60,000 ANTELOPES DIED IN 4 DAYS — AND NO ONE KNOWS WHY (Source Cryptogon)
When geoecologist Steffen Zuther and his colleagues arrived in central Kazakhstan to monitor the calving of one herd of saigas, a critically endangered, steppe-dwelling antelope, veterinarians in the area had already reported dead animals on the ground. “But since there happened to be die-offs of limited extent during the last years, at first we were not really alarmed,” Zuther, the international coordinator of the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative, told Live Science. But within four days, the entire herd — 60,000 saiga — had died. As veterinarians and conservationists tried to stem the die-off, they also got word of similar population crashes in other herds across Kazakhstan. By early June, the mass dying was over. [See Images of the Saiga Mass Die-Off]
Now, the researchers have found clues as to how more than half of the country’s herd, counted at 257,000 as of 2014, died so rapidly. Bacteria clearly played a role in the saigas’ demise. But exactly how these normally harmless microbes could take such a toll is still a mystery, Zuther said. “The extent of this die-off, and the speed it had, by spreading throughout the whole calving herd and killing all the animals, this has not been observed for any other species,” Zuther said. “It’s really unheard of.”
FRACKING CREATES MASSIVE RADIATION WASTE PROBLEM (Source Green Med Info)
The EPA openly acknowledges that fracking fluid contains “thousands of chemicals,” but nowhere is there mention of radioactivity in its risk assessments. Now, a new study reveals the “natural gas” industry may be hiding a secret as dark and deadly as the one the nuclear industry has been trying to conceal for decades. With recent news that California’s fracking industry will be “repurposing” its toxic wastewater to meet the needs of an agricultural industry driven desperate by the drought, a timely new study published in Environmental Health Perspectivesreveals fracking wastewater is not just a source of dangerous petrochemicals but also a highly toxic form of radioactive waste.Titled, “What’s NORMal for Fracking? Estimating Total Radioactivity of Produced Fluids,” the new study tested the hypothesis that fracking wastewater contains the same naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) found in the shale deposits that it is produced from as a drilling byproduct. The primary radionuclides of interest include 226radium, 210polonium, and 210lead, which are decay products of 238uranium and 228thorium, and which are normally safely locked away deep within millions of years old geological formations. The study focused on the heavily drilled Marcellus Shale, a vast swath of marine sedimentary rock found in eastern North America, and which is known to have about 20 times higher levels of radioactivity from high uranium content compared to most other shales.1 In 2010, the uranium deposits within the Marcellus Shale were identified by University of Buffalo researchers as being susceptible to being solubilized and made mobile by fracking fluids. The researchers determined that when these fluids inevitably come back to the surface in the form of millions of gallons of wastewater they can pollute streams and the ecosystem with hazardous waste.
Pope eyes unity, not division in talks with Israel’s Rivlin (Source AP) Pope Francis met Thursday with Israel’s president and gave him a medallion that reads: “Look for what unites, overcome that which divides.” President Reuven Rivlin met with the pope for about 30 minutes in Francis’ study Thursday. The Vatican said the meeting, and subsequent talks with the Vatican secretary of state, focused on Mideast peace “and the need and urgency to promote a climate of trust between Israelis and Palestinians, and to restart direct negotiations to reach an agreement that is respectful of the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples.”Reporters said Francis presented Rivlin with a new bronze medallion featuring a rock split in two and held together by an olive branch emerging from the fissure. The inscription reads “Look for what unites, overcome that which divides.”Rivlin’s office said the president gave Francis a stone tablet with the Aramaic inscription “House of David” — a replica of a tablet bearing the earliest known reference outside of Scripture to the House of David.Rivlin told the pope the tablet was a “symbol of hope and living together, for all faiths.”
Russia Embarks on Expansion of its Military Presence in Syria (Source globalresearch.ca) Despite doubts and denials, Russia is about to embark on an ambitious expansion of its Syrian presence, likely to change the game in the war-torn country. Russia’s small and dated naval repair facility in Tartous will be enlarged, while Jableh near Latakia (Laodicea of old) will become the Russian Air Force base and a full-blown Russian Navy base in the Eastern Mediterranean, beyond the narrow Bosphorus straits. The jihadi multitudes besetting Damascus are likely to be beaten into obedience and compliance, and the government of President Assad relieved from danger and siege. The war with Da’esh (ISIS) is to provide the cover for this operation. This is the first report of this fateful development, based on confidential and usually reliable Russian sources in Moscow. The knowledgeable and Damascus-based French investigative journalist and dissident Thierry Meyssan noted the arrival of many Russian advisers. Russians began to share satellite imagery in real time with their Syrian allies, he added. An Israeli news site said “Russia has begun its military intervention in Syria” and predicted that “in the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria”. Russians promptly denied that. President Bashar al Assad hinted at that a few days ago expressing his full confidence of Russian support for Damascus. First six MiG-31 fighter jets landed in Damascus a couple of weeks ago, as reported in the official RG newspaper. Michael Weiss in the far-right Daily Beast presented a flesh-creeping picture of a Russian penetration of Syria. Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper referred to Jableh as the second-base location. Now we can confirm that to the best of our knowledge, despite denials (remember Crimea?) Russia has cast its lot and made a very important decision to enter the Syrian war. This decision may yet save Syria from total collapse and incidentally save Europe, too, from being swept by refugee waves. The Russian air force will ostensibly fight Da’esh, but probably (as Michael Weiss guessed) they will also bomb not just Da’esh but the US-allied opposition of al-Nusra (formerly al-Qaeda) and other non-Da’esh Islamic extremists for the simple reason that they can’t be distinguished from Da’esh.
Chinese Warships Spotted In Bering Sea As President Obama Tours Alaska (Source Foxtrot Alpha)
Five Chinese navy ships are currently operating in the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska, the first time the U.S. military has seen such activity in the area, Pentagon officials said Wednesday. The officials said they have been aware in recent days that three Chinese combat ships, a replenishment vessel and an amphibious ship were in the vicinity after observing them moving toward the Aleutian Islands, which are split between U.S. and Russian control. The ships are still in international waters, and haven’t crossed any American maritime borders yet.
The Chinese government, of course, isn’t saying for the moment. But as this is the Internet, after all, we’re free to engage in slightly-informed speculation. We know that the Chinese Navy harbors blue-water ambitions that are requisite for truly global power projection. We know China has even gone so far as to purchase an old Soviet aircraft carrier (initially under the guise of turning it into a casino), just to bone up on naval flight operations. And we know that as the arctic ice melts thanks to global warming, the hunt for natural resources and the establishment of new trade routes is on. China has sent similar messages to America’s leaders highlighting their growing military capabilities and technological ambitions at symbolic (if not embarrassing) times. For instance, the time when China flew its first stealth fighter for the first time right as he was meeting with top Chinese officials in Beijing. And it probably also shows that China is not just capable of sending its ships to the furthest corners of the Earth, but that it is also interested in doing so. Sure, China doesn’t have any borders on the Arctic Ocean, but it surely wants whatever piece of that pie it can claim.
THE OLIGARCH RECOVERY – LOW INCOME AMERICANS CAN’T AFFORD TO LIVE IN ANY METRO AREA (Source blacklistednews.com) Low-income workers and their families do not earn enough to live in even the least expensive metropolitan American communities, according to a new analysis of families’ living costs published Wednesday. The analysis, released by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, is an annual update of the think tank’s Family Budget Calculator that reflects new 2014 data. The Family Budget Calculator is a formula designed to determine the income “required for families to attain a secure yet modest standard of living” in 618 different communities across the country that the U.S. Census Bureau defines as metropolitan areas. The formula uses data collected by the government and some nonprofit groups to measure costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, “other necessities” like clothing, and taxes for families of 10 different compositions in these specific locales. The updated Family Budget Calculator shows that even the most affordable metropolitan areas in the country are beyond the reach of millions of American families with incomes above the official federal poverty level. The official federal poverty level for a family of two parents and two children in 2014 was $24,008, according to the EPI. But the least expensive metropolitan area in the country for this family type is Morristown, Tennessee, where a family needs an income of $49,114, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s budget calculator. The Economic Policy Institute also estimates that minimum-wage workers — who almost universally earn less than the federal poverty level — lack the income needed to make an adequate living in any of the communities surveyed, even if they are single and childless. The think tank notes that this includes minimum-wage workers living in cities or states with a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, or $15,080 a year for a full-time worker.Even families with incomes closer to the middle of the earnings spectrum lack the means to maintain an adequate standard of living. The nation’s median household income was $51,939 in 2013 — the most recent year in which data were available — not much higher than the cost of living in the relatively inexpensive Morristown.
War Games at Russia’s Doorstep: NATO Kicks Off Naval Drills in Black Sea with Ukraine (Source RT)
Ukraine is hosting naval military exercise in the Black Sea with NATO forces, involving 2,500 troops and some 150 military vehicles, from warships and helicopters to armored cars. The host nation of Sea Breeze 2015 has deployed 1,000 troops, nine warships and eight aircraft for the drill. The US has sent 1,000 troops as well as five warships, two submarines and six aircraft. The remaining 500 troops, six warships, three submarines and 6six aircraft were provided by Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Turkey, the UK and the non-NATO nations Moldova and Sweden. “The exercise is meant to boost trust and security in the region, [and to increase] the compatibility between the Ukrainian Navy and the navies of NATO members and partner countries,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement. Sea Breeze is held in Ukraine’s Odessa and Nikolaevsk region not far from Russia’s Crimea, which Kiev and its foreign sponsors consider to be Ukrainian. It will last till mid-September. Ukraine will participating in a total of 11 NATO drills in 2015. NATO is also currently conducting another war game, called Swift Response, in Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania. It is one of the largest such events since the Cold War and is planned to last until September 13. A separate exercise, called Simple Strike, is under way in the Baltic.
3-Foot N-Word Burned Into Man’s Front Lawn (Source newser.com) A Florida man is fuming after finding the n-word on his front lawn. The 3-foot letters were chemically burned onto the grass, WESH reports, and Courtney Gordon says people slow down as they drive by his house to read the word. “I feel like this is a threat to me and my family,” he says. “I have a feeling of who done it. It’s like a group of them, and I leave them to God. I’m a big guy, so they’re not gonna come to me and say that. They did it like the way they did it, behind my back and at night.”