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Canaries in the Coal Mine
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Arrow Up

Ukraine and the grand chessboard

Putin
© kevinspraggettonchess
The US State Department, via spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki, said that reports of CIA Director John Brennan telling regime changers in Kiev to "conduct tactical operations" - or an "anti-terrorist" offensive - in eastern Ukraine are "completely false".

This means Brennan did issue his marching orders. And by now the "anti-terrorist" campaign - with its nice little Dubya rhetorical touch - has degenerated into farce.

Now couple that with NATO secretary general, Danish retriever Anders Fogh Rasmussen, yapping about the strengthening of military footprint along NATO's eastern border:

"We will have more planes in the air, mores ships on the water and more readiness on the land."

Welcome to the Two Stooges doctrine of post-modern warfare.

Pay up or freeze to death

Ukraine is for all practical purposes broke. The Kremlin's consistent position for the past three months has been to encourage the European Union to find a solution to Ukraine's dire economic mess. Brussels did nothing. It was betting on regime change to the benefit of Germany's heavyweight puppet Vladimir Klitschko, aka Klitsch The Boxer.

Regime change did happen, but orchestrated by the Khaganate of Nulands - a neo-con cell of the State Department and its assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nulands. And now the presidential option is between - what else - two US puppets, choco-billionaire Petro Poroshenko and "Saint Yulia" Timoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister, ex-convict and prospective president. The EU is left to pick up the (unpayable) bill. Enter the International Monetary Fund - via a nasty, upcoming "structural adjustment" that will send Ukrainians to a hellhole even grimmer than the one they are already familiar with.

Once again, for all the hysteria propagated by the US Ministry of Truth and its franchises across the Western corporate media, the Kremlin does not need to "invade" anything. If Gazprom does not get paid all it needs to do is to shut down the Ukrainian stretch of Pipelineistan. Kiev will then have no option but to use part of the gas supply destined for some EU countries so Ukrainians won't run out of fuel to keep themselves and the country's industries alive. And the EU - whose "energy policy" overall is already a joke - will find itself with yet another self-inflicted problem.

The EU will be mired in a perennial lose-lose situation if Brussels does not talk seriously with Moscow. There's only one explanation for the refusal: hardcore Washington pressure, mounted via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Again, to counterpunch the current hysteria - the EU remains Gazprom's top client, with 61% of its overall exports. It's a complex relationship based on interdependence. The capitalization of Nord Stream, Blue Stream and the to-be-completed South Stream includes German, Dutch, French and Italian companies.

So yes, Gazprom does need the EU market. But up to a point, considering the mega-deal of Siberian gas delivery to China which most probably will be signed next month in Beijing when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits President Xi Jinping.
Airplane

Mysterious American private jet spotted in Tehran

Mystery Plane in Tehran
© Flickr
Spotted on a Tehran runway this week was a private jet with an American flag on its tail carrying an unknown passenger who seems very determined to remain anonymous. The New York Times asks, conspiracy or totally normal?

On the one hand, as the Times points out, Obama "has warned that Iran is not open for business." Due to complicated trade rules, the Commerce Department would have to grant clearance for the private jet's General Electric engine to touch Iranian ground.
Card - MC

What will you do when you can no longer buy or sell without submitting to biometric identification?

Biometric Identification?
© The Truth Wins
In some areas of the world, payment systems that require palm scanning or face scanning are already being tested. We have entered an era where biometric security is being hailed as the "solution" to the antiquated security methods of the past. We are being promised that the constant problems that hackers are causing with our credit cards, bank accounts, ATM machines and Internet passwords will all go away once we switch over to biometric identification.

And without a doubt, we have some massive security problems that need to be addressed. But do you really want a machine to read your face or your hand before you are able to buy anything, sell anything or log on to the Internet? Do you really want "the system" to be able to know where you are, what you are buying and what you are doing at virtually all times?

Biometric security systems are being promoted as "cool" and "cutting edge", but there is also potentially a very dark side to them that should not be ignored.

In this day and age, identity theft has become a giant problem. Being able to confirm that you are who you say that you are is a very big deal. To many, biometric security presents a very attractive solution to this problem. For example, the following is a brief excerpt from a recent Fox News article entitled "Biometric security can't come soon enough for some people"...
In a world where nearly every ATM now uses an operating system without any technical support, where a bug can force every user of the Internet to change the password to every account they've ever owned overnight, where cyber-attacks and identity theft grow more menacing every day, the ability to use your voice, your finger, your face or some combination of the three to log into your e-mail, your social media feed or your checking account allows you to ensure it's very difficult for someone else to pretend they're you.
Almost everyone would like to make their identities more secure. Nobody actually wants their bank accounts compromised or their Internet passwords stolen. But there is a price to be paid for adopting biometric identification. Your face or your hand will be used to continually monitor and track everything that you do and everywhere that you go.
Arrow Down

Louisville officers fired/demoted for exposing a wrongful conviction

Detective Baron Morgan
© WLKY
Detective Baron Morgan discovered an innocent woman behind bars.
Kentucky - When an esteemed police detective discovered that an innocent woman had spent years in prison for a murder she didn't commit, he notified his supervisors and tried to make the tragic error known. Instead of seeing that the new evidence came to light, police brass demoted the whistleblower and kicked out of his unit. Another veteran officer stood up for the whistleblower, earning him termination from the department after decades of service. The Louisville Metropolitan Police Department has taken nefarious steps to hide a dark secret.

Wrongfully Convicted

Detective Baron Morgan of the LMPD stumbled upon the wrongful conviction during a routine interview with a suspect in 2012. During that interview, the suspect confessed to a shooting a man and dumping his body into the Kentucky River in 1998. This posed a big problem, since the person sitting in prison for that murder was a woman named Susan Jean King.

Susan King had been arrested for the crime in 2007, after the murder case had gone unsolved for 8 years. The victim, Kyle Breedon, was King's ex-boyfriend. When prosecutors threatened her with life in prison due to circumstantial evidence, she entered an "Alford Plea" on a lesser charge. A defendant who gives this type of plea does not admit guilt of the crime, but accepts the consequences, since battling the prosecution would likely lead to worse results. As such, King accepted a 10-year sentence for manslaughter to avoid the prosecutors' threats of life in prison. But all along, they had been threatening the wrong person.

The King conviction had already been under scrutiny by the Innocence Project when they learned that King was only 97-lbs and had only one leg. It would have been physically impossible for her to have launched Kyle Breedon's body over the bridge into the river.
Alarm Clock

Each one of us is a toxic superfund site

dna-molecule
© via Shutterstock
We are all lab rats in one giant, toxic, and deadly experiment.

The Environmental Defense Fund has released a new report, titled Toxics Across America, which looks at the billions of pounds of toxic and potentially deadly chemicals that are currently in the American marketplace.

The report looks at 120 chemicals that have been identified by state, federal and international officials as hazardous to our health.

It also looks at which of those chemicals are currently distributed in the U.S, what amounts they are being produced in, where they are being manufactured, and which companies are responsible for them.

The report's key findings include that at least 81 of the chemicals studied are produced in or imported to the U.S. each year in amounts of 1 million pounds or more.

Also, 14 of the chemicals studied come in at quantities of 1 billion pounds or more per year, including known carcinogens, or cancer-causing chemicals, like formaldehyde and benzene.

And, at least 90 of the chemicals that the EDF studied are commonly found in consumer and commercial products, including 8 used in children's products.

With billions of pounds of toxic chemicals being produced and used in the United States each year, you'd think that our government would have strict regulations in place to monitor those chemicals, and to keep Americans safe from them.
Snowflake Cold

Ice Age Cometh: Record mid-April hard freeze kill Great Plains wheat

Last Tuesday, April 15, was the coldest "Tax Day" nationwide on record. Hard freezes extended as far south as northern Texas. Mid-April snows were seen throughout the Corn Belt states. Columbus, Ohio had nearly four inches of the white stuff on Tuesday, its heaviest snowfall ever for so late in the spring season. Traces of snow were reported in the Texas Panhandle, Arkansas and Tennessee. Even northern Louisiana had a few flakes. Detroit, Michigan set a seasonal snowfall record on Tuesday.

A hard freeze in the southern Great Plains on Tuesday produced temperatures between 21 and 24 degrees at Amarillo, Dalhart, Perry and Lubbock, Texas. Near Gage, Oklahoma, one rancher reported 18 degrees. Ponca City, Oklahoma dipped to a record low of 21 degrees for April 15.

In Kansas, the nation's leading wheat producing state, already plagued by winterkill this harsh winter of 2013-14 that refuses to end and parching drought, there were reports of morning lows near 15 degrees both Monday and Tuesday. It was a frigid 13 degrees at Valentine, Nebraska.

Jointing wheat was damaged by the record cold early this past week in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, especially in those areas where the mercury plunged into the teens and lower 20s for several hours. Any wheat heading out can be at risk even at readings near 30 degrees. Fortunately, there was very little wheat heading out despite recent 90 degree temperatures in the southern Great Plains.
Question

Is this a jellyfishnado? Possible jellyfish remains found after Smithfield "mini tornado"

Jelly Mystery_1
© Peter Burgess
This mysterious blob of slime is believed to be a jellyfish left in the wake of a "mini tornado", which struck Smithfield on Saturday.
Mysterious blobs of slime have been found in a park on a quiet, suburban Cairns street and even experts are baffled.

The blobs resemble jellyfish but a scientist couldn't confirm their identity from photos taken by a shocked Smithfield man.

On Saturday, Peter Burgess was sitting on his back veranda watching the rain when conditions intensified and what he described as a "mini tornado" struck.

"Suddenly it was extremely windy to the point where I was frightened and ran inside," he said.

"It was exactly what I'd experienced in Sydney (in December 2005) and what was reported after ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, which created mini tornadoes sporadically down the coast.

"There were incredibly strong winds and a noise like a jet engine."
Health

12 Million misdiagnoses occur yearly in US, study finds

Misdiagnoses
© Kurhan/Dreamstime
At least one in 20 U.S. adults, or 12 million people yearly, may be misdiagnosed when they go to see their doctors, a new study suggests.

What's more, researchers estimated that about half of these diagnosis errors could lead to serious harm, such as when doctors fail to follow up on "red flags" for cancer in patients who are ultimately diagnosed with the condition.

The findings "should provide a foundation for policymakers, health care organizations and researchers to strengthen efforts to measure and reduce diagnostic errors," the researchers wrote in their study.

Many previous studies on patient safety have focused on issues in hospitals, such as hospital-related infections and medication errors, the researchers said. Estimating the number of misdiagnoses in patients who are not admitted to the hospital has been difficult. In part, that's because these cases are challenging to detect since they can involve multiple visits to a doctor. Some studies have used malpractice claims, but these do not represent the population as a whole, the researchers said.

In the new study, the researchers used information from a sample of doctors' clinic visits (people who were not hospitalized), and reviewed hundreds of medical records to determine whether patients were misdiagnosed.
Calculator

Methane emissions from fracking vastly underestimated by EPA - study

fracking
© AFP Photo / David McNew
The Environmental Protection Agency is under fire for underestimating the amount of methane gas emitted during natural gas operations, including fracking, thanks to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The study has 13 co-authors from several academic and research institutions, and used an aircraft to identify large sources of methane and quantify emission rates in southwestern Pennsylvania in June 2012. The authors discovered that emissions rates per second were 1,000 times higher than those estimated by the EPA for the same time period.

"Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities," the EPA website states. Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent, but it is not as damaging of a greenhouse gas as methane. "Pound for pound, the comparative impact of [methane] on climate change is over 20 times greater than [carbon dioxide] over a 100-year period."
Attention

Whale found dead in Port Elizabeth harbor to be brought to Jersey City for necropsy

© Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal
A whale that was found dead in New York Harbor was transported to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility at Caven Point Marine Terminal in Jersey City where marine veterinarians performed a necropsy to find out the cause of death, on April 16, 2014.
A 30- to 35-foot whale found dead in the water in the area of Port Elizabeth will be brought to Caven Point Terminal in Jersey City tomorrow where a necropsy will be performed, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers said.

The Army Corps of Engineers was notified on Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the dead whale had been spotted, Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said today. The Corps has lashed the whale to one of its barges used to collect drifting debris in the harbor in order to keep the whale from disrupting ships' navigation, Gardner said.

Gardner said the whale will either be towed or lifted by a drift collection vessel and brought to Jersey City where it will be placed on land for the necropsy. He said he did know what type of whale it is but said officials have it narrowed down to several possible species.

The spokesman said he did not know if the whale had any visible signs of injury such as from a boat propeller and said that will be determined tomorrow. Gardner said the whale was not brought ashore today due to the rainy weather because the necropsy will be performed outdoors. Moving the whale tomorrow will be contingent on the weather as well.

Necropsy is another word for autopsy and is used with reference to animals.
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