Scalar Energy

Quantum Science, Scalar Energy Pendant, Nikola Tesla & More

July 28, 2015
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Spectre : Sam Smith sera-t-il la voix du prochain James Bond ?

Après Adele sur Skyfall, ou Jack White et Alicia Keys sur Quantum of Solace, qui sera l’élu qui interprètera la chanson générique du prochain James Bond?

D’après The Hollywood Reporter, le chanteur -ou la chanteuse- a été choisi(e) et l’enregistrement aurait déjà eu lieu. Sam Mendes, le réalisateur de Spectre a confié à la BBC que «les fans n’auront pas à attendre bien longtemps».

Pendant ce temps, elle court elle court la rumeur, plaçant le jeune soulman britannique, Sam Smith, dans les favoris, porté par ses quatre Grammy Award l’an dernier et son tube planétaire Stay With Me. The Hollywood Reporter défend cette hypothèse bien que l’artiste démente officiellement avoir été impliqué dans cette réalisation. Âgé de 23 ans, le chanteur britannique a déjà remporté quatre Grammy Award l’an dernier avec son titre Stay With Me. Il affirme toutefois, ne pas être impliqué dans cette réalisation.

Le nom de Ed Sheeran, autre chanteur britannique, est sur toutes les lèvres. La renommée de l’artiste assurerait le succès du single mais l’interprète de The A-Team et Thinking Out Loud semble plus intéressé par sa nouvelle carrière d’acteur. Il devrait en effet interpréter un rôle important dans la nouvelle série du créateur de Sons of Anarchy, intitulée The Bastard Executioner, selon le Hollywood Reporter.

Ellie Goulding, chanteuse internationale alimente, elle aussi, les ragots. Parmi les arguments qui crédibiliseraint son choix, revient le fait qu’elle a déjà participé à la franchise de 50 Nuances de Grey avec Love Me Like You Do.

De même, le nom de Lana Del Rey circule, même si elle semble occupée à peaufiner son dernier album Honeymoon.

Enfin Noel Gallagher, l’ex-chanteur d’Oasis, s’est récemment porté volontaire pour le job tout en admettant avoir de faibles chances d’être le successeur de ses dignes prédécesseurs britanniques guère moins turbulants que lui, Tom Jones (Thunderball- 1965), Paul McCartney avec les Wings (Live and Let Die – 1973) ou Simon Le Bon avec Duran Duran (A View To A Kill - 1985).

Le long-métrage de James Bond, Spectre, met en vedette pour la quatrième fois Daniel Craig. Il sortira le 11 novembre 2015 en France.

July 28, 2015
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המשרד להגנת הסביבה: תליון שנמכר ברשת – רדיואקטיבי; ב-2009 אסרה הונג קונג על הפצת תליוני "אנרגיה סקלארית"

עם היוודע תוצאות בדיקת המעבדה אשר הראו כי תליונים המשווקים על ידי חברת ionature פולטים קרינה רדיואקטיבית החורגת מהמותר, הורה השר להגנת הסביבה, ח”כ עמיר פרץ, לעדכן באופן מיידי את משרד הבריאות • מבדיקת המשרד עולה כי אדם העונד את התליון במשך קצת פחות משלושה חודשים, נחשף לקרינה הגבוהה פי 5 מהמותר • התליונים נמכרו במקומות שונים ברחבי הארץ ולפי אתר החברה, גם בבתי חולים

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תליון אנרגיה סקלארית. מתוך אתר של אחת החנויות האינטרנטיות המוכרות את המוצרים מסוג זה, המבוססים על אבן לבה יפנית שחורה.

המשרד להגנת הסביבה הוציא היום הודעה יוצאת דופן שבה הזהיר את הציבור מפני מוצר רפואה אלטרנטיבית המשווק כבעל סגולות רפואיות, ולא רק שאינו מרפא אלא גם עלול לגרום לעונד אותו למחלות הנובעות מקרינה.

“המשרד להגנת הסביבה התריע בפני משרד הבריאות כי תליונים המשווקים באמצעות אתר האינטרנט www.ionature.co.il פולטים קרינה רדיואקטיבית החורגת מהמותר. לפי אתר החברה, התליונים נמכרו בין היתר גם בבית החולים וולפסון ובקניון של בית החולים הדסה עין כרם, בנוסף נמכר התליון בחדרי כושר ברחבי הארץ.”

“בימים האחרונים הועברו התליונים לבדיקה במעבדה לקרינה סביבתית של המשרד להגנת הסביבה בשל חשש כי הם מכילים ריכוז גבוה של חומרים רדיואקטיביים. בבדיקות נמצא כי מי שעונד תליון שכזה לאורך שנה נחשף לרמת קרינה העולה בהרבה על המותר בחשיפה לא רפואית. יצוין כי בכל המדידות של התליון נמצאה תכולה גבוהה של חומרים רדיואקטיביים. עוד עולה מבדיקת המשרד להגנת הסביבה כי אדם העונד את התליון במשך קצת פחות משלושה חודשים, נחשף לקרינה הגבוהה פי 5 מהמותר.”

באתר החברה ניתן ההסבר המדעי לכאורה הבא: “המוצר הינו תליון אנרגיה סקלרית שמשחרר ריכוז גבוה מאוד של יונים שליליים. הוא תוצאה של מחקרים רבים שנערכו בעיקר ביפן ובארה”ב. מדענים, פיזיקאים וכימאים, חוקרים כבר עשרות שנים את ההשפעה שיש ליונים שליליים על גוף האדם. כידוע לכולנו, בעולם הזה הכל בנוי מאטומים (החלקיקים הקטנים ביותר שנמצאו עד היום). האטומים מרכיבים את כל מה שאנחנו רואים בעזרת העיניים. אטום עם עודף של אלקטרון/ים נקרא יון שלילי.”

. : shutterstock

רדיואקטיביות. איור: shutterstock

יש לציין כי מדובר בשימוש מוזר מאוד במילה סקלר. לפי ויקיפדיה “סקלר, ברוב המיקרים של השימוש במילה, הוא גודל פיזיקלי שלא משתנה בהשפעת סיבובים ונשאר קבוע. לסקלר אין כיוון, אלא גודל בלבד. טמפרטורה ומסה הם דוגמאות לסקלרים…. אנרגיה היא סקלר רגיל…” במילים אחרות להגיד אנרגיה סקלארית זה כמו להגיד אנרגיה אנרגטית, מסה מסתית או טמפרטורה טמפרטורית.

בהמשך מצויין כי המוצר מיוצר ביפן על בסיס מחקריהם של מקסוול, טסלה, איינשטיין, פיצבלגר, פינלי, סויקה וטקינווה על פני טווח זמן של 150 שנה. אכן המדענים הללו חקרו את האנרגיה. כמו כן הם מפנים את הגולשים למחקרים אודות יונים שליליים. הגיוס של שמות מדענים גדולים בהסטוריה של הפיסיקה נראה פה כמו עוד טקטיקה של הנפקת גושפנקא מדעית למוצר שהוא במקרה הטוב פסוודו מדעי אך עלול להטעות אנשים תמימים חסרי ידע מדעי (הם לא אשמים בכך, כבר קארל סייגן המנוח קבל בספריו על העלמות המדע מהשיח התקשורתי.

ערנות השלטונות בהונג קונג

מסתבר שממשלת ישראל היא לא הראשונה העולה על הפרשה. בשנת 2009 פרסמה ממשלת הונג קונג את ההודעה לעיתונות הבאה: “הציבור מוזהר שלא לענוד תליונים המכילים חומרים רדיואקטיביים”

סרטון וידאו המתאר בדיקת רדיואקטיביות שנערכה לתליון כזה. Magic Bulshit

“מחלקת המכס והבלו הודיעה היום (9 בספטמבר 2009) כי היא דוחקת באנשים שלא לענוד סוג של תליונים בעלי רמה מוגברת של רדיואקטיביות.
אנו פועלים על פי בקשת מחלקת הבריאות, לפיה תליונים שהוצעו למכירה הם בעלי פונטציאל לגרימת נזק בריאותי, החרימו אנשי מחלקת המכס 2,835 יחידות של המוצר “SE Pendant 0352″ ממדפי החנויות.”

“דוגמאות של התליונים המוחרמים הועברו למחלקת הבריאות ולמעבדה הממשלתית למדידות ובדיקות. תוצאות הניתוח חשפו כי ריכוז החומרים הרדיואקטיביים תוריום 232 ואורניום 238 בתליונים היו שניהם מעל הגבול המומלץ בידי הסוכנות הבינלאומית לאנרגיה אטומית לשימוש במוצרים מסחריים.
לפי משרד הבריאות, מגע קצר טווח עם התליונים לא יסתיים בהשפעה מידית על הבריאות. ואולם מכיוון שמנת הקרינה הנמצאת בתליון אחד עשויה להגיע ל-50-60% מהכמות המותרת לחשיפת העור לקרינה בידי המועצה הבינלאומית להגנה רדיולוגית, מגע של שנה עם הצמיד עשוי להסתיים באדממת של העור לחלק מהמשתמשים. הסיכון לסרטן העור גדל אף הוא בהתאם למשך החשיפה. ספק התליונים הללו התבקש לאסוף את כל התליונים מהשוק. אנשים העונדים את התליונים מתבקשים להחזירם לספק לצורך השמדה בטוחה.”

דובר המכס של הונג קונג מסר לאור תוצאות בדיקות התליונים כי המכס יעקוב אחר המקרה וימשיך לבצע בדיקות פתאע כדי להבטיח כי המוצרים לא יהיו זמינים בשוק. אם יהיו עדויות מהימנות על מכירה של תליונים אלה, המחלקה תנקוט בצעדי האכיפה המתאימים. אמר.

“המכס מחוייב להגנת האינטרס של הצרכנים ולערוך באופן סדיר בדיקות אקראיות על דגימות של מוצרי צריכה כדי להבטיח שהם בטוחים לשימוש בידי הצרכנים. תחת פקודת בטיחות מוצרי הצריכה, אסור לספק, לייצר או ליבא להונג קונג מוצרי צריכה אלא אם כן הם עונים על דרישות הבטיחות עבור מוצרי צריכה. הקנס המרבי על הפרת הפקודה הוא 100 אלף דולר (של הונג קונג) ומאסר של שנה במידה ויש הרשאה, וקנס של 500 אלף דולרים ומאסר של שנתיים על הרשאה שניה.”

בלי קשר, היה גם מי שבדק את הרדיואקטיביות של המוצר גם בכוחות עצמו. ב-7 בנובמבר 2012 פרסם גולש בשם ניל סטיבן כהן באתר אמזון ביקורת על החנות A Scalar Energy Store’s Scalar Energy Pendant w/Neg Ion Charge Silicone Protection Ring (Health and Beauty) תחת הכותרת: “התליונים הללו רדיואקטיביים”. “זו אינה בדיחה יש לי מונה גייגר באיכות גבוהה שעלה לי 600 דולרים. בדקתי באמצעותו מספר רב של מדליוני “אנרגיה סקלארית” עשויים מלאבה שחורה, ממספר חברות. כל המוצרים, פרט לאחד היו רדיואקטיביים. מדדתי בין 600 ל-2,200 מדידות לדקה (CPM), והרדיואקטיביות ניתנת למדידה גם דרך הנייר והעטיפה, ומשמעות הדבר היא שהם לא מכילים רק חלקיקי אלפא לא מזיקים אלא גם חלקיקי גאמא החודרים נייר, פלסטיק ואת העור, קונים הזהרו.”

ומיד אחריו מגיבה בשם אליזבת כותבת: “התליונים אינם בטוחים ויכולים לגרום לסרטן העור”. “תליונים אלה הם רדיואקטיביים ויכולים לגרום לסרטן העור בחשיפה ארוכה. הם אסורים לשיווק בהונג קונג, כך שהדבר צריך להוות אזהרה בכך שהם לא בטוחים לשימוש. השימוש בהם הוא באחריותכם האישית.”

למרבה הצער, משווקי המוצרים מסוג זה בעולם הצליחו להשתלט באמצעי SEO למיניהם על הדפים הראשונים של גוגל במילות המפתח ” Energy pendants ” או ” Scalar Energy pendants ” וגם כאשר כותבים “Energy pendants sketisism” מקבלים כתבות המלגלגות על הספקנים. ואכן בדפי הביקורות באמזון גולשים רבים טוענים כי רכשו את התליונים הללו לאחר שקראו את ההצהרות הרבות של משתמשים שהתליונים לכאורה עזרו להם, הממלאים את דפי החיפוש בגוגל. לקח גם לגוגל שהיתה צריכה לקחת את הקישור להודעה לעיתונות של ממשלת הונג קונג ולהצמיד אותה לדף תוצאות החיפוש של כל המונחים המובילים לתליונים, למען יראו וייראו.

 

אגב, בחנות המקוונת עליה מתריע המשרד להגנת הסביבה, המוצר מסומן כ”אזל מהמלאי”. נחכה ונראה אם גם בארץ יאספו את התליונים הללו להשמדה.

 

מקרה התליון עם הקרינה מזכיר מקרה דומה של מוצר שיוחסו לו סגולות רפואיות דווקא של הגנה מפני קרינה – צמיד ביוגארד X. אז משרד הבריאות קרא שלא לייחס למוצר סגולות רפואיות.

על יד דבר כזה, ההומאופתיה נראית כפרקטיקה לפחות לא מזיקה באופן ישיר (בגלל הדילול) אך גם לא עוזרת…

 

July 27, 2015
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Kim Kardashian: American Woman | Rolling Stone

O

n a chilly morning during Los Angeles’ “May gray,” as mist rolls off the sea’s marine layer to cool down the city, Kim Kardashian wakes up at 6 a.m. and an hour later heads to her “glam room.” That’s Kardashian-speak for her capacious dressing room, where even at this early hour, a professional makeup artist and hairstylist have already arrived, awaiting her with hundreds of little brushes, blushes and combs. She relaxes into her chair as layer upon layer is applied — she loves the feeling of getting makeup done, the way you can be at one with your eyeliner — while also glancing at a baby monitor in case North, her two-year-old daughter with husband Kanye West, wakes up. West has his own monitor too, and keeps it close in case North stirs while Kardashian’s indisposed. By 9:00, Kardashian is on her way to a meeting in Santa Monica. She hates being late.

Does this sound pretty dull? Yes, but it’s the stuff that Kardashian has spun into gold, transforming herself from a beautiful but average L.A. girl into one of the world’s top pop icons and megabrands. She is everywhere in the media, from E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians, her 10-season-long TV show that’s aired in 160 countries and spawned numerous spinoffs, to her mobile game, which has been downloaded 33 million times, to high-fashion magazines, which have, first grudgingly and then enthusiastically, accepted that the perfect, punctual, prettiest daughter of this extraordinarily powerful matriarchal clan is a force with whom they must reckon.

And as much as her thoughts and actions on this Earth may be quotidian, the way she looks is out of this world. As she strides into the meeting precisely on time and in an outfit made up of colors found exclusively in nature — dark-green ankle-length dress, sand-colored lace-up sandals and tree-bark Céline purse — the effect is like a photorealistic painting, meaning that the Kardashian on the TV screen feels more real than the Kardashian in the room. She’s a jungle Aphrodite escaped from a forest of big-booty nymphs, with a mane as thick as a horse’s and as black as volcanic rock. Her eyelashes flutter like teeny-tiny go-go dancers’ fans. Her nails are small, elegant talons, painted a color that manages to be both onyx and the bloodiest red. But it is Kardashian’s body that is the thing, of course, and today, as always, her clothing is so tight it feels transgressive, clinging in particular to that strange, glorious butt, a formerly taboo body part that is now not only an inescapable part of the American erotic but also our best and most welcome distraction from climate change, income inequality and ISIS.

Kardashian, 34, is poised as she takes a seat at a conference table, greeting, “My team who is putting together our new website experience — I don’t know if I want to call it a website, to disrespect it.” Whalerock Industries develops Web-based, magazine-like, subscription-centered media on the Oprah model. It streams from her glam room and real-time chats with fans, giving makeup tutorials and showcasing her favorite clothes. It’s a digitally constructed Kardashian world, on top of the rest of the world, which Kardashian has already made bend to her will. Narcissism isn’t Kardashian’s thing, per se; it’s solipsism, or a mode of living in which the world outside the self doesn’t really, materially exist — that’s the key here. In the past, she’s put it this way: Her life is “like living on The Truman Show.”

Now the group turns to a pack of “Kim-ojis” submitted by a graphic designer. “I wanted to do really fun, different emojis that you don’t see on your phone,” says Kardashian, then asks the group, “Is this designer Kanye-approved?”

Wielding a pen, she mulls over a long list of possible emojis, a mix of objects that she’s come into contact with as well as people she knows, striking those that don’t meet her approval. “A Speedo doesn’t mean anything to me, same with disco-ball earrings,” she says. She pauses at emojis of the other Kardashian women, raising the pen a little before swiping again: “I don’t want any family members in it,” she says. “They’ll all want a piece.” She keeps going. “But I love a waist trainer, and a Kylie lip. A fur-kini is kind of cute, and a patent pink dress.” She smiles. “Oh, a pregnant belly. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.”

Kardashian may not come off as book smart, but she is extremely savvy and possesses a high EQ, both of which are much more valuable in this day and age. The TV self and Kardashian’s real self are “pretty much the same,” she says, when asked to define the difference. “When I’m filming, when I’m in my most comfortable state, at my home, with my family — I can’t get any more comfortable than that. . . . But there’s so much more to me than that, and I believe that I am so much smarter than I’m portrayed.”

Who could have foreseen that in 2015 the Kardashians would be the most interesting story in America? But in terms of cultural fault lines, sometimes it seems like Kim Kardashian’s creamy thighs bestride an entire nation. She’s the immigrant daughter done good, the world’s most famous Armenian-American. She’s an interracial pioneer, a Caucasian woman married to a black rapper who pushes the boundaries of race not only in music, but also by demanding a ticket into the predominantly European club of fashion and design. She’s at once a sexual muse sparking creativity in her husband, and also a working mom. She’s outrageously feminine in an era of sex-role instability and gender-queer Miley, and also the stepdaughter of Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner, the most famous transgender woman in the world. (When I share these thoughts with Kardashian, however, she says, “I don’t look at myself like that. But my husband would.”) 

Kim and Kanye

Kim and Kanye at the Met Gala in New York City on May 4th, 2015. Andrew H. Walker/Getty

Kardashian is also at once extraordinarily human — don’t you want to hear about the way she does her makeup? — and a master of what critic Jerry Saltz has called the “new uncanny,” or art that blurs the line between human and a robot pretending to be a human. In her video game, you not only can change her clothes and hairstyle, but eye color and skin color. And over the course of the several times we meet, her skin shifts from a deep equatorial brown to a laid-out-in-Palm Springs honey to a morning soy creamer, depending on the makeup and tanning spray. “Something about Kim is very appealing to digital natives,” says prominent tech journalist and Re/code editor Kara Swisher. Kardashian also says things like this: “When I go on vacation, I only go to the beach certain times of the day, and lay out by the pool the rest of the time,” because the sun is often too flat, and if someone takes a picture of her, she’ll get caught looking less Kim Kardashian-like than she’d like. “In Miami, I’ll get up at six and swim in the ocean at seven in the morning right before the harsh sun comes up — and the pictures always look amazing.”

What else makes Kardashian so weirdly appealing? At one point, I begin telling her that I also think that in a country of dysfunctional families, the fact that her family communicates is also amazing, but all I can get out is “and the other thing about you that’s appealing—” before she interrupts to say, “Right, I think it’s great that the show is aspirational. I started off in a small apartment, and now I’m in this huge home.” That someone might not find the Kardashians aspirational is simply something she would not consider. She’s not conflicted about the point of life: It’s to be happy and make money, and she’s doing both. Kardashian is a nice person — there’s no way to spend time with her and not come away with that impression.

Does she hear the haters, sharpening their sticks over her Pandora-like release of crass commercialism and oversharing on the world? She doesn’t read anything about herself anymore, not tabloids, no Google alerts, nothing. Nevertheless, the hate came to her one day in May at Barnes Noble in Manhattan at the book signing of Selfish, a book consisting of a collection of her selfies from the past eight years. Inside the midtown shop, she sat on a carpeted dais surrounded by 300 fans, few of whom had shown up for a signed book — they wanted selfies with their selfie idol, the woman who has made “a science of the selfie,” as Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom puts it, adding, “Instagram wouldn’t be the same without Kim.”

Today, at first, there’s a ban on selfies, enforced by a bodyguard and put into place in order to move people through as quickly as possible. After staring into the eyes of too many devastated teenagers, Kardashian soon overturns this decree. “If you’re fast, you can take a selfie,” she says, decisively. “That’s what the book’s about.” Fans rotate in at an incredible clip, blurting out, “You’re like a Barbie!” or, “You are a role model for my daughters,” or, “I want to say, ‘Fuck the haters,’ because you’re amazing.” Girls in pink bedazzled shirts reading ‘All Hail KKW’ tell her they missed school for this — “Oh, no, I don’t want to get you in trouble!”

At the sight of her, gay men cry, and then recover quickly to take the perfect selfie. There are grandmas, a few straight guys and lots of people who just don’t look like they should be here, which is what makes it hard to identify the half dozen or so animal-rights activists with sleeve tattoos and gauge earrings in the line, who wait until they’re right in front of Kardashian’s dais before beginning to attack. “Fifty animals skinned for one fur coat, and you dress your kid like that?” they angrily shriek at Kardashian. “Shame on you!” “You’re the most disgusting human being on the planet!”

Kardashian’s face freezes, the lips in a rictus grin. This is a special day, and they will not ruin it — she will not allow it. The bodyguard disappears the angry activists, and soon everything’s back to normal, with another teenage fan worshiping at the altar. “You’ve inspired me to be hot and famous,” she says. The two of them take a pouty-face selfie. “Aw,” says Kardashian. “I love you.” 

Kim Kardashian

Kardashian selfies. @kimkardashian/Instagram

The activists waited outside Barnes Noble for Kardashian, but she outsmarted them, sending her car to idle at the front door while she sailed through the side. Today in Santa Monica, though, there isn’t anyone on her tail, not even paparazzi. “I love these days when no one’s following,” she says, stepping into a black SUV and heading to Hillstone restaurant for lunch. Talking to Kardashian can be fun — when we first met, we spent 20 minutes talking about how we don’t like dogs, and the kind of dogs we don’t like — “I am so not the type of girl who carries a dog in my purse,” she explains — though at other times, she’s like a politician, answering the question she wants to hear instead of the one she was asked.

In an orange leather booth toward the back of Hillstone, Kardashian orders an average-size meal: grilled artichokes with a side of rémoulade, French fries and a veggie burger without the bun. Her weight is a touchy issue. She eats about half of what she’s served, with perfect table manners and a neatness that includes absent-mindedly folding and unfolding her white cloth napkin after the meal has been cleared.

For a while, Kardashian talks about growing up, the way that her dad, Robert, was the disciplinarian and her mom, Kris, a born-and-bred California girl who met Robert at a racetrack while clad in a snappy outfit paired with a necklace reading ‘Oh Shit,’ was a fun-loving yet warlike Mother Goddess who would do anything to protect her baby gods: Khloe, a spitfire Athena, with a thunderbolt of jokes; Kourtney, puss-faced Hestia, keeping close to the house; Rob, a jolly Apollo; and Kim, steady and sweet. From Armenia, Robert Kardashian’s family immigrated to California early in the 20th century and pursued the American dream by making a fortune in the meatpacking industry. Robert got out of the family business and was a success, founding the influential music-industry publication and conference Radio Records, and then selling music and videos to movie theaters to run before the films.

“Music was always such a huge part of our life,” says Kim. “As kids, we were at concerts like Michael Jackson every weekend. My first concert was Earth, Wind and Fire. I was so young — we were walking to our seats, the lights went off, and I was so scared.” She describes superstar manager Irving Azoff as being “as close as an uncle.” He says the young Kim was “a bright light destined for great things, and always a great little businesswoman. I coached her soccer team and, once, she said, ‘I don’t want to play goalie, but for $100 I’ll be goalie,’ and she actually convinced me to give it to her.”

As an adolescent, she liked Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder, and played Mary J. Blige and Jodeci on her bedroom record player. “I still make mix CDs,” she says. “I have an older computer with a disk drive so I can do it.” In high school, she was obsessed with ‘NSync and the Backstreet Boys — “really obsessed, though I was more of a Backstreet girl.” She also listened to Snoop, Dre and Ice Cube. Did she daydream about being a girl in a rap video? “No,” she says. “The runners at my dad’s office would say, ‘I can’t wait until she’s 18, I want to go on a date with her,’ and I’d be like, ‘Not a chance, get away.’ I always had a boyfriend. I loved having a boyfriend.”

In her teens, she dated TJ Jackson, Michael Jackson’s nephew, for several years. Her dad “explained to me that he’s had a lot of interracial friends, and it might not be the easiest relationship. He said I should prepare myself for people to say things to me. . . . When I was growing up, when I was in high school, I’d get magazines and see interracial couples and think, ‘They are so cute.’ I’ve always been attracted to a certain kind of look.” Of the Jacksons, she says, “They were the nicest family I’ve ever met. . . . Michael definitely was never this disreputable person.”

When Kardashian was 10 years old, her parents divorced, with her mother quickly marrying Jenner. The kids split their time between their parents’ homes, though Kim was living at her dad’s house when O.J. Simpson was accused of murder in 1994. Simpson briefly moved into Robert’s house, living in Khloe’s room. “It was surreal, with Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro and all these guys having meetings at my dad’s house,” she says. Kris was close with Nicole Brown Simpson and believed that O.J. was guilty, creating a massive amount of tension in the family. “I definitely took my dad’s side,” Kim says. “We just always thought my dad was the smartest person in the world, and he really believed in his friend.” As far as what she believes now, she says, “It’s weird. I just try not to think about it.” 

Kim Kardashain

Kim with her father, Robert Kardashian. Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library

Kardashian doesn’t drink or do drugs except for “five shots of vodka in Vegas every three years,” she says. Envisioning herself as a clothing-boutique owner, she took college classes locally but didn’t graduate, and her rebellion from her family, if there was one, was her getting secretly married to music producer Damon Thomas at 20. “She was a teenager then, and teenagers do a lot of crazy things,” Kris Jenner says. Kardashian explains it this way: “I was very happy at home learning how to cook and clean and keep a house. I knew that was where I wanted to end up.”

In 2003, Robert Kardashian died suddenly of cancer, and in 2004, Kim’s marriage broke up. Soon, she was rolling with Paris Hilton and the “celebutante” crew. “We’d go anywhere and everywhere just to be seen,” Kardashian says, matter-of-factly. “We knew exactly where to go, where to be seen, how to have something written about you. All you had to do is go to this restaurant, or this party, talk about whatever you want to talk about, and it would be in the paper the next day.” What about the phase when some members of the clique, most notably Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, were caught by paps exiting cars without underwear? “I rarely wear underwear, but that never happened to me,” she says. “I was never drinking. . . . I think that saved me a lot.”

In 2007, she passed Hilton in terms of popularity by enduring an infamous sex-tape scandal. She heard rumors in L.A. that the tape she made with her ex-boyfriend Ray J, the singer Brandy’s kid brother, was making the rounds, but “I just never thought [the rumors] were real,” she says. Then, “I was on a trip to New York, and I’d landed, and then someone called me — maybe my sister? I didn’t have a Blackberry then. . . . I think I went right to my mom’s house, and she was there with me every step of the way. She didn’t call me screaming or call me crying. She was just there. She was like, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’ So we went through it.” How did she stay sane? “There was a period of time when I just stayed home. Khloe’s like, ‘I’ve never met someone who’s moved back in with her mother as many times as you.’ ”

Given that Hilton had experience with a sex tape too, did Kardashian commiserate with Hilton about the scandal? “No,” she says. “I don’t think she was that happy. We didn’t really talk about it. I probably would have thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, let me give her advice,’ but we had no communication. But our friendship had fizzled before that.” Did she ever figure out who leaked the tape? “We did, and we’re in major confidentiality, so I can’t talk about it.” Does she still think about the fact that a great deal of humanity has seen her in flagrante? She folds the napkin in half, and then in a neat square. “I don’t really think about it,” she says quietly. “I thought about it for a long time. But when I get over something, I get over it.” 

Kim Kardashian and Ray J
Splash News/Corbis

As Kardashian finishes her meal, saying, “I’ve got to get this food out of my face,” I ask the question that must be put to her after Lena Dunham, a prominent feminist if there ever was one, posed, unironically, with a copy of Selfish: “Kim Kardashian, are you a feminist?”

“I’ve never really been one on labels, and I don’t like to push my view,” she says, folding the napkin again. “If I feel something, it’s how I feel. I never say, ‘I feel this way, so you should feel that way.’ Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I just am who I am. But, yeah.” She smiles. “I think you would call me a feminist.”

Kardashian has not extensively studied the knowledge found in schools; she draws money and power toward her by the force of intuition. On her show, she and her sisters have their own language on issues more complex than glam rooms: They don’t know things, they feel things; they don’t want something, they deserve it. At the same time that they have championed the waist-trainer product, which bears much resemblance to a Victorian corset, they also exhibit an attitude toward their bodies that can only be called revolutionary. Women have long asked for fair vagina representation in media, for their vaginas not only to be sexual objects but to smell and bleed and pop out babies, and on their show, Kardashian vaginas do all that and more, which is very different than other pop-culture vaginas.

And if you doubt they are influential, consider that “between all us girls, we have 300 million followers on social media,” says Kris. Here is the way Kardashian describes some of her selfies: “I do shoots that are nude, and I don’t want to say every girl, but all my girlfriends send me these sexy selfies of themselves,” she says. “Just being like, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve been working out for two weeks — look at how good of shape I’m in.’ Girls send them to each other. I don’t want to say it’s normal, but it’s just what I’ve been used to. . . . And I think it’s part of the whole selfie phenomenon.” So it’s not about the male gaze? “I guess not,” she says uncertainly. “You wouldn’t send the picture if you didn’t like it.”

I next ask, “But when you look at sexy pictures of yourself, is it sexually exciting?” She shakes her head violently, quickly changing the subject. So I say, “In 20 years, do you want to be remembered as a sex symbol or a businesswoman or what?” She says, “Both. I think you can be both. You can have it all.”

We start talking about West. Is she his muse, or is he her consort? Here’s the way she describes their relationship: “I think we’re definitely opposites. I calm him down, and he pumps me up.” When they’re home, I ask, does West rant and rave while she’s secretly praying he would be quiet? “No,” she says, stiffening a little. “At home, he loves to watch movies. Anything animated he’ll watch with North.” 

Kanye and North

Kanye with the couple’s daughter, North West. AKM Images/GSI Media

West doesn’t want to be on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which is why he isn’t, most of the time. “And I respect that,” she says. “You can’t expect me to jump up onstage and start singing — it’s not what I do.” But he has spent the past few years dressing his wife. “The makeover Kanye has given me is amazing,” she says. She’s set a fashion trend — pairing a blouse as tight as a leotard with an overcoat — and was early to the current contouring fad in makeup. “I’m obsessed with contouring,” she says. “My nose is a completely different nose because of contouring.” Would she have started wearing runway fashion if she hadn’t married West? “No,” she says, then reconsiders. “Well, you know what? I think it would have taken me a lot longer to figure it out.”

West is the product of a strong mother, to whom he was famously devoted, and it makes sense that he’s found his way into the Kardashian matriarchy. If Kris says she is Kim’s “twin soul,” and Kim says she’s Kanye’s “twin soul,” where does Kris fit into Kim and Kanye’s relationship? “A lot of people don’t see the real, soft, wonderful side of Kanye,” says Kris. “We fell in love with who Kim fell in love with. I will never be able to replace the relationship he had with his mom, but I sure can make him know he’s loved, unconditionally, and we would do anything for him.”

But what about the matriarchy’s relationship to the men in their lives? Many who have heard their siren call end up on the rocks, one way or another. Marriages flounder, substance problems are rampant, and even brother Rob has vanished from the TV show. “It’s not that mysterious, what’s happening with Rob,” Kardashian says. “He has gained weight. He feels uncomfortable being on the show, and that’s OK.” She pauses. “Do I think he smokes weed, drinks beer, hangs out and plays video games with his friends all day long? Yes.” Is she sure that it’s not more like hookers and meth at the Ritz? “No, no,” she says, laughing a little. “Or he’d be skinny.”  

The situation with Caitlyn Jenner is more complicated. “I’d heard a rumor when I was 11 or 12 that he was caught cross-dressing,” she says. And then, when she was 22, she walked in on Jenner dressed up in the garage. “I was shaking,” she says. “I didn’t know if I’d just found out his deepest, darkest secret, and he was going to come after me. I grabbed my duffel bag . . . ran out to the car.” Jenner called her on the phone a half hour later, and said, “One day, I’ll talk to you about this. Until then, don’t tell a soul.” I said, “OK.” Eight years later, when she was 30 years old, he said, “Let’s have that talk.”

Before their wedding, Kardashian told West what she knew about Jenner. “I wasn’t sure if Bruce was going to be comfortable walking me down the aisle. He had just had his trachea shaved, so I knew something was going on. I thought that Kanye should know that this is the reality about one of his daughter’s grandparents.” She was afraid of what West might think. “[Kanye] obviously moves to his own drum,” she says. “He lives his life the way he wants, a really authentic life, and he was like, ‘If you can’t be authentic and you can’t live your life, what do you have?’ ”

Back in the SUV after the meal, Kardashian starts talking about her blond hair, and the way gossip blogs were confused about why she so quickly dyed it back to black. She wanted it dark for a trip to Armenia, plus what pregnant woman wants chemicals on her hair? “I’d have done anything for this [pregnancy] to work out,” she says, then looks at me hard. It’s a scoop, I think — am I grateful? “Anyway,” she says, turning to look out the window, “that’s one of the reasons I dyed it back.” She pats her stomach. “That was the most satisfying meal, you have no idea. It’s going to keep me full.”

What else should one know about Kim Kardashian? She’s a prolific handwritten-thank-you-card sender, and a devoted watcher of Dateline and forensic TV shows. She’s not allergic to anything and doesn’t usually drink coffee because she’s “not into the taste.” She won’t eat anything with mustard — or sardines, escargot, “anything like that. Kanye can be more of a fancy eater than me.” She’s taking piano lessons — is that hard? “Um, I mean, it’s just if you put the time into it,” she says. She’s also a car girl: “Cars don’t mean anything to Kanye — he hasn’t bought a new car in seven years. I have a personal relationship to my cars.” She adds, “I love, love, love a Rolls-Royce. I know this may sound bratty, but I’ll own up to it: It’s the best car if you have kids, spacewise. It’s low, and I like a low car to put in the car seat and the baby.” 

Scott Disick, Rob, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, Kylie, Kris Jenner and Kendell in Las Vegas in 2011.

Scott Disick, Rob, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian and Kylie, Kris and Kendell Jenner in Las Vegas in 2011. Denise Truscello/WireImage/Getty

The SUV begins rolling into the loading dock of a furniture store, where she’s meeting Kris and Kylie to tape a little bit of the TV show. If the show were a total lie, it would never work; but one imagines that it is not completely real, either. “Oh, good, the lighting panel is here,” says Kardashian, spying a crew member whose exclusive job is to hold up a special lighting panel so that the family looks perfect at all times.

The setup today is Kylie needs furniture for her new house. Does Kim herself have a shopping addiction? “Well, I have a saving addiction right now, so that makes up for it — I put myself on a budget,” she says. “That’s why I started the eBay store a long time ago. I told myself I had to come up with a certain amount of money if I wanted to spend that money for the month. And I still try to keep myself in that budget. I sell stuff I’ve worn, if I don’t archive it.” She adds, somewhat unbelievably, “I try not to shop that much.”

In the furniture store, Kylie and Kris are wandering around endless living-room setups, discussing getting measurements for a chaise lounge and if small mother-of-pearl and black tables might be cute for Kylie’s new house. Kim slips a microphone under her green dress to join the conversation. “Are you sure you want to go black and white like Mom?” she asks. Kylie plays the typical teenager who dips in and out of attention, sometimes looking at her phone, other times chugging from a water bottle and staring into space. Kris plays the overexcited mom who is watching her almost-grown daughter move into her first home and wants everything to be exactly right. It’s the roles they really inhabit, or so they tell us, and the filming — despite the five or so cameramen, lighting-panel guy and sound folks who trail them as they walk, ducking behind gigantic mirrors and floor lamps in order to make sure a crew member is never in the shot — flows easily.

Kardashian stays only 20 minutes and leaves to see her daughter; North was a little sick yesterday, and she made her special bottles of tea with honey. She’ll go home to her mansion. West is in his home recording studio and asks if Kardashian would come hang out since they didn’t see each other much the day before. “He loves when all the guys are there and they’re talking about things, pop-culture events,” she says. “They have these think sessions where everyone sits and talks and hangs out, talk about theories and so many different things. I’ve learned so much, just culturally.” She’ll go to sleep early, and then the next day do it all again — the makeup, the tweets, the filming, everything that makes her professional and personal life, her human and digital self, the fake and the true, unreal and real, so intertwined and seamless. We’re not done watching yet.  

July 27, 2015
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LIVE: Lanning lashes England lapses | cricket.com.au

Meg Lanning’s 85 lifted the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars to 7-241 in the third and final one-day international against England in Worcester today.

Coming off her sixth one-day international century in Bristol on Thursday, Lanning was on track to make it back-to-back hundreds before holing out 15 runs short in the pursuit of quick runs in the dying stages of the innings.

England will rue two missed opportunities to dismiss the Australia captain, first on five then later on 46, to give the visitors a sniff with the series locked at one-win all.

England blow early run out chance with Lanning (restrictions apply)

Lanning was supported by Ellyse Perry’s 67, the seventh half-century in her past eight matches, and opening batter Nicole Bolton (40).

With rain washing out Sunday’s scheduled start for the third ODI, England captain Charlotte Edwards elected to bowl when the coin fell her way on pitch without exposure to sunlight for 24 hours and low hanging cloud cover overhead.

The move was vindicated by her on point opening bowlers and frugal fielders inside the fielding restriction circle, containing the tourists to 0-24 in the 10 over batting powerplay aided by 48 dot balls.

When the restrictions were relaxed to allow a maximum of four boundary riders, Elyse Villani picked out one of them at deep mid-wicket to end a patient innings of 14 from 32 balls to give Georgia Elwiss (1-11) a wicket off her first ball in the series.

The presence of Lanning inspired Bolton to lift her scoring rate as the pair upped the ante to record a half-century stand from 60 balls and bring the match momentum back to parity.

But England had a golden chance to end Lanning’s stay on five when the Australian skipper was left stranded in the middle of the wicket after a mix-up with Bolton only for Elwiss to fumble the accurate throw at the non-striker’s end.

Elwiss fumbles Sciver’s throw with Lanning well short

The miss would prove costly as Lanning marched towards her eighth ODI fifty, but Bolton would fall 10 runs short of her fourth half-century, miscuing a lofted-drive to find a back peddling Laura Marsh at mid-off.

Deprived of time at the crease in the first two matches, wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy was promoted to No.4 in place of Perry, sent out to inject some much-needed energy into the flat-lining run rate.

Healy’s cameo of 17 from 18 balls included two boundaries and was brought to a close when Heather Knight (1-55) intercepted a powerful drive off her own bowling to dismiss the right-hander for the first time in the Ashes.

Lanning had another life, this time on 46, when Lydia Greenway put down a straight forward offering at backward point to the dismay of fiery quick Katherine Brunt (0-37).

Consistent Perry peaked again in Worcester (restrictions apply)

From there is it was the Lanning and Perry show, who in six ODI partnerships average a whopping 127, and ended when the former departed in the 45th over going for broke and picking out Sciver on the boundary.

Perry’s red hot form continued, hitting through the air on the off-side and pummelling anything short to the leg-side rope. 

The allrounder was dismissed with one over remaining, bowled by the impressive Jenny Gunn (2-52) as the Australians scrambled to a competitive score in front of a patchy crowd at New Road.


Click above to learn more about how to stream the Ashes and more cricket

July 27, 2015
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Mmegi Online :: ‘Unhealthy nonsense’

It makes me angry on their behalf, but I can manage that. I can even cope with gullible consumers falling victim to scammers, even though I’d sometimes dearly like to acquaint the scammer with the wrong end of a cricket bat.

What gets me really angry, really VERY angry is people who offer us products they claim can improve our health.

Luckily, the newspaper industry has cleaned up its act in the last few years and we no longer see adverts from the so-called “traditional healers” who offered cures for all sorts of diseases and ailments as well as offering to enlarge and shrink various parts of our anatomy. They still exist of course, but they are now much more of an underground industry.

The threats we now see are from what is often perceived as the more legitimate “alternative” or “complementary” medicine industry.

It is important to begin with a simple observation. There is no such thing as “alternative medicine”. There are things that treat and cure disease, which we call medicine, and other stuff that does not, that we call hogwash.

Perhaps the best example of alternative “medicine”, because it illustrates what utter nonsense it can be, is homeopathy.

The idea behind homeopathy is quite simple. Homeopaths believe that an illness can be best treated with minute quantities of a substance that produces symptoms similar to those of the ailment.  For instance, to cure a fever, homeopaths argue that you should take minute quantities of a substance that produces symptoms similar to those of a fever. Of course, there is absolutely no evidence that this is true. In fact what the evidence DOES show is that it is all utter nonsense.

Homeopathy cannot work for a very simple reason: dilution. Homeopathic remedies are so diluted that they contain no active ingredients. Homeopathic “remedies” are produced by repeatedly diluting a sample of the supposedly active ingredient.  A homeopath might take a 1% solution of the ingredient and dilute it further to 1% of its original strength. And then again, repeatedly, each time to 1% of the previous strength. After 10 generations of this process the strength of the solution has gone from 1 in a hundred to 1 in one hundred million trillion. In fact the most common forms of homeopathic remedy are actually diluted in this way thirty times, not just ten.  After thirty dilutions there is simply nothing left of the original ingredient, not even a single molecule. Homeopathic remedies do not contain anything other than water.

So how do homeopaths claim it works? Apparently the water in which this ingredient once resided “remembers” that it once contained the substance in question. Homeopaths talk seriously about “the molecular memory of water”.  You have to ask, even if there was such a process, why would it only remember the substance you want it to? What about all the other substances the water might have encountered? It is all completely absurd.

Want another absurdity? The principle of homeopathic “succussion” states that the remedy only becomes really effective if you hit it

against something firm up to 100 times between each dilution.  I promise you I am NOT making this up.

Homeopathy is nonsense.  It flies in the face of all that we have learnt over the last couple of thousand of years in the fields of chemistry, physics and biology as well contradicting basic common sense.

So you will be asking whether homeopathy ever been actually tested? Maybe there is something magical going on that allows it to work?

No. Every single time homeopathy has been put to the test, and I mean rigorous scientific, double-blinded testing, it has failed completely. Of course we should not be surprised, it simply cannot work because there is nothing in a massively dliuted homeopathic remedy that could possibly have any effect.

Unfortunately for the alternative medicine industry the same goes for every other treatment they offer. Reflexology, the practice of manipulating your feet because it’s claimed that each part of your foot magically connects to the organs of your body is also nonsense and simply does not work. Acupuncture, which involves tiny needles being inserted into your skin and which its proponents say modifies the flow of energy or “chi” through “meridians” around your body is also ineffective. Every time it’s been tested scientifically it’s come out no better than a placebo.

It’s the same for the silly boxes of electronic tricks called QXCI (or sometimes SCIO or ESPX) that its proponents say can cure “any disease”.

They say that this device is “an incredibly acurate (sic) biofeedback stress reduction system, combining the best of biofeedback, stress reduction, Rife machines, homeopathic medicine, bioresonance, electro-acupuncture, computer technology and quantum physics”.

In case you are wondering what the letters QXCI stands for, it’s “Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface”.  Here is a free consumer tip.  Anyone who uses the word “quantum” when they are trying to sell you something is a fraud or a fool.  Or both.

And another thing. The Food and Drug Administration banned these bogus devices from importation into the USA several years ago.  In an interview with the Seattle Times a spokesman for the FDA said, “This is pure, blatant fraud. The claims are baloney. These people prey in many cases on consumers who are desperate in seeking cures for very serious diseases.” The same goes for all these so-called “alternative” treatments. Do not waste your money on them and please, I beg you, don’t risk your health on them.

Some might ask if these treatments are ineffective, then where’s the harm? The problem is that people often use them instead of the real thing. Then the risk is as serious as it gets. Their lives are at stake. Anyone selling an “alternative” remedy that is then taken instead of a real medicine has blood on their hands.

If you have any consumer issues please get in touch.  Email us at watchdog@bes.bw, by post to P. Box 403026, Gaborone or by phone on 3904582 or fax on 3911763.  Read the Consumer Watchdog blog at consumerwatchdogbw.blogspot.com and join our Facebook group called “Consumer Watchdog Botswana”.

July 27, 2015
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The American Jew who fought ISIS, and was then exiled from Israel – Diaspora …

“Some of you will say to me: You signed the contract and you fought in a war because of your signature, no one held a gun to your head. This is true, but because I signed the contract and fulfilled my obligation (…), I am entitled to speak.” – Anthony Swofford, ‘Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

A potbellied Beduin with snorkeling goggles and no teeth wades out of the Red Sea. He’s holding a gutted parrotfish.

“It got caught in my net and the smaller fish ate its belly,” he greets me – I’m not sure whether proudly or apologetically. I tell him what brings me here.

“Ah, the American!” he beams, and pointing the limp fish south, he says, “He always goes for walks. I’ll go get him.”

There’s not been much else for Robert Amos to do here since he was exiled from Israel and then from Jordan for joining the Syrian Kurds in their fight against Islamic State. We’re in a Beduin camp on the eastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, a few kilometers north of the port city of Nuweiba. Across the sea are the blue mountains of Saudi Arabia.

Amos is an American Jew from Charleston, West Virginia. He sleeps on a hammock under the stars, and every inch of his visible skin is covered in mosquito bites. He’s got small, intelligent eyes and a castaway beard the color of bread. His hands are white and thin. I spend three days and two nights with him. He talks like someone who has too many stories to tell and no one to tell them to. Apart from the Beduin who host him, a small clan of the Muzziena tribe, we’re alone for kilometers around. This is his story.

CHAI BOYS in Kurdish, written out in bullets in a photo taken by Ariel on his phone. (Courtesy Robert Amos)
AMOS, 29, is a graduate in history with a specialization in historiography. He worked as a tour guide at the Governor’s Mansion in Charleston, later at the House of Delegates – the representatives for the state – and lastly as an assistant to the senate president.

He came to Israel in October 2013 to do an MA in sociology at the Hebrew University’s Rothberg School. Although in practice he’s as Jewish as the next Jew, the fact that his mother isn’t Jewish made aliya complicated, and he settled on a student visa.

The following year, he decided he wanted to fight against Islamic State.

“It didn’t really hit me how big the problem was until ISIS [Islamic State] took Mosul in June 2014. Then, in early August, images of the massacre in Sinjar started coming in through the media. I felt I wanted to do something.”

I ask him why.

“Well… because I could; I think people focus too much on ISIS and not enough on the people they are traumatizing. My motives weren’t ideological, they were moral.”

His best option was to join the Kurds.

The ethnic group, which sprawls over Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, is now – thanks to the turmoil and many power voids that fill the Middle East – slowly eking out a greater autonomy, with the goal of establishing an independent Kurdish state.

In northern Iraq, the Kurds have already set up the de facto state of Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Masoud Barzani. Its combat units are the Peshmerga. In Syria, the Kurds have also achieved autonomy, but haven’t yet established a state structure. They are governed by the PUK, whose combat force is the YPG.

Both the Iraqi Peshmerga and the Syrian YPG are facing off against Islamic State along thousands of kilometers of front line. But whereas the Peshmerga have become the object of Western praise for keeping Islamic State at bay, the media do not view the YPG as kindly – perhaps because it receives support from the Turkey-based PKK, a Kurdish guerrilla force that many states consider a terrorist group.

Amos didn’t care whom he fought with as long as he could combat Islamic State. By asking around, he reached a Facebook page for foreigners who wanted to join the Kurds. He sent a message saying he’d like to help out. They replied, “Buy a ticket to Sulaymaniyah.”

On February 10, Amos took a flight from Tel Aviv to Amman, and from there, a connection to Sulaymaniyah, a city in Iraqi Kurdistan. There, a cab took him to the local PUK headquarters, which acted as the embassy to Rojava – the name given to Syrian Kurdistan.

He had been told that the Peshmerga wasn’t currently hiring, so he assumed he would be sent to the Syrian front.

At the HQ, after the introductions, exhaustion overtook him. He lay down on a mat and slept for two solid hours before his contact burst into the room: “Biçin Rojava! [We’re going to Rojava!]” “I’ll get my bags.”

“No need, we’re coming back!” They never came back.

He was loaded onto a truck with three other guys – one British, one Portuguese and one American – who had been at HQ for a few days. They were driven over gravelly roads to a transit camp in the northern Iraqi mountains. There they would wait to be relocated to a unit.

“The camp was, for all intents and purposes, a glorified toolshed,” Amos smiles.

They met other foreigners who had been waiting there for more than a month. The area was lush and beautiful, but the days were long. Every morning, a YPG rep would walk into the tent to wake them: “Roj bas, Roj bas! [Good morning!]” They ate breakfast, drank tea, played cards, smoked, walked 20 meters to the kitchen and 20 more to the spring, but mostly sat and waited.

Amos met people with the same ideas he had, and felt a bit less alone. He and about a dozen foreigners grew very close, and started to call themselves “the Chai Boys.” The name was a kind of self-deprecating tribute to the young boys who – while too young to fight – scurried around the transit camp delivering chai to the soldiers.

Among them was a 25-year-old Iranian with a degree in philosophy and a keen interest in Judaism. He paid homage to his two passions by making his nom de guerre Ariel Pythagoras. He had the smooth face of a child and always wore a pendant of King Cyrus the Great, father of the ancient Persian Empire. He and Amos became good friends.

However, not all foreigners had come out of a moral calling. Some were simply thrill-seekers, and others downright sociopaths, like the Armenian who had just emerged from a 25-year prison sentence.

Others were veterans, like the Iraqi who had fought in Kobani and called himself Guevara. He had never seen a whoopee-cushion, and from the moment he found one, he spent his time amusedly making it fart.

While the volunteers bonded, the Kurds kept their distance. The Kurds were there because it was their war and they didn’t have a choice, and while they treated the volunteers with respect, they kept strictly to themselves for reasons a foreigner couldn’t understand.

After two weeks, a Kurdish woman representing the YPG told them to get packed: “We leave tomorrow.”

That night, as they lay on their mats, sleepless with anticipation, the British man said, “Hey guys. What do you think about making peace with ISIS?” No one said anything, waiting for a witty nuance or a punch line.

“What do you mean?” someone broke the ice.

“We’re not going to go all the way, right? I mean, we’re going to have to make peace; we can’t completely defeat these people.”

The floodgates opened and the British coward was shouted into silence.

THEY HADN’T even entered REM-sleep when the rep burst into the tent: “Biçin Rojava!” They got up, took the batteries out of their cellphones and were loaded onto a series of SUVs. They crossed the Tigris River – the natural border between Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan – and were picked up on the opposite bank by a big battered truck. It drove them to the top of a hill, from which they could see the mountain where Noah’s Ark is believed to have crash-landed after the flood.

At the new base, the Chai Boys trained together and quickly gained notoriety.

Today, every Western volunteer in the Kurdish forces has at some point heard of the Chai Boys. Amos knew how to shoot from his days of hunting deer in West Virginia. In Rojava, he learned to throw a hand grenade, and trained with an AK-47, an ancient PK machine gun and a Dragunov sniper rifle.

He also improved his Kurdish and picked up the local slang. At the base, the Kurds referred to Islamic State members as “Çeta,” which is Kurdish for “maggot.” Even the Kurdish news employed this terminology: “Fifteen maggots were killed this morning by the brave forces of the YPG.”

Amos was meant to train for two months, but he was called to the front line after three weeks. He asked for more training, but it was out of the question.

The Chai Boys were rushed to the armory, where the Kurds were handing out weapons like candy. Amos shouldered an AK and stocked up on magazines and hand grenades. The Chai Boys were then separated into groups and relocated to different posts.

Amos and Ariel were sent with an Alaskan, a Russian and another Brit – who wasn’t a coward – to the outskirts of Tel Hamees, where a large battle was petering out. Very soon the Alaskan was shot in the knee, and he was flown out for treatment in the US. Islamic State was on its knees on this front, and once the fight abated, the Chai Boys mostly guarded their posts and dealt with sporadic minor skirmishes.

A month later, they were relocated to Tel Hanzir, west of Serekaniye, a city next to the Turkish border. Amos stood at the last outpost of the front, from which he overlooked Islamic State’s swath of land and the outskirts of Turkey. The Kurds were advancing steadfastly, and when Islamic State became desperate, it attempted a Pyrrhic counterattack. This final push is known to fighters and aficionados, and in time will be known to historians, as the Battle of Serekaniye.

NOT LONG after Amos arrived, he was holding his post at the front line when a comrade said, “Keep an eye out; I think I saw two maggots cross the border.”

Soon after, Islamic State fighters, clad in black and wielding machine guns, started pouring out of a tunnel at the foot of a mountain. Amos’s AK-47 didn’t have the range, so he changed to a PK and shot to kill. It was easy. He just had to think about the atrocities they’d committed, and it felt no different than shooting deer back in West Virginia.

The battle lasted a month. The YPG were so overwhelmed, they had to bring in Dushka trucks – but they held their ground. As Islamic State became increasingly cornered, they turned to mortar attacks, and the Kurds and the Chai Boys would take cover in ditches.

One mortar crashed a few meters from where Amos was crouching. His ears rang. Even at night, he heard them whistle by as he slept. The battles were on and off for weeks, and the longest ones lasted hours. He feared direct fire more than the mortars.

“Statistically very few people die from mortar attacks,” he explains. “But when you’re in somebody’s crosshairs, you have to suppress your natural instincts [to get away as fast as possible, and instead] take cover, hold your ground and shoot back.”

At one point, the brunt of the attack was aimed at Ariel’s outpost, just south of Amos’s. The Iranian ran up to him, kissed him on both cheeks and said, “Goodbye, brother.” He then dashed to his post, his pendant of King Cyrus beating against his chest.

After the battle, a female Kurdish soldier approached Amos: “Ariel got scraped in the leg, but he’s okay.”

“Is he in the hospital?” “No.”

“But is he hurt?” “No, he’s fine.”

Amos had a bad feeling, and Ariel’s last words rang in his head. The following morning, the unit was packed around a table at the mess hall. Out of the blue, somebody said: “Ariel’s dead.”

They continued to eat in silence, not daring to look at each other, taking refuge in the sound of many people eating.

One of the Kurds didn’t like the atmosphere and countered, “He’s in the hospital.”

The Chai Boys gave him a dirty look.

After breakfast, Amos went to talk with the commander.

“Where’s Ariel?” “He’s in the hospital.”

“I’m having problems believing you.”

The commander stared at him, poker- faced, and didn’t speak. The remaining Chai Boys – Amos, the Brit and the Russian – assembled to deliberate, then approached the general again.

“Listen, someone is lying to us.”

The commander held their gaze for a moment and said, “He died.”

“So we’re leaving. We came to fight a war, we expected people to die. But we want to be with people we can trust.”

By asking around, they gathered that Ariel had stood up and gotten shot in the leg. The battle was so intense that no one had applied a tourniquet, and he bled to death.

“Ariel with one leg would have been better than no Ariel,” Amos tells me.

“The YPG need more doctors, more than anything.”

The final engagement lasted many hours, but the Battle of Serekaniye was won, and the YPG raised its flags all over the patch of land its forces had taken from Islamic State. But Amos didn’t feel celebratory. Ariel had been buried on top of a hill, surrounded by strangers.

Neither he nor Ariel’s family had been allowed to attend. The Chai Boys stayed two more weeks and left.

AMOS WANTED to take Ariel’s bags to Sulaymaniyah. It’s close to the Iranian border, so he thought he could meet his friend’s family there and give them their son’s possessions. He left with a group of Westerners who wanted to leave or be relocated. After crossing the Tigris River, they were interrogated by Asayish, the Iraqi Kurdish intelligence.

The Westerners asked for Iraqi visas, but the agents sent them to a camp and told them to wait.

They waited for weeks, sleeping on the ground and feeding the mosquitoes.

Eventually they were informed they couldn’t go to Sulaymaniyah.

Apparently a member of PJAK – the Iranian Kurds – had been shot, and this had sparked tensions among the different Kurdish factions. Tired of waiting, a member of the group took a taxi to Sulaymaniyah and got there without incident. Amos and the rest decided to follow suit.

They crossed Barzani’s Kurdish state smoothly, but when they entered a patch of land controlled by the socialist PUK, they ran into trouble. At every checkpoint they were stopped, interrogated and taken to an Asayish station, where a fat executive in a suit would hear their story and let them go with a “Khalas! [Off you go!]” When they finally reached Sulaymaniyah, they were questioned for days. The upside was that news of the victory at Serekaniye had reached the citizens, and they were treated like heroes. Eventually the regency office told them, “You’re not a security threat, but you should have come with a visa. You’ll have to leave the country.”

Amos explained he wanted to meet Ariel’s family to give them his stuff, but they were adamant. He left his comrade’s bags with the PUK and asked that they send them to his parents.

His mission cut short, Amos flew to Amman and headed to the Israeli border at the Allenby Bridge.

“I didn’t think I would be in trouble,” he says. “I knew I would be questioned, but I’d been killing ISIS; I should be the opposite of a security threat.”

After the woman at the Population, Immigration and Border Authority booth had scanned his passport, two plainclothes agents approached him and took him into an office.

“Someone at your school told us where you were.”

“I had it on Facebook.”

“Oh” – feigned surprise – “by the way, we are the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency]. Do you mind if we look through your bags?” “They’re with the immigration and population authority clerk.”

The agents rolled their eyes with annoyance. It was clear to Amos that the two organizations weren’t speaking to each other. The interrogation lasted a few hours, but wasn’t threatening. They concluded: “You’re not a security threat. Welcome back.”

But the Population, Immigration and Border Authority thought differently. When he returned to the booth, the clerk had a problem with his visa not being up to date. He had an appointment for a renewal some months after his visa expired, but the reservation slip was at his apartment in Jerusalem. The clerk wouldn’t hear about it and stamped a red “Denied Entry” on his passport.

“The problem had a solution, but she didn’t care,” Amos says. “She had made her mind up from the beginning.”

He returned to Amman and commenced a marathon of phone calls to Israeli and American embassies and consulates, but to no avail. Even his university was of no help. He repeatedly hit a brick wall, as if a higher authority had beaten him to these institutions.

He gave the border a second go, this time via the Aqaba crossing. On the Israeli side, he was strip-searched and interrogated. The clerks then asked him to sign a form.

There were three other people in the room, and Amos thought them to be witnesses to his signature. No one told him what the form was. He refused to sign. The clerks got angry, gave him a second “Denied Entry” stamp and walked him back to the border.

On the Jordanian side, an amicable security officer named Laurence invited him to sit in his office.

“Can you help me?” Amos asked.

“Sorry… Israel won’t let us.”

“But I’ve got an appointment to renew my visa in –” “Look, the visa is bullshit. It’s because you’ve been in Kurdistan. They’re lying to you. I’m sorry, but you’re being deported from Jordan.”

“Why?!” “Israel is advising us to deport you.”

“But you’re not going to deport me, are you?” “I’m sorry.”

They sat in silence.

“Look, Rambo,” Laurence said smiling, “do you want to have dinner with me?” They broke the Ramadan fast on rice, chicken and eggplant in his office.

“Look, I’m sorry,” Laurence said. “I really respect what you did. You’re our brother.”

“If I’m your brother, why are you deporting me?” “I don’t know… I just have to do what I’m told. I don’t think Israel wants you back.”

When they finished eating, Laurence presented him with the options. From Aqaba, he could go either to Turkish Cyprus or to Egypt. Turkish Cyprus wasn’t an option, because he could get arrested for helping the Kurds – Turkey is against their independence struggles.

It had to be Egypt.

A Jordanian security agent escorted him to the port.

Before Amos walked up the gangway onto the passenger boat to Nuweiba, the agent said, “Prove to me you’re not ISIS.”

Amos could have said many things – “Buy me a beer,” “ISIS members don’t grow mustaches.” But he had no more fight in him.

“If you’re deporting me anyway… there’s no reason for this interview.” He walked up the gangway.

At sea, he was pacing the deck when he turned around and saw a Jordanian policeman tailing him.

They made eye contact, and the cop slipped away. The boat docked at Nuweiba, and when Amos went to retrieve his bag from the cargo hold he realized his computer was missing.

Although Nuweiba used to be a tourist hotspot back in the ’90s, it has – like most of the Sinai – become a ghost town since the rise in recent years of terrorist attacks and tourist kidnappings, and the presence of Sinai Province, an Islamic State affiliate. Last week, the group killed at least 70 people in a massive coordinated assault in northern Sinai.

It was almost ironic. For fighting Islamic State, Amos had been deported to Islamic State territory. He asked the first person he found to take him to a place to sleep and was driven to the Muzziena camp up the coast.

While he was walking along the shore a week after his arrival, a potbellied Beduin in snorkeling goggles caught up with him to say a journalist was there to see him.

THE SUN sets over the Sinai hills, and the beach is dark until the moon rises. We break the Ramadan fast with Nasser, a Muzziena Beduin originally from Sudan. We eat a Sudanese dish called aseeda – a giant dumpling with spices – and melon and tea. It’s good. Nasser is slow and tired from the fast.

“Only 17 more days,” he sighs.

After the meal, Amos hands me a black disk-on-key.

“I found it in Ariel’s bag,” he says. “I want to see what’s in it.”

He keeps some of Ariel’s possessions in a black woolen sock he carries around at all times, like an amulet.

Among them, there’s a battered Sony Ericsson phone without a battery.

“I’m looking for a charger to send my condolences to his parents,” he says.

We plug the USB into my laptop and open the folder.

There are some Arabic music MP3s, an SRT subtitles file for The Fault in Our Stars, and endless low-quality pictures that Ariel took at the front line. Amos scrolls through them and mutters, “Oh man.”

There are photos of violets, of a street puppy, and many, many pictures of the Chai Boys. Manning their outposts, cleaning their AK-47s, fighting, eating, waiting.

There are also short videos of Ariel laughing and the Chai Boys fooling around in the “glorified toolshed.”

One photo is of the façade of a theater. The title written in neon letters on the marquee is, “Let’s pretend none of this ever happened.”

Early the next day, Amos accompanies me to Nuweiba, where I’ll take a bus back to the Israeli border. We mostly talk about history – he’s a prodigious connoisseur of obscure historical anecdotes. Before I step onto the rickety bus, I ask if he would go back to the front line.

“Maybe, it’s an option. But right now my priority is getting back into Israel.”

This story first appeared in the Jerusalem Post Magazine. 

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July 27, 2015
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United Turns Record Quarterly Profit – TV Newsroom

Including special items, UAL reported second-quarter net income of $1.2 billion, or $3.14 per diluted share. The airline reported $1.03 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of $1.02 by $0.01. Southwest has announced its intentions of decreasing unit costs by approximately 1 percent in Q3, as will fuel prices, which are expected to reach $2.20 per gallon. Southwest has been running huge fare sales at its home airport in Dallas, where it is competing with Virgin America on new long-haul flights and with flights from American Airlines and Spirit Airlines at nearby Fort Worth, Texas. Technology is the airline’s second-largest capital expenditure after spending on its fleet, Smisek said.

The Calabasas Hills, California-based company said it had net income of 69 cents per share.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, June 24th. On the date of report, the stock closed at $32.62. Including fuel and all other costs, operating costs rose 5.1% year over year and decreased 1.8% on a unit basis. Moreover, it paid $620 million to its pension plans in 2QFY15. Worldwide travel is weaker because of the strong U.S. dollar, so the airline reduced transatlantic capacity 0.5% from the same period a year earlier. Ms. Romo said the new credit-card agreement is a big factor in the current quarter’s improved revenue outlook.

Southwest topped its previous best quarter of $465 million, set in the second quarter past year. In the whole session, it traded on volume of 15.64 Million shares, which turned higher than its average volume. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $3.31 per share.

Despite the increases in numbers of seats, critics claim the airlines are restricting capacity to keep prices high.

Interestingly, the revenue side of the equation wasn’t that great, with operating revenues up only 2% on a 7% increase year-over-year in available seat miles.

Southwest Airlines and United Airlines posted record second-quarter earnings on Thursday even though Southwest’s revenue grew just 2 percent and United’s declined from a year ago.

The company’s board of directors has decided to share a few of those profits with shareholders in the form of an additional $3 billion share repurchase program, which the company expects to complete by the end of 2017. United Airlines has unfilled pending orders of 205 commercial jets, with the option to acquire 75 more commercial jets.

For example, United invested $100 million to acquire a 5% stake in Azul Brazilian Airlines and invested $30 million in Fulcrum BioEnergy, an alternative-fuels company.

July 27, 2015
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Active Stocks News Recap: Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ:OLED), CNO …

On Thursday, Shares of Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ:OLED), gained 0.81%  to $48.63.

Universal Display Corporation, enabling energy-efficient displays and lighting with its UniversalPHOLED technology and materials, unveiled new and elegant OLED white lighting design prototypes and technologies at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Thursday, June 18th. Exhibited items highlighted the Company’s device architecture and material and manufacturing process core competencies. These proof-of-concept panels and products, counting the new Loop Lamp prototype, demonstrate how OLEDs offer flexibility, transparency, thinness and manufacturability on plastic for unbreakable displays and luminaires.

The Loop Lamp is comprised of paper-thin, flexible, shatterproof OLED lighting ‘ribbon’ panels designed into a unique concept chandelier. It is cool to touch and offers a high color rendering index (CRI) that can closely mimic natural sunlight. Manufactured using Universal Display’s single layer UniversalBARRIER encapsulation technology, the plastic based OLED panels resist exposure to moisture and oxygen, are lightweight and can bend in all directions. The Loop Lamp represents one of many concepts in the application of flexible OLED lighting solutions in home décor, architectural design, art and sculpture.

Universal Display Corporation engages in the research, development, and commercialization of organic light emitting diode (OLED) technologies and materials for use in flat panel displays and solid-state lighting applications.

Shares of CNO Financial Group Inc (NYSE:CNO), inclined 1.29% to $18.02, during its last trading session.

CNO Financial Group, is a PLATINUM winner of the 2015 Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles awards.

Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles is a program sponsored by The National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association of large U.S. employers.

CNO Financial Group, Inc., through its auxiliaries, develops, markets, and administers health insurance, annuity, individual life insurance, and other insurance products for senior and middle-income markets in the United States.

At the end of Thursday’s trade, Shares of ARRIS Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARRS), lost -0.25% to $30.30.

ARRIS Group, declared that ARRIS and Pace plc. (PIC.L) have each received Requests for Additional Information from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with ARRIS’s projected acquisition of Pace plc. This kind of request from the DOJ, often referred to as a “Second Request”, is part of the regulatory process under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act).

The effect of the Second Request is to extend the waiting period imposed by the HSR Act until 30 days after each company has substantially complied with its Second Request, unless that period is extended voluntarily by the companies or terminated sooner by the DOJ. The companies intend to respond to the requests as quickly as practicable and to continue to work cooperatively with the DOJ in connection with its review. Completion of the transaction remains subject to the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the HSR Act, the satisfaction of similar requirements in certain foreign countries, and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, counting approval by the shareholders of both ARRIS and Pace. ARRIS continues to anticipate that the transaction will close in late 2015.

ARRIS Group, Inc. provides media entertainment and data communications solutions in the United States and internationally. The company operates in two segments, Customer Premises Equipment and Network Cloud.

Finally, Quantum Corp (NYSE:QTM), ended its last trade with -1.85% loss, and closed at $1.59.

Quantum Corp., declared that its DXi deduplication appliances, Scalar tape libraries and StorNext Pro Solutions workflow storage have all successfully achieved Cisco Interoperability Verification Testing (IVT) compatibility certification with Cisco’s Unified Computing System, the UCS B-Series Blade Servers. The Internet of Everything (IoE) continues to bring together people, processes, data and things to enhance the relevancy of network connections. As a member of the Cisco Solution Partner Program, Quantum is able to quickly create and deploy solutions to enhance the capabilities, performance and administration of the network to capture value in the IoE.

Quantum Corporation provides scale-out storage, archive, and data protection solutions for small businesses to major enterprises in the Americas, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. Its scale-out storage portfolio comprises StorNext software, appliances and full systems called StorNext Pro Solutions, in addition to Lattus extended online storage and Q-Cloud Archive services.

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All visitors are advised to conduct their own independent research into individual stocks before making a purchase decision.

Information contained in this article contains forward-looking information within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, counting statements regarding the predictable continual growth of the market for the corporation’s products, the corporation’s ability to fund its capital requirement in the near term and in the long term; pricing pressures; etc.

Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, aims, assumptions, or future events or performance may be forward looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on expectations, estimates, and projections at the time the statements are made that involve a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those presently anticipated. Forward looking statements may be identified through the use of such words as expects, will, anticipates, estimates, believes, or by statements indicating certain actions may, could, should might occur.

July 27, 2015
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Aspiring veterinarian inspired at early age | jacksonville.com – Florida Times

ST. AUGUSTINE | Madison Toonder, 14, says people can learn a lot about themselves just by observing animals.

Although just heading into high school, Madison has known what she’s wanted to do ever since her childhood visits to the zoo.

“I was extremely interested in animal care staff and their passion for what they did,” she said. “I just wanted to learn more and see more. I was immediately inspired.”

Madison spent her middle school years enrolled in Florida Virtual School, which she said gave her the flexibility to get involved with animals and those who work with them.

Her mother, Lois, said it takes a lot of discipline and self-motivation to take the virtual education route. Madison made it work.

“Science is probably unique to her in this family,” Lois said. “I was always fascinated by science but I wasn’t able to do it.”

Madison will attend the Academy of Biotechnology and Medical Research at Ponte Vedra High School starting in August.

“It’s going to be a lot of research and lab work,” she said.

But that’s right up her alley.

Madison said she ultimately plans to pursue a career in exotic or marine animal veterinarian sciences.

EXOTIC VENTURES

This summer she participated in the Zoo Teen volunteer program at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne.

The goal is to get teenagers involved with animals and informed on conservation issues while developing their people skills and animal-handling abilities.

Upon acceptance of her application, Madison trained for about six weeks and was then tested to earn her spot as a Zoo Teen. She was also one of 10 applicants selected to shadow an exotic zoo veterinarian on the job.

“I got to see him do a wellness checkup on some flamingoes and that was so fascinating,” she said. “It was amazing to be able to see him in action.”

She also learned about the modifications veterinarians have to make to equipment when treating different animals.

“They don’t have specific equipment for every type of species, so they really have to think on their feet,” she said.

As a Zoo Teen, Madison handled a 5-foot ball python, bearded dragon, northern blue-tongued skink and Sudan plated lizard.

“It’s so wonderful to be able to handle animals you read about or see on National Geographic,” she said.

Madison plans to stay in the program through high school and eventually earn her qualifications to handle “bigger snakes,” as well as the likes of pygmy hedgehogs and kookaburras.

From the Brevard Zoo, she headed south to the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key for a weeklong residential program called DolphinLab.

It was there she learned about dolphin anatomy, behavior, environmental concerns and training techniques.

“It’s really about observation and research,” Lois said. “It’s not an amusement park.”

Madison had saved up for more than a year to attend the program.

“We actually got in the water and swam with the dolphins, learned the basic training techniques and practiced signals with them,” she said. “It was just cool to see the individuality of dolphins.”

She said in studying the dolphins she came to realize each had its own personality and behavioral quirks.

“I’d pick her up and she would smell like fish,” her mother said. “She was in heaven but I wanted to put her on the roof.”

HUNGER FOR KNOWLEDGE

Madison said her favorite animals are the giraffe and elephant because they are large and imposing, yet graceful.

She credits wearing a lucky elephant pendant to her success in school science fairs. But it’s pretty clear just from the title of her research that she’s put some thought into her interests.

In the 2015 St. Johns County Science Fair, she took home first place in environmental research for her project, “The Effect of Sunblock Nano Particles of Zinc Oxide and Micronized Sunscreen Chemicals on the Ability of the Bivalve Mollusk to Filter Bay Water.”

She also received a special award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for “Taking the Pulse of the Planet.” An invitation to compete in the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair in March resulted in a second-place finish.

Madison said one of her goals is to get people interested in learning more about exotic species rather than fearing them.

Lois added that handling lizards and snakes for visitors to the zoo isn’t to scare people away but to show them they aren’t slimy and gross.

As far as future research and study topics are concerned, Madison said she hopes to explore all the areas of science she can in high school.

“I’m still figuring out what I want to do, but I don’t need to decide until grad school,” she said. “Being a veterinarian has a lot to do with animal care, of course, but also knowing a lot about them. So it’s a combination of the two.”

July 27, 2015
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Advanced medical alert systems now offer GPS, fall detection

Advanced medical alert systems now offer GPS, fall detection

This undated product image provided by Great Call shows the Great Call Splash medical alert device. Should a Great Call Splash user slip and fall, a call center operator would immediately contact the user through the GPS-equipped pendant and send help no response was received. (Great Call via AP)

The choices are numerous. Medical alert systems have advanced far beyond the basic pendants that enable a loved one to summon assistance.

Today’s range of products includes wristbands, watches and cellphones equipped with emergency buttons or apps. Their capabilities have also expanded to include GPS tracking and fall detection, all of which help users live more independently and keep them safe when they venture outside. That’s broadened their appeal from just homebound senior citizens to younger people with physical disabilities and others worried about security.

The whole category started with the Philips Lifeline pendant in 1974. It helped seniors living alone feel safe and gave their loved ones peace of mind. But it only worked in and around the home.

Last year, Phillips introduced its GoSafe mobile service, which gives users the same protections wherever they might be. The waterproof pendant can automatically detect if a person has fallen, and the response center then calls to check on the user if she doesn’t press the Help button. Philips says it uses six means of determining the individual’s location, should assistance be needed.

Christopher DeHaven, who uses a wheelchair due to a rare neurodegenerative disorder, had a basic pendant that worked around his home until two months ago. Then he upgraded to a pendant with built-in GPS, the Splash from Philips’ rival GreatCall.

“I wanted to be able to do the things that I missed, getting out with friends and family, going places,” said DeHaven, 44, who lives in rural Blanchard, Oklahoma. “I didn’t want to be tied to the house.”

The device also enables DeHaven’s niece to track his location and movements remotely if he doesn’t answer his cellphone.

Other providers include LifeStation, Medical Alert, MobileHelp, ADT Medical Alert, Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical and Life Alert, which runs those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ads.

Here are factors to consider in selecting a product:

Advanced medical alert systems now offer GPS, fall detection

This undated product image provided by Great Call shows the Great Call Jitterbug Touch 3. The smartphone comes with health and safety apps, such as one connecting to doctors and nurses for round-the-clock medical advice and help getting (Great Call via AP)

1. CHOOSE THE KEY FEATURES.

If the person needing the device never goes out alone, an inexpensive home-and-yard system may be sufficient. If she leaves home regularly, consider a pendant, wristband or cellphone with GPS tracking.

Decide whether a pendant or wristband would be more comfortable and whether someone with a disability, such as a stroke patient, could easily use the device or smartphone.

2. SHOP FOR PRICE.

Monthly fees for such services run from about $20 for a bare-bones pendant or wristband to around $55 for one with GPS and fall detection. Some companies provide the pendant or wristband for free, while others charge a one-time fee of up to $150.

Phone options include a basic cellphone with a prominent emergency button amid extra-large number keys, and a smartphone with the emergency icon on the home screen. Companies charge about $40 to $90 per month for those services, on top of $100 to $200 upfront for the cellphone.

For people who have their own smartphone, some companies offer emergency help apps for the home screen for about $15 per month.

There may be additional, one-time fees: $50 to $100 to activate the service and up to $90 to cancel it. Some companies don’t list prices on their websites, so be prepared to call to enquire.

3. ASK ABOUT COMMITMENTS.

Many companies don’t require contracts, or they only run for 30 to 90 days. Ask what’s required, including billing terms. Some companies bill customers in advance for an entire year.

4. DETERMINE IF COVERAGE IS ADEQUATE.

Reliability is crucial. Before you commit, make sure cellphone coverage in your area is strong enough to service any medical alert device or smartphone.

If the service runs off a home landline, check for adequate range. Typically the devices work well up to 600 feet from the base unit. Be sure that covers the entire home and any usual path, such as to the end of the driveway.

5. ASK ABOUT A GUARANTEE.

Ask about product guarantees, whether there’s a 30-day return policy and whether any discounts are available, such as for AARP members and veterans.

6. PLAN ACCESS FOR RESPONDERS

You’ll need a quick, reliable way for police or EMTs to enter your home. If you have a security alarm, you’ll give the response center the code for it. Another common approach is to set up a lockbox near the door and give the service the code to open it.

Lastly, read the fine print before signing anything.


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