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Director James Cameron to Take Record-Setting Plunge

James Cameron
© Agence France-Presse/Karin Zeitvogel
James Cameron, the Oscar-winninng director of Avatar and Titanic, is visits the National Geographic headquarters in 2011.
Titanic director James Cameron could dive as early as this weekend to the deepest place on Earth, further than any other human has on a solo mission, so long as the weather cooperates.

The Canadian filmmaker left the tiny Pacific atoll of Ulithi on Saturday headed for the the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep, which plummets 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) down in the Pacific Ocean, according to mission partner the National Geographic scientific institution.

His goal is to become the first human to visit the ocean's deepest point in more than 50 years, and to bring back data and specimens.

"If seas remain calm -- a big if -- the team may proceed with Cameron's submersible mission to the trench's Challenger Deep this weekend," a National Geographic News report said.

It said the submersible that Cameron designed, a "vertical torpedo" of sorts, already successfully completed an unpiloted dive on Friday.

The sub is expected to allow the director to spend around six hours on the seafloor during which he plans to collect samples and film his journey with several 3-D, high-definition cameras and an eight-foot-tall (2.4-meter-tall) array of LED lights.

Info

Thousands of Atheists Rally in D.C.

Reason Rally
© iStockphoto

Thousands of atheists, agnostics and other non-believers turned out in the US capital on Saturday to celebrate their rejection of the idea of God and to claim a bigger place in public life.

The Reason Rally, sponsored by 20 atheist, secular and humanist groups, was billed as the biggest-ever "coming-out" party for the fastest-growing religious group in the United States -- those with no religion.

"There are too many people in this country who have been cowed into fear of coming out as atheists, secularists or agnostics," said the event's star, Richard Dawkins, the British scientist and best-selling atheist author.

"We are far more numerous than anybody realizes," he said, prompting a loud cheer from the youthful crowd that defied gray skies and drizzle for an afternoon of speeches, music and satire on the National Mall.

Jesse Galef of the Secular Student Alliance, a spokesman for the rally, told AFP he conservatively estimated the turnout at 10,000. The National Park Service, which oversees the mall, had issued a permit for 15,000.

Handcuffs

Smashed in the head by police at protest, victim now faces trial

Image
© Graeme Robertson
Alfie Meadows at his home in Brixton following emergency brain surgery in December 2010. He was one of thousands of British students demonstrating again the Tory government's massive increase of student fees for 3rd level education. Alfie learned the hard way that he doesn't really live in a democracy.
Alfie Meadows, who had brain surgery after anti-fees demonstration, claims he was struck by police truncheon

A philosophy student who claimed he suffered head injuries from a police baton during the anti-fees protest in London faces trial on Monday for violent disorder at the demonstration.

Supporters of Alfie Meadows, 21, who underwent emergency surgery for his injuries, have vowed to demonstrate outside Kingston crown court, in Surrey, against what they say is an attempt to silence legitimate protest by pursuing the victim of an assault rather than investigating any police who allegedly carried it out.

Meadows had brain surgery after the anti-fees demonstration in December 2010 when he said he was struck over the head with a police truncheon. He was one of 44 people, including six police officers, treated in hospital after rioting broke out at the demonstration over student fees.

Red Flag

French Mayor Alerts MIVILUDES to New Age COINTELPRO

Image
Thousands of New Agers descend on mountain they see as haven from December's apocalypse

A mountain looming over a French commune with a population of just 200 is being touted as a modern Noah's Ark when doomsday arrives - supposedly less than nine months from now.

A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers - or esoterics, as locals call them - have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans near by and beam them off to the next age.

As the cataclysmic date - which, according to eschatological beliefs and predicted astrological alignments, concludes a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar - nears, the goings-on around the peak have become more bizarre and ritualistic.

For decades, there has been a belief that Pic de Bugarach, which, at 1,230 metres, is the highest in the Corbières mountain range, possesses an eery power. Often called the "upside-down mountain" - geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up - it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves.

Comment: Here we can see how New Age disinformation works hand in hand with the authoritarians' crackdown on anything 'unusual'. On the one hand organisations like MIVILUDES will be crying wolf about bizarre New Age activities in the lead-up to 21 December. On the other hand COINTELPRO will be driving the New Agers to increasingly hysterical states. Combined, the two hands of the same puppet will create public demand for a government crackdown on the 'end of the world' hysteria, which originates in agents of those same governments.


Bizarro Earth

Californian Muslim Woman Beaten to Death in Hate Crime

The woman later died on March 24th 2012 due to the injuries she sustained.


Pistol

American Troops Stressed to Breaking Point

soldier
© Associated Press
Report cites sustained combat, redeployments

A recent Army health report draws an alarming profile of a fighting force more prone to inexcusable violence amid an "epidemic" of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the mental breakdown attracting speculation as a factor in a massacre of Afghan civilians this month.

Based on an exhaustive study of nearly 500,000 soldiers, reservists and veterans, the report finds that troops are more likely to commit suicide and violent sex offenses, and notes that as many as 236,000 suffered from PTSD since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For military analysts, the reason is the nightmarish experience of sustained combat: Soldiers have been fighting the longest war in U.S. history, with frequent stressful deployments and compressed rest time back home.

"The real issue here, which I've been tracking for a long time, is 10 years of combat," said military analyst Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer.

"I see these kids who have been in combat year after year after year. It is taking a real toll, not only medical, but being able to sort out their lives. What this kid caved to I think could be an epidemic. It is really long term what we are doing to a generation of volunteers."

Alarm Clock

Gaza baby dies as power cut shuts breathing aid

A nurse tends to a baby inside an incubato
© Reuters/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
A nurse tends to a baby inside an incubator in a hospital in Khan Younis in
the southern Gaza Strip March 24, 2012.

Gaza City (Ma'an) -- A seven-month-old baby in Gaza died on Friday evening after medical equipment he was connected to switched off as a result of a power cut, a Hamas-affiliated TV channel said.

Gaza medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya confirmed the incident, adding that the infant was born with respiratory problems and doctors had recommended the use of mechanical breathing apparatus to be used at home.

The father of the child had turned on the apparatus before going to sleep but during the night a power cut caused it to switch off, resulting in the infant's death, Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV reported.

The child was the "first victim of the current power crisis in Gaza," Abu Salmiya said, warning that the medical sector in the coastal enclave is in jeopardy.

Heart - Black

Kristallnacht Redux: Israeli soccer fans rampage in shopping centre and attack Arabs - but no arrests


Soccer fans chant 'Death to Arabs' in Jerusalem mall riot. Youtube.

Buoyed by a home win, Jewish fans of football club Beitar Jerusalem this week rampaged through a nearby shopping centre following an evening match, attacking Arab workers and shoppers in one of the worst racial brawls seen in the city in recent years.

The entire episode, which occurred at Jerusalem's Malha Mall on Monday night, was captured on closed-circuit television, but Israeli police made no arrests, and the incident received no media attention until yesterday, prompting fury in Israel's blogosphere.

Comment: From Wikipedia:
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9 - 10 November 1938, carried out by SA stormtroopers and civilians. German authorities looked on without intervening.[1] The attacks left the streets covered with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues.[2]

At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps.[2] Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers.[3] Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone), and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.[4][5]

Martin Gilbert writes that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world.[3] The Times wrote at the time: "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."[6]

The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jew in Paris, France. Kristallnacht was followed by further economic and political persecution of Jews, and is viewed by historians as part of Nazi Germany's broader racial policy, and the beginning of the Final Solution and the Holocaust.[7]



Stop

Bus driver sacked for eating a grape

grapes
© Reuters
Coventry, UK bus driver Michael Shephard says he has been sacked - for eating a grape.

Michael Shephard was given the boot by bosses morning after he was spotted popping a grape into his mouth on CCTV.

The grandad from Coventry was in his cab at the time but he says he was not driving.

The 66-year-old said: "I am so angry. I thought I would be given a disciplinary for eating a grape, but not sacked.''

Mr Shephard, of Ravensdale Road, Wyken, who has been driving buses for National Express for more than five years, was suspended after the incident was captured by CCTV on the bus two weeks ago.

He said: "I don't eat or drink while I am driving but I was just sat stationary at the bus terminus in Bedworth for a few minutes and took a grape to wet my mouth a bit.

Heart - Black

Murder Is Not an Anomaly in War

Image
© Mr. Fish
The war in Afghanistan - where the enemy is elusive and rarely seen, where the cultural and linguistic disconnect makes every trip outside the wire a visit to hostile territory, where it is clear that you are losing despite the vast industrial killing machine at your disposal - feeds the culture of atrocity. The fear and stress, the anger and hatred, reduce all Afghans to the enemy, and this includes women, children and the elderly. Civilians and combatants merge into one detested nameless, faceless mass. The psychological leap to murder is short. And murder happens every day in Afghanistan. It happens in drone strikes, artillery bombardments, airstrikes, missile attacks and the withering suppressing fire unleashed in villages from belt-fed machine guns.

Military attacks like these in civilian areas make discussions of human rights an absurdity. Robert Bales, a U.S. Army staff sergeant who allegedly killed 16 civilians in two Afghan villages, including nine children, is not an anomaly. To decry the butchery of this case and to defend the wars of occupation we wage is to know nothing about combat. We kill children nearly every day in Afghanistan. We do not usually kill them outside the structure of a military unit. If an American soldier had killed or wounded scores of civilians after the ignition of an improvised explosive device against his convoy, it would not have made the news. Units do not stick around to count their "collateral damage." But the Afghans know. They hate us for the murderous rampages. They hate us for our hypocrisy