For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)
A Future And A Hope

***

WND

STUNNER! SEE WHO TEARED UP OVER 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE'

Classic movie a tradition at Christmas for many Americans

Published: December 24, 2015

BOB UNRUH

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” the Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart Christmas story made in the aftermath of World War II that tells the story of an angel who hadn’t earned his wings and a small-town community leader who, it turns out, put his family and friends ahead of himself, probably has caused more than a few tears to be shed over the years.

And that includes the one person who was there in the make-believe world created in Hollywood for the work, the toil, the strain of putting the story together.

Jimmy Stewart.

His re-telling of the making of the Christmas classic came originally in Guideposts magazine, and was re-told this Christmas by James Dobson, of Family Talk radio, in his December 2015 newsletter to constituents.

Dobson reproduces a commentary from Stewart, who passed away about 20 years ago, about the making of “Wonderful Life.”

Stewart explained that the production set included 75 buildings on four acres, and for 1946, some startling developments that included production of something that looked like real snow, not just white corn flakes.

He said it was the story, which also featured Lionel Barrymore, Donna Reed, Henry Travers and more, itself that has kept the movie alive after all these decades – because it didn’t attract much attention when it first was released.

“Good as the script was,” Stewart wrote in the day, “There was still something else about the movie that made it different. It’s hard to explain. I, for one, had things happen to me during the filming that never happened in any other picture I’ve made.”

“In one scene, for example, George Bailey is faced with unjust criminal charges, and, not knowing where to turn, ends up in a little roadside restaurant. He is unaware that most of the people in town are arduously praying for him. In this scene, at the lowest point in George Bailey’s life, Frank Capra was shooting a long shot of me slumped in despair. In agony I raised my eyes and, following the script, and pled, ‘God … God … Dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if You’re up there and You can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God …’”

Stewart continued, “As I said those words, I felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and my eyes filled with tears. I broke down sobbing. This was not planned at all, but the power of that prayer, the realization that our Father in heaven is there to help the hopeless, had reduced me to tears.”

Not one to miss a moment, Capra, who “loved the spontaneity,” wanted a close-up, Stewart explained.

But he also “was sensitive enough to know that my breaking down was real and that repeating it in another take was unlikely.”

He got the close-up anyway, Stewart said, spending “long hours in the film laboratory, again and again enlarging the frames of that scene so that eventually it would appear as a close-up on screen. I believe nothing like this had ever been done before. It involved thousands of individual enlargements with extra time and money. But he felt it was worth it.”

Stewart called the film, released Dec. 25, 1946, “nothing phenomenal” … it was just “about an ordinary man who discovers that living each ordinary day honorably, with faith in God and a selfless concern for others, can make for a truly wonderful life.”

Dobson cited Stewart as “a man of deep Christian faith whose beliefs stood in sharp contrast to those of many of his contemporaries.”

“He put his burgeoning film career on hold to fight for his country … [he] commented that one of his greatest sources of encouragement in battle was a tattered copy of the 91st Psalm that had been given to him by his father,” he also was married to the same woman, Gloria, for more than 45 years and he “faithfully attended church until the day he died.”

***

SHTFplan.com

Pope Goes Full Doomsday: “For Those Who Celebrate Christmas… It May Be Their Last”

Author Condition Mac Slavo

Date December 22nd, 2015

Speaking before a crowd Pope Francis has made a frightening prediction. With wars raging the world over this may be our last Christmas.

In their book Petrus Romanus authors Tom Horn and Cris Putnam made two startling predictions. In 2012, while Pope Benedict was still in office, they predicted the occurrence of an event that had not happened for over 600 years – Benedict’s abdication of the Papacy. When Pope Benedict resigned early the following year it came as a total shock to the one billion Catholics worldwide. The two researchers, who jokingly say their inspiration was the Holy Spirit, have remained tight-lipped about how they were able to forecast an almost unprecedented event so accurately.

But as incredible of a prediction as it was, it is nothing compared to the second one Horn and Putnam put forth. The two cite a 600-year old prophecy by Saint Malachy who, through inspiration from God reportedly penned the names of the next 112 Popes in succession. As it turns out, Benedict’s resignation would lead to the eventual election of Pope Francis, the 112th person on the list. Where things get scary is that the Prophecy ends with Francis – after him Malachy listed no more successors. The prophecy itself refers to this final pope as “Petrus Romanus,” or Peter the Roman.

According to Malachy’s prophecy the the world is headed into dark times:

“In extreme persecution the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by Peter the Roman…”

“Who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible or fearsome judge will judge his people.

The End.”

Prophecy of the Popes – Attributed to St. Malachy circa 1139 A.D.

Whatever your thoughts on prophecy or prediction, Pope Francis holds incredible influence over the some one billion Catholics worldwide. He is after all, the successor to Peter, the first Pope and direct disciple of Jesus Christ. So when the Pope speaks his words have serious ramifications for the Church. Within the last couple years he has already caused controversy both within the Church and the broader Christian public surrounding his thoughts on climate change, gay rights, and wealth distribution, with many saying that his changes to long-held doctrine could lead to the end of the Catholic Church as we know it today.

But his latest warnings could spell the literal End of Days

In a solemn sermon at the Vatican, Pope Francis has announced that Christmas this year will be a “charade” due to the fact that the globe is currently engaging in World War 3.

“It’s all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war,” he said grimly.

During Mass at Casa Santa Maria the Pope then made a frightening prediction and one that would fulfill prophecy by suggesting that this year’s Christmas celebrations may be our last:

We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war,” he said earlier in December.

The Pontiff, who turned 80 on Thursday, elaborated on his views this weekend, telling a crowd, “While the world starves, burns, and descends further into chaos, we should realise that this year’s Christmas celebrations for those who choose to celebrate it may be their last”.

Is Pope Francis simply assessing, like many have, the dire situation around the world as it relates to economic and geo-political strife? Or is he aware that he is, in fact, destined to be the Final Pope who oversees not just the destruction of the Church, but the entire planet?

***

YAHOO! NEWS

Pope enters 80th year popular as ever _ but with criticism

By NICOLE WINFIELD

December 17, 2015 4:55 PM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis entered his 80th year on Thursday amid hopes among his critics that it will be his last — at least as pope.

While Francis remains enormously popular among most rank-and-file Catholics, a small but vocal group of conservatives who have never much cared for his radical agenda have grown increasingly strident in criticizing the pope now that there is little doubt left about his priorities.

They have taken aim at the just-concluded synod on family issues, where the divisive issue of Communion for the civilly remarried took center stage. They have raised alarm at Francis' call for a more decentralized church and his loosening of the Vatican's marriage annulment process. They have winced at his environmental alarmism, wondered what's in store for Catholic orthodoxy in this Holy Year of Mercy and blasted as sacrilege the recent screening of nature shots on St. Peter's Basilica.

The Remnant, a small, traditionalist U.S. newspaper, last week penned an open letter begging Francis to change course or resign, arguing that his papacy was "causing grave harm to the church." Organizers say a few thousand people have signed onto the petition.

"You have given many indications of an alarming hostility to the church's traditional teaching, discipline and customs, and the faithful who try to defend them, while being preoccupied with social and political questions beyond the competence of the Roman Pontiff," the newspaper said. "This appalling situation has no parallel in church history."

To put it more simply: "Many people in the Vatican want Francis dead," said Francesca Chaouqui, the woman at the heart of a leaks scandal currently convulsing Francis' Vatican.

In an interview last weekend with Italy's La Stampa newspaper, Chaouqui said Francis' in-house reforms and nominations have emboldened his enemies, many of whom were in the Vatican when Francis was archbishop of Buenos Aires and had a less-than-pleasant relationship with Rome.

Some of these cardinals and bishops are openly resisting his reforms while others inside and out of the Vatican are simply waiting out his pontificate under the argument that popes come and go but the Curia remains.

"Pope Francis is no longer trusted by many conservative Catholics and the number who don't trust him has grown enormously since the synod," conservative columnist Damian Thompson wrote in Britain's Spectator last month. He said he doesn't see the dust settling until the next conclave, "which lots of conservative Catholics want to happen as soon as possible."

The Argentine Jesuit, who has rarely backed down from a fight, seems unfazed and quite possibly emboldened by the criticism. And there is no indication that it poses any real threat to his broad popularity since the concern has been confined in the public sphere at least to mostly Anglo-Saxon and Italian pundits writing in predictably conservative publications, claiming to speak for a growing number of otherwise anonymous Catholic laity and clergy.

Next Monday will be a good litmus test to show just how far Francis is willing to push the envelope when he gathers the Curia for his traditional Christmas greetings.

It was at that usually jovial affair last year that Francis issued a blistering, public dressing down of his closest collaborators by diagnosing the "15 ailments of the Curia." He accused the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican bureaucracy of using their careers to grab power and wealth, of living "hypocritical" double lives and of forgetting — due to "spiritual Alzheimer's" — that they're supposed to be joyful men of God.

It didn't go down well.

"Since then, the murmuring of criticism of Jorge Mario Bergoglio has grown, always though anonymously given the the pope's reaction to anyone who criticizes or irritates him," Italy's veteran Vatican analyst and frequent Francis critic Sandro Magister wrote recently. "Many are wondering what he'll say this time."

In fact, many wonder what the pope says a lot of the time.

Canon lawyer Edward Condon, a strong supporter of Francis who doesn't count himself among his conservative critics, said the pope's casual and free way of speaking has nevertheless led to confusion among the faithful about where he stands on certain key issues. Writing recently in Britain's Catholic Herald, Condon suggested that was the result of papal interpreters who truncate his remarks and spin them to suit their own agendas, aided by a pope who is uninterested in following his own media coverage and advisers uninterested in advising him how it's all playing out.

"If the pope isn't trying to leave himself open to constant contradictory interpretations, what is going on?" Condon asked. "The most obvious answer seems to be that he is simply unaware of the turmoil carrying on outside the Vatican walls."

What transpired on the Vatican walls last week has for many been the last straw.

On Dec. 8, a major Catholic feast day honoring the Virgin Mary and the official start of Francis' Holy Year of Mercy, the Vatican projected National Geographic and other images of animals and nature on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica. The spectacular sound and light show, sponsored among others by the World Bank, aimed to both highlight Francis' environmental appeal and coincide with the final stretch of climate negotiations in Paris.

Criticism among conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic was swift and severe.

"The sense that St. Peter's Basilica has been profaned is strong," Italian Catholic author Antonio Socci wrote on his Facebook page. "The holy place par excellence, the heart of Christianity transformed on a maxi-screen for the show of the 'New World Power Ideology' — and the Nativity crib was left in darkness."

***

RT

2015 worst year for number of refugees, over 60mn forced out of homes globally – UN

Published time: 18 Dec, 2015 13:20

Edited time: 18 Dec, 2015 13:21

In six months in 2015 over 20 million people fled wars and persecution, more than in the whole of 2014, the UN has reported. Total global forced displacement this year is likely to exceed all previous records and go beyond 60 million people.

"2015 is on track to see worldwide forced displacement exceeding 60 million for the first time - 1 in every 122 humans is today someone who has been forced to flee their homes," the report said.

UN Refugee Agency
@Refugees

Sad milestone: 2015 is likely to exceed all previous records for global forced displacement
Not only are people fleeing their homes in record numbers, but opportunities for them to return safely are at the lowest level in three decades, the UN Refugee Agency’s report said. Between January and June an estimated 84,000 refugees voluntarily returned home, compared to 107,000 over the same period last year.

"In effect, if you become a refugee today your chances of going home are lower than at any time in more than 30 years," the report said.

Some 839,000 people joined the ranks of refugees over the period, with Syria and Ukraine accounting for about half of that number. Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq made large contributions as well.

"Never has there been a greater need for tolerance, compassion and solidarity with people who have lost everything," Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement.

Germany was the largest recipient of asylum seekers in the first six months of the year as the inflow steadily increased and reached 159,000, close to the entire total for 2014. Russia is the second-largest recipient with 100,000 asylum claims lodged, most of them by Ukrainians fleeing the armed conflict in the east of the country.

However, countries bordering conflict zones, many of them developing nations themselves, are hit hardest by the flow of refugees, the report added. Lebanon hosts the biggest number of refugees compared to its population size; Ethiopia pays most in relation to the size of its economy, hosting 469 refugees for every dollar of GDP (per capita, at purchasing power parity); Turkey hosts the world’s biggest share of refugees in its territory, amounting to 1.84 million.

***

POPULAR MECHANICS

Russia and China's "Enhanced Human Operations" Terrify the Pentagon

"We're going to have to have a big, big decision on whether we're comfortable going that way."

By Eric Tegler

Dec 16, 2015

U.S. adversaries are already working on something America is reluctant to: Enhanced Human Operations (EHO).

EHOs entail modifying the body and the brain itself, creating what some have called "super soldiers." At a press conference laying the Defense Department's future research and development strategy on Monday, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work warned that America would soon lose its military competitive advantage if it does not pursue technologies such employing artificial intelligence.

"Now our adversaries, quite frankly, are pursuing enhanced human operations, and it scares the crap out of us," Work said.

Altering human beings from the inside to more effectively fight in combat presents ethical dilemmas for American scientists and military planners. Work says those ethical concerns typically don't apply to authoritarian governments like Russia's or China's, but their lack of hesitation in developing EHOs may force America's hand.

"We're going to have to have a big, big decision on whether we're comfortable going that way," Work admits.

What sort of enhancement are we talking about? As yet, the Pentagon has not been specific, but we can infer several likely human mods from previous work done by DARPA, and our own imagination.

Exoskeletons

As early as 1985, retired four-star Army General Paul F. Gorman sketched out a "SuperTroop" exoskeleton for DARPA that would protect soldiers from chemical, biological, electromagnetic, and ballistic threats, including direct fire from a .50-caliber bullet. Audio, visual, and haptic (touch) sensors were part of the design.

More recently, the Navy has explored the use of exoskeletons for lifting heavy loads and enhancing shipboard firefighting/damage control operations. In 2013, DARPA partnered with U.S. Special Operations Command on a light exoskeleton suit called TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit). Every time the discussion comes up, someone mentions Iron Man.

Drugs and Vaccines

You could argue that humans have already been boosted, at least primitively. ISIS and other terrorist organizations have an extensive history of handing their fighters hallucinogens and other drugs to bolster their savagery.

Apparently DARPA's Defense Sciences Office (DSO) investigated a mind-altering pain vaccine. Once injected into a soldier who had been shot, the vaccine would theoretically reduce the pain from inflammation and swelling. After 30 seconds of agony, the soldier would feel no pain for 30 days. As long as the bleeding was contained the soldier could keep fighting.

The government's research into halting the bleeding yielded another program that involved injecting millions of microscopic magnets into a person, which could later be brought together into a single area to stop bleeding with the wave of a wand.

DARPA has also studied whales and dolphins—mammals that don't need to sleep in long chunks like humans do—as inspiration for creating a soldier who requires little to no sleep for a week or more. Whales and dolphins independently control the left and right lobes of their brains, keeping one alert while the other sleeps. It's not known if DAPRA scientists made any progress with human lobe control, but they did explore powerful anti-sleep drugs like Modafinil.

Brain Implants

Enhancing soldiers' endurance isn't limited to exoskeletons. Under a program called the Brain-Machine Interface, DSO investigated how brain implants improve cognitive ability. Scientists sought to implant a computer chip in a rat's brain to see if they could remotely control the animal's movements. If success could be replicated in humans, it might eventually lead to remote guidance or control of a human being on the battlefield. Seriously. The program also explored the possibility of enabling soldiers to communicate with each other by thought alone.

Enhanced Human Operations would also theoretically include psychological or cognitive programming. Again, it could be argued that humans have long been psychologically programmed for war, from Nazi soldiers to Al Qaeda terrorists. But brain implants that trigger specific thought patterns or even instructions might be in the cards. So too might be extending the human being as an information, surveillance, and reconnaissance node by infusing the body with a variety of sensors and communications relays.

The possibilities for EHOs may be limited only by our imagination—and how much our own creations scare the crap out of us.

***

Daily Mail

Putin warns he will use extra force against terrorist groups in Syria 'if necessary'

  • Vladimir Putin reveals Russia will use more military force 'if necessary'

  • He confirmed his army have not employed all their capability in Syria

  • The Russian President also hailed the country's security services for foiling 30 planned attacks and uncovering over 320 foreign spies in 2015

By TOM WYKE FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 08:44 EST, 20 December 2015 | UPDATED: 14:25 EST, 20 December 2015

President Vladimir Putin has revealed that Russia will use more advanced military force against terror groups in Syria but only if its 'necessary.'

He confirmed that the Russian armed forces have not employed all their capability in Syria and may use 'more military means' there if required.

'I want to stress that these are by far not all of our capabilities,' he said. 'We have more military means. And we will use them - if need be.' Putin said.

Putin also hailed the country's secret services for foiling around 30 planned attacks and uncovering more than 320 foreign spies in 201

'We see how efficiently our pilots and intelligence agents coordinate their efforts with various kinds of forces - the army, navy and aviation, how they use the most modern weapons,'

He also hailed the country's secret services for foiling around 30 planned attacks and uncovering more than 320 foreign spies in 2015.

'I want to point out that this year, thanks to the efforts of the FSB employees, more than 30 crimes of a terrorist nature have been prevented,' said Putin in a speech honouring the FSB, whose forerunner was the Soviet KGB.

'Our counter-intelligence service carries a great responsibility. This year they identified more than 320 traitorous officers and agents of foreign secret services,' noted Putin, himself a former KGB agent and head of the FSB before his rise to political power in 1999.

'We are seeing the secret services of a certain number of countries intensifying... their work in Russia,' he added.

The recent increase in spying activity has been due in large part to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, pitting Kiev government forces against pro-Russian separatists since April 2014.

Putin in his speech also mentioned another global hotspot, Syria, where Russia in September began a campaign of air strikes against 'terrorists' to support the regime of ally Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

He said the Russian army was 'far from using all its capabilities in Syria,' assuring that 'additional funds could be released if necessary' for the military effort there.

Putin's comment come as Human Rights Watch said that Syrian government forces and their Russian allies have been making 'extensive' use of cluster munitions against rebel groups since late September.

The New York-based rights watchdog said in a report it had documented the use of cluster munitions on 20 occasions since Russian and Syrian forces launched their assault on 30 September.

HRW 'collected detailed information about attacks in nine locations that have killed at least 35 civilians, including five women and 17 children, and injured dozens', the report said.

All the bombs were either made in Russia or the former Soviet Union, the rights group said.

'Syria's promises on indiscriminate weapons ring hollow when cluster munitions keep hitting civilians in many parts of the country,' HRW's Ole Solvang said in the report.

Solvang urged the UN to 'get serious about its commitment to protect Syria's civilians by publicly demanding that all sides stop the use of cluster munitions'.

Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of bomblets and are fired in rockets or dropped from the air.

Widely banned, they spread explosives over large areas and are indiscriminate in nature, often continuing to maim and kill long after the initial attack when previously unexploded bomblets detonate.

Russia launched an aerial bombing campaign against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad on September 30.

More than 250,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011, and millions more have fled their homes

***

A Christmas present from the Russian Ministry of Interior.

The official ensemble of the Russian Ministry of the Interior performs one of the most popular American Christmas songs — Jingle Bells.

***

SPUTNIK

Turkey Headed Toward Civil War

02:51 20.12.2015(updated 07:02 20.12.2015)

Dozens of Kurdish fighters and several Turkish soldiers have lost their lives in bloody clashes in Turkey’s southeast this week, and the shadow of civil war is increasingly seen day by day.

Increasingly, signs that ongoing clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish fighters may soon turn into a full-scale civil war, with much of the Kurdish population involved, have caused deep concern.

Ankara’s hardline politicians and Turkish nationalists across the country are pouring oil onto the flames with violent rhetoric.

The operations carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces, gendarmerie and police will continue in the region in a steadfast manner until public security is established,” a recent statement by Turkey’s General Staff reads.

Over a hundred fighters from the notorious Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been killed in action in the south-east province of Sirnak this week, according to Turkish media. In a full-scale military operation launched on Tuesday, two government soldiers were killed while 23 others, including members of the police, were injured.

This course of events is what many have been warning against.

When we see these moves, we will know that Pandora’s Box has been opened and we can expect that both sides are heading to a level of violence that could become a civil war,” Metin Gurcan, a Turkish analyst, wrote for Al Monitor earlier this week.

Before the “anti-PKK” operation, as the Turks call their military actions in Cizre, Silopi, and other spots, both PKK and the government forces had been telling civilians to leave the area or go into hiding. Now, peace in this part of the Middle East looks a lot like war.

Semsettin, 45, said his family in Silopi woke up on Wednesday to the sound of gunfire and went down to their basement to hide,” BBC reported on Thursday. “As their house is the only one in the area with a basement, 25 neighbors have joined them in the 3-4 square meter room. ‘There is no electricity, it’s cold and the children are suffering. There is no baby food or milk,’ he says.”

After two days of military operations in the area, Turkey’s Interior Minister Efkan Ala stated that the military and police had seized tons of explosives and thousands of weapons from Kurds, according to Anadolu Agency.

Security forces seized 2,240 weapons, 862 of which were heavy and long-barreled weapons, almost 10 tons of explosives and some 10,000 Molotov cocktails,” the minister specified.

Kurdish rebels reportedly have not only dug trenches and built barricades in urban areas, but also modified their combat strategy to be effective against well-equipped government military forces.

In the past, veteran PKK fighters reinforced young urban fighters by using a strategy of ‘come-coordinate-depart,’ but now the strategy has become ‘come-stay-direct,’ Metin Gurcan of Al Monitor explained. “If these hybrid forces of veteran PKK fighters and young YDG-H militants in cities are equipped with advanced anti-tank missiles such as Milan, Kornet and TOW and shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles that could change the entire nature of the anticipated clashes.”

The regulation of financial activities in Kurdish-dominated areas was reportedly taken over by the PKK in advance, in expectation of a long conflict.

Experts point out that a full-scale war with increased civilian casualties – or, as NATO is used to cynically label it: “collateral damage” — is likely to lead to a civil war over the large areas of Turkey that have a Kurdish majority. Kurds account for some 20% of the total population of Turkey.

Around 10,000 troops and police officers are involved in a nationwide military operation tasked with putting down a recent Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) independence insurgency.

The PKK waged two long, violent and unsuccessful struggles for independence against Turkey, in which 5,000 Turkish troops and more than 40,000 Kurds were killed between 1984-1999 and 2004-2012.

A total of 180 police, military and civilians have died in PKK attacks following terrorist acts, claimed by the Islamic State (Daesh in Arabic), that killed 33 Kurdish activists in July and the murder of two police officers claimed by the PKK.

Turkey has stepped up its air campaign against PKK targets in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.

***

Zero Hedge

Huge Fukushima Cover-Up Exposed, Government Scientists In Meltdown

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/19/2015 17:05 -0500

Fukushima radiation just off the North American coast is higher now than it has ever been, and government scientists and mainstream press are scrambling to cover-up and downplay the ever-increasing deadly threat that looms for millions of Americans.

Following the March 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, reactors have sprayed immeasurable amounts of radioactive material into the air, most of which settled into the Pacific Ocean. A study by the American Geophysical Union has found that radiation levels from Alaska to California have increased and continue to increase since they were last taken.

Naturalnews.com reports:

The highest levels yet of radiation from the disaster were found in a sample taken 2,500 kilometers (approx. 1,550 miles) west of San Francisco.

Safe” according to whom?

Lead researcher Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was one of the first people to begin monitoring Fukushima radiation in the Pacific Ocean, with his first samples taken three months after the disaster started. In 2014, he launched a citizen monitoring effort – Our Radioactive Ocean – to help collect more data on ocean-borne radioactivity.

The researchers track Fukushima radiation by focusing on the isotope Cesium-134, which has a half-life of only two years. All Cesium-134 in the ocean likely comes from the Fukushima disaster. In contrast, Cesium-137 – also released in huge quantities from Fukushima – has a half-life of 30 years, and persists in the ocean, not just from Fukushima, but also from nuclear tests conducted as far back as the 1950s.

The most recent study added 110 new Cesium-134 samples to the ongoing studies. These samples were an average of 11 Becquerels per cubic meter of sea water, a level 50 percent higher than other samples taken so far.

Instead of presenting the findings as an alarming sign of growing radiation, however, Buesseler emphasizes that the Cesium-134 levels detected are still 500 times lower than the drinking water limits set by the U.S. government. The news site The Big Wobble questions whether Buesseler and Woods Hole’s heavy financial reliance on the U.S. government – Woods Hole has received nearly $8 million in research funding from several government agencies – plays any role in this emphasis.

Situation still worsening

The reality, however, is that radiation along the West Coast is expected to keep getting worse. According to a 2013 study by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, the oceanic radiation plume released by Fukushima is likely to hit the North American West Coast in force in 2017, with levels peaking in 2018. Most of the radioactive material from the disaster is likely to stay concentrated on the western coast through at least 2026.

According to professor Michio Aoyama of Japan’s Fukushima University Institute of Environmental Radioactivity, the amount of radiation from Fukushima that has now reached North America is probably nearly as much as was spread over Japan during the initial disaster.

The recent Woods Hole study also confirmed that radioactive material is still leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled Fukushima plant. Cesium-134 levels off the Japanese coast are between 10 and 100 times higher than those detected off the coast of California.

Without directly challenging the U.S. government’s “safe” radiation limits, Buesseler obliquely references the fact that any radioactive contamination of the ocean is cause for concern.

“Despite the fact that the levels of contamination off our shores remain well below government-established safety limits for human health or to marine life,” he said, “the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific.”

***

Natural Blaze

Former Costco exec launches the US’ first 100% organic fast-food restaurant

By Amanda Froelich | True Activist

December 21, 2015 11:29 am EST

The Organic Coup opened in California last month, but already has customers lining up for more. Its founder, Erica Welton, is the former executive for Costco and plans to open 25 more restaurants over the next 14 months.

The Organic Coup

For most adults in the United States, juggling the responsibility of healthy eating with other priorities can be tough.

This is exactly why the former executive of Costco, Erica Welton, launched the restaurant chain The Organic Coup.

Welton was a food buyer for Costco for 14 years before leaving but did so because she was inspired to meet consumers’ demand for some tasty organic fare.

She told Business Insider:

“We saw this huge shift happening at Costco with people purchasing more and more organic food.”

Won over by the concept of organic, Welton began purchasing pesticide-free produce and antibiotic and hormone-free meat(s) for her own family.

When on the go, however, she had few options for quick, healthy meals.

“Chipotle is a great option, but we didn’t want to eat there for every meal,” she said.

So, she decided to leave Costco and founded the new business. The Organic Coup opened last month in Pleasanton, California and already has happy customers lining up for more.

Welton plans to open 25 more restaurants just like it over the next 14 months, mainly on the West Coast. Eventually, the ambitious entrepreneur wants to expand The Organic Coup to cities including Las Vegas, New York City, Austin, and Chicago.

Erica went through the tedious process of getting the chain certified by the USDA because she wanted customers to be able to trust The Organic Coup’s promise of organic food.

“I didn’t really understand how few restaurants were certified. I was shocked to find out that we were actually America’s first certified-organic fast-food chain,” she says.

According to many, the restaurant’s specialty is its fried chicken, which is made from organic, air-chilled chicken friend in coconut oil (one of the few oils that has a high-heat temperature).

She says:

“It’s the most expensive oil we could have chosen, but it has good plant-based fats, no cholesterol, and it’s high in Vitamin A.”

While the menu is quite simple, it’s also flexible. For example, customers can get the fried chicken with a range of sauces on a bun, in a multigrain wrap, or in a bowl with shredded vegetables.

“We have the Costco mindset focusing on doing one thing great,” Welton said of the fried chicken.

The only side is organic popcorn covered in caramel and drizzled with chocolate.

Compared to other restaurants, The Organic Coup is more expensive than most fast-food establishments. The fried chicken sandwich, for example, costs $8.99, compared to a chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A which costs $4.

That hasn’t seemed to deter healthy-minded eaters, however.

The Organic Coup has only been open for about four weeks, but it has already racked up nearly 100 reviews on Yelp and Facebook! And for the most part, those reviews are quite positive.

One satisfied customer described the chicken as “juicy, tender and spicy.” Another person referred to the popcorn as “legal crack.” There have been some requests, with customers suggesting a side order of sweet potato fries to be added to the menu.

Citizens in the United States are beginning to recognize the importance of healthy eating and lifestyle habits. According to the CDC, a minimum of 40% of the leading five causes of death in the United States could be prevented if more people ate clean and exercised four to five times a week.

If everyone took the initiative to eat cleaner and support farmers that produce organic crops, as well, the agriculture industry would be forced to change, and billions would be saved in healthcare costs.

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Until next year...keep on believing.
Almondtree Productions

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.”
(Lamentations 3:22-24)


http://www.missionarychristian.org