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Monday, October 29, 2012

Easter Island’s statues ‘may have walked into place’

Image credit: worldsmartkids.com
Easter Island’s statues ‘may have walked into place’
Oct 26, 2012 | Phenomenica

Easter Island’s massive stone statues once walked, according to a controversial new theory that explains how the megaliths were put into place.

Nearly 1,000 statues stand on the remote Polynesian island’s 63 square miles, but much about their origin and the people who built them remains a mystery, the Daily Mail reported.

With the largest weighing 74 tons and standing nearly 33ft tall, few of the mysteries are more perplexing than how the megaliths – known as Moai – were moved miles into place from the quarries where they were hewn.

Previous studies have suggested that the people who settled Easter Island some 800 years ago, known as the Rapa Nui, laid the statues prone and rolled them into place using logs.

Rhe Island has since been highlighted as a warning of the dangers of overexploitation, with the theory being that the Rapa Nui eradicated the island’s forests to serve their obsession with statue building.

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However, a new study has now suggested that Easter Island’s statue builders ‘walked’ the moai into place by rocking them from side to side rather like you would move a refrigerator into the corner of your kitchen.
Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at California State University, Long Beach, claims that the archaeological record does not support the overexploitation hypothesis.

On the other hand, he says incomplete statues littered across the island tend to support the idea they were rocked into position, Nature reported.

According to Lipo, these incomplete statues lean forward in a posture that doesn’t seem to lend itself to horizontal transport.

He contends that broken moai along roads, which were presumably dropped and abandoned, also point to their being transported across the island vertically.

Professor Lipo and Terry Hunt, an archaeologist at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, tested the hypothesis with a life-size concrete model of one of the statues.

The large stone statues, or moai, for which Easter Island is world-famous, were carved from 1100–1680AD, according to carbon dating.

A total of 887 monolithic stone statues have been inventoried on the island and in museum collections so far.

Although often identified as ‘Easter Island heads’, the statues have torsos, most of them ending at the top of the thighs. A small number are complete, with the figures kneeling with their hands over their stomachs.

They were carved out of distinctive, compressed, easily worked solidified volcanic ash or tuff found at a single site inside the extinct volcano Rano Raraku.

Only a quarter of the statues were installed, while nearly half remained in the quarry at Rano Raraku and the rest sat elsewhere, probably on their way to final locations.

The largest moai ever raised on a platform is known as ‘Paro’. It weighs 82 tons and is 32.15ft long.

Enlisting the help of an 18-strong team, they managed to get a 10ft statue walking by pulling it side to side with three hemp ropes – one tied to the back to stop it dropping face-first and two on either side.

In under an hour the team were able to get the replica moai to travel 100m and based on their findings Professor Lipo suggested a small number of part-time workers could efficiently transport the statues, questioning the traditionally held scenario that Easter Island’s population ballooned and later crashed.

ANI

Hurricane Sandy May Score a Direct Hit On Spent Fuel Pools at Nuclear Plant

Hurricane Sandy May Score a Direct Hit On Spent Fuel Pools at Nuclear Plant
Oct 29, 2012 | Washingtons Blog

New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut Nuclear Plants In Path of Storm

Preface:  We hope and expect that the severity of the hurricane is being overblown, and that the nuclear plants in the Northeast will ride out the storm without any incident.  

We noted Friday that .

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Mangomap has a livetracker showing the hurricane’s projected path in relation to nearby nuclear plants:

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that there are actually 26 nuclear plants in the path of the hurricane, and that the spent fuel pools in the plants don’t have backup pumps (summary via EneNews):

Read more..

Flashback -- The CME that Shattered Solar Theory

Flashback -- The CME that Shattered Solar Theory
Oct 29, 2012 |



do it yourself solar power kits

5 Reasons to end our war on germs

© JPagetRFphotos/ Shutterstock.com
5 Reasons to end our war on germs
Oct 24, 2012 | Katherine Butler

Our war against germs is doing more harm than good.

Western civilization guards its health as if constantly menaced by a giant public toilet handle. That's because we know how to read statistics, like we carry between two to 10 million bacteria from fingertip to elbow, or that germs can stay alive for up to three hours. As the Food and Drink Federation of Great Britain cheerfully points out, there can be as many germs under your ring as there are people in Europe.

We are a culture of germaphobes, spending as much as $930 million on antibacterial chemicals and $2.4 billion on soap at the end of the last decade. But is it possible that our war against germs is doing more harm than good?

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Antibacterial or antimicrobial products do have a place in our society: in hospitals, on the surgeon's table, in your nurse's hands. But stationed in our handbags, waiting to be daily lathered up at the first touch of a subway pole? Not so much. Studies show that some antimicrobial products not only contain potential hormonal disruptors, but they are enabling superbugs to breed beyond our ability to smite them. Here are five reasons you should trade in some of your antibacterial sprays, gels and liquid soaps for just plain old soap and water.

1. Triclosan. For more than 30 years, triclosan has been used in hand soaps, cosmetics, deodorants, toothpastes, clothes, detergents, and more. The Centers for Disease Control reports that triclosan is found in the urine of nearly 75 percent of people tested. Other studies have shown it to be in the breast milk and blood samples of the general population. It is marketed under other names such as Microban, Irgasan DP-300, Lexol 300, Biofresh, Ster-Zac, Cloxifenolum, and more.

So now that we know we're likely hosting triclosan like Times Square hosts tourists, let's look at its safety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently does not list triclosan as a hazardous ingredient; however, in light of several recent studies showing adverse effects in animal testing, the FDA is currently reviewing this position. Triclosan is shown to alter hormone regulation in frogs, resulting in altered behavior and possible infertility. A recent study in 2012 revealed that triclosan is "linked with muscle function impairments in humans and mice, as well as slowing the swimming of fish."

Liquid soap manufacturers, which as the New York Times points out, represent half of the $750 million market for liquid hand soaps in the United States, continue to claim triclosan has no harmful effects on humans. But while companies such as Dial keep using the questionable antimicrobial, others, such as Colgate-Palmolive, have started to replace tricolsan with different ingredients.

2. Natural selection. So imagine you're slathering your hands with antibacterial soap. While most of the bacteria on your skin reacts like it's Armageddon, a few remain. These hardy bacteria - now resistant to your soap - adapt and mutate to successfully ward off your next sudsy assault on their existence. Microbiologists refer to this process as "selection," and several studies show that it's causing some bacteria to resist antibiotics.

Then you get a bacterial infection, and your doctor prescribes antibiotics. As Discovery Health points out, "some antibacterial agents go after the same physiology of bacteria that prescription antibiotics do." This means that if the bacteria making you sick already has a resistance to antibacterial agents because of previous exposure, it's not going to work as well or at all. Think of it this way - do you really want superbugs playing out War of the Worlds in your body?

3. They are harming our ecosystem. The Natural Resources Defense Council shares that triclosan and its close cousin triclocarban "are found in high concentrations in sediments and sewage sludge where they can persist for decades." Further, triclosan is one of the most frequently detected chemicals found in U.S. streams. The hormonal disruptions it enables are thought to be damaging the reproductive health of certain fish. Meanwhile, some experts are concerned about the additional exposure to humans eating contaminated fish.

4. They are making us sick.
It turns out our war on germs is having an ironic side effect - in some cases, it's actually making us sick. Because our bodies no longer need to fight germs like they did in bubonic times, studies show that some children are developing allergies. Apparently, allowing our bodies to rarely detect germs has made them more sensitive to everyday substances, like pollen and dust.

Marc McMorris is a pediatric allergist at the University of Michigan Health System. As he told LiveScience, "As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies." Studies show that allergy rates in Americans from 1988 to 1994 are two to five times higher that rates from 1976 to 1980.

5. Soap and water works just as well. Why do colds, viruses and plagues spread in the first place? As much as we'd like to blame it on Gwyneth Paltrow shaking hands with a Chinese chef and then cheating on Matt Damon (as took place in the film Contagion), it's largely because we of the so-called civilized world don't like to wash our hands. In fact, as many as half of all men and a quarter of women fail to wash their hands after they have been to the bathroom.

As it turns out, what we learned in kindergarten is true - the CDC urges us to wash our hands with soap and water to prevent the spread of germs. But we do not need said soap to contain antibacterial agents. The FDA shares that it has no evidence that antibacterial soaps containing triclosan provide any extra health benefits.

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So What Should We Use?

Luckily, there are many products out there which do not have worrisome studies attached to their ingredients lists. Plain soap and water are your best friends in the fight against colds and flu. Start reading ingredient labels, weeding out anything with triclosan and triclocarban. If you need to wash your hands and nary a sink or soap dish is to be found, use antibacterial gels that contain alcohol as the primary germ-fighting ingredient. According to the CDC, they should work well if they contain at least 60% alcohol and your hands are not visibly dirty.

And if you really want to go natural (and have some extra dollars to spend), consider a line of clean (so to speak) soaps. Tracy Perkins, creator of the handmade soap company Strawberry Hedgehog, uses essential oils in her line. As she tells AlterNet, "essential oils derived directly from plants are powerfully antibacterial on their own, and used in appropriate dilution they are much gentler than the harsh antibacterial detergents available on the market."

So the next time you find yourself reaching for your antibacterial spray, ask yourself "to triclosan or not to triclosan?" And then wash the heck out of your hands with simple soap and water.

About the author

Katherine Butler's articles have been featured on NPR, CNN, EcoSalon, Grist and Forbes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Is Hurricane Sandy So Big?

NASA's Terra satellite captured this image
of Hurricane Sandy at 12 PM Eastern on Oct. 28, 2012.
CREDIT: NASA Earth Observatory
Why Is Hurricane Sandy So Big?
Oct 28, 2012 | Live Science

By tomorrow night (Oct. 29) or Tuesday, winds and clouds from Hurricane Sandy could stretch across the eastern third of the United States, according to weather predictions from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Sandy currently has hurricane-force winds extending up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center, and tropical storm-force winds out to 520 miles (835 km), according to the NHC. That's second only to 2001's Olga in terms of the size of wind field of a storm. (Olga's winds extended out 600 miles (965 kilometers).

How did this Frankenstorm get so big?

Tropical transition

The main reason is that Sandy is morphing from a tropical cyclone to an extra-tropical cyclone, said Chris Davis, a scientist with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. Extra-tropical cyclones, or those outside the tropics, tend to be significantly larger than tropical ones. Although Sandy is huge, its size is not unprecedented, he said. What's more unusual is the location and timing—nor'easters can get this big, but usually occur in the winter, he said.

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Hurricane Sandy began as a tropical cyclone,fueled by warm water, warm, moist air and the convection these phenomena can create, Davis told OurAmazingPlanet. These hurricanes can be likened to heat engines, transferring heat from the surface of the ocean to higher in the atmosphere.  By contrast, extra-tropical cyclones are driven by a difference in temperatures over a wide area— cold air to the northwest, warm air to the southeast, which then swirls together, Davis said. This process is most efficient over huge distances, said.

Sandy is progressing into an extra-tropical cyclone as it gets farther north, and tapping into the power of the jet stream, which ferries air from west to east over North America. The jet stream, like the storm itself, is powered by this temperature difference between air masses, he said. [4 Things You Need to Know About Hurricane Sandy]

Hurricane origins

While Sandy still retains the warm core of a tropical hurricane, it's also deriving power from the movement of warm air to the north and cold air to the south, similar in some respects to the Perfect Storm of 1991.
"It's an interesting case where both these processes are going on," Davis said.

Sandy started out as a large hurricane, but not unusually large. Although it's still unclear exactly what determines the size of hurricanes, it partially has to do with the amount of moist air found in the location where the cyclone is born, he said. In Sandy's case, there was ample warm, moist air in the western Caribbean, allowing it to become big.

"As a whole, we (the tropical storms community) don't know a lot about what controls tropical storm size," wrote Clark Evans, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in an email. "We know that storms that form from smaller disturbances tend to be smaller; we also know that storms that form in drier environments tend to be smaller."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Puppies only pick up yawns when they're old enough to understand empathy

© Wikimedia Commons
Yawning Husky.
Puppies only pick up yawns when they're old enough to understand empathy
Oct 23, 2012 | Rebecca Boyle

Dogs catch yawns from humans, but not if they're too young. To perform this study, Danish scientists cuddled with puppies all day.

Dogs catch contagious yawns just like people, baboons and chimps, which can be used as a measure of empathy. But this is a behavior they learn after they emerge from youngest puppyhood, a new study says. Like people, young dogs show a developmental trend in their likelihood of catching yawns. This is the first time anyone has studied young-organism yawning in a species other than people.

Anyone who owns a dog knows you can catch a yawn from your pet, and vice versa. My dog, a 5-year-old border collie rescue, has this piercing yawn-peak squeal and head shiver that literally makes it impossible not to catch it. And I have seen her watching me, yawning after I do.

She would have started this after about seven months of age, according to this new study, authored by researchers at Lund University in Denmark. Elainie Alenkær Madsen and Tomas Persson took 35 Danish dogs between four and 14 months old and played and cuddled with them.

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Then they either yawned at the dogs' faces or gaped, mimicking a yawn. They wrote down what the dogs did in response, and found that puppies younger than seven months of age didn't really do anything.

About half of the dogs that did yawn got tired, the researchers say. Some of them got so sleepy that the experimenter had to prevent them from falling asleep.

This fits with the development track of humans, the researchers say. Kids start to demonstrate contagious yawns--demonstrating empathy--around four years old, when they develop cognitive abilities like identifying others' emotional states.

The researchers say the puppy yawns reflect a general developmental pattern common to humans and other animals. Affective empathy is something that develops slowly in very early youth, they say. The study appears in Animal Cognition.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Israeli Crimes Against Humanity

Israeli Crimes Against Humanity
Oct 21, 2012 | Lisa Guliani

Before leaving for work this morning, I posted a report on my FB profile about the Estelle, a humanitarian aid ship en route to Gaza, which was surrounded and stopped by the Israeli military, having come so close to its final destination.

In the report, I read the following comment made by a Senior Israeli Defense Ministry official:
"He denounced the activists as 'provocateurs who are driven by hatred for Israel' and dismissed the 'humanitarian crisis in Gaza' ..."
We are constantly subjected to similar language coming from the Israeli political leadership regarding who 'hates' Israel. According to the mouthpieces for the Israeli crime syndicate 'government', if we were to actually believe what they tell us, then we would believe that all the world 'hates' Israel. Israel's propaganda machine has been saying the exact same thing - that this or that one 'hates' them - for the whole of my life to date - and for far longer than I've been alive.

I was thinking about the Estelle this morning on my walk to work. I thought about the Mavi Marmara aid ship attacked by Israeli forces in 2010, in which several activists were killed and others were injured. I thought of the people of Gaza, waiting with hope for the arrival of Estelle today, only to have that hope stolen from them once again. I thought of the Estelle crew, seized at sea, branded as 'threats to Israel', and imagined how they must be feeling right about now.

I thought of the siege on Gaza, and what has been done to the people of Palestine over the last several decades, and my mind began to think other thoughts too, about this world we live in and the people of this planet - and wondered WHY the world allows this to continue. WHY are the various governments of the world allowing this to continue? WHY aren't all these forces uniting to break this blockade once and for all? WHEN will it all end? I thought, too, of the government I'm supposed to call my own, the U.S. government, and how it enables the Israeli government to perpetrate crimes against humanity with American tax dollars - and in my heart, I know I will never respect either of these crime syndicates posing as governments.

Read more..

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Airline pilot has nowhere to escape from wireless radiation

© Lou Veseley/For the Toronto Star
Commercial pilot Melissa Chalmers
suffers from sensitivity to electromagnetic
waves that come off communication towers.
With the number of towers popping up
across the country people like Melissa
could have no place to live.
Airline pilot has nowhere to escape from wireless radiation
Oct 17, 2012 | Richard J. Brennan

Professional pilot Melissa Chalmers has moved twice in 10 months to escape wireless radiation and worries she's running out of places to hide.

The commercial pilot of 20 years is on sick leave. She suffers from sensitivity to electromagnetic waves - the invisible waves given off by almost everything electric, in particular, those emitted by communication towers that are popping up across Canada.

Chalmers, who lives near Grand Bend on Lake Huron, may be moving again because of a new a cell tower not far from her forested home.

"They have put a tower up down the road. I'm just waiting for it to be turned on and then I will probably have to leave the home," she said.

Chalmers first noticed, about two-and-a-half years ago when she lived in London, that the nausea she felt when she was in her apartment subsided when she left.

Cellphones, cellphone towers, wireless internet routers, cordless phones and power lines have all been recognized as possible contributors to electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EMS), which is caused by significant exposure from radio waves.

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EMS symptoms include poor sleep, fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, memory impairment and skin rashes.

Dr. Riina Bray, medical director, Environmental Health Clinic, Toronto's Women College Hospital, is a leading physician on EMS and its symptoms.

"I'm just basically seeing more and more folks with electro hypersensitivity . . . there is a small fraction of the population who are hypersensitive and the WHO (World Health Organization) supports that phenomenon as being real," she told the Star.

"With the continuous onslaught of this stuff in our society it is very hard for these folks . . . to get better faster."

"If I have to move again," Chalmers told the Star, "it will be three times since Christmas, so I am getting pretty tired of moving and I really don't know where I am going to go at this point."

Critics say if Industry Canada, which has total control over telecommunications, has its way there will be no place for people such as Chalmers to live.

Industry Canada did not respond to a Star request for an interview.

Bray said the public should not have to prove harm. "It should be done by industry and government," she says.

Municipalities that have tried to control the number and location of cells towers say Industry Canada has told them it would block any attempt to usurp its powers.

The municipality of Lambton Shore near Lake Huron found out where it stood when it mused about creating a community, Port Franks, free of wireless radiation as did Oakville when it introduced its own protocol calling for a 200-metre setback.

"I went to that meeting in Oakville where it was discussed and it became very clear from Industry Canada and Health Canada that they were not going to change, they were not listening. They were there to dictate," said Frank Klegg, a retired Microsoft Canada president, who is now head of Citizens For Safe Technology (C4ST).

Klegg said C4ST wants to work with the federal government to establish so-called white zones across the country where people who are sensitive to wireless radiation can seek refuge.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said the federal government doesn't even consult the municipality on 95 per cent of the applications to erect cell towers and for the remaining 5 per cent he suggested the consultation is little more than lip service.

"What shocks me is the federal government pretending that we have a say," Burton said.

"Our protocol is designed to get us out of the line of fire . . . we have turned away seven or eight now (but) then the proponent then goes to Industry Canada (which) gives them the go-ahead," he said.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Walmart Workers' Strike Gains Steam, Spreads Across Country

(Photo: OurWalmart/Facebook)
Walmart Workers' Strike Gains Steam, Spreads Across Country
Oct 10, 2012 | CommonDreams.org

Walmart workers went on strike for the second time in less than five days on Tuesday in protest of low wages, lack of benefits and Walmart's "attempts to silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job," according to United Food and Commercial Workers. Workers in 9 states and 12 cities took to the streets, picketing in front of stores and calling on Walmart to improve working conditions.

The first retail worker strike occurred last week in several stores across Los Angeles, CA and was the first retail worker strike in the five decades of Walmart’s existence.

On Tuesday workers walked off the job in Dallas, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Miami, the Washington, D.C. area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago, Orlando, and in parts of Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota, said Dan Schlademan, director of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Making Change At Walmart campaign.

"I make $8.90 an hour and I've worked at Walmart for three years," said Colby Harris, 22, of Dallas. "Everyone at my store lives from check to check and borrows money from each other just to make it through the week."

"The six heirs to Walmart founder Sam Walton, meanwhile, are worth $89.5 billion, or as much as the bottom 41.5 percent of Americans combined," Huffington Post adds.

On Wednesday hundreds of Walmart workers demonstrated outside the company’s annual investor meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas.
* * *


"The Fed's sole purpose: keeping the banks afloat" – G. Edward Griffin

"The Fed's sole purpose: keeping the banks afloat" – G. Edward Griffin
Oct 10, 2012 | Casey Research

Is the Federal Reserve really doing such a bad job… or does it actually do exactly what it's supposed to do, but the average American is in the dark about what that is?

In this explosive video, Casey Summit speaker G. Edward Griffin, author of The Creature from Jekyll Island, talks about the Fed's real role in the US economy and why – contrary to common belief – it is not this banking cartel's mission to act in the best interest of the American public.



 Hear the full details of what G. Edward Griffin believes is the true endgame for the United States and the Western world – plus, listen to 27 other experts and find out how to invest, survive, and thrive in an economy weighed down by government meddling, cronyism, and financial fraud. Click here for more.

Read chapter summaries from The Creature From Jekyll Island, posted with permission:

Part 1: The Journey to Jekyll Island

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The World's Largest Money-Laundering Machine: The Federal Reserve

© n/a
The World's Largest Money-Laundering Machine: The Federal Reserve
Oct 7, 2012 | Charles Hugh Smith

"The essence of money-laundering is that fraudulent or illegally derived assets and income are recycled into legitimate enterprises. That is the entire Federal Reserve project in a nutshell."

The Fed policy's first-order effect is to issue hundreds of billions in "free money" to banks; the second-order effect is to destroy the rule of law in the U.S.

Let's start with a few questions about the proper role of the Central State and Central Bank: why should they bail out private banks? The answer boils down to something like this: "If the private banks absorbed the losses that are rightly theirs in a capitalist system, they would implode. Since the State and Central Bank have enabled these private banks to infiltrate and dominate the nation's financial system, that system is now hostage to these private 'too big to fail' banks."

In other words, "capitalism" in America now means socializing losses and privatizing profits generated by State and Central Bank intervention. Imagine for a moment the "beauty" of this system for owners of private banks: in a truly socialized banking system, the taxpayers would absorb any losses, but the State would also benefit from any future bank-sector profits. In the U.S. system, the losses are socialized but the people draw no benefit; the profits flow to the top 1/10th of 1% private financiers.

 This is the perfection of State-financier crony capitalism.  

Read more..

Illinois leads US in home foreclosures

© artist
Illinois leads US in home foreclosures
Oct 9, 2012 | Marcus Day

Foreclosure activity in Illinois jumped 29 percent between July and August and was up 42 percent from a year ago, giving the state the highest foreclosure rate in the US, according to the latest report from foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac. This marks the first time Illinois has had the nation’s highest rate since RealtyTrac began publishing monthly reports at the start of 2005.

As of August, 1 in every 298 housing units in Illinois had a foreclosure filing, more than double the national rate of 1 in 681. RealtyTrac noted that every kind of foreclosure activity had increased on annual basis in Illinois: foreclosure starts by 18 percent, bank repossessions by 42 percent, and scheduled foreclosure auctions by 116 percent.

Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, told Bloomberg’s Businessweek that foreclosure filings in Illinois will likely increase every month for the rest of 2012 and exceed the previous high set in 2009. “More Illinois homeowners are entering the foreclosure process, and more are losing their homes,” he said. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

According to Businessweek, the high number of foreclosures is now luring investors to Illinois’s real estate market. Large private equity firms are expecting returns of as much as 20 percent from the purchase of repossessed homes, which are subsequently offered as rental properties.

The article described these predatory practices: “Waypoint Real Estate began acquiring steeply discounted Chicago foreclosures two months ago after amassing about 2,000 distressed homes in California since January, 2009, Gary Beasley, managing director, said in a telephone interview. Waypoint has also been buying foreclosures in Arizona since April, and generally acquires properties that have lost half their value, he said.”

Chicago’s foreclosed homes sell at approximately $130,000, on average, which is the third lowest value among America’s top 20 cities. Nationally, the average price for a foreclosed home is $170,000. The article additionally noted that foreclosed properties on the south side of Chicago can be had for less than $20,000, “all in cash.”

The Chicago metro area had more new foreclosure filings in August than any other city in the US, and these 16,192 filings accounted for 91 percent of the total new filings in Illinois. Filings increased in the city by 28 percent from July and by 44 percent from a year ago.

Property values in Chicago have dropped 8 percent so far this year, and more than 5 percent across the state of Illinois, according to Zillow.com. The destruction of home equity in the ongoing mortgage crisis has left families going through foreclosure with zero wealth, as most working people in the US invested what they had in their homes.

In addition to Chicago leading the nation in the overall number of foreclosure filings, it also outdistanced the rest of Illinois in its foreclosure rate, which, at 1 in 235, was nearly triple the national rate.

Rockford, Illinois, also had one of the top 10 metropolitan area foreclosure rates nationally, with 1 in 259 housing units in the foreclosure process. Rockford saw an even larger year-over-year increase than Chicago and the state overall, at 52 percent.

Belying claims of an overall recovery in the housing market, nationally foreclosure filings were issued on a total of 193,508 homes in August, marking an increase of 1 percent from July. Twenty states saw increases in foreclosure activity compared to August 2011.

Although Illinois led the nation in foreclosure activity last month, four other states actually saw even sharper year-over-year percentage increases in their foreclosure activity. They included Maryland, with a 54 percent increase; New York, with 56 percent; New Jersey, with 65 percent; and Kentucky, with a 73 percent increase.


As the WSWS has noted previously, the surge in home foreclosures is no accident. When allegations of mortgage fraud and “robo-signing” first emerged against the major banks in 2010, foreclosure activity briefly subsided under the scrutiny of a number of state investigations.


However, last February, the Obama administration once again rose to the defense of its financial backers when it orchestrated a settlement that shut down state investigations and required mortgage lenders to pay a pathetically small cash fine. More importantly, the agreement cleared lenders of any wrongdoing in relation to the scandal and prevented any future prosecution. Since then, foreclosure activity has surged in numerous states as the banks have moved to clear their books of any remaining bad debt.

Despite the parlous state of the housing industry and its devastating consequences for working families, a brisk business is still being turned at the real estate market’s upper reaches.

In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, Craig Hogan, director of Coldwell Bankers Preview, estimated that so-called superluxury buyers will only look at properties valued above $3 million and typically pay 50 percent of the asking price in cash. “Upper-bracket buyers want showplaces, trophy mansions, ego enhancers. Their house is their calling card and it must make a statement. They want the best of the best, the best finishes, everything world-class and cutting edge.”

Sara Benson, president of Benson Stanley Realty, added, “The rich like to reside among their peers on a mansion row, or in condos and co-ops with compelling views. The wealthy like one-of-a-kind spaces.” Condos at Trump Tower in downtown Chicago, for example, range in price from $3 million for a 3,000-square-foot unit to $32 million for the 89th floor penthouse, which offers “360-degree views of the lake and city.”

Monday, October 8, 2012

World's 10 Most Incredible Discoveries (HD)

World's 10 Most Incredible Discoveries (HD)
Oct 8, 2012 |



Atlantis: The Fate of a Lost Land and Its Secret Knowledge (Esoteric)

Get Off My Land!

Get Off My Land!
Oct 7, 2012 | Information Clearing House

Daryl Hannah and Eleanor Fairchild Defend Fairchild Farms From Keystone XL

Video Posted October 07, 2012 

How can you be arrested for "trespassing" on your own land? Well, anything can happen when a multinational corporation comes in and expropriates your farm for their profit.

That's why actress and activist Daryl Hannah has joined forces with East Texas ranch owner Eleanor Fairchild, 78, to stage a protest against Keystone XL construction on Mrs. Fairchild's farm. The actress is intent on defending Mrs. Fairchild's home and business, Fairchild Farms, a portion of which has been expropriated by TransCanada, for its toxic tar sands pipeline. The duo claim their action is inspired by our ongoing tree blockade happening on a neighboring property.

On Thursday afternoon, Hannah marched across Fairchild Farms with the ranch owner to block bulldozers from continuing to clear large swaths of Mrs. Fairchild's land along the toxic tar sands pipeline's route. Keystone XL will permanently bisect Mrs. Fairchild's 300 acre ranch, which includes undeveloped wetland areas and natural springs producing over 400 gallons of fresh water per minute from her property. Hannah, whose outspoken anti-Tar Sands position dates back many years, expressed pride to be able to stand with Mrs. Fairchild who is watching her home and its delicate ecosystems be destroyed in front of her eyes.  

Your Not Powerless!  
Stop the Megaloads Now!  

Video Posted October 08, 2012

DECLINE, DECAY, DENIAL, DELUSION & DESPAIR

Waterlooning Bridge?
DECLINE, DECAY, DENIAL, DELUSION & DESPAIR
Oct 8, 2012 | Washingtons Blog

The majority of Americans seem OK with just waddling through life, accepting the lies and misinformation blasted from the boob tube and their various iGadgets by their owners, gorging themselves to death on Twinkies and Cheetos, paying 15% interest on their $10,000 rolling credit card balance, and growing ever more dependent on the welfare/warfare state to provide and protect them from accepting personal responsibility for their lives. A minority of critical thinking people have chosen to question everything they see and hear being spewed at us by the propagandist mainstream media, the corporate fascist government, and the powerful banking cabal that has an iron grip upon our throats as they choke the life out of the global economy in their never ending desire for more riches and more power.

The decline of the Great American Empire cannot be attributed to one factor or one bogeyman. There are a multitude of factors, villains, and choices made by the American people that have led to our moral, civil, social, and economic decline. The kabuki theater that passes for our electoral process is little more than a diversion from our imminent fate. Neither candidate for President has any intention of changing the course of the U.S. Titanic. Our rendezvous with destiny has been charted, and there aren’t nearly enough lifeboats. Those who built the ship and recklessly navigated it into a sea of icebergs will be the 1st into the few lifeboats. The leaders we’ve chosen, the choices we’ve made, and our unwillingness to deal with facts and reality have set in motion a disaster that cannot be averted. It’s a shame the majority of Americans have the math aptitude of a 6th grader, because the unsustainability of our empire can be calculated quite easily. Math is hard for Americans, but denial and delusion are easy.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Oil Companies Bribing Gulf States to Ignore Spill?

© Daily Cloudt
Oil Companies Bribing Gulf States to Ignore Spill?
Oct 2, 2012 | Daily Cloudt

by Russ Baker

Originally published by whowhatwhy.com

Recently, Gulf area legislators have been pushing to get their states a larger share of government income from offshore drilling. We’re told that they need the extra revenue to improve flood protection. But more is afoot here, and it deserves scrutiny.

First, here’s the background, from the Los Angeles Times

Severe flooding from Hurricane Isaac has prompted a new effort by Gulf Coast lawmakers to secure a larger share of federal offshore drilling revenue to fund projects such as flood protection.

But the idea faces opposition from lawmakers who say it would siphon away money needed to pay Uncle Sam’s bills.

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) stoked the debate this week by appealing to President Obama during his visit to the storm-battered area to support letting states share 37.5% of federal revenue from energy production off their coasts…..

Fair enough. But there’s a missing piece of this, about who benefits most. And it’s not the public.

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Flood control work generates a ton of local income. It creates jobs. Channeling a larger share of the federal share of drilling income into the local area, you give residents a reason not to oppose continued drilling. Of course, these are the same people whose environment has been so badly harmed, perhaps permanently, by the risky practices of offshore production.

In other words, the very same people facing massive economic dislocation, the devastation of their ecosystem, and related chronic illness are being given a reason to put up with even more potential problems in the future.

Why shouldn’t the money from drilling go directly to the public to alleviate the harm done to it—and to develop alternative energy sources to reduce our dependency on the dangers increasingly associated with extraction of fossil fuels?

Actually, the region already gets plenty for harm remediation related to the BP spill.

One possible source of new money: the fines of as much as $21 billion that BP is expected to pay for the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. Congress recently voted to steer 80% of the penalties to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas to help restore coastal ecosystems and rebuild regional economies.

But Landrieu is seeking additional money from offshore drilling, noting that inland states such as Colorado and Wyoming receive about half the revenue from drilling on federal land. “Coastal states should receive a similar allotment so they can engage these funds in flood protection,” she said in a letter to Obama.

She is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers sponsoring legislation that would let states receive 37.5% of all federal offshore drilling revenue. The idea has gained the backing of pro-production lawmakers who see it as a way to build public support for expanded offshore energy exploration that would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. 

There it is—in paragraph NINE. Should be in the first paragraph, and should be in the headline. Instead, it is buried under the bland headline

CONGRESSIONAL FORECAST: FIGHT OVER COASTAL FLOOD PROTECTION FUNDS

…which resulted in almost no one paying any attention to this story, dated September 6—and to what is really going on.

Of course, contrary to what the Los Angeles Times asserts, the real reason the lawmakers support the move is NOT their concern to reduce dependence on foreign oil. It is to increase our tolerance for risky domestic drilling.

If you doubt there’s more to it, consider who feathers Sen. Mary Landrieu’s nest. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the vast majority of her campaign contributions from 2007-2012 ($2.5 million) came from  law firms, lobbyists, and the oil & gas industry. Guess who is one of the biggest clients of law firms and lobbyists? The oil & gas industry. It’s a safe bet that without doing that industry’s bidding, Mary Landrieu is toast. So she has to promote measures like this that do harm to the public interest and produce more profits for the dominant industry in her area.

It’s not that Mary Landrieu is a good or a bad person, any more than any of her Gulf Coast colleagues, of both parties, who also support this move. It’s that the system is so dirty. And that the public doesn’t have a media that can afford to just tell it to us straight—in such a way as to make us care, and make us want to actually do something about it.

Bet that, without public understanding of what is at stake, the very people who have a reason to fight against more offshore drilling in the gulf will be out there arguing for it.

Russ Baker is an award-winning investigative reporter and founder of WhoWhatWhy.Com. He has written for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Village Voice and Esquire.

Walmart warehouse workers walk; seek unionization

Walmart warehouse workers walk; seek unionization
Oct 5, 2012 |



How Walmart Is Destroying America (And the World): And What You Can Do about It

A Rose Like No Other: New Photo Shows Stunning Rosette Nebula

The Rosette Nebula is about 5,000 light
years away at the edge of the molecular
cloud Monoceros. Josh Knutson took
this image in Rio Rancho, New Mexico on May
27,2012. Knutson and Salvatore Grasso
collaborated on the photo’s post-processing.
CREDIT: Josh Knutson  image
A Rose Like No Other: New Photo Shows Stunning Rosette Nebula
Oct 5, 2012 | Nina Sen

The likeness of a rose appears in this beautiful night sky image of a gaseous star cluster and nebula.
Astrophotographer Josh Knutson captured this photo of the Rosette Nebula from his backyard in Rio Rancho, N.M. on May 27, 2012.

The Rosette Nebula is so named because its clouds of gas and dusts resemble the petals of a rose. The nebula is about 5,000 light years away at the edge of the molecular cloud Monoceros, or the Unicorn constellation. The nebula is a region of the Milky Way filled with glowing gas and a central cluster of hot, young stars that are only a few million years old.

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Knutson used a 200mm Celestron SCT at F/2.0, Hyperstar III, and QHY-8 OSC CCD camera to take this photo. The image is made of four hours of five-minute exposures stacked together. Knutson and Salvatore Grasso collaborated on post-processing.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com.

NEW 4-Mile Long Oil Slick Near BP’s Gulf Oil Well

NEW 4-Mile Long Oil Slick Near BP’s Gulf Oil Well
Oct 4, 2012 | Washingtons Blog

BP’s Macondo Well May Leak for Years 

CNN reports:
An oil sheen about four miles long has appeared in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the worst oil spill in U.S. history, a Coast Guard spokesman said Thursday.

It was not immediately clear where the oil is coming from, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Tippets. [Although previous oil has been matched as a "dead ringer" to the BP well.]

Coast Guardsmen went to the location after seeing the oil on a satellite image, Tippets said. The response team collected samples and sent them to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in Connecticut for testing.
***

The sheen is near the spot where, on April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded over the Macondo well, killing 11 workers and spewing oil that spread across a huge portion of the Gulf.
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Walmart Workers Strike at Stores Nationwide

Workers strike Thursday outside a Southern
California Walmart store. (Photo: Organization
United for Respect—Our Walmart).
Walmart Workers Strike at Stores Nationwide
Oct 4, 2012 | CommonDreams.org

Walmart workers at various stores around the country are on strike today, protesting poor working conditions and alleged retaliation for their attempts to organize.

The one-day strike was expected to culminate in a mass rally outside a store in Pico Rivera, Calif., this afternoon.

OUR Walmart, a coalition of Walmart workers and other sympathizers, organized the protest.

According to Salon.com, Pico Rivera Wal-Mart employee Evelin Cruz said “I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m scared … But I think the time has come, so they take notice that these associates are tired of all the issues in the stores, all the management retaliating against you.” Rivera, a department manager, said her store is chronically understaffed: “They expect the work to be done, without having the people to do the job.”

According to a release from the group, although Walmart's more than 4,000 stores employ 1.4 million people in the United States, "For too many of us, the economy Walmart helped create isn't working—but we have the power to change it."

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OUR Walmart's objectives include, but are not limited to, minimum pay of $25,000 a year, quality, affordable health coverage; that Walmart and the Walton family sign "a global labor agreement" guaranteeing employees the right to organize; and that they guarantee that contractors and subcontractors will "provide living wages and worker safety protections, respect basic human and labor rights including freedom of association, and freedom from racial and gender discrimination," according to the release.

A previous, 15-day strike in Riverside, Calif., prompted today's strike, according to David Dayen at FiredogLake.com.

"In the past, Walmart has responded harshly to unionization efforts," Dayen wrote. "When one set of food workers voted to join a union at a Walmart store in North America, the company simply shut down the store and left the area. Walmart has seen labor actions at its supply chain in recent weeks too, particularly around the guest worker abuse at a seafood supplier in Louisiana. Labor organizers also brought tens of thousands to the streets of Los Angeles to protest the proposed opening of a new store in Chinatown. These actions are clearly linked and are feeding off one another. But Walmart’s vicious anti-unionization efforts give them the upper hand."

Smart Meters: How the Government Monitors Your Every Move

© Occupy Corporatism
Smart Meters: How the Government Monitors Your Every Move
Oct 4, 2012 | Susanne Posel

Smart meters have been approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who says their risks are minimal. However many customers blame them for causing health problems and house fires. These devices are responsible for two-way communication with utilities corporations and government; helping them spy on their customers.

Researchers in Germany have concluded that when privacy implications were analyzed, they proved that customers were being surveilled by their utility company with encrypted data to determine whether or not the customers were home.

They are marketed as a way to save energy on monthly bills as well as reduce carbon emissions. Jim Marston, vice president of energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, maintains that “if done right, smart meters allow us to eliminate waste from the system. “t’s not unlike the revolution in telephones. These are things that allow you to know when you are gone and to turn off all your lights. Or to allow your appliances to turn on only when renewable power is available, or for utilities to figure out where outages are.”

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In Australia, the energy corporation, Origin Energy, forces customers to fill out online forms that request detailed personal information that is shared with private sector corporations. This data is given to government authroities, electricity installers, data processing analysts, IT service providers, debt collection and credit reporting agencies.

In California, smart meters give hourly reports of electrical usage through wireless connections. Yet the California Public Service Commission (CPSC) received complaints that the data received by utilities corporations led to rate hikes.

Pacific gas and Electric (PGE) claims that their smart meters are in compliance with FCC regulations. Most notably is that the installation of the device requires professional contractors, not utility workers, as if the usual case. PGE contracts others such as Wellington and Corix to install smart meters. These corporations hire temp workers who are not qualified and this may lead to fires and explosions.

In some states, an opt-out program has been installed where customers pay a fee for analog meters. Colorado, Maine and Arizona provide this service while Maryland and the District of Columbia does not.

The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR), a think-tank for Internet policy in Britain, asserts that smart meters may be used as blackmail or fuel for a hostile attack against the UK government by a foreign power or a terrorist group. This information would be most likely sold to identity thieves as well as able to be manipulated by energy corporations.

Smart meters have the capacity to spy on you in your home. They collect data on the electrical usage in your home, then that information is remotely sent to a central database at your utilities corporation.

In March, CIA Director David Petraeus commented on the “internet of things” explaining that: “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing . . . The latter now going for cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”

In December of 2011, the FCC announced plans to transition unused over-the-air wireless bands into Super Wi-Fi. This super Wi-Fi will use low frequencies (from 470 to 698 megahertz) that have longer wavelengths and travel father; and even penetrate walls.

An indicator of these plans can be found on the underside of any electronic device in your home. Even on the underside of a simple calculator, toaster oven, and even your refrigerator; you will find the following: “This device complies with Part 15 of the FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions: (1) This device may not cause harmful interference, and (2) this device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.”

What this disclaimer means is that this device is not allowed to jam or block any signals and must accept any incoming signal given (by FCC regulations under Part 15 of the FCC Rules).

The Vermont Department of Health released a report in 2012 that stated smart meters use radio signals to communicate with the utility corporations and the exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR) is detrimental to human health. The human body absorbs a wide range of thermal energy and capable of expelling that energy.

However high exposure to radio frequencies breaks down the body’s natural abilities as well as causes cancer to form which leads to serious health complications.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Quantum causal relations: A causes B causes A

© University of Vienna
A new framework for quantum mechanics
which does not assume a pre-existing
global time. It demonstrates the possibility
for two agents to perform a communication
task in which it is impossible to tell with
certainty who influences whom.
Quantum causal relations: A causes B causes A
Oct 2, 2012 | Fabio Costa

This press release is available in German.

One of the most deeply rooted concepts in science and in our everyday life is causality; the idea that events in the present are caused by events in the past and, in turn, act as causes for what happens in the future. If an event A is a cause of an effect B, then B cannot be a cause of A. Now theoretical physicists from the University of Vienna and the Université Libre de Bruxelles have shown that in quantum mechanics it is possible to conceive situations in which a single event can be both, a cause and an effect of another one. The findings will be published this week in Nature Communications.

Although it is still not known if such situations can be actually found in nature, the sheer possibility that they could exist may have far-reaching implications for the foundations of quantum mechanics, quantum gravity and quantum computing.

Causal relations: who influences whom

In everyday life and in classical physics, events are ordered in time: a cause can only influence an effect in its future not in its past. As a simple example, imagine a person, Alice, walking into a room and finding there a piece of paper. After reading what is written on the paper Alice erases the message and leaves her own message on the piece of paper. Another person, Bob, walks into the same room at some other time and does the same: he reads, erases and re-writes some message on the paper. If Bob enters the room after Alice, he will be able to read what she wrote; however Alice will not have a chance to know Bob's message. In this case, Alice's writing is the "cause" and what Bob reads the "effect".

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Each time the two repeat the procedure, only one will be able to read what the other wrote. Even if they don't have watches and don't know who enters the room first, they can deduce it by what they write and read on the paper. For example, Alice might write "Alice was here today", such that if Bob reads the message, he will know that he came to the room after her.

Quantum violation of causal order

As long as only the laws of classical physics are allowed, the order of events is fixed: either Bob or Alice is first to enter the room and leave a message for the other person. When quantum mechanics enters into play, however, the picture may change drastically. According to quantum mechanics, objects can lose their well-defined classical properties, such as e.g. a particle that can be at two different locations at the same time. In quantum physics this is called a "superposition". Now an international team of physicists led by Caslav Brukner from the University of Vienna have shown that even the causal order of events could be in such a superposition. If - in our example - Alice and Bob have a quantum system instead of an ordinary piece of paper to write their messages on, they can end up in a situation where each of them can read a part of the message written by the other. Effectively, one has a superposition of two situations: "Alice enters the room first and leaves a message before Bob" and "Bob enters the room first and leaves a message before Alice".

"Such a superposition, however, has not been considered in the standard formulation of quantum mechanics since the theory always assumes a definite causal order between events", says Ognyan Oreshkov from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (formerly University of Vienna). "But if we believe that quantum mechanics governs all phenomena, it is natural to expect that the order of events could also be indefinite, similarly to the location of a particle or its velocity", adds Fabio Costa from the University of Vienna.

The work provides an important step towards understanding that definite causal order might not be a mandatory property of nature. "The real challenge is finding out where in nature we should look for superpositions of causal orders", explains Caslav Brukner from the Quantum Optics, Quantum Nanophysics, Quantum Information group of the University of Vienna.

Publication:

"Quantum correlations with no causal order"
Ognyan Oreshkov, Fabio Costa, Caslav Brukner. Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2076.

4 Ancient Superfoods and their Timeless Benefits

© Natural Society
4 Ancient Superfoods and their Timeless Benefits
Oct 3, 2012 | Elizabeth Renter

Though the term “super food” has only been in circulation in recent years, the idea of super-nutritious and life giving foods have been around since the beginning of time. As a matter of fact, it’s likely that ancient man had a far better idea of what true superfoods are than what we gather as we wade through aisles of cans and boxes, seeking out those things that are in their most natural forms. Still, today anyone can compile a hefty superfoods list for the next shopping day.

Ancient Superfoods for Your Superfoods List

There are foods that have been around for centuries, even millennia. And many of these foods are just as good now as they were then. So which foods should be on your superfoods list? Here are some timeless superfoods that you should include in your diet today:

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  • Quinoa - You’ve likely heard of it because it’s experienced a growing resurgence in the past few years. But, quinoa has been around for ages. The Incas of South America refer to this food as chisaya mama, or the mother of all grains. It’s high in protein, calcium, and iron, and is very versatile. Cook with herbs and diced veggies or form with legumes and seasonings into veggie patties. Due to it’s high protein content, it is great to help makeup a high protein vegetarian diet, and can be used with natural remedies for hair loss and hair thinning.
  • Spirulina - Spirulina is an algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is said to be one of the oldest life forms on earth and has been eaten as long ago as the 9th century in the Kanem Empire of Chad. It’s good for your eyes, your skin, allergies, and stabilizing blood sugar.
  • Sacha Inchi - This food is a little more obscure, but has been consumed in the Amazon jungle for ages. It’s considered a superfood of the ancient Incas and is reported to contain concentrated Omega-3 fats. It’s also rich in iodine, and vitamins A and E.
  • Maca - Another ancient Incan superfood, Maca can be found in the mountains of Peru. It’s said to be an excellent all-natural energy source and also contains numerous plant sterols, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iodine.
And let’s not forget other amazing superfoods like turmeric, ginger, honey, garlic and much more. These are foods that fight cancer and protect you against countless diseases.

How can you prepare these foods? While quinoa is easy to find and super easy to cook, the others may be more of a challenge. Both spirulina and maca supplements can be found at most health food stores. Sacha Inchi can be found in an oil form and can be used as you would use olive oil on salads.

The ancients knew a thing or two about natural living, and their foods were the original superfoods you should add to your modern superfoods list.

Additional Sources:

NaturalNews.com/028782_maca_Incas.html

Alsearsmd

NaturalNews.com/036101_spirulina_superfood_nutrients.html

Spirulina-Benefits-Health

The Huffington Post