeatedly announced before the bombs exploded and that he ''thought it was odd'' bomb sniffing dogs were in place before the blast.

Image: Twitter

University of Mobile's Cross Country Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15 News, ''They kept making announcements on the loud speaker that it was just a drill and there was nothing to worry about. ''It seemed like there was some sort of threat, but they kept telling us it was just a drill.''

The news station also reports that Stevenson ''thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines.''

Stevenson then describes hearing the explosions as he ran away from the scene, having just completed the marathon.

If this report is accurate, it clearly suggests there could have been some degree of prior knowledge of the bombing, which killed two people and injured at least 23.

The fact that the explosions were preceded and overlapped by a''drill'' of an almost identical nature mirrors other major terror attacks, such as the 7/7 bombings in London.

It is important to emphasize that the New York Times recently reported that most of the recent domestic terror plots in the United States ''were facilitated by the F.B.I.,'' suggesting that today's incident in Boston may have been part of such an operation.

It remains to be seen how the media and the Obama administration will exploit this incident depending who gets the blame, but Rahm Emanuel's ''never let a serious crisis go to waste'' advisory is sure to be in play.

More on this story as it develops'.....


Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for and Prison He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

This article was posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm

UM Coach: Bomb Sniffing Dogs Were at Start, Finish Lines for ''Drill''

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:06

Local 15 TVApril 15, 2013

[Editor's Note: Just as with the Madrid bombing and 7/7 bombings in London and countless others, a drill coincides with the real event. This is done so that if the compartmentalized operation is exposed the operatives executing the attack can simply claim they were part of the drill.]

University of Mobile's Cross Country Coach, who was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a series of explosions went off, said he thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines.

''They kept making announcements on the loud speaker that it was just a drill and there was nothing to worry about,'' Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15. ''It seemed like there was some sort of threat, but they kept telling us it was just a drill.''

Stevenson had just finished the marathon. His wife had been sitting in one of the seating sections where an explosion went off, but thankfully she left her seat and was walking to meet up with him.

''There was just smoke, another explosion went off,'' Stevenson said. ''We all started running. There were people crying.''

Stevenson said there was no question in his mind that this was an intentional act.

Local 15 News is talking with more locals who were taking part in the run.

This article was posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Tags: terrorism

More Booms

Man who died in blast lived in foil-wrapped home, filmed neighbors -

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 18:28

A man who apparently blew himself up with explosives in his Costa Mesa home was known to record video of his neighbors from his property, prompting calls to police from residents, authorities said Monday.

Neighbors described Kevin Harris, 52, as odd but harmless with a history of mental illness. They made a point to walk at a brisk pace past his house, which was wrapped in foil, neighbors told The Times. Cryptic notes would appear, taped to a tree in the front yard.

A neighbor showed The Times one such note taped to the tree Saturday morning. It read: ''For your information: My introspection and my adversaries behavior have convinced me that electronic mind reading is now reality.''

The note is signed by Harris and points people to a rambling, 17,000-word essay titled ''The Pricker.''

The essay warns of dangers inside the home.

''I am at 3152 Bermuda Dr., Costa Mesa, CA, USA. You can tell it's me because I am the only one who can get into my house,'' the document reads. ''I think it may be dangerous for you to come to my house alone.''

The essay, entitled ''The Pricker: A True Story of Assassination, Terrorism And High Treason,'' includes references to aliens, the O.J. Simpson trial, the U.S. government and ''the pricker,'' which the author describes as ''an assassin's weapon that deposits biological agents into a victim's skin, on contact, without their knowledge.''

The document appears to have been first written in 2002 and updated in 2005. The website labels it a ''draft of a work in progress.''

Neighbors said Harris would sit in a chair in his yard and never let anyone inside his home. There were cameras outside his house, neighbors said, but they never knew if they were working.

About 5:45 p.m. Sunday, Costa Mesa police were called to Harris' home for a report of a man down. When they got there, Harris got up and went back inside. He told police he was fine, and he was wearing a hat that said in effect, ''I don't need any help,'' said Sgt. Jerry Hildeman.

Two hours later, police were back and Harris was dead from apparently blowing himself up. Three explosive devices were found inside the home. Two of them were crudely made, authorities said, so they were detonated.

Some 16 homes in the neighborhood were evacuated and multiple agencies -- including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Orange County Sheriff's Department, Costa Mesa police and the Orange County Fire Authority -- remained on the scene Monday morning.


Alleged attackers wrote on Audrie Pott's body, lawyer says

Police seek motive in burning of man in SUV at Long Beach 7-Eleven

Boston Marathon blasts prompt LAPD to beef up sports-event security

Chad says Islamist leader Belmokhtar 'blew himself up'

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Source: The Daily Star >> Live News

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 16:00

PARIS: Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a one-eyed Islamist militant leader who Chad claimed was killed in Mali last month, died by setting off explosives in despair over the death of another militant, Chad's President Idriss Deby said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"We have proof of his death. We couldn't film it because he blew himself up after the death of (Abdelhamid) Abou Zeid. He wasn't the only one. Three or four other jihadists (also) blew themselves up in despair," he told French media outlets TV5 Monde, Radio France Internationale and Le Monde in a joint interview recorded in N'Djamena on Saturday.

Belmokhtar, an Algerian Al-Qaeda veteran, was the mastermind of the brazen January assault on an Algerian gas plant that left 37 foreign hostages dead.

In early March, Chad announced that the militant had been killed during fierce fighting in the Ifoghas mountains, on Mali's northeastern border with Algeria.

But France, which has led the offensive against Islamists in Mali since January 11, has so far only been willing to confirm the death of Abou Zeid, a key commander of Al-Qaeda's North African branch (AQIM), saying it will carry out DNA tests on killed rebels.

Deby added that he was "perfectly" sure that Belmokhtar was dead. "We identified him," he said.

Deby also said he believed that seven French hostages taken captive by militants in the region are no longer in Mali. "I personally think that there are French (hostages) alive in the hands of jihadists, but I'm not that sure that that's in Mali".

In total, 15 French nationals have been taken hostages in Africa, and on Tuesday AQIM said one of them had died.

The president also said Chad's troops are now being withdrawn from Mali, with some of them having left already on Saturday.

"The face-to-face war with jihadists is finished. The Chadian army has no real skills to cope with a nebula. Chadian soldiers will return to Chad. They have completed their mission," he said, but without giving specifics.

Chad has contributed with a contingent of 2,000 soldiers.

Paris pulled out 100 soldiers ahead of schedule on Monday as part of a phased withdrawal of the majority of its 4,000 troops.

France has said it will leave 2,000 soldiers on the ground throughout the summer, reducing its presence by the end of the year to a "support force" of 1,000 fighting alongside a UN-mandated army of some 11,000 troops.

Deby said that "if the UN makes a request, Chad will provide Chadian soldiers to the UN."


Up to 15 dead after fire and blast at Texas fertilizer plant | Reuters

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Thu, 18 Apr 2013 09:21

1 of 5. The remains of a fertilizer plant burn after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Stone

By Regina Dennis

WEST, Texas | Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:25am EDT

WEST, Texas (Reuters) - A fiery explosion tore through a fertilizer plant and leveled dozens of homes in a small Texas town late on Wednesday, killing as many as 15 people, injuring more than 160 others and spewing toxic fumes that forced the evacuation of half the community, authorities said.

Police initially estimated that between five and 15 people had perished in the blast, which rocked the town of West, located about 20 miles north of Waco and 80 miles south of Dallas, shortly before 8 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

Public safety officials said they expected the death toll to climb as search teams combed through the rubble of the demolished plant and surrounding homes.

"I've never seen anything like this," McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said. "It looks like a war zone with all the debris."

Ground motion from the blast, triggered by a fire of unknown origin at the West Fertilizer Co plant, registered as a magnitude 2.1 seismic tremor and created a jolt felt in Dallas and beyond, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Waco Police Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton said investigators would examine whether the blaze was the result of foul play or a chemical reaction, adding that the blast site was being treated as a crime scene for the time being.

"We are not indicating that it is a crime, but we don't know," Swanton told reporters early on Thursday, some nine hours after the blast. "What that means to us is that until we know it is an industrial accident, we will work it as a crime scene." He said there was no immediate evidence of a crime.

The explosion came two days before the 20th anniversary of a fire in nearby Waco that engulfed a compound inhabited by David Koresh and his followers in the Branch Davidian sect, ending a siege by federal agents.

About 82 members of the sect and four federal agents died at Waco.

West Mayor Tommy Muska told Reuters that five or six volunteer firefighters who were among the first to arrive at the fertilizer plant were missing.

Firefighters had been battling the fire and evacuating nearby residences and a nursing home for about 20 minutes before the explosion occurred.

Officials said flames that continued to smolder inside the plant initially posed two threats: the possibility of setting off further explosions and the emission of hazardous fumes into the town.

Swanton said a residual fire burning underneath additional chemical tanks had been brought under control, "and I don't think that is any longer a threat."

Texas Public Safety Department spokesman D.L. Wilson said about half the town, about eight to 10 blocks, had been evacuated and that "we might even have to evacuate on the other side of town" if winds shift.

But emergency management personnel downtown determined that there was no immediate danger to the public from the smoke from the fire, Swanton said.

Officials said a full assessment of property damage would not come until after dawn.

Wilson said 50 to 75 homes were damaged by the explosion and a fire that followed, and a nearby 50-unit apartment complex had been reduced to "a skeleton standing up." Muska put the number of destroyed homes at between 60 and 80.

Wilson said 133 people had been evacuated from the nursing home, which was heavily damaged, but it was not immediately clear how many residents of the facility were hurt. A middle school in town also was heavily damaged.


Three hospitals in Waco and Dallas that were receiving the bulk of patients from the disaster reported treating more than 160 injuries combined.

"We are seeing a lot of lacerations and orthopedic-type injuries ... things you would expect in an explosion," said David Argueta, vice president of operations at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco.

Jason Shelton, 33, a father of two who lives less than a mile from the plant, said he heard fire trucks heading toward the facility five minutes before the explosion and felt the blast as he stood on his front porch.

"My windows started rattling and my kids screaming," Shelton said. "The screen door hit me in the forehead ... and all the screens blew off my windows."

Governor Rick Perry issued a statement saying his office had "mobilized state resources to help local authorities" deal with the incident.

A White House official said the Obama administration was aware of the situation and monitoring local and state response through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman, Tim Gaynor, David Bailey and Marice Richter; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Lisa Von Ahn and Scott Malone)

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Timothy McVeigh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monsantooo Angle

In establishing itself as the market leader, Monsanto allegedly pursued

ownership interests in a wide variety of potential competitors not only to

expand and consolidate its existing seed-trait monopolies but also to block

development and market entry of alternative herbicide-tolerant seed

varieties that would have facilitated increased competition. In a class

action brought against Monsanto by Texas Grain in 2007, it similarly was

claimed that Monsanto leveraged its market power in seed-trait markets in

such a manner as to reduce competition in the separate herbicide market,

thus permitting it to engage in supracompetitive pricing for its glyphosate

herbicide formulations ("Texas Grain Storage, Inc. dba West Chemical &

Fertilizer v. Monsanto Company,"2007).

West fertilizer plant said in report that it presented no risk

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Thu, 18 Apr 2013 07:30

The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West, Texas, reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show.

West Fertilizer Co. reported having as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.

But the report, reviewed Wednesday night by The Dallas Morning News, stated ''no'' under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.

The second worst possibility projected was a leak from a broken hose used to transfer the product, again causing no injuries.

The plan says the facility did not have any other dangerous chemicals on hand. It says that the plan was on file with the local fire department and that the company had implemented proper safety rules.

Advisories on safe handling of anhydrous ammonia generally state that the chemical is not considered an explosion risk when in the air as a gas. They add, however, that it can explode in certain concentrations inside a container.

''Emergency responders should not mix water used for firefighting directly with anhydrous ammonia as this will result in warming of the product, causing the liquid to turn into a vapor cloud,'' says the website of Calamco, a growers' cooperative in California.Explosive hazards with fertilizer are more commonly linked to ammonium nitrate, which is widely used both in agriculture and as an explosive in construction and mining. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil was used to make the bomb that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City 18 years ago Friday.

In 2006, the West plant was cited for failing to obtain or to qualify for a permit.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigated West Fertilizer in June 2006, after receiving a complaint of a strong ammonia smell.

Agency records show that the person who lodged the complaint said a lingering ammonia smell was "very bad."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ammonia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Archived Version

Thu, 18 Apr 2013 07:35

AmmoniaOther names

Hydrogen nitride

Trihydrogen nitride

Nitro-SilIdentifiersCAS number7664-41-7 YPubChem222 YChemSpider217 YUNII5138Q19F1X YEC number231-635-3UN number1005KEGGD02916 YMeSHAmmoniaChEBICHEBI:16134 YChEMBLCHEMBL1160819 YRTECS numberBO0875000Beilstein Reference3587154Gmelin Reference793DMetB00004Jmol-3D imagesImage 1InChI=1S/H3N/h1H3 YKey: QGZKDVFQNNGYKY-UHFFFAOYSA-N Y


PropertiesMolecular formulaNH3Molar mass17.031 g/molAppearanceColourless gas with strong pungent odourDensity0.86 kg/m3 (1.013 bar at boiling point)0.73 kg/m3 (1.013 bar at 15 ¡C)681.9 kg/m3 at ''33.3 ¡C (liquid)[1]817 kg/m3 at ''80 ¡C (transparent solid)[2]Melting point''77.73 ¡C, 195 K, -108 ¡F

Boiling point''33.34 ¡C, 240 K, -28 ¡F

Solubility in water47% (0 ¡C)31% (25 ¡C)28% (50 ¡C)[3]Acidity (pKa)32.5 (''33 ¡C),[4] 10.5 (DMSO)Basicity (pKb)4.75StructureMolecular shapeTrigonal pyramidDipole moment1.42 DThermochemistryStd enthalpy offormation ë--fHo298''46 kJámol''1[5]Standard molarentropySo298193 Jámol''1áK''1[5]HazardsMSDSExternal MSDSGHS pictograms[6]GHS hazard statementsH221, H280, H314, H331, H400[6]GHS precautionary statementsP210, P261, P273, P280, P305+351+338, P310[6]EU Index007-001-00-5 (anhydrous)007-001-01-2 (solutions)EU classificationT, C, NR-phrasesR10, R23, R34, R50S-phrases(S1/2), S9, S16, S26, S36/37/39, S45, S61NFPA 704Flash pointflammable gas (see text)Autoignitiontemperature651 ¡CExplosive limits15''28%U.S.Permissibleexposure limit (PEL)50 ppm (25 ppm ACGIH- TLV; 35 ppm STEL)Related compoundsOther cationsPhosphineArsineStibineRelated nitrogen hydridesHydrazineHydrazoic acidRelated compoundsAmmonium hydroxideSupplementary data pageStructure andpropertiesn, ëµr, etc.ThermodynamicdataPhase behaviourSolid, liquid, gasSpectral dataUV, IR, NMR, MS Y (verify) (what is: Y/N?)Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 ¡C, 100 kPa)Infobox referencesAmmonia or azane is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungentsmell. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or indirectly, is also a building-block for the synthesis of many pharmaceuticals and is used in many commercial cleaning products. Although in wide use, ammonia is both caustic and hazardous. The global production of ammonia for 2012 is anticipated to be 198 million tonnes,[7] a 35% increase over the estimated 2006 global output of 146.5 million tonnes.[8]

Ammonia, as used commercially, is often called anhydrous ammonia. This term emphasizes the absence of water in the material. Because NH3 boils at ''33.34 ¡C (''28.012 ¡F) at a pressure of 1 atmosphere, the liquid must be stored under high pressure or at low temperature. "Household ammonia" or "ammonium hydroxide" is a solution of NH3 in water. The concentration of such solutions is measured in units of the Baum(C) scale (density), with 26 degrees baum(C) (about 30% (by weight) ammonia at 15.5 ¡C) being the typical high-concentration commercial product.[9]

[edit]Natural occurrenceAmmonia is found in trace quantities in the atmosphere, being produced from the putrefaction (decay process) of nitrogenous animal and vegetable matter. Ammonia and ammonium salts are also found in small quantities in rainwater, whereas ammonium chloride (sal-ammoniac), and ammonium sulfate are found in volcanic districts; crystals of ammonium bicarbonate have been found in Patagonianguano. The kidneys secrete NH3 to neutralize excess acid.[10] Ammonium salts also are found distributed through all fertile soil and in seawater. Substances containing ammonia, or those that are similar to it, are called ammoniacal. Ammonia is found on Pluto, Jupiter and, in small amounts, on Uranus.

[edit]PropertiesAmmonia is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell. It is lighter than air, its density being 0.589 times that of air. It is easily liquefied due to the strong hydrogen bonding between molecules; the liquid boils at ''33.3 ¡C, and freezes at ''77.7 ¡C to white crystals.

Ammonia may be conveniently deodorized by reacting it with either sodium bicarbonate or acetic acid. Both of these reactions form an odourless ammonium salt.

SolidThe crystal symmetry is cubic, Pearson symbol cP16, space group P213 No.198, lattice constant 0.5125 nm.[12]LiquidLiquid ammonia possesses strong ionising powers reflecting its high ëµ of 22. Liquid ammonia has a very high standard enthalpy change of vaporization (23.35 kJ/mol, cf.water 40.65 kJ/mol, methane 8.19 kJ/mol, phosphine 14.6 kJ/mol) and can therefore be used in laboratories in uninsulated vessels without additional refrigeration. See also section Liquid ammonia as a solvent.Solvent propertiesAmmonia is miscible with water. In an aqueous solution, it can be expelled by boiling. The aqueous solution of ammonia is basic. The maximum concentration of ammonia in water (a saturated solution) has a density of 0.880 g/cm3 and is often known as '.880 ammonia'. Ammonia does not burn readily or sustain combustion, except under narrow fuel-to-air mixtures of 15''25% air.CombustionWhen mixed with oxygen, it burns with a pale yellowish-green flame. At high temperature and in the presence of a suitable catalyst, ammonia is decomposed into its constituent elements. Ignition occurs when chlorine is passed into ammonia, forming nitrogen and hydrogen chloride; if chlorine is present in excess, then the highly explosive nitrogen trichloride (NCl3) is also formed.[edit]StructureThe ammonia molecule has a trigonal pyramidal shape with a bond angle of 107.8¡, as predicted by the valence shell electron pair repulsion theory (VSEPR theory). The central nitrogen atom has five outer electrons with an additional electron from each hydrogen atom. This gives a total of eight electrons, or four electron pairs that are arranged tetrahedrally. Three of these electron pairs are used as bond pairs, which leaves one lone pair of electrons. The lone pair of electrons repel more strongly than bond pairs, therefore the bond angle is not 109.5¡, as expected for a regular tetrahedral arrangement, but is measured at 107.8¡. The nitrogen atom in the molecule has a lone electron pair, which makes ammonia a base, a proton acceptor. This shape gives the molecule a dipole moment and makes it polar. The molecule's polarity and, especially, its ability to form hydrogen bonds, makes ammonia highly miscible with water. Ammonia is moderately basic, a 1.0 M aqueous solution has a pH of 11.6 and if a strong acid is added to such a solution until the solution is neutral (pH = 7), 99.4% of the ammonia molecules are protonated. Temperature and salinity also affect the proportion of NH4+. The latter has the shape of a regular tetrahedron and is isoelectronic with methane. It is known to have the highest specific heat capacity of any substance.

The ammonia molecule readily undergoes nitrogen inversion at room temperature; a useful analogy is an umbrella turning itself inside out in a strong wind. The energy barrier to this inversion is 24.7 kJ/mol, and the resonance frequency is 23.79 GHz, corresponding to microwave radiation of a wavelength of 1.260 cm. The absorption at this frequency was the first microwave spectrum to be observed.[13]

[edit]BasicityOne of the most characteristic properties of ammonia is its basicity. It combines with acids to form salts; thus with hydrochloric acid it forms ammonium chloride (sal-ammoniac); with nitric acid, ammonium nitrate, etc. However, perfectly dry ammonia will not combine with perfectly dry hydrogen chloride; moisture is necessary to bring about the reaction.[14] As a demonstration experiment, opened bottles of concentrated ammonia and hydrochloric acid produce clouds of ammonium chloride, which seem to appear "out of nothing" as the salt forms where the two diffusing clouds of molecules meet, somewhere between the two bottles.

NH3 + HCl 'º' NH4ClThe salts produced by the action of ammonia on acids are known as the ammonium salts and all contain the ammonium ion (NH4+). Dilute aqueous ammonia can be applied on the skin to lessen the effects of acidic animal venoms, such as from insects and jellyfish.

The basicity of ammonia also is the basis of its toxicity and its use as a cleaner.

By creating a solution with a pH much higher than a neutral water solution, proteins (enzymes) will denaturate, leading to cell damage, death of the cell, and eventually death of the organism.Dirt often consists of fats and oils, which are sparingly soluble in water. Ammonia brings them into aqueous solution. The remaining water, also containing excess ammonia, will evaporate completely, leaving a clean surface.[edit]AcidityAlthough ammonia is well known as a weak base, it can also act as an extremely weak acid. It is a protic substance and is capable of formation of amides (which contain the NH2'' ion). For example, lithium dissolves in liquid ammonia to give a solution of lithium amide:

2 Li + 2 NH3 'º' 2 LiNH2 + H2[edit]Self-dissociationLike water, ammonia undergoes molecular autoionisation to form its acid and base conjugates:

2 NH3 (aq) NH+4 (aq) + NH''2 (aq)At standard pressure and temperature, K=[NH+4][NH''2] = 10''30

[edit]CombustionThe combustion of ammonia to nitrogen and water is exothermic:

4 NH3 + 3 O2 'º' 2 N2 + 6 H2O (g) (ë--H¼r = ''1267.20 kJ/mol)The standard enthalpy change of combustion, ë--H¼c, expressed per mole of ammonia and with condensation of the water formed, is ''382.81 kJ/mol. Dinitrogen is the thermodynamic product of combustion: all nitrogen oxides are unstable with respect to nitrogen and oxygen, which is the principle behind the catalytic converter. However, nitrogen oxides can be formed as kinetic products in the presence of appropriate catalysts, a reaction of great industrial importance in the production of nitric acid:

4 NH3 + 5 O2 'º' 4 NO + 6 H2OA subsequent reaction leads to water and NO2

2 NO + O2 'º' 2 NO2The combustion of ammonia in air is very difficult in the absence of a catalyst (such as platinum gauze), as the temperature of the flame is usually lower than the ignition temperature of the ammonia-air mixture. The flammable range of ammonia in air is 16''25%.[15]

[edit]Formation of other compoundsIn organic chemistry, ammonia can act as a nucleophile in substitution reactions. Amines can be formed by the reaction of ammonia with alkyl halides, although the resulting ''NH2 group is also nucleophilic and secondary and tertiary amines are often formed as byproducts. An excess of ammonia helps minimise multiple substitution, and neutralises the hydrogen halide formed. Methylamine is prepared commercially by the reaction of ammonia with chloromethane, and the reaction of ammonia with 2-bromopropanoic acid has been used to prepare racemicalanine in 70% yield. Ethanolamine is prepared by a ring-opening reaction with ethylene oxide: the reaction is sometimes allowed to go further to produce diethanolamine and triethanolamine.

Amides can be prepared by the reaction of ammonia with a number of carboxylic acid derivatives. Acyl chlorides are the most reactive, but the ammonia must be present in at least a twofold excess to neutralise the hydrogen chloride formed. Esters and anhydrides also react with ammonia to form amides. Ammonium salts of carboxylic acids can be dehydrated to amides so long as there are no thermally sensitive groups present: temperatures of 150''200 ¡C are required.

The hydrogen in ammonia is capable of replacement by metals, thus magnesium burns in the gas with the formation of magnesium nitride Mg3N2, and when the gas is passed over heated sodium or potassium, sodamide, NaNH2, and potassamide, KNH2, are formed. Where necessary in substitutive nomenclature, IUPAC recommendations prefer the name "azane" to ammonia: hence chloramine would be named "chloroazane" in substitutive nomenclature, not "chloroammonia".

Pentavalent ammonia is known as ë>>5-amine, or more commonly, ammonium hydride. This crystalline solid is only stable under high pressure, and decomposes back into trivalent ammonia and hydrogen gas at normal conditions. This substance was once investigated as a possible solid rocket fuel in 1966.[16]

[edit]Ammonia as a ligandAmmonia can act as a ligand in transition metalcomplexes. It is a pure ì°-donor, in the middle of the spectrochemical series, and shows intermediate hard-soft behaviour. For historical reasons, ammonia is named ammine in the nomenclature of coordination compounds. Some notable ammine complexes include tetraamminediaquacopper(II) ([Cu(NH3)4(H2O)2]2+), a dark blue complex formed by adding ammonia to solution of copper(II) salts. It is known as Schweizer's reagent. Diamminesilver(I) ([Ag(NH3)2]+) is the active species in Tollens' reagent. Formation of this complex can also help to distinguish between precipitates of the different silver halides: silver chloride (AgCl) is soluble in dilute (2M) ammonia solution, silver bromide (AgBr) is only soluble in concentrated ammonia solution, whereas silver iodide (AgI) is insoluble in aqueous ammonia.

Ammine complexes of chromium(III) were known in the late 19th century, and formed the basis of Alfred Werner's revolutionary theory on the structure of coordination compounds. Werner noted only two isomers (fac- and mer-) of the complex [CrCl3(NH3)3] could be formed, and concluded the ligands must be arranged around the metal ion at the vertices of an octahedron. This proposal has since been confirmed by X-ray crystallography.

An ammine ligand bound to a metal ion is markedly more acidic than a free ammonia molecule, although deprotonation in aqueous solution is still rare. One example is the Calomel reaction, where the resulting amidomercury(II) compound is highly insoluble.

Hg2Cl2 + 2 NH3 'º' Hg + HgCl(NH2) + NH4+ + Cl''[edit]Detection and determinationThis section is about detection in the laboratory. For detection in astronomy, see chapter In astronomy.

Ammonia and ammonium salts can be readily detected, in very minute traces, by the addition of Nessler's solution, which gives a distinct yellow colouration in the presence of the least trace of ammonia or ammonium salts. Sulfur sticks are burnt to detect small leaks in industrial ammonia refrigeration systems. Larger quantities can be detected by warming the salts with a caustic alkali or with quicklime, when the characteristic smell of ammonia will be at once apparent. The amount of ammonia in ammonium salts can be estimated quantitatively by distillation of the salts with sodium or potassium hydroxide, the ammonia evolved being absorbed in a known volume of standard sulfuric acid and the excess of acid then determined volumetrically; or the ammonia may be absorbed in hydrochloric acid and the ammonium chloride so formed precipitated as ammonium hexachloroplatinate, (NH4)2PtCl6.

[edit]Ammoniacal nitrogen (NH3-N)Ammoniacal nitrogen (NH3-N) is a measure commonly used for testing the quantity of Ammonium ions, derived naturally from ammonia, and returned to ammonia via organic processes, in water or waste liquids. It is a measure used mainly for quantifying values in waste treatment and water purification systems, as well as a measure of the health of natural and man made water reserves. It is measured in units of mg/L (milligram per liter).

[edit]HistoryThe Romans called the ammonium chloride deposits they collected from near the Temple of Amun (Greek ‡¹Ôë¹ë¹ìÅë¸ Ammon) in ancient Libya 'sal ammoniacus' (salt of Amun) because of proximity to the nearby temple.[17] Salts of ammonia have been known from very early times; thus the term Hammoniacus sal appears in the writings of Pliny,[18] although it is not known whether the term is identical with the more modern sal-ammoniac (ammonium chloride).[19]

In the form of sal-ammoniac (nushadir) ammonia was important to the Muslim alchemists as early as the 8th century, first mentioned by the Persian chemist Jۻbir ibn Hayyۻn,[20] and to the European alchemists since the 13th century, being mentioned by Albertus Magnus. It was also used by dyers in the Middle Ages in the form of fermented urine to alter the colour of vegetable dyes. In the 15th century, Basilius Valentinus showed that ammonia could be obtained by the action of alkalis on sal-ammoniac. At a later period, when sal-ammoniac was obtained by distilling the hooves and horns of oxen and neutralizing the resulting carbonate with hydrochloric acid, the name "spirit of hartshorn" was applied to ammonia.[21]

Gaseous ammonia was first isolated by Joseph Priestley in 1774 and was termed by him "alkaline air".[22] Eleven years later in 1785, Claude Louis Berthollet ascertained its composition.

The Haber-Bosch process to produce ammonia from the nitrogen in the air was developed by Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch in 1909 and patented in 1910. It was first used on an industrial scale by the Germans during World War I,[8] following the allied blockade that cut off the supply of nitrates from Chile. The ammonia was used to produce explosives to sustain their war effort.[23]

Prior to the availability of cheap natural gas, hydrogen as a precursor to ammonia production was produced via the electrolysis of water or using the chloralkali process.

[edit]FertilizerApproximately 83% (as of 2004) of ammonia is used as fertilizers either as its salts or as solutions. When applied to soil, it helps provide increased yields of crops such as corn and wheat.

[edit]Precursor to nitrogenous compoundsAmmonia is directly or indirectly the precursor to most nitrogen-containing compounds. Virtually all synthetic nitrogen compounds are derived from ammonia. An important derivative is nitric acid. This key material is generated via the Ostwald process by oxidation of ammonia with air over a platinum catalyst at 700''850 ¡C, ~9 atm. Nitric oxide is an intermediate in this conversion:[24]

NH3 + 2 O2 'º' HNO3 + H2ONitric acid is used for the production of fertilizers, explosives, and many organonitrogen compounds.

[edit]CleanerHousehold ammonia is a solution of NH3 in water (i.e., ammonium hydroxide) used as a general purpose cleaner for many surfaces. Because ammonia results in a relatively streak-free shine, one of its most common uses is to clean glass, porcelain and stainless steel. It is also frequently used for cleaning ovens and soaking items to loosen baked-on grime. Household ammonia ranges in concentration by weight from 5 to 10% ammonia.

[edit]FermentationSolutions of ammonia ranging from 16% to 25% are used in the fermentation industry as a source of nitrogen for microorganisms and to adjust pH during fermentation.

[edit]Antimicrobial agent for food productsAs early as in 1895, it was known that ammonia was "strongly antiseptic ... it requires 1.4 grams per litre to preserve beef tea."[25] Anhydrous ammonia has been shown effective as an antimicrobial agent for animal feed[26] and is currently used commercially to reduce or eliminate microbial contamination of beef.[27][28][29]The New York Times reported in October, 2009 on an American company, Beef Products Inc., which turns fatty beef trimmings, averaging between 50 and 70 percent fat, into seven million pounds per week of lean finely textured beef ("pink slime") by removing the fat using heat and centrifugation, then disinfecting the lean product with ammonia; the process was rated by the US Department of Agriculture as effective and safe on the basis of a study (financed by Beef Products) that found that the treatment reduces E. coli to undetectable levels.[30] Further investigation by The New York Times published in December, 2009 revealed safety concerns about the process as well as consumer complaints about the taste and smell of beef treated at optimal levels of ammonia.[31] The following week, the newspaper published an editorial, "More Perils of Ground Meat", reiterating the concerns posed in the news article. Several days later, the editorial was appended with a retraction, stating it had incorrectly claimed there had been two recalls of ground meat because of this process, and "No meat produced by Beef Products Inc. has been linked to any illnesses or outbreaks." [32]

[edit]Minor and emerging uses[edit]Refrigeration '' R717Because of ammonia's vaporization properties, it is a useful refrigerant.[8] It was commonly used prior to the popularisation of chlorofluorocarbons (Freons). Anhydrous ammonia is widely used in industrial refrigeration applications and hockey rinks because of its high energy efficiency and low cost. However, it suffers from the disadvantages of toxicity which restrict its domestic and small scale use. Along with its use in modern vapor-compression refrigeration it was used in a mixture along with hydrogen and water in absorption refrigerators. The Kalina cycle, which is of growing importance to geothermal power plants, depends on the wide boiling range of the ammonia-water mixture.

[edit]For remediation of gaseous emissionsAmmonia is used to scrub SO2 from the burning of fossil fuels, and the resulting product is converted to ammonium sulfate for use as fertilizer. Ammonia neutralizes the nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollutants emitted by diesel engines. This technology, called SCR (selective catalytic reduction), relies on a vanadia-based catalyst.[33]Ammonia may be used to mitigate gaseous spills of phosgene.[34]

[edit]As a fuelAmmonia was used during World War II to power buses in Belgium, and in engine and solar energy applications prior to 1900. Liquid ammonia also fuelled the Reaction Motors XLR99 rocket engine, that powered the X-15 hypersonic research aircraft. Although not as powerful as other fuels, it left no soot in the reusable rocket engine and its density approximately matches the density of the oxidizer, liquid oxygen, which simplified the aircraft's design.

Ammonia has been proposed as a practical alternative to fossil fuel for internal combustion engines.[35] The calorific value of ammonia is 22.5 MJ/kg (9690 BTU/lb), which is about half that of diesel. In a normal engine, in which the water vapour is not condensed, the calorific value of ammonia will be about 21% less than this figure. It can be used in existing engines with only minor modifications to carburettors/injectors.

To meet these demands, significant capital would be required to increase present production levels. Although the second most produced chemical, the scale of ammonia production is a small fraction of world petroleum usage. It could be manufactured from renewable energy sources, as well as coal or nuclear power. It is, however, significantly less efficient than batteries.[citation needed] The 60 MW Rjukan dam in Telemark, Norway produced ammonia via electrolysis of water for many years from 1913 producing fertilizer for much of Europe. If produced from coal, the CO2 can be readily sequestered [35][36] (the combustion products are nitrogen and water). In 1981 a Canadian company converted a 1981 Chevrolet Impala to operate using ammonia as fuel.[37][38]

Ammonia engines or ammonia motors, using ammonia as a working fluid, have been proposed and occasionally used.[39] The principle is similar to that used in a fireless locomotive, but with ammonia as the working fluid, instead of steam or compressed air. Ammonia engines were used experimentally in the 19th century by Goldsworthy Gurney in the UK and in streetcars in New Orleans.

[edit]As a stimulantAmmonia has found significant use in various sports '' particularly the strength sports of weightlifting and Olympic weightlifting as a respiratory stimulant.[citation needed] Ammonia is commonly used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine through a Birch reduction,[41] the Birch method of making methamphetamine is dangerous because the alkali metal and liquid ammonia are both extremely reactive, and the temperature of liquid ammonia makes it susceptible to explosive boiling when reactants are added.

[edit]TextileLiquid ammonia is used for treatment of cotton materials, give a properties like mercerisation using alkalis. In particular, it is used for prewashing of wool.[42]

[edit]Lifting gasAt standard temperature and pressure, ammonia is less dense than atmosphere, and has approximately 60% of the lifting power of hydrogen or helium. Ammonia has sometimes been used to fill weather balloons as a lifting gas. Because of its relatively high boiling point (compared to helium and hydrogen), ammonia could potentially be refrigerated and liquefied aboard an airship to reduce lift and add ballast (and returned to a gas to add lift and reduce ballast).

[edit]WoodworkingAmmonia has been used to darken quartersawn white oak in Arts & Crafts and Mission-style furniture. Ammonia fumes react with the natural tannins in the wood and cause it to change colours.[43]

[edit]Safety precautionsThe U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a 15-minute exposure limit for gaseous ammonia of 35 ppm by volume in the environmental air and an 8-hour exposure limit of 25 ppm by volume.[44] NIOSH recently reduced the IDLH from 500 to 300 based on recent more conservative interpretations of original research in 1943. IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) is the level to which a healthy worker can be exposed for 30 minutes without suffering irreversible health effects. Other organizations have varying exposure levels. U.S. Navy Standards [U.S. Bureau of Ships 1962] maximum allowable concentrations (MACs):continuous exposure (60 days): 25 ppm / 1 hour: 400 ppm [45] Ammonia vapour has a sharp, irritating, pungent odour that acts as a warning of potentially dangerous exposure. The average odour threshold is 5 ppm, well below any danger or damage. Exposure to very high concentrations of gaseous ammonia can result in lung damage and death.[44] Although ammonia is regulated in the United States as a non-flammable gas, it still meets the definition of a material that is toxic by inhalation and requires a hazardous safety permit when transported in quantities greater than 13,248 L (3,500 gallons).[46]

[edit]ToxicityThe toxicity of ammonia solutions does not usually cause problems for humans and other mammals, as a specific mechanism exists to prevent its build-up in the bloodstream. Ammonia is converted to carbamoyl phosphate by the enzyme carbamoyl phosphate synthetase, and then enters the urea cycle to be either incorporated into amino acids or excreted in the urine[citation needed]. However, fish and amphibians lack this mechanism, as they can usually eliminate ammonia from their bodies by direct excretion. Ammonia even at dilute concentrations is highly toxic to aquatic animals, and for this reason it is classified as dangerous for the environment.

[edit]Storage informationSimilar to propane, anhydrous ammonia boils below room temperature. A storage vessel capable of 250 p.s.i. is suitable to contain the liquid.[47] Ammonium compounds should never be allowed to come in contact with bases (unless in an intended and contained reaction), as dangerous quantities of ammonia gas could be released.

[edit]Household useSolutions of ammonia (5''10% by weight) are used as household cleaners, particularly for glass. These solutions are irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes (respiratory and digestive tracts), and to a lesser extent the skin. Caution should be used that the chemical is never mixed into any liquid containing bleach, or a poisonous gas may result. Mixing with chlorine-containing products or strong oxidants, such as household bleach, can lead to hazardous compounds such as chloramines.[48]

[edit]Laboratory use of ammonia solutionsThe hazards of ammonia solutions depend on the concentration: "dilute" ammonia solutions are usually 5''10% by weight (25% by weight. A 25% (by weight) solution has a density of 0.907 g/cm3, and a solution that has a lower density will be more concentrated. The European Union classification of ammonia solutions is given in the table.

Concentrationby weight (w/w)MolarityConcentrationmass/volume (w/v)ClassificationR-Phrases5''10%2.87'--5.62 mol/L48.9''95.7 g/LIrritant (Xi)R36/37/3810''25%5.62''13.29 mol/L95.7''226.3 g/LCorrosive (C)R34>25%>13.29 mol/L>226.3 g/LCorrosive (C)Dangerous forthe environment (N)R34, R50S-Phrases: (S1/2), S16, S36/37/39, S45, S61.The ammonia vapour from concentrated ammonia solutions is severely irritating to the eyes and the respiratory tract, and these solutions should only be handled in a fume hood. Saturated ("0.880") solutions can develop a significant pressure inside a closed bottle in warm weather, and the bottle should be opened with care; this is not usually a problem for 25% ("0.900") solutions.

Ammonia solutions should not be mixed with halogens, as toxic and/or explosive products are formed. Prolonged contact of ammonia solutions with silver, mercury or iodide salts can also lead to explosive products: such mixtures are often formed in qualitative inorganic analysis, and should be lightly acidified but not concentrated ( Metabolic Diseases > Hyperammonemia". Retrieved 7 July 2009. ^Adjei, M. B.; Quesenberry, K. H. and Chamblis, C. G. (June 2002). "Nitrogen Fixation and Inoculation of Forage Legumes". University of Florida IFAS Extension. Archived from the original on 2007-05-20. ^"PubChem Substance Summary". Retrieved 7 July 2009. ^Zschocke, Johannes, and Georg Hoffman (2004). Vademecum Metabolism. Friedrichsdorf, Germany: Milupa GmbH. ^Rose, Burton, and Helmut Rennke (1994). Renal Pathophysiology. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0-683-07354-0. ^Campbell, Neil A.; Jane B. Reece (2002). "44". Biology (6th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson Education, Inc. pp. 937''938. ISBN 0-8053-6624-5. ^Edited by Kirk Munsell. Image page credit Lunar and Planetary Institute. NASA. "NASA's Solar Exploration: Multimedia: Gallery: Gas Giant Interiors". Retrieved 26 April 2006.^Cheung, A. C.; Rank, D. M.; Townes, C. H.; Thornton, D. D. and Welch, W. J. (1968). "Detection of NH3 molecules in the interstellar medium by their microwave emission". Phys. Rev. Lett.21 (25): 1701. Bibcode:1968PhRvL..21.1701C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.21.1701. ^ abHo, P. T. P. and Townes, C. H. (1983). "Interstellar ammonia". Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys.21 (1): 239''70. Bibcode:1983ARA&A..21..239H. doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.21.090183.001323. ^Millar, T. J. (2003). "Deuterium Fractionation in Interstellar Clouds". Space Science Reviews106 (1): 73''86. Bibcode:2003SSRv..106...73M. doi:10.1023/A:1024677318645. ^Ungerechts, H., Walmsley, C. M., Winnewisser, G.; Walmsley; Winnewisser (1980). "Ammonia and cyanoacetylene observations of the high-density core of L-183 (L-134-N)". Astron. Astrophys.88: 259. Bibcode:1980A&A....88..259U. ^Genzel, R.; Downes, D.; Ho, P. T. P. (1982). "NH3 in Orion-KL '' A new interpretation". Astrophysics Journal259: L103. Bibcode:1982ApJ...259L.103G. doi:10.1086/183856. ^"The UMIST data for Astrochemistry". Retrieved 7 July 2009. ^Vikor, L.; Al-Khalili, A.; Danared, H.; Djuric, N.; Dunn, G. H.; Larsson, M.; Le Padellec, A.; Rosaen, S. et al. (1999). "Branching fractions of dissociative recombination of NH4+ and NH2+ molecular ions". Astronomy and Astrophysics344: 1027. Bibcode:1999A&A...344.1027V. ^van Dishoeck, E. F.; and Black, J. H. (1986). "Comprehensive models of diffuse interstellar clouds '' Physical conditions and molecular abundances". Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser.62: 109''145. Bibcode:1986ApJS...62..109V. doi:10.1086/191135. ^"". Retrieved 21 May 2011. ^Prasad, S. S. and Huntress, W. T. (1980). "A model for gas phase chemistry in interstellar clouds". The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series43: 1. Bibcode:1980ApJS...43....1P. doi:10.1086/190665. ^Lininger, W.; Albritton, D. L.; Fehsenfeld, F. C.; Schmeltekopf, A. L.; Ferguson, E. E. (1975). "Flow''drift tube measurements of kinetic energy dependences of some exothermic proton transfer rate constants". J. Chem. Phys.62 (9): 3549. Bibcode:1975JChPh..62.3549L. doi:10.1063/1.430946. ^Smith, D.; Adams, N. G. (1977). "Reactions of CH+n IONS with ammonia at 300 K". Chemical Physics Letters47 (1): 145. Bibcode:1977CPL....47..145S. doi:10.1016/0009-2614(77)85326-8. ^Wooten, A.; Bozyan, E. P.; Garrett, D. B. (1980). "Detection of C2H in cold dark clouds". Astrophysical Journal239: 844. Bibcode:1980ApJ...239..844W. doi:10.1086/158168. ^Wilson, T. L., Downes, D., Bieging, J.; Downes; Bieging (1979). "Ammonia in Orion". AAp71: 275. Bibcode:1979A&A....71..275W. ^MacDonald, G. H., Little, L. T., Brown, A. T., Riley, P. W., Matheson, D. N., Felli, M.; Little; Brown; Riley; Matheson; Felli (1981). "Detection of new ammonia sources". MNRAS195: 387. Bibcode:1981MNRAS.195..387M. ^Morris, M., Zuckerman, B., Palmer, P., Turner, B. E. (1973). "Interstellar ammonia". APJ186: 501. Bibcode:1973ApJ...186..501M. doi:10.1086/152515. ^Torrelles, J. M., Ho, P. T. P., Rodriguez, L. F., Canto, J. (1985). "VLA observations of ammonia and continuum in regions with high-velocity gaseous outflows". APJ288: 595. Bibcode:1985ApJ...288..595T. doi:10.1086/162825. ^Ho, P. T. P., Martin, R. N.,Turner, J. L., Jackson, J. M. (1990). "VLA imaging of extragalactic ammonia '' Hot gas in the nucleus of IC 342". APJL355: L19. Bibcode:1990ApJ...355L..19H. doi:10.1086/185728. ^Cesaroni, R., Churchwell, E., Hofner, P., Walmsley, C. M., Kurtz, S.; Churchwell; Hofner; Walmsley; Kurtz (1994). "Hot ammonia toward compact HII regions". AAP288: 903. Bibcode:1994A&A...288..903C. ^Knacke, R. F., McCorkle, S., Puetter, R. C., Erickson, E. F., Kraetschmer, W. (1982). "Observation of interstellar ammonia ice". APJ260: 141. Bibcode:1982ApJ...260..141K. doi:10.1086/160241. ^Orton, G. S., Aumann, H. H., Martonchik, J. V., Appleby, J. F. (1982). "Airborne spectroscopy of Jupiter in the 100- to 300-cm>sup>''1 region: Global properties of ammonia gas and ice haze". Icarus52 (1): 81. Bibcode:1982Icar...52...81O. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(82)90170-1. ^Benson, P. J., Myers, P. (1989). "A survey for dense cores in dark clouds". APJS71: 89. Bibcode:1989ApJS...71...89B. doi:10.1086/191365. ^Mebold, U., Heithausen, A., Reif, K.; Heithausen; Reif (1987). "Ammonia in the galactic halo and the infrared cirrus". AAP180: 213. Bibcode:1987A&A...180..213M. [edit]References"Aqua Ammonia". Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2010. Attribution[edit]Further reading[edit]External links

Cyber War$

IBM executives head to Washington to press lawmakers on cybersecurity bill

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Source: WT news feed

Tue, 16 Apr 2013 08:12

Nearly 200 senior IBM executives are flying into Washington to press for the passage of a controversial cybersecurity bill that will come up for a vote in the House this week.

The IBM executives will pound the pavement on Capitol Hill Monday and Tuesday, holding nearly 300 meetings with lawmakers and staff. Over the course of those two days, their mission is to convince lawmakers to back a bill that's intended to make it easier for industry and government to share information about cyber threats with each other in real time.''We're going to put our shoe leather where our mouth is,'' Chris Padilla, vice president of governmental affairs at IBM, told The Hill.

''The message we're going to give [lawmakers] is going to be a very simple, clear message: support the passage of CISPA,'' he later added.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), passed out of committee on an 18-2 vote last Wednesday and is expected to come to the floor for a vote as soon as mid-week.

While the bill enjoys strong backing from industry, privacy advocates warn the bill lacks sufficient protections for people's information online. The White House issued a veto threat against the first iteration of CISPA last year, due in part to privacy concerns.

Despite the opposition, CISPA safely passed the House last year on a bipartisan vote'--and IBM intends to make sure it does again this week.

The technology services company runs the information technology networks of major hospitals, banks and electric companies'--key infrastructure that lawmakers and security officials warn are top targets for hostile actors to launch a cyberattack.

Big Blue is also the top recipient of U.S. patents and owns a trove of valuable intellectual property that would be enticing to probing hackers looking to siphon valuable proprietary information. A report published by computer security firm Mandiant this year concluded that an elite military unit of Chinese hackers has allegedly cracked into the computer systems of more than 100 U.S. companies and stolen intellectual property.

The company believes the best way to thwart a cyberattack is to encourage companies to share more data about malicious source code and other online threats with the government and their private-sector peers so they can take steps to address it, according to Padilla.

''It's our experience that the most effective thing you can do when a cyberattack occurs is to share information quickly between government and industry and between industry actors in real time in order to find where the attack is coming from and to shut it down,'' he said.

"The key really is when an attack happens'--and they will happen'--is detecting it, and shutting it down and preventing the loss of data as quickly as possible. That's a question of information and it's a question of speed," Padilla said. "And often, the government will have very timely and critical information that banks or telecommunications companies need to know that there is an attack. Other times, we detect it first and sharing [information] with the government could serve to warn others that there may be an attack."

But companies are currently hesitant to share information about cyber threats they spot on computer networks with the government because they fear it may put them at risk for being sued. CISPA would address that concern, Padilla said, by granting companies liability protection from lawsuits if they share threat information with the government, allowing firms to get the assistance and data they need faster.

If a cyberattack is launched against a key piece of infrastructure, ''you don't want a bunch of lawyers sitting in a room arguing whether to tell the government,'' he said. ''You want there to be clear and established procedures. CISPA will help facilitate that.''

But the cyber information-sharing bill has rankled privacy advocates from Washington to Silicon Valley. One of their chief concerns with the bill is that it would allow companies to share threat information directly with the military, including the National Security Agency, without being required to take steps to remove personally identifiable information from that data. Privacy advocates warn that could lead to people's email and IP addresses, names, and other personal information being inadvertently passed on to the NSA without their knowledge.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Democracy and Technology and Electronic Frontier Foundation argue that a civilian agency, namely the Homeland Security Department (DHS), should be the first recipient of cyber threat data from companies. DHS would then pass on that data with other government agencies and departments.

Privacy advocates argue that a civilian agency is subject to more oversight relative to the secretive spy agency.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) proposed a set of privacy-focused amendments during the markup of CISPA last week, which did not receive enough votes to be adopted into the bill. One of the amendments by Schakowsky would have ensured that DHS is the first recipient of threat data from companies and would relay that information to other agencies.

"I think if you're looking just to maximize efficiency and you don't care about anything else, then we should give the job to NSA. But we have a separation of civilian and military in this country when you're talking about domestic cyber information," Schiff said at a press conference after the House Intelligence panel's markup of CISPA. "If we wanted efficiency only, then we wouldn't have a Fourth Amendment."

CISPA would ''shift the control of the cyber program from civilian hands to a secretive military agency," said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, last week. "It'll be very difficult for there to be any transparency or any accountability if that shift happens."

Padilla, however, says companies need to be able to share threat data directly with the NSA ''because that's where the expertise is.''

''It really is a simple matter. The expertise in the U.S. government on cybersecurity largely rests in one place, and that's the National Security Agency,'' he said. ''They tend to know the most, the soonest about cyber threats and I think, frankly, there is a certain amount of feeling in the business community that you should be able to work directly and share information directly with the agency that has the most expertise.''

He said that IBM is open to working with DHS and other civilian agencies on the company's cybersecurity efforts, but it believes the NSA has the most expertise at this point.

''We don't have a bias. We just want to work with who's got the expertise,'' Padilla said.

During their fly-in trip, the executives also plan to press lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which would include measures aimed at raising the cap for H-1B visas for skilled workers and freeing up more green cards.

IBM and the Holocaust - Home Page

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Archived Version

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 08:42

EXPLOSIVE AND STUNNING.An explosive book... Backed by exhaustive research, Black's case is simple and stunning: that IBM facilitated the identification and roundup of millions of Jews during the 12 years of the Third Reich ... Black's evidence may be the most damning to appear yet against a purported corporate accomplice.Michael HirshNewsweek

White House threatens Cispa veto

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Archived Version

Source: BBC News - Technology

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 08:36

17 April 2013Last updated at08:25 ETThe White House has threatened to veto a controversial act due to go before the House of Representatives this week.

The US government wants more privacy protections in the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa).

After failing to pass through the Senate last year, the bill has already had several amendments.

Intended to protect corporate networks from cyber-attacks, it allows private companies to share cybersecurity information with government agencies.

Opponents say that this is creating a backdoor for governments to snoop on individuals' data, a point taken on board by the government.

A White House statement said: "The administration remains concerned that the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities."

'Fatally flawed'Despite this, the bill has found many friends including large technology firms such as AT&T, Comcast, Intel and Oracle.

This week IBM has sent 200 executives to Washington to lobby for the bill.

In a statement the firm said: "IBM believes we can build stronger, more efficient defences against cyber-threats by enabling better information sharing and providing clear authority for the private sector to defend its own networks, as proposed in the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa)."

But opponents remain concerned the bill allows a wide range of data to be shared with government. Last month a petition with 100,000 signatures was submitted to the White House.

Opposition has been particularly vocal from privacy groups, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) describing the latest iteration of the bill as "fatally flawed".

The bill's sponsor, Republican Mike Rogers, caused anger on Twitter when he suggested in a speech that the typical opponent of the bill was "a 14-year-old tweeter in the basement".

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 624)

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Archived Version

Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:40

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

Activist Post: ALERT: Amendment Won't Stop Data Going to National Security Agency

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:36

Rainey ReitmanEFFUpdate: Note that the Hill article referenced below was working with an earlier draft of the amendment. The version introduced today was different from the version made available to the Hill.

An amendment to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was just adopted on the House Floor. See the text attached.

Recent reporting of this amendment characterized it as a major privacy improvement, stating that this amendment "would ensure that the Homeland Security Department (DHS), a civilian agency, would be the first recipient of cyber threat data from companies."

This is false.

The amendment in question does not strike or amend the part of CISPA that actually deals with data flowing from companies to other entities, including the federal government.

The bill still says that:Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cybersecurity purposes...share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the Federal Government.

The liability immunity provisions also remain.While this amendment does change a few things about how that information is treated within the government, it does not amend the primary sharing section of the bill and thus would not prevent companies from sharing data directly with military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency if they so choose.

The bill may be voted on at any time. This means there's little time left to speak out. Please tell your Representative to vote no on the bill:

Call your Representative

Tweet at your Representative



Attacks on Bay Area Data and Electricity Transmission Infrastructure

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Archived Version


Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:51

Source: CBS

In apparent acts of ''sabotage'' in the South Bay early Tuesday, someone cut fiber optic cables, knocking out some 911 service, and then fired a rifle at a PG&E substation, Santa Clara County's sheriff said.

The vandal's objective appears to have been ''shutting down the system,'' Sheriff Laurie Smith said at a news conference at the substation Tuesday afternoon.

''We don't have a suspect,'' she said. ''It seems like the same perpetrator or perpetrators to me.''

Both incidents happened early Tuesday morning in the area of Metcalf Road and Monterey Highway, just southeast of San Jose city limits.

The underground cables, protected by manhole covers, were cut shortly before 1:30 a.m. in two locations along Monterey Highway, Smith said.

Some of the cables, comprised of bundled fiber optic cords, were cut near Monterey Highway and Coyote Ranch Road, AT&T spokesman George Ross said.

He said the cables there are AT&T lines but that some other service providers piggyback off of them.

A number of South Bay customers lost landline and cellphone service, and the damage also initially knocked out some 911 call systems in the area.

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Activist Post: ACTION ITEM: CISPA Goes to The Floor for Possible Vote Within 24 Hours, Privacy Amendments Blocked

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Archived Version

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:44

Mark M. Jaycox, Kurt Opsahl, and Rainey ReitmanEFFYesterday, the US House prepared for the debate on the privacy-invading "cybersecurity" bill called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The rules committee hearing was the last stop before the bill is voted on by the full House.

In the hearing, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) was questioned about the core problems in the bill, like the broad immunity and new corporate spying powers. In response, he characterized users who oppose CISPA as "14 year olds'' tweeting in a basement.

The bill may be voted on as early as Wednesday.

This means there's little time left to speak out. Please tell your Representative to vote no on the bill:Call your Representative

Tweet at your Representative

Here are some of the takeaways from the hearing.

Rep. Rogers Dismisses CISPA Opponents as Teenage Basement TweetersAfter a heated exchange about the overly broad legal immunity, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) noted the widespread opposition to CISPA by Internet users. In response, Rep. Rogers characterized opponents to CISPA as "14 year olds'' tweeting in a basement. See the video here.Of course, many people oppose CISPA -- several thousand of whom tweeted at Rogers after his remark.

Internet companies like Mozilla, Reddit, NameCheap,, and other have also come out strong against the bill. And over 70 cybersecurity experts and academics sent a joint letter opposing CISPA last year, expressing their firm opposition to the dangers of Roger's approach to computer security:

We have devoted our careers to building security technologies, and to protecting networks, computers, and critical infrastructure against attacks of many stripes. We take security very seriously, but we fervently believe that strong computer and network security does not require Internet users to sacrifice their privacy and civil liberties.

Earlier this week, 34 civil liberties groups sent a letter opposing CISPA in its current form.And the newest addition to CISPA opposition? The White House, which issued a veto threat(PDF) yesterday.

Rep. Rogers Makes The Case For Why Representatives Should Vote No

Rep. Rogers is adamant that no sensitive personal information or email content will be collected under the bill and then sent to the federal government. Under questioning from Rep. Polis, Rogers said "Again, zeroes and ones, hundreds of millions of times a second, in patterns. It has nothing to do with content. Nothing."First of all, of course it's zeros and ones. That's how information is passed in the digital environment--whether it is content or not. If Rogers is going to propose fundamentally changing privacy on the Internet, he ought to know that the contents of email are transferred with zeros and ones in patterns.

Second, if Rogers really meant this, there is an easy solution. Exclude the content of communications from the bill. Viola! Companies would not be able to transfer the content of anyone's email under the bill, whether in the form of zeros and ones, or by carrier pigeon.

Reducing Confidence in the Internet

Rep. Polis spoke candidly during the hearing about some of the detrimental effects CISPA could have on Internet users' trust in online services:This directly hurts the confidence of Internet users. Internet users - if this were to become law - would be much more hesitant to provide their personal information -even if assured under the terms of use that it will be kept personal because the company would be completely indemnified if they 'voluntarily' gave it to the United States government.

Rep. Rogers was not convinced, asserting this would not be a problem. He's wrong. CISPA gives legal immunity to companies who share your information under the bill, with no exception for privacy policies or user agreements that promise to protect your privacy. Even worse, core privacy laws like the Privacy Act, Cable Communications Policy Act, the Wiretap Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act will be decimated by CISPA, robbed of their power to protect you when it comes to this so-called cybersecurity sharing.One amendment that could have helped to address this concern was a proposal by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) which would have made clear that a company can still make a legally-enforceable commitment to users via a contract (such as terms of use) that it will not share personally identifiable information with the federal government.

However, this amendment was not allowed to proceed to the floor for a vote.

Privacy Amendments Aren't Allowed to Proceed For A Full House Vote

The hearing ended with the decision on which amendments would be allowed for consideration during the floor vote. In all, 42 amendments were submitted to CISPA - the majority of which dealt with privacy and civil liberties problems with the bill. Only 12 were allowed to go to the floor for a full vote.Among the amendments that will not move forward are forward-thinking proposals by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), both of whom suggested amendments that would address some of the core privacy concerns in CISPA. The first (PDF), championed by Rep. Schakowsky, would requires that the first point of sharing information with the federal government must be with a civilian agency, so that U.S. military or defense agencies won't directly collect or receive cyber information on American citizens.

Another amendment (PDF) promoted by Rep Schiff, requires companies sharing information with the government or other private entities under the bill make ''reasonable efforts'' to remove personally identifiable information of individuals unrelated to the cyber threat.

At first the chairmen didn't even allow a vote on whether or not these amendments could be presented to the full house for a vote. A vote on the amendments was held by the committee only after Democrats raised the issue.

Unfortunately, both amendments were ruled out of order - along with many others that would have addressed civil liberties issues. This means that fixing the bill through floor amendments - which was always unlikely -is now clearly impossible. EFF is urging Representatives to oppose the bill in the upcoming vote.


CISPA will likely be up for a vote in the next 24 hours. CISPA is still riddled with problems and must be stopped. Tell your Congressmen now to say no to CISPA.


Obama threatens veto of CISPA database-sharing bill

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Archived Version

Source: CNET News

Tue, 16 Apr 2013 15:17

White House veto threat says CISPA legislation does not adequately protect Americans' privacy, raising the odds that controversial data-sharing bill is doomed this year.

President Obama has threatened to veto CISPA because it may not "safeguard personal information adequately."

(Credit: Getty Images)The White House today delivered a formal veto threat against a controversial data-sharing bill called CISPA that would allow intelligence agencies to collect personal information about Americans from private companies.

In a statement this afternoon, President Obama's aides said they "would recommend that he veto the bill," which is scheduled for a House of Representatives floor vote this week.

A House committee approved CISPA last week without four key privacy amendments sought by opponents that would have curbed the National Security Agency's ability to collect confidential data. (See CNET's CISPA FAQ.)

The White House had threatened a CISPA veto last year, but its backers had hoped that some changes they made, coupled with a related presidential executive order in January, meant the veto threat would not be renewed. Today's statement says:

The Administration, however, remains concerned that the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable - and not granted immunity - for failing to safeguard personal information adequately...

The Administration supports incentivizing industry to share appropriate cybersecurity information by providing the private sector with targeted liability protections. However, the Administration is concerned about the broad scope of liability limitations in H.R. 624. Specifically, even if there is no clear intent to do harm, the law should not immunize a failure to take reasonable measures, such as the sharing of information, to prevent harm when and if the entity knows that such inaction will cause damage or otherwise injure or endanger other entities or individuals.

House Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), CISPA's primary author, described the veto threat as "flabbergasting."

"I do not believe the administration knows how to work with a legislative body," Rogers said during a meeting of the House Rules committee. "We have come a long way on some of their points."

CISPA's advocates say it's needed to encourage companies to share more information with the federal government, and to a lesser extent among themselves. A "Myth v. Fact" paper (PDF) prepared by the House Intelligence committee says any claim that "this legislation creates a wide-ranging government surveillance program" is a myth.

Critics of CISPA are hoping for a second chance during this week's floor debate to offer their privacy-protective amendments.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who voted against the bill during last week's House Intelligence meeting, said at the time he was "disappointed" that his proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by his colleagues.

"It is not too much to ask that companies make sure they aren't sending private information about their customers, their clients, and their employees to intelligence agencies," Schiff said.

Unlike last year's Stop Online Piracy Act outcry, in which Internet users and civil liberties groups allied with technology companies against Hollywood, no broad alliance exists this time. Companies including AT&T, Comcast, EMC, IBM, Intel, McAfee, Oracle, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have instead signed on as supporters.

There are some exceptions. As CNET reported last month Facebook has been one of the few companies to rescind its support. Microsoft has also backed away. Google has not taken a public position.

CISPA is controversial because it overrules all existing federal and state laws by saying "notwithstanding any other provision of law," companies may share information "with any other entity, including the federal government." It would not, however, require them to do so.

That language has alarmed dozens of advocacy groups, including the American Library Association, the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Reporters Without Borders, which sent a letter (PDF) to Congress last month opposing CISPA. It says: "CISPA's information sharing regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like Internet records or the content of e-mails, to any agency in the government."

A similar coalition mounted an attempt to defeat CISPA last year. It failed: despite a presidential veto threat and criticism from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Ron Paul (R-Tex.), the House of Representatives approved the measure by a largely party line vote of 248 to 168. The bill did not, however, receive a vote in the Senate, and never became law.

Syrian Pro-Government Hackers Strike NPR Website

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Source: Dave says...

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 00:03

What's This?

Marshall Honorof

for TechNewsDaily 2013-04-17 02:01:48 UTCYou can't employ good journalists without making a few enemies along the way, as National Public Radio recently learned the hard way. After putting the violent situation in Syria under the microscope, NPR found its site on the receiving end of vandalism, courtesy of the Syrian Electronic Army.

The SEA is a group of Middle Eastern hackers that acts as an attack dog for the current regime under President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian government may back the SEA; at the very least, it offers no criticism for the group's illegal actions.

Over the course of the last year, the SEA has attacked a variety of news organizations, ranging from the BBC to Al Jazeera. The group has hijacked Twitter feeds, launched denial-of-service attacks and left its calling card at any news organization that offers criticism of al-Assad.

Its most recent attack appeared on the front of NPR's website around 11 p.m. EST on Apr. 15. A screenshot from security expert Brian Krebs shows that the SEA made two simple posts, both of which read, "Syrian Electronic Army was here." The site suffered no apparent damage, and neither its administrators nor its users were at risk of contracting malware.

SEA claimed responsibility for the attack, but would not elucidate much beyond that. "We will not say why we attacked @NPR '... They know the reason and that (sic) enough #SEA #Syria," the organization tweeted.

When pressed, the SEA revealed one more small reason behind its attack: "You can ask @deborahamos." Deborah Amos, an NPR reporter, has spent the better part of the last year providing hard-hitting coverage about the escalating violence in Syria '-- something that the brutal government would probably rather keep quiet.

Whether or not the SEA is government-backed, the group boasts a number of talented hackers within its ranks. NPR is likely not its last target, so exercise skepticism if a favorite newsfeed suddenly takes a decidedly pro-al-Assad bent.

Group pictured above is not affiliated with the Syrian Electronic Army. Image via FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

This article originally published at TechNewsDaily here

Topics: hackers, Media, NPR, Politics, Syria, syrian electronic army, US & World, WorldTechNewsDaily is a Mashable publishing partner that is an exciting new and accessible source of technology news and information for non-geeks seeking to learn about the cool gadgets, powerful software and unavoidable technologies of everyday life. This article is reprinted with the publisher's permission.


FBI arrests Mississippi man in ricin letter case

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Thu, 18 Apr 2013 07:23

FBI arrests Mississippi man in ricin letter caseTop News

FBI arrests Mississippi man in ricin letter case

Thu, Apr 18 01:23 AM EDT

By Tabassum Zakaria and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI arrested a Mississippi man on Wednesday in connection with letters sent to President Barack Obama and two other officials that are believed to have contained the deadly poison ricin, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested at his home in Corinth, Mississippi, and is "believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin," the Justice Department said in a statement.

The letters were addressed to a U.S. senator, the White House and a Mississippi justice official, the statement said.

The ricin poison scare hit Washington after bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured 176 on Monday, but the FBI said there was no indication the incidents were connected.

The FBI said the envelope sent to Obama was received at a mail-screening facility outside the White House and was immediately quarantined. Preliminary tests showed it contained the deadly poison ricin, the FBI said

Washington was put on edge on Tuesday evening when news emerged that authorities had intercepted a letter sent to Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi that had initially tested positive for ricin.

Following the arrest, Wicker issued a statement thanking the FBI and Capitol Police "for their professionalism and decisive action in keeping our family and staff safe from harm."

Earlier on Wednesday, a flurry of reports of suspicious letters and packages rattled the U.S. capital and caused the temporary evacuation of parts of two Senate buildings. Most of the reports quickly proved to be false alarms, and business was only temporarily disrupted on Capitol Hill.

The letters to Obama and Wicker had identical language, included the phrase, "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." They were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message," according to an FBI operations bulletin reviewed by Reuters.

Two law enforcement sources said investigators believed the man arrested was the same person as Kevin Curtis, who they say has posted rants on the Internet and performed as an entertainer and Elvis Presley impersonator.

In an online comment on an Elvis blog post in 2007, a Kevin Curtis complained that several Elvis contests in several states "were rigged with hosts and judges getting kick-backs." The signature was: "This is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message."

Northern District Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who said he was related to Elvis Presley, told Reuters that Curtis contacted him via Facebook late on Sunday asking him if he was a relative of the late rock singer.

Presley said he did not know Curtis. "I don't know if he's fixated on Elvis or Elvis' family or what," he said. "We've been told by the authorities to be very cautious with our mail for the next few days."

Public records show a Paul Kevin Curtis lived until recently in Booneville, Mississippi. Randy Tolar, a sheriff in Prentiss County, where Booneville is located, said he knew a Paul Kevin Curtis who had been jailed at least four times in recent years, all on misdemeanor charges, including telephone harassment and stalking.

The envelopes believed to contain ricin both bore postmarks from Memphis, Tennessee, and were dated April 8. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton noted in a statement, however, that it did not mean the letters originated in that city.

An aide to Wharton said many areas near Memphis were included in its postmark - including some in neighboring northern Mississippi, Wicker's state.

For Washingtonians, the situation was an unsettling reminder of events of nearly 12 years ago when letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to the Washington offices of two senators and to media outlets in New York and Florida, not long after the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.


The FBI said White House operations were not affected by the latest scare. It noted that filters at a second government mail-screening facility had preliminarily tested positive for ricin this morning" and mail from that facility was also being tested.

The tests were being conducted at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland, a government source said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had been briefed on the situation.

Ricin is a lethal poison found naturally in castor beans, but it takes a deliberate act to convert it into a biological weapon. Ricin can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.

There was another ricin scare at the U.S. Capitol in 2004, when tests showed positive on a letter in a Senate mail room that served the office of Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican who was then Senate majority leader.


Law enforcement authorities on Wednesday closed and then reopened parts of the Hart and Russell Senate buildings near the Capitol after tests on suspect items showed there was no threat.

"All test results were negative," U.S. Capitol Police said over the public address system in Senate office buildings.

Police questioned a man with a backpack who had been delivering envelopes to Senate offices, a law enforcement official said. This delivery method broke the normal protocol, because no mail is supposed to be delivered without first being checked at an outside facility, Capitol officials said.

In Arizona, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said two suspicious letters had been sent to Republican Senator Jeff Flake's Phoenix office. Two staffers and a police officer were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure after reporting irritation when handling them.

Flake later issued a statement on Wednesday saying no dangerous materials were detected in the mailings. One of them originated in Tennessee, Flake told reporters outside the Senate.

In Ohio, Columbus police responded to a report of a suspicious letter received on Wednesday at Republican Senator Rob Portman's office, but determined it was not dangerous, Portman's office said.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin said one of his Michigan regional offices had also received a suspicious letter, but it was not opened. Authorities are investigating, and a staff member went to the hospital as a precautionary measure, he said.

It is unclear if there was a connection linking the series of suspicious items delivered to politicians.

The Senate's sergeant at arms, Terrance Gainer, sent a memo to all offices telling them only to accept mail from a uniformed Senate post office employee and, when in doubt, to call the police.

He said mail was being delivered that had already been cleared, but there would be no mail delivered on Thursday and Friday to allow more testing and investigation.

(Writing by Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, David Ingram, Mark Hosenball, Deborah Charles, Patricia Zengerle, Patrick Temple-West, Kevin Gray and Kim Palmer; Editing by Jim Loney, Christopher Wilson, Karey Van Hall and Xavier Briand)

FBI arrests Mississippi man in ricin letter caseTop News

FBI arrests Mississippi man in ricin letter case

Thu, Apr 18 01:23 AM EDT

By Tabassum Zakaria and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI arrested a Mississippi man on Wednesday in connection with letters sent to President Barack Obama and two other officials that are believed to have contained the deadly poison ricin, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested at his home in Corinth, Mississippi, and is "believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin," the Justice Department said in a statement.

The letters were addressed to a U.S. senator, the White House and a Mississippi justice official, the statement said.

The ricin poison scare hit Washington after bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured 176 on Monday, but the FBI said there was no indication the incidents were connected.

The FBI said the envelope sent to Obama was received at a mail-screening facility outside the White House and was immediately quarantined. Preliminary tests showed it contained the deadly poison ricin, the FBI said

Washington was put on edge on Tuesday evening when news emerged that authorities had intercepted a letter sent to Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi that had initially tested positive for ricin.

Following the arrest, Wicker issued a statement thanking the FBI and Capitol Police "for their professionalism and decisive action in keeping our family and staff safe from harm."

Earlier on Wednesday, a flurry of reports of suspicious letters and packages rattled the U.S. capital and caused the temporary evacuation of parts of two Senate buildings. Most of the reports quickly proved to be false alarms, and business was only temporarily disrupted on Capitol Hill.

The letters to Obama and Wicker had identical language, included the phrase, "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." They were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message," according to an FBI operations bulletin reviewed by Reuters.

Two law enforcement sources said investigators believed the man arrested was the same person as Kevin Curtis, who they say has posted rants on the Internet and performed as an entertainer and Elvis Presley impersonator.

In an online comment on an Elvis blog post in 2007, a Kevin Curtis complained that several Elvis contests in several states "were rigged with hosts and judges getting kick-backs." The signature was: "This is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message."

Northern District Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who said he was related to Elvis Presley, told Reuters that Curtis contacted him via Facebook late on Sunday asking him if he was a relative of the late rock singer.

Presley said he did not know Curtis. "I don't know if he's fixated on Elvis or Elvis' family or what," he said. "We've been told by the authorities to be very cautious with our mail for the next few days."

Public records show a Paul Kevin Curtis lived until recently in Booneville, Mississippi. Randy Tolar, a sheriff in Prentiss County, where Booneville is located, said he knew a Paul Kevin Curtis who had been jailed at least four times in recent years, all on misdemeanor charges, including telephone harassment and stalking.

The envelopes believed to contain ricin both bore postmarks from Memphis, Tennessee, and were dated April 8. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton noted in a statement, however, that it did not mean the letters originated in that city.

An aide to Wharton said many areas near Memphis were included in its postmark - including some in neighboring northern Mississippi, Wicker's state.

For Washingtonians, the situation was an unsettling reminder of events of nearly 12 years ago when letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to the Washington offices of two senators and to media outlets in New York and Florida, not long after the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.


The FBI said White House operations were not affected by the latest scare. It noted that filters at a second government mail-screening facility had preliminarily tested positive for ricin this morning" and mail from that facility was also being tested.

The tests were being conducted at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland, a government source said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had been briefed on the situation.

Ricin is a lethal poison found naturally in castor beans, but it takes a deliberate act to convert it into a biological weapon. Ricin can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.

There was another ricin scare at the U.S. Capitol in 2004, when tests showed positive on a letter in a Senate mail room that served the office of Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican who was then Senate majority leader.


Law enforcement authorities on Wednesday closed and then reopened parts of the Hart and Russell Senate buildings near the Capitol after tests on suspect items showed there was no threat.

"All test results were negative," U.S. Capitol Police said over the public address system in Senate office buildings.

Police questioned a man with a backpack who had been delivering envelopes to Senate offices, a law enforcement official said. This delivery method broke the normal protocol, because no mail is supposed to be delivered without first being checked at an outside facility, Capitol officials said.

In Arizona, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said two suspicious letters had been sent to Republican Senator Jeff Flake's Phoenix office. Two staffers and a police officer were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure after reporting irritation when handling them.

Flake later issued a statement on Wednesday saying no dangerous materials were detected in the mailings. One of them originated in Tennessee, Flake told reporters outside the Senate.

In Ohio, Columbus police responded to a report of a suspicious letter received on Wednesday at Republican Senator Rob Portman's office, but determined it was not dangerous, Portman's office said.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin said one of his Michigan regional offices had also received a suspicious letter, but it was not opened. Authorities are investigating, and a staff member went to the hospital as a precautionary measure, he said.

It is unclear if there was a connection linking the series of suspicious items delivered to politicians.

The Senate's sergeant at arms, Terrance Gainer, sent a memo to all offices telling them only to accept mail from a uniformed Senate post office employee and, when in doubt, to call the police.

He said mail was being delivered that had already been cleared, but there would be no mail delivered on Thursday and Friday to allow more testing and investigation.

(Writing by Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, David Ingram, Mark Hosenball, Deborah Charles, Patricia Zengerle, Patrick Temple-West, Kevin Gray and Kim Palmer; Editing by Jim Loney, Christopher Wilson, Karey Van Hall and Xavier Briand)

Deadly ricin: poisonous but clumsy weapon - Vitals

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Archived Version

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 13:38

By Maggie Fox, Senior Writer, NBC News

Ricin is a deadly poison and fairly easy to make, but it's a crude and clumsy weapon, according to bioterror experts.

A letter sent to President Barack Obama tested positive for ricin, officials said Wednesday, and it was sent by the same person who mailed a letter that tested positive for the poison to Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker.

Ricin is made from castor beans -- it's a natural byproduct of making castor oil. When purified using sophisticated methods, it can be lethal and hard to trace. It's best known as the poison used to kill Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov in London in 1978 by an agent who poked him with an umbrella tipped with an injector.

The U.S military also considered developing ricin as a biowarfare agent in the 1940s.

Dr. Eric Toner of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says he doubts anything this sophisticated is involved in the letters sent to Wicker and the White House.

''That is totally different from what we think is going on now, which is home-brewed ricin, not very potent,'' Toner told NBC News. And Markov was killed by an injected pellet -- a much more certain method than putting powder into a letter.

''It is not actually clear you can get anybody sick from ricin-containing letters,'' Toner added. "It is probably a crackpot. It certainly is unsophisticated.''

Recipes for making ricin abound online. But fiction aside -- in an episode of AMC's "Breaking Bad," Walter White whips some up -- it's not a big threat.

''It's been used many times mostly by domestic terrorists and lone wolves,'' Toner said. ''It is easy to make some ricin. You get some castor beans, make it in your kitchen, you can produce a batch of stuff that has some ricin in it. It is not very pure. It is not very potent. As near as we can tell it has never actually made anyone sick.''

This week's letters recall the anthrax attacks that killed five people and made 13 sick in October, 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks. The anthrax attacks were very different, Toner says. They used highly purified anthrax spores -- living organisms that can get into the air and cover surfaces and that killed victims who breathed them in.

When inhaled, anthrax spores can sprout in the lungs and pump out a poison. By the time victims start to become ill, it's almost always too late to save them. Two of those who died were postal workers In Washington D.C. who got infected after the spores got caught up in mail processing equipment.

The attacks changed the way mail is processed in Washington and by some big companies -- media companies, including NBC, were also targeted by the attacks. Officials also installed "sniffers" around Washington, including in the Metro rail system and on the National Mall.

''The federal government now screens all mail that comes to certain high-value locations,'' Toner said.

''It is my understanding that the screening tests, like all screening tests, are designed to be very sensitive but not necessarily specific.'' That means that a false positive is possible, he said -- meaning the letters may not be tainted with ricin after all.

Toner suspects more letters will turn up with the contamination. But unlike the anthrax spores, ricin powder isn't likely to spread in the mail and sicken people, he says. In theory, ricin could be used to attack people in this way, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be injected, used to poison food, or spread in the air as a fine powder.

''Within a few hours of inhaling significant amounts of ricin, the likely symptoms would be respiratory distress (difficulty breathing), fever, cough, nausea, and tightness in the chest. Heavy sweating may follow as well as fluid building up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). This would make breathing even more difficult, and the skin might turn blue,'' the CDC says.

''If authorities suspect that people have inhaled ricin, a potential clue would be that a large number of people who had been close to each other rapidly developed fever, cough, and excess fluid in their lungs. These symptoms would likely be followed by severe breathing problems and possibly death.''

There's no antidote for ricin. The CDC advises anyone who thinks he or she may have been exposed to ricin to wash off as quickly as possible, breathe fresh air and seek medical care. Doctors may give intravenous fluids and perhaps charcoal to help people vomit any ricin they may have eaten.


CDC | Questions and Answers About Ricin

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 12:38

(Updated March 5, 2008)

What is ricin?Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. If castor beans are chewed and swallowed, the released ricin can cause injury. Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans. It can be made in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.

How toxic is ricin? How do people get sick from it?Ricin is very toxic. It works by getting inside the cells of a person's body and preventing the cells from making the proteins they need. Without the proteins, cells die. Eventually this is harmful to the whole body, and may cause death.

As with most chemicals, whether or not a person becomes ill after exposure to ricin depends on how much ricin the person was exposed to, how long the exposure lasted, what the exposure method was (inhalation, ingestion, or injection), and other factors. In general, when the dose is the same, being exposed to ricin by injection has the greatest potential for causing illness, followed by inhalation, and then ingestion.

The purity of the ricin can also significantly affect the how sick someone becomes. For instance, ricin has greater potential for causing illness if it has been purified by special, technically difficult processes that are not readily available. In addition to the complexities involved in producing ricin that is highly purified, it is also very difficult to produce ricin that retains the physical properties which make it easy to inhale. These are just some examples of the more important factors that can help predict whether or not someone may get sick after being exposed to ricin.

How might I be exposed to ricin?You can be exposed to ricin either by ingesting (swallowing) or inhaling (breathing) material containing ricin. In a few rare, past cases, injections of ricin have led to poisoning. This is a very unlikely method of exposure because it requires someone to actually inject the material into you

What are the signs and symptoms of ricin poisoning?If ricin is ingested, initial symptoms typically occur in less than 6 -12 hours. These initial symptoms are most likely to affect the gastrointestinal system and include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. The symptoms of ricin poisoning are then likely to rapidly progress (generally over 12-24 hours) to include problems such as severe dehydration, and kidney and liver problems. This rapid progression of symptoms and illness is noticeably different than what typically occurs with most (but not all) commonly encountered infectious foodborne illnesses, which generally resolve within a day or two. Nevertheless, it is important to note that ricin is not the only potential cause of such symptoms, other illnesses due to chemicals and non-chemical causes (e.g., infectious) can also present with these signs and may be cause for concern.

If ricin is inhaled, initial symptoms may occur as early as 4-6 hours after exposure, but serious symptoms could also occur as late as 24 hours after exposure. The initial symptoms are likely to affect the respiratory system and can include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and cough. The symptoms of ricin poisoning are then likely to rapidly progress (generally over 12-24 hours) to include problems such as worsening respiratory symptoms, pulmonary edema (fluid within the lungs), and eventually, respiratory failure. This rapid progression of symptoms and illness is noticeably different than what typically occurs with most common colds and cough-type illnesses. Nevertheless, it is important to note that ricin is not the only potential cause of such symptoms, other illnesses due to chemicals and non-chemical causes (e.g., infectious) can also present with these signs and may be cause for concern.

Death from ricin poisoning can take place within 36 to 72 hours of exposure, depending on the route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, or injection) and the dose received.

What should I do if I feel I'm experiencing symptoms of ricin exposure?Seek medical attention right away.

Is it true that there's no cure/antidote for ricin? What can be done to help people who have been exposed to ricin? Are treatments available?It is true that no antidote exists for ricin. Because no antidote exists, the most important factor is avoiding ricin exposure in the first place. If exposure cannot be avoided, the most important factor is then getting the ricin off or out of the body as quickly as possible. Ricin poisoning is treated by giving victims supportive medical care to minimize the effects of the poisoning. The types of supportive medical care would depend on several factors, such as the route by which victims were poisoned (that is, whether poisoning was by inhalation, ingestion, or skin or eye exposure). Care could include such measures as helping victims breathe, giving them intravenous fluids (fluids given through a needle inserted into a vein), giving them medications to treat conditions such as seizure and low blood pressure, flushing their stomachs with activated charcoal (if the ricin has been very recently ingested), or washing out their eyes with water if their eyes are irritated.

How are anthrax and ricin similar or different?Anthrax is the spore form of a bacterium (an organism) that can be dried, purified, and made into a powder that can be inhaled (breathed in). After anthrax spores are inhaled, they can become active, reproduce in the body, and cause disease. This process takes at least 24 hours but usually several days. However, the spore can stay in the body for weeks before becoming active and causing illness, which is why antibiotics to prevent anthrax are given for a long period (60 days) after a person has been exposed.

Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans and then purified, and treated to form a powder that can be inhaled although this is a very technically difficult and complicated process. Most ricin poisonings have occurred when the ricin was injected or when the person swallowed the ricin. Symptoms of ricin poisoning are most likely to occur within 4 to 12 hours if the ricin was inhaled or swallowed.

Is ricin poisoning contagious?No, ricin poisoning is not contagious. It cannot spread from person to person through casual contact.

Can ricin be "aerosolized" like anthrax?Yes, ricin in the form of a fine powder can be suspended in air.

Has anyone ever died after being exposed to ricin?Yes, several deaths have resulted after a victim was injected with ricin. People have been poisoned with ricin after eating castor beans, but most cases of eating castor beans do not result in poisoning, because it is difficult to release the ricin from castor beans. Also, ricin is not as well absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract when compared to injection or inhalation.

Where can I find general information about ricin?See the ricin fact sheet.

Where can I find general information about ricin in Spanish?See the ricin fact sheet in Spanish.

Is there a TTY phone line available where I can get information about ricin?Yes, you can call the CDC TTY phone line at 888-232-6348.

What form is ricin found in? Is it a powder?Ricin can be in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid (from the ricin fact sheet).

Will the irradiation equipment used by the postal service have any effect on ricin?Postal irradiation may have some effect, but CDC still considers ricin to be fully functional and just as dangerous even after irradiation.

Where can I find information about personal protective equipment and cleanup for ricin?See the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health emergency response card.

If I was present where ricin was located, could I have carried it home? Is my house safe?If ricin was released into the air, some ricin might have gotten onto the clothing of people who were present and might have then been transported on the clothing to their homes. The likelihood is very low in this instance that enough ricin would have gotten onto your clothing and would have been transported home with you for your health to be threatened. However, any exposed clothing should be handled according to the general guidelines given in the ''Personal Cleaning and Disposal of Contaminated Clothes'' guidelines.

How do I know my family is safe?Ricin poisoning is not contagious. People who were not present where the ricin was found are not likely to have been exposed at levels high enough to negatively affect their health.

What are the long-term effects of ricin exposure?No long-term direct effects are known to exist from ricin exposure that did not result in symptoms. Following severe ricin poisoning, the damage done to vital organs may be permanent or have lasting effects.

Are certain populations more vulnerable to the health effects of ricin exposure, such as children, pregnant women, the elderly, people who are immunocompromised, or people with respiratory or gastrointestinal (GI) tract illnesses?Although it is unknown whether these populations are at higher risk, the possibility of higher risk does exist. People who have existing illnesses of the respiratory or GI tract may have pre-existing tissue irritation or damage as a result of their illness. If this damaged or irritated tissue is exposed to ricin, the result may be further injury and greater absorption of the ricin toxin.

Is it possible that health effects may not occur until more than 72 hours after exposure to ricin?The information that exists on ricin poisoning in humans is extremely limited. Much of what we know about ricin poisoning comes from animal studies and only a few human cases. Nevertheless, enough information exists on ricin poisoning by ingestion (swallowing) to say that it is extremely unlikely that the onset of signs and symptoms of ricin poisoning by ingestion would occur more than 10 hours after exposure. Much less information exists on ricin poisoning by inhalation (breathing in ricin), but initial poisoning symptoms are very unlikely to begin more than 24 hours after exposure.

What will happen to personal belongings exposed to ricin?Personal belongings should be handled according to the ''Personal Cleaning and Disposal of Contaminated Clothes'' guidelines.

What if an event involving ricin happens again?If there is another event involving ricin, the necessary steps to protect the public's health and assess for building contamination will be repeated.

What tests are used to detect ricin?There are several tests used to detect ricin, including tests for environmental samples of suspicious materials, and for clinical specimens from human body fluids. Public health laboratories that are part of CDC's Laboratory Response Network (LRN) use rapid detection tests for environmental samples. Some LRN laboratories can test clinical urine samples for the presence of ricinine, an indicator of ricin exposure.

What do the results of these tests tell us?The rapid tests indicate whether components of the castor bean are present in the environmental sample and whether ricin toxin is present. If both of these tests yield a ''positive,'' then the presence of ricin can be confirmed.

Another assay for environmental samples measures the activity of the ricin toxin, since ricin toxicity can be affected by several factors including temperature. The toxin activity test tells officials whether the toxin is still dangerous.

The presence of ricinine in urine helps to establish whether ricin exposure has occurred, and may help estimate the degree of exposure if the time of exposure is known.

How long does it take for these tests to yield results?The rapid detection tests used by the LRN can be completed within 6-8 hours after receipt of samples. The toxin activity test takes about 48 hours to perform but the availability of cultured cells used in the test may delay testing.

For a clinical urine specimen, measurement of ricinine can be completed within several hours after the samples are received.

What is the difference between a preliminary test and a confirmatory test?A preliminary test result '' such as a positive for ricin components '' must be confirmed by a second LRN test, which detects ricin toxin. The ricin toxin test is considered the best test for determining the presence of ricin. A positive result for ricin components can be used in public health decision making while officials wait for confirmatory results from the ricin toxin test.

NOTE: These Q & As are based on CDC's best current information. They may be updated as new information becomes available.

War on Crazy

How many Republicans are currently in the Senate and the House of Representatives

How the Senate voted on new background checks for firearms sales -

Reid notes no

McCain and toomey + the two independents (sanders (VT) and Angus (ME) voted yah, so they would have had the votes, but 3 dems: Baucus (Mt) and Begich (AK) and Heitkamp (ND) voted no


And so it begins: New York government confiscates 'private' records of psychiatrists in chilling Orwellian mental health sweep

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Source: What Melissa Shultz-Jones is reading.

Thu, 18 Apr 2013 09:45

(NaturalNews) The march to tyranny has picked up fierce momentum in the state of New York, where the criminal Cuomo administration is now issuing subpoenas that demand psychiatrists turn over ALL their records to the state, reports is just the first step for the New York government's "HIPAA" committee, whose sole purpose is to "illegally obtain and access the private medical records of potentially millions of NY State Residents."

Regardless of your views on firearms ownership, such actions are absolutely chilling. It puts the government in the position of violating doctor-patient confidentiality for the purpose of the state determining who suffers from "mental health" problems that the state uses to justify almost any action it wishes to take.

This is not a gun rights issue, this is a patient rights issue. If a state government can simply seize all records from all psychiatrists, then it can also use that information to decide whose children to have taken away by CPS... or who to deny the right to vote by having them labeled "mentally incompetent."

The ultimate hypocrisy in all this is that no one is more clinically insane than Cuomo himself, an outright criminal who runs an illegal, unconstitutional, anti-human rights administration engaged in countless crimes against the citizens of New York. (At some point, the rest of the nation needs to take some sort of action to free New Yorkers from the Cuomo tyrant who rules over them like Kim Jong-Un.)

An Orwellian government respects no limits to its power. That's the posture of New York, Connecticut, California and of course the federal government as well. In the name of "safety" and "security," these criminal governments believe they have the right to confiscate all your private records from psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and even doctors.What this means is that everything you tell a psychiatrist will be seen by the government. All it takes is one off-handed comment like, "I was really depressed over the weekend, I almost felt like I would just be better off dead," to earn a knock on your door and have all your constitutional rights stripped away by the government's tyrannical new "mental health" initiatives.

The "mental health" cover story can be used to vilify almost anyone. Who hasn't felt, at one time or another, depressed enough to consider ending it all? Who hasn't experienced extreme anger toward a boss, a coworker or a family member? The whole point of protecting the confidentiality of therapy sessions is so that patients can feel comfortable sharing intimate details -- even scary details from deep in the human psyche -- that are necessary to find a way to heal and move forward.

That the Cuomo administration feels it has the right to violate the sanctity of doctor-patient confidentiality in its overzealous agenda to disarm law-abiding citizens is yet another sign that this government is being run by criminals who need to be held accountable for their actions.

We should thank Cuomo, however, for giving us all yet another compelling reason to oppose universal background checks (i.e. gun "registration") laws. Thanks to him, it's now clear that the government will use gun registration lists to stalk citizens through their medical records.Every "list" kept by government will be criminally abused by government. In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, the Cuomo administration believes it has the right to do absolutely anything it wants, without limitation, and without respecting the rule of law or the rights and freedoms of New York citizens.

We have reached a crescendo of runaway criminal government in America, where all acts of tyranny are now justified by absurd claims of "saving the children."

But the United States Constitution doesn't say:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the commondefence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty toourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for theUnited States of America... unless the government claims to be "saving the children" in which case all the following text is null and void.

About the author: Mike Adams is an award-winning journalist and holistic nutritionist with a passion for sharing empowering information to help improve personal and planetary health He has authored more than 1,800 articles and dozens of reports, guides and interviews on natural health topics, and he has published numerous courses on preparedness and survival, including financial preparedness, emergency food supplies, urban survival and tactical self-defense. Adams is a trusted, independent journalist who receives no money or promotional fees whatsoever to write about other companies' products. In 2010, Adams created, a natural living video sharing site featuring thousands of user videos on foods, fitness, green living and more. He also launched an online retailer of environmentally-friendly products ( and uses a portion of its profits to help fund non-profit endeavors. He's also the founder of a well known HTML email software company whose 'Email Marketing Director' software currently runs the NaturalNews subscription database. Adams volunteers his time to serve as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and regularly pursues cycling, nature photography, Capoeira and Pilates. Known by his callsign, the 'Health Ranger,' Adams posts his missions statements, health statistics and health photos at

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San Diego County considers forcing residents to take psychiatric medication under Laura's Law

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Sun, 14 Apr 2013 09:40

(NaturalNews) '' San Diego County in California is considering implementing Laura's Law, which would give the state's second most populous county '' home to over three million people '' the uncontested right to force psychiatric medication upon its residents.

Funds for the forced inpatient or outpatient psychiatric incarceration, known as ''assisted outpatient treatment'' are to be provided by taxpayers. Other bills under consideration would extend Laura's Law to schoolchildren, at the discretion of school administrators.

Laura's Law is heavily supported by law enforcement, the press, the American Psychiatric Association and host of ''consumer and family advocate groups.'' In others words, those who believe the government deserves more control absolutely love Laura's Law. After all, Laura's Law offers those in power the ultimate form of control '' over your brain chemistry.

What is Laura's Law?Laura's Law is an existing state law, passed by the California state legislature in 2002 and signed by Governor Gray Davis. The law makes it possible for anyone to be ordered into psychiatric treatment if determined appropriate by authorities. Non-compliant ''patients'' are not given a choice, pending involuntary incarceration.

Each county within the state of California has the option of implementing Laura's Law. Los Angeles County implemented it in 2004. San Diego County undertook a 90-day review of the law in March 2013 as it considers implementation.

The law is named for Laura Wilcox, who was shot and killed at the age of 19 by a man with untreated, severe mental illness.

How do you qualify for forced psychiatric treatment under Laura's Law?Authorities simply determine that you meet the state approved criteria. In California, the criteria are as follows:

Inpatient: (1) Danger to self/others or (2) unable to provide for basic personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter.

Outpatient: Condition likely to substantially deteriorate, unlikely to survive safely in community without supervision, history of noncompliance which includes two hospitalizations in past 36 months or act/threat/attempt of violence to self/others in 48 months immediately preceding petition filing, likely needs to prevent meeting inpatient standard, and likely to benefit from assisted treatment.

Glancing over these standards quickly is dangerous because they are written to appear strict and reasonable. If we break them down, however, you can see that the wildly vague language used is open to broad interpretation.

The bottom line is this: Someone in authority needs to decide that you are a ''danger.'' That's it. Then, they can lock you up and medicate you into oblivion. Case closed.But wait, it says that you have to have a hard history of hospitalization and violence in order to qualify. Not so! All you need to qualify to lose your physical and mental freedom is, at any time during the last four years, to act/threat/attempt violence to self/others. An ''act/threat/attempt'' of violence, by the way, could be ANYTHING. Giving someone a dirty look could be interpreted as a threat of violence.

Finally, authorities have put themselves in a position to predict whether or not you are ''likely to benefit'' from assisted treatment. And the clause, condition likely to substantially deteriorate, suggests that they can take over your life if they feel you may do something wrong in the future.

I recently spoke with Sophie Faught at MindFreedom International about Laura's Law. MindFreedom International is a true patient rights advocacy group that believes in mental health freedom. Sophie said the following:

For over 25 years, we at MindFreedom have argued for VOICE and CHOICE in mental health care. We're against force in mental health care because it's simply not therapeutic. When you're suffering from mental or emotional distress, the last thing you need is to have a technology you don't believe in forced on you. Rather,you need to feel safe and loved by your fellow human beings. It's that human connection, which can be found in peer support and compassionate care, that helps you find the meaning in your experience and your path to a better mental/emotional place.

Many of our members describe the practice of forced drugging as dehumanizing, invasive, violent, and downright TRAUMATIZING. Because trauma is so often a contributing factor to mental/emotional distress, our first goal should be to provide care that does not exacerbate old traumas or create new ones. Forced drugging cannot possibly meet that goal '-- many psychiatric survivors spend years coming to terms with the violence and violation of that kind of an act.

Forcibly injecting another human being with a mind-altering chemical cannot be considered therapeutic under any circumstances, but it's especially shocking to think of doing this to a person in his own home, the place (above all others), where he expects privacy, self-determination, and safety. What psychiatry says through this act is: ''There is only a narrow spectrum of thoughts and emotions that are acceptable, EVEN IN YOUR OWN HOME, EVEN IN YOUR OWN MIND.''

Why limit mankind? Why stop these journeys into the inner world of thoughts and feelings? What incredible discoveries do we '-- as individuals and as a society '-- miss in the process?

MindFreedom International will always oppose legislation like Laura's Law because we believe that there must be safe spaces for extreme thoughts and emotions. Mankind has much to learn from these experiences. They are a difficult but necessary part of the healing path.

Psychiatry has no answer to gun massacresAs much as our hearts go out to those who have suffered and lost loved ones to the violent and unpredictable acts of others, we need to face the hard truth.

Violence is not predictable.

Psychiatry does not have the answer.

Psychiatric medication does not prevent violence.

Stealing freedom and medically torturing innocent people will do nothing to protect anyone. The problem of violence will remain unsolved. The state will continue to gain unprecedented power and an easier path to implement that power. The freedom of the people will continue to vanish.

Peter Breggin, MD has the following to say about psychiatric approaches to violent behavior:

The most devastating recent shooters were all involved with psychiatric treatment and evaluation, and it did not prevent their violence. In some cases, it undoubtedly increased it.On the possibility of identifying violent people and preventing violent acts, Dr. Breggin said:

So many people harbor feelings of violence, and so few perpetrate them, that it is impossible to screen society for violent individuals without untold numbers of ''false positives.'' In a general psychiatric practice such as my own, a number of patients will be struggling to control their violent feelings and usually a few will have acted aggressively or violently in the past. Within society as a whole, there will be thousands of ''suspicious-looking'' people locked up and drugged for every genuine threat.

Read Dr. Breggin's full commentary on psychiatry and gun massacres here. For an amazing interview with Dr. Breggin about the violent, death-camp style history of psychiatry, listen to the March 13, 2013 episode of Mental Health Exposed. If you think psychiatry is rooted in a desire to help people heal, think again! These are the folks we are empowering with Laura's Law! Ice pick lobotomy anyone?

There you have it. States like California are using devastating acts of violence to increase their power with ''solutions'' that do NOTHING more than steal freedom from innocent people.

About the author:Watch the free video The AHA! Process: An End to Self-Sabotage and discover the lost keys to personal transformation and emotional well-being that have been suppressed by mainstream mental health for decades.

The information in this video has been called the missing link in mental health and personal development. In a world full of shallow, quick-fix techniques, second rate psychology and pharmaceutical takeovers, real solutions have become nearly impossible to find. This presentation will turn your world upside down.

Mike Bundrant is co-founder of the iNLP Center and host of Mental Health Exposed, a Natural News Radio program.

Follow Mike on Facebook for daily personal development tips.

Source: Natural News

Driver, 26, dies in car; medical condition suspected

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Sun, 14 Apr 2013 23:41

10:25 p.m. |

Police on Sunday were investigating the sudden death of a driver found unconscious in his vehicle at N. 6th St. and W. Locust St.

The 26-year-old man may have died from a pre-existing medical condition, according to the Milwaukee County medical examiners office. Passers-by called police after the driver's vehicle rolled into the intersection. Lifesaving efforts by Milwaukee firefighters were unsuccessful.

PreviousFuneral is Thursday for Town of Brookfield officer

NextFatal crash reported on Capitol Drive

Banoosh >> >> Sexual Fetishes Soon To Be Declared As Mental Health Disorders

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 16:00

Enjoy a little spanking during foreplay?

What about being tied to the bed posts, role playing or admiring a pair of stilettos to help turn on that sexual engine? Such sexual fixations may soon land you in the psychiatrist's bible of diagnoses. All the kinksters are saying it can't be, but psychiatrists are now stating that such behavior should be diagnosed as mental illness deserving of pharmaceutical drug treatment.

''Understanding peoples' attitudes about whether states of being should be considered diseases can inform social discourse regarding a number of contentious social and health public policy issues,'' says Kari Tikkinen, MD, PhD.

''The word disease seems to be as difficult to define as beauty, truth or love, although the concept of disease lies at the heart of medicine,'' Tikkinen says. But why is it that the medical community has no hesitation in defining dozens of new diseases every year, most of which have no scientific justification?

Most of these nonsensical medical terminologies and inventions seem to be centered around children being children and a society determined to turn our youngest generations into robots. Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder or what about Mathematics Disorder? Yes, these are all real and officially recognized diagnoses by doctors.

Proposed Changes

The newest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5, is due out in May. The book sets the standard criteria for psychiatric diagnoses (not to mention health insurance reimbursement), making its pronouncements crucial to mental health treatment.

Proposed changes discussed online by the American Psychiatric Association researchers who worked on the new edition suggest that foot fetishists and bondage aficionados who hoped to get out of the book altogether won't see that wish come true.

Instead, unusual sexual fixations, or ''paraphilias,'' will likely get their own category as odd.

Psychiatrists argue that leaving benign paraphilias in the DSM goes too far. Sexual fixations that cause harm and distress can be dealt with under other diagnoses, they say, ones that don't stigmatize people who enjoy non-mainstream but harmless sexual activities.

''I've heard people at meetings talk about 'those paraphiliacs,' 'those people,''' said Alan Shindel, an urologist and specialist in sexual problems at the University of California, Davis Health System. ''I think that's always a dangerous road to go down when you're talking about othering people in that way.''

Some psychiatrists and paraphilics even draw parallels between their position and that of gays and lesbians, who were considered mentally ill until homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1974. [The History of Sex in the DSM]

The proposals and discussions posted online by the American Psychiatric Association suggest the new DSM will take that DSM-IV-TR qualification further. Turned on by obscene phone calls or spanking? You've got a paraphilia.

The DSM-5 may also, for the first time, clearly define ''paraphilia'' (previous incarnations have simply listed odd sexual targets). They proposed a definition describing paraphilia as ''any intense and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in genital stimulation or preparatory fondling with phenotypically normal, consenting human partners between the ages of physical maturity and physical decline.''

In that study, researchers found the most common paraphilia was voyeurism (spying on an unknowing person), followed by fetishism (sexual fixation on a nonliving object).

Who is Really Crazy?

Sex has a controversial history in the DSM. Up until 1986 (12 years after homosexuality was removed from the DSM), psychiatrists still had the option of declaring gay people mentally ill if their sexuality caused them distress. Now, people who get aroused by bondage or unusual objects say they're in the same position as gay individuals in the 1980s: stigmatized, with any problems they do have unfairly blamed on their sexuality. The real problem behind the woes of the shoe fetishist or BDSM practitioner is that society judges them harshly, not that their sexual desires are somehow wrong, these advocates say. A similar argument helped to oust homosexuality from the DSM. And many psychiatrists agree that the evidence for consensual paraphilias causing harm is lacking

Part of the challenge of classifying the paraphilias is that they range from undoubtedly harmful to benign. Sexual excitement over urine (urophilia) may seem icky to most people, but it's unlikely to hurt anyone. Similarly, many individuals consensually engage in sexual activities meant to inflict pain, such as spanking.

''The act of specifying particular, sexual behaviors as pathological leads to discrimination against all practitioners of those behaviors, even when their behavioral expressions are appropriate and benign,'' wrote psychiatrists Charles Moser and Peggy Kleinplatz in 2005 in the Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality.

It's hard to separate value judgments from what's considered ''sick.'' This also applies to paraphilias that typically don't harm others: As long as mental illness remains tangled in cultural ideas about morality and right and wrong, handling sensitive subjects such as sexual desire will remain complicated.

Health conscious communities have recently bonded together to prevent fictitious medical advances and the accompanying flood of new drugs for a range of ills that threaten to ''medicalize'' every human condition and behavior, according to some experts.

In addition, they say the advent of genetic screening could eventually mean that apparently healthy people will be labeled ''sick'' decades before an actual diagnosis.

''Illness is always a social construct,'' notes Dr. Nortin Hadler, professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of the book ''Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America.''

''People have to agree '-- both people, in general, and those in the medical community '-- that a life experience shouldn't be labeled an illness,'' Hadler says. ''For example, the Victorians medicalized orgasm, and we medicalize the lack of it.''

So who is really crazy?

Those who they attempt to diagnose or the psychiatrists themselves?

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

Banoosh >> >> Psychiatrist Wants All Unruly Kids Labeled As Having Mental Disorders

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 16:00

It's a sign of the times where the medicalization of almost every human behavior is being documented, labeled and categorized as some type of illness or 'disorder.' A psychiatrist who heads the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) wants to broaden the definition of children with mental illness so that unruly and badly behaved kids will soon be diagnosed as having mental disorders.

It's not terribly shocking anymore to have some so-called expert, academic or psychiatrist label perfectly normal human behaviors as disorders. What a coincidence that this one happens to head the NIMH.

''One reason we haven't made greater progress helping people recover from mental disorders is that we get on the scene too late,'' said Thomas R. Insel, MD, director of the NIMH and the featured speaker at the American Academy of Pediatrics' Presidential Plenary during the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston.

What Dr. Insel is referring to is that more children are not being diagnosed with mental disorders at an earlier age, thus decreasing the demographic of available candidates for psychiatric evaluation and pharmaceutical intervention. Dr. Insel discussed signs of mental illnesses in young children and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention in his presentation, ''What Every Pediatrician Needs to Know about Mental Disorders,'' on April 29, in the Hynes Convention Center.

He insists that as the first line of defense, pediatricians should detect mental disorders early and ensure children get drug treatment as soon as possible. He foresees migrating from the current screening tools involving questionnaires to other methods such as cognitive and genetic testing.

Dr. Insel is very blunt about diagnosing a child's behavior problems as a mental disorder. It's important to understand that mental illnesses are a developmental brain disorder even though they can look like behavior problems, Dr. Insel explained.

''The future of mental illness has to be at the point where we aren't treating behavior separately from the rest of the person,'' he said. ''There needs to be full integration of behavior and medical concerns.''

All children misbehave''it is their nature. The medicalization of normal these normal behaviors further support ongoing research into the disturbing and ongoing chemical abuse of children by conventional medicine. The prescription of psychiatric drugs to the masses, specifically children, are altering their minds, bodies and entire lives. See A Closer Look At Generation Rx

Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Mathematics Disorder. If you've never talked to your doctor about these conditions, it should come as little surprise; they are arguably some of the stranger diagnoses floating around in the medical literature. And although ridiculous to any sane person, many medical professionals say that these disorders are legitimate conditions that often warrant treatment.

''Illness is always a social construct,'' notes Dr. Nortin Hadler, professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of the book ''Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America.''

''People have to agree '-- both people, in general, and those in the medical community '-- that a life experience should be labeled an illness,'' Hadler says. ''For example, the Victorians medicalized orgasm, and we medicalize the lack of it.''Dr. Igor Galynker, director of The Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, says that some psychiatric conditions, in particular, tend to be a target of widespread controversy.

''In psychiatry, part of a disorder is clinically defined and part is societally defined,'' he says, adding that conditions, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, are particularly contentious.

''An ADD diagnosis is very controversial, especially after a recent paper suggested some children with ADD 'grow out' of it at age 25,'' he says. ''That would mean that ADD is a phase in development, rather than a disease. '... It is all fluid.''Recent proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the bible of the psychiatric profession childhood temper tantrums, teenage irritability and binge eating as psychiatric disorders.

The DSM is in its fifth edition. It has been criticized for formalizing character traits and emotions into mental conditions and for encouraging their medical treatment, often with drugs that have powerful side effects.

In addition to serving as director of the NIMH, Dr. Insel is acting director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, a new arm of the National Institutes of Health that has been specifically developed to accelerate diagnosis of mental disorders and subsequent pharmaceutical drug treatment.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

Insider Trading Elite$

How Congress Quietly Overhauled Its Insider-Trading Law : It's All Politics : NPR

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 13:58

Vice President Biden and members of Congress watch as President Obama signs the STOCK Act on April 4, 2012. A year later, Congress moved to undo large portions of the law without fanfare.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty ImagesVice President Biden and members of Congress watch as President Obama signs the STOCK Act on April 4, 2012. A year later, Congress moved to undo large portions of the law without fanfare.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty ImagesThe legislative process on Capitol Hill is often slow and grinding. There are committee hearings, filibuster threats and hours of floor debate. But sometimes, when Congress really wants to get something done, it can move blindingly fast.

That's what happened when Congress moved to undo large parts of a popular law known as the STOCK Act last week.

A year ago, President Obama signed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act into law at a celebratory ceremony attended by a bipartisan cast of lawmakers.

"I want to thank all the members of Congress who came together and worked to get this done," he said.

The law wouldn't just outlaw trading on nonpublic information by members of Congress, the executive branch and their staffs. It would greatly expand financial disclosures and make all of the data searchable so insider trading and conflicts of interest would be easier to detect.

But on Monday, when the president signed a bill reversing big pieces of the law, the emailed announcement was one sentence long. There was no fanfare last week either, when the Senate and then the House passed the bill in largely empty chambers using a fast-track procedure known as unanimous consent.

In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., shepherded the bill through. It was Friday afternoon at 12:52. Many members had already left for the weekend or were on their way out. The whole process took only 30 seconds. There was no debate.

"There weren't too many members of Congress who were aware of this legislation," says Craig Holman, the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. "And I suspect very, very few understood what a sweeping radical change it is to the STOCK Act."

Records In The Basement

To understand how the law changed, I asked Holman to meet me in the basement of the Cannon House Office Building.

"This is where the public records are kept, for those who can handle traveling to Washington, D.C.," Holman explained.

That's right. If you want to look up the financial disclosure forms filed by high-level congressional staffers '-- say, to find out whether they've been using the privileges of their positions to make well-timed stock trades '-- you have to come to this office.

Holman showed me how it works. You have to enter your name and address into a computer, and then you can search. But you have to know the name of the person you are searching for. If he or she has filed a financial disclosure form, it will come up as a PDF, which you can print at a cost of 10 cents a page.

"The database itself is almost meaningless," says Holman. He says the only option for those who want to get a comprehensive look at what some 2,900 staffers have filed is to review the cases one by one. "And that's just too big a job for anybody to do."

The STOCK Act was supposed to make this task significantly easier. Records for members of Congress, the executive branch and their staffs were supposed to be posted online in a searchable, sortable and downloadable format.

If you wanted to see who traded health care stock just before a committee acted on a health care bill, it would be easy. No trips to the basement required.

But there were concerns, especially among the 28,000 executive branch staff who would be required to post their financial disclosures online.

Going Too Far?

"There were particular concerns about risks for those who either travel overseas on government business or work overseas," says Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, who represents many of those executive branch employees.

An independent study said there were also risks of identity theft, which she says the new law helps avoid.

"What has been eliminated now is the ability of people to go phishing, if you will," she says.

The White House cited the independent report in explaining why the president signed the bill. And a spokesman for Cantor said the House and Senate were simply following recommendations of the study. But Lisa Rosenberg, a lobbyist for the Sunlight Foundation, which advocated for the STOCK Act, says Congress went too far.

"It's really shocking that they used basically the situation of questions about whether some language in the bill was overbroad to just gut the bill '-- to gut the transparency measures that apply to themselves," she says.

Still, two major elements of the law remain. Insider trading is illegal, even for members of Congress and the executive branch. And for those who are covered by the now-narrower law, disclosures of large stock trades are required within 45 days. It will just be harder to get to them.

Obama signs STOCK Act modification - The Hill's On The Money

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 16:21

President Obama quietly signed legislation Monday that rolled back a provision of the STOCK Act that required high-ranking federal employees to disclose their financial information online.

The White House announced Monday that the president had signed S. 716, which repealed a requirement of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act requiring the disclosure, which had previously been delayed several times by Congress.

That provision, added to the bipartisan bill aimed at halting insider trading by members of Congress, would have required roughly 28,000 senior government officials to post their financial information online, and had come under harsh criticism from federal government employee unions.Both chambers of Congress quickly '-- and near silently '-- approved the repeal legislation at the end of last week by unanimous consent, just before heading home to their districts.

The STOCK Act was signed by the president a little over one year ago in a highly visible signing ceremony, where he said the legislation would tackle the "deficit of trust" that exists between Washington and the rest of the nation.

The new law scraps a provision that had been hotly contested by federal employees, as well as found to be problematic and even dangerous for high-ranking government workers. Congress twice had passed legislation to delay its implementation. Under that provision, high-ranking government workers would have been required to post their financial information on a publicly available online database.

Under a previous delay, Congress called for the National Academy of Public Administration to study the implications of the requirement. The report, released in March, found the provision should be repealed, having found that it could needlessly threaten the safety of government employees abroad, as well as make it difficult to attract and retain talent in the public sector.

The Senate advanced the bill Thursday by unanimous consent, without debate or even briefly describing what it would do. The House signed off on the bill Friday using the same approach.

Under the new law, the beefed-up reporting requirements will still apply to the president, vice president, members of Congress and candidates for Congress. Some presidentially nominated and Senate-confirmed government employees would also still adhere to the new disclosure requirement. The new law also delays the creation of that database until the beginning of 2014.

Versions of the STOCK Act had been introduced for several years, but it was fast-tracked at the Capitol following media reports that suggested members of Congress might have profited from private information obtained during their legislative work. Members singled out in the reports maintained their innocence, but the spotlight spurred quick action on enacting legislation emphasizing that members of Congress be subject to insider trading laws among their disclosure enhancements.


IMF Warns Spanish Debt-Load Is Unsustainable

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Source: Zero Hedge

Thu, 18 Apr 2013 09:49

In the six months since the IMF last provided its economic forecasts, the situation in Spain has gone from bad (but sustainable) to worse (and unsustainable). Their current forecasts show no 'peak' in debt-to-gdp ratios at least as far as 2018 with the budget deficit primarily to blame.

As Bloomberg Briefs notes, general government primary borrowing, a measure that excludes the cost of paying interest on government debt, was revised up to 7.9% of GDP from 4.5% for 2012.

The inability to narrow the budget deficit, surprise surprise, appears partially due to lower real GDP growth forecasts and even then a recent study has found that World Economic Outlook real GDP growth forecasts showed a tendency to systematically exceed outcomes. This phenomenon was particularly prevalent in countries with an IMF-supported program.

The IMF warns Spain "will need to undertake unprecedented fiscal efforts to bring their debt ratios to traditional norms," as most countries have never experienced debt levels similar to current ones; and seemed to think a debt restructuring is more likely and will "entail substantial and long-lasting economic and social costs."

Source: @Davidjpowell24 and Bloomberg Briefs

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Ook cyberaanval op ABN Amro

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Source: VK: Home

Thu, 18 Apr 2013 09:45

18/04/13, 15:56 '' bron: ANP

(C) anp.

ABN Amro is donderdag getroffen door een cyberaanval. Daardoor is de website van de bank onbereikbaar en kunnen klanten niet internetbankieren. Ook het inloggen op mobiel bankieren blijkt niet mogelijk.

ABN Amro twitterde getroffen te zijn door een zogeheten DDoS-aanval. Daarbij wordt een grote hoeveelheid dataverkeer naar servers gestuurd, waardoor die tijdelijk onbereikbaar worden. Hoe lang de storing gaat duren is nog onbekend.

HinderVolgens een woordvoerster van de bank was het probleem na ongeveer een half uur grotendeels opgelost. 'De systemen komen weer in de lucht. We doen ons uiterste best om de systemen weer helemaal beschikbaar te krijgen. Klanten kunnen nog wel hinder ondervinden met inloggen.'

ABN Amro liet via Twitter weten getroffen te zijn door een zogeheten DDoS-aanval. Daarbij wordt een grote hoeveelheid dataverkeer naar servers gestuurd, waardoor die tijdelijk onbereikbaar worden.

Cyberaanval op SNS

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Source: VK: Home

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:51

17/04/13, 18:36 '' bron: ANP

(C) epa. SNS Bank.

UPDATESNS Bank is woensdagmiddag getroffen door een cyberaanval. Klanten konden hierdoor niet internetbankieren, mobiel bankieren en met iDeal betalen. De aanval werd in ongeveer een half uur succesvol afgeslagen, liet een woordvoerder van de bank weten. 'Alleen iDeal is nog niet volledig beschikbaar.'

Betaalorganisatie Currence meldde dat ook klanten van andere banken problemen leken te ondervinden bij het afrekenen via iDeal.

Het ging om een zogeheten Ddos-aanval. Daarbij wordt een grote hoeveelheid dataverkeer naar servers gestuurd, waardoor die tijdelijk onbereikbaar worden. Afgelopen maandag werd Rabobank nog door een dergelijke aanval getroffen.

Over half of Austrians think the Nazis would be elected if the party was readmitted to politics - Europe - World

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Thu, 18 Apr 2013 07:09

As Austria prepares to mark the anniversary of its annexation by Nazi Germany, an opinion poll has shown that more than half of the population think it highly likely that the Nazis would be elected if they were readmitted as a party.

A further 42 per cent agreed with the view that life ''wasn't all bad under the Nazis'', and 39 per cent said they thought a recurrence of anti-Semitic persecution was likely in Austria.

The disturbing findings were contained in a poll conducted for the Vienna newspaper, ''Der Standard'' in advance of Tuesday's 75th anniversary of Austria's Nazi annexation - a date which still counts as one of the most shameful and controversial in the country's history.

Tens of thousands of Austrians gave Adolf Hitler and his troops a rapturous welcome when they invaded the country unopposed in March 1938. Austria fought World War II as part of Nazi Germany and many Austrians helped run Nazi death camps. Yet for decades, post-war Austria frequently perpetuated the myth that it was a victim of Nazi oppression. Der Standard said its poll was designed to show how today's Austrians judged Nazi rule.

Neighbouring Germany's popular ''Stern'' magazine described the poll's findings as shocking today. The poll also showed that 61 per cent of Austrian adults wanted to see a ''strong man'' in charge of government, and 54 per cent said they thought it would be ''highly likely'' that the Nazis would win seats in they were allowed to take part in an election.

Some 46 per cent of those polled said they believed Austria was a victim of Nazi oppression in 1938, while 61 per cent said they believed that ''enough'' had been done to reappraise Austria's Nazi past.

The poll's damning findings have been echoed by organisations such as the Israel office of the Simon Weisenthal Center which, among other things, has accused Austria of a ''consistently terrible record'' on tracking down Holocaust perpetrators over the past 30 years.

In an attempt to improve Austria's record on Nazi-era reappraisal, the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra announced yesterday that it would publish details about its Nazi collaboration during the Third Reich. The move follows allegations that the orchestra has whitewashed its past.

The orchestra is expected to reveal that it expelled 13 musicians because they were Jewish or opposed the Nazi annexation, and that some of its members were Nazis themselves. Five of those expelled are believed to have later died in concentration camps.

Twenty-five hospitalised in German poison sandwich scare - Telegraph

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:58

Police spokesman Frank Soika said that it was a tradition among employees of the firm to buy sandwiches for each other.

An untouched roll was flown to a Berlin laboratory. Test results confirmed overnight that the free sandwiches had been sprinkled with rat poison, Mr Soika said.

"We don't believe the amount of poison used would have been deadly, but it could have caused serious illness," he said.

Police have launched an investigation and interviewed some of the affected workers, but have no indication yet of who left the poisoned sandwiches or why.

The hospitalized workers are due to be kept under observation in hospital, the spokesman said.

Helmut Kohake, managing director of Mueller Technik, told a press conference on Wednesday that there had been no problems with staff, and no-one had been made redundant.

The firm would be looking at protection measures, which might include fencing off its premises, he said. Employees were upset after the incident, he added. "You don't know whether something like this could happen again," Mr Kohake said.

Mueller Technik, which was founded in 1984 and makes plastic parts for use in cars, has 240 employees.

WTF! OM stuurt brief aan 06-lijst drugsdealer

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Source: GeenStijl

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 08:30

Ah, post van het OM. Even kijken. WTF! In Woerden kregen 360 mensen een brief op de mat van het OM dat hun nummer in de telefoonlijst van een lokale drugsdealer staat. Minderjarigen die gekoppeld staan aan een telefoonnummer op de bellijst van de dealer kunnen bezoek van Bureau Jeugdzorg verwachten. Ding dong, niet schrikken, papa & mama, het is de antidrugsbrigade van Bureau Jeugdzorg. Holy privacyfucking balls. Deze hele actie is dus gebaseerd op (C)(C)n lijst uit de zomer van 2012 van (C)(C)n telefoon van (C)(C)n drugsdealer. Lekker bezig, OM. Iedereen schrikt zich een derde tepel op de rug. Quote van (C)(C)n der briefontvangers: "Ik ben jong geweest maar heb mijn wilde haren afgeschud. Nu ligt er een brief op de mat en is mijn vrouw overstuur. Ik heb al jaren een rustig leven en dan gebeurt er dit." Al die mensen sterven de schrikziekte vanwege een overdosis privacynaaierij van het OM. Die dit allemaal doen, daar komt 'ie, voor een stukje bewustwording en preventie. Oh, is dat het doel? Want dit lijkt meer op een kudde schapen affakkelen met napalmbommen omdat (C)(C)n lammetje een beetje mank loopt. Qua schijt hebben aan de privacy van de briefontvangers. Geen idee hoe het met u zit, maar wij vinden dit soort sinistere praktijken van de staat een beetje eng.

Johnny Quid | 17-04-13 | 14:55 | Link | Reageer ookJe bent ingelogd als: (Uitloggen)

Probeer trouwens eens de totaal officieuze niet-ondersteunde third-party GeenStijl extension die compleet niet door ons ondersteund wordt en volledig op eigen risico is.

Je bent niet ingelogd, klik hier om dat wel te doen: login of doe een CookieSync.

Researchers Finally Replicated Reinhart-Rogoff, and There Are Serious Problems. | Next New Deal

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 18:15

In 2010, economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff released a paper, "Growth in a Time of Debt." Their "main result is that...median growth rates for countries with public debt over 90 percent of GDP are roughly one percent lower than otherwise; average (mean) growth rates are several percent lower." Countries with debt-to-GDP ratios above 90 percent have a slightly negative average growth rate, in fact.

This has been one of the most cited stats in the public debate during the Great Recession. Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget states their study "found conclusive empirical evidence that [debt] exceeding 90 percent of the economy has a significant negative effect on economic growth." The Washington Post editorial board takes it as an economic consensus view, stating that "debt-to-GDP could keep rising '-- and stick dangerously near the 90 percent mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth."

Is it conclusive? One response has been to argue that the causation is backwards, or that slower growth leads to higher debt-to-GDP ratios. Josh Bivens and John Irons made this case at the Economic Policy Institute. But this assumes that the data is correct. From the beginning there have been complaints that Reinhart and Rogoff weren't releasing the data for their results (e.g. Dean Baker). I knew of several people trying to replicate the results who were bumping into walls left and right - it couldn't be done.

In a new paper, "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff," Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst successfully replicate the results. After trying to replicate the Reinhart-Rogoff results and failing, they reached out to Reinhart and Rogoff and they were willing to share their data spreadhseet. This allowed Herndon et al. to see how how Reinhart and Rogoff's data was constructed.

They find that three main issues stand out. First, Reinhart and Rogoff selectively exclude years of high debt and average growth. Second, they use a debatable method to weight the countries. Third, there also appears to be a coding error that excludes high-debt and average-growth countries. All three bias in favor of their result, and without them you don't get their controversial result. Let's investigate further:

Selective Exclusions. Reinhart-Rogoff use 1946-2009 as their period, with the main difference among countries being their starting year. In their data set, there are 110 years of data available for countries that have a debt/GDP over 90 percent, but they only use 96 of those years. The paper didn't disclose which years they excluded or why.

Herndon-Ash-Pollin find that they exclude Australia (1946-1950), New Zealand (1946-1949), and Canada (1946-1950). This has consequences, as these countries have high-debt and solid growth. Canada had debt-to-GDP over 90 percent during this period and 3 percent growth. New Zealand had a debt/GDP over 90 percent from 1946-1951. If you use the average growth rate across all those years it is 2.58 percent. If you only use the last year, as Reinhart-Rogoff does, it has a growth rate of -7.6 percent. That's a big difference, especially considering how they weigh the countries.

Unconventional Weighting. Reinhart-Rogoff divides country years into debt-to-GDP buckets. They then take the average real growth for each country within the buckets. So the growth rate of the 19 years that the U.K. is above 90 percent debt-to-GDP are averaged into one number. These country numbers are then averaged, equally by country, to calculate the average real GDP growth weight.

In case that didn't make sense, let's look at an example. The U.K. has 19 years (1946-1964) above 90 percent debt-to-GDP with an average 2.4 percent growth rate. New Zealand has one year in their sample above 90 percent debt-to-GDP with a growth rate of -7.6. These two numbers, 2.4 and -7.6 percent, are given equal weight in the final calculation, as they average the countries equally. Even though there are 19 times as many data points for the U.K.

Now maybe you don't want to give equal weighting to years (technical aside: Herndon-Ash-Pollin bring up serial correlation as a possibility). Perhaps you want to take episodes. But this weighting significantly reduces the average; if you weight by the number of years you find a higher growth rate above 90 percent. Reinhart-Rogoff don't discuss this methodology, either the fact that they are weighing this way or the justification for it, in their paper.

Coding Error. As Herndon-Ash-Pollin puts it: "A coding error in the RR working spreadsheet entirely excludes five countries, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, and Denmark, from the analysis. [Reinhart-Rogoff] averaged cells in lines 30 to 44 instead of lines 30 to 49...This spreadsheet responsible for a -0.3 percentage-point error in RR's published average real GDP growth in the highest public debt/GDP category." Belgium, in particular, has 26 years with debt-to-GDP above 90 percent, with an average growth rate of 2.6 percent (though this is only counted as one total point due to the weighting above).

Being a bit of a doubting Thomas on this coding error, I wouldn't believe unless I touched the digital Excel wound myself. One of the authors was able to show me that, and here it is. You can see the Excel blue-box for formulas missing some data:

This error is needed to get the results they published, and it would go a long way to explaining why it has been impossible for others to replicate these results. If this error turns out to be an actual mistake Reinhart-Rogoff made, well, all I can hope is that future historians note that one of the core empirical points providing the intellectual foundation for the global move to austerity in the early 2010s was based on someone accidentally not updating a row formula in Excel.

So what do Herndon-Ash-Pollin conclude? They find "the average real GDP growth rate for countries carrying a public debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent is actually 2.2 percent, not -0.1 percent as [Reinhart-Rogoff claim]." [UPDATE: To clarify, they find 2.2 percent if they include all the years, weigh by number of years, and avoid the Excel error.] Going further into the data, they are unable to find a breakpoint where growth falls quickly and significantly.

This is also good evidence for why you should release your data online, so it can be properly vetted. But beyond that, looking through the data and how much it can collapse because of this or that assumption, it becomes quite clear that there's no magic number out there. The debt needs to be thought of as a response to the contingent circumstances we find ourselves in, with mass unemployment, a Federal Reserve desperately trying to gain traction at the zero lower bound, and a gap between what we could be producing and what we are. The past guides us, but so far it has failed to provide evidence of an emergency threshold. In fact, it tells us that a larger deficit right now would help us greatly.

[UPDATE: People are responding to the Excel error, and that is important to document. But from a data point of view, the exclusion of the Post-World War II data is particularly troublesome, as that is driving the negative results. This needs to be explained, as does the weighting, which compresses the long periods of average growth and high debt.]

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Reinhart-Rogoff coding error: Austerity policies founded on bad coding.

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 18:14

The board at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) shows a sea of red in Melbourne on November 10, 2011, as Australian shares closed down 2.35 percent but off their lows after Italian debt yields spiked to levels judged to be unsustainable in the longer term. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 102.0 points to 4,244.1, tracking big falls on global markets, but they recovered slightly from a dive of more than three percent in morning trade. AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

So this is huge. Or, rather, it won't matter even a tiny little bit but it ought to be a big deal anyway. You've probably heard that countries with a high debt:GDP ratio suffer from slow economic growth. The specific number 90 percent has been invoked frequently. That's all thanks to a study conducted by Carmen Reinhardt and Kenneth Rogoff for their book This Time It's Different. But the results have been difficult for other researchers to replicate. Now three scholars at the University of Massachusetts have done so in "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff" and they find that the Reinhart/Rogoff result is based on opportunistic exclusion of Commonwealth data in the late-1940s, a debatable premise about how to weight the data, and most of all a sloppy Excel coding error.

Read Mike Konczal for the whole rundown, but I'll just focus on the spreadsheet part. At one point they set cell L51 equal to AVERAGE(L30:L44) when the correct procedure was AVERAGE(L30:L49). By typing wrong, they accidentally left Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Austria, and Australia out of the average. When you fix the Excel error, a -0.1 percent growth rate turns into 0.2 percent growth.*

This is literally the most influential article cited in public and policy debates about the importance of debt stabilization, so naturally this is going to change everything.

Or, rather, it will change nothing. As I've said many times, citations of the Reinhart/Rogoff result in a policy context obviously appealing to a fallacious form of causal inference. There is an overwhelming theoretical argument that slow real growth will lead to a high debt:GDP ratio and thus whether or not you can construct a dataset showing a correlation between the two tells us absolutely nothing about whether high debt loads lead to small growth. The correct causal inference doesn't rule out causation in the direction Reinhart and Rogoff believe in, but the kind of empirical study they've conducted couldn't possibly establish it. To give an example from another domain, you might genuinely wonder if short kids are more likely to end up malnourished because they're not good at fighting for food or something. A study where you conclude that short stature and malnourishment are correlated would give us zero information about this hypothesis, since everyone already knows that malnourishment leads to stunted growth. There might be causation in the other direction as well, but a correlation study woudn't tell you.

The fact that Reinhart/Rogoff was widely cited despite its huge obvious theoretical problems leads me to confidently predict that the existence of equally huge, albeit more subtle, empirical problems won't change anything either. As of 2007 there was a widespread belief among elites in the United States and Europe that reductions in retirement benefits were desirable, and subsequent events regarding economic crisis and debt have simply been subsumed into that longstanding view.

*Correction, April 16, 2013: This post originally conflated the impact of the Excel error with the two other objections raised by the University of Massachusetts researchers.

Dutch Finance Minister amends Cork University degree error -

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Archived Version

Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:32

Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen DijsselbloemDANIEL McCONNELL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT '' 14 April 2013

DUTCH Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem had to amend his official biography that accidentally claimed he obtained an MA from University College Cork.

Mr Dijsselbloem, who gave an address at the college last Thursday, was appointed Finance Minister of Holland last November and his biography was posted on official internet sites of European institutions, including the European Investment Bank, which initially claimed he had received an MA in Business Economics from UCC.

However, Mr Dijsselbloem never obtained any degree from UCC, as no such degree exists, and his biography had to be amended to say he ''did business economics research towards a master's degree at the University College Cork.''

It has transpired Mr Dijsselbloem only spent a couple of months at UCC conducting research in the ''Food Business'' field.

On his appointment, the erroneous biography that he had obtained a Masters in Ireland was reported as fact in the national media, sparking an internal investigation within UCC and also with the National University of Ireland, which confirmed he never graduated from there.

On November 13 last, Mr Dijsselbloem's appointment as Finance Minister of Holland was reported on the official European websites, which included the biography of his past experience and education, which first indicated he had an MA from UCC.

It has now been confirmed that the incorrect information had been supplied by his finance ministry in Holland but officials have been keen to insist that there was no attempt to ''misinform about his education.''

A European Investment Bank spokesman told the Sunday Independent that the matter was as a result of ''translation issues'' and that the error was corrected as soon as it became known.

He said: ''We receive background points as part of the nomination papers provided for a new Finance Minister. In this case the original education summary was amended to clarify that the time in Cork did not lead to a degree. So there was no wish by the minister to misinform about his education in Cork.''

A spokeswoman for Mr Dijsselbloem, who was in Dublin this weekend to attend the Ecofin meeting of finance ministers said he did obtain a masters from Wageningen University in Holland, but that information is not contained in his official biography on the Dutch Government website. It only states that he obtained a primary degree from Wageningen.

Last week, UCC in its promotion of the event claimed Mr Dijsselbloem as ''one of our own,'' and the college authorities said they were delighted to welcome him back to ''renew his connections with his former colleagues.''

A spokeswoman for UCC said: ''When University College Cork (UCC) becomes aware that former students achieve important roles in society we conduct a review of university records so that our celebration of their achievement is informed by information about their attendance at the university.''

She added: ''When we became aware of proposals to appoint Minister Dijsselbloem as President of the Eurogroup in January 2013 we noted the comments of Irish Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, TD that Minister Dijsselbloem had studied at UCC. The university records were examined at that time and we found that Minister Dijsselbloem had carried out research in Dairy Economics as part of his academic programme in Wageningen University. UCC has long enjoyed diverse cooperative ties with this wonderful university in the Netherlands.''

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Drone Nation

US Drone Strike Kills Five AQAP Suspects in Yemen

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Source: News From

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:23

US drones attacked a vehicle in Yemen's Dhamar Province today, killing five people, one of them identified as a local al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader by the Yemeni government.

The identified victim was Hamid al-Ramdi, while Yemeni officials say they aren't sure who the other four are, but speculated that they are ''followers'' of Ramdi's. He is considered a leader in the small village the attack took place in.

AQAP officials have been making much of the drone strikes in recent days, particularly of the number of civilian bystanders slain in the attacks, and the reports that the drones are being flown out of a Saudi base. AQAP has urged Saudis to rebel against the king for allowing US drones in their territory.

Unlike Pakistan, which has protested against the US strikes, the Hadi government has praised the US for launching such strikes, and told protesting Yemenis that 9/11 obliges their government to allow the US to launch attacks indefinitely.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

US Drone Strike Kills Five in North Waziristan

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Source: News From

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 23:08

A US drone strike has destroyed a house in Datta Khel, North Waziristan Agency today, killing the five people within. So far, officials have been unable to identify any of the victims.

Six drones were involved in the attack, according to locals, and they fired either two or three missiles in the attack, depending on the accounts. The missiles set the house on fire, and the bodies were burned beyond recognition within.

It is the latest in a long line of US drone strikes against North Waziristan, and the latest in which the victims have been dubbed ''suspected militants'' without any apparent idea who any of them are.

The US has launched hundreds of attacks against Pakistan in recent years, killing thousands of people, the vast majority of which remain unidentified to this day. Though officials maintain that most of the slain are suspected to be involved in the insurgency, we have nothing but their claims to base that on. The large death tolls have fueled angry anti-US backlashes across Pakistan, and the drones are expected to be a key portion of the Pakistani election.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Germany 'may buy weaponised drones from Israel' - FRANCE 24

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:43

A Heron TP surveillance drone at Israel's Tel Nof Air Force base in 2010. Germany is in talks with Israel to buy weaponised drones for its military that are seen as more technologically advanced than US ones, the weekly Der Spiegel says.

AFP - Germany is in talks with Israel to buy weaponised drones for its military that are seen as more technologically advanced than US ones, the weekly Der Spiegel reported.

The news magazine's Monday edition said the German defence ministry had already held two meetings with Israeli military officials, in November 2012 and February 2013, on the proposed purchase.

The chief of Germany's air force, Lieutenant General Karl Muellner, was said to have recently gone to Israel to attend a presentation of Israel's Heron TP drone, Der Spiegel said.

Berlin was believed to favour the Heron over the US-made Predator drones because it was seen as more cutting-edge, the magazine said.

Germany's defence minister, Thomas de Maiziere, in February called for combat drones to be incorporated into the air force, saying their lack created a disadvantage.

At the time, he made no mention about which drones Germany would be interested in.

But Germany had expressed an interest in jointly developing drone technology with France, to avoid becoming dependent on US or Israeli drones.

The issue of drones has generated an ethical debate in Germany, which does not use unmanned aircraft to fight battles but only for surveillance and reconnaissance missions in places such as Afghanistan.


EU set to lift sanctions against Myanmar, except arms embargo

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Source: Reuters: World News

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:56

TweetShare thisEmailPrintMyanmar's President Thein Sein speaks at the opening ceremony of the annual Boao Forum in Boao, in southern China's Hainan province, Sunday, April 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander F. Yuan/Pool

BRUSSELS | Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:43pm EDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is expected to lift all sanctions on Myanmar next week, except for an arms embargo, in recognition of the "remarkable process of reform" in the country, a document obtained by Reuters showed on Wednesday.

The EU agreed a year ago to suspend most of its sanctions against Myanmar for a year, but it is now expected to go further by agreeing "to lift all sanctions with the exception of the embargo on arms," according to the document.

The step - which was agreed by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, paving the way for ministerial approval on Monday - will allow European companies to invest in Myanmar, which has significant natural resources and borders economic giants China and India.

The United States and other Western countries have been easing sanctions on Myanmar to reward a wave of political and economic reforms put in place since Myanmar's military stepped aside and a quasi-civilian government was installed in 2011.

As a result, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is attracting a surge of interest from overseas businesses keen to enter one of the last untapped markets in Asia.

The EU had frozen the assets of nearly 1,000 companies and institutions in Myanmar and banned almost 500 people from entering the EU. It also prohibited military-related technical help and banned investment in the mining, timber and precious metals sectors.

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Writing by Adrian Croft; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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Afghan opium production increases for 3rd year in a row | Circa News

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 11:17

The report suggests that international and local efforts to decrease Afghan poppy production'--and the narcotic trade associated with it'--have failed. Efforts included the destruction of thousands of hectares of the crop there last year, but the size of farms cultivating it grew by about 18% in 2012.

April 15, 2013, 12:15 p.m.

Agenda 21

Controversial NOAA report says climate change not responsible for 2012 drought | Science Recorder

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 09:54

According to an Assessment Report of the NOAA Drought Task Force, the 2012 central Great Plains drought was not caused by climate change.

In fact, the task force concluded that the drought resulted mostly from natural variations in weather and that human-induced climate change did not seem to play a significant role in the severe rainfall deficits that impacted the central Great Plains between May-August 2012.

NOAA said that the 2012 central Great Plains drought was caused by the failure of moist Gulf of Mexico air to stream northward in late spring and the infrequent and dry nature of summertime thunderstorms.

The report led to some controversy among climatologists.

As noted by The New York Times, President Barack Obama said in his most recent State of the Union Address that the 2012 central Great Plains drought was an example of extreme weather resulting from climate change.

The fact that the NOAA report contradicted the president's interpretation of the drought, as well as those of many climate change scientists, has confused those trying to understand the impact of human-induced climate change on the environment and weather., for example, said the report is ''needlessly confusing, scientifically problematic, and already leading to misleading headlines.'' The website posted a Commentary from Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Dr. Trenberth said that the report is ''incomplete'' in some areas and that it ''asks the wrong questions.''

Dr. Trenberth, for instance, noted that the report failed to discuss the observed soil moisture conditions, snow cover, and snow pack during the 2011-2012 winter.

According to the NOAA report, ''An Interpretation of the Origins of the 2012 Central Great Plains Drought,'' the drought was a ''discrete extreme event'' that was not a progression or a continuation of 2011'Ós record drought event that took place over the southern Great Plains.

NOAA also said that the extent and severity of the 2012 Central Great Plains Drought were not predicted. Though above normal temperatures were forecasted by climate models, the extreme heat wave was not.

Was NOAA's report misleading? Did the report fail to answer some questions or take into account some data? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Retreat of antarctic glaciers not attributable to human-caused warming -

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:35

SEATTLE, April 15 (UPI) -- Recent melting of antarctic glaciers, while dramatic, is within normal ranges and cannot be attributed to human-caused global warming, a U.S. scientist says.

In the last few decades glaciers at the edge of the icy continent have been thinning, and research has shown the rate has accelerated and contributed significantly to sea level rise.

However, Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences, says the thinning is at the "upper bound" of normal that could be attributed to natural climate variations.

The majority of recent antarctic warming came during the 1990s in response to El Nino conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, Steig said, when conditions were not greatly different from some other decades -- such as the 1830s and 1940s -- that also showed marked temperature spikes.

"If we could look back at this region of Antarctica in the 1940s and 1830s, we would find that the regional climate would look a lot like it does today, and I think we also would find the glaciers retreating much as they are today," he said.

The implication is that rapid ice loss from Antarctica observed in the last few decades, particularly the '90s, "may not be all that unusual," he said in a university release.

While changes in recent decades have been at the "upper bound of normal," Steig said, they cannot be considered exceptional and cannot with confidence be blamed on human-caused warming.

"The magnitude of unforced natural variability is very big in this area," he said, "and that actually prevents us from answering the questions, 'Is what we have been observing exceptional? Is this going to continue?'"

UC Berkeley selected to build NASA's next space weather satellite

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Source: - latest science and technology news stories

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 08:32

This picture of Earth and the ionosphere, taken with a handheld camera by an astronaut on the International Space Station, shows a bright red wall of plasma near the equator. The ICON satellite will image this glowing plasma in order to connect Earth storms to ionospheric storms and better predict space weather. Though the glowing plasma looks like the aurora, it's much higher in altitude.Credit: NASA.

( '--NASA has awarded the University of California, Berkeley, up to $200 million to build a satellite to determine how Earth's weather affects weather at the edge of space, in hopes of improving forecasts of extreme "space weather" that can disrupt global positioning satellites (GPS) and radio communications.

The satellite mission, called the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON), will be designed, built and operated by scientists at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory. Scheduled for launch in 2017, ICON will orbit 550 kilometers (345 miles) above Earth in the ionosphere: the edge of space where the sun ionizes the air to create constantly shifting streams and sheets of charged particles. These charged particles can interfere with GPS signals and radio signals that travel through and bounce off the ionosphere.

ICON will collect data needed to establish the connection between storms that occur near Earth's surface and space-weather storms, allowing scientists to better predict space weather. These results could help airliners, for example, which today cannot rely solely on GPS satellites to fly and land because signals from these satellites can be distorted by charged-particle storms in the ionosphere.

"Ten years ago, we had no idea that the ionosphere was affected and structured by storms in the lower atmosphere," said the project's principal investigator, Thomas Immel, a senior fellow at the Space Sciences Laboratory. "We proposed ICON in response to this new realization."

NASA announced the award last week, along with another mission called the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD), which will image Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere from a commercial geosynchronous satellite.

"One of the frontier areas of heliophysics is the study of the interface between outer space and the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere," said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. "These selected projects use innovative solutions to advance our knowledge of this relatively unexplored region. The two missions together will result in significantly more advances in our understanding of Earth's atmosphere and ionosphere than either would alone."

Until recently, Immel said, the ionosphere was thought to be affected primarily by the solar wind, which consists of charged particles emitted from the sun. When the sun is active and firing bursts of charged particles toward Earth, the ionosphere erupts in chaotic storms. But a slew of satellites orbiting Earth to study the sun, solar wind and Earth's magnetic field have now shown that Earth's space environment, specifically activity in the ionosphere, can't be explained solely by particles streaming from the sun.

The ICON satellite will orbit Earth at a 27 degree angle to the equator, pointing its MIGHTI imager and far and extreme ultraviolet sensors at ionospheric storms as on-board instruments measure the flow of charged-particles (guided by the arched magnetic field shown with blue lines) at the position of the satellite.

"We know that the solar wind plays a big role in the ionosphere, but most of the time the sun is relatively quiet, and our space environment still varies quite a bit," he said. "We think that variability is coming from weather on our own planet, which can be very powerful."This can happen, Immel said, when surface storms compress and heat the atmosphere, driving huge waves upward into space and causing charged particles to move across magnetic fields in unpredictable ways. This can also lead to extreme fluctuations of temperature in the ionosphere.

The ICON spacecraft, with blue solar panels and limb-pointing instruments to measure winds in the thermosphere (MIGHTI), far and extreme ultraviolet emissions (FUV and EUV) from the ionosphere and the in situ ion velocity meter (IVM).

"There are huge waves at an altitude above 100 kilometers (63 miles), with amplitudes as large as 50 degrees Kelvin, where the average temperature is about 300 degrees Kelvin (77 degrees Fahrenheit) '' a 20-30 percent variation," he said. "That may sound small, but imagine a wave rolling through your neighborhood with a temperature swing of 100 degrees Kelvin, or 180 degrees Fahrenheit '' from freezing to boiling! These waves can change the composition of the upper atmosphere and how the ionosphere grows during the day."ICON will explore these and other processes that control the dynamics and chemistry of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere. One question, for example, is why "North America is, in a way, like tornado alley for space storms," Immel said, where huge masses of ionized plasma roll over the country and disrupt GPS and other communications.

"We want to understand where this plasma comes from '' Is it generated in situ? Does it grow in outer space? Or are we pulling plasma up from lower latitudes like the Caribbean?" he said.

The satellite will operate in a circular orbit tilted 27 degrees from the equator and simultaneously map winds in the upper atmosphere and charged particle currents, called plasmas, in the ionosphere, a region that stretches from an altitude of about 85 to 600 kilometers (50 to 370 miles).

The instrument called MIGHTI (Michelson Interferometer for Global High-resolution Thermospheric Imaging), which will be built by scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory, will detect the aurora-like glow of air molecules and measure their temperature and speed via Doppler imaging. These winds routinely blow at 200 miles per hour in a part of the upper atmosphere called the thermosphere.

Two other instruments built at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory will simultaneously image the upper atmosphere in the far and extreme ultraviolet, while a fourth instrument from the University of Texas, Dallas, will measure the charged particles and flowing plasma at the location of the satellite.

"ICON's imaging capability, combined with its in situ measurements on the same spacecraft, gives a perspective of the coupled system that would otherwise require two or more orbiting observatories," he said.

UC Berkeley will control the spacecraft from its Mission Operations Center at the Space Sciences Laboratory, which currently operates the satellite missions THEMIS, ARTEMIS, RHESSI and NuSTAR, all NASA Explorer missions, and recently operated the FAST Explorer.

NASA is funding ICON through the Explorer program, the agency's oldest continuous program, designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space for principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the heliophysics and astrophysics programs in NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.


Provided byUniversity of California - Berkeley


Hagel: 200 U.S. troops to Jordan; LA Times: Buildup to 20,000 possible

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Thu, 18 Apr 2013 09:50

WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) -- The Pentagon will send some 200 U.S. soldiers to Jordan to control spillover violence from the Syrian civil war, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Senate.

But the troops, near Jordan's border with Syria, could be the forerunner of 20,000 or more deployed if the Obama administration decides to intervene in the 2-year-old civil war, senior U.S. officials told the Los Angeles Times.

The 200 or so troops from the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, will work alongside Jordanian forces to "improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios," Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Those scenarios could include securing chemical weapons arsenals or to prevent the war from spilling into neighboring countries, he said.

But the Pentagon has drawn up plans to possibly expand the force to 20,000 or more, the officials told the Times.

These forces could include special operations teams to find and secure Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles, U.S. air defense units to protect Jordan's airspace and conventional military units capable of moving into Syria if necessary, the Times said.

Defense Department officials consider the move as preparing the United States for possible direct military involvement in Syria, the Times said.

The Pentagon had no immediate comment on the report.

"Military intervention is always an option, but it should be an option of last resort," Hagel told the committee.

He warned a major deployment could "embroil the U.S. in a significant, lengthy and uncertain military commitment."

Hagel told the panel the new forces will initially help deliver humanitarian supplies and help the Jordanian military cope with the flood of Syrian refugees.

They will replace an ad hoc group of U.S. troops "pulled from various units and places" who have been in Jordan since last year, he said. That group included U.S. Army Special Forces, also known as Green Berets.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who testified with him, if Obama had asked the Pentagon to recommend how to apply "any additional military pressure" on the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad.

"We've had national security staff meetings at which we've been asked to brief the options, but we haven't been asked for a recommendation," Dempsey said.

"We've not been asked," Hagel said. "As I said, I've not been asked by the president."

Hagel is to be in Jordan next week as part of a Middle East trip that will also take him to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

US to deploy 200 troops to Jordan to curb Syria violence

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Source: Gitmo Nation News

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:27

''The US will deploy 200 troops to Jordan in the coming weeks in a bid to support that country's defenses, Washington says, as the Syrian crisis escalates.

The Wednesday statement came from US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Congress. He said the deployment will assist the efforts to contain violence on the Syrian border, as well as set the groundwork for combating any perceived threats of chemical weapons use in Syria.

The troops of the 1st Armed Division will arrive to replace the US forces already stationed in the country for a few months. The new deployment will now also include specialists in the fields of intelligence, operations and logistics. It has also been said the troops will include commanding officers to lay the future groundwork for coordinating a larger deployment, if the need arises.

''Currently, the U.S. forces assisting Jordan now are troops pulled from various units and places,'' Hagel said at the Senate Armed Service Committee meeting. He explained that deploying troops that had previously worked together will enhance the unit's teamwork.''

Read more here: US to deploy 200 troops to Jordan to curb Syria violence '' Hagel '-- RT News.



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Source: aangirfan

Mon, 15 Apr 2013 16:26

South KoreansFrom NPR:

"International TV broadcasters have been repeatedly showing tanks trundling through Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square in a demonstration of North Korean national power.

"But when Patrick Thornquist, a Chicago teacher visiting the North Korean capital at the end of last week, arrived in the square, he was surprised by what he saw.

"This iconic square was full of children rollerblading and shouting with joy.

"One of leader Kim Jong Un's contributions to the nation has been building roller-skating parks and promoting entertainment facilities.

No tanks!

"And Thornquist was struck by the fact that, on watching the news later that day, it was still featuring footage of tanks.

"'It was definitely interesting to see tanks on BBC in the hotel, as if that was that day, when we'd been in that square a couple of hours earlier and nothing like that was happening,' he says."

The BBC are shitty liars.

Inside the evil US Empire: shock photo-shopped photos show true horror of Obama's evil regime

A photo-shopped child of around 10 sits by the side of the road while just yards away soldiers load enough rice on to trucks to feed families for weeks.

Wretched: a photo-shopped child on the street is ignored

The images, manufactured by the CIA, were handed to the Daily Slime.

Sir Jimmy Savile has warned that unless Britain renews Trident, and, that unless more money is given to the Pentagon, more children will die.

Inside the US Empire: shock photo-shopped photos show true horror of Obama's evil regime

Starving soldiers.


Federal Register | 36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification SINGAPORE

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 09:57

Ms. B. English, DSCA/DBO/CFM, (703) 601-3740.

The following is a copy of a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Transmittals 13-03 with attached transmittal, policy justification, and Sensitivity of Technology.

Dated: April 11, 2013.

Aaron Siegel,

Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.

Transmittal No. 13-03Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended(i) Prospective Purchaser: Republic of Singapore

(ii) Total Estimated Value:

* As defined in Section 47(6) of the Arms Export Control Act.Major Defense Equipment*$165 millionOther45 millionTotal210 million(iii) Description and Quantity or Quantities of Articles or Services under Consideration for Purchase: 100 AIM-120C7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), AMRAAM Programmable Advanced System Interface Simulator (PASIS), 10 AMRAAM Spare Guidance Sections, 18 AN/AVS-9(V) Night Vision Goggles, H-764G with GEM V Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM), Common Munitions Built-in-Test Reprogramming Equipment (CMBRE-Plus) in support of a Direct Commercial Sale of new F-15SG aircraft. Also included: containers, spare and repair parts, support equipment, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

(iv) Military Department: Air Force (BAA)

(v) Prior Related Cases, if any:

FMS case SAA-$180M-24Mar06;

FMS case SAC-$179M-02Nov09

(vi) Sales Commission, Fee, etc., Paid, Offered, or Agreed to be Paid: None

(vii) Sensitivity of Technology Contained in the Defense Article or Defense Services Proposed to be Sold: See Attached Annex

(viii) Date Report Delivered to Congress: 03 April 2013

POLICY JUSTIFICATIONSingapore'--AIM-120C7 AMRAAM and Related SupportThe Government of Singapore has requested a possible sale of 100 AIM-120C7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), AMRAAM Programmable Advanced System Interface Simulator (PASIS), 10 AMRAAM Spare Guidance Sections, 18 AN/AVS-9(V) Night Vision Goggles, H-764G with GEM V Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM), Common Munitions Built-in-Test Reprogramming Equipment (CMBRE-Plus) in support of a Direct Commercial Sale of new F-15SG aircraft. Also included: containers, spare and repair parts, support equipment, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $210 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by increasing the ability of the Republic of Singapore to contribute to regional security. Its contributions to counter-piracy and counterterrorism efforts continue to stabilize a critical chokepoint where much of the world's goods and services transit en route to and from the Asia Pacific region. The proposed sale will improve the security of a strategic partner which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia Pacific region. Specifically, this proposed sale will improve the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) air to air capability and ability to defend its nation and cooperate with allied air forces

The Republic of Singapore requires these missiles to meet current and future threats of enemy aircraft. Singapore is procuring, via Direct Commercial Sale, new F-15SG aircraft. The proposed sale will enhance RSAF's ability to operate with coalition forces in bilateral and multilateral exercises and potential air defense operations. Singapore will use these capabilities as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. Singapore will have no difficulty absorbing the AIM-120C7s into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractors will be Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona; Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix, Arizona; ITT Night Vision in Roanoke, Virginia; and ATK Defense Electronic Systems in Clearwater, Florida. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Singapore.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

Transmittal No. 13-03Notice of Proposed Issuance of Letter of Offer Pursuant to Section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control ActAnnexItem No. vii(vii) Sensitivity of Technology:

1. The AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is a supersonic, air launched, aerial intercept, guided missile featuring digital technology and micro-miniature solid-state electronics. The missile employs active radar target tracking, proportional navigation guidance, and active radio frequency target detection. It can be launched day or night, in any weather and increases pilot survivability by allowing the pilot to disengage after missile launch and engage other targets. AMRAAM capabilities include lookdown/shoot down, multiple launches against multiple targets, resistance to electronic countermeasures, and interception of high- and low-flying and maneuvering targets. The AMRAAM all-up-round (AUR) is classified Confidential, major components and subsystems range from Unclassified to Confidential, and technical data and other documentation up to Secret.

2. The AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles (NVG) are 3rd generation aviation NVG offering higher resolution, high gain, and photo response to near infrared. The hardware and technical data and documentation to be provided are Unclassified.

3. The Common Munitions Built-In-Test (BIT)/Reprogramming Equipment (CMBRE) is a piece of support equipment used to interface with weapon systems to initiate and report (BIT), results, and upload/download flight software. CMBRE supports multiple munitions platforms with a range of applications that perform preflight checks, periodic maintenance checks, loading of Operational Flight Program (OFP) data, loading of munitions mission planning data, loading of Global Positioning System (GPS) cryptographic keys, and declassification of munitions memory. CMBRE is a system that manages data and information classified up to Secret.

4. If a technologically advanced adversary were to obtain knowledge of the specific hardware and software elements, the information could be used to develop countermeasures that might reduce weapon system effectiveness or be used in the development of a system with similar or advanced capabilities.

[FR Doc. 2013-08949 Filed 4-16-13; 8:45 am]


Federal Register | Presidential Determination on Eligibility of the Federal Republic of Somalia To Receive Defense Articles and Defense Services Under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as Amended, and the Arms Export Control Act, as Amended

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:32

Pursuant to the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 503(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and section 3(a)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended, I hereby find that the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to the Federal Republic of Somalia will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace.

You are authorized and directed to transmit this determination, and attached memorandum of justification, to the Congress and to arrange for the publication of this determination in the Federal Register.

THE WHITE HOUSE,Washington, April 8, 2013

[FR Doc. 2013-09106Filed 4-15-13; 11:15 am]

Billing code 4710-10

Out There


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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 10:57

NRL Scientists Produce Densest Artificial Ionospheric Plasma Clouds Using HAARP - U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:02

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory research physicists and engineers from the Plasma Physics Division, working at the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) transmitter facility, Gakona, Alaska, successfully produced a sustained high density plasma cloud in Earth's upper atmosphere.

"Previous artificial plasma density clouds have lifetimes of only ten minutes or less," said Paul Bernhardt, Ph.D., NRL Space Use and Plasma Section. "This higher density plasma 'ball' was sustained over one hour by the HAARP transmissions and was extinguished only after termination of the HAARP radio beam."

Sequence of images of the glow plasma discharge produced with transmissions at the third electron gyro harmonic using the HAARP HF transmitter, Gakona, Alaska. The third harmonic artificial glow plasma clouds were obtained with HAARP using transmissions at 4.34 megahertz (MHz). The resonant frequency yielded green line (557.7 nanometer emission) with HF on November 12, 2012, between the times of 02:26:15 to 02:26:45 GMT.(Photo: SRI International'--Elizabeth Kendall)These glow discharges in the upper atmosphere were generated as a part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored Basic Research on Ionospheric Characteristics and Effects (BRIOCHE) campaign to explore ionospheric phenomena and its impact on communications and space weather.

Using the 3.6-megawatt high-frequency (HF) HAARP transmitter, the plasma clouds, or balls of plasma, are being studied for use as artificial mirrors at altitudes 50 kilometers below the natural ionosphere and are to be used for reflection of HF radar and communications signals.

Past attempts to produce electron density enhancements have yielded densities of 4 x 105 electrons per cubic centimeter (cm3) using HF radio transmissions near the second, third, and fourth harmonics of the electron cyclotron frequency. This frequency near 1.44 MHz is the rate that electrons gyrate around the Earth's magnetic field.

The NRL group succeeded in producing artificial plasma clouds with densities exceeding 9 x 105 electrons cm3 using HAARP transmission at the sixth harmonic of the electron cyclotron frequency.

Optical images of the artificial plasma balls show that they are turbulent with dynamically changing density structures. Electrostatic waves generated by the HAARP radio transmissions are thought to be responsible for accelerating electrons to high enough energy to produce the glow discharge in the neutral atmosphere approaching altitudes of nearly 170 kilometers.

The artificial plasma clouds are detected with HF radio soundings and backscatter, ultrahigh frequency (UHF) radar backscatter, and optical imaging systems. Ground measurements of stimulated electromagnetic emissions provide evidence of the strength and frequency for the electrostatic waves that accelerated ambient electrons to ionizing velocities.

The NRL team is working with collaborators at SRI International, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Florida, and BAE Systems on this project to synthesize the observations with parametric interactions theory to develop a comprehensive theory of the plasma cloud generation. The next HAARP campaign, scheduled for early 2013, will include experiments to develop denser, more stable ionization clouds.

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 85 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Comment policy: We hope to receive submissions from all viewpoints, but we ask that all participants agree to the Department of Defense Social Media User Agreement. All comments are reviewed before being posted.

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Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified |

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:01

For 15 years, scientists have benefited from data gleaned by U.S. classified satellites of natural fireball events in Earth's atmosphere '' but no longer.

A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, has learned.

The satellites' main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists.

The upshot: Space rocks that explode in the atmosphere are now classified.

"It's baffling to us why this would suddenly change," said one scientist familiar with the work. "It's unfortunate because there was this great synergy'...a very good cooperative arrangement. Systems were put into dual-use mode where a lot of science was getting done that couldn't be done any other way. It's a regrettable change in policy."

Scientists say not only will research into the threat from space be hampered, but public understanding of sometimes dramatic sky explosions will be diminished, perhaps leading to hype and fear of the unknown.


Most "shooting stars" are caused by natural space debris no larger than peas. But routinely, rocks as big as basketballs and even small cars crash into the atmosphere. Most vaporize or explode on the way in, but some reach the surface or explode above the surface. Understandably, scientists want to know about these events so they can better predict the risk here on Earth.

Yet because the world is two-thirds ocean, most incoming objects aren't visible to observers on the ground. Many other incoming space rocks go unnoticed because daylight drowns them out.

Over the last decade or so, hundreds of these events have been spotted by the classified satellites. Priceless observational information derived from the spacecraft were made quickly available, giving researchers such insights as time, a location, height above the surface, as well as light-curves to help pin down the amount of energy churned out from the fireballs.

And in the shaky world we now live, it's nice to know that a sky-high detonation is natural versus a nuclear weapon blast.

Where the space-based surveillance truly shines is over remote stretches of ocean '' far away from the prospect of ground-based data collection.

But all that ended within the last few months, leaving scientists blind-sided and miffed by the shift in policy. The hope is that the policy decision will be revisited and overturned.

Critical importance

"The fireball data from military or surveillance assets have been of critical importance for assessing the impact hazard," said David Morrison, a Near Earth Object (NEO) scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center. He noted that his views are his own, not as a NASA spokesperson.

The size of the average largest atmospheric impact from small asteroids is a key piece of experimental data to anchor the low-energy end of the power-law distribution of impactors, from asteroids greater than 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter down to the meter scale, Morrison told

"These fireball data together with astronomical observations of larger near-Earth asteroids define the nature of the impact hazard and allow rational planning to deal with this issue," Morrison said.

Morrison said that fireball data are today playing additional important roles.

As example, the fireball data together with infrasound allowed scientists to verify the approximate size and energy of the unique Carancas impact in the Altiplano -- on the Peru-Bolivia border -- on Sept. 15, 2007.

Fireball information also played an important part in the story of the small asteroid 2008 TC3, Morrison said. That was the first-ever case of the astronomical detection of a small asteroid before it hit last year. The fireball data were key for locating the impact point and the subsequent recovery of fragments from this impact.

Link in public understanding

Astronomers are closing in on a years-long effort to find most of the potentially devastating large asteroids in our neck of the cosmic woods, those that could cause widespread regional or global devastation. Now they plan to look for the smaller stuff.

So it is ironic that the availability of these fireball data should be curtailed just at the time the NEO program is moving toward surveying the small impactors that are most likely to be picked up in the fireball monitoring program, Morrision said.

"These data have been available to the scientific community for the past decade," he said. "It is unfortunate this information is shut off just when it is becoming more valuable to the community interested in characterizing near Earth asteroids and protecting our planet from asteroid impacts."

The newly issued policy edict by the U.S. military of reporting fireball observations from satellites also caught the attention of Clark Chapman, a planetary scientist and asteroid impact expert at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

"I think that this information is very important to make public," Chapman told

"More important than the scientific value, I think, is that these rare, bright fireballs provide a link in public understanding to the asteroid impact hazard posed by still larger and less frequent asteroids," Chapman explained.

Those objects are witnessed by unsuspecting people in far-flung places, Chapman said, often generating incorrect and exaggerated reports.

"The grounding achieved by associating these reports by untrained observers with the satellite measurements is very useful for calibrating the observer reports and closing the loop with folks who think they have seen something mysterious and extraordinary," Chapman said.

Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than four decades. He is past editor-in-chief of the National Space Society's Ad Astra and Space World magazines and has written for since 1999.

Stunning Video: Massive Fireball in the Sky Over Madrid, Spain

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Source: Conscious Life News

Mon, 15 Apr 2013 16:55

Posted by clnews_Featured_, Videos, World NewsMonday, April 15th, 2013A brilliant ball of flame streaked across the sky above the Spanish capital Madrid, dazzling stargazers and astronomers alike. The celestial display was so bright it could be seen across the entire country. The eye-popping moment was caught on camera by the Hita Observatory at the University of Huelva at around 11:45pm local time (21:45 GMT). The object struck the atmosphere above the Villamuelas district in the province of Toledo, southwest of Madrid.



Modafinil Is Wall Street's New Drug of Choice -- New York Magazine

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 09:59

(Photo: Trunk Archive)

It took Peter Borden a while to come around to modafinil. He never takes prescription drugs. He doesn't drink to excess. He's into acupuncture and alternative medicine. But he was working two jobs'--by day, he does quantitative analysis and project management for a venture-capital-backed B2B start-up; by night, he's developing a proprietary high-Ðfrequency trading system for a Wall Street start-up of his own'--and what he needed was more time to work.

So a few months ago, Borden ordered a three-week supply by mail. (''It was a piece of cake,'' he says.) He popped his first pill'--''the maximum suggested dose'''--as soon as the package arrived, and within a few hours he started feeling a pleasant fuzziness. ''Not fuzzy-headed,'' he says, ''but crisp. A crisp softness to it.'' Soon he was experiencing a level of concentration he'd never imagined. ''My senses sort of shifted to the visual, and my auditory sense went down. Sounds didn't even register. It was like walking around on a winter day when it just snowed. It was very easy to stay visually focused.''

Next came a head rush. ''I sensed it was blood actually moving to the optic nerve. Your eyes start to feel very sort of engorged, and your awareness comes to the front of your face, which is kind of a freaky sensation. I would describe it as being very much like Adderall, but without the speediness.''

Tasks that were usually soul-crushing now had his undivided attention. He spent hours fine-tuning ad campaigns for his new business, and his output wasn't just faster and longer'--it was better. ''I didn't take as many breaks; I didn't get as frustrated; the stuff came out with fewer errors,'' he says. ''I never felt, Oh, let's just get it done. I polished things.'' As long as he kept taking the pill, his focus never wavered. ''Time took on an entirely different sort of quality.'' He was even happier. ''There were some very potent anti-anxiety effects. Which was strange. I didn't think I was an anxious person, but I guess I was.''

Modafinil, which is marketed as Provigil in the United States, was first approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of narcolepsy, but since then it's become better known as a nootropic, a ''smart drug,'' especially among entrepreneurs. More recently, it has attracted traders like Borden who don't just need a pick-me-up to get through a deadline; they need to be on, without a break, for months, even years at a time.

And that's modafinil's reputation. It is rumored to be the model for the fictional pills in the movie Limitless that allowed Bradley Cooper's character to use 100 percent of his brain. Timothy Ferriss, author of the best-selling The 4-Hour Work Week,recently dished about its effects with modafinil fan Joe Rogan, the former host of Fear Factor, on Rogan's popular podcast. Probably its biggest booster is Dave Asprey, founder of the Bulletproof Executive web forum, where he blogged about the drug's powers (headline: ''Why You Are Suffering From a Modafinil Deficiency''). Last summer, ABC News did a segment on Asprey in which he compared taking it to the scene in The Wizard of Oz where everything blossoms from black-and-white to color.

Last month, modafinil's penetration into the culture was confirmed by the American Medical Association's journal Internal Medicine, which published a University of California, San Francisco, study reporting that U.S. prescriptions increased almost tenfold over the past decade. Far and away, most of those were for off-label use.

In New York, Borden is hearing more chatter about it among traders and hedge-funders, though they don't tend to boast about it in the same way as the tech guys. ''There's something, I think, about guys who write code for a living that makes them very interested in hacking things'--finding shortcuts, stuff like that,'' he says. ''Whereas with guys on Wall Street, it's more testosterone-fueled; it's more just power through it.'' In a conversation on WallStreetÐ titled ''Viagra for the Brain,'' one commenter gushed, ''This is not like Ðcaffeine or 5 Hour Energy. This is the big leagues.''

Unlike Ritalin or Adderall, modafinil isn't an amphetamine and doesn't flood the body with dopamine in the same way. For this reason, scientists originally believed it to be non-habit-forming, though some are beginning to doubt this claim. Users on message boards talk about how modafinil doesn't so much speed them up as clear their minds. ''Most of the drugs that people do in our society are things like alcohol that make you stupider instead of smarter,'' mobile-software entrepreneur Jesse LawÐler said in a recent podcast about modafinil for his website

The entrepreneur Daniel Tenner used modafinil to launch his first company while still working for the consulting firm Accenture. ''Every day,'' he wrote on, a site for entrepreneurs, ''I would sleep at 11 p.m. sharp. I would then wake up at 4 a.m., work until 7 a.m., then nap for an hour before going to work at my day job. I then also worked weekends.''

Of course, its ascendancy is also cause for some alarm. No scientist has conducted a study of its long-term effects on healthy brains yet. At the very least, doctors have warned that modafinil can bring about sleep deprivation (or, in the words of the Internal Medicine paper, ''hypersensitivity reactions and neuropsychiatric adverse effects''). The modafinil moment has even prompted a secondary conversation among sociologists and economists about the anxiety of staying ahead in today's competitive economy, and microeconomic predictions about a future in which everyone sleeps less: fewer mattress sales, more dollars spent at bars and nightclubs, more sex, and more children.

For Borden, life on modafinil really did feel like a real-life (if somewhat toned-down) Limitless. Things get hairy for the character in the movie'--there's addiction and withdrawal and tragedy before the tidy Hollywood ending. The first downside Borden noticed was in line with the film: He couldn't drink. ''I went out for a drink, and then I had another drink. And because I was so energized and focused, I got drunk faster. It kind of freaked me out, because time would sort of fly by. I'd be here, and then I'd be here. Almost like mini-Ðblackouts. I very quickly cut out alcohol.''

Then he ran into an even bigger problem: Skip a dose, and there would be hell to pay. ''I really would feel it. It was sort of like being thrust into dirty, messy reality, as opposed to a clean, neatly organized place. It was like crashing, and I actually found what would happen is the anxiety that got dialed down on the way in, when you were coming off it, all of a sudden you went through the reverse. So I got incredibly anxious. Eventually that concerned me.'' He stopped after three weeks. He says he's more comfortable trying to get the same effect through meditation and, of all things, getting a good night's sleep. He remains a little in awe of the pill, though. ''It's a great hack.''

Tylenol May Ease Anxiety of Death | Existential Dread & Pain

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Source: Dave Winer's linkblog feed

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:29

Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in some pain relievers like Tylenol, may ease minor aches, reduce a fever, and apparently make you feel less weird after watching a David Lynch movie or thinking about your own death.

New research shows Tylenol may have the unseen psychological side-effect of easing existential dread. The findings suggest anxiety about finding meaning in life and feeling physical pain may be rooted in the same part of the brain.

"When people feel overwhelmed with uncertainty in life or distressed by a lack of purpose, what they're feeling may actually be painful distress," said study researcher Daniel Randles, a doctoral student in psychology the University of British Columbia. [10 Weird Ways We Deal With Death]

"We think that Tylenol is blocking existential unease in the same way it prevents pain, because a similar neurological process is responsible for both types of distress," Randles wrote in an email to LiveScience.

What happens when you die?

For their first experiment, Randles and his colleagues recruited more than 120 college students, who were randomly assigned to take either 1,000 mg of Tylenol-brand acetaminophen or a placebo (sugar pill), considered the control group. (Extra strength Tylenol contains 500 mg of acetaminophen in each tablet.)

One group of participants was instructed to write two paragraphs about what would happen to their body after they die and how they would feel about it. The others were asked to write about dental pain, which would be unpleasant, but likely wouldn't invoke any existential anxieties. All of the students then had to read a hypothetical arrest report about a prostitute and set the amount for bail on a scale of $0 to $900.

In this type of setup, researchers typically expect people to set higher bonds after faced with existential thoughts, suddenly feeling a need to assert their values. As anticipated, those who took the sugar pill and were forced to think about their own death tended to set bail over $500.

Meanwhile, the control group that wrote about dental pain set relatively low bail amounts, hovering around $300, Randles and his team found. The same was true for those who took Tylenol and wrote about what would happen to their body when they die, suggesting acetaminophen may numb worries about death.

David Lynch-induced dread

The team confirmed the results in a second test where they made some students watch either a four-minute clip from "The Simpsons" or a clip from "Rabbits," a 2002 series of short films by director David Lynch that puts a surreal spin on familiar sitcom clich(C)s.

"Rabbits" doesn't have explicitly disturbing content, but its three characters look like humans with rabbit heads and they move aimlessly in and out of a badly lit suburban living room. Instead of conversation, they make non-sequitur statements like "There have been no calls today" and "I have a secret," often incongruously followed by a laugh track or applause. And similar to Lynch's better-known works like "Twin Peaks" and "Mulholland Drive," "Rabbits" is set to an eerie, dread-inducing soundtrack.

After watching this clip, the students looked at footage from the 2011 Vancouver hockey riots, sparked by the Canucks' loss in their bid for the Stanley Cup, and were asked how harshly the rioters should be punished for vandalism. Those who took the sugar pill and watched the clip of "Rabbits" were much more punitive, on average saying the rioters should be fined more than they normally would for an act of vandalism. Those who took Tylenol before they watched "Rabbits" seemed to feel more lenient, as did all of the students who watched "The Simpsons."

Previous studies have shown that acetaminophen may also ease the blow of social snubs, and some researchers have argued that both physical pain and feelings of rejection are caused by activation in the brain's dorsal anterior cingulate cortex.

"We've suspected that this brain region also is central in managing violations of expectations and errors, and as such predicted Tylenol would have the same effect on manipulations of uncertainty or existential unease that it has on headaches or ostracism," Randles said in an email.

As for clinical applications of the findings, the researchers say their work could shed light on how to allay the symptoms of people who suffer from chronic anxiety.

The new findings were detailed on April 11 in the journal Psychological Science.

Follow Megan Gannon onTwitterandGoogle+.Follow us@livescience,Facebook&Google+. Original article


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Half of Tamiflu prescriptions went unused during 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, UK sewage study

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Source: Set You Free News

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 14:16

Half of Tamiflu prescriptions went unused during 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, sewage study concludes


A new study concludes that approximately half of the prescriptions of Tamiflu during the 2009-10 influenza pandemic went unused in England. The unused medication represents approximately 600,000 courses of Tamiflu at a cost of around £7.8 million to the UK taxpayer. The novel scientific method used in the study could help measure and improve the effectiveness of future pandemic flu strategies.

The finding, published online in the open access scientific journal PLOS ONE, comes from the first study of its kind to use sewage water to estimate drug compliance rates, the degree to which a patient correctly follows medical advice to take medication.

The study estimated usage of pharmaceuticals from large populations by sampling sewage and recovering the active component of Tamiflu thus measuring drugs that were actually consumed by patients, rather than those that were flushed away without being consumed.

The work was led by scientists at the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology working with colleagues at Uppsala, Linnaeus and Ume´ Universities, Sweden, and the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic.

Lead author Dr Andrew Singer, a Chemical Ecologist from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, says, ''Influenza pandemics are rare, making a study such as this a unique and important window into how people behave during a public health emergency such as a pandemic.

This study sheds new light on people's willingness to follow medical advice on antiviral usage. Importantly, this method could be used to monitor how many people take certain kinds of medicine in real time and alert national health authorities to the need for stronger public information campaigns during pandemic emergencies.''

The research highlights that despite the central role of antivirals in many nations' influenza pandemic preparedness plans, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding antiviral compliance rates. Poor compliance drains resources by diverting limited antiviral stocks from those who may need it most.

Mis-used antivirals can lead to antiviral resistance and represents a significant financial cost and health risk. Previous research on antiviral compliance had focused on small populations, typically fewer than 200, and used survey-based analyses of drug compliance, which can be unreliable.

Dr Singer adds, ''Our study was the first compliance study to utilise waste water as an evidence base for whether a population consumed Tamiflu or not. Because of this unique study design, we were able to examine populations orders of magnitude larger than previous studies.

One population was just over 6,000 people and the second population was 208,000. Tamiflu gets transformed into the active antiviral only after being consumed, and is released into the sewage with every visit to the toilet. This waste water epidemiology approach is particularly robust for drugs such as Tamiflu and potentially more reliable than some survey based methods of assessing compliance.''

Predictions of oseltamivir consumption from Tamiflu recovered in sewage were compared with two sources of national government statistics to derive compliance rates. Scenario and sensitivity analysis indicated an estimated compliance rate between 45-60%, (between 45 to 60 people out of every 100 people who received Tamiflu completed the antiviral course, as prescribed).

Dr Singer says, ''With approximately half the collected antivirals going unused, there is a clear need to improve public health messages so that less antiviral is wasted and that the duration and severity of infection is reduced.

Furthermore, we feel the waste water epidemiology approach undertaken can potentially help shape future public health messages, making them more timely, targeted, and population sensitive, while potentially leading to less mis- and un-used antiviral, less wastage and ultimately a more robust and efficacious pandemic preparedness strategy.''

US court pays $6 million to Gardasil victims -

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Tue, 16 Apr 2013 18:21

Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV (human papillomavirus), may not be as safe as backers claim.

Judicial Watch announced it has received documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealing that its National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has awarded $5,877,710 dollars to 49 victims in claims made against the highly controversial HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines. To date 200 claims have been filed with VICP, with barely half adjudicated.

''This new information from the government shows that the serious safety concerns about the use of Gardasil have been well-founded. Public health officials should stop pushing Gardasil on children.'' said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

The CDC recommends the Gardasil vaccine, made by Merck Pharmaceuticals, for all females between 9 and 26 years to protect against HPV. Furthermore, the CDC says Gardasil is licensed, safe, and effective for males ages 9 through 26 years.

The facts appear to contradict the FDA's safety statements. The adverse reaction reports detail 26 new deaths reported between September 1, 2010 and September 15, 2011 as well as incidents of seizures, paralysis, blindness, pancreatitis, speech problems, short term memory loss and Guillain-Barr(C) Syndrome. The documents come from the FDA's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) which is used by the FDA to monitor the safety of vaccines.

That's 26 reported deaths of young, previously healthy, girls after Gardasil vaccination in just one year.

In response to the concern about death reports among those who received Gardasil, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) insists ''there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine.''


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VIDEO-IEDs now an issue at home

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New Background Check Bill Fails To Pass Senate! VP Biden Presided Over Gun Vote

VIDEO-Joe Biden Makes Up Statistics During Gun Chat | MRCTV

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:22

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Senator Feinstein "It's Really Impossible To Know With Any Certainty What Motivate Adam Lanza"

BREAKING! Suspicious Letter Near Senator Shelby's Office Evacuates Parts Of Capitol Building

VIDEO-New Zealand House of Reps bursts into song after legalizing same-sex marriage - Need to know -

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Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:26


As the speaker read out the votes, noting that the bill had passed, spectators watching in gallery started singing the New Zealand love song ''Pokarekare Ana.'' Below, MPs hugged Louisa Wall, who sponsored the bill.

Supporters serenade MPs with 'Pokarekare Ana' love song

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New Zealand lawmaker Louisa Wall. (Nick Perry/AP)

New Zealand passed a bill allowing legal same-sex marriage Wednesday, prompting a jubilant celebration in the House of Representatives.

The bill passed with 77 in favour and 44 against, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage, reports BBC News.

As the speaker read out the votes, noting that the bill had passed, spectators watching in gallery started singing the New Zealand love song ''Pokarekare Ana.'' Below, MPs hugged Louisa Wall, who sponsored the bill.

New Zealand has allowed civil unions between same-sex couples since 2005. This new law will allow same-sex couples to enjoy all the same rights as any married couple. This includes adoption and having the marriage recognized in other countries, reports The Associated Press.

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VIDEO-Greek protests against public sector cuts | euronews, world news

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In Greece, public sector workers have taken to the streets again in protest, after the government agreed to more cuts in return for bailout funds. The cuts are widely rumoured to include up to 15,000 job losses in the public sector, including workers in the health care system. Unemployment in the country is already running at 26%

More about:Greece, Health, Protests in GreeceCopyright (C) 2013 euronews

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MSNBC Brings On Guest To Wonder About Bomber's Message: 'Abortion?' 'Taxes?' 'Tea Party?'

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MSNBC brought featured author and professor Adam Lankford on Tuesday to wonder about the "message" of the Boston bomber. Was it to "complain about abortion, about taxes?" The guest, labeled a "MSNBC analyst," guessed, " This did happen on tax day in Boston, the place of the Tea Party." He continued the reckless speculation: " Or are they trying to protest, you know, foreign wars or something." Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama, has written a book on what makes suicide bombers and rampage shooters do what do. He theorized, "The interesting thing is, this is someone on a stage trying to make a statement and that statement has been lost."

Video cross-posted at NewsBusters.

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Statement by the President

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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

April 17, 2013

Rose Garden

5:35 P.M. EDT

MR. BARDEN: Hello. My name is Mark Barden. Just four months ago, my wife Jackie and I lost our son, and our children, James and Natalie, they lost their little brother Daniel. Daniel was a first-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our sweet, 7-year-old Daniel was one of 20 children, six adults lost on December 14th. I have to say it feels like it was just yesterday.

In our deepest grief, we were supported by the love of our families and comforted by the love and prayers we received from millions of America, from every corner of the country.

What happened in Newtown can happen anywhere. In any instant, any dad in America could be in my shoes. No one should feel the pain. No one should feel our pain or the pain felt by the tens of thousands of people who've lost loved ones to senseless gun violence.

And that's why we're here. Two weeks ago, 12 of us from Newtown came to meet with U.S. senators and have a conversation about how to bring common-sense solutions to the issues of gun violence. We came with a sense of hope, optimistic that real conversation could begin that would ultimately save the lives of so many Americans. We met with dozens of Democrats and Republicans and shared with them pictures of our children, our spouses, our parents who lost their lives on December 14th.

Expanded background checks wouldn't have saved our loved ones, but still we came to support the bipartisan proposal from two senators, both with ''A'' ratings from the NRA -- a common-sense proposal supported by 90 percent of Americans. It's a proposal that will save lives without interfering with the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

We'll return home now, disappointed but not defeated. We return home with the determination that change will happen -- maybe not today, but it will happen. It will happen soon. We've always known this would be a long road, and we don't have the luxury of turning back. We will keep moving forward and build public support for common-sense solutions in the areas of mental health, school safety, and gun safety.

We take strength from the children and loved ones that we lost, and we carry a great faith in the American people.

On behalf of the Sandy Hook Promise, I would like to thank President Obama, Vice President Biden for their leadership and for standing strong and continuing to fight for a safer America. I would like to thank Senators Toomey, Manchin, Schumer and Kirk on coming together to seek common ground on legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals and save lives.

And I would like to thank Connecticut's Senators Blumenthal and Murphy. They've been right with us. They stood by us right from the very beginning. From the first few hours after this tragedy they were with us.

We will not be defeated. We are not defeated, and we will not be defeated. We are here now; we will always be here because we have no other choice. We are not going away. And every day, as more people are killed in this country because of gun violence, our determination grows stronger.

We leave Washington hoping that others, both here and across the country, will join us in making the Sandy Hook Promise, a pledge that we'd had great hope that more U.S. senators would take literally. I'd like to end by repeating the words with which the Sandy Hook Promise begins: Our hearts are broken. Our spirit is not.

Thank you. It is now my great pleasure to introduce the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

THE PRESIDENT: A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies -- including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who's here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers ''- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.

Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders ''- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children. And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn't worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.

By now, it's well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun. We're talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness. Ninety percent of Americans support that idea. Most Americans think that's already the law.

And a few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate just voted for that idea. But it's not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea.

A majority of senators voted ''yes'' to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks. But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.

I'm going to speak plainly and honestly about what's happened here because the American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 percent support and yet not happen. We had a Democrat and a Republican -'' both gun owners, both fierce defenders of our Second Amendment, with ''A'' grades from the NRA -- come together and worked together to write a common-sense compromise on background checks. And I want to thank Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey for their courage in doing that. That was not easy given their traditional strong support for Second Amendment rights.

As they said, nobody could honestly claim that the package they put together infringed on our Second Amendment rights. All it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet. So 60 percent of guns are already purchased through a background check system; this would have covered a lot of the guns that are currently outside that system.

Their legislation showed respect for gun owners, and it showed respect for the victims of gun violence. And Gabby Giffords, by the way, is both -- she's a gun owner and a victim of gun violence. She is a Westerner and a moderate. And she supports these background checks.

In fact, even the NRA used to support expanded background checks. The current leader of the NRA used to support these background checks. So while this compromise didn't contain everything I wanted or everything that these families wanted, it did represent progress. It represented moderation and common sense. That's why 90 percent of the American people supported it.

But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of ''big brother'' gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn't matter.

And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators. And I talked to several of these senators over the past few weeks, and they're all good people. I know all of them were shocked by tragedies like Newtown. And I also understand that they come from states that are strongly pro-gun. And I have consistently said that there are regional differences when it comes to guns, and that both sides have to listen to each other.

But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn't want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn't do this. It came down to politics -- the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment.

And obviously, a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse -- any excuse -- to vote ''no.''

One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn't prevent all future massacres. And that's true. As I said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil. We learned that tragically just two days ago. But if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand -- if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try.

And this legislation met that test. And too many senators failed theirs.

I've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. And my question is, a victory for who? A victory for what? All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. That didn't make our kids safer. Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? It begs the question, who are we here to represent?

I've heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced. "A prop," somebody called them. ''Emotional blackmail,'' some outlet said. Are they serious? Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?

So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don't give up on it. Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities. We're going to address the barriers that prevent states from participating in the existing background check system. We're going to give law enforcement more information about lost and stolen guns so it can do its job. We're going to help to put in place emergency plans to protect our children in their schools.

But we can do more if Congress gets its act together. And if this Congress refuses to listen to the American people and pass common-sense gun legislation, then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters.

To all the people who supported this legislation -- law enforcement and responsible gun owners, Democrats and Republicans, urban moms, rural hunters, whoever you are -- you need to let your representatives in Congress know that you are disappointed, and that if they don't act this time, you will remember come election time.

To the wide majority of NRA households who supported this legislation, you need to let your leadership and lobbyists in Washington know they didn't represent your views on this one.

The point is those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate, and as organized, and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe. Ultimately, you outnumber those who argued the other way. But they're better organized. They're better financed. They've been at it longer. And they make sure to stay focused on this one issue during election time. And that's the reason why you can have something that 90 percent of Americans support and you can't get it through the Senate or the House of Representatives.

So to change Washington, you, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this. And when necessary, you've got to send the right people to Washington. And that requires strength, and it requires persistence.

And that's the one thing that these families should have inspired in all of us. I still don't know how they have been able to muster up the strength to do what they've doing over the last several weeks, last several months.

And I see this as just round one. When Newtown happened, I met with these families and I spoke to the community, and I said, something must be different right now. We're going to have to change. That's what the whole country said. Everybody talked about how we were going to change something to make sure this didn't happen again, just like everybody talked about how we needed to do something after Aurora. Everybody talked about we needed change something after Tucson.

And I'm assuming that the emotions that we've all felt since Newtown, the emotions that we've all felt since Tucson and Aurora and Chicago -- the pain we share with these families and families all across the country who've lost a loved one to gun violence -- I'm assuming that's not a temporary thing. I'm assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty words.

I believe we're going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it. And so do the American people.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END 5:55 P.M. EDT

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