Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

The "black hole" missile, 2009

They told us, it is a failed Russian missile above Norway. Although I can easily believe that it is a missile (see some good explanations here), I still have to ask some questions.
But first the explanation - body that emits gases from its bottom and one of its sides will rotate and will definitely create the spirals we see as a youtube video suggests. I agree with that. What I find odd is that:
1) the body was glowing (true, if it's up enough in the atmosphere it might meet the sunlight but it's hard to say how high it was),
2) that the trails glow into different colors (the big spirals are white, while the exhausted fuel trail is blue-green) - again it can be explained by different gases in different compartments or that the exhausted fuel had a different color, but still it's odd.
3) The blue trail is increasing its size with the attitude and not the other way around (if we blame it on diffusion). Maybe there could be some air-resistance explanations, but if we check the pictures, the trail become wider and then becomes more narrow. It's weird...
4) Last but not least, where is the gravity effect? Even if the missile was on high attitude and was watched directly from below, we see a surprising symmetry. True, the whole event was surprisingly short - the videos lasts in total 10 seconds, but still there isn't any asymmetry due to the Earth rotation around its axis (probably very suppressed, because it's so close to the north pole) or to the rotation around the Sun. Yes, it's very very small period, but there are absolutely no hints of asymmetry. None! The spirals look pretty perfect to me. And this isn't what one expects of any form of ballistic or orbital movement.
5) And yeah, finally - how on Earth all those people managed to film it so well?! Were they just randomly filming stuff in that direction??? This is like the biggest mystery of all - the videos claim the whole thing happened for 10 seconds, but we see both pictures with good expositions, pictures from different angles and so on. I cannot turn on the camera on my phone for 10 seconds (take out the phones, unlock the touch screen, then choose the camera, then wait for it to start, then shoot), how did they manage to make all those photos. Considering the fact this happened at ~8am it's not like millions of people were monitoring the sky.
And of course, I have the more practical questions - if this was a missile test, why all the colors? One would expect for a war missile to be kind of invisible - this is hardly invisible with this blue trail. And if this is a missile intended to hit targets on Earth, why it was directed in such a vertical trajectory? It's all so weird.

As for the end - I'm not sure if was a self-detonation or just running our of fuel, but it wasn't a black hole, lol. One thing is clear, those explanations will always be partial, since we don't know what really happened. It could have been Russian missile, or Chinese rocket or whatever. And since the whole thing got so quickly cored up, it' hard to believe anyone. I'm not suggesting it was an UFO, I don't think it was. I think it was a human-made technology, I just want to know what it was. And I so hope it's not a killing device but something cool. We don't need another weapon, we need more things to make our lives better.

(there are links for pictures of the event on the bottom)

New Russian missile failure sparks UFO frenzy

December 10, 2009 by Stuart Williams
Russia's new nuclear-capable missile suffered another failed test launch, the defence ministry said Thursday, solving the mystery of a spectacular plume of white light that appeared over Norway.

The Bulava missile was test-fired from the submarine Dmitry Donskoi in the White Sea early Wednesday but failed at the third stage, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The pre-dawn morning launch coincided with the appearance of an extraordinary light over northern that captivated observers.

Images of the light that appeared in the sky above the Norwegian city of Tromso and elsewhere prompted explanations ranging from a meteor, northern lights, a failed missile or even a .

This was the 12th test launch of the Bulava and the seventh time the firing has ended in failure, the Interfax news agency said. source

The Norwegian site where the pictures first appeared:link.

An explanation of what happened with beautiful pix: link.

More pictures link

  • Despite Slump, U.S. Role as Top Arms Supplier Grows
  • Microwave weapon will rain pain from the sky
  • US military embraces robot 'revolution'
Three very interesting articles on weapon industry in the USA. One would think that when a president gets a Nobel prize for peace, there would be some change in the attitude on this issue, but nothing like this happens. The income from the military industry grows (even in times of crisis), they develop new nasty weapons for crowd control and they even try to automatize them.

Ok, it's holidays time, the Christmas spirit is all around so maybe such articles are weird for you, but not for me. I think this is that while idiotic movies (or Coca Cola commercials) tell us to be good and noble, we have to account for our aggression and for the suffering it causes to the world. Because otherwise, it's pure hypocrisy.

What I really cannot understand is why people deny that we can exist without war and violence. Even in his Nobel speech, Obama defended war! Isn't this disgusting and deeply disturbing? Isn't it denying humans the ultimate right to evolve and to become better. War isn't always necessary. I remember I published a study that showed the history of war and that there were tribes that survived without the use of war (and didn't necessarily die because they didn't practice it). If that could happen centuries ago, why it cannot happen today? True, this sounds little bit weird from me - a descendant of the Thracians who after all were famous (if not notorious) with their warriors. But while back then, war was usually for survival, because invaders tended to slaughter everyone in sight, today war is no longer a mean for survival. 99% of the times, it's purely based on economics - someone has something you need, or a situation must occur so a war is needed - well, let's have one. I'm sorry, but this isn't noble or fair. There's nothing good in this. I can understand wars for survival (defense). But I cannot understand when the president of the biggest seller of weapons receives the biggest award on the Planet for Peace and he defends war. And his nation profits from war. From selling weapons to developing nations and to "third parties". What third parties, who are they, why do they need so much weapons to be included in the statistics. This is profoundly wrong. And just when you start arguing that it's not so wrong, you read the next articles.
A new version of an old non-lethal weapon is being developed which will enable flying machines to beam down microwaves to angry crowds and "cause them to flee" by not hurting them. First, ain't such a weapon against the right of free meetings of people (how do you protest if they scorn your skin?). And second, does anybody believe this is harmless? How harmless it is to stuff your arm (or head) into the microwave oven? Not really. So imagine what this could do in a crowd full of people with different devices and metallic objects. Or pacemakers. Or who knows what else! This cannot be serious and I can't believe how happy they advertise they new "exciting" work. It's not exciting, it's troubling. (check to source page, there is even a picture)
And last but not least, check the article on robots in the army. While I adore robots in general, I must remind you the latest carnages in Afghanistan - part of them were caused by bombing by drones. Isn't it little worrying when the soldiers turn into gamers? Because this is what the article imply - that managing missiles and drones is just a game, you push the button and you win. The little detail is that people die from such actions and somehow the guilt becomes very unclear - how to expect officers to fear from doing the wrong thing, when everything is so similar to a game. You don't see the blood spilling, you don't see the mourning relatives, eventually you hear about what happened in the news, but there is no distinct connection between your action and their consequences. But all this doesn't seem to bother the people from the industry - they make their shows, show their products and everything is all shiny and nice. But they forget that they show weapons (or support), they forget that those are devices for killing, not for else. And the saddest thing is that the industry goes well, it earns well, it makes huge profits and nobody asks the question, why? Why don't we invest into defense devices and to forget about it? Why should we invest into devices requiring war, if we want to stop war? Isn't this little bit illogical. No, actually it's absurdly logical and leads back to the speech of Obama - always some nations will need war to gain something, to rob somebody or simply to show how useful our new devices are.

Why can't we invest into interstellar transport? Colonization of Mars? Eliminating cancer? Improving our immune systems? Eliminating poverty and famine? Improving our lives? Why can't we invest into our better future instead of making sure it's bad? I don't understand economy based on the idea that there always will be a nation that is poorer than us, where we can outsource our products and so on. How noble is this? Or how fair? Where is the Xmas spirit in this!
Have good holidays and please consider this. I don't care if you are left or right or whatever. I care if you are human or not. There is nothing good in war, pain, death and damage. Then why should we pursue them, why should we justify them? We shouldn't! Let's try to create a better life. A life in which the pain isn't needed for the joy. And this is what life is about - knowledge and joy. Everything else is a lie, because when you lie into the hospital and you are afraid for your life, it doesn't matter if you are rich and successful or poor and miserable. In this moments we are all equal. No matter how banal it sounds. It's true. In the moment of truth, nothing of these matters. All that matters is who you are and how good and noble you feel. And this isn't a feeling you acquire trough self-deceit, no matter how skilled you are. In these moments, you cannot lie to yourself. So make sure that in those moments, you don't have to fear. It isn't religion, it's just common sense.

Despite Slump, U.S. Role as Top Arms Supplier Grows

September 6, 2009
WASHINGTON — Despite a recession that knocked down global arms sales last year, the United States expanded its role as the world’s leading weapons supplier, increasing its share to more than two-thirds of all foreign armaments deals, according to a new Congressional study.

The United States signed weapons agreements valued at $37.8 billion in 2008, or 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms bazaar, up significantly from American sales of $25.4 billion the year before. (Italy and Russia second and third)

The increase in American weapons sales around the world “was attributable not only to major new orders from clients in the Near East and in Asia, but also to the continuation of significant equipment and support services contracts with a broad-based number of U.S. clients globally,” according to the study, titled “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations.”

The United States was the leader not only in arms sales worldwide, but also in sales to nations in the developing world, signing $29.6 billion in weapons agreements with these nations, or 70.1 percent of all such deals.

The top buyers in the developing world in 2008 were the United Arab Emirates, which signed $9.7 billion in arms deals; Saudi Arabia, which signed $8.7 billion in weapons agreements; and Morocco, with $5.4 billion in arms purchases.source

Microwave weapon will rain pain from the sky

THE Pentagon's enthusiasm for non-lethal crowd-control weapons appears to have stepped up a gear with its decision to develop a microwave pain-infliction system that can be fired from an aircraft.

The device is an extension of its controversial Active Denial System, which uses microwaves to heat the surface of the skin, creating a painful sensation without burning that strongly motivates the target to flee. The ADS was unveiled in 2001, but it has not been deployed owing to legal issues and safety fears.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) in Quantico, Virginia, has now called for it to be upgraded. The US air force, whose radar technology the ADS is based on, is increasing its annual funding of the system from $2 million to $10 million.

At the heart of the new weapon will be a compact airborne antenna, which will be steered electronically and be capable of generating multiple beams, each of which can be aimed while on the move.

Jürgen Altmann, a physicist at Dortmund University in Germany, showed that the microwave beams can cause serious burns at levels not far above those required to repel people. This was verified when a US airman was hospitalised with second-degree burns during testing in April 2007.

Dave Law, head of the technology division of the JNLWD, says the new antenna will operate at the lowest possible effective power level and will have a sophisticated automated target-tracking system. source

US military embraces robot 'revolution'

August 13th, 2009 by Dan De Luce
The rugged little robot searching an enemy building is called a Pakbot, which can climb over rocks with tank treads, pick up an explosive with its mechanical arm and dismantle it while a soldier directs the machine from a safe distance.

There are already 2,500 of them on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a lighter version weighing six kilograms (14 pounds) has arrived that can be carried in a backpack, according to iRobot, the same company that sells a vaccum to civilians, the Roomba.

"We're spending billions of dollars on unmanned systems."

Kessler and other officials compare the robots to the introduction of the aircraft or the tank, a new technology that dramatically changes strategy and tactics.

Robots or "unmanned systems" are now deployed by the thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan, spying from the sky for hours on end, searching for booby-traps and firing lethal missiles without putting US soldiers at risk.

The use of robotics in the military has exploded in the past several years as technology has advanced while Washington faced a new kind of enemy that required patient, precise surveillance.

In 2003, the US military had almost no robots in its arsenal but now has 7,000 unmanned aircraft and at least 10,000 ground vehicles.

The US Air Force, which initially resisted the idea of pilotless planes, said it trains more operators for unmanned aircraft than pilots for its fighter jets and bombers.

In the fight against Al-Qaeda, drones are Washington's favored weapon.

Predator and Reaper aircraft, armed with precision-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles, regularly carry out strikes in Pakistan's northwest tribal area, causing an unknown number of civilian casualties.

Last week, a drone strike is believed to have have killed the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

The drones and ground vehicles are often operated using joysticks or consoles familiar to a younger generation raised on video games.

Military officers insist the robots are a complement and not a substitute for traditional aircraft, and pose no threat to the careers of their fellow pilots. source

I offer you two very interesting articles that could add up to your (non-)conviction of the importance of global warming. I, of course, disagree we have nothing to do with global warming - natural cycles or no, the rise of greenhouse gases in the last 20 years is a fact. We're not talking only about CO2 here! And since this is a fact, it's obvious those gases will have an effect and that if they continue to rise, this effect will become bigger and bigger. So, it is absolutely obvious we have to limit our emissions. Anyway, let's get back to the exciting articles I'm offering.
The one suggests that human brain increased its volume thanks to the drop in the global temperatures, since heat dissipation according to this scientists was a major problem for evolving humans. So, imagine what would happen if the global temperatures rise with 2-5 degrees. Maybe we'll devolve to apes :) Ok, this is unlikely, but since, it's an interesting viewpoint to consider.
The second article, on the contrary, suggests that the rise of the Incas were due to the warmer weather. Go figure!

So if you were confused about global warming, I'm sure I didn't de-confuse you. But I found this articles very interesting, so I hope you'll enjoy them.

But first, of course is the dramatic subject of the "hacked email archive". I don't think anyone think this happened at random exactly before Copenhagen meeting. Also, I read couple of reports which concluded that this doesn't change the conclusion of other scientists about global warming - although it might be hard to believe, USA and UK are not the axis of the scientific world and there are many more scientists who are more or less independent of the scientists whose emails got stolen and those independent scientists support the idea of man-made global warming. As for me, I'm convinced we have to take responsibility for the damage we do, regardless if we're the major cause of the warming or the co-author of it. Energy efficiency, smart metering and intelligent renewables are good for everyone and we have to use the moment and change our society. We have to continue to evolve and this cannot happen while we're irresponsible consumers of Nature's resources. We can not only destroy, we can also create, so why not start doing it. And finally - I find the way those emails were stolen and published everywhere and discussed for extremely disgraceful. Even if they are from university server, they are still personal and should be confidential. It's sad to see how people doesn't respect the privacy of other people.
Anyway, enjoy :)

  1. Hacked archive provides fodder for climate sceptics
  2. Did an ice age boost human brain size?
  3. Hotter weather fed growth of Incan empire
  4. Climate scientist warns about Arctic ice melt

Hacked archive provides fodder for climate sceptics

Climate scientists are reeling this week from the discovery that someone has hacked into the email archive of one of their most prestigious research centres, the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, UK, custodian of the most respected global temperature record.

Climate sceptics have gleefully blogged that the emails, now widely published on the internet, reveal extensive data manipulation and expose a conspiracy behind global warming research. An analysis by New Scientist finds scant evidence of data abuse, but does show persistent efforts to suppress work by climate sceptics.

Mostly the researchers are exposed as doing what they are supposed to do: engaging in an often adversarial process to arrive at the truth.

What will prove more damaging is evidence that the researchers, who often attack their critics for not publishing in peer-reviewed journals, have sought to ostracise journals that did publish them.

Mann says his complaint was that the peer-review process had been distorted to allow "extremely poor papers" to be published and points out that the journal's editor-in-chief and half the editorial board had resigned in protest.

But other comments are more difficult to justify. In 2004, Jones said of two published papers he regards as flawed: "I can't see either… being in the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

"Let me assure you there was no attempt to keep any material out of the IPCC assessments," Trenberth, of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, told New Scientist.

The correspondence also shows researchers trying to prevent critics gaining access to raw data, notably the CRU's temperature data.

But equally the emails reveal researchers adamantly opposed to releasing hard-earned data to critics, to avert what they see as time-consuming harassment. This week's events suggest those decisions were ill-advised. source

Did an ice age boost human brain size?

Some 2.5 million years ago, our ancestors' brains expanded from a mere 600 cubic centimetres to about a litre. Two new studies suggest it is no fluke that this brain boom coincided with the onset of an ice age. Cooler heads, it seems, allowed ancient human brains to let off steam and grow.

For all its advantages, the modern human brain is a huge energy glutton, accounting for nearly half of our resting metabolic rate. About a decade ago, biologists David Schwartzman and George Middendorf of Howard University in Washington DC hypothesised that our modern brain could not have evolved until the Quaternary ice age started, about 2.5 million years ago. They reckoned such a large brain would have generated heat faster than it could dissipate it in the warmer climate of earlier times, but they lacked evidence to back their hypothesis.

Now hints of that evidence are beginning to emerge. Climate researcher Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, modelled present-day temperature, humidity and wind conditions around the world using an Earth-systems computer model. He used these factors to predict the maximum rate at which a modern human brain can lose heat in different regions. He found that, even today, the ability to dissipate heat should restrict the activity of people in many tropical regions.

If keeping cool is a problem now, Kleidon says, it would have been even more challenging - perhaps too challenging - 2 or 3 million years ago when temperatures were a few degrees warmer than today.

A new study by Schwartzman and Middendorf suggests that a small drop in global temperatures may have made a big difference. The pair used basic equations of heat loss to estimate how fast the small-brained Homo habilis would have been able to cool off. Assuming overheating limited the size of H. habilis's brain, they then calculated what drop in air temperature would have been needed for Homo erectus to be able to support its bigger brain. They found that a drop in air temperature of just 1.5 °C would have done the trick.

To help narrow this down, Geary collected data from 175 fossil hominin skulls, from 1.9 million to 10,000 years old. Then he looked to see whether brain size was best correlated with climatic variability.

Geary's analysis found that population size was the best predictor of brain size, suggesting that our ancestors' need to outcompete their neighbours in order to survive may have been the strongest driver of brain growth. source

Hotter weather fed growth of Incan empire

The meteoric rise of the Incan empire between 1400 and 1532 was driven by a sustained period of warmer weather, new research on Peruvian lake sediments suggests.

The sediments, from a core going back 4000 years, contain biological and organic evidence revealing sharp changes in land use and agriculture around Marcacocha, a small lake near Cuzco at the heart of the ancient empire.

The higher temperatures, starting around 1150, ended thousands of years of cold aridity, and enabled Incan farmers to build mountainside terraces for growing crops at altitudes previously too cold to support agriculture.

The extra warmth, lasting around 400 years, also supplied extra water for irrigation in the shape of melt-water from Andean glaciers at higher altitudes.

Fed by bountiful surpluses of maize and potatoes, Incans were free to engage in other activities such as establishing huge networks of roads. Most importantly, the surpluses enabled them to build fit and well-resourced armies and weaponry. From 1400 onwards, they rapidly conquered territory stretching southward 4000 kilometres, from what is now Ecuador to midway through Chile.

The empire met an abrupt demise in 1533 when the invading Spanish armies arrived.

The Incans also planted alder-like trees (Alnus acuminate) on the mountain-sides that grow well on eroded soils and fertilise it by fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere. Seeds from the alders begin appearing suddenly around 1150, and were absent from all preceding core samples.

There was a surge in organic matter in the cores too, and of oribatid mites, spider-like arthropods that feed on dung from herbivores. "They eat the excrement of llamas," says Chepstow-Lusty. The mites provide evidence that llamas were by now being grazed on pastures neighbouring the lake, he says. source

Climate scientist warns about Arctic ice melt

10 December 2009

The scientific consensus that melting ice in Greenland will contribute to a five centimetre sea-level rise this century is outdated, with the actual figure "more likely" to reach 14cm, says Dr Jan-Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, in an interview with EurActiv.

Winther's declarations come as a major international summit is underway in Copenhagen to decide on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The United Nation's fourth assessment report on the science of global warming, published in 2007, had projected that sea levels could rise by 18cm to 59cm by 2099. But Winther says the report has probably been too optimistic.

"Now, the research done after that indicates that it could be three times higher as the ice flows faster in Greenland, delivering icebergs to the ocean. So it is more likely that we will get a 14cm sea-level rise this century from Greenland ice melt." source

Today, I offer you 4 articles that raise interesting questions about the military operations of NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here, I don't even discuss the war itself, as president Obama said there always will be nations or group of nations that find military actions justified. Of course, for me, such nations should face international isolation and sanctions, but why should human kind evolve, when we can continue our thousands years tradition of war and violence. Too bad for all those people who died in Iraq after all those bomb attacks. They weren't less worthy than us. But nobody cares and they claim that war is going well. No, it is not.

Anyway let's leave behind the causes and the justifications of the "holy" wars against terrorism and point our attention to the means and methods used in those wars. And the consequences. These 4 articles offer you a glimpse at what the news prefer not to discuss in details. Because the conclusions are not very bright.

  1. Scores Feared Killed in Blast After Afghan Airstrike
  2. Afghans Detail Detention in ‘Black Jail’ at U.S. Base
  3. Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids
  4. 21 Reported Dead and 22 Missing in Mass Kidnapping Linked to Philippine Election

I won't go into details neither, because I don't have the time and I don't think I can convince anyone the support the wars in my words. When something goes so deep into your brain that you consider it part of yourself - like religion, politics, global warming and war - you simply cannot change that person's opinion with arguments, you have to let life convinces him/her.
So instead of trying to convince you, I'll ask questions.

About article 1. - If the citizens were draining fuel from those trucks, it should have been clear it's hard to decide which one is civilian and such an operation shouldn't be authorised. Why it was?
Common sense would require that those trucks should be used to track talibans and when spotted, then a ground raid should happen in which to arrest everyone and then to decide who's guilty and who's innocent. What kind of war exactly this is, if the talibans offer what they stole to poor citizens (and they are POOR!) and the army kills everyone just to be on the safe side?! Who are the good guys here? I'm not defending Talibans - they destroyed so many human lives and world heritage, I can't but hate them. But the war in regime search and destroy sounds more like a part of a computer game, than like an actual war strategy of killing anyone in sight. And btw, I hear the German government to defend its military command. Why nobody was fired because of this? Why the civilians weren't compensated because of this? If this happened during some form of military operations inside a normal country, the relatives of those who got killed will be filthy rich by now. Why afghan people don't deserve the same treatment?
On article n.2 - I can't ask too much here, only one thing - it's clear that detention sites should exist and people should be questioned under some regulations. But why those detention sites are not in US soil, why there are no representatives of whoever that will guarantee that human rights are not suppressed (at least not entirely, since prisons also suppress human rights but after a court decision) and last but not least, why all those guys are being released without charges? Where is the statistics of what percentage of the people is really useful, because if it's low, then maybe the organisation holding the detaining site should change its command and intelligence sources!
On article n3 - I don't mind too much the use of outside organisation in military operations, as long as it's clear who is in charge and that human rights are preserved. For example, that those Blackwater guards won't kill, harm or humiliate humans without explicit army order and justification and that they will be held responsible for their actions by civil (or military if you prefer) laws both in the country of their action and back in USA!!! Because you can't simply arm a group of people and let it loose in another country! You have to be sure those people will obey laws and will limit their destructive actions to what is really needed. And last but not least, for me, the transfer of people between Blackwater command and CIA is a conflict of interests! I think in every country this is something bad and should be avoided.
As for article n4 - it simply shows the state of the world we're living in. We're comfortable in our homes, we press the button of drones and fighters to kill civillians and convince ourselves we're doing it for the wellbeing of the whole world. And in mean time, people are beheaded somewhere on our Planet. Very very sad!

Scores Feared Killed in Blast After Afghan Airstrike

September 4, 2009

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A U.S. warplane summoned by German troops fired on hijacked fuel trucks in Afghanistan before dawn Friday, killing as many as 90 people in an incident that could trigger a backlash against NATO.

NATO initially said it believed the casualties were all Taliban fighters, but later acknowledged that large numbers of wounded civilians were being treated in hospitals in the area.

Villagers said their relatives were siphoning fuel from the hijacked trucks and were burned alive in a giant fireball. Patients arrived in hospitals completely covered with burns.

President Hamid Karzai's office gave a death toll of 90 (/55 of them claimed to be talibans /).

The incident, which took place in the northern province of Kunduz, could reignite outrage against foreign troops two months after the new U.S. and NATO commander in the country announced measures to stop civilian deaths he says undermine the war.

Mohammad Sarwar, a tribal elder in the province, said Taliban fighters had hijacked the tankers and were offering fuel to a crowd of villagers when the tankers were bombed.

Under orders he issued in July, aircraft are not supposed to fire unless they are sure there is no chance civilians can be hurt, or they are responding to an immediate threat.


Afghans Detail Detention in ‘Black Jail’ at U.S. Base

November 28, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan — An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates, sometimes for weeks at a time, without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base.

The site, known to detainees as the black jail, consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each illuminated by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day. In interviews, former detainees said that their only human contact was at twice-daily interrogation sessions.

The jail’s operation highlights a tension between President Obama’s goal to improve detention conditions that had drawn condemnation under the Bush administration and his stated desire to give military commanders leeway to operate. While Mr. Obama signed an order to eliminate so-called black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January, it did not also close this jail, which is run by military Special Operations forces.

Military officials said as recently as this summer that the Afghanistan jail and another like it at the Balad Air Base in Iraq were being used to interrogate high-value detainees. And officials said recently that there were no plans to close the jails.

In August, the administration restricted the time that detainees could be held at the military jails to two weeks, changing previous Pentagon policy. In the past, the military could obtain extensions.

The interviewed detainees had been held longer, but before the new policy went into effect. Mr. Hamidullah, who, like some Afghans, uses only one name, was released in October after five and half months in detention, five to six weeks of it in the black jail, he said.

All three detainees were later released without charges. None said they had been tortured, though they said they heard sounds of abuse going on and certainly felt humiliated and roughly used. “They beat up other people in the black jail, but not me,” Hamidullah said. “But the problem was that they didn’t let me sleep. There was shouting noise so you couldn’t sleep."

Others, however, have given accounts of abuse at the site, including two Afghan teenagers who told The Washington Post that they had been subjected to beatings and humiliation by American guards.

Human rights officials said the existence of a jail where prisoners were denied contact with the Red Cross or their families contradicted the Obama administration’s drive to improve detention conditions.

All three detainees said the hardest part of their detention was that their families did not know whether they were alive. source

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids

December 10, 2009

WASHINGTON — Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.

The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.

Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.

The secret missions illuminate a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials had acknowledged. Blackwater’s partnership with the C.I.A. has been enormously profitable for the North Carolina-based company, and became even closer after several top agency officials joined Blackwater.

Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, has come under intense criticism for what Iraqis have described as reckless conduct by its security guards, and the company lost its lucrative State Department contract to provide diplomatic security for the United States Embassy in Baghdad earlier this year after a 2007 shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

Several former Blackwater personnel said that Blackwater guards involved in the C.I.A. raids used weapons, including sawed-off M-4 automatic weapons with silencers, that were not approved for use by private contractors. source

And last but not least, the monstrosities continue even outside the war zones:

21 Reported Dead and 22 Missing in Mass Kidnapping Linked to Philippine Election

Published: November 23, 2009

MANILA — In one of the worst episodes of election-related violence in the Philippines in recent memory, a group of more than 40 people — including lawyers, journalists and relatives of a local politician — were kidnapped by armed men on Monday, and military officials said at least 21 of them had been killed.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, a military spokesman in Manila, the capital, said 21 bodies had been recovered in Maguindanao, a province on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines that has often been wracked by election violence. Thirteen of the dead were women, according to the military. Twenty-two people were unaccounted for, according to military officials.

Maj. Gen. Alfredo Cayton, a security official in the province, said in a radio interview that the victims had been shot. But relatives of victims said at least 30 abductees had been killed, and many of them had been beheaded, by a group of about 100 men. source

This is a very quick post since I'm so exhausted. I hope you still find it interesting. It's about how complex and beautiful our brain is and how little it requires to make us...well happier. I hope you will make the effort and read those articles as they are very enlightening in more than one way.

For example, take the first article. The basic moral is that if you want to feel younger, all you have to do is simply to feel younger. That is to say that once we really start living in certain mind-frame, it becomes a reality for us. If you mentally move yourself 20 years in the past, you'll start experience a whole new world. For me this is particularly important, because after my surgery I noticed how easily I get influenced by my mental states and how difficult it is for me to change them, probably because of the stupid tegretol. But difficult isn't equal to impossible and I think that even the most medicated minds can make that change once they decide. As I read somewhere - get decided, get excited and act. Or something like this, it's probably famous thought I just can't find the source. Anyway, for me this articles very inspiring.

As for the third article - the orgasmic brain. For me at least, it was very informative. Especially when it comes to the different ways men and women get excited and how different types of orgasms light up different areas of brain. This is so interesting. But since today isn't a day for deep philosophy on sexual subject (or objects), read the articles and enjoy them yourself.

Think and Grow Young: Just Say No to Aging

By Wray Herbert / Source: Newsweek

Imagine that you could rewind the clock 20 years....

But most important, you're 20 years younger. How do you feel? Well, if you're at all like the subjects in a provocative experiment by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, you actually feel as if your body clock has been turned back two decades.

Langer did a study like this with a group of elderly men some years ago, retrofitting an isolated old New England hotel so that every visible sign said it was 20 years earlier. The men—in their late 70s and early 80s—were told not to reminisce about the past, but to actually act as if they had traveled back in time. The idea was to see if changing the men's mindset about their own age might lead to actual changes in health and fitness.

Langer's findings were stunning: After just one week, the men in the experimental group (compared with controls of the same age) had more joint flexibility, increased dexterity and less arthritis in their hands.

Their mental acuity had risen measurably, and they had improved gait and posture. Outsiders who were shown the men's photographs judged them to be significantly younger than the controls. In other words, the aging process had in some measure been reversed.

Langer and her Harvard colleagues have been running similarly inventive experiments for decades, and the accumulated weight of the evidence is convincing. Her theory, argued in her new book, "Counterclockwise," is that we are all victims of our own stereotypes about aging and health.

We mindlessly accept negative cultural cues about disease and old age, and these cues shape our self-concepts and our behavior. If we can shake loose from the negative clichés that dominate our thinking about health, we can "mindfully" open ourselves to possibilities for more productive lives even into old age.

Consider another of Langer's mindfulness studies, this one using an ordinary optometrist's eye chart. That's the chart with the huge E on top, and descending lines of smaller and smaller letters that eventually become unreadable. Langer and her colleagues wondered: what if we reversed it? The regular chart creates the expectation that at some point you will be unable to read. Would turning the chart upside down reverse that expectation, so that people would expect the letters to become readable? That's exactly what they found. The subjects still couldn't read the tiniest letters, but when they were expecting the letters to get more legible, they were able to read smaller letters than they could have normally. Their expectation—their mindset—improved their actual vision.


Have Scientists Found the 'Fountain of Youth' on Easter Island?

Source: Agence France-Presse

A compound found in the soil of Easter Island stunningly boosts the lifespan of mice, enabling some to live more than 100 years old in human terms, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The remarkable molecule, a bacterial byproduct discovered in a sample taken from the remote Pacific archipelago in the 1970s, is called rapamycin, after the island’s Polynesian name of Rapa Nui.

It was later used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients and then became incorporated into “stents” — implants used to keep arteries open in patients with coronary disease. It is now in clinical trials for cancer treatment.

Intrigued by findings that suggest rampamycin inhibits an enzyme linked to ageing in invertebrates, the researchers decided to add the drug to the diet of older mice.

The rodents were 20 months old at the time, which in human terms is equivalent to around 60 years of age.

Female mice with rapamycin added to their food lived 13 percent longer on average compared with non-rapamycin counterparts. Males which were fed the drug gained nine percent in their lifetime.

Rapamycin may retard ageing processes or the onset of cancer but has no impact on the causes of death itself, the study adds.

Scientists have already found that by keeping mice skinny by restricting their diet, they could make the rodents live longer. The theory behind rapamycin is that it works on the same molecular mechanisms as calorie restriction. source

The Orgasmic Mind: This Is Your Brain On Sex

By Martin Portner
Scientific American


Marianne, a participant in a multinational trial of a testosterone patch designed to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder, in which a woman is devoid of libido.

After 12 weeks of the trial, Marianne had felt her sexual desire return.

But that improvement was not because of testosterone, it turned out. Marianne was among the half of the women who had received a placebo patch—with no testosterone in it at all.

Marianne’s experience underlines the complexity of sexual arousal. Far from being a simple issue of hormones, sexual desire and orgasm are subject to various influences on the brain and nervous system, which controls the sex glands and genitals. And many of those influences are environmental.

Recent research, for example, shows that visual stimuli spur sexual stirrings in women, as they do in men.

Achieving orgasm, brain-imaging studies show, involves more than heightened arousal. It requires a release of inhibitions and control in which the brain’s center of vigilance shuts down in males; in females, various areas of the brain involved in controlling thoughts and emotions become silent.

The brain’s pleasure centers tend to light up brightly in the brain scans of both sexes, especially in those of males. The reward system creates an incentive to seek more sexual encounters.

Given the importance of desire in this sexual cycle, researchers have long wanted to identify its key ingredients. Conventional wisdom casts the male triggers in simplistic sensory terms, with tactile and visual stimuli being particularly enticing.

Men are drawn to visual erotica.Meanwhile female desire is supposedly fueled by a richer cognitive and emotional texture. “Women experience desire as a result of the context in which they are inserted—whether they feel comfortable with themselves and the partner, feel safe and perceive a true bond with the partner,” opines urologist Jennifer Berman of the Female Sexual Medicine Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Yet sexual imagery devoid of emotional connections can arouse women just as it can men, a 2007 study shows. Psychologist Meredith Chivers of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and her colleagues gauged the degree of sexual arousal in about 100 women and men, both homosexual and heterosexual, while they watched erotic film clips. The clips depicted same-sex intercourse, solitary masturbation or nude exercise—performed by men and women—as well as male-female intercourse and mating between bonobos (close ape relatives of the chimpanzee).

The researchers found that although nude exercise genitally aroused all the onlookers the least and intercourse excited them the most, the type of actor was more important for the men than for the women. Heterosexual women’s level of arousal increased along with the intensity of the sexual activity largely irrespective of who or what was engaged in it. In fact, these women were genitally excited by male and female actors equally and also responded physically to bonobo copulation. (Gay women, however, were more particular; they did not react sexually to men masturbating or exercising naked.)

The men, by contrast, were physically titillated mainly by their preferred category of sexual partner—that is, females for straight men and males for gay men—and were not excited by bonobo copulation. The results, the researchers say, suggest that women are not only aroused by a variety of types of sexual imagery but are more flexible than men in their sexual interests and preferences.

When it comes to orgasm, simple sensations as well as higher-level mental processes probably also play a role in both sexes. (...). In their book The Science of Orgasm (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), Komisaruk, endocrinologist Carlos Beyer-Flores of the Tlaxcala Laboratory in Mexico and Rutgers sexologist Beverly Whipple describe orgasm as maximal excitation generated by a gradual summing of responses from the body’s sensory receptors, combined with complex cognitive and emotional forces. Similarly, psychologist Kent Berridge of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has described sexual pleasure as a kind of “gloss” that the brain’s emotional hub, the limbic system, applies over the primary sensations.

Researchers are trying to crack this riddle by probing changes in brain activity during orgasm in both men and women. Neuroscientist Gert Holstege of the University of Gro­ningen in the Netherlands and his colleagues attempted to solve the male side of the equation by asking the female partners of 11 men to stimulate their partner’s penis until he ejaculated while they scanned his brain using positron-emission tomography (PET). During ejaculation, the researchers saw extraordinary activation of the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a major hub of the brain’s reward circuitry; the intensity of this response is comparable to that induced by heroin.

The scientists also saw heightened activity in brain regions involved in memory-related imagery and in vision itself, perhaps because the volunteers used visual imagery to hasten orgasm. The anterior part of the cerebellum also switched into high gear. The cerebellum has long been labeled the coordinator of motor behaviors but has more recently revealed its role in emotional processing. The amygdala, the brain’s center of vigilance and sometimes fear, showed a decline in activity at ejaculation, a probable sign of decreasing vigilance during sexual performance.

To find out whether orgasm looks similar in the female brain, Holstege’s team asked the male partners of 12 women to stimulate their partner’s clitoris until she climaxed, again inside a PET scanner. Not surprisingly, the team reported in 2006, clitoral stimulation by itself led to activation in areas of the brain involved in receiving and perceiving sensory signals from that part of the body and in describing a body sensation—for instance, labeling it “sexual.”

But when a woman reached orgasm, something unexpected happened: much of her brain went silent. Some of the most muted neurons sat in the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which may govern self-control over basic desires such as sex. Decreased activity there, the researchers suggest, might correspond to a release of tension and inhibition. The scientists also saw a dip in excitation in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, which has an apparent role in moral reasoning and social judgment—a change that may be tied to a suspension of judgment and reflection.

Brain activity fell in the amygdala, too, suggesting a depression of vigilance similar to that seen in men, who generally showed far less deactivation in their brain during orgasm than their female counterparts did. “At the moment of orgasm, women do not have any emotional feelings.”

But that lack of emotion may not apply to all orgasms in women. Komisaruk, Whipple and their colleagues studied the patterns of brain activation that occur during orgasm in five women with spinal cord injuries that left them without sensation in their lower extremities. These women were able to achieve a “deep,” or nonclitoral, orgasm through mechanical stimulation (using a laboratory device) of the vagina and cervix. But contrary to Holstege’s results, Komisaruk’s team found that orgasm was accompanied by a general activation of the limbic system, the brain’s seat of emotion.

Among the activated limbic regions were the amygdala and the hypothalamus, which produces oxytocin, the putative love and bonding hormone whose levels jump fourfold at orgasm. The researchers also found heightened activity in the nucleus accumbens, a critical part of the brain’s reward circuitry that may mediate orgasmic pleasure in women. In addition, they saw unusual activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the insula, two brain areas that Rutgers anthropologist Helen Fisher has found come to life during the later stages of love relationships. Such activity may connect a female’s sexual pleasure with the emotional bond she feels with her partner. source

Your rubber kills, 2009

Today, I offer you an interesting point of view of global pollution. We all know the favoured by sceptics attitude : "climate change is a conspiracy that will legally robe billions of people". At least this is what I heard while arguing on Climategate (expect a post on this soon).

So, I want to answer this claim in an unusual way. As you know, most of our production is in Asia. Western countries hardly produce anything at home, most production lines are "outsourced" to developing countries and/or China mainly to profit from the cheap work force. So what do we mean when we say that our pollution is too little to make any difference to Earth. What pollution, that home or that abroad? Because this seems to mean different things. 

Personally, I think we MUST embrace severe standards for emissions and efficiency and also, to impose severe taxes for the imports from countries which doesn't accept the same limitations. Why? Because we do emit and everything that we emit, is an energy or substances that we have lost. Economically, we are used to the abundance of Earth and so we don't care about the substances we simply throw away. But if for any reason we're deprived of this abundance, we'll see how important is to preserve and use every little piece of materials we have. In physics - E=mc^2, so imagine how much energy we lose. So I say let's start from today. I firmly believe that we can figure a way to do (and do it cheaply) anything in this Universe. So once we make the decision to go efficient (and limiting emissions is in fact efficiency!) , we will do it and it won't be the end of the world. Companies will invest into research that will turn into technology and in the end we will have our energy efficiency and limited emission. We will limit pollution and everyone will profit from it on the long scale. See, for me, it's not about climate, it's about human evolution. We have to change our productions and we have to do it for us, not for the Earth, the Universe or whatever. For us! 

So anyway, here is my different point of view. Read the articles and consider them carefully. These are our products! We are the consumers for who those companies produces and pollute and even maybe kill people. Because we care only for the final price of the product and probably its quality, those companies go to countries like China where they don't have to care if the production is safe. They do whatever they bargain with the government and they don't care about the people. This is us! This is our current lifestyle and understanding of economics. Is this how a climate deal will rob people? Is this the idea of free market? To find the country where you can abuse people most efficiently and to go producing there? I'm in no way protectionist, I don't care where those factories will be on the planet, I only care that those productions are safe, non-pollutant and efficient. Because I don't think that the life of a Chinese or whoever else is less expensive or important than the life of an European (or American). Life is priceless and we have to protect it anywhere. Money come second! 

Chinese Workers Say Illness Is Real, Not Hysteria

Published: July 29, 2009
JILIN CITY, ChinaTian Lihua was just beginning her morning shift when she felt a wave of nausea, then numbness in her limbs and finally dizziness that gave way to unconsciousness. In the days that followed, more than 1,200 fellow employees at the textile mill where Ms. Tian works would be felled by these and other symptoms, including convulsions, breathing difficulties, vomiting and temporary paralysis.

“When I finally came to, I could hear the doctors talking but I couldn’t open my eyes,” she said weakly from a hospital bed last month. “They said I had a reaction to unknown substances.”

Ms. Tian and scores of other workers say the “unknown substances” came from a factory across the street that produces aniline, a highly toxic chemical used in the manufacture of polyurethane, rubber, herbicides and dyes.

As soon as the Jilin Connell Chemical Plant started production this spring, local hospitals began receiving stricken workers from the acrylic yarn factory 100 yards downwind from Connell’s exhaust stacks. On some days, doctors were overwhelmed and patients were put two to a bed.

A clear case of chemical contamination? Not so, say Chinese health officials who contend that the episode is a communal outbreak of psychogenic illness, also called mass hysteria. The blurry vision, muscle spasms and pounding headaches, according to a government report issued in May, were simply psychological reactions to a feared chemical exposure.

During a four-day visit, a team of public health experts from Beijing talked to doctors, looked at blood tests and then advised bedridden workers to “get a hold of their emotions,” according to patients and their families.

Western medical experts say fear of poisoning can lead people to describe symptoms that exist mainly in their minds. But outbreaks of psychogenic illnesses on the scale of what has been reported in Jilin are rare, they say.

In May more than 1,000 residents blocked railroad tracks in the city for hours to draw attention to the sick workers. Their ire intensified after the State Administration of Work Safety posted a statement on its Web site describing the problem as a “chemical leak” and advising other companies to learn from Connell Chemical’s mistake. After a few hours, however, the statement had been removed.

“We are simply laboratory mice in Connell’s chemical experiment,” said Xie Shaofeng, 34, a textile worker whose wife remains hospitalized.

The episode comes at a time of rising environmental degradation in China brought on by decades of heady growth and lax pollution controls. Although many people here have long lived with sullied air and water, they are increasingly aware of the toll that they take on human health and are demanding greater restrictions on noxious industries.

Fear of contamination was heightened last fall after the government acknowledged that thousands of children had been made ill by milk adulterated with melamine, an ingredient used in the manufacture of plastics.

The Ministry of Health in Beijing declined to provide details of their findings in Jilin, but according to local officials, investigators found no evidence of organ damage that would point to chemical exposure. They added that those claiming to be sick had been in different parts of the sprawling textile factory and offered inconsistent descriptions of the odor of what they said caused their symptoms.

Although they say those who fell ill in Jilin could have been poisoned, psychogenic experts outside China say it is also possible for some to have been affected by toxic fumes while others exhibited psychosomatic illnesses set off by real poisonings.

The episode is not Jilin’s first experience with the perils of aniline. In 2005, an explosion at another factory that produced the volatile substance killed eight people and sent 100 tons of deadly benzene and nitrobenzene into the Songhua River, tainting drinking water for millions of people downstream.

Public anxiety was high even before the new $125 million aniline plant opened in early April. During a test run last September, two security guards standing in front of the textile plant were overcome by fumes. Connell paid them compensation, although it is unclear what adjustments were made to the manufacturing process and, more important, the venting of its airborne byproducts, a mix of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and nitrogen oxide. 


US rubber company disputes Liberia pollution study

October 30, 2009

(AP) -- An American-owned rubber company is disputing claims by the Liberian government that the company's waste products are polluting creeks.

The Liberian government says a three-month investigation found high levels of orthophosphate being released into the water.

But Firestone said in a statement released late Thursday that it has conducted its own extensive testing of discharge water and found it was not harmful to human health.

The government's report appears silent on whether the company will pay any fines.

Firestone signed a 99-year concession agreement with the Liberian government in the 1920s to grow and export rubber in the West African nation. source

This post will be short of my comments, since the articles are very very interesting.

In short, I get so sick from all these nonsenses about the new world order, and the global government and so on. Yes, there is a new world order, but it has nothing to do with conspiracy theories (hopefully). The reality is that the world is changing, the old super-powers will eventually get replaced by new ones, you cannot evade this. It's the normal cycle of life. Yes, the big owners of money, assets and power, may not change easily or quickly. But geographically, they cannot stay forever in the same country, simply because the need of certain products evolve and thus the top producers of today won't be on the top tomorrow. And because the production bring certain richness to the population (or the government) of the country where it is located, you simply cannot expect this process to be static.

The point? Yes, there is a new world order. But you are looking in the wrong direction. You try to follow the absolute owners of the richness and to blame them for everything around us while the system is dynamical and it's very hard for anyone to control everything. And precisely the ignorance lead to more control and more power for those people.

And I can give you one very good example - Google. Google started as a fighter for freedom of information and was a textbook case of a dream came true. Now Google controls amazing part of our lives. Just look how much information they store about you. Stuff that you probably have forgotten. But they are there. Now imagine what happens when Google pulls the plug. How would you feel? It happened to me, I can tell you how I felt - horrible. I'm not going to elaborate on this, since I have a lot to say on the subject and I'm just starting. I just want to show you how easily we offer some people the power over our lives. What's the point of conspiracy - they rob us from our identity in plain daylight so to say. And whose fault is this?Well, ours! We're the ones who are happy like children with every new toy Google offer us, but we never EVER require anything from them. Which is our right, as consumers! Because Google earns from us and our use of their services. Then if we indirectly pay for their services, they have to have some obligations towards us, right? Wrong! Check your TOS! They have no single obligation towards you.

Anyway, back on the new world order, the following articles are examples of the rise of the new super-powers. We all know them, but a part of us pretend very successfully they don't. Well, this is for you guys. Rethink your conspiracy theory. Because the world is changing and we have to know our reality if we want to be adequate to it.

  1. How Iran Might Beat Future Sanctions: The China Card
  2. Chinese Executive Buys British Satellite TV Station
  3. Gazprom strikes preliminary gas deal with China
  4. Natural gas in the Arctic is mostly Russian

How Iran Might Beat Future Sanctions: The China Card

Iran may have an ace in the hole as Western governments weigh sanctions in response to the often violent crackdown on opposition demonstrators. The card Tehran is likely to play? China.

On July 13 Iran's Oil Ministry announced that it had China's agreement to invest about $40 billion in refining Iranian gasoline. The deal would include financing the major new Hormoz refinery in southern Iran, which will be able to produce about 300,000 bbl. of gasoline and kerosene a day once the four-year construction project is completed. China would also overhaul Iran's aging Abadan refinery in the south so that its production could increase by 29%, according to Iranian oil officials, who provided no deadline for that project.

The deal has not yet been signed (and China has yet to confirm it), but if Iran pulls it off, it would solve one of the country's biggest headaches. For despite vast oil reserves and exports, Iran still imports about 130,000 bbl. of gasoline a day because its refineries are too few and too old to meet the demand at home. The Chinese deal would literally keep Iran's factories, homes and cars - in effect, a nation of 66 million people - running.

Iran's ties with China, which have steadily grown over the past decade, have accelerated rapidly in the past 18 months. In December 2007, the Chinese oil giant Sinopec Group signed a $70 billion deal to begin drilling in Iran's Yadavaran field, which has estimated reserves of about 17 billion bbl. In January of this year, China's biggest energy producer, CNPC, agreed to develop a medium-size oil field called North Azadegan - a deal worth about $2 billion. And last month, while demonstrators were fighting pitched battles with paramilitaries on Tehran's streets, Iranian oil officials flew to Beijing to negotiate a $5 billion deal with CNPC for the newest phase of Iran's huge South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf. source

Chinese Executive Buys British Satellite TV Station

July 15, 2009, 7:00 am

A businessman from China has bought a British satellite TV station and plans to broadcast shows promoting China in Europe, The China Daily and Xinhua reported.

Ye Maoxi, president of Beijing-based company Xiking Group — which engages in advertising, cultural promotions, printing, manufacturing and real estate — acquired Propeller TV, based in Leeds, last month, the newspaper said.

Propeller, which began in February 2006 on British Sky Broadcasting’s satellite platform, was the first digital satellite television channel in Europe to screen new and original programming, a statement on Xiking’s Web site said.

Propeller will offer English- and Chinese-language programs intended to introduce China to a Western audience and to correct Western media biases or incomplete reports about the country, Xiking official Ma Hongxia told Xinhua. Further details of the deal were not released.

China plans to pour up to 45 billion yuan ($6.6 billion) starting this year into a state media expansion project that includes adding more overseas bureaus and foreign language TV channels in a public relations drive, Reuters reported.

Most media in China are state-controlled and heavily censored. source

Gazprom strikes preliminary gas deal with China

China and Russia signed a framework agreement Tuesday that could see a steady flow of natural gas to energy-hungry China from its resource-rich neighbor.

It was one of numerous trade and military agreements signed during a state visit by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the countries overcome traditional mistrust to push ahead mutual economic interests.

The deal between Russia's state-run natural gas monopoly Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp. calls for the supply of about 70 billion cubic meters of gas a year, but a price had not been set and no contract signed, said Gazprom's chief executive Alexei Miller.

Chinese media reports have said the agreement was expected to be a gas-for-loans deal similar to a $25 billion oil-for-loans deal completed earlier this year.

"Gazprom will independently build gas transportation facilities on the Russian territory," he said when asked if China could invest in building gas pipelines. He added Gazprom may welcome Chinese investments in building gas-processing facilities.

Russia and China earlier Tuesday signed agreements worth $3.5 billion. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov told reporters that Russian and Chinese businessmen and officials signed the agreements, including $500 million loans each from the China Development Bank to its Russian equivalent VEB, and from the Agricultural Bank of China to the state-controlled VTB bank.


Natural gas in the Arctic is mostly Russian

May 29th, 2009 By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- Nearly one-third of the natural gas yet to be discovered in the world is north of the Arctic Circle and most of it is in Russian territory, according to a new analysis led by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey.

Russia is already the world's leading natural gas producer, noted Gautier, of the Geological Survey's office in Menlo Park, Calif.

The report, by an international scientific team, estimated that the Arctic also contains between 3 and 4 percent of the world's resources remaining to be discovered.

Two-thirds of the undiscovered gas is in just four areas - South Kara Sea, North Barents Basin, South Barents Basin and the Alaska Platform - the report said.

Indeed, the South Kara Sea off Siberia contains 39 percent of the Arctic's undiscovered gas, the researchers said. source

DNA sampling of emigrants in UK

How far can madness go? Well, surprisingly far. Check out the article below. British authorities decided to use DNA sampling to find the nationality of African Refugees.
First of all, anyone who has had a DNA test with the DNA tree project, knows that nationality is very different from ethnicity. Your genes are a summary of the life (and death) of all of your ancestors and it's hard to predict which one you have thus tracing your ancestry is generally difficult endeavour. Yes, sometimes it can be accurate but not exact especially in some regions. In the past boundaries changed much more often than now, not to mention the wars which led to big groups of horny men impregnating helpless women along the way - so imagine what kind of genes their ancestors will have! And that has absolutely no connection with the national boundaries years later.
Second of all, it should be illegal (and immoral for sure) to take DNA samples of people without their concession, especially when they haven't done a major crime. Being illegal emigrant isn't exactly a major crime. If you don't' want the emigrants, just turn them back. But you have NO right to take their biological samples without their explicit and informed consent.
And finally, what's the difference if the emigrant are coming from Somalia or other African country? And what is the major difference in the diet and ancestry of people from Somalia and those from Kenya. I guess there is some, but still, I find this disgusting and very similar to the "scientific" experiments the Nazis did. There are limits and I think there should be a very serious discussion in UK and in all the other European countries about the limits of DNA studies. Just as I don't believe it's moral and right to force my head into a device that reads my mind, it's not right to take your DNA samples to prove your origin or whatever. It's simply NOT RIGHT!
P.S. Any surprise that the UK opted out of the chart of human rights in the Lisbon Treaty. Not for me!

Genetic Testing of African Refugees Raises Outcry From Scientists

Scientists in the United Kingdom are outraged over a new program that seeks to determine asylum seekers’ nationalities through DNA and the isotopes present in their hair and fingernails. The experts say the tests simply aren’t accurate enough to pinpoint a person’s country of origin.

The program will be tried out on asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa, and will seek to establish whether applicants from Kenya or Ethiopia are masquerading as refugees from war-torn Somalia. Yet scientists say the Border Agency’s goals confuse ancestry or ethnicity with nationality. David Balding, a population geneticist at Imperial College London, notes that “genes don’t respect national borders, as many legitimate citizens are migrants or direct descendants of migrants, and many national borders split ethnic groups” [Science Insider].

In the second part of the testing, an applicant will be asked to give hair and fingernail samples; by looking at which forms of certain elements the samples contain, the government scientists hope to find evidence of the person’s diet and environment. But isotope specialist Tamsin O’Connell says the results won’t be specific enough to be meaningful.

The UK Border Agency maintains that the program will be useful first step in determining an applicant’s true nationality, and says the biological tests will be followed up by in-person interviews and language analysis tests. source

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