March 7th, 2014
By Paul Armstrong, CNN
(CNN) -- As mystery surrounds the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing early Saturday, CNN's aviation expert Richard Quest said the airliner would have been at the safest point in the flight.
"It was two hours into the flight -- this would have been classed as the 'cruise portion of the flight,'" he said. "You break down the flight into taxi, take-off, climb out and then cruise.
"So in that particular point of the flight, this is the safest part, nothing is supposed to go wrong. The aircraft is at altitude on auto-pilot, the pilots are making minor corrections and changes for height as the plane burns off fuel -- the plane will be going higher and higher -- so this is extremely serious that something happened at this point in the flight."
Quest, who coincidentally had been working on a story with the carrier recently, said the aircraft -- a Boeing 777-200 -- would have been around 11 years old, powered by two British-made Rolls-Royce Trent engines."So it's not a particularly old aircraft. Malaysia has 15 777-200s in its fleet, it's an extremely experienced operator of this type of aircraft. It's a very reputable airline with a very good safety record."
Greg Feith, a former investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the United States, suggested the pilots should have been able to report in, even if power on the aircraft had failed.
"The airplane by certification has to have battery back-up power -- they still have to be able to utilize certain flight instruments and communication tools to complete the flight safely.
"So you could lose all the generators, you could have both engines out, but the battery back-up -- which will only work for a certain time -- is intended for emergency situations."
Feith also pointed to the possibility of an issue with the pressurization of the aircraft.
"If you have a high-altitude pressurization problem, catastrophic decompression, the time of useful consciousness (the time a pilot can operate with an insufficient oxygen supply) in the 30,000-40,000-feet range is a matter of seconds."
Asked whether it was likely the airliner could have made an emergency landing, Quest said it was possible but unlikely.
"You're not talking about a Cessna here. You're talking about a long-haul, wide-bodied aircraft and that puts it into a completely different league."
More from CNN
March 7th, 2014
It may sound like the plot of the Twilight Zone, but a psychology graduate student at the University of Ottawa says she can voluntarily enter an out-of-body experience. This was a lucky break for scientists, who were able to scan her brain during the episode.
Usually out-of-body experiences are a part of, say, a near-death experience. A patient may float above their own body as surgeons work on them. These experiences are usually attributed to the drugs in a patient's system, or the hormones released into their system by trauma.
A unique experience
The study — which only involved this one person — was published Feb. 10 in the journal Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, a peer-reviewed open access publication. The researchers are members of the School Of Psychology at the University of Ottawa.
According to the paper, this woman enters her out-of-body state right before sleeping, visualizing herself from above. She started doing so during naptime in preschool, they write. She currently only does it sometimes.
The researchers wrote in the paper:
She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along with the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving "real" body...
She told the researchers:
I feel myself moving, or, more accurately, can make myself feel as if I am moving. I know perfectly well that I am not actually moving. There is no duality of body and mind when this happens, not really. In fact, I am hyper-sensitive to my body at that point, because I am concentrating so hard on the sensation of moving. I am the one moving – me – my body. For example, if I ‘spin’ for long enough, I get dizzy. I do not see myself above my body. Rather, my whole body has moved up. I feel it as being above where I know it actually is. I usually also picture myself as moving up in my mind’s eye, but the mind is not substantive. It does not move unless the body does.
The brain out of the body
The researchers did a fMRI before and after asking her to enter her out-of-body state to find out what that looked like in the brain. They compared these to when she was imagining, but not actually entering, the state.
Interestingly, the pathway that seemed to be activated during her out-of-body experience is also involved in the mental representation of movements.
Brain regions activated by the out-of-body experience include the supplementary motor area, the cerebellum, the supramarginal gyrus, the inferior temporal gyrus, the middle and superior orbitofrontal gyri.
Some parts of her brain involved in interpreting vision were turned down in activity, as shown below:
Brain regions inhibited by the out-of-body experience include the visual cortex.
She didn't have any specific emotions surrounding this experience, and i t seems to be a kind of hallucination she can turn on at will.
Even if there were no soul stuck in our bodies, this woman isn't making this up. There's obviously something happening in her brain that is making her experience the world in a different way — but researchers can't yet say exactly what it is. Plus, this study was about one woman's out-of-body experience, not all out-of-body experiences.
Still, the changes they observed could be similar to how the brain can be trained using meditation. The researchers even suggested that this could be something many kids can do, but that with practice could be carried into adulthood.
Interestingly, the researchers suggested that this kind of experience may be much more common than we thought. The woman in question actually "appeared surprised that not everyone could experience this," the researchers wrote.
They compared it to synesthesia — the condition in which people hear colors or smell sounds — which was thought of as "out there" but has become widely accepted in the last few decades.
More From Business Insider
March 7th, 2014
A Left-Wing National leader who denies doing the very thing that everyone can plainly see him doing, and with a fawning media in full support of the denial...Sound familiar? ~ From Barry Secrest
"Putin denies that the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under his command"....
Reuters | by Lidia Kelly and Alissa de Carbonnel
* Obama, Putin still far apart on Ukraine
* Obama has ordered sanctions against Russia
* Putin says he cannot ignore Russian speakers in Ukraine
* Russian parliament leaders say Crimea entitled to choose
* Border guard says 30,000 Russian troops in Ukraine
MOSCOW/SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, March 7 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin rebuffed a warning from U.S. President Barack Obama over Moscow's military intervention in Crimea, saying on Friday that Russia could not ignore calls for help from Russian speakers in Ukraine.
After an hour-long telephone call, Putin said in a statement that Moscow and Washington were still far apart on the situation in the former Soviet republic, where he said the new authorities had taken "absolutely illegitimate decisions on the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions."Russia cannot ignore calls for help and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law," Putin said.
Ukraine's border guards said Moscow had poured troops into the southern peninsula where Russian forces have seized control.
Serhiy Astakhov, an aide to the border guards' commander, said there were now 30,000 Russian soldiers in Crimea, compared to the 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.
Putin denies that the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under Moscow's command, although their vehicles have Russian military plates.
The West has ridiculed his assertion.
The most serious east-west confrontation since the end of the Cold War - resulting from the overthrow last month of President Viktor Yanukovich after violent protests in Kiev - escalated on Thursday when Crimea's parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia. The region's government set a referendum for March 16 - in just nine days' time.
European Union leaders and Obama denounced the referendum as illegitimate, saying it would violate Ukraine's constitution.
The head of Russia's upper house of parliament said after meeting visiting Crimean lawmakers on Friday that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between "the two brotherly nations".
Obama announced the first sanctions against Russia on Thursday since the start of the crisis, ordering visa bans and asset freezes against so far unidentified people deemed responsible for threatening Ukraine's sovereignty. Russia warned that it would retaliate against any sanctions.
Japan endorsed the Western position that the actions of Russia, whose forces have seized control of the Crimean peninsula, constitute "a threat to international peace and security", after Obama spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying that economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the legality of a Crimean referendum on secession.
The EU, Russia's biggest economic partner and energy customer, adopted a three-stage plan to try to force a negotiated solution but stopped short of immediate sanctions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry responded angrily on Friday, calling the EU decision to freeze talks on visa-free travel and on a broad new pact governing Russia-EU ties "extremely unconstructive".
Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Yanukovich's ouster, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into a guerrilla war.
Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance. The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government's openness to economic reform and transparency.
The European Commission has said Ukraine could receive up to 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in the next couple of years provided it reaches agreement with the IMF, which requires painful economic reforms like ending gas subsidies.
Promises of billions of dollars in Western aid for the Kiev government, and the perception that Russian troops are not likely to go beyond Crimea into other parts of Ukraine, have helped reverse a rout in the local hryvnia currency.
In the past two days it has traded above 9.0 to the dollar for the first time since the Crimea crisis began last week. Local dealers said emergency currency restrictions imposed last week were also supporting the hryvnia.
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Ukraine had not paid its $440 million gas bill for February, bringing its arrears to $1.89 billion and hinted it could turn off the taps as it did in 2009, when a halt in Russian deliveries to Ukraine reduced supplies to Europe during a cold snap.
In Moscow, a huge crowd gathered near the Kremlin at a government-sanctioned rally and concert billed as being "in support of the Crimean people".
Pop stars took to the stage and demonstrators held signs with slogans such as "Crimea is Russian land", "We don't trade our people for money" and "We believe in Putin".
Continue reading at "IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES"
March 7th, 2014
IRS official Lois Lerner is finally testifying in front of Congress Wednesday.
Still, the media and Republicans in Congress are missing the larger picture. They keep thinking this scandal involves nameless, faceless Tea Party groups. That’s only the tip of the iceberg. That’s what Obama hopes we all think. This “IRS targeted the Tea Party” is the distraction to make us miss the real scandal. Congress needs to expand this investigation.
The real scandal is that this was a widespread criminal conspiracy by the Obama White House to use the IRS to target, persecute, intimidate and silence Obama’s critics and political opposition.
And I believe I personally have the smoking gun to tie the Obama White House to this scandal.
Congress needs to ask Lois Lerner and other IRS officials about the targeting of individual critics of Obama…good Americans with names and faces and families…who they tried to destroy and intimidate…people like me. That story will resonate with the American people. That story leads to the impeachment of the President.
The second of Nixon’s Articles of Impeachment was for the crime of using the IRS to punish his political opponents. The difference is that Barack Obama’s IRS scandal makes Richard Nixon look like a minor league rookie.
Tea Parties are just one part of this widespread conspiracy. I was personally targeted along with many others including Dr. Benjamin Carson; former GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell; astage 4 terminal cancer victim (after appearing on Fox News); conservative filmmakers like Jerry Mullen (Dinesh D’Souza’s partner) and Joel Gilbert; Christian minister Billy Graham; Catherine Engelbrecht, who was targeted over 15 times by the IRS and other government agencies after founding her Tea Party; and numerous prominent GOP donors. The list goes on and on.
There is a clear pattern of a criminal conspiracy here – this was an organized crime conspiracy that would make Al Capone and the Gambino Crime Family proud. The only question is can Obama be connected? If he can, this becomes the biggest scandal in modern U.S. political history.
Let me tell you about my personal situation. I spent three years (2011-2013) under nonstop attack by the IRS. I first wrote about it for TheBlaze last Spring.
I may not be the most high-profile Obama critic in the country, but my opinions are read by millions at many of the most popular news, business and political web sites in the country – like TheBlaze. Last year my book, “The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide“became a national bestseller.
The result of all of this nonstop media exposure? An unprecedented IRS attack starting in January 2011. This IRS attack was so over-zealous and out of bounds, I was forced to hire one of the nation’s top tax law firms. My legal team took the case to tax court, where we won a complete victory.
Only five days later, the IRS announced a new tax audit. I’m not a billionaire or a wheeling, dealing hedge fund CEO. I’m just a small businessman – but someone in government thought I needed to be silenced.
Multiple legal and tax experts confirmed they had never heard of an American taxpayer being attacked by the IRS in such a manner only five days after winning in tax court. Furthermore, they all agreed this could only happen if I was on Obama’s “Enemies List.”
The attack was chilling, intimidating, and very expensive. It was meant to bleed me dry and teach me a lesson – if you dare to criticize Obama, get ready to lose everything.
Here is where my case may differ from others. Obama and the IRS left a trail. I may have the smoking gun to tie Obama to the scandal.
March 6th, 2014
Translated by Conservative Refocus' Barry Secrest
WASHINGTON -- From roads and bridges to power plants and gas pipelines, American infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, according to a pair of government reports released Thursday.
Conservative Translation: Sometimes, inclement weather damages stuff
The reports are technical documents supporting the National Climate Assessment, a major review compiled by 13 government agencies that the U.S. Global Change Research Program is expected to release in April. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory put together the reports, which warn that climate-fueled storms, flooding and droughts could cause "cascading system failures" unless there are changes made to minimize those effects. Island Press has published the full-length version of the reports, which focus on energy and infrastructure more broadly.
Conservative Translation: Climate-fueled storms, seriously? The climate has always fueled storms, however, since the hot new buzz-word is "climate change," now all storms are fueled by climate "change"--soon to become climate "dollars" and ultimately climate "debt"-- all formerly caused by what was known as weather in, at least in saner times.
Thomas Wilbanks, a research fellow at Oak Ridge and the lead author and editor of the reports, said this is the first attempt to look at the climate implications across all sectors and regions. Rather than isolating specific types of infrastructure, Wilbanks said, the report looks at how "one impact can have impacts on the others."
Conservative Translation: We're writing heavy science fiction in order to justify the cost of these reports, and then building up to an exciting domino effect of catastrophic implications, while building the case that any weather event will construe some form of climactic culpability.
Previous extreme weather events, which scientists warn may be exacerbated by climate change, offer insight to the types of failures they're talking about. For example, during Hurricane Katrina, the loss of electricity in the region meant that several major oil pipelines could not ship oil and gas for several days, and some refineries could not operate. Gas prices rose around the country.
Conservative Translation: The weather can sometimes cause unfortunate interruptions of service-- from now on, it will be our fault.
Other scenarios include a major storm wiping out communications lines, a blackout that cuts power to sewage treatment or wastewater systems, and a weather event that damages a bridge or major highway. In the latter case, the damage would not only cost money to repair, but could cause traffic backups or delays in the shipment of goods, which could in turn have wider economic implications.
Conservative Translation: We could lose money while effecting repairs
A central theme of the report is that vulnerabilities and impacts are issues beyond physical infrastructures themselves. The concern is with the value of services provided by infrastructures, where the true consequences of impacts and disruptions involve not only the costs associated with the cleanup, repair, and/or replacement of affected infrastructures but also economic, social, and environmental effects as supply chains are disrupted, economic activities are suspended, and/or social well-being is threatened.
Conservative Translation: In order to scare-monger to maximum effect, our world could turn into the absolute worst disaster movie, you have ever seen. Think "The Day After Tomorrow" or "War of The Worlds" (scared yet?)
While many reports on climate change focus on the long-term impacts, looking ahead 50 or 100 years, the effects described in Thursday's reports are the kind that cities, states and the federal government can expect to see in the next few decades, Wilbanks said.
Conservative Translation: Even though we still can't accurately forecast beyond even seven days out, and for only a small geographic area to boot, our imaginations can dream up climate-scape disaster scenarios, hundreds of years out.
"There's this crunch between vulnerability of infrastructure because it's aging or stressed because they are so heavily used, and they're being exposed to new threats like more frequent, extreme weather events," says Wilbanks. All this comes at a time, Wilbanks said, where governments at every level are facing "great difficulty in coming up with public sector financing to replace or revitalize them."
Conservative Translation: We are mismanaging our money to such a degree, that we can't even fix broke stuff, despite taxing our 315 million citizens at a rate greater than half of the world's population combined--the 3 billion people in both China and India together, pay less tax revenues than good ole' Americans.
The energy report also exposes vulnerabilities in the system. It points to recent cases where heat waves caused massive spikes in energy use for cooling buildings, putting strain on the power grid. It also highlights instances where power plants were at risk of flooding, or had to shut down or scale back operations due to high temperaturesand droughts.
Conservative Translation: Let's throw vague references to things that have always happened as if they are now new, and don't forget to bring up hot weather--but don't allow them to say anything about the last few extraordinarily cold winters in the US, doesn't fit with the global warming program, very well.
"One-quarter of existing power generation facilities are in counties associated with some type of water sustainability concern,” said David Schmalzer, co-author of the energy-focused report. "Warmer air and water are expected to reduce the efficiency of thermal power, while hydropower and biofuels will also face increased uncertainty. Even electricity sources not dependent on water supplies, such as wind and solar power, also face increased variability, as a changing climate will potentially impact the variability of their resources."
Conservative Translation: An excuse for why green energy ain't working--it's because of--wait for it--climate change.
"Fixing infrastructure resilience problems [requires] a partnership between different levels of government, industry, nongovernmental organizations and community groups. No one party is the best to do it all," said Wilbanks. "What we really need is some innovative thinking about financing."
Conservative Translation: Show us the money....