Daily Archives: May 30, 2011

Record snow makes spectacular Yosemite waterfalls

Associated Press | May 28, 2011

by Tracie Cone

In this photo taken Thursday, May 26, 2011, Lynne Bousie of Scotland and James Ayres of England pose in front of Yosemite Falls while Simon Finch of Wales makes their photo in Yosemite National park. (AP Photos/Tracie Cone)

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – Water, water everywhere — and it’s a spectacular sight.

Record Sierra snowfall over the winter now means record snow melt as temperatures rise, swelling Yosemite National Park’s iconic waterfalls, streams and rivers to their most turbulent level in years.

Yosemite Falls, the nation’s tallest, is spewing enough water to fill a gasoline tanker truck every two seconds. The force of water at Bridalveil Falls across the valley kicks up a mist that clouds the meadow below.

It means that until the peak melt around mid-June, visitors will experience more treacherous beauty in Yosemite than even the travel brochures promise.

“Breathtaking, that’s what it is,” said Lynne Bousie of Scotland, who stopped to pose for a photograph at the spot where the paved trail to Yosemite Falls makes a turn and the first full view of its entire 2,425-foot drop comes into view.

Water cascading from the many signature falls that cut across Yosemite’s granite walls (as well as countless unnamed ones that spout only in peak years like this) is swelling the Merced River. For the next few months the roar of violently churning water will drown out all other background noise in the park.

“Some falls that you can see now don’t have names and aren’t even on the map,” said park spokeswoman Kari Cobb.

Already the frigid, 40-degree river that drains Yosemite Valley’s snowmelt is flowing at more than 1,600 cubic feet per second, carrying people and objects away at more than 10 mph.

“That’s infinitely more powerful than anyone can imagine,” said Moose Mutlow, coordinator of Yosemite’s swift water rescue program, which began practicing for the season on Thursday. “You can’t keep up with someone if the water is that fast and you’re running and dodging trees.”

Even minor creeks and streams are flowing hard, which has forced closure of a few campsites. Because of the mild spring, the danger of flooding has been reduced.

Thanks to a snowpack twice as deep as usual park officials say the ephemeral falls like Yosemite that dry up in early summer will still by flowing into August. For the first time in a long time record melt and the peak visitor season are falling on the same weekend.

Yosemite Valley was carved eons ago by the ebb and flow of glaciers over many ice ages. The sheer 3,000-foot granite cliffs drain multiple watersheds, each sending a cascade of water into Yosemite Valley. Some flow for only a few weeks — or in dry years not at all.

It’s a dangerous beauty both in its force and in the allure that draws some people near. Rangers warn visitors to keep a safe distance and to be mindful the water makes granite boulders slippery.

Two people died earlier this month in accidents that might have been attributed to the water. One visitor slipped and fell below Yosemite Falls, where raging water sends a wet shroud over trails and rocks. Another fell into the Merced River, where he swiftly was carried about 150 yards and lodged under a rock. It is presumed he drowned.

Only three of Yosemite’s dozens of waterfalls can be counted on to flow all year — Bridalveil, Vernal and Nevada, and the last two require a steep hike. For a few more weeks, however, even those without the stamina for long walks can experience something rare and special.

“We are very lucky the timing was right,” said James Ayres of England as he gazed at Yosemite Falls. “This is incredible.”

GM corn designed for human depopulation

Antibodies from women with a rare condition known as immune infertility are used in the creation of GMO food.

If GMOs are highly associated with infertility and spontaneous abortions in animals, is a similar rate of infertitlity (20%) occurring in people and are there increases in spontaneous abortion? 

Salem-News.com  | May 28, 2011

Children of the Corn: GMOs Don’t Qualify As Food

by C. Stone

(LONDON) – There has been a concerted national effort by citizens to have the US government label GMOs.  Opposing it are government intent not only to keep them unlabeled in the US but efforts at the international level by the US government to remove all labeling of GMOs through Codex.  The problem is that Codex applies to food, and GMOs don’t qualify.

William Engdahl wrote in March of 2010 about a USDA funded project to create a GM corn that sterilizes people.

GMO, glyphosate and population reduction

One long-standing project of the US Government has been to perfect a genetically-modified variety of corn, the diet staple in Mexico and many other Latin American countries. The corn has been field tested in tests financed by the US Department of Agriculture along with a small California bio-tech company named Epicyte. Announcing his success at a 2001 press conference, the president of Epicyte, Mitch Hein, pointing to his GMO corn plants, announced, “We have a hothouse filled with corn plants that make anti-sperm antibodies.”

Hein explained that they had taken antibodies from women with a rare condition known as immune infertility, isolated the genes that regulated the manufacture of those infertility antibodies, and, using genetic engineering techniques, had inserted the genes into ordinary corn seeds used to produce corn plants. In this manner, in reality they produced a concealed contraceptive embedded in corn meant for human consumption. “Essentially, the antibodies are attracted to surface receptors on the sperm,” said Hein. “They latch on and make each sperm so heavy it cannot move forward. It just shakes about as if it was doing the lambada.” Hein claimed it was a possible solution to world “over-population.” The moral and ethical issues of feeding it to humans in Third World poor countries without their knowing it countries he left out of his remarks.

The questions raised by “[s]permicides hidden in GMO corn provided to starving Third World populations through the generosity of the Gates’ foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Kofi Annan’s AGRA” are many and profound.
Full story

GM wheat trial begins amid secrecy

SMH | May 28, 2011

by Ben Cubby

AUSTRALIA’S first trial of genetically modified wheat and barley has begun near Narrabri in NSW, with the ultimate goal of producing more nutritious bread.

But details of how exactly the genes were altered remain secret. The CSIRO, which is running the three-year experiment, said the various gene combinations in the trial were subject to commercial-in-confidence agreements to protect the interests of various government research agencies and a US company, Arcadia Biosciences.

The trial has been criticised by environment groups and some organic farmers, who say there is no known way to stop the altered wheat and barley from mixing with natural strains and ”contaminating” a swathe of Australia’s wheat crop.

Advertisement: Story continues below The CSIRO says it will follow the safety requirements set down in a licence issued by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator. ”They will be separated from other crops by 200 metres, and wheat pollen travels about one metre, so it is highly unlike any will be found beyond that,” said Matthew Morell, a researcher with the CSIRO’s Future Food division. ”Because these are patented technologies, there is still a need for restricting the details in terms of protecting commercial information.”

Fourteen separate strains of wheat and barley will be grown. Some will test the viability of enriching the crops with extra nutrients, and others will focus on using nitrogen from the soil more efficiently, which would in theory lead to higher productivity without requiring more fertiliser.

”We have done testing in greenhouses on these crops before but we also need to see how they react in the field, with the presence of other plants,” Dr Morell said. ”At the end of the process we should have two or three years of data, and we can make an assessment about it.”

The licence says the risk of the genetically modified crops escaping their containment is very low. ”The risk assessment concluded that this proposed limited and controlled release … poses negligible risks to the health and safety of people or the environment as a result of gene technology,” the gene technology regulator said.

However, the environment group Greenpeace opposes the trial, on the basis that there have been no laboratory trials on the safety of the modified crops for human or animal consumption.

It says genetically modified trial crops have usually broken their containment lines as a result of human error. In the case of a modified canola crop in southern NSW, seeds appear to have spilled from trucks driving down roads near an experimental farm. This spread the canola and potentially exposed government agencies to legal action from farmers who market their products as organic.

A Greenpeace spokeswoman, Laura Kelly, said: ”The Australian government’s decision to go ahead with GM wheat field trials amounts to a covert decision taken on behalf of Australia’s wheat farmers, consumers and export markets that Australian wheat will be GM.”

An organic farming group, The Biological Farmers of Australia, said the trial should not proceed without safety tests first.


Anti-GM food protest leaves 18 injured in Belgium

Environmental activists stormed a field of genetically modified potatoes in Belgium Sunday, breaking through a security cordon in a raid that left police and protesters injured, authorities and organisers said.

AFP | May 30, 2011

Police said they briefly detained around 40 people taking part in the “Field Liberation Movement”, which aimed to destroy the research crop in the northwestern town of Wetteren, according to Belga news agency.

Around 10 officers were slightly injured, according to police, while organisers said eight on their side were manhandled.

More than 200 people took part in the protest but only a few managed to sneak through fences and a police line protecting the field, said Franciska Soler, of the Volunteer Reapers of France which participated in the event.

“A certain number of potato plants were destroyed,” Soler told AFP.

Jo Bury, the director of the VIB science research institute that planted the potatoes, said around 100 scientists had tried to talk the activists out of raiding the field.

While GM foods are common in places such as the United States and Brazil, they are highly divisive in Europe.

Just two GM crops are authorised on European soil — a maize strain for animal feed and a potato for paper-making.

An internal survey conducted by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, showed last month that 13 out of 27 EU states see no benefit from GM crops.


Guided tours explore Freemasonry symbols in Manitoba legislature building

Manitoba Legislative Building, “Pool of the Black Star” Photo by Zef, Wikimedia Commons

I found it was not difficult to imagine that the veins spreading from the Pool of the Black Star through the surrounding pale marble were streams of blood coming from a sacrificial victim.

guelphmercury.com | May 27 2011

By Anne Gordon

WINNIPEG — Is Manitoba’s provincial legislature a modern-day temple to pagan gods?

Could its Pool of the Black Star represent a sacrificial altar? Is it possible this building is linked to Freemasonry, a secret society with an membership that has included Mozart, Clark Gable, Winston Churchill, George Washington . . . and even Tim Horton of hockey and coffee fame?

Designed by British-born architect Frank Worthington Simon (1863 – 1933), Winnipeg’s elegant neo-classical building was officially opened in 1920. It’s a nest of cryptic secrets, watched over by its rooftop statue of The Golden Boy, said by some to be an effigy of Hermes, the god of the occult.

Frank Albo, a former University of Winnipeg researcher, has been called Canada’s Dan Brown for his Da Vinci Code-style research into the building. According to his website at www.frankalbo.com, he is currently studying at the Cambridge University in England, preparing his PhD thesis in part on the influence of Freemasonry on British Theories of Gothic Architecture.

Albo, who offers 90-minute walking tours of the legislature during the summer months, has declared the Broadway Avenue legislature to be “bar none, the most sophisticated and complex, occult-Masonic-designed building in the world.”

And Albo should know. His field of expertise covers the ancient religions, temple design, mythology, Freemasonry and the Kabbalah, a spiritual movement that dates back thousands of years. His website describes the Manitoba legislature as “one of the greatest cover-ups in Canadian history . . . He (Albo) reveals the building to be a library of coded messages and secret teachings inscribed in a Masonic language.”

On a recent visit to Winnipeg, I toured the building in the company of guide Don Finkbeiner, owner of Heartland International Travel and Tours of Winnipeg, and found its connections to the secretive Freemasons, the Kaballah and the occult to be strangely riveting.

Under the enthusiastic tutelage of Finkbeiner, I learned how, in the distant past, sacred bulls — guardian beasts — were the first symbols that one encountered upon entering many pagan temples.

As we walked through the archway into the legislature, Finkbeiner figuratively transported our tour group back to ancient times when he drew our attention to the two massive statues of bison at the foot of the building’s grand staircase.

“We are now entering the Room of Protection,” he announced. “And the bison bulls are there to ward off evil. See the lion head carvings on the upper walls? They perform the same function.”

Mounted above steps leading into the legislature’s inner sanctum we saw a carving of Athena the Protector.

And nearby, the face of Medusa, a mythical woman with the ability to turn men to stone, is depicted in a stone relief with snakes writhing about her neck. On the roof of the legislature, there are two sphinxes — one of them faces the rising sun and the other the setting sun — that are solid reminders of the Freemasons interest in the pagan practices of ancient Egypt

This décor in a building was strange, and powerful.

The mosaic pavement surrounding the balustrade of the “altar” in the rotunda represents the floor of King Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, Finkbeiner explained. The Golden Boy (Hermes), poised on the pinnacle of the building’s dome, is situated directly above the altar. And gleaming up from the floor of the room beneath the altar is the Pool of the Black Star, a symbol commonly found in ancient temples.

After accepting Finkbeiner’s invitation and moving to stand in the middle of the Black Star, I experienced a moment of deep silence.

“Say something, Anne,” Finkbeiner encouraged.

So I whispered the words “the power of the Black Star” and my voice, clear as a bell, was carried upward through the open circular altar to the floor above. I felt a strange vibration through my body. Was it magic or are the building’s the acoustics really that good?

In 1925, a Manitoba legislature guide named Thomas Leslie expressed his feelings about the building in a book. In Leslie’s words: “There should be an Altar here, and a Priest, and the image of a god, and a victim, and a curved knife, and a circle of white-robed worshippers around the outer edge of the Pool, and the victim should be on the altar and the curved knife should flash; the floor is stained; dull red stains are trickling through the black veins of the marble.”

For myself as a visitor, on closer inspection, I found it was not difficult to imagine that the veins spreading from the Pool of the Black Star through the surrounding pale marble were streams of blood coming from a sacrificial victim.

Finkbeiner said he had conducted a tour of the building for 80 Freemasons just days before my visit. They instantly recognised the buildings secrets and their significance — and were enthralled by its Masonic connections, he said.

It was a tour that left me curious for answers and the biggest question I had was this: When Frank Worthington Simon (who may or may not have been a Freemason) was awarded the contract to design the Manitoba legislature, did he instead, unknown to provincial officials, deliver plans for a pagan temple with an enticing trail of secrets?

. . .

Hermetic Code Tour

Frank Albo




University proposes “foolproof” wi-fi surveillance of students

Practically 1984? Students would reject ‘the prospect of being treated like inmates’, the NUS says. Credit: Kobal

NUS says students would ‘baulk’ at automated attendance monitoring. John Morgan reports

Orwell 2.0? De Montfort proposes wi-fi surveillance

timeshighereducation.co.uk | May 26, 2011

By John Morgan

With students expected to become increasingly consumerist after the hike in tuition fees, universities may start to view campus wi-fi as a strong selling point.

But plans at De Montfort University may give students pause for thought about the virtues of an ever-present internet connection: the institution is considering using its network to monitor attendance via electronic chips in students’ ID cards.

Other universities have introduced electronic attendance monitoring, but an automated system using wi-fi would be unusual, and the National Union of Students warned that members would “baulk at the prospect of being treated like inmates under surveillance”.

The plan is outlined in minutes from a meeting of De Montfort’s executive board, which say that it would be “the most foolproof way of monitoring attendance”.

The minutes record a pro vice-chancellor saying that she “fully supported the idea and noted that communications would be important to ensure that students carried their cards at all times”.

A dean at the meeting added that it was “a very welcome suggestion given the current wasted resource involved with logging attendance manually”.

The board “approved the proposal”, according to the minutes.

Times Higher Education asked the university if the plan would now go ahead, but a spokeswoman said no decision had yet been reached.

De Montfort is among the many universities to announce that it will charge students the maximum fee of £9,000 in 2012-13.

Aaron Porter, the NUS president, said: “Those who stand to pay increasing fees for the privilege of studying will baulk at the prospect of being treated like inmates under surveillance…Software allowing universities to keep constant tabs on students…has the potential to be abused.

“Any university seeking to teach such a practical lesson in Orwell studies has its work cut out in seeking to convince students that forced exposure to round-the-clock monitoring will not infringe on their privacy or dignity.”

Alan J. Ryan, spokesman for the University and College Union at De Montfort, said the UCU understood the idea to be “on the back burner”.