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 on: Feb 26, 2015, 06:43 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
US offers highest-ever cybercrime reward for arrest of Russian hacker

State Department and FBI announce $3m reward for information about Evgeniy Bogachev, accused of running computer attack network

Reuters in Washington
Tuesday 24 February 2015 22.54 GMT Last modified on Tuesday 24 February 2015 23.00 GMT

The US State Department and FBI have announced a $3m reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Russian national Evgeniy Bogachev, the highest bounty US authorities have ever offered in a cyber case.

US accuses Russian hacker Evgeniy Bogachev of $100m fraud

The FBI also issued a “Wanted” poster for Bogachev, who is charged in the United States with running a computer attack network called GameOver Zeus that allegedly stole more than $100m from online bank accounts.

Bogachev has been charged by federal authorities in Pittsburgh with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in connection with his alleged role as administrator of GameOver Zeus.

He also faces federal bank fraud conspiracy charges in Omaha, Nebraska related to his alleged involvement in an earlier variant of Zeus malware known as Jabber Zeus.

Bureau officials said on Tuesday they believed Bogachev was still in Russia. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Joseph Demarest, head of the FBI’s cyber-crime division, said the agency is aware of 60 different cyberthreat groups linked to nation-states. He did not identify which countries were believer to be behind these groups.

Demarest said that Russia’s internal security agency, the FSB, had recently expressed tentative interest in working with US authorities on investigating cybercrimes. He did not link the offer of cooperation to the Bogachev case.

China has not expressed any interest in cooperating with the United States on cybercrimes, he said. Last November, the United States indicted five Chinese military officers and accused them of hacking into US nuclear power, metals and solar products industries.

Demarest said the FBI learned within a month of Sony Pictures’ first report of a large-scale cyber-attack that North Korea was behind it.

“We were absolutely positive in a very short period of time” that the North Korean government was behind the attack, he said.

Despite assertions from some security experts that the Sony Pictures hackers might have had help from one or more insiders at the studio, Demarest said investigators had found no evidence to back up such claims.

The FBI had learned of “over 100 major” cyber-attacks in 2014, Demarest said, adding that evidence of insider collusion had turned up in “less than a handful” of those cases.

 on: Feb 26, 2015, 06:40 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Google restructures European operations amid growing pressure

Search giant consolidates its European businesses to deal with increasing political ill-will, regulatory scrutiny and competition from rivals

Samuel Gibbs
Thursday 26 February 2015 12.16 GMT

Google is changing the the structure of its European business as it anticipates further regulatory scrutiny across the continent.

European commission reopens Google antitrust investigation

Facing investigations and complaints driven by politicians and commercial rivals across Germany, France, Russia and other European countries, Google has merged its disparate European businesses into one continent-wide operation.

The new European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) arm will be overseen from London by Matt Brittin, previously head of Google’s northern and western Europe businesses. Individual country managers will report directly to Brittin in a bid to unify the company’s actions across European nations.

The reorganisation is in response to failures to deal with escalating challenges in individual European countries.

The so-called “right to be forgotten” ruling in May 2014 arose from a local issue in Spain, but became a Europe-wide ruling after being promoted to Europe’s highest court in Strasbourg.

Google also faces potentially serious consequences for its business operations in search and advertising from a recently re-opened anti-trust investigation by the European Commission (EC).

The European parliament’s approval of a motion calling for a break-up of Google’s search and other businesses in November was a demonstration of the political ill-will felt for Google. It is regarded by some as the tip of the spear of US control of the European technology market.

A plan by chancellor George Osborne to introduce a new tax on multinational corporations accused of diverting profits – dubbed the “Google tax” and announced in the Autumn statement – also underlines a key challenge to Google’s business in Europe.

European parliament votes yes on ‘Google breakup’ motion

Closely watched by other countries across Europe, Osborne’s plans mean that from April companies face a 25% tax rate on profits from economic activity that is “artificially shifted” abroad.

It will target companies that employ complex structures to divert profits to low-tax nations such as Luxembourg and Ireland, where Google’s European operations are headquartered.

Commercial rivals have also put pressure on Google’s core business, with Facebook and Twitter growing as a source of news, for instance.

Appease politicians

Meanwhile, companies such as Russia’s Yandex have lodged complaints with regulators over abuse of Google’s monopoly over its Android smartphone and tablet operating system, instigating further regulatory scrutiny.

Google is likely to use its new pan-European structure to consolidate power and attempt to appease politicians and regulators to avoid potentially damaging disruption.

Autumn statement 2014: Osborne to introduce ‘Google tax’

In a bid to win over skeptics, the company has pledged to train one million Europeans in digital skills and invest a further €25m in skills initiatives.

But Google’s support of a single European digital market – a proposal put forward by EC president Jean-Claude Juncker – is likely to be its biggest push.

Brittin will tell officials in Brussels on Thursday: “For Europe to reach its full potential, we need to clear the way for companies online. We need a single market in the digital world that reflects the single market we enjoy in the physical world already. With over two dozen regulatory and frameworks to contend with, businesses stumble when they seek to sell, grow or hire across borders.”

 on: Feb 26, 2015, 06:38 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Mariupol, next in the sights of pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian forces build second line of defence around major port and industrial centre as reports circulate of rebel buildup of fighters and weaponry in area

Alec Luhn in Mariupol
Wednesday 25 February 2015 19.21 GMT Last modified on Thursday 26 February 2015 08.50 GMT

A plume of smoke rose above the horizon as a group of Ukrainian soldiers dug trenches near the village of Berdyansk outside Mariupol, seemingly oblivious to the mortar fire going off like popcorn over the crest of the hill.

The sun playing off the gentle waves of the Azov Sea seemed to belie the threat that the coastal city now faces as a possible next target for Russian-backed rebels who captured the strategic town of Debaltseve last week despite a ceasefire that came into effect on 15 February.

Vasily Ostapchuk laughed that he and his comrades from the 37th brigade had got used to the frequent shelling near the second line of defence that Kiev’s forces are building as part of a campaign to protect the city should it come under attack.

“They’re pulling together their forces and getting ready for something. First it was Debaltseve, now it’s Mariupol,” he said. “But it would be a crime to give up this city.”

After the capture of Debaltseve, which sits at both a road and rail junction connecting the capitals of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, fears have risen that Mariupol, a vital transport and economic hub, could be next to fall.

Following his announcement on Tuesday that British military personnel will be deployed to Ukraine as advisers, David Cameron said Mariupol was a likely target for pro-Russia forces in the wake of Debaltseve. The British prime minister said that if the city were captured, it would trigger more sanctions against Moscow that would be “materially different” from previous rounds.

UK military training in Ukraine: symbolic move that risks Russian ire

“People will be looking at Mariupol as the next potential flashpoint, and if that were to happen I think the argument for further action would be overwhelming,” Cameron said. “I think that would be the view of countries like Poland, the Baltic states and many others.”

Other western diplomats have suggested an attack on Mariupol would put an end to the Minsk peace plan, which has been troubled by frequent ceasefire violations, including the capture of Debaltseve, and a delay in a planned withdrawal of heavy weapons to create a buffer zone. Although no Ukrainian soldiers were killed on Wednesday for the first time in weeks, Russian armour has continued to enter Ukraine, much of it near Mariupol, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said.

Pro-Russia forces deny any intention to take Mariupol, a position reiterated on Tuesday by Eduard Basurin, the deputy head of the Donetsk militia.

“We are not mounting an attack near Mariupol and we don’t plan to do so. We are carefully fulfilling the document signed by the head of the republic,” Basurin said, referring to the Minsk peace deal. “We stopped at the positions we held on 15 February.”

Also on Tuesday, however, the Donetsk militia told the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti of new gains bringing them closer to Mariupol, bragging that its forces had “liberated the [nearby] villages of Pavlopil and Pyshchevyk” on Monday night, and that “the national guard wasn’t able to dig in there”.

Photographs published on pro-Russia websites showed fighters standing outside the entry signs to both villages holding Kalashnikov assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

A Ukrainian military spokesman said both villages were in the buffer zone established by the Minsk agreement and had not been held by Kiev’s forces.

Mariupol would be vital to the economy of any state or autonomous entity that rebels might establish in eastern Ukraine. With a population of 460,000 it is the second-largest city in the Donetsk region and the centre of eastern Ukraine’s metallurgical industry.

Much of the coal mined in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has traditionally gone to fuel the country’s two largest steel-making plants in Mariupol, or has been exported via Mariupol port, the largest in eastern Ukraine.

Many in the city believe that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, wants to create a land corridor to annexed Crimea, which would require conquering not only Mariupol, but also wide swaths of the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, which have not yet seen large movements of pro-Russia forces.

Mariupol residents say the local population is evenly split between those who support Kiev and those who would like to join the breakaway Donetsk people’s republic. The pro-Russia side briefly held sway over Mariupol shortly after the start of the conflict, before Kiev’s forces drove them out in an operation in May.

Workers have been hanging hundreds Ukrainian flags across the city this week in an attempt to “show that Mariupol is a Ukrainian city,” said Galina Odnorog, a local activist.

APro-Russia forces have held the coastal town of Novoazovsk, about 20 miles east of Mariupol and less than 10 from the Russian border, since August. Rebels were holding Novoazovsk when the Guardian visited the town shortly after it was captured in a lightning offensive, but a few locals said at the time that they had seen Russian armour in the area.

Mariupol has been steeling itself against attack since, building fortifications, setting explosives on bridges and mining the harbour. Few believe, however, that it could withstand an offensive backed by the Russian military.

A rocket attack that killed 30 people in eastern Mariupol on 24 January also raised concerns that the rebels could use their artillery to wage a war of attrition on the city, much as it did in Debaltseve. Since the rocket attack, city hall has carried out air raid drills with 560 residents of the eastern part of the city and is now teaching civil defence in other neighbourhoods.

On Wednesday, safety officials were instructing four dozen teachers from a local school on how to perform first aid and take cover during shelling. The doctor on hand, Sergei Yegorkin, said he had been at the busy market hit in the January attack and narrowly escaped death.

“I feel the danger every day,” Yegorkin said about the risk of more violence in Mariupol. “You can hear shelling every day from the eastern district. The windows shake.”

“We feel threatened and it’s frightening, but we have to rely on ourselves,” said teacher Alyona Taravik, adding that the school’s 623 students were drilled weekly on what to do in case of shelling.

The threat of an attack on Mariupol is not imminent, because rebel forces lack the armour and men needed to mount an operation, according to military spokesman Dmytro Chaly.

The area is, however, reportedly seeing a military buildup. According to Lysenko, pro-Russia forces have been redeploying troops and equipment. Kiev said on Friday that 20 Russian tanks, 10 missile systems and busloads of fighters had crossed the border and headed to Novoazovsk.

Andrei Dyachenko of the Azov battalion, a volunteer fighting unit known for the neo-Nazi views of some of its members, said its reconnaissance had observed tanks, fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery gradually reinforcing pro-Russia forces near Mariupol, with eight to 10 pieces of armour arriving each day for the past four days. Azov, which Dyachenko said has more than 1,000 fighters, has played a key role in the defence of the city since the original struggle with rebels in May.

“We think they’ll attack at the end of March,” Dyachenko said. “If only the Donetsk people’s republic and Novorossiya rebels storm it, then it will be easy. If there are Russian forces, like the troops that are now building up in Rostov [near the border], then it will be harder to defend the city.

“British advisers are not a panacea, although it’s good that they’ll help,” he added.

Clashes between pro-Russia and Ukrainian forces have been increasing in the area since the ceasefire. The epicentre of the fighting has been the town of Shyrokyne, which by some estimates has been three-quarters destroyed by frequent shelling.

In the days before ceasefire negotiations began in Minsk, Azov took the town in what president Petro Poroshenko said was a counter-offensive to re-establish the previous demarcation line. According to Chaly, the main reason for taking Shyrokyne, which he said had previously not been controlled either side, was to push the rebels’ Grad multiple rocket launcher systems out of range.

The hospital in Novoazovsk has registered a recent rise in battle casualties. Since 10 February, it treated 39 battle injuries, including 16 since Sunday, Agence France-Presse reported. Four of those in the hospital died from their wounds in recent days, and a rebel commander said three of his men had been killed on Monday.

In Berdyansk on Tuesday, the Guardian heard intensive incoming and outgoing mortar fire in Shyrokyne, and heavy machine gun fire. Soldiers were also moving up tanks to the defensive positions being built in the village. Kiev has said it will not withdraw heavy weaponry until the rebels stop firing, and both sides have accused the other of breaking the ceasefire.

The commander of the Donbass volunteer battalion troops in the Mariupol area, which are currently holding Shyrokyne, said his men had exchanged fire with rebels, destroying a fuel truck and a flak gun.

“If they come to visit with mortars, then we will answer them with mortars,” said the commander, who would give only his call sign Swat.


Early Memo Urged Moscow to Annex Crimea, Report Says

FEB. 25, 2015

MOSCOW — A memo drafted in the weeks leading up to the collapse of the Ukrainian government last year recommended that Russia take advantage of the chaos next door to annex Crimea and a large portion of southeastern Ukraine, a Russian newspaper reported on Wednesday, printing what it said was a document that had been presented to the presidential administration.

Russia has long contended that it acted spontaneously to reclaim Crimea, mainly to protect Russian speakers who it said were threatened, and to stave off what it suspected was an attempt by NATO to colonize the Black Sea region.

The report in Novaya Gazeta, one of the few often-critical voices still published in Russia, said that before the Ukrainian government collapsed on Feb. 21, 2014, the memo had already advised the Kremlin to adopt the policy it has since largely pursued in Ukraine.

The memo appears to have been drafted under the auspices of a conservative oligarch, Konstantin V. Malofeev, the report said. The memo laid out what it called the inevitable disintegration of Ukraine and suggested a series of logistical steps through which Russia could exploit the situation for its own good — steps not far from what actually occurred, though Russia has not annexed any territory in eastern Ukraine.

Sometime between Feb. 4 and Feb. 12 — while Russia was still voicing staunch support for its ally in Kiev, President Viktor F. Yanukovych — the memo predicted Mr. Yanukovych’s overthrow and suggested that Russia use the European Union’s own rules on self-determination to pry away Crimea and a significant chunk of eastern Ukraine.

Dmitry S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, dismissed the memo as a hoax. “I don’t know whether this document exists at all,” he said. “I don’t know who might be the author, but for sure, the document has nothing to do with the Kremlin.”

The authenticity of the document could not be independently verified. The newspaper did not publish any pictures of the memo or provide any proof that the policy described in it had actually been adopted.

The loss of Crimea had been a sore point in Moscow since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. In addition, President Vladimir V. Putin suggested last year that much of southeastern Ukraine, from Kharkiv to Odessa, actually formed a distinct area known in czarist times as New Russia.

That talk faded as it became clear that only a minority of the population in and around just two cities, Luhansk and Donetsk, had any interest in joining Russia. But Russia has pushed for federalization of Ukraine, another recommendation in the memo, since the beginning.

In February, with the Yanukovych government teetering, the memo’s author recommended that Russia take advantage of the “centrifugal forces” tearing Ukraine apart to merge its east with Russia.

“The dominant regions for the application of force should be Crimea and the Kharkiv region,” it said, noting that strong groups there endorsed the idea of joining Russia.

Oddly, the memo left out the Donetsk region, now the separatists’ main center of power, speculating that the links between Kiev and the most powerful local oligarch, Rinat L. Akhmetov, were too strong for the region to break away.

The latest updates to the current visual survey of the continuing dispute, with maps and satellite imagery showing rebel and military movement.

Novaya Gazeta identified Mr. Malofeev as the mastermind behind the document, though it also quoted his communications team as denying any involvement by him.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on Mr. Malofeev over his support for the separatists, including his statements that eastern Ukraine, but not the whole country, could be incorporated into Russia.

The memo was dismissive of Mr. Yanukovych’s chances of bringing the situation under control.

“President Yanukovych is not a very charismatic person,” it said. “He is afraid to give up the presidential post and at the same time is prepared to trade the security officers for guarantees of keeping the post and of immunity after resignation.”
Men repaired a hole blown in the side of a bank on Wednesday in Debaltseve, Ukraine as the cease-fire seemed to be taking hold. Credit Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Moscow should abandon the Ukrainian leader, the report suggested. “There is no sense in further Russian political, diplomatic, financial or media support for the regime,” it said.

Among other reasons for keeping control over Ukraine, it said, was to maintain the gas supply routes that help Russia dominate European supplies. Russia again criticized Ukraine over the gas issue on Wednesday, with Mr. Putin saying Kiev was trying to decimate its own people by cutting off supplies to the southeast.

He spoke as a cease-fire in southeastern Ukraine seemed to be taking hold, at least for a day. “A cease-fire exists, but it is very fragile,” said Mr. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, referring to the truce signed Feb. 12 in Minsk, Belarus. “If we all manage to make the parties concerned take the second and third steps in accordance with the Minsk agreement, then there is a chance for a sustainable cease-fire.”

Those steps include withdrawing heavy weapons from the front lines and beginning a political dialogue on the future of the separatist areas in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military said that for a second night in a row, cease-fire violations had “significantly decreased,” and that the previous 24 hours had been the quietest since the signing of the cease-fire.

Yet concerns about the strength of the truce remained, with the Ukrainian military spokesman saying it could not move to the next stage, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, as long as the separatists continued fighting.

Rebel forces said they had already begun withdrawing weapons, including 100 howitzers, from the front on Tuesday. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued a statement saying it could not confirm withdrawals by either side because it did not have a thorough accounting of the weapons that were there before the cease-fire.
Correction: February 25, 2015

An earlier version of this article misstated the date a cease-fire was signed in Minsk, Belarus. It was Feb. 12, not May 12.

 on: Feb 26, 2015, 06:35 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
World's first all-female patrol protecting South Africa's rhinos

Unarmed Black Mambas recruited from local communities are guarding nature reserve inside the Greater Kruger national park

Jeffrey Barbee
Thursday 26 February 2015 08.00 GMT Last modified on Thursday 26 February 2015 08.58 GMT   

The battle against the poaching that kills a rhino every seven hours in South Africa has acquired a new weapon: women.

The Black Mambas are all young women from local communities, and they patrol inside the Greater Kruger national park unarmed. Billed as the first all-female unit of its kind in the world, they are not just challenging poachers, but the status quo.

The Mambas are the brainchild of Craig Spencer, ecologist and head warden of Balule nature reserve, a private reserve within Kruger that borders hundreds of thousands of impoverished people.

The private reserve’s scientists and managers have had to become warriors, employing teams of game guards to protect not only the precious rhinos but lions, giraffes, and many other species targeted by poaching syndicates. The Mambas are their eyes and ears on the ground.

When the poaching crisis started – in 2007 just 13 rhino were killed in South Africa – Spencer saw other reserves within Kruger “taking out the same old rusty tools that we fought this same old war with a hundred times over, rather than to say, Hey! Let’s get better tools, newer tools!”
In Kruger rhinos are gunned down like this almost every day. This the Crime Scene Investigations Unit (names withheld to protect them) doing a post-mortem on a poached rhino to get the bullet that killed it so it can be linked the rifle that shot it, and then maybe the poacher himself. Only with good investigations can poachers be brought to justice. In Balule they have not lost a rhino in 11 months, warden Craig Spencer believes that the Black Mambas are responsible for the drop in deaths.

He developed an approach that he says addresses the huge economic and cultural divide between the wealthy reserves and local communities, which he believes drives poaching.

Arrests in Kruger show that the poaching crews are not only foreigners but local South Africans from poor communities. Rhino horn is priced higher than the street price of cocaine and Spencer says cash from poaching turns communities against the park.

“The problem really is that there is this perception that has developed in the communities outside the park, they see a uniformed official and think we are the sheriff of Nottingham, they see the poachers as Robin Hood.”

“We are not going to police the problem away,” he says, standing in the shade of an acacia. “This war will never be won with bullets.”

In a bid to engage communities outside the park fence, the reserve hired 26 local jobless female high-school graduates, and put them through an intensive tracking and combat training programme. Kitted out in second-hand European military uniforms, paid for by donations, the women were deployed throughout the 40,000 hectare reserve, unarmed but a visible police presence, like a British bobby.

The numbers suggest the approach works. In the last 10 months the reserve has not lost a rhino, while a neighbouring reserve lost 23. Snare poaching has dropped 90% percent.

Leitah Michabela has been working as a Black Mamba game guard for the last two years. “Lots of people said, how can you work in the bush when you are a lady? But I can do anything I want.”

She stops traffic at a small roadblock where, a few days later, a group of poachers were arrested before they could kill a rhino. “Many other people, especially young ladies like us, they want to join us,” she says.

Michabela and the other 26 Mambas are looked up to by the young women in her village as heroes, within the same communities the poachers come from. “I am a lady, I am going to have a baby. I want my baby to see a rhino, that’s why I am protecting it.”

The reserve uses a team of 29 armed guards, 26 unarmed Black Mambas, and an intelligence team that seeks to stop the poachers before they can kill. The Mambas main job is to be seen patrolling the fence. They also set up listening posts to hear vehicles, voices and gunshots and patrol the reserve on foot, calling in the armed guards whenever they find something.

Collette Ngobeni sits quietly on top of the landrover with a spotlight under the light of the full moon. She and her team can be seen from miles away, a visual reminder to any poacher of this communities’ commitment to protect their rhinos.

“If we work together as a community we can work this out. People need to open their minds, their hearts. Its not about money, its about our culture, our future,” she says.

 on: Feb 26, 2015, 06:33 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
True grit: how wild horses are turning Nevada inmates into cowboys

Nevada inmates get in the saddle for rehabilitation and to help with the problem of feral horses overwhelming the drought-stricken land.

Daniel Hernandez in Carson City, Nevada
Wednesday 25 February 2015 18.27 GMT Last modified on Wednesday 25 February 2015 18.36 GMT

For eight hours a day, Tim Verdugo doesn’t feel like he’s in prison. The 37-year-old felon leaves a housing unit at a minimum-security prison in Carson City, Nevada, and steps on to a ranch where he’s addressed as “horse trainer” instead of “inmate”.

There, he rides a 1,000lb mustang around a small pen. A guard tower looms nearby and the Sierra Nevada mountains offer a striking view to the west, but Verdugo is focused on getting his horse, Birddog, to perform a side-pass. The move looks something like a country and western line dance. They shuffle to the left, stop, shuffle back to the right.

“Good boy!” he says.
horse group A group of prisoner-trainers with their mounts. Photograph: Daniel Hernandez for the Guardian

Watching him pet the horse’s mane, it’s hard to imagine Verdugo as a drug addict who was arrested by the police on burglary charges four years ago. None of the traits that got him locked up – aggression, self-involvement, impatience – would serve him well on the back of a feral beast.

After spending months training temperamental mustangs, inmates participating in Nevada’s wild horse training program tend to experience a taming process of their own. It can be a remarkable transformation.

“This horse is not used to being in a cage, and I’m not used to being in a cage either, so we have that bond,” Verdugo says after his ride. “It’s up to me to make sure he doesn’t revert to being mean and scaring people. We have to respect and trust each other enough to get out.”

That would happen soon enough for the horse – every four months, the prison hosts an adoption event where a couple of hundred locals bid on the “freshly broke” geldings, mares and burros.

While practicing riding commands, the trainers admitted feeling nervous and heavy-hearted. They said the mustangs knew something was wrong too, that some event was on the horizon. After all, it’s said that a horse can absorb its rider’s mood.
horse and inmate Tim Verdugo with his horse. Photograph: Daniel Hernandez for the Guardian

In scattered corrals, the men practice backing up, cantering and trotting in circles. If the mustang responds well, the rider strokes its head. Verdugo goes as far as to jump down and give his horse a kiss when they finish the routine: “We make them from wild animals into people’s actual companions.”

Andrew Stitt, an inmate finishing a nine-year sentence, confides: “You can’t do time in a better place, and it all boils down to patience. On the outside when you get into trouble, you always think it’s someone else’s fault. In here, you make a mistake with these guys, they’ll pull the covers on you: they will let you know. You come to think, maybe I’m the one really at fault.”

“We’re prison inmates,” he adds, “quick to jump the gun, very defensive. But out here you can’t be defensive with these guys. [They’re 1,200 lbs.] It gives you a different aspect on how you want to live your life.”

    Horses don’t respond well to intimidation; you have to gentle them, you have to earn their trust


The Nevada department of corrections launched the wild horse training program 15 years ago. Confronted with overcrowding in its prisons, it partnered with a federal agency facing the same dilemma – only in the wild.

As Nevadans sometimes joke, wild horses breed “like rabbits on Viagra”. According to the bureau of land management, more than 49,000 mustangs and burros roam free in the American west, more than twice the number the drought-stricken land can adequately sustain (slaughtering them has been illegal since 1971).

The BLM rounds up thousands of emaciated horses each year, shipping them to taxpayer-funded “superpens” for castration – including a corral with 1,700 equines on the property of the Northern Nevada correctional center.

There are now over 48,000 mustangs and burros in government custody throughout the American west, and the BLM partnered with prisons in Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona and Nevada to lessen the burden of caretaking and offer at least a few of the animals a chance at a better life.

The mustangs always resist, though.

Dave Foster recalls the early days of his training. “You go in the pen with them, they’re snorting at you, they’re turning their butt to you, they’re backing up at you. It’s scary.” It can take several weeks for the horse to allow its trainer to touch it. Then the hard work of haltering, saddling and riding the animal begins. “It’s such a stressful environment because at any moment you could get stomped out or kicked,” Foster adds. “It’s like being in a car wreck all day long."

Foster’s horse, Johnny Reb, sent him to the hospital twice for concussions. Another inmate, Kenny Parker, broke a collarbone training Mustang Sally, a mare. The injury was supposed to sideline Parker for six weeks but he insisted on climbing back in the saddle in half that time, still wearing a sling.

“I couldn’t stand sitting in there,” Parker said with a gesture toward the NNCC housing unit. “You’re more free out here. We’re allowed to ride around the perimeter. We treat each other like men and our boss treats us like men, so it’s great.”

As far as prison work goes, it does look fun. But breaking horses isn’t for everyone – the men must submit applications, and out of a pool of 1,700 inmates, the director, Hank Curry, can struggle to find 10 to 20 who are both willing and able. Six days a week, the men must wake up at 5.30am. As the sun rises they shovel manure, carry in bales of hay, muck pens so the ground is soft, groom coats and feet. Each horse must then do “groundwork”, a warm-up exercise where the trainer leads it around on foot so that it doesn’t jolt into a gallop the moment he climbs on. With this litany of chores, the reluctance to apply to the program makes sense.

Climbing on a 1,000lb beast that keeps bucking you to the dirt also requires true grit. “Nobody messes with us,” Verdugo says of the other inmates. “They all think we’re crazy.”

    Training a mustang is like being in a car wreck all day long

They’ll need that tenacity upon release. The public is largely skeptical of inmate rehabilitation – and perhaps rightfully so. At the correctional center there was much talk about the “prison mentality”, an attitude of self-interest and aggressive distrust that is apparently endemic within the US prison system. Each trainer boasted of overcoming this problem, experiencing a renewed capacity to focus on work and control his emotions as if he’d shaken a bad fever.

It may be tempting to assume they were posturing, but the numbers suggest that the effect is real. A five-year study by the NNCC administration found that inmates who participated in the program were less likely to be reincarcerated. They had a 15% recidivism rate, almost half the broader average of 28%.

“A lot of these guys come from backgrounds of abuse, and that experience can result in them lacking self-confidence, lacking an ability to trust, and those dynamics are often manifesting in a kind of hyper-masculinity,” said Kathleen O’Meara, a corrections psychologist. She was visiting to explore the possibility of launching a similar program in California. “What happens when they work with a horse is they have to challenge some of their automatic behaviors. Horses don’t respond well to intimidation; you have to gentle them, you have to earn their trust. If they are going to be successful at this, these men transform.”

Saddle Horse Adoption Day began with the trainers galloping into a small arena, the lead riders carrying flags for the state, country and program. A crowd of 200 locals offered boisterous applause. The riders took several laps and then trotted in a zigzag formation meant to show each mustang’s ability to maneuver in traffic, a must if they were to run cattle. After that, the program’s director thanked the crowd for its support and asked for donations of boots and jeans for the men. He provided commentary as each horse was auctioned with its trainer on its back, demonstrating riding commands.

A handsome colt named California Gold drew the largest bid at $4,650. The other equines sold for between $575 and $2,700, enough to cover most the program’s overhead for another round of training.

That afternoon, several inmates mentioned how good it felt to be treated like a cowboy instead of a number. One inmate, Dave Foster, even compared mingling with “free people” to hearing music for the first time after a long stretch of solitary confinement.

“This is a real good example of animals helping people,” program director Hank Curry told me. “The thing about training a horse is, if you don’t fix a problem today it’s there tomorrow to greet you. So you have to finish step by step what you’re going to do. These guys are learning to complete a job, finish something, and really learning to take pride in themselves.”

Roland Moore, an inmate participating in his third auction, took a last wistful look at his mustang. “I get sad when they leave. When I see my horse stick his head up in the trailer like, ‘Hey dad, where you at?’ that’s when I get sad.” Moore is only weeks away from his own release, and though he’d never ridden a horse before arriving to prison, he hoped to continue training them on the outside.

“This is better therapy than any drug rehab I’ve been to,” he told me. “I’ve had time to learn about myself, about me being impatient and not helping anybody. I’m actually helping a horse, and I’m helping somebody that’s buying a horse. It feels good. I’ve never really done anything to help anybody like this and it feels good to me.”

 on: Feb 26, 2015, 06:26 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Probably not good: Great Barrier Reef corals eat plastic

February 25, 2015
Eric Hopton for – Your Universe Online

With the world’s oceans becoming choked with plastic, it’s easy to see that it’s probably not a good thing. And when scientists in Australia found that corals on the Great Barrier Reef readily eat micro-plastic pollution, they were concerned. The reef is already threatened by the effects of climate change, problems from land-based run-offs, fishing, and expanding coastal development.

“Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater. If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic” said Dr. Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and a lead author of the study.

[STORY: Sharks play critical role in coral reef health]

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are defined as particles smaller than half a centimeter (a fifth of an inch). They are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs. Despite this proliferation of microplastics, their impact on marine ecosystems is poorly understood.

“Marine plastic pollution is a global problem and microplastics can have negative effects on the health of marine organisms. We aimed to determine whether corals from inshore coral reefs consume microplastics, and whether there is potential for plastic pollution to affect coral reefs” said Dr. Hoogenboom.

Pretty simple experiment

As part of the study the researchers put corals collected from the Great Barrier Reef into plastic contaminated water. When they checked the corals after two nights, they found that they had eaten plastic particles.

“Corals get energy from photosynthesis by symbiotic algae living within their tissues, but they also feed on a variety of other food including zooplankton, sediment and other microscopic organisms that live in seawater,” says study lead author Nora Hall, a James Cook University Masters graduate.

[STORY: New coral species discovered off California coast]

“We found that the corals ate plastic at rates only slightly lower than their normal rate of feeding on marine plankton,” she added.

What concerns the research team most is that the plastic consumed by the corals was found deep inside the coral polyp wrapped in digestive tissue. The team believe that this concentration of plastic inside the coral itself could drastically reduce the corals’ ability to digest its normal food.

Other areas

The team also sampled the waters adjacent to inshore coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. These tests revealed that microplastics, including polystyrene and polyethylene, had been ingested, although only in small amounts, according to study co-author, Kathryn Berry, a PhD student at James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

The researchers now say the next step is to determine the impact that plastic consumption by corals has on their physiology and health. They also want to study how this might affect other marine organisms.

[STORY: Can you get an erection in space?]

“We are also investigating whether fish on coral reefs eat plastics, and whether plastic consumption influences fish growth and survival” said Dr. Hoogenboom.

Dr. Hoogenboom and co-authors have published their findings in the journal Marine Biology.

 on: Feb 26, 2015, 01:55 AM 
Started by cat777 - Last post by cat777
Hi Rad,

Sorry it took so long. Finding time to work on this has been a challenge lately. This is what I have so far. I am kind of stuck in relation to the neptune part. It may be because I am tired or maybe because I don't want to take another two weeks trying to get it together :-)  Here is what I have so far:

Karmic Axis: Pluto conjunct Sun/Jupiter/Saturn in Libra in the 9th House and Mercury in Scorpio in the 10th House. Pluto is sextile Neptune in Sagittarius in the 12th House and square the lunar nodes. The South Node is in Capricorn in the 1st House ruled by Saturn in Libra in the 9th House. The North Node is in Cancer in the 7th House ruled by the Moon in Aquarius in the 2nd House.
The soul's past intention and desire has been to expand it's consciousness in metaphysical or philosophic terms by forming relationships with a diversity of other people. Through these relationships, the soul has been learning to listen to others as well as compare and contrast its existing opinions and beliefs with those of other people. The soul is unconsciously aware of natural law and has been developing a more conscious awareness of these laws  as it outgrows its existing beliefs which are a reflection of those of the status quo and are very patriarchal in nature.
Pluto is square the nodes which is an indication of skipped steps. The soul has been working on issues related to both the north and the south nodes in the past, flip flopping back and forth between expressing one and then the other. At the same time the soul has skipped a critical step in its evolution which is symbolized by Pluto and described above. In order to recover this slipped step and continue to evolve, the soul must first re-experience or re-live certain core dynamics of the past that have been creating blocks and preventing growth.
 The soul has lived lives in the past in which it has found itself homeless and alone due to acts of war and/or violence which have caused it to be separated from its home and family. For the most part, these acts of violence have occurred due to the soul's religious beliefs or those of its family or the society it was part of. This isolation from its roots and its clan has created feelings of rage and anger within the soul as well as feelings of paranoia. It is likely that in some lifetimes, these experiences occurred when the soul was a mere child. These past life experiences have left emotional imprints and scars on the soul resulting in feelings of helplessness, neglect, fear and paranoia. The soul has had to learn to use itself as a resource in order to survive in these past lifetimes in which it often had to live in poverty and possibly starve to death. As a result of this past life trauma the soul has shutdown to some degree and learned to suppress its emotions. In this life the soul may tend towards co-dependent relationships and depending on others in order to feel safe and secure.

In addition to developing very co-dependent relationships with others in this life, the soul suffers from agoraphobia which is an anxiety disorder "characterized by anxiety in situations where the sufferer perceives certain environments as dangerous or uncomfortable, often due to the environment's vast openness or crowdedness. These situations include wide-open spaces."

In order to understand why the soul suffers from agoraphobia in its current incarnation we must take a look at the underlying unresolved trauma the soul has experienced in the past. As we have seen, Pluto is conjunct the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn in Libra in the 9th House telling us that the soul, its family and the society it was part of have all been judged according to their religious beliefs in the past, as well as punished for having such beliefs.

Scorpio is on the 11th House cusp ruled by Pluto which is conjunct Sun/Jupiter/Saturn in Libra in the 9th House and Mercury in Scorpio in the 10th House. Pluto is sextile Neptune in Sagittarius in the 12th House and square the lunar nodes. This tells us that this past life trauma is directly  related to the soul's incomplete past life intentions and desires.

Scorpio on the 11th House is an indication that the soul has experienced some form of psychological or sexual abuse, loss, abandonment or betrayal at the hands of an intimate partner or members of its tribe or community in the past. This experience may have been real or imagined. In either case it is real to the soul and has left a psychological imprint upon the soul.
Aquarius is on the 2nd House cusp ruled by Uranus which is conjunct Venus in Scorpio in the 11th House  square Mars in Leo in the 8th House; semi-square Saturn/Sun in Libra in the 9th House. This is an indication that there is underlying trauma due to major upheaval in the soul's past which affected its material resources as well as its means of sustaining itself. This upheaval caused the soul a great deal of mental suffering. It is possible that the soul had to turn to prostitution in order to sustain itself at some point in its past. In doing so, the soul experienced trauma due to being forced to live a life that was not a reflection of its true nature or self and may have been at odds with its values. The soul also suffers from being different than the mainstream or status quo in someway in the past. The soul may have been criticized or persecuted because of this difference or because of the way it was forced to make a living. Again, it is very likely that the soul was betrayed or abandoned by someone it was involved in an intimate or other type of close relationship with. This of course being a form of emotional trauma.

Uranus and Venus in Scorpio in the 11th House are opposition Chiron which is ruled by Venus. In addition, Chiron is part of a yod along with  Neptune in Sagittarius in the 12th House and Pluto in Libra in the 9th House.  Here we have trauma and wounding related to betrayal, abandonment,  and isolation through one's relationships with ones group or "tribe" resulting in feelings of helplessness, loss, alienation and guilt. This in turn leading to suffering and disillusionment. Again all due to the soul's religious beliefs and values.

The specific condition for Agoraphobia correlates with Neptune, Pisces, and the 12th House for it is a form, manifestation, of dynamics that correlate with panic. Pisces is on the 3rd House cusp ruled by Neptune in Sagittarius in the 12th House trine mars in Leo in the 8th House and sextile Jupiter in Libra in the 9th House.

This is where I am kind of stuck. I'm not really sure how to interprete this other than beginning with a tendency to panic related  to speaking, communicating with others and traveling.

Thank you for your help!!!


 on: Feb 25, 2015, 07:36 PM 
Started by AndreaManik - Last post by CindyRenee
I understand it is still okay to ask basic questions of the Daemon archetype in this thread? I want to be clear in what I think I know basically & then a few questions on the nature of the repression.
First, if I am not mistaken, Sirius star system has many or at least more than one planet being inhabited?
Within those planets there is Hoova?
When we say the Daemon soul originates in Hoova, first do we mean that quite literally in that ALL Daemon souls come into inception/creation there and nowhere else (though clearly can then incarnate wherever)?
And within that is Hoova the only planet within Sirius where Daemons originate or is it anywhere within the Sirius star system?
If we say ALL Daemon souls originate within Sirius is it true that ALL souls within Sirius are also ALL Daemon souls? (sorry this sounds like a word problem on a math test!) Ie, are there other soul types within the Sirius star system?
Are the planets that are inhabited within Sirius still in alignment with natural law?
Within our solar system and here on earth is there a specific soul structure that originates here?
Or is this place unique in that it is a melting pot of soul types?
To get back to the original issue of the  ‘repression’ of Daemon souls. By ‘repression’ generally speaking we’re talking about, I assume, in a nutshell unnatural, wrong, projections upon the Daemon that creates trauma and can result in the Daemon withdrawing - ?
Within that I’m trying to understand how a Daemon soul can heal from such projections. But, first I want to be sure of one assumption – and that is my understanding that many Daemon’s incarnate here out of a desire to help, is that generally true or truly the desires could be of any nature whatsoever?
How does a Daemon soul process the trauma from projections that have nothing to do with it’s inner reality or desire?
Basically, the old question of ‘why is this happening to me?’ of the Daemon in that situation. How could they attempt to understand or answer?
I’m going to attempt to answer my own questions here to see if I’m on track.
Presumably as with all souls, Pluto and the nature of the desires even if ‘pure’ would need to be examined in the HOW of the way the Daemon goes about things? And, necessarily we’d have to know the evolutionary state (I assume a Daemon in the consensus could still have a pure desire to help?)To understand they don’t live in a vacuum and no matter how sincere or selfless the desire to help there is a right & wrong way to go about – that other’s have their own desires & right to express it that no matter how wrong to the Daemon, they simply can’t control & must let go.
And then use the Uranian/11th/Aquarius ability to see the manifestations objectively and inwardly detach without judgment on others for the projections? Within that a Taurus inner knowledge, recognition of deeper meaning reliance on the initial objective/desire that manifests from their innate being in the face of such projections and deeper looking to Neptune/Pisces archetype to keep rooted in the original intention – service?
As always thank you so much for your time & patience answering these questions

 on: Feb 25, 2015, 03:12 PM 
Started by Sabrina - Last post by Linda
Hi Sabrina

For your information:

Dark Moon Lilith is a real body in the sky, a ‘hypothetical planet’ resembling a dust cloud, or a second Moon of Earth. It takes 119 days to orbit the Earth, and spends 10 days in each sign.

Asteroid Lilith
is a real asteroid. It is the only Lilith that is a verifiable physical body. Located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Asteroid Lilith takes 4.36 years to orbit the Sun.

Black Moon Lilith is not a solid object. It is a mathematical point of alignment, the apogee of the Moon’s orbit, furthest away from the Earth. With a 9 year orbit BML spends 9 months in each sign. EA uses the True Apogee for Black Moon Lilith.

Nodes – calculation of phasal relationship

For planets, we always start with the SLOWER moving planet of the two planets or points being considered. And then in a clockwise direction determine the degrees of separation between the two. When using the Nodes, because the mean motion is retrograde, the rule is reversed: using the slower moving point of the two you count in a counter-clockwise direction. When using the Sun, the Sun is always the first point of reference. (Rad)

To be confirmed by Rad:  Since DML is the faster moving body, then any planet in aspect will be considered the stationary point.

Further question for Rad:  How do we determine the phasal relationship for BML with its orbit around Earth at 9 years?



 on: Feb 25, 2015, 02:51 PM 
Started by CindyRenee - Last post by CindyRenee
Thanks! Not sure where I got that delusional notion. So, in fact if a planet is retrograde & at 29 degrees we'd say quite the opposite - not only culminating, but if I recall JWG taught that a retrograde planet can also show that the polarity point has already been integrated. Am I remember that correctly?

Also, what if any special evolutionary conditions could exist when the nodes are direct? I know it is rare, I do know someone who has this & the nodes are in CancerCapricorn. In general, if I remember correctly, that there is a total focus on the 'here & now' evolutionary future as indicated by P.Polarity point and north node (though other conditions within that could exist). I would think that it could commonly show a total brand new cycle being initiated and or conversely a total 'wrap up' & a bit of an acceleration to truly plow though old totally let them go. Am I on the right track here?
Thank you!

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