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Mon, 27 Mar 2017
The World for People who Think

9/11


Snakes in Suits

Stonewalling: Shell concealing health and environmental hazards at stalled cleanup of worst oil spill in Nigeria's history

© AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
In this Thursday, March 24, 2011 file photo, oil flows on the creek water's surface near an illegal oil refinery in Ogoniland, outside Port Harcourt, in Nigeria's Delta region.
Royal Dutch Shell's Nigeria subsidiary "fiercely opposed" environmental testing and is concealing data showing thousands of Nigerians are exposed to health hazards from a stalled cleanup of the worst oil spills in the West African nation's history, according to a German geologist contracted by the Dutch-British multinational.

An environmental study found "astonishingly high" pollution levels with soil "literally soaked with hydrocarbons," geologist Kay Holtzmann wrote in a letter to the Bodo Mediation Initiative.

The people of Bodo in the oil-producing southern Niger Delta should get urgent medical tests, Holtzmann wrote in the letter dated Jan. 26 and seen by The Associated Press.

Shell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Beaker

3D Images provide first look at how DNA shapes itself inside cells

© University of Cambridge
For the first time, scientists have been able to model the physical structure of mammalian genomes from individual cells, giving us a unique 3D perspective on how DNA packages itself inside our cells.

Through the new technique, scientists can see how the arrangement of cell chromosomes (DNA strands) are designed to keep some cells active or inactive at any one time.

The procedure, which so far has been conducted on mice cells, could help us understand more about how animals grow, as well as how cell malfunction can lead to disease.

"Knowing where all the genes and control elements are at a given moment will help us understand the molecular mechanisms that control and maintain their expression," says one of the researchers, Ernest Laue from the University of Cambridge in the UK.

MIB

Ex-CIA chief Brennan denies being source of Flynn intelligence leaks

© Gary Cameron / Reuters
Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan
Former CIA Director John Brennan has denied he is the source of intelligence leaks about the Trump administration, and stressed the importance of a bipartisan investigation into reports of Trump's ties to Russia.

Speaking on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, Brennan was asked about House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes' claims that leaks about General Michael Flynn's phone calls could only have come from the "very highest levels of the previous administration."

Flynn resigned as Trump's national security adviser after he was exposed as having misinformed senior administration officials over the content of his phone calls with Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, in late December.

"I think it's very unhelpful to make allegations about who is responsible for these leaks," Brennan said, stressing the importance of distinguishing between leaking "classified information, which is against the law and leaks of discussions that might be taking place within the administration."

Brennan, who left the CIA in January, said classified leaks are "appalling" and need to be stopped, but the information "could be coming from any number of quarters, whether it be the intelligence community, White House, Congress, because a lot of people have access to this information."

Comment: Brennan's television tap-dance doesn't hold water. The leaks were a grave breach of government secrecy. It also exposed the fact that the CIA feels it can spy on other branches of government with impunity. The organization is out of control, just as Kennedy said.


Brain

Researchers propose 'brain-sticky' trait of LSD may be key to treating depression, schizophrenia

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Researchers investigating the way LSD interacts with our brains say they have unraveled the secret of its persistence. This may enable scientists to treat a variety of psychiatric disorders using smaller doses of regular drugs with a far longer effect.

The mystery of how the effects of LSD can last so long, even though the drug itself is no longer present in a person's bloodstream, appears to have been solved, according to a new study conducted by a joint team of researchers from The University of North Carolina, Stanford University and the University of California.

Using a process known as crystallography, the researchers were able to examine exactly how LSD molecules interact with the serotonin receptors in our brain. According to the data, LSD actually embeds far deeper than previously thought thanks to its molecular structure which becomes wedged in the receptors and cannot break free.

On top of this, the brain receptors themselves engulf the LSD molecules with a layer of protein. This is why the molecules disappear from human bloodstreams so quickly and yet continue to have hallucinogenic effects for hours afterward.

Mr. Potato

A new Ministry of Truth will protect Germany from Putin personally hacking their election




An end at last for fake news: Truth Ministry cleans up

As announced by the SPD party chair, Thomas Oppermann, the Federal Government will adopt a law against "fake news" in January in order to prevent Russia's massive influence on the Bundestag election in 2017, as expressed by the FAZ (Fakenews Allgemeine Zeitung) [F is for Frankfurt, FAZ is like NYT -tr.]

Explication is forthcoming.

Jet2

South Front: Update on war in east Aleppo - Russian military hospital bombed


Syrian government forces liberated Al-Miysar from Jaish al-Fatah militants
Two Russian medical specialists were killed and another injured as result of militant shelling of a Russian mobile military hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo on December 5. The hospital was shelled during between 12:21 and 12:30pm [local time] during the reception time. An unknown number of local residents attending medical appointments were also injured.

"It is beyond doubt that the shelling was conducted by the 'opposition' militants. Moscow understands who gave the Syrian militants the coordinates of the Russian hospital right at the moment when it started working," Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov said, adding that the defense ministry attributes the blame for the incident to "terrorists and their patrons in the US, the UK and France."

Comment: See also:


USA

President Trump Is A Wake Up Call, But Not For The Reasons You Think


Empire is only worth it for the 1%.
The fact that Donald Trump was elected President of the USA is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is the conditions that allowed for him to be elected President of the USA.

So what drove Americans to vote for either Trump or Hillary in this week's US presidential election? Ask the mainstream media, or any Hillary supporter, and they'll probably tell you it was issues like liberal values and social justice. They'll also tell you that Trump supporters were motivated primarily by racism, sexism, and hatred. In reality, Trump voters were just as concerned about social injustice. In fact, this is the issue behind most popular votes around the world these days. And ironically, Trump voters were arguably more concerned about social justice than the liberals who voted Hillary because the social justice that drove millions to vote for Trump is very different to the 'social justice' that concerned Hillary supporters.

Here we need to note the clear distinction between the working-class 'rednecks' in the USA, and some of those in a more upwardly mobile financial position. Most people who voted for Trump were the 'rednecks' and they did so because they are feeling the negative effects of 8 years of the Obama government's 'liberal' economic and foreign policies that have continued unchanged since the 'conservative' Bush years (you might wonder why that is and how it works - hint: the president isn't the 'decider', by a long shot). Those policies coincided with the 2008 'crash' and the bank 'bailouts' that saw millions of American homes repossessed and many traditional manufacturing job losses, both of which disproportionately affected the poor.

It was precisely this marginalization of the most vulnerable in society that was behind the Brexit vote in the UK earlier this year. Both the British people's vote to leave the EU and American people's vote for Trump were not primarily votes for racism or xenophobia but votes against the neoliberal status quo under which the poor saw their living standards drop further and everyone saw war and death abroad increase.

To underline the bipartisan nature of these protest votes; in the US it was the nominally 'left' government candidate that was rejected while in the UK the protest vote occurred under the nominally 'right' Conservative government. The point being; the supposed 'left'/'right' political paradigm in Western democracies no longer exists. It has been replaced by a combination of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, two fancy words that describe ideologies that together form the 'elite' project for transnational globalization and domination of the world's resources by corporations and their political friends through the 'projection' of US military power around the world.

So while the mainstream media, largely supportive of Hillary as the establishment candidate, spent the last 12 months spreading the line that Trump supporters are 'deplorables' and that Trump himself is a raging racist, sexist, xenophobe, liar, cheat, and narcissist, this was a gross lie that hid the truth that most Trump supporters were motivated by a desperate desire for better jobs, better wages, better health care (or any health care), etc. In other words, real social justice.

When Trump was offered to these marginalized and war-weary people as the only alternative to Hillary, they took the offer without much further thought. In addition, based on emerging voter poll data, it seems that it was not only the poor who rejected Hillary and all she stands for, but 54% of white male college graduates voted for Trump. Broken down by income bracket, while 52% of voters earning less than $50,000 a year voted for Clinton, and 41% for Trump, of the 64% of American voters who earn more than $50,000 a year, 49% chose Trump, and 47% Clinton. So, far from the core voter motivation in this election being one of 'anyone but Trump', it may have been closer to 'anyone but Hillary'.

USA

Wakey Wakey! Deep State USA and the US Presidential Election Farce


It's all just a bit of fun really (at your expense)
50-55% of Americans (the number that actually vote) still indulge themselves in the narrative that voting in the Presidential election gives them some influence over the direction their country takes, and provides them with the feeling of having some personal power. The other 45-50% that don't vote get the same feeling by supporting their favorite sports team or emotionally attaching themselves to the daily life choices of their preferred celebrity.

In terms of the 'bigger picture', this year's election is something of a watershed. For the first time the US population is being emotionally manipulated to not just choose between Democrat and Republican, but between two candidates that are clearly (even to the average American) reprehensible assholes. At the same time, the people are being encouraged and manipulated to find as many ways as possible to ignore the fact that the candidates are disgusting individuals, and choose one anyway.

The sane response to being offered either a shit sandwich or a shitshake is to refuse both, but apparently a decent percentage of Americans have, in essence, lost their senses.

Sherlock

Propaganda spin cycle: 'Syrian Observatory for Human Rights' is funded by US and UK governments

For 5 years, bloody mayhem has been going on in Syria, and in all that time only independent media has picked up on the really obvious flaw in the official narrative about the "Syrian civil war" ...

Officially, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is a UK-based organization providing data to the Western press about troop movements, government policy and public sentiment in Syria. The Western press then reprints the information they are given - no questions asked:
What Western media editors conceal from the public however, is that the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" is neither based in Syria nor is it an observer of what actually goes on there. It is essentially one man - Abdul Rahman, aka Rami Abdulrahman, aka Osama Suleiman - a three-term convicted criminal in Syria, based out of a small house in Coventry, England, and his 'team of four activists in Syria'.

Apparently all it takes to inform the entire Western media about everything that is happening on the ground in Syria is four people. Four people could, theoretically, provide reasonably objective reports, but only if they were open to receiving information from many sources, including ones supportive of the Syrian government. They might even be able to produce - using objective discernment - reliable statistics of casualties, refugees and terrorists/rebels. But SOHR has consistently reported the 'civil war' from only the perspective of the so-called 'rebels', discounting Syrian government reports out of hand, as well as reports from civilians that reveal rebels' crimes.

That fact alone makes SOHR about as reliable a source of information on the Syrian conflict as the US State Department and the British Foreign Office, who have a vested interest in spinning the war to produce one end: the death or removal of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

Attention

War weary U.S. soldiers deeply skeptical about America's foreign interventions

© Tim Wimborne / Reuters
A boy watches soldiers from the U.S. Army's Charlie Company during a patrol near Dokalam village in Kunar Province.
After 15 years of wars, a majority of US service members are deeply skeptical about America's foreign interventions. The US should focus on homeland defense and jobs instead of invading and "stabilizing" countries like Afghanistan or Iraq, a new poll shows.

Most active-duty members of the US military would prefer the government to refrain from overseas missions involving so-called nation-building, a number of costly and ambiguous efforts to reconstruct post-war countries, according to a poll run by the Military Times and Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF).

The survey, described by the Military Times as a first-of-its-kind study, included a question: "How do you view the US government's continued involvement in nation-building efforts, establishing democracies in the Middle East and North Africa using US military and financial support?"

About 55 percent of service members said they "strongly oppose"or "somewhat oppose" those efforts, while 23 percent responded positively to an idea of carrying out such missions. The remaining 22 percent were either unsure or of no opinion on the issue.