Saturday, May 31, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: A new study asserts that the Milky Way is home to one hundred million planets that could support alien life. And not just simple microbial life, but complex alien life. Professor Schulze-Makuch explained on Air & Space Magazine‘s website: The BCI calculation revealed that 1 to 2 percent of known exoplanets showed a BCI rating higher than Jupiter’s moon Europa, which has a subsurface global ocean that may be hospitable to life. Based on an estimate of 10 billion stars in the Milky Way, and assuming an average of one planet per star, this yields the figure of 100 million. Some scientists believe the number could be 10 times higher. Schulze-Makuch is also careful to point out that the study does not claim that complex life definitively exists on one hundred million planets. It only points out that the necessary conditions to support that life could exist on that many planets.
Via The Local: Swedish artist Mikael Genberg's crazy idea of sending a sculpture in the shape of a house to the moon looks set to become a reality. For daring to go where no artist has gone before he's our Swede of the week. Obviously. Dubbed the Moonhouse, Genberg's latest project isn't the latest solution to Sweden's housing crisis. No, it's far more complex than that and involves rocketing a self-building house to the moon. Once there, the pad will unfold all by itself and remain on the lunar surface alongside the American flag left by Neil Armstrong back in 1969. The house will be familiar to most Swedes who have ever spent a weekend in the countryside, with a fetching shade of red for the coating and with white cornices to boot. "For me, its about doing something that shouldn't be possible to do", Genberg tells The Local. "This is the first art on the moon. That in itself is cool. I see the moon house as a kind of beacon for human thoughts". By conservative estimates the cost of sending the Moonhouse into space will be around $15 million (100 million kronor) so Genberg has taken to crowdsourcing to land the cash. With 184 days remaining he has only notched up $3.639 and is appealing for donations. He's already attracted some powerful backers though, including Sweden's sole astronaut Christer Fuglesang. The Swede got into art after a childhood fascination with comic books. Despite studying economics, he kept at his art after high-school thinking one day he might turn to designing and selling commercials. But the art world was never far from his mind and eventually he pursued it full time. "I remember when I first stepped foot into the art school - it shocked me. I didn't understand what people were talking about, they were wearing strange clothes. I was totally intrigued. By lunch time I was completely sold", he says. You wouldn't put it past Genberg landing the moon money as he certainly has previous successes when it comes to mixing accommodation with unusual settings. In 1998 he made headlines in Sweden for building a treehouse in his home town of Västerås. He initially planned to leave it open to the public to "borrow", but soon the town's drunks started asking for their turn so and Genberg decided it was time to bring back the economic studies. "I couldn't let the drunks borrow it. We couldn't have them 13 meters in the air - they'd fall like grapes to the ground. Instead, someone suggested making it into a hotel. So I did", he says. In 2000 he created an underwater hotel room which remains in operation in Gothenburg. His reputation as a creator of alternative living environments has granted him cult status in the art world. That celebrity looks set to be enhanced further with the Moonhouse. Reliable media reports have said it will take flight in October of 2015. "I'm not trying to be provocative, but if a few people are angry, just a few, then there's a friction that strengthens people's positivity. A dialogue is started", he tells The Local. "If everyone thought a house on the moon was a fantastic idea then it wouldn't be interesting at all".
Friday, May 30, 2014
Via Ekathimerini: Greece’s main opposition leader distanced his group from other protest parties that made gains in the European elections, calling the U.K. Independence Party and the National Front in France "monstrosities". Alexis Tsipras, who rocked international markets when he emerged as the political force to counter now-Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Greek elections two years ago, said on May 28 his Syriza party is "an oasis in this desert". "We are a pro-European force that wants to change Europe, not dismantle it", Tsipras, 39, said in his first interview since winning Greece’s European elections on May 25. "Austerity has led to the creation of political monstrosities". Voters across Europe deserted the parties that held power during the economic crisis as unemployment across the 28-nation bloc increased to a record last year. While UKIP leader Nigel Farage and France’s nationalist leader Marine Le Pen want to roll back European powers to protect the interests of the British and the French, Tsipras said his Syriza party is focused on transforming EU policy. Syriza, a Greek acronym for Coalition of the Radical Left, got 26.6 percent in the election, compared with 22.7 percent for Samaras’s governing New Democracy party. Tsipras, who was a member of the Greek Communist Party Youth in the 1980s and named his youngest son after Ernesto Che Guevara, said at his office in Athens Syriza would ally with Spain’s Podemos movement, which won five seats.
Via RT: Some 140 participants representing 22 countries will be attending the 62nd annual Bilderberg meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. The newly released list is a who’s who of business, academia, and the political world. As is usually the case with the renowned summit, this year’s Bilderberg – which will take place May 29 to June 1 – has attracted a cadre of influential experts, including notable attendees such as NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former director of the US National Security Agency Keith Alexander, and former US national security advisor to the White House Thomas E. Donilon. The Bilderberg meeting, often thought of as one of the most influential networks in the world, first began in 1954, has over the years attracted a considerable amount of media attention, both for its formidable attendee lists as well as the perceived aura as an opportunity for the world’s elite to mingle. In addition to the yearly attendees, the Bilderberg Steering Committee is likewise a list of powerful financiers, which includes Peter D. Sutherland, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, as well as Peter Thiel, president of Thiel Capital. Bilderberg operates under the "Chatham House Rule", which stipulates that neither the identity nor affiliation of a speaker’s quotes may be revealed by other participants, including any media in attendance. Though it may be intended to promote the free exchange of ideas among the well-heeled, such rules have fed directly into what detractors say is an unnecessary cloud of secrecy, as well as a range of conspiracy theories that liken the summit to a shadowy gathering for architects of the "New World Order". Already fueling such wild speculation ahead of this year's summit were the arrests of independent reporters Luke Rudkowski and Dan Dicks, who attempted to confront staff at the Copenhagen hotel where Bilderberg is set to take place. Video of the encounter quickly spread online. According to an official press release, this year’s summit will be focusing on a variety of topics, including the future of democracy and the "middle class trap", China’s political and economic outlook, and the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Interestingly, the agenda also includes the topic of privacy, as well as "the relationship in intelligence sharing", which suggests the meeting may be used to address last year’s onslaught of NSA leaks by former intelligence contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: A UFO appears to be hovering over an iceberg in eastern Canada in a video that was recently uploaded to the Internet. Focusing on the hovering object, the Daily Mirror points out that some believe it to be an alien spacecraft, while others believe it to be a flag. The object’s shape-shifting would make sense if it is simply a flag. But this identification would not explain the witness’s assertion that he observed the object spinning. And the witness confidently states, "I can assure that it is not a flag, that iceberg was probably 5, 6 stories tall . . . and they tend to collapse, break and roll over all the time . . . not something that people do around here".
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Via The Daily Beast: Every day dozens of people die in the eastern regions as a result of Ukraine’s crackdown operations against rebels. President-elect Poroshenko has vowed to crush the insurgency in a matter of hours, not months. On Tuesday morning rebels claimed over 100 casualties, some of them reportedly were Chechen recruits. The sun came down over the military base. National Guard recruits were marching in the plaza singing courageous songs—over 250 units of the Second Division were packing to go east after completing their training at Novi Petrivtsy. A few of the regulars looked like former criminals or heavy drinkers. Their commander, Andrei Tiron, a fit veteran of the Ukrainian unit sent to Iraq as part of the "Coalition of the Willing" in the last decade, wore a khokhol, a long lock of hair on an otherwise shaved head reminiscent of warriors past, and a defiant reference to slurs of Russians, who use khokhol as a disparaging term for Ukrainians generally. "I trained my soldiers to be a ranger-style force, the way they trained us for Iraq", said Tiron. "We are not going to fight against any nationals—to us there are no Russians or Chechens in the Donetsk region; we’ll be fighting against terrorists", he said. Soldiers of Ukraine’s National Guard have used prohibited explosive bullets while shelling the city of Rubizhne, near Luhansk, a member of the local self-defense forces told RIA Novosti Wednesday. "They have begun firing explosive bullets in residential areas. People have started hiding in basements", he said. "Apparently, the National Guard is unaware that explosive bullets are banned by international convention", he added. Pro-federalization protests have swept across Ukraine’s southeastern regions in response to the regime change in Kiev in February and ouster of the country’s legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych. In mid-April, Ukraine’s interim government launched a special operation to crack down on federalists, but failed to gain control over the self-proclaimed independent republics. Moscow described the operation as a punitive act.
Via The Swedish Wire: A day after Ukrainians elected pro-Western billionaire Petro Poroshenko, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told CNN that Russia must "accept the reality" that an "overwhelming majority of them have made their choice". "I don’t think the Russians were particularly happy about this particular election. But it has taken place and it has created, or produced, a very clear verdict".
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Via The Local: Renting an animal over the summer is becoming all the more popular in Sweden, with kids favouring rabbits while pensioners opt to foster hens. Farms which offer bunnies for rent are popping up like rabbits across Sweden. "I’ve been doing this for ten years, but in the beginning there were maybe only ten families interested", Kristina Karlsson from Gangvide Farm on Gotland told The Local. "Now there are between 40 and 70 families each year who want to try it out. Interest is huge, particularly among families in the city and those who want to test for allergies." Karlsson said it all started with a friend who asked to rent one of her rabbits - and she hopped immediately on board. "Renting is great because people can try it out before they commit. Sometimes people plan on having a rabbit for three weeks or a month, and come back after just four days. Maybe the kids have lost interest". Rental rabbits are available anywhere from one day to an entire summer, with two or three weeks being the standard. While Gangvide Farm doesn't do much marketing for their rabbits, other farms and breeders across Sweden do. Färnsa 4H Ranch in Norrtälje has listed their animals on Swedish buy-sell sites. The Blocket bunnies can be rented for 70 kronor ($10.60) a day or 900 ($136) for a month. Ninas Rabbit Shop near Kalmar even has a waiting list - baby bunny Shabby Chic Heaven won't be available until August. Rental pets are also increasing in popularity with pensioners - though generally they prefer chickens. "I think hens remind many older people of their childhood", Karlsson speculated. "There are also places on Gotland where you can’t have rabbits due to diseases, and then chickens or ducks are better". Customers can choose which chickens they would like to rent, and ducks are available as well. "It’s actually more fun to have baby chickens and ducks than rabbits", Karlsson laughed. "They’re active all day long, while rabbits just sit there and eat".
Monday, May 26, 2014
The Swedish left wing Vänsterpartiet got their first success in 15 years with 6.3 percent of the vote in the European elections. Racist and xenophobic parties went unfortunately sharply forward in the EU elections. Sweden has in total fewer seats in Strasbourg than the French National Front does, and the upswing of nationalist parties is indeed worrisome. France's Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the result was "more than a warning. It is a shock, an earthquake". Luckily for basic human rights also leftwing parties made great progress, such as SYRIZA, which now becomes the largest political party in Greece. There is strong resistance against the racism and sexism, which follow in the wake of market policy. The market policies have destroyed Europe and created mass unemployment and extreme poverty in many countries. Voter turnout was low in many countries, and even in Sweden it was below 50 percent. We should be deeply concerned about the developments where racist parties gain strength. There is a risk that other parties on national level feel they have to adopt their agenda, but that's the wrong strategy. But as the left becomes stronger we still have reason to rejoice. Conservatives and racists in the European parliament will now face strong opposition. The left within the EU is an active force, which continually defends and stands up for those who have suffered from right wing politics.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
At tomorrows EU elections Malin Björk, who represents Swedish leftwing Vänsterpartiet is a clear voice for better and more decent conditions. Labor laws and trade union rights should not be subordinated to the EU economic freedoms. The current EU policy is particularly hitting women hard. Vänsterpartiet fights against labor market discriminations and argues that everyone should be entitled to the pay and conditions that apply in the country where they work. Fair conditions must take precedence over greed. Vänsterpartiet is the political party which best defends the workers, labor laws, and trade unions. Both in Sweden and in the EU. The care for the poor and the rising inequalities are important questions that must be tackled. Vote Vänsterpartiet tomorrow for success and progress!
Friday, May 23, 2014
Via RT: Moscow has demanded an official explanation from the UK over reported comments in which Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, compared Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler in the run up to World War II. "If such comments were genuinely made, they do not reflect well on the future King of England. We are not concerned, we are outraged", said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich. "As one of the members of the UK’s Labour Party said, royals should be seen and not heard", continued the Russian official, who said that any response will depend on the explanation offered by the British side. The Russian ambassador in London met with Foreign Office representatives on Thursday afternoon, but the British side refused to comment on what it termed a "private conversation". The royal’s remarks, allegedly made to a 78-year-old Canadian during an official visit to the country, surfaced earlier this week. When Marienne Ferguson described escaping Gdansk in Poland 1939 ahead of the invasion by Nazi Germany, the prince reportedly said "And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler", referring to the recent incorporation of formerly Ukrainian Crimea into Russia. Ferguson, who revealed the conversation to the Daily Mail, said the remarks appeared "heartfelt and honest". The Royal Family’s press office did not deny the content of the chat, but insisted that "the Prince of Wales would not seek to make a public political statement during a private conversation". The comments provoked a mixed response from the UK’s political class. "If Prince Charles wants to make controversial statements on national or international issues he should abdicate and stand for election. In a constitutional monarchy, policy and diplomacy should be conducted by parliament and government. Monarchy should be seen and not heard", said a tweet from Mike Gapes, a senior Labour MP and former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, the UK parliament’s international policy body.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: "Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man". ~ Job 33:29 A 3-year-old boy in the Golan Heights region near the border of Syria and Israel said he was murdered with an axe in his previous life. He showed village elders where the murderer buried his body, and sure enough they found a man’s skeleton there. He also showed the elders where the murder weapon was found, and upon digging, they did indeed find an axe there. A village local said the man the boy claimed to be the reincarnation of had gone missing four years earlier.
Via Theo Spark: This is an easy way to combine the half frog split with a straddle using the support of both the floor and the wall to take you much deeper into your hips. The position of the body against the wall and the floor locks your hips into place and allows gravity to open the body. Don't push to hard, just relax and allow your body to open.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Via The Local: A Swedish man who crashed into and instantly killed a heavily pregnant elk was shocked to find a surprise (and very much alive) tiny package on the car floor just hours later. Jesper Modin, a well-known professional skier, was driving home to Östersund in northern Sweden when he headed over a hill and the sun caught his eye. Before he knew it, he was just meters away from a large elk standing in the middle of the road. "It smashed into the windscreen and went tumbling over the roof", he tells The Local. "I was completely covered in glass and the elk's innards". The 25-year-old Swede stepped out of the car and was convinced that he too must have been injured as he was covered in blood and guts. On closer inspection, he found he had only sustained a small cut to his hand. The elk showed no signs of life. A pick-up truck came to help the shaken skier and tow his destroyed Volvo back to the garage, 90 minutes away from the scene of the accident. There, Modin got the surprise of his life. "I was about to grab some things from my glove compartment when I opened the car door. To my surprise, there was a little elk laying there... alive", he recalls. "The umbilical cord was still attached. I was so shocked that I slammed the door again". "I thought, did I really see what I think I saw?", he says. With a friend, Modin went back to the car and opened the door to find a little elk calf alive, lying on the floor by the passenger seat. When the mother elk collided with the car, her stomach contents had emptied into the car, including an unborn calf. Modin hadn't noticed the calf in the immediate aftermath of the crash, which he attributed in part to being in shock and in part to the car's interior being completely covered in guts and glass. "People don't believe me when I tell them what happened, they think it's the weirdest thing they've ever heard. But I just show them my blog with the pictures", he explains. He called the police, who in turn called in a wildlife expert. While the Swede says he wishes the story took a happy turn at this point, the wildlife expert made the decision to put the calf down, explaining that it could never survive without its mother. "It's a tragedy of course, and I wish I could say the elk survived too. But I'm just happy I'm alive, and so grateful to all the people who helped". The story marks the second time in recent years that an elk has made an appearance in an unusual place. In September, 2011, a drunken elk was found stuck in a tree in western Sweden...
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Via The Local: Two Stockholm men faced court on Tuesday after they allegedly kidnapped and tortured a man hired to help renovate a bathroom. A young home-owner in Botkyrka, south of Stockholm, enlisted builders to renovate his bathroom. His anger at what he considered an unacceptable renovation got the better of him, however, leading him to kidnap the 31-year-old man who acted on behalf of the two builders. The victim said he was choked until he passed out in the bathroom. When he woke up, he said he was being water-boarded, a torture technique that simulates drowning. The man told police he was convinced he would die. The home-owner then locked him up in the trunk of his own car, drove him away, and dumped him in the nearby town of Södertälje. They are now accused of kidnapping and aggravated assault. While the suspect offered an alternative version of events, prosecutor Lizzie Österlund told the local Mitti newspaper that evidence supported the victim's tale. "You can see the injuries where he was tied up, just like he said, and they found blood in the house", she said. "When he was set free he immediately called the police, who found severed cable ties nearby". The two suspects said the renovation was delayed, poorly done, and that the 31-year-old pocketed a huge chunk of the builders' fees. They called the case against them "a joke". The two men have denied the kidnapping charge, but admitted an altercation had taken place, which explained the traces of blood.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: Residents in Mengchang village in the province of Heilongjiang were stirred Friday when three unidentified flying objects fell from the sky and landed into a vegetable garden. The Yi'an county government confirmed that unidentified objects - metallic balls half-covered by a layer of jagged edge - dropped from the sky. "Villagers in Mengchang heard a loud noise and then saw big ball of fire falling from the sky and into a vegetable garden", the county government said. "I saw a huge ball of fire, I thought it was a meteorite. I hid inside my house and waited until the object has landed", said one villager who lives near the vegetable farm. However, a report on Saturday said the unidenfied objects could be part of a Russian rocket, called Proton-M, that crashed outside of Kazakhstan's territory on Friday.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Via The Wrap: "Godzilla" has turned into a box-office behemoth. The remake of the classic monster movie, a co-production of Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros., thundered to a $38.5 million opening day Friday — the biggest of any movie this year — and it could post 2014's biggest box-office opening this weekend. Its first-day total topped that of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", which had a $36.9 million Friday and wound up at $95 million in April. And "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" came in with $91 million earlier this month, after a $35.1 million first day, so "Godzilla" had a solid shot at beating those two. Word of mouth will be the key for the effects-laden $160 million sci-fi saga, which smashed past the expectations of analysts, who had projected an opening in the $70 million range.
Via The Swedish Wire: When American tech rabble rouser Tyler Crowley moved to Stockholm last year, the city's vibrant tech startup scene gained yet more impetus. As the organizer of STHLM Tech Meetup he joins together "geeks, hackers and entrepreneurs" with the purpose of building bridges to other startup communities around the world. According to him, Stockholm is the place to be right now. "Stockholm is simply the fastest growing tech scene anywhere in 2014", he says. "As the internet moves to mobile it also moved towards clean, simple and good design. These are both things where Sweden is a world leader, so it's no coincidence that Stockholm is becoming the next hot spot". Special guests are invited to each meetup to speak and answer questions, discuss company pitches, share announcements that impact the community, and introduce potential initiatives that might help further push Stockholm's startup community. Normally, the events are packed. The event on 15 April focused on tech journalism, with representatives from the country´s largest business and daily newspapers in attendance. The aim was to find out why some startups get media attention and others don't and how to best get journalists interested in new enterprises. "I'm happy with the April 15 event", Crowley says. "It was surprising to see the journalists argue and debate each other in a spirited way". On 20 May, participants get the opportunity to meet Schibsted Growth, one of the biggest startup investors, as well as some of the companies they’ve invested in. The invitation had a particular focus on encouraging women who are raising money for tech startups to attend. "My expectations for May 20 are no different than usual – an informative, inspiring and entertaining mix of interviews, announcements and networking", Crowley said. Can you see any specific trends, or areas that attracted more or less interest? "Developing hardware is becoming affordable, and as crowd funding platforms become mainstream this is enabling a new renaissance of garage based hardware developers", Crowley says.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Via the Los Angeles Times: Though its story is far more about survival than love, there is a sense of seduction in director James Gray's new film, a wolf in sheep's clothing quality. Not unlike Bruno Weiss, the dandy who trolls Ellis Island for pretty girls in bad straits played so well by Phoenix.
Dad gives advice to future son-in-law.
Via The Local: A lovestruck 81-year-old Swede decided that his deceased wife was worthy of a monument to remember, placing an 850 kilogram runestone in her honor at the family farm in northern Sweden. While mourning the loss of his wife Tyra, 81-year-old Ingemar Fällman from Lögdeå outside Nordmaling in northern Sweden, decided that a little less conversation and a little more action was what he needed. Fällman concluded that his wife was worthy of a monument to remember and he set about erecting an 850 kilogram runestone on his farm. "It was just as I had imagined it, it is straight and impressive, and the angle to the wall is ideal", he told the local Västerbotten Kuriren daily. Fällman has engraved the stone with text in rune script with the help of a humble hammer and chisel, but declined to reveal the message he had left for his departed loved one. Most of the runestones in Scandinavia date from the Viking Age. The tradition of inscribing boulders with runic text began in the 4th century and fell out of fashion sometime in the 12th century. Runestones are commonly memorials to deceased men.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Via The Swedish Wire: A team of researchers from five Swedish universities have made a remarkable breakthrough in the treatment of cancer, with an equally innovative source of funding. Led by Karolinska Institutet and the Science for Life Laboratory in Stockholm, the team has made inhibitors that kill cancer cells but not normal cells. "We are first to show this new way of targeting cancer and this is likely going to be the major path for drug development in the future", said Thomas Helleday, holder of the Söderberg Professorship at Karolinska Institutet, who heads the study. Until now, most modern anti-cancer drugs have been tailored to target the genetic makeup of the cancer – a so-called personalized treatment. Sometimes this can have a long-lasting effect, but more often than not the cancers mutate to become resistant. What the team has managed to do is to target an enzyme that is required for all cancer cells for survival, but that normal cells do not need. Helleday explained that the treatment - which comes in the form of a pill - can kill any cancer and does not have any severe side effects. "Some say our finding sounds too good to be true, and I understand their gut feeling after seeing so many promising cancer treatments fail", he said. "My research group has made paradigm shifts before and to those skeptics I say: just sit back and enjoy the revolution!" What's also revolutionary is the way the research is financed, through "open innovation" and "crowd sourcing". "I started a public foundation that owns all intellectual property and the idea is that we manufacture large amounts of the drug and provide it for free to the worldwide academic community, so they can design their own clinical trials and run them", Helleday said. "Also, as there is a public foundation behind the drug, it will not be used to enrich a few individuals, but be used for further work on new medicines". A lot of work remains to be done before it is time for clinical trials, which are still a year or two away, Helleday said. Being based in Stockholm brings many advantages, including a number of highly trained drug developers looking for new challenges, he said. "A major point is that Swedish Universities do not claim or take control on intellectual property, allowing us to donate it to a public foundation", Helleday said. "Another advantage is the collaborative nature of Swedes. We collaborated with five different universities to progress the project, which would have been difficult elsewhere". Their concept is presented in two articles in science journal Nature, with the aim of spreading the word to as many as possible in the research community. "It has generated interest from academics across the world, to try the new concept on the cancer indication they have specialized in", Helleday said. The team has also sent out the compound to hundreds of scientists across the globe in an effort to increase the speed of innovation and to reach the goal of curing cancer more quickly. By freely sending out compounds, they have increased competition. "Hundreds of scientists are advancing more quickly than one and we increase the chances of overall success", Helleday said.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: Pushing people toward stocks, real estate and credit cards have all come at a cost -- and with one goal in mind. If you've paid attention to the economy over the last few years, you've doubtless seen the charts and figures showing the decline of the American middle class in concert with the explosion of wealth for the super-rich. Wages have stagnated over the last 40 years even as productivity has increased, which is another way of saying that people are working harder but getting paid less. Unemployment remains stubbornly high even though corporate profits and the stock market are at or near record highs. Passive assets in the form of stocks and real estate, in other words, are doing very well. Wages for working people are not. Unfortunately for the middle class, however, the top 1 percent of incomes own almost 50 percent of asset wealth, and the top 10 percent own over 85 percent of it. When assets do well but wages don't, the middle class suffers. This ominous trend is particularly prominent in the United States. That shouldn't surprise us: study after study shows that American policymakers operate almost purely on behalf of wealthy interests. Recent polling also proves that the American rich want policies that encourage the growth of asset values while lowering their own tax rates, and are especially keen on outcomes that favor themselves at the expense of the poor and middle class. So why isn't the 99 percent in open revolt? The answer lies in part because the top 1 percent have done an excellent job disguising the upward transfer of wealth by making the rest of us feel better off than we actually are while enriching themselves in the process. Roughly 94 percent of the people in capitalist America make their living from wage or salary. Only 6 percent are true capitalists in the sense of deriving income from ownership of the means of production. There is a concerted effort to hide wage losses by lowering the prices of non-perishable goods - even if doing so means domestic job losses. These goals are accomplished in several ways: 1) Push people away from defined-benefit pensions and into stocks and 401(k)s. 2) Push more people into buying real estate, and increase home prices by all means possible. 3) Democratize consumer debt, especially through credit cards. 4) Reduce the cost of goods through free trade policies. The tools policymakers have used to distract the public from the raw deal of low wages are no longer working.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Via The Local: One in twenty Swedes hold anti-Semitic views, according to a report released on Tuesday by the non-profit Anti-Defamation League (ADL), enough to rank Sweden as least anti-Semitic in Europe. Based on a worldwide survey of 53.100 adults across 101 countries, a global average of 26 percent of people can be classed as anti-Semitic, the Anti-Defamation League said. Swedes, meanwhile, pulled in the lowest scores in Europe with four percent of respondents classed as anti-Semitic. ADL researchers classed respondents as anti-Semitic if they answered "probably true" to six out of 11 statements classed as "anti-Semitic stereotypes" in their questionnaire. The most common anti-Semitic belief was that "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to [this country/the countries they live in]", which was seen as "probably true" by 41 percent of respondents worldwide and 45 percent in western Europe. "For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world", said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the US-based non-profit ADL. Jews in Sweden, however, may not be so impressed by the results. In October last year, a survey revealed that half of Sweden's Jews hide their religion. In the Middle East and North Africa, the proportion of those deemed anti-Semitic in the survey was 74 percent, whereas the Europe-wide average dropped to 24 percent. Within Europe, the highest number of anti-Semites were recorded in Greece, with 69 percent of adults agreeing with six or more of 11 sentiments in the survey. France received western Europe's worst result, with 37 percent of surveyed adults agreeing. Germany, where one percent of the population is Jewish, came in the middle of European countries, with 27 percent of those surveyed deemed anti-Semitic. The highest concentration of anti-Semitic views was found in the West Bank and Gaza, where 93 percent of respondents were classed as anti-Semitic. The next highest concentration was in Iraq, where 92 percent agreed with the statements. The ADL survey also found that just 54 percent of respondents worldwide had heard of the Holocaust, which Foxman described as "a disturbingly low number". The survey, conducted between July 2013 and February this year, was based on questionnaires filled in by adults in 102 countries, accounting for 88 percent of the world’s adult population.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Via The Local: A comprehensive survey of the 28 EU member states revealed that an EU-high 91 percent of Swedes believe immigrants contribute significantly to society, and 97 percent are satisfied with their lives. All but 3 percent of Swedes are happy with their lives. At least, that's according to an EU report published on Tuesday. "I'm astonished by the results", Swedish anthropologist Gillis Herlitz told The Local. "Swedes nowadays complain about everything". The report revealed that Swedes were the most positive nationality in the EU when it came to both life satisfaction and perceptions of immigrants. "On the other hand, it's always been that way in Sweden", Herlitz remarked. "Everything is fine, one should not whine or complain. We can only talk about pleasant things". The information was gathered through interviews conducted across the EU between March 15th and 24th. Each survey included questions on political interest, faith in the EU, national identity, and values. One question challenged interviewees to rate how happy they were with their lives, with multiple choice options ranging all the way from "very satisfied" to "not at all satisfied". In Sweden 52 percent of participants answered that they were very satisfied with their lives, and another 45 percent were fairly satisfied. A total of 97 percent responded positively, tying with Denmark at the top of the EU. Sweden was the only nation in which not even one percent responded "not at all satisfied". But what does it mean to a Swede to be "satisfied"? Herlitz, who has studied Swedish culture extensively and published a book called Swedes: The Way We Are and Why, suspects the answer may lie in deep-rooted cultural norms. "If I'm not happy with my life in Sweden, then I'm saying something about myself", Herlitz explained. "Sweden is a society where everyone is expected to make his or her own way. Of course you receive support from the authorities. But if I say that I am very dissatisfied with my life, then I haven't really tried. It falls back on each individual". Ninety-one percent of Swedes in the EU report also agreed that "immigrants contribute a lot to Sweden", a number significantly higher than any other nation. Luxembourg was the second-most positive, with 79 percent of respondents viewing immigration favorably. The EU average was much more divided with 48 percent agreeing that immigration contributes to society and 45 percent disagreeing. Forty-four percent of Swedes "totally agreed" that immigrants contribute significantly to society, and 47 percent "tended to agree". Only two percent answered that they "totally disagreed". Again, Herlitz suspected some of the dramatic difference could be attributed to the Swedish psyche. "My first thought is that fear of strangers and other cultures is taboo in Sweden", Herlitz told The Local. "And with the growing prominence of the Swedish Democrats, who have brought up some very uncomfortable issues, it's more of an issue than ever. We Swedes must be politically correct. We must not appear racist or xenophobic". But he clarified that it's not just about appearances, and that the results are likely due in large part to Swedes' openness. "I think most Swedes have had good experiences with other cultures. Swedes are a very curious people, curious about the world and other ways of doing things". The document presented statistics about public opinion in all of the European Union's 28 member states for a total of 27.932 interviews, including 1.016 Swedes. The number of interviews from each country corresponded to the country's population in proportion to the EU as a whole. Sampling points for each country were drawn systematically to represent both rural and metropolitan areas, and addresses were drawn from "random route" procedures. The participants, all above age 15, were selected at random from each household. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in the participants' homes and native language.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: There are many mind blowing things about the pyramids, from the fact that Cleopatra lived closer to the Moon Landings than the construction of the Great Pyramid to the idea that they remained the tallest man-made structures on Earth for more than 3.800 years. However, one of the most basic and staggering facts about these colossal constructions is that they were even built in the first place. Just how did the ancient Egyptians shift stones weighing as much as 2.5-tons with technology no more complex than a sledge? Now, a group of physicists say that they’ve uncovered that "one weird trick" that helped ancient engineers drag the huge stones across the desert. The magic ingredient? A little water...
Via Before It's News: Is the "First Lady" actually the First Man? Even more startling, Barack Obama knows that his wife was once a man. Is Michelle Obama a transvestite? Really? According to the Examiner, after high school Michael Obama had a sex change operation done, after having supposedly claimed for years to have been a woman in a man’s body. Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, was born Michael LaVaughn Robinson in Chicago, Illinois on January 17th, 1964. He was the second son born to Fraser Robinson III, a well known cocaine dealer and union thug for Crime Lord/Mayor Richard J. Daley, and Marian Shields Robinson, a transient street prostitute who was diagnosed with the HIV virus in 1998.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: A few years ago, scientists from Stanford discovered that it's possible to reverse cognitive decline in old mice by injecting them with the blood of the young. Now, researchers have isolated the mechanism responsible for this rejuvenation — and it's a protein that's found in humans as well. Back in 2012, when Stanford University scientist Saul Villeda showed that young blood has rejuvenating qualities, he wasn't entirely sure how it reversed the effects of cognitive decline — but he suspected that it has something to do with the limited production of stem cells as we get older. Could injecting yourself with blood of the young reverse the aging process? Could injecting yourself with blood of the young reverse the aging process? Two independent research papers, one from Harvard and one from Stanford, are reporting that injections of a protein, or growth factor, known as GDF11 is capable of rejuvenating a number of seemingly unrelated physiological aspects. The Harvard study, which now appears in Science, used the protein to improve the exercise capability and skeletal muscle function of mice (tests showed improvements in recovery from muscle injury, along with improved performance on running and grip strength tasks). The Stanford researchers showed that the transfusions encouraged the growth of new blood vessels and improved the function of the olfactory region of the brains of older mice, allowing them to detect smells just as well as younger mice. The injected mice were also shown to perform better on memory tests than mice of the same age that hadn't received the youthful blood plasma. Previously, GDF11 was shown to make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young healthy mice. As noted, humans have this protein, too. According to Amy Wagers and Lee Rubin of Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), barring unexpected developments, they expect to have GDF11 in human clinical trials within three to five years. The goal is to develop interventions that treat neurodegnerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. In a prepared statement, HSCRB co-chair Doug Melton said that he couldn't recall a more exciting finding to come from stem cell science and clever experiments. This should give us all hope for a healthier future. We all wonder why we were stronger and mentally more agile when young, and these two unusually exciting papers actually point to a possible answer: the higher levels of the protein GDF11 we have when young.
Via RIA Novosti: Mark Hirst – The leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip), Nigel Farage MEP, has told RIA Novosti he believes the EU and British Government have "provoked" the crisis in Ukraine. Farage, who was speaking to a rally of his supporters in Edinburgh told RIA Novosti, "The European Union have actually provoked much of the upset in the Ukraine by offering membership and this is true also of NATO". The right wing politician, whose party has no representation in Scotland but has growing popular support in England, added that he believed the British Prime Minister, David Cameron and his Foreign Secretary William Hague had played prominent roles in the Ukraine crisis. "It’s been incredulous watching this because it seems to me that if you poke the Russian bear with a stick you are bound to get a reaction. I am very sorry for the way things are", Farage told RIA Novosti.
Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won the 59th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. When, a few days earlier, it emerged that Russia and Ukraine both were in the finals, headlines on many media sites proclaimed that politics had come to Eurovision. Tensions between the neighbors gave an added piquancy to the competition's grand final in Copenhagen, Denmark. Wurst's presence in the competition had proved controversial in some countries. In Armenia, Belarus, and Russia -- where a law against "gay propaganda" was passed last year -- petitions were circulated calling for the singer to be removed from the competition or edited out of the broadcast. In Russia, Wurst's win drew boos in some places where audiences had gathered to watch the contest. The power ballad, "Rise Like a Phoenix", helped Wurst — the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth — secure Austria's victory in the competition. Asked if she had anything to say to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who introduced a law last year prohibiting so-called gay "propaganda", Wurst said, "I don't know if he is watching this now, but if so, I'll say it: 'We're unstoppable'". Every time Russia got votes many in the audience of 10.000 booed, and when Moscow gave its respective eight, 10 and 12 points to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus — all former Soviet republics — more boos were heard. Many former Soviet republic countries gave their points to neighboring countries, except Ukraine, whose eight points to Austria were decisive for the Danish hosts to declare Wurst had won. A duo from the Netherlands finished in second place, with the Swedish entry coming in third. The geopolitics of Central and Eastern Europe were much in evidence. Belarus handed their maximum 12 points to Russia; Russia handed their 12 points to Belarus. The same Russia handed seven points to Ukraine, one less than the standard third-rate grade that countries may award. Ukraine handed eight points to Austria, contributing to the victory of the Androgynous Hirsute One, 10 to Armenia and 12 to Sweden. Well, all things considered, any votes on their part for Russia would have been improbable at best. The Baltic States’ example is best exemplified by Lithuania: Norway eight points, Austria 10 and the Netherlands 12. Could it be that the Baltic States do not want to dance to Moscow’s tune? Poland handed points neither to Russia nor Ukraine. Armenia gave Russia 10 points and none to Ukraine. Finland gave eight points to the Netherlands, 10 to Sweden, and 12 to Austria. Dana International was the first transgender singer to have won the Contest; Conchita Wurst with "Rise like a Phoenix" was the second in 2014. "Diva" was the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 performed in Hebrew by Dana International representing Israel.
Via The Local: Elin Nordegren, who divorced from Woods in 2010, graduated with flying honors in America but couldn't resist some subtle barbs at her former philandering husband in her acceptance speech. The Swede topped her class at Rollins College Hamilton Nordegren Holt School in Florida, and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology. Nordegren was also named the outstanding graduating senior and made the commencement address, where she referred subtly to her troubled marriage with the golf superstar. "When I entered the student advisor office in 2005 I was 25 years old. I'd just recently moved to America, I was married without children", she said. "Today, nine years later, I'm a proud American and I have two beautiful children...but I'm no longer married", the 34-year old said to raputurous applause. Nordegren and Woods divorced in 2010 after a sex scandal involving the sportstar left their marriage "irretrievably broken". Woods was reported to have had strings of affairs and was treated for sex addiction in a bid to save the couple's marriage. The pair had tied the knot in October 2004 and have two children together. In her speech the Swede said that her studies offered her a "place of peace in the wild storm of my personal life". She added that she felt surprised at being asked to make the speech "because I've been called a woman with no words in the media and criticized for not talking very much". "It was right after I had taken communications and the media I was unexpectedly thrust into the media limelight. I probably should have taken more notes in that class", Nordegren quipped. After details of Woods' numerous affairs surfaced he apologized publicly to Nordegren for igniting the tabloid frenzy in which more than a dozen women claimed affairs, saying he had been "living a lie" and admitting to "doing some ugly things". The pair split for good in 2010 with Nordegren pocketing an estimated 600 million kronor ($92m) settlement reported Aftonbladet. Nordegren concluded her speech by paying tribute to her children and to her parents, in particular her mother who is a governor in Sweden.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: Scientists have created the first “semi-synthetic” micro-organism with a radically different genetic code from the rest of life on Earth. The researchers believe the breakthrough is the first step towards creating new microbial life-forms with novel industrial or medical properties resulting from a potentially massive expansion of genetic information. The semi-synthetic microbe, a genetically modified E. coli bacterium, has been endowed with an extra artificial piece of DNA with an expanded genetic alphabet – instead of the usual four “letters” of the alphabet its DNA molecule has six. The natural genetic code of all living things is based on a sequence of four bases – G, C, T, A – which form two sets of bonded pairs, G to C and T to A, that link the two strands of the DNA double helix. The DNA of the new semi-synthetic microbe, however, has a pair of extra base pairs, denoted by X and Y, which pair up together like the other base pairs and are fully integrated into the rest of the DNA’s genetic code. The scientists said that the semi-synthetic E. coli bacterium replicates normally and is able to pass on the new genetic information to subsequent generations. However, it was not able to use the new encoded information to produce any novel proteins – the synthetic DNA was added as an extra circular strand that did not take part in the bacterium’s normal metabolic functions. The study, published in the journal Nature, is the first time that scientists have managed to produce a genetically modified microbe that is able to function and replicate with a different genetic code to the one that is thought to have existed ever since life first started to evolve on Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago.
President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea for the first time since Russia freed the Ukrainian peninsula, just days ahead of a separatist vote by pro-Moscow militants in eastern Ukraine. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko suggested to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two countries could coordinate joint activities in regard to the situation in Ukraine. "I would like, as one would say, behind the scenes, to openly talk about the situation in Ukraine and somehow coordinate our actions. Because this crisis will probably not end tomorrow and it has a direct influence on you and on us", Lukashenko said during a meeting with Putin in Moscow. Western politicians will say upcoming referendums in Ukraine are a Russian provocation, proving they do not understand the dynamics of the unfolding protests in the country, Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar told RIA Novosti. The backwash of WWII has left and now the world is facing a new situation. One percent of the world's population owns half of everything, and ten percent own ninety percent of the planet. When WWII started it was a very powerful Germany but without good leadership, and without head, and without heart. Germany had a good war machine but wanted to use it against Jews, Russians, French, English, Americans and almost against everyone else too. That was a very stupid policy which of course lost. Today the situation is different. Everyone in Germany and in the northern and Scandinavian countries understand that Russia is our ally and best friend. Not one single krona will be militarily spent in any other direction than toward the South and the West. However, there is also a big common sense that the current economic inequalities in the world must be addressed. The E.U. is a failing club of rich international bankers motivated by conservative politicians, who fight for the interests and privileges of a small rich clique in banking capitals in the West. All the elections up here in the north with young communists getting 40 percent of the votes are very encouraging. In Russia Vladimir Putin will soon be replaced by a less conservative and less NATO friendly but more traditional Soviet leader and together with the Nordic countries and Germany today's civil societies in France and the UK will also be replaced by Byzantine ones. The differences in the U.S. between rich and poor now are so big the U.S. will become a very important, and maybe the most important of our communist allies after their upcoming revolution over there. Together we will replace the multiparty systems and work jointly toward a planet with one language, one government, and one political party. The time for internationalism, centralization, and real world leadership for justice, peace, and dignity for everyone worldwide has finally arrived. All the bankers states will now be replaced by a human state where every human being will count equally. The road will certainly be bumpy, but the journey will absolutely be worth it.
Friday, May 09, 2014
Via France 24: Approximately 20 pro-Russian separatists were reportedly killed in clashes with Ukrainian security forces on Friday, as they attempted to seize control of a police headquarters in the eastern port city of Mariupol. Kiev’s forces are using heavy weaponry and tanks in the eastern city of Mariupol to storm the local Interior Ministry building, where police have barricaded inside. After residents began flocking to the scene, Kiev fighters opened fire on civilians.
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Via Sowetan: All Northern Cape votes have been counted and declared that the ANC has won with 63%, the DA takes second place with 23%, and EFF takes third place with 5% votes. The vote counting of the remaining eight provinces is still underway. The ANC's resounding lead in the elections firmed to 62.7 percent as vote counting neared the two-thirds mark by late afternoon on Thursday, with the DA at 22.4 percent. Julius Malema's militant Economic Freedom Fighters was third with 4.9 percent of the vote --- predictably proving itself the upstart success of the elections. In 2009 that role had belonged to the Congress of the People, but on Thursday Cope's support base was in tatters at less than one percent, and just behind that of the Freedom Front Plus. Political analyst Steven Friedman saw a cautionary tale in the EFF's rapid rise. "They will continue to attract media attention... but whether that has any impact on South African politics is another matter", he said. The African National Congress was leading the race in all provinces bar the Western Cape, where the Democratic Alliance looked set to grow its outright majority significantly. The party had garnered 57.3 percent of the vote, but the result could change because counting was still continuing in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, two sprawling areas where the ANC has been seeking to claw back support. Less than 60 percent of votes had been counted and the final tally in the province was expected around midnight. In Gauteng, vote counting was slower than elsewhere. The ANC was at 52.5 percent compared to the DA, which hopes to rob the ruling party of an outright majority in the province, at 32 percent. But these results could yet change dramatically as there were no final figures yet in Johannesburg metropolitan areas. "We are quite humbled by the confidence and trust our people have shown", Gauteng ANC leader Nomvula Mokonyane said. Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) chairwoman Pansy Tlakula cautioned that the results could still shift throughout the country because the smaller voting districts were those where counting had been completed first. "This means that we can still anticipate significant movement during the course of the day", she said. But Mokonyane said the ANC did not foresee its lead shrinking in the party's fifth landslide victory since the demise of apartheid. "Nothing below 63 percent". The IEC said several incidents of violence had marred what was largely a peaceful election, with a turnout far exceeding expectations. An ANC member was killed outside a voting station in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal. ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the party suspected a rival party was behind the killing. "This comrade was killed while sitting at the ANC desk outside a voting station", he said. Another person was shot in KwaMashu in KwaZulu-Natal. The party results in KwaZulu-Natal showed the ANC far ahead at 64 percent. The IFP seemed set to be confirmed as a spent force in the province, with 13 percent. According to the IEC, two people who posed as voters were arrested for an attack at a voting station in Tzaneen, Limpopo. "They entered the station and attacked the police on duty, election officials and party agents, and damaged voting material", Tlakula said. In Springs, on the East Rand, police found a ballot box containing 16 special votes. Police were investigating the matter. "These remain isolated incidents which we are taking extremely seriously and, along with the police and party liaison committee partners, are investigating", Tlakula said.
Via The Swedish Wire: Half of the top 20 cities in the world with the highest levels of PM2.5 were in India, according to the pollution data released by the WHO, which included 1.600 cities, the CNN said. Other cities with high levels were located in Pakistan and Bangladesh. No Chinese cities ranked in the top 20 most polluted cities, despite thick, gray smog filling its cities and millions of residents commuting behind surgical masks, CNN said. Beijing reported 56 micrograms of PM2.5. China's Premier Li Keqiang this year that China would "declare war on pollution", acknowledging that it was a major problem for the country. PM2.5 refers to the diameter measured in microns of particulates such as ammonia, carbon, nitrates, and sulfate -- which are small enough to pass into the bloodstream and cause diseases such as emphysema and cancer. The report also said that cities with the lowest level of pollution were located in Canada, the United States, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden.
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
Via The Swedish Wire: Wanna get rich quick? Move to Hong Kong. The former British colony has more "Super Entreprenuers" than anywhere else in the world, according to a new report. A study published by the Centre for Policy Studies has shown that Hong Kong is the most billionaire-friendly place on earth, with about three super-entrepreneurs per one million inhabitants. The city is followed by Israel, the United States, Switzerland, and Singapore. According to the study, countries with low tax rates, minimal regulation, excellent academic institutions and having an Anglo-Saxon legal system are best poised to create billionaires. Britain is placed 11th in the list, lagging behind Australia but ahead of France and Germany. Sweden came in at number 13.
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Via The Local: Sweden offers the world's third best deal for mothers, but was beaten to the top spot by two neighbors. In contrast, the new report said that Somalia and the U.S. needed to buck up and invest in maternal and infant health. The State of the World's Mothers report, published by NGO Save the Children, ranked Sweden as third after neighbors Finland and Norway. The ranking marked a drop for Sweden compared to last year's statistics. Sweden, however, can still lay claim to being the most successful country in the survey's 15-year history - finishing first on eight separate occasions. The risk of a woman dying from pregnancy-related causes in Sweden is just one in 14.100. In comparison, every 38th woman in Tanzania is expected to die during pregnancy or while giving birth. The study also highlighted Sweden's low infant mortality rate (2.9 children under the age of five die in Sweden per 1.000), the high average of years spent in school (15.8), and made . The NGO used several social parametres to measure women's wellbeing in their role as mother, with the report making repeat references to Swedish women filling 45 percent of the Riksdag seats. Save the Children said that Finland had won because it did well on all five of the organization's criteria: maternal health; education; children's wellbeing; economic status; and political status. "Although Finland does not perform the absolute best overall in any indicator, it is the only country to place in the top 15 on all five indicators", the report concludes. Tove Wang, Secretary General of Save the Children, said the gulf between the worst-performing country, Somalia, and Finland was "striking", with one in sixteen Somali women dying in childbirth, 15 percent of Somali children dying before age five. In Somalia, a girl would spend on average just two and a half years in school - the NGO linked education to women taking control of family planning and making informed decisions about having children. "In Somalia, located at the very bottom of the list, there has been conflict for decades, and there has been little focus on building up basic services", she said. "There must be a security situation that makes it possible to build a robust health system. It has failed in Somalia because of the situation there". The organization warned that the United States was slipping, having hit 31st place in Tuesday's statistics compared to when the country had been a top maternal health achiever in the early 1990s when the ranking was launched. "The United States is among the countries that has made the least progress since 2000 on maternal and child survival", the report warned. Top Ten Countries for Mothers 1. Finland 2. Norway 3. Sweden 4. Iceland 5. The Netherlands 6. Denmark 7. Spain 8. Germany 9. Australia and Belgium in joint place
Monday, May 05, 2014
Via Disclose.tv: Discovered and kept secret in the year 2000, the book contains the Gospel of Barnabas – a disciple of Christ – which shows that Jesus was not crucified, nor was he the son of God, but a Prophet. The book also calls Apostle Paul "The Impostor". The book also claims that Jesus ascended to heaven alive, and that Judas Iscariot was crucified in his place. A report by The National Turk says that the Bible was seized from a gang of smugglers in a Mediterranean-area operation. The report states the gang was charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations, and the possession of explosives. The books itself is valued as high as 40 Million Turkish Liras (approx. 28 mil. Dollars). According to reports, experts and religious authorities in Tehram insist that the book is original. The book itself is written with gold lettering, onto loosely-tied leather in Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ. The text maintains a vision similar to Islam, contradicting the New Testament’s teachings of Christianity. Jesus also foresees the coming of the Prophet Muhammad, who would found Islam 700 years later. It is believed that, during the Council of Nicea, the Catholic Church hand-picked the gospels that form the Bible as we know it today; omitting the Gospel of Barnabas (among many others) in favor of the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Many biblical texts have begun to surface over time, including those of the Dead Sea and Gnostic Gospels; but this book especially, seems to worry the Vatican. What does this mean to Christian-derived religions and their followers? Quite a tight spot. The Vatican has asked Turkish authorities to let them examine the contents of the book within the Church. Now that the book has been found, will they come to accept the it and its evidence? Will they deny it altogether? Call it a “Muslim lie”, as did the “Truth” Magazine, in 2000? To many, this book is a beacon of hope, that believers soon realize that the object of their adoration is arbitrary; and that all text, especially religious text, is subject to interpretation. What does this mean to atheists/agnostics/secular thinkers? Is the text real? Fake? Does it matter? Hopefully, this news inspires the religious to ask questions, instead of pointing fingers or believing anything blindly. Please, don’t go poking fun or tossing around the “I told you so!”s. The biggest danger of faith is when people believe what they want to believe, defending against any and all evidence; especially when that evidence revolutionizes their foundation from the ground up. And the biggest culprit to that danger is the ego trap: rejecting/criticizing others, for being unlike you. For centuries, the “defense” of blind faith has driven nations to war, violence, discrimination, slavery and to become the society of automatons that we are today; and for just as long, it has been justified with lies. If you know better, act like it.
Via The Local: Investigators looking into the runaway train that crashed into a family home last year have cleared the cleaner on board of all responsibility. The train operators at first named her a likely culprit. On the early hours of a freezing Stockholm morning last January, a cleaner found herself alone on a train that was heading along the Saltsjöbaden line toward the eastern suburbs of Stockholm. The train careened off the tracks at the final station, ploughed through 70 meters of snow, and lodged itself into a house where people were asleep upstairs.
Sunday, May 04, 2014
Via The New York Times: Sexual assault is a terrible problem that America must solve. Violence against women is in fact also a worldwide problem. The CDC claims that 1-in-5 women in the U.S. will be a victim of rape in their lifetime, a substantially different figure than Department of Justice crime statistics. Even if the 1-in-5 women figure might be exaggerated it doesn't change that sexual assault on women is a serious problem.
Via The Local: A 33-year old woman who bombarded a man with hundreds of text messages, plus poetry and jewellery in the mail, has been charged on two counts of harassment and one for sexual harassment in southern Sweden. In court in Helsingborg it was revealed that the victim, 29, received up to 70 messages a day. He was eventually forced to change his number after the text onslaught with messages ranging from threats to sexual innuendo, reported the Helsingborg Dagbladet newspaper. The pair are understood to live close to one another and were once friends. However, it was suggested the woman developed an infatuation with the younger man and began pestering him when he called a halt to their friendship. He said in court that he felt the woman was jealous as he already had a girlfriend. After changing his phone number the man then starting receiving packages in the post from the woman instead. He said that approximately every third day a new parcel would arrive with different presents for him. Among the items he received from the woman were handmade jewellery, bowls, and even handwritten poetry. In court the woman admitted sending the text messages and posting the love parcels. However, she claimed her activities didn't constitute criminal behavior, in particular the sending of presents in the post. The woman explained her actions saying it was because the man had committed a crime against her. In police interviews the authorities were unable to establish that the man had carried out an offence in relation to the woman. She was charged by the prosecutor to two counts of harassment and one of sexual harassment and ordered to pay 130 day fines.
Saturday, May 03, 2014
Via Daily Mail: "You know what, my butt doesn't get that much attention, so I think this shot will get it the attention it deserves", Kate Upton said with a smile. In one instance Kate is surrounded by people adjusting her bikini and fixing her long blonde locks, and is asked why a female is making her striking white bikini top smaller. Kate replied: "Because you know it helps me appear larger up top, which clearly I need help in". The model also chatted about what it was like to shoot with Sports Illustrated, and admitted it's one of her favorite publications to work with. "There's something special about an S.I. shoot because of the crew, everybody on set it feels like family and friends to me and we're all just joking and laughing and having fun". She also spent time mucking around with the other people on set, and even tried to shave one of the crew members beards. Well, I'm happy Kate Upton doesn't try to shave my beard.
Friday, May 02, 2014
Via The Local: The churches in Jönköping rang their bells in warning for two hours on May Day as neo-Nazis took to the streets. The alarm marked the first of its kind for the central Sweden town since World War II broke out. "We chose to ring the bells because we think it's a threat to our open society when our streets play host to messages that do not respect every person's value and dignity", Swedish Church (Svenska Kyrkan) priest Fredrik Hollertz said. The Jönköping church bells haven't been used to warn of danger since Wold War II broke out in 1939. Hollertz said many of his congregation members and Jönköping residents at large had decided to stay clear of the neo-Nazi march last year. "But this year we felt we couldn't be silent", he said. A passage from Leviticus was part of the service: "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt". With some exceptions the 1st May celebrations were calm and joyous this year. Myself, I marched with the leftwing Vänsterpartiet in Lund and it was a very fine day and march with lots of excellent music, slogans, and speeches.