03 July 2015

The Declaration of White Independence

02 July 2015

Physicists Claim Universe 'Rings' Like Crystal Glass

Not unlike the fading tones of a ringing crystal goblet, the spacetime continuum and the universe itself may be oscillating through billions of years of cosmic time, say two U.S. physicists.

In a paper recently published in The Astronomical Journal, physicists Harry Ringermacher and Lawrence Mead at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in Hattiesburg, detail analysis of some 400 Type 1a supernova data points against cosmic look-back time. They conclude that the speed of the expansion of the universe has varied at least seven times during its 13.8 billion year history.

“We found that the universe has been wiggling during its expansion and that 7 such “cycles” or oscillations have occurred since the beginning of time,” Ringermacher, a USM adjunct professor of physics and the paper’s lead author, told me. “Each wiggle or cycle consists of a slow-down, followed by a speed-up, followed by a slow-down.”

Ringermacher says that they also observed secondary harmonics of those wiggles at 14 and 21 cycles, akin to such secondary harmonics produced by musical instruments. If one thinks of the 3-dimensional expanding volume of the universe as a 2-dimensional glass, he explains, then a tap on the glass will cause it to ring or oscillate.

We postulated the existence of a “scalar field,” a non-directional variable force in spacetime, he says, that is essentially the same as the one responsible for inflation, but which penetrates into the present epoch. Ringermacher notes that this scalar field is possibly the cause of the oscillations.

“So, this new model replaces the traditional dark matter term in Einstein’s equations with an oscillating term,” said Ringermacher. “In reality, the “wave” has properties of both dark matter and dark energy.”

With the discovery of dark energy in 1998, astronomers recognized that the universe had actually transitioned from a decelerating cosmos to an accelerating cosmos at least once — when the universe was roughly half its current age.

But the key to the new research lies in a novel way of plotting Type 1a supernova data, using what the authors describe in their paper as a “model-independent plot” of the radius of the universe against cosmic look-back time. The extremely bright Type 1a supernovae are widely regarded as astrophysical “standard candles” for measuring the universe’s expansion.

“By discovering a reliable new way to plot the distances of supernova events against time we were able to see features in the data that heretofore were obscured,” said Ringermacher. He notes that the oscillations they observed across the metric of time would not be as obvious in terms of redshift.

Publicly available data, largely culled from the 2011 Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS-3), enabled Ringermacher and Mead to come up with their results. “We analyzed the data 4 independent ways and found the 7 cycle signal in all methods along with 2 multiples of this frequency at 14 and 21 cycles,” said Ringermacher.

At what time intervals would these oscillations have occurred?

They appeared in the data between 8.3 billion years ago and 1.4 billion years ago, says Ringermacher, and appear to continue even to the present but are very small.

“The very earliest [such] oscillations, according to our new model, occurred approximately 500 million years after the big bang and indicated a significant deceleration of the universe,” said Ringermacher. “This first slow-down was significantly greater than that predicted by the standard model of big bang cosmology.”

Ringermacher says this deceleration at early times may explain why observations of the early universe show more galactic structure than predicted. The deceleration could have allowed matter to coalesce into stars and proto-galaxies.

In their paper, the authors note that the best confirmation would be with new information contained in a new Type 1a supernova data set hopefully coming out soon.

If confirmed, what do these oscillations tell us about the big bang or the makeup of the universe itself?

“A more remote possibility is that this “wave” is the result of a collision between our universe and another; implying that dark matter and dark energy are related to events in higher dimensions,” said Ringermacher.

Russia's Vladimir Putin set to unveil new warship 'lighter than AIR'

RUSSIA is set to unveil a top secret spaceship-like aircraft that promises to be "lighter than air".

Work is already underway on the hi-tech 130-metre-long Atlant, which is to be created by merging technology from planes, hovercraft and airships.

Capable of taking off and landing without a runway it will be able to carry 200 military personnel at speeds of up to 105mph.

The futuristic craft is equipped with sophisticated high-precision computer technology, with Russian officials claiming that the $15million (£9.5million) aircraft will be used by the Defence Ministry.

The company behind the 21st century model, Augur RosAeroSystems, say Putin's new toy will be ready for use by the army as early as 2018, according to The Siberian Times. 

Mikhail Talesnikov, the vice-president of the firm, said all development work in the first phase of the project would be completed by December. 

Mr Talesnikov said: "During the unloading of the weight at the point of arrival, the airship will be able to get heavier via controls without needing ballast. 

"In that way it will not get weightless after unloading and will not soar into the stratosphere.

"We also came up with the decision to make the airship harder by using special balancing system. It also has a hard shell. Not a frame faced by cloth, but a composite body.

"It is an innovative solution and this system is unique, nowhere abroad do they have that."

Computer images of the Atlant show its main cabin resembles that of an airship, with an overly large cockpit window and two small wings fixed to the rear of the fuselage.

Designers say it will "combine the best properties of an airship, plane, helicopter and hovercraft" but gave no further details on how the hybrid will be created.

It will also be designed to withstand outside temperatures of -40C, which are typical in the midst of Russian winters.

It is estimated there are around 50 of them in existence around the world, in use by private firms as well as the military.

And manufacturers insist they are cheaper to fly than helicopters and airplanes, can carry more cargo and are capable of reaching remote and hard-to-reach areas.

The Atlant will cost 30 per cent less than Russia's Mi-26 heavy transport helicopter, which can cost up to $25million (£15million). 

Two different models will be created: the Atlant-100, which will be 130 metres long and able to fly at 140kph, and the smaller 75-metre-long version, the Atlant-30, which will be able to carry a 16 tonne payload at speeds of about 170kph.

There is speculation the Russian military aims to use the blimp at border points, in order to control drug trafficking. 

However it can also be used to move mass numbers of personnel around the country, or into combat zones, more efficiently.

Mass cargo transportation is another possible use for the new airship, and there are hopes that the Atlant could become a cheap method of moving people around Siberia.

Established in 1991 Augur RosAeroSystems is a leading manufacturer of airships and two years ago unveiled the AU-30, which was capable to carrying a payload of half-a-tonne.

But it is slowly making a comeback, almost seven decades after the German Hindenburg aircraft disaster that left 35 people dead.

UKIP could win 'more than seven seats' in assembly poll

UKIP could win more than seven seats in the 2016 assembly election, the party's campaign manager for the poll has said.

Sam Gould said the proportional representation element of the assembly electoral system would give UKIP "six or seven" seats, if it repeated its general election performance.

But he told BBC Wales the party was "definitely" capable of winning more.

UKIP got more than 200,000 votes in Wales in May, more than both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.

It came second in six of the 40 Welsh seats but, under the first past the post system, did not win any.

The closest it came was Mr Gould in Caerphilly, who was beaten by Labour's Wayne David by around 10,000 votes.

UKIP's campaign in Wales also had several problems, including one of its candidates threatening to sue the party for libel, and its regional organiser stepping down.

The party believes the regional list system - whereby 20 of the 60 AMs are elected under a form of proportional representation - gives it a strong chance at the assembly election.

Former Conservative and UKIP MP Mark Reckless has been given the job of developing the manifesto and it is planning to appoint spokespeople on each of the main devolved policy areas.

Local branches will select the 40 constituency candidates by the autumn, while regional list candidates will be picked by a central committee.

Mr Gould said: "The (general election) performance was absolutely fantastic and we are so pleased with this foundation ready for next year's assembly election.

"If we were to run the same number of votes across Wales we would get seven AMs under the list system.

"So we're very confident of breaking through next year in the assembly election.

"I think seven seats would be a success, but I think we're in with a very good chance of achieving more."

He added: "Mark Reckless will be coming to Wales to work with a Wales-based policy team to help us turn the ideas we have from our local grassroots Welsh representatives into a reality in our manifesto."

There has never been a UKIP assembly member, but the party had a Welsh MEP elected in 2009 and 2014.

Putin: America Is Godless, ‘Morally Bankrupt,’ And On The ‘Path Of Degradation’

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the United States by saying Americans have chosen a “path of degradation.” In addition, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, echoed Putin’s perception of Western countries, accusing them of engaging in the “spiritual disarmament” of their people.

Patriarch Kirill is specific in criticizing a few European countries that prevent believers from displaying religious symbols, including banning people from wearing crucifixes at work.

Russian state-controlled television aired comments of Patriarch Kirill’s view of the Western world.
“The general political direction of the [Western political] elite bears, without doubt, an anti-Christian and anti-religious character. We have been through an epoch of atheism, and we know what it is to live without God. We want to shout to the whole world, ‘Stop!’ 
In addition, Kremlin television claims “some Americans” funded a “demonic” protest by a female punk rock group, Pussy Riot, against the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of President Vladimir Putin, according to a report in Washington Times.

In a recent speech, Putin said the following.
“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”
In mid-December 2014, Russian President Putin gave his state of the nation address, portraying Russia as a staunch defender of “traditional values” in comparison to the “morally bankrupt” West.

The former KGB officer stated that the only way to prevent to world from sliding into “chaotic darkness” is to embrace social and religious conservatism.

In support of Putin’s philosophy, the Russians are attempting to defend “Christian values” by adopting laws that ban “homosexual propaganda.”

They are also enacting laws to make it a criminal offense to “insult” the religious sensibilities of believers, according to Washington Times‘ coverage.

As the Kremlin continues to encourage traditional values, Orthodox vigilantism is on the rise. Groups like the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers and The Banner Bearers are growing in numbers. For his services to the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill has honored the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers group’s leader, an openly anti-Semitic monarchist, Leonid Simonovich, whose group’s slogan is “Orthodoxy or Death.”

Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers

In addition, members of the Banner Bearers dress in black paramilitary uniforms decorated with skulls, and regularly confront liberal and gay activists on the streets of Moscow.

In addition to Putin’s views, other figures within the Orthodox Church are criticizing the West, as well. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, a church spokesperson, suggested that the modern-day West is no better for a Christian believer than the Soviet Union.

Chaplin says, “The separation of the secular and the religious is a fatal mistake by the West. It is a monstrous phenomenon that has occurred only in Western civilization and will kill the West, both politically and morally.”

01 July 2015

Kiryas Joel: Welfare fraud sweep nabs 30 Orange County residents, 2 corporations

County officials on Wednesday announced welfare fraud charges against 30 people and two corporations, bringing the amount of fraudulently obtained public benefits wrapped up in three county-wide sweeps since January 2014 to more than $1 million.

County officials on Wednesday announced welfare fraud charges against 30 people and two corporations, bringing the amount of fraudulently obtained public benefits wrapped up in three county-wide sweeps since January 2014 to more than $1 million.

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler and County Executive Steve Neuhaus stressed that there is a critical need for legislation to close state and federal loopholes that allow people with substantial income or assets to game the system in ways that allow them to legally collect public benefits.

In this sweep, dubbed "Operation Million Dollar Mark,"officials say the defendants improperly collected $324,000 in public assistance administered by the county. The full total now is $1.07 million.

One in four people in Orange County collects some kind of public benefit, Hoovler said. Many are legitimately eligible and deserving, but fraud remains a serious problem.

"It affects everyday people," Hoovler said. "It affects the taxpayers of the county more than you would think."

The arrests announced Wednesday bring the number of people charged in these sweeps to 97, plus the two corporations. Hoovler put the amount of fraud prevented by the investigations and arrests at $5 million.

The investigations have been done through cooperation between the county's Department of Social Services and its special investigations unit, the county sheriff's office and the district attorney's office, and entail significant legwork and scrutiny of documentation and public records, said Ann Caldwell, the county's deputy commissioner of social services.

In the latest sweep, the largest chunk of fraud - $239,979 - was through Medicaid. Another $63,908 was attributable to fraudulently collected Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Progam benefits and $20,905 from Temporary Assistance.

So far, the county has received $123,930 in restitution from prior sweep defendants, and $148,390 in voluntary repayments from people who had not been charged.

Both of the corporations involved in the most recent sweep are owned by residents of the Village of Kiryas Joel.

The largest fraud charged was against Mordechai Friedman, 37, of Kiryas Joel, 100 percent shareholder of YMF and Associates. Officials say he fraudulently collected $61,442 in Medicaid benefits by under-reporting his income. He was charged with second-degree welfare fraud, a felony.

Another businessman, Chayim Deutsch, 36, of Kiryas Joel, structured his financial draws from his corporation, KJ Advertising, so he could create false documents and under-report his income and appear to be eligible for Medicaid. He collected $21,133 in benefits, officials said. He was charged with third-degree welfare fraud.

Hoovler and Chief Assistant District Attorney Chris Borek explained that individuals who structure their business corporations properly and who structure the pay they draw from the corporation can actually be eligible for public assistance, even if they own homes and cars and have substantial savings, and it's legal. Those business owners are often instructed on doing this by tax professionals, Hoovler said.

"It cries for a legislative fix," he said. "We need these loopholes closed. ... It's the IRS, it's the state level. There's multiple levels that need to be fixed."

Hoovler and Neuhaus announced that they will be contacting state Assembly and Senate members to address the issues, and a major push by the state's district attorneys' and county executives' associations to close loopholes is coming.

25 June 2015

Golden Dawn's Christos Pappas: "We Tear Up This Law"

On June 25th, the Syriza-led government passed in principle this traitorous bill. In affect on paper the illegal immigrants will be considered just as ‘Greek’ as any Greek, including those in the Diaspora. The traitorous bill was passed with 172 votes with support from Syriza, PASOK and Potami. The Popular Association - Golden Dawn - will fight this unlawful act with every legal mean available.

23 June 2015

More states seeing Confederate statues defaced

BALTIMORE - Confederate statues in South Carolina, Maryland and Texas were discovered defaced this week with the words "Black Lives Matter."

The discoveries come just days someone vandalized a Confederate monument less than 2 miles from the racially-inspired mass shooting in Charleston, S.C.

In that case, a Confederate monument near the Emanuel A.M.E. Church was also spray-painted with the phrase "Black Lives Matter," as well as the message "This is the problem. #RACIST."

CBS affiliate WCSC in Charleston reports that a second Confederate monument was discovered defaced on Tuesday.

 Symbols of the Confederacy, especially the Rebel Battle Flag, have come under renewed criticism following last week's shooting by a white man at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed nine people.

In Baltimore, the same words were done in yellow paint over an etched message on a statue that was erected by the Maryland Daughters of the Confederacy in February 1903, The Baltimore Sun reports.

Those who live, work and study in the area had mixed reactions to the message being written on the statue, which is across the street from the campus of Maryland Institute College of Art. This statue is one of several such statues devoted to the Confederacy in the city.

In Texas, Austin American-Statesman reporter Ralph Haurwitz tweeted that several statues on the University of Texas at Austin's campus had been defaced in a similar way.

The "Black Lives Matter" movement, which sprung up in the wake of the several killings of black men by white police officers, has not formally taken responsibility for the vandalism.

Pro-White Surges in Croatia as EU Disappointment Spreads

It was one of the biggest nights in Croatia's sporting calendar: a European Championship soccer qualifying match with Italy. Seconds after kick-off in a game beamed around the world, a gigantic swastika materialized on the pitch under the shocked gaze of European soccer officials.

The swastika, sprayed by an unknown vandal with a chemical that became visible only when floodlights went on to start the game, has become the most potent symbol of a rise in ultra-nationalist sentiment that appears to be bleeding into the mainstream population in the European Union's newest member state.

But it's not the only one. In the mixed ethnic towns of eastern Croatia, road signs in the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet have been destroyed and Serbian Orthodox churches have been vandalized with a "U'' symbol representing the Nazi-linked World War II Ustasha regime. On weekends, Ustasha chants echo at sports venues and rock concerts.

At an event last month in southern Austria, Croatian ultranationalist Ivica Safaric proudly brandished the "U'' Ustasha symbol on a medallion around his neck. His companions in black shirts raised their right arms high in a Nazi salute, shouting out a dreaded battle call "For the homeland — Ready!" used by wartime Croatian fascist troops.

"I respect the Ustasha movement because it created the independent state of Croatia," said Safaric, who fought for Croatia's independence in the 1990s.

The gathering in Bleiburg was a memorial to tens of thousands of pro-Nazi soldiers, their families, children and civilians killed by communist guerrillas at the end of the war in 1945.

Commemorations for the Bleiburg massacre victims are held every year in May, but last month's gathering was by far the largest ever, with an estimated 40,000 people participating. It happened as much of Europe marked the 70th anniversary of liberation from the Nazis, and the pro-Nazi imagery at Bleiburg was met by muted response from Croatia's politicians.

Grabar-Kitarovic endorsed the Bleiburg commemorations and honored the victims just days ahead of the main event, but did not go there when the crowds gathered. She also paid an informal visit to the site of an Ustasha-run death camp in Jasenovac, but did not attend official commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation.

Minority Serbs, who fought against Croatia's independence during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, have been under increasing pressure by the nationalists. Croatian war veterans campaigning under the slogan "100 percent Croatia" — implying an ethnically pure state — have demanded that Serbs stop using the Cyrillic alphabet in Croatia, although their right to do so is guaranteed by the country's laws.

Alarmed by the surge, thousands of gay activists and their liberal supporters marched in Croatia's capital Zagreb last weekend under the slogan: "Louder and More Courageous: Antifascism Without Compromise."

"We chose the slogan because we don't like where Croatia is heading," said Marko Jurcic, one of the march organizers. "We don't want a 100 percent pure Croatia, we want a diverse Croatia."

22 June 2015

Yisrael Beytenu MK Sharon Gal: IDF Should Kill Passengers of Flotilla

“We need to wake up and take care of these phenomena with an iron fist.”

MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beytenu) accuses Arab passenger of Freedom Flotilla III of joining the "terrorist flotilla" because he is "extremist and hates Israel."

The Jerusalem Post on Sunday evening that he would join a protest ship headed for Gaza this week and that the activists have no violent intentions.

If the IDF wants to kill, then shoot! the Balad Party/Joint List MK said.

Ghattas said that the Marianne av Göteborg trawler would likely depart from Athens in the next day or two and that he does not expect any violence, as “we activists decided not to resist violently.” Three or four other ships have plans to join the Gaza “flotilla,” but only the Marianne av Göteborg is currently approaching Israel.

The trawler set off from Sweden at the end of May and docked at Palermo in Sicily earlier this month. The crew brought with them a solar panel and medical equipment.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Sunday that the Foreign Ministry is working around the clock through all possible diplomatic channels to ensure that the ship does not reach Israel’s territorial waters.

The participation of Ghattas in the flotilla is a case of “serving the enemy with parliamentary immunity,” she said.

Contrary to the picture the Palestinians are trying to paint, Israel allows humanitarian aid, food and construction supplies into the Gaza Strip, Hotovely said.

“Flotillas like the one making its way to Israel are the handiwork of provocateurs who only want to make Israel look bad,” she said.

“The IDF will not allow any vessel to reach Gaza and to cross the maritime border of the State of Israel,” an IDF spokesman said. “Up to date intelligence exists on everything that takes place on the marine front.”

The flotilla is expected to arrive and mainly cause provocation. The navy intends to treat the ships just as it would any vessel that tries to enter Israel’s territorial waters without authorization.

Ghattas said the flotilla is legal.

Asked if violence could break out if the IDF intercepted the Marianne av Göteborg, he replied, “If the IDF wants to kill, then shoot, but we will not shoot or have any weapons whatsoever of any kind or any violent intention.”

If the ship is not hampered, it should take four days to arrive to the Gaza Strip.

“I know the IDF might stop us,” however, “our intention is to get as close as possible to Gaza,” he added.

Asked about the flood of criticism he is receiving from other MKs, Ghattas responded that this is expected and that he has no intention to respond to his critics.

“The only question that should be asked,” he said, is why no other MK, especially a non-Arab MK, “is joining me on this flotilla.”

Ghattas went on to argue that repeating wars in Gaza every few years is not a solution.

He wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday saying that he would be joining the Gaza-bound flotilla and that there is “no reason” to prevent it from reaching its destination.

“I will be on deck together with many participants including dozens of members of parliament and public figures from around the world,” Ghattas wrote in the letter.

The “Flotilla of Peace” seeks to break the siege of Gaza and turn the world’s attention to the 1.8 million Palestinians who are living in “prison conditions,” he continued.

Israel is imposing collective punishment on the Palestinians, which is “a flagrant violation of humanitarian law,” he claimed.

“There is no reason to prevent us from reaching Gaza and delivering the aid we will be carrying,” Ghattas said, adding that the prime minister should order the security forces to “stay away” and allow the ships to reach Gaza.

He warned that any action to take over the vessel would “complicate Israel with another international crisis.”

Jerusalem has made clear in the past that there are numerous channels to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza, and these types of flotillas are meant solely as provocations.

The Zionist Union said: “Just as the flotilla to Gaza is not humanitarian, rather it is a political act to legitimize the Hamas regime and bring terrorism to Israel, so too MK Ghattas’s participation is unfortunate and not humanitarian, but political and will bring conflict and quarrels within Israel.”

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said, “Ghattas’s planned participation in the flotilla is further proof that the Joint List is one big terrorist vessel, which is only meant to harm the State of Israel and use Israeli democracy to try to destroy it.”

MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beytenu) said that Ghattas is joining the “terrorist flotilla” because he is an “extremist and hates Israel.”

“The time has come to learn that our policy of containment is understood by our enemies as weakness, whether they have an Israeli ID card and live here or if they are part of terrorist organizations and live in the Palestinian Authority’s territory,” Gal said.

“We need to wake up and take care of these phenomena with an iron fist.”

Gal called the Joint List a fifth column, pointing out that Ghattas has called for boycotts of Israel.

Lasers, magnetism allow glimpses of the human brain at work

The jagged, multicolored images depicted what was going on in the two researchers' heads — two brains in conversation, carrying out an intricate dance of internal activity. This is no parlor trick. The brain-tracking technology at work is just a small part of the quest to answer abiding questions about the workings of a three-pound chunk of fatty tissue with the consistency of cold porridge.

How does this collection of nearly 100 billion densely packed nerve cells, acting through circuits with maybe 100 trillion connections, let us think, feel, act and perceive our world? How does this complex machine go wrong and make people depressed, or delusional, or demented? What can be done about that?

While the brain at rest is not completely understood, "everyone is jumping into this now," Bandettini said. It holds promise for mapping out which parts of the brain work with which others to perform key tasks, he said.

The emphasis in brain mapping these days is not so much about finding particular places that do particular tasks, but rather delineating the circuitry that lets the brain operate.

"No region works in isolation. It's all being communicated across networks," Mather said.

Communication flows along an estimated 150,000 miles of nerve fibers in the average brain. Individual fibers are too fine to see in brain-scanning machines, but they form bundles that can be detected as they cross the deep central portion of the brain.

Those bundles are one focus of researchers who are mapping out the brain's "connectome," the complex web of these connections between areas of gray matter, where thinking takes place.

"Any one patch of gray matter in the brain is literally communicating with hundreds of other distant locations, in ways that actually are very different from how modern computer circuits are wired," says David Van Essen of Washington University.

While computers use their lightning speed to crunch numbers, the brain's "squishy hardware," works with far slower internal communication, he said.

"We're able to do analyses and make inferences in ways that still way outperform computers, because the wiring is different and in some ways just incredibly clever. But we don't understand the rules, the strategies in sufficient detail."

The connectome effort is still in its early phases, he said. But it has already gained one unusual distinction: A colorful scientific depiction of brain connections made the cover of an album by the band Muse.

19 June 2015

Vladimir Putin versus a vast conspiracy

Putin and his people seem far outside the realm of the conventional and see themselves as warriors of light in a world suffocated by a Western conspiracy

In a recent Washington Post column, Sergei Guriev, one of Russia’s top economic thinkers, warned that President Vladimir Putin’s regime was now exclusively focused on survival, and not on a vision for the country’s long-term development. “The Russian regime no longer talks about the future,” he wrote.

I suspect he’s wrong about that. More likely, it’s Guriev, in exile and now teaching economics at SciencesPo in Paris, who can’t take seriously Russia’s vision of the world because it seems so irrational to a Western intellectual. To understand this mindset, consider what happened when the Economist published its forecast for 2015, which featured a densely populated illustration on its cover.

Conspiracy theorists had a field day. The Vigilant Citizen website, which is devoted to ferreting out Illuminati and other occult symbols it says are hidden in plain sight, published a detailed analysis that was reposted on like-minded sites in a variety of languages. That was in January. This week, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia’s most popular tabloid published its own analysis of the Economist cover. It used an “expert,” Igor Belous, from an obscure group called Institute of Scientific Research for the Third Millennium, to dissect the illustration. Among other things, he wrote that the presence of the US magician David Blaine behind Putin’s right shoulder was “a transparent hint that Russia should expect more ‘magic tricks’ like the story of the shot-down Boeing ... It’s not for nothing that a helicopter bearing the inscription ‘crop-o-dust’ is circling in front of Putin.” The Rothschilds also figure prominently in Belous’s text.

Komsomolskaya Pravda isn’t an official Kremlin publication, nor is it a habitual publisher of alien abduction stories. Putin takes it, and its huge readership, seriously: Before the 2012 presidential election, he used it to publish an article outlining his social policy.

The publication’s dip into paranoia [i.e., reality] reflects widespread views in Russia. Last autumn, a poll showed that 45 percent of Russians believe in the existence of a supranational government. That group supposedly includes wealthy individuals and Western politicians. When news came out that Guriev would be the only Russian invited to this year’s Bilderberg conference, the popular pro-Putin news site Lenta.ru featured the headline “Sergei Guriev joins the ‘global government.’”

Ivan Ilyin, a Russian philosopher Putin likes to quote, was also a firm believer in mirovaya zakulisa, or a “global behind-the-scenes establishment.” In his 1950 work “What the Dismemberment of Russia Promises the World,” Ilyin wrote:

“Let us immediately establish that the dismemberment of Russia being prepared by the mirovaya zakulisa has not the slightest foundation, no spiritual or Realpolitik-related considerations behind it apart from revolutionary demagoguery, a mindless fear of a united Russia and an age-old hatred of the Russian monarchy and Eastern Orthodox religion.”

Protecting Russia’s unity is, of course, one of Putin’s recurrent themes. It’s an issue that resonates: According to a Levada Center poll, 28 percent or Russians, more than ever before, now believe that a foreign conspiracy destroyed the Soviet Union.

In line with this worldview, Russia’s role in the world is to resist the “global government’s” conspiracy. Its future, as Putin and his ideologists see it, consists in achieving a kind of reverse isolation of the West. While Western governments see themselves on the inside and Russia on the outside, a rogue dictatorship, Putin and his entourage are working on turning this image inside out. Putin recentlycalled the G-7 a “hobby club” and said he preferred working “in broader formats” such as the G-20. Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, put it even more succinctly in a tweet last month: “The West keeps saying: ‘The whole world condemns Russia.’ But the 30 to 35 countries of the Western alliance shouldn’t equate themselves with the whole world.”

The other part of Putin’s vision for the future is rearmament, both military—hence his recent promise to add 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles this year and to aim them “at those territories from which we are threatened”—and spiritual. In an article in the daily Izvestia on Wednesday, culture minister Vladimir Medinsky wrote: “If the government doesn’t feed and create its own culture, someone else will feed and create it. And then we’ll end up feeding someone else’s army.”

It’s understandable that none of this makes sense to a rational economist such as Guriev. Putin and his people are now far outside the realm of the conventional. They see themselves as warriors of light in a world suffocated by a Western conspiracy. To them, there is far more at stake than just the regime’s survival. That’s what makes them dangerous.

Putin: Russian Pipeline Project to Help Greece Pay Its Debt

"We are starting a new era in Greek-Russian relations and we consider you who live here to be playing a very important part in this effort," Tsipras said.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin said after Friday's talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that a prospective Russian natural gas pipeline should help Greece service its debt, but the Kremlin said the question of direct Russian financial aid to Greece was not discussed.

Speaking of the pipeline deal at a meeting with top executives of global news agencies, including The Associated Press, which began nearly three hours behind schedule at around midnight, Putin said he saw no support for the Greeks from the EU.

"If EU wants Greece to pay its debts it should be interested in growing the Greek economy ... helping it pay its debts," he said. "The EU should be applauding us. What's wrong with creating jobs in Greece?"

Greece is struggling to reach a deal with its creditors for new loans that it needs to avoid defaulting on debt payments at the end of the month. Without the bailout, Greece could be headed for bankruptcy or an exit from the 19-nation eurozone.

Tsipras' visit gave rise to speculation that the Greeks may be seeking Russian loans — and ahead of the talks, Putin's spokesman said Russia would consider a loan if the Greeks asked for one.

"We would do this because they are our partners and this is a normal practice between countries who are partners," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told The Associated Press.

But when Tsipras met with Putin at the sidelines of a major economic forum in St.Petersburg, the possibility of a loan wasn't discussed, Peskov told journalists. Instead, they spoke about "the necessity of developing investment cooperation."

Russia and Greece signed a deal Friday to build an extension of a prospective gas pipeline that would carry Russian gas to Europe through Turkey. Russia promised Greece hundreds of millions of dollars in transit payments yearly if it agreed to build the pipeline. Construction of the pipeline is expected to start next year and be completed in 2019.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Russia and Greece would be equal partners in the project, with Russia's half owned by the state bank VEB.

The talks were held after both leaders addressed investors and Russian government officials at Russia's biggest annual economic forum.

Putin said little about Greece, although he slipped in a joke about its predicament.

"When Mr. Tsipras spoke, he said the problem of Greece was not a Greek problem but a European one. Well, that's right. If you owe someone a lot, then it is already not your problem but the problem of the one you owe — and that's an absolutely correct approach," Putin said.

Tsipras said his country strove to be a "bridge of cooperation" with "traditional friends like Russia" and others.

"As you all know, we are now in the middle of a great storm," the Greek leader said. "But we are a seafaring nation that knows how to navigate through storms and is not afraid of heading to new seas and reaching new harbors."

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich also had said Russia would consider a loan to Greece.

"The most important things for us are investment projects and trade with Greece. If financial support is needed, we will consider this question," he said in an interview on RT television.

Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said during a forum session that Russia has no plans to buy Greek bonds, but is ready support the Greek economy by stimulating investment by Russian companies. He pointed to the gas pipeline as an example.

Tsipras started his day by speaking to Russians of Greek ancestry at a memorial to Ioannis Kapodistrias, the founder of the modern Greek state who lived and worked in Russia as a Greek envoy from 1809 to 1822.

"We are starting a new era in Greek-Russian relations and we consider you who live here to be playing a very important part in this effort," Tsipras said.

"Greece has been waging a brave fight in these past few weeks and months. You are well aware of these types of difficulties and you are now standing on your feet," he added. "This is the key characteristic of the Greek people, to be able to overcome difficulties when right is on their side."

75 Percent of Animal Species to be Wiped Out in ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’

From rhinos to tigers to elephants, three out of four "familiar" animal species – those commonly thought of and well understood by human beings – will be extinguished within three human lifetimes, a new study finds, confirming that Earth is in the midst of what’s become known as the “sixth mass extinction” driven by runaway development, shrinking animal habitats and climate change.

“Scientists never like to say anything for sure, but this is close as we’re ever going to get to saying, ‘We’re certain that this is a huge problem,’” says study coauthor Anthony Barnosky, a paleontologist at the University of California-Berkeley, calling the problem “quite dire.”

The hundreds of species eliminated in the past century alone would otherwise have lasted at least another 800 to 10,000 years, the study found. Coral reefs “are in danger of annihilation” as soon as 2070, Barnosky says, potentially erasing a quarter of the ocean’s species. 

The last mass extinction occurred 66 million years ago with the end of the dinosaurs. This is the only one, however, where a single species is responsible for the destruction of all the others. And by eliminating biodiversity, it threatens to disrupt the pollination, water purification, food chain and other "ecosystem services" that humanity's "beautiful, fascinating and culturally important living companions" provide, the study says – threatening human life itself.

“You can kind of think of it as guns and bullets,” Barnosky says. “The guns are different in each case, but the bullets that come out – changing climate, increased CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere, ocean acidification – those things that contribute to mass extinction are the things that we’re doing today.”

Previous studies had established the world is in the midst of a mass extinction, with animals disappearing at far faster rates than expected. The term even made the title of New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert’s 2014 bestseller, “The Sixth Extinction.”  There is no way to know just how many species there are on earth – roughly 1.3 million animals have been described since 1758. A study last September, however, found the number of wild animals had likely been halved in just the past 40 years.

But this latest effort is by far the most conservative: a study aimed at debunking any possible rebuttal that its findings are “alarmist.”

Barnosky and his team, hailing from Florida and Mexico as well as California, doubled the pace that species were expected to go extinct without any human interference, then used the lowest possible estimate for the number of species that actually were disappearing.

The results, even as an underestimate, proved just as dire.

Since 1900, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish died 72 times faster than “normal,” this most conservative estimate found. Whereas researchers might have expected nine veterbrates to go extinct, instead 468 were wiped from the Earth.

Industrialization was especially lethal, with extermination rapidly accelerating from 1800 on.

“The most iconic bird species historically are gone – the ivory-billed woodpecker, passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, great auk, imperial woodpecker,” says study coauthor Paul Ehrlich, professor and president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. “But there are many others less-well known – the gorgeous orange-bellied and golden-shouldered parrots of Australia, many large raptors, and likely many penguins – as climate disruption takes hold.”

The study was released one day after Pope Francis issued the Vatican’s first-ever encyclical on the environment and climate change, a 184-page letter urging Catholics and “all humanity” to respect nature, rein-in development and address global warming. It also comes six months ahead of a U.N. climate summit in Paris, where President Barack Obama and other world leaders reportedly hope nearly 200 nations will agree to reduce their carbon emissions.

Francis emphasized the need for swift action, a theme echoed by the research team.

“It really is possible to fix these big problems if people put their minds to it,” Barnosky says. “We’re at a stage now where people are becoming aware of the problem, and as people become aware we can move the needle toward making progress.”

That includes switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, producing food more efficiently and limiting population growth. But no matter what actions are taken, there will inevitably be a cost, experts say.

“We’re not only in the midst of a sixth major extinction, we’re moving further and further into it,” says Bruce Stein, senior director of climate adaptation and resilience at the National Wildlife Foundation. “It’s clear that we are going to lose a lot of things, but it’s also clear that we have the ability to ensure that many of our systems will be different but will continue to have ecological functionality and continue to support many of these species.”