I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!
The most recent Wikileaks cables once again reminded us of the sleeping dragon, China. And more precisely, its interesting relationship with USA. So my last post for 2010 will be dedicated to China and USA.
To start with, I will quote a Wikileaks cable published by NY Times:
"The message delivered by the office, the person said, was that “in the past, a lot of /* Chinese */ officials worried that the Web could not be controlled.”
“But through the Google incident and other increased controls and surveillance, like real-name registration, they reached a conclusion: the Web is fundamentally controllable,” the person said." source ,
The Google incident was hacking of Google's servers in China and stealing their source code. Quite creepy statement, huh? Well, this is China we're talking about.
I make that distinction in the beginning, because in the quoted articles, China appears in many lights - economical, political, military. But above all, it's important to keep in mind what exactly is its social side. To remember when we talk about money, exactly how those money or products were produces. And by whom. Another useful article on the subject is: Suspicious Death Ignites Fury in China. It's about corruption in China and how some problems are solved with the "No man, no problem" strategy. Trough death, to be explicit. So this is China we're talking about. Not the spiritual China who gave us "Tao Te Ching" and Chinese medicine. Not the exotic and cosmopolitan China. But that China that everybody avoids to discuss and that made countries like Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Egypt and even more (see here) to boycott the Nobel prize for peace this year. And you'll see a lot of faces of that China in the articles below.
I'm not going to comment explicitly each and every article, just the common trend. A year ago, Chinese superiority was still kind of a public secret - everybody knew about it, but preferred to keep quite. This year, people start talking. And the picture they draw is far from nice. China hacking its way to US official Internet traffic (first article)? Such accidents simply do not happen. Re-routing classified documents trough your server is something serious. And the very fact that USA is not reacting, but merely questioning Chinese actions should tell you how serious the things are. Whether China did it as an act of aggression or only to see if it's doable doesn't matter. The truth is that China invest heavily in cyber-defense and you don't do that unless you have something on your mind. Especially when combined with the second article concerning the way Chinese army regards USA - as an enemy. I personally found that little bit odd - I knew about the propaganda, what I didn't know is that it was directed against USA. Because so far China left the impression of being militarily benevolent power - a country that is more interested in profit than in participating in wars. Not any more. From the second article it becomes quite clear that their army seriously hates USA. Maybe only time will show how this will develop, but clearly, such attitude without any serious reason behind it is quite scary. Not only for USA, but also for the whole world. We don't need another war. Nobody wins from wars, besides very few and very rich persons and corporations. And I wanted to believe that the world changed since the last big war.
The last 3 articles are on economics. The moral from all of them is that USA has serious problems with China in economics as well. And not only with them - in one of them it's said directly - USA is no longer in position to direct world's economics and to tell what's right and what's wrong. And that's quite serious statement.
As serious as it sounds, I think this is part of the normal dynamics of the power in our world. History shows us that when someone is weak, it's normal to expect someone to become strong. We can't fool ourselves that once the crisis is over, things will go back to "normal". They never will. At least, not in the old "normal". As for the new "normal", I sincerely hope that it will be for better. But considering the situation in China, that's also questionable. The good side is that not only China gets stronger but also Brazil and South America as a whole. I wish I could add Europe to the list, but for the moment, that's not the case. What's good about Europe is that being the biggest market on the world, it could mitigate some economical aggressions. What's bad is that in the whole cat-fight for power in Europe, it's hard to come up with common position and from there problems arise. If only the EU could act as one and to stand an inconvenient but useful for the world and Europe position, things would be much easier. But that's not going to happen any time soon. Or at least it appears so.
Well, I guess only time will show who the next BIG in Earth economics will be. Chinas sounds as the obvious next leader, but I still have my hope for Brazil. And I can only wish luck to their new President - Dilma Rousseff, to bring her country to the top. She's only half Bulgarian but she's a strong lady!
That's it folks. Have a great New Year's eve and also very successful and happy New 2011 Year. Enjoy!
- Report Looks at How China Meddled With the Internet
- U.S. Alarmed by Harsh Tone of China’s Military
- Currency Rift With China Exposes Shifting Clout
- Countries See Hazards in Free Flow of Capital
- As China Rolls Ahead, Fear Follows
Report Looks at How China Meddled With the InternetBy JOHN MARKOFF
November 17, 2010
An annual report to Congress touched off a round of speculation Wednesday about the motives of a small Chinese Internet service provider that briefly rerouted as much as 15 percent of the world’s Web traffic on two occasions last spring.
The report, by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, noted that the service provider, IDC China Telecommunication, broadcast inaccurate Web traffic routes for about 18 minutes on April 8. That information was then retransmitted by China’s state-owned China Telecommunications, effectively forcing data from the United States and other countries to pass through Chinese computer servers. A similar episode in March drew less attention.
The report said the move affected data traveling over both the government and military networks of the United States, including information from the Senate, the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the secretary of defense’s office, NASA, the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as from many American companies.
The incidents, which were widely reported when they occurred, were never explained, although Chinese engineering managers said that the routing errors were accidental.
The commission said it had no evidence that the misdirection was intentional. American computer network engineers who met with Chinese technicians visiting the United States at the time said they did not believe that the Chinese had given them a full description of what had happened.
While sensitive data such as e-mails and commercial transactions are generally encrypted before being transmitted, the Chinese government holds a copy of an encryption master key, and there was speculation that China might have used it to break the encryption on some of the misdirected Internet traffic.
There was also speculation that the rerouting might have been a test of a cyberweapon that could be used to disrupt the Internet during a crisis or a war.
U.S. Alarmed by Harsh Tone of China’s MilitaryBy MICHAEL WINES
October 11, 2010
BEIJING — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie, in Vietnam on Monday for the first time since the two militaries suspended talks with each other last winter, calling for the two countries to prevent “mistrust, miscalculations and mistakes.”
His message seemed directed mainly at officers like Lt. Cmdr. Tony Cao of the Chinese Navy.
Days before Mr. Gates arrived in Asia, Commander Cao was aboard a frigate in the Yellow Sea, conducting China’s first war games with the Australian Navy, exercises to which, he noted pointedly, the Americans were not invited.
Nor are they likely to be, he told Australian journalists in slightly bent English, until “the United States stops selling the weapons to Taiwan and stopping spying us with the air or the surface.”
The Pentagon is worried that its increasingly tense relationship with the Chinese military owes itself in part to the rising leaders of Commander Cao’s generation, who, much more than the country’s military elders, view the United States as the enemy. Older Chinese officers remember a time, before the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 set relations back, when American and Chinese forces made common cause against the Soviet Union.
The younger officers have known only an anti-American ideology, which casts the United States as bent on thwarting China’s rise.
“All militaries need a straw man, a perceived enemy, for solidarity,” said Huang Jing, a scholar of China’s military and leadership at the National University of Singapore. “And as a young officer or soldier, you always take the strongest of straw men to maximize the effect. Chinese military men, from the soldiers and platoon captains all the way up to the army commanders, were always taught that America would be their enemy.”
The stakes have increased as China’s armed forces, once a fairly ragtag group, have become more capable and have taken on bigger tasks. The navy, the centerpiece of China’s military expansion, has added dozens of surface ships and submarines, and is widely reported to be building its first aircraft carrier. Last month’s Yellow Sea maneuvers with the Australian Navy are but the most recent in a series of Chinese military excursions to places as diverse as New Zealand, Britain and Spain.
China is also reported to be building an antiship ballistic missile base in southern China’s Guangdong Province, with missiles capable of reaching the Philippines and Vietnam. The base is regarded as an effort to enforce China’s territorial claims to vast areas of the South China Sea claimed by other nations, and to confront American aircraft carriers that now patrol the area unmolested.
Even improved Chinese forces do not have capacity or, analysts say, the intention, to fight a more able United States military. But their increasing range and ability, and the certainty that they will only become stronger, have prompted China to assert itself regionally and challenge American dominance in the Pacific.
That makes it crucial to help lower-level Chinese officers become more familiar with the Americans, experts say, before a chance encounter blossoms into a crisis.
The Chinese effectively suspended official military relations early this year after President Obama met with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious leader, and approved a $6.7 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which China regards as its territory. Since then, the Chinese military has bristled as the State Department has offered to mediate disputes between China and its neighbors over ownership of Pacific islands and valuable seabed mineral rights. And when the American Navy conducted war games with South Korea last month in the Yellow Sea, less than 400 miles from Beijing, younger Chinese officers detected an encroaching threat.source
Currency Rift With China Exposes Shifting Clout
By SEWELL CHAN October 10, 2010WASHINGTON —The divergence between the mounting anxieties over Chinese policy and the cautious official response was a striking display of the difficulty of securing international economic cooperation, two years after the financial crisis began.
Above all, officials say, the crisis has shifted influence from the richest powers toward Asia and Latin America, whose economies have weathered the recession much better than those of the United States, Europe and Japan.
“We have come to the end of a model where seven advanced economies can make decisions for the world without the emerging countries,” said one European official involved in the weekend talks. “Like it or not, we simply have to accept it.”
The debate over currency valuation is pivotal. World leaders broadly agree that for the global economy to be more stable, imbalances between creditor countries like China and Germany and debtor countries like the United States and Britain have to be fixed. Correcting those imbalances, some economists say, will help create jobs in the United States and reduce the threat of inflation and asset bubbles in China.
The shifting dynamics have most noticeably affected the United States, which pushed more forcefully than its counterparts for stronger pressure on China but has been unable to persuade them to stand with it at the forefront of the debate.
In general, the Europeans have taken a far more conciliatory line toward China.
Another factor is that the most dire part of the crisis has passed, and many countries are now more concerned with their own national economies and no longer feel the urgency act in concert.
Complicating the effort is a dispute between the United States and Europe over how to change board representation within the I.M.F. to give greater voice to the fast-growing economies that are propelling global growth. The Americans want emerging countries, especially China, to have more representation, and thus take on more responsibility. But Europe is reluctant to give up some of its positions on the board. And significantly, in the eyes of many countries, the United States has lost some of the standing it needs to shape global policy. Not only is Wall Street viewed by many as having initiated the world financial crisis, but also, a number of countries fear that policies by the Federal Reserve are pushing down the dollar’s value — the same kind of currency weakening for which the Obama administration has criticized China.
Countries See Hazards in Free Flow of Capital
As the leaders of the 20 major economic powers gather in Seoul, an increasing number of them have either imposed curbs or are in the process of doing so to slow the torrent of hot money into their markets.
Over the years, foreign capital flowing into emerging markets has played a crucial role in helping finance roads in India, factories in China and buyers of luxury cars in Brazil.
But as the sums have compounded and led to more market volatility, fast-growing countries have begun to worry that short-term investment will push up the value of their currencies, make their goods less competitive in the global market, and lead to asset bubbles that will be painful to deflate.
Once a core policy commandment of the so-called Washington consensus and held dear by the United States Treasury, the International Monetary Fund and global investment banks, the belief that unfettered capital flows are a boon for everyone — including the country on the receiving end — has been dealt a major blow.
Short-term investment is now increasingly viewed as something that needs to be controlled.
Still, the risk remains that as capital controls are adopted by more countries, a result will be a series of competitive devaluations, which could drive away overseas investors and lead to a rout of once-buoyant stock markets. Many countries are discussing additional steps because they fear that the Federal Reserve’s latest bid to revive the United States economy by pumping an additional $600 billion into the banking system will further weaken the dollar and send more money into fast-growing markets.
The latest restrictions are as various as taxes on bond and equity flows and extended rules on how quickly short-term capital may be repatriated.
Abandoning its earlier stand, the I.M.F. now recognizes capital controls as a viable policy tool. Likewise, the United States has expressed sympathy and support for the actions taken by countries with overvalued currencies, like Brazil.
As China Rolls Ahead, Fear FollowsBy DAVID BARBOZA December 12, 2010
For nearly two years, China’s turbocharged economy has raced ahead with the aid of a huge government stimulus program and aggressive lending by state-run banks.
But a growing number of economists now worry that China — the world’s fastest growing economy and a pillar of strength during the global financial crisis — could be stalled next year by soaring inflation, mounting government debt and asset bubbles.
Two credit ratings agencies, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings, say China is still poised for growth, yet they have also recently warned about hidden risks in its banking system. Fitch even hinted at the possibility of another wave of nonperforming loans tied to the property market.
In the late 1990s and early this decade, the Chinese government was forced to bail out and recapitalize these same state-run banks because a soaring number of bad loans had left them nearly insolvent.
Those banks are much stronger now, after a series of record public stock offerings in recent years that have raised billions of dollars from global investors.
But last week, an analyst at the Royal Bank of Scotland advised clients to hedge against the risk that a flood of cash into China, coupled with soaring inflation, could result in a “day of reckoning.”
A sharp slowdown in China, which is growing at an annual rate of about 10 percent, would be a serious blow to the global economy since China’s voracious demand for natural resources is helping to prop up growth in Asia and South America, even as the United States and the European Union struggle.
And because China is a major holder of United States Treasury debt and a major destination for American investment in recent years, any slowdown would also hurt American companies.
Aware of the risks, Beijing has moved recently to tame its domestic growth and rein in soaring food and housing prices by raising interest rates, tightening regulations on property sales and restricting lending.
Optimists say China has been adept at steering the right economic course over the last decade, ramping up growth when needed and tamping it down when things get too hot. But this time, Beijing is not just struggling with inflation, it is also trying to restructure its economy away from dependence on exports and toward domestic consumption in the hopes of creating more balanced and sustainable growth, analysts say.
China is also facing mounting international pressure to let its currency, the renminbi, rise in value.
Beijing is now under pressure to mop up excess liquidity after state banks went on a lending binge during the stimulus program that got under way in early 2009. Analysts say a large portion of that lending was diverted to speculate in the property market.
In addition to restricting lending at the big state banks, Beijing recently moved to close hundreds of underground banks and attempted to restrain local governments from borrowing to build huge infrastructure projects, some of which may be wasteful, according to analysts.
Some economists say the real solution is for Beijing to privatize more industries and let the market play a bigger role. After the financial crisis hit, the state assumed more control over the economy.
Now, state banks and big state-owned companies are reluctant to surrender control over industries where they have monopoly power, analysts say.
The report, which was released a few weeks ago, said that if growth slowed to 5 percent, the economies of many other Asian nations would suffer seriously. Steel, energy and manufacturing industries around the world would also be hard hit, it said.
Did you hear about Stuxnet, the computer worm that attacked Iran's centrifuges? I bet you did. It was on the news for a while. Then it stopped being there. Everyone got veeery quite about it. Obviously people stopped considering it so interesting. Wrong. Because it's extremely interesting, important and also dangerous. As you will find out from the articles that follow, whatever reason it was created for, it can attack all kind of industrial workstations, airlines included. And now that's bad. Because certainly you don't want airlines computers or nuclear power plants computers under the control of such virus. It's dangerous and it can pose serious threat for the national security of not one or two countries.
Why I say that? Because I got very mad on the reaction of Israeli politicians, which when asked if they created the virus smiled happily. What's funny about that, gentlemen? What's funny about unleashing a virus that can infect all kinds of installations causing troubles to millions if not billions of people? And if you did create it, why did you consider world's safety to be less important than your vendetta.
I don't care about the reasons of the hostility between Iran and Israel. Not in the case, at least. What I care, however, is people's lives. And I don't like it how some people turn out to be more important than other people. How some people think it's pretty cool to use such cybernukes when they cannot control that virus and they cannot guarantee that this virus won't get into the hands, won't get modified and won't lead to new terrorist threat. True, terrorists threats are good way to profit when you're on the top of the pyramid, but they are also very bad news when you're on the bottom of the same pyramid.
And I get badly pissed when I see people who don't give a damn about human lives and consider them as casualties. There is no such thing. You can be responsible only for the lives of people who chose to make you responsible for them. Everybody else isn't a casualty, but a murder. So no reason to smile, no reason to feel proud, the only thing you should feel is ashamed that you created something like this and then let it loose around the globe.
And I sincerely hope that all the random secret services will find a compromise and make a deal for our safety. Because that worm can do a lot of damage. And nobody wants that. Right?
- Worm Was Perfect for Sabotaging Centrifuges
- Stuxnet virus could target many industries
Worm Was Perfect for Sabotaging CentrifugesBy WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER
November 18, 2010
Experts dissecting the computer worm suspected of being aimed at Iran’s nuclear program have determined that it was precisely calibrated in a way that could send nuclear centrifuges wildly out of control.
Their conclusion, while not definitive, begins to clear some of the fog around the Stuxnet worm, a malicious program detected earlier this year on computers, primarily in Iran but also India, Indonesia and other countries.
The paternity of the worm is still in dispute, but in recent weeks officials from Israel have broken into wide smiles when asked whether Israel was behind the attack, or knew who was. American officials have suggested it originated abroad.
The new forensic work narrows the range of targets and deciphers the worm’s plan of attack. Computer analysts say Stuxnet does its damage by making quick changes in the rotational speed of motors, shifting them rapidly up and down.
Changing the speed “sabotages the normal operation of the industrial control process,” Eric Chien, a researcher at the computer security company Symantec, wrote in a blog post.
Those fluctuations, nuclear analysts said in response to the report, are a recipe for disaster among the thousands of centrifuges spinning in Iran to enrich uranium, which can fuel reactors or bombs. Rapid changes can cause them to blow apart. Reports issued by international inspectors reveal that Iran has experienced many problems keeping its centrifuges running, with hundreds removed from active service since summer 2009.
Intelligence officials have said they believe that a series of covert programs are responsible for at least some of that decline. So when Iran reported earlier this year that it was battling the Stuxnet worm, many experts immediately suspected that it was a state-sponsored cyberattack. Until last week, analysts had said only that Stuxnet was designed to infect certain kinds of Siemens equipment used in a wide variety of industrial sites around the world.
But a study released Friday by Mr. Chien, Nicolas Falliere and Liam O. Murchu at Symantec, concluded that the program’s real target was to take over frequency converters, a type of power supply that changes its output frequency to control the speed of a motor.
The latest evidence does not prove Iran was the target, and there have been no confirmed reports of industrial damage linked to Stuxnet. Converters are used to control a number of different machines, including lathes, saws and turbines, and they can be found in gas pipelines and chemical plants. But converters are also essential for nuclear centrifuges.Meanwhile, the search for other clues in the Stuxnet program continues — and so do the theories about its origins.
Ralph Langner, a German expert in industrial control systems who has examined the program and who was the first to suggest that the Stuxnet worm may have been aimed at Iran, noted in late September that a file inside the code was named “Myrtus.” That could be read as an allusion to Esther, and he and others speculated it was a reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament tale in which the Jews pre-empt a Persian plot to destroy them.
Stuxnet virus could target many industriesNovember 17, 2010 By LOLITA C. BALDOR , Associated Press
The complex code is not only able to infiltrate and take over systems that control manufacturing and other critical operations, but it has even more sophisticated abilities to silently steal sensitive intellectual property data, experts said.
Dean Turner, director of the Global Intelligence Network at Symantec Corp., told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the "real-world implications of Stuxnet are beyond any threat we have seen in the past."
Analysts and government officials told the senators they remain unable to determine who launched the attack. But the design and performance of the code, and that the bulk of the attacks were in Iran, have fueled speculation that it targeted Iranian nuclear facilities.
Turner said there were 44,000 unique Stuxnet computer infections worldwide through last week, and 1,600 in the United States. Sixty percent of the infections were in Iran, including several employees' laptops at the Bushehr nuclear plant.
Iran has said it believes Stuxnet is part of a Western plot to sabotage its nuclear program, but experts see few signs of major damage at Iranian facilities.
A senior government official warned Wednesday that attackers can use information made public about the Stuxnet worm to develop variations targeting other industries, affecting the production of everything from chemicals to baby formula.
"This code can automatically enter a system, steal the formula for the product you are manufacturing, alter the ingredients being mixed in your product and indicate to the operator and your antivirus software that everything is functioning as expected," said Sean McGurk, acting director of Homeland Security's national cybersecurity operations center.
Stuxnet specifically targets businesses that use Windows operating software and a control system designed by Siemens AG. That combination, said McGurk, is used in many critical sectors, from automobile assembly to mixing products such as chemicals.
Turner added that the code's highly sophisticated structure and techniques also could mean that it is a one-in-a-decade occurrence. The virus is so complex and costly to develop "that a select few attackers would be capable of producing a similar threat," he said.
Experts said governments and industries can do much more to protect critical systems.
Today I had very exciting dream. In it, I was observing moving lights in the night sky, but ordered in very beautiful way. Then the lights separated and came to us. They made contact with us and even messed with the electricity of some buildings as if to test if they can do it.
Maybe my dream seems little bit random, but I had a very strong feeling after it, that's why I decided to dedicate this post to recent sightings of UFO. I started recording those news a week ago, so I decided to conclude them with my dream.
If you wonder why this is important, I don't know. I never believed completely to the reported sightings. I mean, if you're advanced civilization spying Earth, wouldn't you use stealth flying devices with their lights off? If you want only to observe, you'll avoid contact with humans and that's not so hard after all - we tend to ignore 90% of our surroundings. And if you do want to make contact, you'll do it directly. So I always doubted sightings (though I have no doubts to the existence or the presence of aliens, of course).
But then unidentified flying object is precisely that - unidentified. They could be extraterrestrial or very terrestrial. In which case, the correct question is what they are and why they are being hidden from the general public. I don't imply any conspiracy, but it's either the one or the other. Whichever it is, I think we all should know.
And actually, I'm looking forward to our first official contact with aliens. It's like a ray of hope that something could change in positive direction, after all the misery we're witnessing - for example the fiasco with WikiLeak's founder. And the complete mockery to freedom of speech or of freedom of media or even international law which it represents. As you could sense I'm kind of depressed, mostly because of the complete lack of good news these days. And since my dream brought me some joy, I share it with you.
So here's what I found:
Did you see that UFO over Maryland (14.12.2010) - pretty cool video, though it looked more like a plane without some lights. But it's quite interesting one.
Great balls of fire over Canada: NASA investigates
ONTREAL — Great balls of fire have been reported swooping over Eastern Canada and several U.S. states.
Even NASA's on the case.
There are different theories about what was behind the sighting of those fireballs. A NASA spacecraft got a closer look at one of the possible sources today.
The spacecraft flew past Hartley 2 -- taking closeup pictures after the comet made one of its closest passes by Earth this week.
But one expert is skeptical of reports that any fireballs came from Hartley -- which is roughly 1.2 kilometres wide and spews deadly cyanide gas.
Scientist Peter Brown says his meteor group at the University of Western Ontario tracked one of two fireballs while the other was tracked by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. source
Missile Mystery and More: Strange Sky SightingsAs The Military Investigates a Possible Missile Launch, a Look Back at Recent Mysteries in the SkyBy Gina Pace
(CBS) A possible missile launch off the coast of Southern California Monday is the latest in a string of incidents this year where people looked up and, well, had absolutely no idea what they were looking at.
As NORAD confirms that a video shot by CBS affiliate KCBS showing an object shooting over the sky and leaving a large contrail is "no threat to our nation," let's take a look back at events of the last year that left those gazing upwards scratching their heads:
On the afternoon of Oct. 13, silvery objects floating over the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan prompted a flood of calls to police and the FAA.
Experts later determined that the floating objects were most likely party balloons that escaped from an engagement party in Westchester County, north of the city.
Secret Robot Space Plane
In April, the United States Air Force's X-37B robotic space plane blasted off from Florida - but the mission remained a mystery.
The unmanned vehicle is expected to take months testing new spacecraft technologies.
The classified nature of the Air Force project caused some to speculate that it could signal the start of military operations in space, and that the plane could be used to transport weapons to shoot down enemy satellites.
UFOs Deactivated Nukes?
The sightings may have occurred years ago, but they got new life in September. In an unusual Washington press conference, UFO researcher Robert Hastings of Albuquerque, N.M., said more than 120 former service members had told him they'd seen unidentified flying objects near nuclear weapon storage and testing grounds.
At the National Press Club briefing, former Air Force personnel talked about the existence of UFOs and their ability to neutralize American and Russian nuclear missiles.
The U.S. Air Force ended its 22-year-long "Project Blue Book" investigation of UFO sightings after investigating 12,618 sightings; all but 701 were explained, and the reminder categorized as "unidentified" due to sketchy reports, a Pentagon spokesman said in 1997.
Sky Spiral in Norway
A failed Russian missile launch in December caused a spiral of white light visible in Norway that many citizens mistook for a UFO.
"It consisted initially of a green beam of light similar in color to the aurora with a mysterious rotating spiral at one end. This spiral then got bigger and bigger until it turned into a huge halo in the sky with the green beam extending down to Earth," Nick Banbury of Harstad told Spaceweather.com. . source
WikiLeaks documents are the top news of the week. Everyone is talking about an international diplomatic scandal. Some people even think that the owner of the site Julian Assange should be assassinated (?!?) because of the release.
I personally didn't find anything that scandalous about the documents released by WikiLeaks. True, there are some rather personal (and quite inadequate) descriptions of world leaders, but for me they are more a pathetic effort of ambassadors to make themselves useful, than anything else. After all, it's normal for every country to gather info on other countries be they friends or foes. This is not conspiracy, it's actually common sense. We all do that by following news that we're interested in and forming opinions based on what we hear. So far, I didn't find anything different than this in the WikiLeaks documents. Sure, the bad breath or narcissism statements are rather ridiculous. After all, who cares about world leaders love affairs or personal weaknesses? Even if they can be used to manipulate a leader, current world is a lot more complex than that. So I find this part of the information for useless even if somewhat intriguing. But I doubt anyone with realistic view on politics will be surprised by anything read in those documents. Or that they could be used against US security in any way.
What I find more worrying, however, is US reaction to that release in general and to the founder of the site in particular. They want him arrested on whatever charges? How about that? If you can't guard your own sensitive information, on what ground do you require the publisher to get in jail? After the first release, the founder were supposed to be arrested for rape. Then, it turned out that there aren't enough evidences for rape. Then suddenly, there were. Now, he is in UK (US ally) and still not arrested.
My first question is why should he be arrested? Did he steal the information? No. I don't think there are any doubts that he merely publishes the information. Why should he be held in charge for publishing this information if he didn't steal it? What BIG state secrets did he expose? And if he committed crime publishing secret documents, which I believe shouldn't be a crime at all, but if he did, then why he's not sued for that crime, but for "rape"?! Is this strange only to me? Isn't it humiliating for USA as a world power to sue people not for their actual crimes, but for something else?
I'm disgusted by people wanting Julian Assange to be assassinated. Why? On what grounds? Whose fault is not being able to keep secret documents secrets - of those who get billions and trillions to keep that secrecy and fail to, or of people who just used the situation? I'm equally disgusted by the easy with which people condemn someone to death, because of some virtual national security. As I see it, national security should revolve around physical security of US citizens. Not around keeping the good name of the nation!
Anyway, I think the whole situation leads to another bunch of questions.
We live in new time and new age. As always information is money, but now, there is another world power - people. And the whole issue with the so called national security is not that Iran will know what USA thinks of their nuclear program - they already do know! The real problem is that people will know it. The problem is that US government will be held accountable by US people for what they do. For all the money they spend on different projects that nobody knows and can find out. For all the money that are misspent on those projects.
The actual problem are the people. Because we live in globalized world, people can easily connect and even more easily revolt as recent events in Iran showed. If one person knows - you can keep him/her quite one way or another. If everybody knows, things get more complicated. And precisely this US authorities are trying to fight.
As you can read from the news that follow, this problem is very very serious in the eyes of the authorities. I'm not going to comment now on the desire to wiretap every Internet application. Of course, it's hard to imagine how USA will have jurisdiction over a product created in another country, that is downloaded and used in USA(but not sold) and how would USA punish a producer who denies to make that changes. But the biggest question is, why? Why is so important to hear, see and record every word. Will that prevent crime? No. Will it limit terrorism? Not at all. Then why? What are they so afraid of? Why freedom is so scary for them?
Anyway, what I got me the most worried in the news in this post is the fact that the US military looks for a way to chemically "degrade enemy performance and artificially overwhelm enemy cognitive capabilities". Shouldn't there be some international convention against this? If they can do that to the enemies, what will stop them to use it against their own citizens? Or other citizens. After all, once they can do it, they will do it when they decide they need it. What's the point in living in a free society if you're not free to be yourself?
I think mankind is going in a very wrong direction. The truth is that the more you limit individuals, the less progress you'll see. And without progress, there is only degradation. And the sooner we understand that, the better. I want the Earth to progress. How about you?
Essentially, the Air Force seeks technologies that can read airmen’s minds and then manipulate them: “to anticipate, find, fix, track, identify, and characterize human intent and physiological status anywhere and at anytime.”
The announcement also seeks applied biotechnology that could, for instance, develop special protein biomarkers that indicate an airman’s mission readiness, and gene expression methods that could improve that readiness. They even want technologies that can modulate an airman’s emotional state — it can include mind-altering drugs or biochemical pathway techniques. This works on the flip side, too: “Conversely, the chemical pathway area could include methods to degrade enemy performance and artificially overwhelm enemy cognitive capabilities,” the announcement says. source
U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet - "
Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.
Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.
The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally."
I don't get it exactly how US government would have jurisdiction over a software created somewhere else in the world but obviously they don't have a problem with this. Very very curious and scary.
F.B.I. Seeks Wider Wiretap Law for Web
Published: November 16, 2010WASHINGTON — Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, traveled to Silicon Valley on Tuesday to meet with top executives of several technology firms about a proposal to make it easier to wiretap Internet users.
Mr. Mueller and the F.B.I.’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, were scheduled to meet with senior managers of several major companies, including Google and Facebook, according to several people familiar with the discussions. How Mr. Mueller’s proposal was received was not clear. source
WikiLeaks' 'insurance' file aimed at ensuring work goes on
Assange has warned that efforts to curtail his activities could trigger a deluge of national and commercial secrets.
"If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically," he said in a live chat with readers of the Guardian newspaper this week.
One reader asked if he was tempted to release the password for the encrypted file, but he did not respond to the question.
The Sunday Times said the U.S. Defense Department was unsure what was in the file, and computer experts said it was unlikely that the U.S. could defeat its encryption.
Assange is known to possess documents on a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan that killed civilians and Bank of America documents. It is not clear how WikiLeaks obtained the diplomatic documents, but the U.S. government's prime suspect is an Army private, Bradley Manning, who is in custody on charges of leaking other classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Assange's website has been DDoS attack on WikiLeaks gathers strength and was forced to switch hosts after Amazon.com said WikiLeaks had violated terms of service. The site that provided WikiLeaks a domain name cut off service, saying it was being hit by sabotage attacks.
Some of the contingency plans were revealed Friday when WikiLeaks emerged with a Swiss address, WikiLeaks.ch, provided by the Swiss Pirate Party, which champions Internet freedom.
But on Sunday, the Swiss group that now supports the site said the website's main server in France had gone offline.
Denis Simonet of the Swiss Pirate Party said his group is currently redirecting the domain wikileaks.ch to another server based in Sweden.
He was unable to immediately say why the French server stopped working. And WikiLeaks lost a major source of revenue when the online payment service PayPal cut off its account used to collect donations, saying the website was engaged in illegal activity. source
Health is all we have and it's supposed to be a priority. Right? Wrong! I gathered quite a long list of articles dedicated to the lie of public health care. I called it a health joke, but it's not a joke, it's more likely a conspiracy. I won't comment each article separately, they are way too much. I would like only to point to the obvious weakness in our attitude in life.
When we suspect something is bad for our health, we don't stop using it, when we know something is good for our health, we pretend we don't know. How stupid is this?! What am I referring to? First, we know how good diagnostic tools are CT scans and MRI. How often do we use them? Very rarely. Why?! I mean these are among the most beneficial for human life pieced of technology we came up with. And yet, they are drastically under-used, because of the cost. Well, what's the point of being technologically developed civilization, if because of the cost you don't use what you know?! How sick this idea of economy is? Human life is suppose to be above all. But of course, it is not. For a long while I repeat that society defines economy and not the other way around. But nobody listens or cares to listen. And people die in vain. Why? Because.
It's funny how we ignore the problem with the cost of health care until we or somebody around us gets sick. And then we suddenly realise just how unfair life is. But it doesn't have to be that way. The absolute cost of the treatment rarely equals the price we pay for it. Usually the price covers research, salaries, resources and genuine profit. Why did personal computers become cheap? Because they are common. True, the production cost is also low, but that also comes from the fact they are common. When scans and MRI become common, their cost will fall. But for that, we need political will. Do we have it? No.
From the other side - when we know something is bad for our health, do we remove it from our lives? Of course not. We still use the nasty plastic bottles, we're still bombarded with tons of chemicals causing all kind of health effects. And authorities still deny to involve with the process of regulating those chemicals. Is it simple to regulate them? No. We're talking about a great number of chemicals, each of which should be risk-assessed separately and in combination with other chemicals. This is absurdly hard and probably it would take forever to say something is "safe". But should it be done? Yes. Most definitely yes. It's impossible to regulate each and every substance we get in contact with. But the most common chemicals and combinations, or those that are suspected to be dangerous should be regulated. This effort should be done.
One would think that the authorities should be interested in public health, since it pays for public health care. Even when the health care is not public, the authorities still pay for various social programs aimed at people who are not healthy. In the least - the sick person is not a good worker. If a lot of people are sick, production will suffer. Economy will suffer. So authorities are supposed to care for public health. They are supposed to, but they don't. If they did, they will act adequately to regulate possible dangers. Instead, they regulate only pharmaceutical finances. How is that for a health care?
Ultimately - it's up to us to require better regulation. If you want something to happen, find similarly minded people and ask your government to provide for your needs. After all, the logic that if something is dangerous, the market will regulate it is kind of stupid. If people die or get sick from a combination of products, they will never know who to sue. Who is then regulating the dangerous substances? Who is regulating aggressive pharmaceutical companies who medicate little kids, when all they need is counseling? Who regulates medical costs when it comes to treatments? Ultimately - what's the point in paying for any kind of health care, if all that "health care" do is suck your money? None!
I think it's time we all wake up and understand that the power is in our hands. And the time to act is NOW.
- Child’s Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young
- In Feast of Data on BPA Plastic, No Final Answer
- Vitamin D found to influence over 200 genes, highlighting links to disease
- Prone to Error: Earliest Steps to Find Cancer
- Push to Market Pill Stirs Debate on Sexual Desire
- Diabetes Drug Maker Hid Test Data on Risks, Files Indicate
- CT Scans Cut Lung Cancer Deaths, Study Finds
- Elevated nitrogen and phosphorus still widespread in much of the nation's streams and groundwater
Child’s Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young
By DUFF WILSON
Published: September 1, 2010
OPELOUSAS, La. — At 18 months, Kyle Warren started taking a daily antipsychotic drug on the orders of a pediatrician trying to quell the boy’s severe temper tantrums.
Thus began a troubled toddler’s journey from one doctor to another, from one diagnosis to another, involving even more drugs. Autism, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, insomnia, oppositional defiant disorder. The boy’s daily pill regimen multiplied: the antipsychotic Risperdal, the antidepressant Prozac, two sleeping medicines and one for attention-deficit disorder. All by the time he was 3.
He was sedated, drooling and overweight from the side effects of the antipsychotic medicine.
Today, 6-year-old Kyle is in his fourth week of first grade, scoring high marks on his first tests. He is rambunctious and much thinner. Weaned off the drugs through a program affiliated with Tulane University that is aimed at helping low-income families whose children have mental health problems, Kyle now laughs easily and teases his family.
More than 500,000 children and adolescents in America are now taking antipsychotic drugs, according to a September 2009 report by the Food and Drug Administration. Their use is growing not only among older teenagers, when schizophrenia is believed to emerge, but also among tens of thousands of preschoolers. Even the most reluctant prescribers encounter a marketing juggernaut that has made antipsychotics the nation’s top-selling class of drugs by revenue, $14.6 billion last year, with prominent promotions aimed at treating children.
But it is cheaper to medicate children than to pay for family counseling, a fact highlighted by a Rutgers University study last year that found children from low-income families, like Kyle, were four times as likely as the privately insured to receive antipsychotic medicines.
Texas Medicaid data obtained by The New York Times showed a record $96 million was spent last year on antipsychotic drugs for teenagers and children — including three unidentified infants who were given the drugs before their first birthdays.
In addition, foster care children seem to be medicated more often, prompting a Senate panel in June to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate such practices.
Kyle was rescued from his medicated state through a therapy program called Early Childhood Supports and Services, established in Louisiana through a confluence of like-minded child psychiatrists at Tulane, Louisiana State University and the state. It surrounds troubled children and their parents with social and mental health support services. source
In Feast of Data on BPA Plastic, No Final Answer
By DENISE GRADY
September 6, 2010
The research has been going on for more than 10 years. Studies number in the hundreds. Millions of dollars have been spent. But government health officials still cannot decide whether the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, a component of some plastics, is safe. The substance lines most food and drink cans, and is used to make hard, clear plastic bottles, containers and countless other products. Nearly everyone is exposed to it.Concerns about BPA stem from studies in lab animals and cell cultures showing it can mimic the hormone estrogen. It is considered an “endocrine disruptor,” a term applied to chemicals that can act like hormones. But whether it does any harm in people is unclear.
Where science has left a void, politics and marketing have rushed in. A fierce debate has resulted, with one side dismissing the whole idea of endocrine disruptors as junk science and the other regarding BPA as part of a chemical stew that threatens public health.
About half a dozen states have banned BPA in children’s products, and Senator Dianne Feinstein hopes to accomplish the same nationwide, with an amendment to the food safety bill scheduled for a vote in the Senate next week.
This year, a presidential panel on cancer and the environment said there was a “growing link” between BPA and several diseases, including cancer, and recommended ways to avoid BPA, like storing water in bottles free of it and not microwaving food in plastic containers. Some cancer experts said the report overstated the case against chemicals, but the concerns it raised seemed to reflect growing public worries.
In May, a White House task force on childhood obesity issued a report suggesting that BPA and certain other chemicals might be acting as “obesogens” in children — promoters of obesity — by increasing fat cells in the body and altering metabolism and feelings of hunger and fullness. Perhaps not surprisingly, the issue of whether BPA is safe has become highly partisan.
Environmental groups and many Democrats want BPA banned, blaming it for an array of ills that includes cancer, obesity, infertility and behavior problems. Environmentalists think the United States should adopt the “precautionary principle,” a better-safe-than-sorry approach favored in the European Union. The principle says, in essence, that if there are plausible health concerns about a chemical, even if they are not proved, people should not be exposed to it until studies show it is safe. The United States takes the opposite approach: chemicals are not banned unless there is proof of harm.
Many Republicans, anti-regulation activists and the food-packaging and chemical industries insist that BPA is harmless and all but indispensable to keeping canned food safe by sealing the cans and preventing corrosion, and to producing many other products at reasonable prices.
Linda S. Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (part of the National Institutes of Health), said that a new round of government-financed studies with uniform methods, now under way with animal subjects, should help to resolve unanswered questions. In the meantime, Mrs. Feinstein’s ambitious plan to ban BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups, baby food and formula was blocked by partisan battling. She had hoped that the ban would be included in the food safety bill, not merely in an amendment to be considered separately.
The F.D.A. says that infants are “a potentially sensitive population for BPA” because their brains and endocrine systems are still developing, and their livers are less efficient than adults’ at detoxifying and eliminating foreign substances. The drug agency has taken a seemingly paradoxical position, on the one hand saying there is no evidence of harm in humans, and on the other supporting industry actions to get BPA out of baby bottles and feeding cups, and to find alternative liners for food and formula cans. Bottle-makers have found substitutes, but can producers say there is nothing like BPA. Only a few companies are offering BPA-free cans.
Vitamin D found to influence over 200 genes, highlighting links to diseaseAugust 23, 2010
The extent to which vitamin D deficiency may increase susceptibility to a wide range of diseases is dramatically highlighted in research published today. Scientists have mapped the points at which vitamin D interacts with our DNA - and identified over two hundred genes that it directly influences. The results are published today in the journal Genome Research.
It is estimated that one billion people worldwide do not have sufficient vitamin D. This deficiency is thought to be largely due to insufficient exposure to the sun and in some cases to poor diet. As well as being a well-known risk factor for rickets, there is a growing body of evidence that vitamin D deficiency also increases an individual's susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers and even dementia.
Now, in a study whose funders include the Medical Research Council (MRC), the MS Society, the Wellcome Trust and the MS Society of Canada, researchers at the University of Oxford have shown the extent to which vitamin D interacts with our DNA. They used new DNA sequencing technology to create a map of vitamin D receptor binding across the genome. The vitamin D receptor is a protein activated by vitamin D, which attaches itself to DNA and thus influences what proteins are made from our genetic code.
The researchers found 2,776 binding sites for the vitamin D receptor along the length of the genome. These were unusually concentrated near a number of genes associated with susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as MS, Crohn's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (or 'lupus') and rheumatoid arthritis, and to cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and colorectal cancer.
They also showed that vitamin D had a significant effect on the activity of 229 genes including IRF8, previously associated with MS, and PTPN2, associated with Crohn's disease and type 1 diabetes.
The first author of the paper, Dr Sreeram Ramagopalan from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, adds: "There is now evidence supporting a role for vitamin D in susceptibility to a host of diseases. Vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and the early years could have a beneficial effect on a child's health in later life. Some countries such as France have instituted this as a routine public health measure."
The main source of vitamin D in the body comes from exposing the skin to sunlight, although a diet of oily fish can provide some of the vitamin. Research has previously suggested that lighter skin colour and hair colour evolved in populations moving to parts of the globe with less sun to optimise production of vitamin D in the body. A lack of vitamin D can affect bone development, leading to rickets; in pregnant mothers, poor bone health can be fatal to both mother and child at birth, hence there are selective pressures in favour of people who are able to produce adequate vitamin D.
This new study supports this hypothesis, having found a significant number of vitamin D receptor binding sites in regions of the genome with genetic changes more commonly found in people of European and Asian descent. source
Prone to Error: Earliest Steps to Find Cancer -
As it turns out, diagnosing the earliest stage of breast cancer can be surprisingly difficult, prone to both outright error and case-by-case disagreement over whether a cluster of cells is benign or malignant, according to an examination of breast cancer cases by The New York Times.
Advances in mammography and other imaging technology over the past 30 years have meant that pathologists must render opinions on ever smaller breast lesions, some the size of a few grains of salt. Discerning the difference between some benign lesions and early stage breast cancer is a particularly challenging area of pathology, according to medical records and interviews with doctors and patients.
“There are studies that show that diagnosing these borderline breast lesions occasionally comes down to the flip of a coin.”
There is an increasing recognition of the problems, and the federal government is now financing a nationwide study of variations in breast pathology, based on concerns that 17 percent of D.C.I.S. cases identified by a commonly used needle biopsy may be misdiagnosed. Despite this, there are no mandated diagnostic standards or requirements that pathologists performing the work have any specialized expertise, meaning that the chances of getting an accurate diagnosis vary from hospital to hospital.
Push to Market Pill Stirs Debate on Sexual Desire
By DUFF WILSON Published: June 16, 2010Now, a German drug giant says it has stumbled upon such a pill and is trying to persuade the Food and Drug Administration that its drug can help restore a depressed female sex drive. The effort has set off a debate over what constitutes a normal range of sexual desire among women, with critics saying the company is trying to turn a low libido into a medical pathology.
On Wednesday, an F.D.A. staff report recommended against approving the drug, saying the maker, Boehringer Ingelheim, had not made its case and that the benefits of the daily pill did not outweigh its side effects, which included dizziness, nausea and fatigue.
That staff report came ahead of a meeting Friday by an F.D.A. advisory panel of experts who are to vote on whether to recommend that the agency approve the pill, which would be the first drug aimed specifically at a low sex drive in premenopausal women.
F.D.A. staff reports carry weight but do not always sway how advisory panels vote, and advisory votes do not always predict what the F.D.A. might finally decide.
Some analysts forecast that if the drug does reach the market, it could have annual sales in this country of $2 billion — or about equal to the current combined annual American sales of the men’s drugs Viagra, Levitra and Cialis.
There is no dispute that some women have a depressed level of sexual desire that causes them anguish. Boehringer cites a condition — hypoactive sexual desire disorder — that is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a reference book for psychiatrists and insurers. But many experts say that unlike sexual dysfunction in men — which has an obvious physical component — sexual problems in women are much harder to diagnose. And among doctors and researchers, there is serious medical debate over whether female sexual problems are treatable with drugs. Some doctors advocate psychotherapy or counseling, while others have prescribed hormonal drugs approved for other uses.
Boehringer developed the drug, flibanserin, as an antidepressant, but it failed to lift depression. The company says it learned serendipitously that the pill, taken daily for weeks, could restore female libido. source
Expert panel: Carcinogenic chemicals in environment threaten AmericansMay 7, 2010 by Lin Edwards
PhysOrg.com) -- An expert panel in the U.S. has warned President Obama Americans face "grievous harm" from a bombardment of largely unregulated and often carcinogenic chemicals in their food, air and water, both at work and in the home, and has urged the president to adopt a new national strategy to focus on the threat.
The panel’s report, released on May 6, said there was a “growing body of evidence” that linked exposure to chemicals, radiation and pollutants in the environment to cancer, with children being especially at risk because they are smaller and still growing. It pointed out U.S. Federal laws in the area are weak, with regulation split between too many agencies, and that research funding and enforcement in the country are inadequate.
The 200-page report said rates of some cancers in children were rising inexplicably, and recent research had found umbilical cord blood contained industrial chemicals, which meant children were being “bombarded” with exposure to a combination of dangerous chemicals before they were born. The report also noted that the impact of chemicals on fetuses, babies and young children is not known.
Around 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer in 2009, and over half a million died from cancer the same year, making it the biggest killer of Americans after heart disease. source
Diabetes Drug Maker Hid Test Data on Risks, Files Indicate
By GARDINER HARRIS Published: July 12, 2010
But the latest documents demonstrate that the company had data hinting at Avandia’s extensive heart problems almost as soon as the drug was introduced in 1999, and sought intensively to keep those risks from becoming public. In one document, the company sought to quantify the lost sales that would result if Avandia’s cardiovascular safety risk “intensifies.” The cost: $600 million from 2002 to 2004 alone, the document stated.
CT Scans Cut Lung Cancer Deaths, Study Finds
Published: November 4, 2010
WASHINGTON — Annual CT scans of current and former heavy smokers reduced their risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent, a huge government-financed study has found. Even more surprising, the scans seem to reduce the risks of death from other causes as well, suggesting that the scans could be catching other illnesses.
The findings represent an enormous advance in cancer detection that could potentially save thousands of lives annually, although at considerable expense. Lung cancer will claim about 157,000 lives this year, more than the deaths from colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined. Most patients discover their disease too late for treatment, and 85 percent die from it.
Patients wishing to get a CT lung screen will most likely have to pay the roughly $300 charge themselves, since few insurers pay for such scans unless an illness is suspected. The federal Medicare program will soon reconsider paying for such screens, a Medicare official said.
Since 46 million people in the United States smoke and tens of millions more once smoked, a widespread screening program could cost billions annually. Any further refinement of those most at risk could reduce those costs. Low-dose CT scans expose patients to about the same radiation levels as mammograms. Little is known about how the cumulative risks of years of such scans would balance the benefits. source
Elevated nitrogen and phosphorus still widespread in much of the nation's streams and groundwaterSeptember 27, 2010
"Despite major Federal, State and local efforts and expenditures to control sources and movement of nutrients within our Nation's watersheds, national-scale progress was not evident in this assessment, which is based on thousands of measurements and hundreds of studies across the country from the 1990's and early 2000's," said Matthew C. Larsen, USGS Associate Director for Water.
USGS findings show that widespread concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus remain two to ten times greater than levels recommended by the EPA to protect aquatic life. Most often, these elevated levels were found in agricultural and urban streams. source
First, Happy Birthday To Me!
Today, I'll be 27. I'm not sure how happy I should be because of that, but after all, life is so fragile, every new year that we survive is a remarkable achievement. So there is a reason to celebrate. And I will.
What happened during that year for me? Actually a lot. True, I spent most of the time recovering from my head trauma and working on my research, but in more personal plan, it was a lot. I had to re-discover my self. I found out what I really really love doing and I made sure to find more time to do it. It was of course about writing and I'm quite happy with everything I did and wrote. One day, hopefully, I'll present my projects here. But they are far from finished and so am I. With all that blog-madness I forgot so much about me.
I was kind of depressed at some point, because time passes so quickly. In a blink of an eye you get 40 and 50 and 60 and then, then what? How do you wake up when you're 60 and what's the perspective for you then? I still feel the same way when I was 17 (or 11 or 5) and still, time passes. I'm 27. And I start feeling the frame people try to put me in and that's kind of heavy for me. People and society expect so much to happen during someone's life, they make you feel how you age and how you change. I felt so old! And I'm not old! I'm young.
Seriously, do you realise how short human life actually is? Mere 65-75 years. That's so little. I think that it's not biological clock that makes us feel we age, it's the realisation that half of our lives might just have passed. And we're still nowhere near the person we want to be. And then you suddenly feel the need to rush and to do things you thought you had so many years ahead of you to do. Isn't this why the idea of "age" exists? Because after you get say 25, age is useless - your body won't change too much in the next 20 years. And what's even more - you never know how much time and life you have ahead of you. So if we have to be realistic, we should count every day we wake up as a great achievement. But that's way too depressing for everyone, so we just ignore that. And instead, we prefer to count our years and to put ourselves in certain groups and to expect everyone to respect our age and to rest assured that we'll behave just like we're supposed during that part of our lives. So sucking boring! And so limiting. I mean, what's the difference between a 60 years old and a 6 years old? Only their experience. But look into their eyes - it's the same individuality inside. The same basic desires - to play, to be loved, to be understood. Or to be naughty. We just find different ways to express those desires with time. But we're the same people!
I considered for a while to write a post on time and age, but somehow, it's not yet ready in my head. So count this like an intro. People's personality changes with every second, but our souls remain the same. They are always the same. Only the body changes and with it, some of our ways to communicate. Oobviously, if you're body is old and sick, it's hard to run around laughing even if that's the only thing you want to do. But it's only the body, inside, we're the same. It's also the personality, which often dictates how our body will age - mostly with age we feel more confident in our views and we're harder and harder to be convinced about anything, so our body stiffen and loose it's plasticity. But the personality is just a virtual psychological creature. It's basically how your brain reads your memories in every moment. You have certain preferred pathways that create YOU but they are only preferred, not absolute. In the moment you see more appropriate way to read those memories, you change. So the personality is not absolute. It's the soul that holds your most inner desires and yearnings, and it's always there, one and the same throughout the years. You're not 40, you're still 4. You're the same little boy and girl that likes to play with trucks, only now, you can actually drive them. You still love candies, only now, you have to make sure you exercise enough before eating a candy. I'm the still girl who saw computers everywhere and loved pressing the button and watching the display in my imagination for the results. I do that now almost every day. We're the same kids. Only now our brains are developed to grasp much more about life than then. But we still don't get everything. Because life is much more than work, kids and hospitals. It's more than critical friends or drunk parties. It's much much more even than our own Planet. But that's for another story.
Today, I'll just say happy birthday to me and I'll enjoy this day the best way I can. As you see blogging is one of those ways :)And as a gift for you,I'll recommend you a movie - The Time-Travelers Wife. It's enlightening in so many ways. It tells about a guy who has the talent, the gift and the curse to be able to travel in time. It's amazing story. Putting so many of our understanding under question! It's just...Well, watch it and you'll see what I'm talking about.
As I promised, this time we'll focus on even more practical sides of Internet businesses. Before getting into such endeavor, you must be absolutely honest with yourself - e-business is just like any other business. It's not a game, it's not watering your farm in Facebook, it's a normal business. As such, it requires research, business plan, capital, preparation and of course - a lot of work. Also, you must be prepared for failures, because there isn't a direct road to financial perfection even if for some people things happen easier than for others.
How to make money online - part 2: plan and toolsBefore you start, you must spend some time on thinking about what kind of thing you'll like to do. The best thing about Internet business is that there are so many ways to profit from it, you just need to pick a direction you enjoy.
As I already mentioned in Part 1, there are basically few ways to earn money online. The essence of all of them (except probably "the dirty work"), however, is very simple.
Developing an area of expertise -> Creating a Product/Service/Website -> Promotion of the Website -> Expanding of the area and development of the profits
Whatever you do, those are your step-stones. So the first thing to do when you start something like this is to create a list of your current areas of expertise or of interests that you are willing to expand and make deeper. This is important, because if you're going to spend hours a day working on your project, you'll feel happier if you have a genuine interest in whatever you do.
Also, it's good to choose only a few directions (1, 2 or maximum 3), because it's easier for you to develop your expertise and it'll be more tempting for the consumer/buyer on the other side.
After you choose your areas, or the so called niches, you should research them. Usually people think in terms of keywords and other marketer's nonsense, but my focus is on creating stuff, not just selling them. So you research them (type in Google that niche, product or whatever, then read in forums and blogs what's interesting about them, what's new and what's needed). Make yourself familiar with people's desires, because if you want to "sell", you need to address them.
Making yourself an expert is crucial and that's why it's good to choose areas that you care about and that will enrich you too. Don't spend forever reading, but still, spend few days (or more) about getting familiar with the current state of the art about this thing you chose.
The information that you gather is very important, because this will form your new product (if we call a product whatever you create product, service, website, blog, forum and so on). Think about what's lacking in this field, what could you create that people will need and appreciate. If you write a blog, you'll write about it, if you create a product, it will deal with that problem (be realistic, you don't have to deal with the biggest problem, just pick something you can contribute with). If you want to sell trough Affiliate Marketing (see part 1 for the links) search for products that address that problem and make them your products or combine them into something bigger and better.
Also, think in perspective. It's not about one product or one blog post, you want to make something that will last and develop - think of what you can do/write now (or next week), what you can do next month, what you can do in a year's time and what you'll need in order to achieve all this.
I listened a recording of seminar of Russel Brunson and I liked a lot one statement - all good marketers create a plan for months ahead and they know exactly what they'll promote next month. If you're a creator, you'll know it's hard to foresee what will happen with your work, but still you have to be able to make some sort of plan and to STICK with it. That's important! Otherwise, you'll start something, it will give you some profits eventually and then what? You have to have a plan - if you don't know where you're gong, you cannot get there (or it's very hard)!
All this forms you business plan. Picking a niche and getting an idea of a product. If you do it thoroughly, that will be probably 1/3 of the work.The creation of the product itself, once you have a crystal clear idea about it, should be VERY easy. The problems are until you get that clear idea. And to get there, you need very thorough research (as in everything in life, actually).
I won't discuss creation, because that's different for everyone. Usually people think in terms of e-books, but let's face it, people rarely buy or read e-books. Think of something different, something substantial. Something that people can touch or feel or really enjoy! Something special that only you can provide - be it information (like weekly articles on something) or software or service - whatever! I know I speak very generally, but with proper research, the product shouldn't be that hard to get. Or shouldn't be that complicated neither. A good thought is to think what people are likely to buy, but that somewhat limiting. If you create a good product, you'll find people to buy it one way or another.
After we have a plan, we move on to the tools we'll need.
Since you do business in Internet, you'll need to be computer-literate. There is no other way. Forget about it "no technical knowledge required"! The only way not to need technical knowledge is if you're ready to pay for it. And many people are not. What's even more, that knowledge is SO easy to be obtained. All you need is Google and time/patience.
I'll make a list on what you'll need, with some brief descriptions and also links for you. Some of the links are affiliate links - but they are of products I thought that might be useful. For all of them, however, there is free substitution and it's available online with simple google search. Those products are just more coherent and they are dedicated to teach you. And yes, if you buy them trough the links, I'll earn from them. Which will be very nice for me. But the point is that you NEED to get computer-literate. It's either that, or you should prepare to pay money on services!
1. You need a website - Hosting Plan (from $10/month-$60/month).
There are free options, like Blogger.com for blogs or blog-like promotions, but usually, it's better to buy yourself a hosting plan.
Hosting is a place on a web-server, just like a folder on your computer, where you'll store the files of your website. I personally prefer to buy myself some hosting plan, than to use free services, because I have complete control over what my site will show. No additional ads, pop-ups, and so on. Just you and your imagination.
The hosting plan itself you have to decide for yourself. There are cheaper options, or more expensive (for example the VPS option that offer you full control over your server and also additional IPs which is useful if you want to have 2 or 3 separate projects or just to fool with Google). For a beginner, I'll recommend GoDaddy.com. Yes, I'm not using it, but only because I paid for my hosting before I knew about it and then, I decided it will be too much of a trouble to change the Hosting servers. But this company is certainly on the market for quite long time now and people are happy with it.
After you pay for your Hosting, you'll have User/Password and a link trough which you can log to your server folders and sometimes, you also have installed blogging platform (and sometimes you don't - it depends how much you pay for it). I also noticed some cheaper options but reading the reviews told me they are not very good ones. So if you want to try different hosting company, please use Google in the form "Name of company review" to see if it's any good.
P.S. After searching a little more on hosting, I found one site that rates different hosting companies (from there you can see that ipage.com is number 1 and it looks quite promising and easy to use for people with little experience. Also this hosting plan seems quite cheap and with 1 good review...)
2. Your website needs Domain ($15-$20/ a year)
The domain is the address people will write to get to your site. So you need to think about a good name. It's best if the name includes words of the niche you'll work with. So if you want to discuss pregnant cats in your blog, it's best your domain to be "pregnantcats.com" or "pregnant-cats.com" or "cats-pregnancy.com" or whatever it's available. Also, practice shows that .com domains are better than the other, but how much better is not clear - you'll have to choose if to buy your ".com" domain with different name or to keep the name and buy another domain "- .net" for example.
Usually, you'll buy the domain when you buy your hosting plan, so the new address will point to your site.
Congratulations, now you have a site!
3. cPanel (~ a day to get familiar with it)
Usually, you log to your website trough cPanel. It's like Control Panel from where you can do various of stuff with your site. You can upload files, you can rename them, you can create a database and so on.
I can't describe all the functionality, so I'll recommend some paid products that seem to be good. If you don't have money for them, use Google. Navigation with cPanel is very easy, you just have to get used to it.
* cPanel (r) Basics Videos
* cPanel for newbies.
And for backup (though my hosting plan has its own backups, so that one you may not need it, you'll have to check)
cPanel Website Backup Software - Must Have
4. Blogging platform/or a site
Now, for those who are Internet illiterate - your site consists of files that stay on a remote server and every time someone types the URL, the address of your site, they are loaded to show your site with all of its shiny pictures, animations, articles or whatever.
Depending on what you'll need your site for you have two options:
a) Simple HTML - that will mean that you have one or ten static page that won't change dynamically - this is so 90s! People usually don't do that anymore, because blogs are essential for good traffic no matter what you actually produce.
Anyway, if you prefer such site, you'll need someone to create it for you or you to create it. Here's a link I found on Google: www.createafreewebsite.net/
to give you an idea of what's all about. I'm sure if you want to buy a website, you'll manage to do so, so I'll post some links for doing your site yourself (not ready-to-use sites, but manuals and tools). You can also find someone to create your site on the out-sourcing sites in part 1!:
* Multi Profit Websites
* Web Design Mastery - Professional Web Site Design Made Easy
* Web Design Business Startup Kit
* XSitePro 2 - Total Site Management
I must remind you - you can create a website for free using only MS Office or Open Office Writer (or Quanta for Linux) or with number of free applications! I'm posting paid links for people who want to get familiar, to watch video tutorials and step by stem explanation. I have no idea if that will speed up the process, but creating a web site is something relatively easy. You just need to spend some time learning it. That's all. I never watched any paid tutorial on I'm a decent web-designer (not a pro, but I can make my own sites).
So this is the first option.
b) Blogging systems
I must say, I prefer blogging systems - they are more dynamical and you can make much cooler stuff with them - add static pages, add cool plugins and so on. And after you set the system up (takes few hours in the worst case), you're ready to write with just few clicks.
Free web-based system is Blogger (and also a lot of others). But if you paid for hosting, then you can make your own blog, hosted on your own server. This is good, because Blogger (Google) likes to block some blogs which is very annoying in the least. But it can also be very painful (happened to me once or twice). And if your product is "sensitive" (like...say porn), Blogger is not an option. You need your own blog.
For the illiterate - setting up a blog means, uploading a folder on your web-server and then running a config file to set all the options and then you have a control panel from where you add plugins, write content and so on. It's easy, but it's not a piece of cake. And it requires your hosting to have "php" and "mysql" (in order to have the database).
Best free Blogging system is ,of course, Wordpress and next best is Drupal (but this is even more complicated to set up since it's more than a blog). On my server I use "Serendipity". It's very easy to configure it, but if you're an absolute beginner use Wordpress - there is a lot of support and add-ons and plug-ins and so on. And yeah, be ready to spend one day on this!
Now I'll paste some links with manuals and goodies on blogging:
* The Ultimate Blogging Theme - 70% Commission, $147 Product!
* WordPress User Manual Plugin
* 20 Wordpress Sales Templates
* WordPress Crash Course Videos
* The Ultimate Guide To Drupal - step by step Drupal videos
I haven't tried any of them, but they promise tutorials and I believe they provide them. Before buying anything, please research them properly. And don't forget - there is always a free option! Those links are only if you're looking for shortcuts, but they will also require time to watch them and work to train with them. There is no way that this knowledge can come into your head without work and time.
If you want to skip the "knowing" part, then my suggestion is to either start with a hosted blog like Blogger or to search for an online WorPress tutorial (or buy that crash course) and just spend a day to start it. All you have to do is to start, afterwards you just log into your control panel and write a new entry. Everything is VERY easy. Don't get fooled by the many links I post - it is easy. I post them here for the people who know nothing. To have a starting point, not to shy away from the new experience. But there's nothing complicated in this, ok?
5. Website statistics
You need to analyze the statistics of your website no matter what. Totally free is Google Analytics (you need to already have a site for this). It's pretty straight-forward how to use it - you should add a piece of code to your "home" page (index or whatever you call it) and then it will monitor the traffic for you. Blogger also has statistics.
A good paid tool is:
Intelligent Website Analysis - "Spider Any Website And Find Out The Rank Of Each Page On That Site In Mere Seconds!" - Obviously with it you can monitor not only your site but others too. But such tools there are many. And I'll mention more in my traffic section.
6. Adsense account (optional)
If you plan to monetize your blog/site trough Adsense, you'll need an account for it too. But if your site will sell your or someone else's product you don't need that at all. If you sell something, you want your visitors on your site and not off it - clicking on ads. And anyway, it's hard to earn well trough ads. You need a lot of visitors and well-targeted site and so on. I'll discuss that in the next part.
7. Paypal account:
If you don't have one already, I'm not going to even give you the address. This one is pretty clear - you need a paypal account to get paid, so this is the final tool that you really really need in order to get started.
So that's it. Or at least I could think of, when it comes to tools for Internet business. There are many more and more advanced stuff, but the idea here was to provide the absolute minimum - business plan, product, hosting, domain, design analytics and paypal. After you set those up, you're ready to play.
The only thing that's left is to write a sale's letter (if someone reads those at all) or to prepare a good product/service-oriented site or to put the ads on your site and to start promoting. But this I'll discuss in Part 3 : the traffic (jam)! I got my hands on some seminars dedicated to this, so I hope that next week, I'll be full of useful information on this. See you.
Етикети: internet business