Monthly Archives: October 2015




I  had the pleasure of reading the first draft, and what a difference a day makes!!!

It is a page turner from the start.  Some of the concepts and settings are so bizarre it’s hard to conceptualize, or process what is going on.  Some may think that sounds negative, but in this case it works.  Mike keeps you guessing throughout the book.  When you think you have it figured out, you are wrong.

The characters are entertaining enough in their own right, but the story line is unique and immensely entertaining.

He even gave me closure at the end.  Thanks Mike, for listening. Too much Spielberg in my past to enjoy being left hanging.  This book does not disappoint!

MMCoverFinal-Mod-8-26-webThe Devil’s Marque
is a science fiction mystery about Calliope Dancer and what’s happening to all of Mr. Appleyard’s unsavory clients. His cash flow is taking a hit and he’s very unhappy about it. Then along comes a mysterious lawyer and a very old connection to China. It all happens over a summer, and the last 112 years, maybe more. Even Calliope’s special candy doesn’t help her much this time – or with her own guilt about her client either. Good and evil are just ambiguous concepts after all. Everything is something it isn’t. Even the first time we meet other beings.

Meet Calliope Dancer: confectiontionaire extraordinaire with abilities to connive, control, and correct everything she contracts for and more. Or she thought until  a spider and a lawyer catch her in their web, and her candy helps not at all to get her beyond their wall. The police are unamused and her client unsatisfied. Now what can she do?

What starts out as a favor for a friend soon turns into a very strange and dangerous assignment from a client that Calliope wishes she had never heard of. Good and evil weave a tangled web that only a very old and crafty being seems to understand. Maybe it is just a dream from too much sugar and chemistry.

After all, life can’t be that strange – can it?

Mike Macartney is an aerospace engineer from Nevada. He spent a career in the space business as an analysis engineer, an engineering manager, an armored vehicle business manager, and a consultant to NASA. He helped to found an IT and a software company in Northern California.



Looking for a Great Short Read? The Devil’s Marque


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5 Tips For Outwitting Porch Pirates


During The Gift-Giving Season

Land-Locked Blackbeards Who Snatch Packages From Doorsteps May Also Hack Into Online Tracking Systems
Online shopping has made life easier for consumers – and is especially handy during the holidays ¬– but it’s also created more opportunities for “porch pirates,” the thieves who prey on those parcels left on our doorsteps.

Many porch pirates are low tech, simply cruising neighborhoods where they know deliveries are taking place and grabbing the unattended packages.

But porch pirates who also happen to be cyber criminals can use your own technology against you, says Gary Miliefsky, CEO of SnoopWall (, a company that specializes in cyber security.

“A more sophisticated porch pirate might send you an SMS message or email with malware,” Miliefsky says.

 “That would let them gain access to your computer or smartphone, and they could install a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Then they can eavesdrop on your orders and deliveries.”

They also might be able to locate you through the geolocating feature on your phone, he says. That would tell them when you are away from home, the final link in their well-laid plan.

“If they know you aren’t home and that a package is scheduled for delivery, it’s going to be easy for them to steal it,” Miliefsky says.

Miliefsky offers these tips for outwitting porch pirates and keeping those packages safe:

Get permission to ship all your packages to work. That way they aren’t left unguarded at your doorstep for hours where anyone walking by could snatch them. If this arrangement works out, be sure to tell all your friends and family also to ship packages to your work address.

Ask a friend or neighbor to receive your packages for you. You might not be home on work days, but plenty of people are. Trusted friends who are retired or who work at home might be happy to let you have packages delivered to them for safe keeping.

If a neighbor can’t receive your packages and you can’t get them at work, another option is available. Miliefsky suggests trying Doorman, a service that lets you arrange for a package to be held at a warehouse until you arrive home. Then you can arrange delivery for evening hours that better suit you. More on Doorman is available at

Disable geolocation on your smartphone so that porch pirates – or other hackers for that matter – can’t track your location. No need to make it easier on them.

Set up a live recording video camera aimed at your porch. That could allow you to spot a theft as it happens and alert law enforcement, or at least provide you with video later that might help identify the porch pirates.

“Porch pirates count on you being lax with your defenses,” Miliefsky says. “But with a little preparation, you can thwart their plans and leave them empty handed.”

About Gary S. Miliefsky

Gary Miliefsky recently blew the lid on the how Russian, Chinese and Indian hackers are behind the top 10 flashlight apps specifically designed to collect and expose your personal information to cybercriminals abroad. He is Founder of SnoopWall Inc. (, a cutting edge counter-intelligence technology company offering free consumer based software to secure personal data on cell-phones and tablets, while generating revenues helping banks and government agencies secure their networks. He has been active in the INFOSEC arena, as the Executive Producer of Cyber Defense Magazine and a regular contributor to Hakin9 Magazine. He has patents and patents pending on his inventions for Computer and Network Security.


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The Irish Slave Trade: The Forgotten WHITE Slaves…

The Slaves That Time Forgot… 



We’ve all been taught the horror’s of the African slave trade. It’s in all the school books and in plenty of Hollywood movies. But for some reason the largest group of slaves in the British Colonies in the 17th Century doesn’t get mentioned at all- the Irish.

They came as slaves: human cargo transported on British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. Some were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

King James VI and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbour.

The Irish slave trade began when James VI sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies.

By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade.

Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia.

Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (£50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than £5 Sterling). If a planter whipped, branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.

The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce.

Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish mothers, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their children and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls (many as young as 12) with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.

This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more, in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is also little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry.

In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end its participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded this chapter of Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong. Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories.

But, why is it so seldom discussed? Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims not merit more than a mention from an unknown writer?

Or is their story to be the one that their English masters intended: To completely disappear as if it never happened.

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.



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Facebook Messenger Wants To BE Your Phone Number With New Message Requests


Facebook Messenger Wants To BE Your Phone Number With New Message Requests

Phone numbers are dumb. Once someone has yours, you can’t stop them from contacting you.

Someone might want you to call them, but if you don’t have their random string of digits, you can’t. And you could miss something extremely important if a person you’ve never met really needs to reach you.

Facebook Messenger has a plan to fix all that. And it’s born from the ashes of one of the social network’s worst products ever.

No More Missed Connections

Today, Messenger is killing off the dysfunctional “Other Inbox”. It was where Facebook messages went to die if they were sent by someone who wasn’t your friend or friend-of-a-friend. Few people knew it existed. Fewer ever checked it. And it wasn’t even accessible from Messenger’s iOS or Android apps.

A friend of mine once received a Facebook message from his long-lost brother he was separated from at birth 30 years ago in Vietnam. But he didn’t see the message for six months because it went to his Other Inbox. It took a LinkedIn request before he realized what he was missing.

Facebook Other Inbox

Thankfully, that shouldn’t happen anymore. Rolling out globally starting today is Facebook’s replacement for the Other Inbox which it calls “Message Requests”. It means all someone needs in order to contact you is your name, but you have control over whether they can contact you again.

Friend Requests For Chat

Now, any message from a non-friend who doesn’t have your phone number will go into your Message Requests at the top of Messenger on mobile or in the Messages tab on web.

Facebook Message Requests

From there, you can parse who to respond to and who to permanently ignore. You’ll see the sender’s name, a little public info about them like their city, job, or mutual friends, and the message.

But the sender won’t know you looked. Respond and the thread goes to your normal inbox, ignore and it’s hidden in the Filtered Requests folder along with anything that seems like spam.

If you already have a thread open with someone or you have their phone number, your messages will be allowed into their normal inbox. One change to look out for is that messages from friends-of-friends will now be treated as requests. Facebook will no longer bet that having a friend in common means you care to talk to someone.

Essentially, Message Requests are like Friend Requests for chat. Except they create a new kind of relationship on Facebook — non-friends who can message you. And with that distinction, Messenger has unlocked the potential to connect with people you just met, someone you don’t know but need to talk to, and even businesses.


This Isn’t Email

Tony Leach doesn’t know his parents’ phone number. Messenger’s Product Manager on Message Requests isn’t a terrible son. His family just moves a lot, and they insist on changing their number to the local area code each time. “Phone numbers are kind of a relic of the ’50s” he tells me. “I know [my parents] much better as people. Names are a much better way of contacting people.”

So back in 2010, Facebook tried, and failed, to turn your name into not your phone number, but your email address. The company gave everyone a [username] email address that connected to Messenger, and had the lofty idea that people would route their email newsletters, bills, and more there.

Facebook's Tony Leach

They didn’t. But the Other Inbox where the mediocre stuff you didn’t respond to was supposed to go became a dungeon where critical messages from non-friends languished unread.

It took awhile, including an intrusive partnership with Apple on contact syncing, before Facebook Message Requests’ engineering lead Michael Adkins says “We knew the other folder didn’t work for a mobile to mobile system.” If it was going to evolve beyond the desktop users were ditching, Facebook had to axe the Other Inbox.

“We’ve heard so many stories like estranged parents trying to get back in touch, or you lost your wallet and someone trying to get in touch with you” Leach explains. “That’s why we want to replace that with a system that makes it a lot easier to catch the messages that you want to see.”

It will be good for Facebook’s business too. Mobile is where people spend their time. The more useful Messenger is, the deeper users get locked in to Facebook’s ecosystem where they’ll see News Feed ads and generate data that earns Facebook money.

Trading Privacy By Obscurity For Openness With Control

Now Facebook is making that move, shuttling all Other Inbox messages into the Message Request feature’s hidden Filtered Requests folder. Going forward, it hopes to help you intelligently parse non-friend messages in a way SMS never could.

As long as your message matters, you can now contact any of the 1.5 billion people on Facebook. This achieves what Leach calls “A level of openness where you can get in touch with anyone in the world but still have the control yourself of who contacts you and who can’t.”

That last part is critical. Make no mistake, this is a change in how the concept of privacy works for a massive swath of humanity. Facebook is trading our “privacy by obscurity” for “openness with control”. Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus himself notes that “While this may seem like a small change, it’s actually a foundational development.”


Previously, regarding the ability to contact someone, we had privacy by obscurity: someone couldn’t call or text you if they didn’t have your number. But once they did, you had almost no control. Even if you blocked their number, they could always change theirs or use someone else’s phone. “Once you give out your email address you have no idea what they’re going to do with it” Adkins warns. “They could sell it to someone one else. Same thing with phone numbers.”

The result was an initial level of security that if surmounted, opened up opportunities for harassment.


Now with Facebook, we’ll have openness with control: someone only needs your name to contact you, but you can block them much more effectively. Delete or ignore a Message Request, and you won’t be notified about someone’s messages any more.

And thanks to Facebook’s spam detection systems that flag recently created accounts with few friends, Messenger can keep blocking them automatically even if they create a new account to try to harass you. Messenger also factors in the sender’s previous messaging behavior and whether you typically approve Message Requests to determine what you see.

Now, if someone doesn’t seem like a spammer, Messenger could put that message from a stranger about returning your wallet or meeting at that party where you’ll actually see it. The change might be a little scary at first, and lead to a few more accidental pings about messages you definitely don’t care about. But long-term, openness with control is a more scalable way to handle communication in a globalized society.

Hey, I Just Met You

This shift in how privacy works could fundamentally change how we interact interpersonally.

Typically, meeting someone new means exchanging names and having a conversation. At the end, if one person has the guts to ask to extend the meeting into a friendship or something more, they have to explicitly ask for that person’s phone number.

But often times, that’s either daunting or inconvenient. While it might seem respectful to have to ask in person for permission to contact someone in the future, many will feel too awkward to turn someone down. The result is relationships both people don’t really want, or an uncomfortable situation with fake numbers or dashed hopes.


Message Requests could also make Facebook a way to communicate with contractors, short-term business colleagues, or anyone else you want to chat with temporarily, but don’t want to friend or give your number.

unnamedBut the even bigger opportunity for Facebook is using Message Requests as the foundation for a WeChat-style way to chat directly with businesses. The News Feed works for non-essential content shared by businesses, but if they need to reach you to work out details or modify your order, messaging works much better.

Facebook is already experimenting with ways to let you receive customer service, attain a quote on home repair, or contact Page admins via Messenger. And there’s already apayment system built into Messenger. Imagine one day getting a Message Request from a business you’ve interacted with, then being able to receive important updates or even buy things from them right from chat.

But for now, maybe Message Request will empower the more shy ones among us. The barrier to a deeper connection has been dismantled. All you need is a name.

Leach concludes, “I can’t help but think of how many dates I missed out on because I was too scared to ask someone’s phone number in the moment.”


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Meditation and yoga make you less likely to need a doctor

woman meditating

CC BY 2.0 Paolo Neoz

A new study has found that relaxation techniques dramatically decreases the need for healthcare visits and interventions, which is a good reason to pull out the old yoga mat.

Healthcare practitioners have known for a long time that using relaxation techniques can improve health, but it’s hard to prescribe such treatments without scientific evidence. That’s why researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital decided to run a retrospective analysis, in which they analyzed the records of 4,000 patients between 2006 and 2014 who followed their doctors’ recommendations for relaxation techniques, and compared them to 13,000 other patients who did not use those same techniques.

The results were impressive. The use of “Relaxation Response and Resiliency Training,” as the study calls it, reduced the incidence of healthcare visits by 43 percent. By learning how to use the relaxation techniques, patients were better able to care for themselves and manage symptoms without needing a physician’s intervention.

Stress-related disorders are the third leading cause of healthcare expenditures in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. In 2012, the treatment of stress-related disorders, such as headaches, back pain, insomnia, reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and chest pain, cost Americans more than $80 billion.

“Over 90 percent of people suffering from stress or stress-related problems seek help through primary care and tend to be frequent healthcare utilizers. These visits can comprise as much as 70 percent of physicians’ caseloads. In addition, more than 80 percent of patients presenting to general practice evidence lack of resiliency and psychological stress.”

Teaching patients how to use relaxation techniques is an excellent way to reduce physicians’ caseloads, lessen the overall burden on the healthcare system, save money, and provide non-interventional solutions to physical problems that are safe and effective.

“Our results indicate that mind body interventions can reduce individual disease burden as well as the utilization of healthcare resources and are well suited to the changing healthcare environment… Mind body interventions are inexpensive relative to the cost of an emergency room visit, a hospitalization, or even other complementary and alternative medicine therapies.”

Sounds like it’s time to dust off the old yoga mat or sign up for that class you’ve been meaning to take at the meditation center! You might as well start now, rather than waiting till your personal health reaches a crisis point.


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The mothers fighting back against Jihadi knife maniacs… with guns, frying pans and rolling pins 

  • Women have started undertaking self-defence classes, fearing attackers 
  • Young Palestinians reveal the cultural impact of the rise in violence 
  • The family of one of the Palestinians killed in an attack on Israeli civilians reveal their thoughts on his motives

They were just two ordinary young girls — pretty, in their vivid headscarves and brightly patterned dresses (worn with trousers, to combine style with modesty) and gazing intently at the screens of their smartphones.

A month ago, they might have been swapping gossipy texts with friends or watching pop videos as they wandered home from school — Lady Gaga and Beyonce were among their favourites. But these days, Rozanne Jaber and Raghan Hussein have no time for such frivolities.

Instead, these bright, middle-class 17-year-old Palestinians — who tell me, without any sense of irony, that they hope to become nurses — are immersed in the sounds and images of bloodshed and hatred.

Deathly defiance: Young Israelis practise on a firing range in the Holy city of Jerusalem

Deathly defiance: Young Israelis practise on a firing range in the Holy city of Jerusalem

Masked man: A Palestinian gives the v for victory sign whilst holding a knife during a demonstration in Gaza

Masked man: A Palestinian gives the v for victory sign whilst holding a knife during a demonstration in Gaza

‘This is the new song I really like,’ says Rozanne, gesturing towards her Samsung SS3, with its pink kitten cover. ‘It’s called The Lovers Of Stabbing and it names every one of our martyrs, who have been killed [while attacking Jews] in the past few weeks.’

Her friend Raghan, whose phone screensaver is cartoon character Bart Simpson, nods enthusiastically. ‘Another one we like is These Are Your Men,’ she says. ‘It is also about our brave Palestinian boys resisting the Israelis.’

Who is the singer, I ask, trying to conceal my shock as these sweet young girls casually glorify murderous acts of terrorism.

‘We don’t care!’ snaps Rozanne, offended by the question. ‘To us, the names are not important. It’s the words they sing that matter, not the personality. We only care about the message!’

With their faces covered with a red and white checked kheffiyeh, one woman clutches a copy of the Qu'ran

With their faces covered with a red and white checked kheffiyeh, one woman clutches a copy of the Qu’ran

Ready for action: A slingshot throwers prepares to launch a stone during clashes with Israeli soldiers in Bet El

Ready for action: A slingshot throwers prepares to launch a stone during clashes with Israeli soldiers in Bet El

Helping hand: Four Palestinians rush an injured comrade away from the action near the Israeli border

Helping hand: Four Palestinians rush an injured comrade away from the action near the Israeli border

Benjamin Netanyahu recently got himself into hot water after making comments about the Palestinians and the Holocaust

Benjamin Netanyahu recently got himself into hot water after making comments about the Palestinians and the Holocaust

For what it’s worth, the ‘artist’ is named Qasem Najar, and his other popular numbers include Hit Tel Aviv, a baritone war-cry, eerily backed by the wail of air-raid sirens, which urges compatriots to bomb the ‘Zionist’ city to rubble.

Venture into Palestinian strongholds such as Ramallah, where I met the two schoolfriends on Wednesday evening, and disturbing songs such as this are being uploaded by young people everywhere.

They have become the blood- curdling soundtrack to a horrifying new wave of violence that has erupted in Israel in the past month, which has so far claimed nine Israeli and 52 Palestinian lives and is escalating so rapidly out of control that it is being called ‘The Third Intifada’, or uprising.

The phrase reawakens memories of two previous times of bloody and sustained unrest, which erupted in the late Eighties and again between 2000 and 2005.

Last night, in the latest reported incident, a young Palestinian man armed with a knife was shot dead by police after trying to board a school bus when it stopped in an Orthodox Jewish area of West Jerusalem. The attacker wounded an Israeli pedestrian.

This uprising is also being dubbed the YouTube Intifada, because it is clearly being driven by garish internet images posted to incite further attacks (though in truth Palestinians prefer to upload their graphic videos on Facebook because, they say, it is quicker).

But it is not only these murder-inciting films and the music blaring from countless mobiles that is making modern technology such an integral tool in this upsurge of terror.

Still more disturbingly, a plethora of newly popular Palestinian internet ‘news’ websites are playing on the adolescent emotions of young Arab boys (and gullible female supporters such as Rozanne and Raghan), and there can be little doubt that their propaganda is persuading some to pick up a knife.

This uprising is also being dubbed the YouTube Intifada, because it is clearly being driven by garish internet images posted to incite further attacks

This uprising is also being dubbed the YouTube Intifada, because it is clearly being driven by garish internet images posted to incite further attacks

Israeli soldiers stand by after a Palestinian man was shot dead after he stabbed an Israeli soldier

Israeli soldiers stand by after a Palestinian man was shot dead after he stabbed an Israeli soldier

Tensions is growing in the troubled region, with an increase in security forces patrolling on the streets

Tensions is growing in the troubled region, with an increase in security forces patrolling on the streets

Sites such as Quds News Network, which boasts 100,000 subscribers and a following of four million on its Facebook page, post gruesome films depicting Palestinians being killed — supposedly in cold blood, and without reason — by Israeli ‘settlers’ and security forces.

Perhaps the most inflammatory video to have appeared on Palestinian social media sites was purportedly filmed in the West Bank Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba. It appears to show a Jewish man placing pork on the body of a Palestinian killed by border police after carrying out a stabbing.

For a Muslim, this is the ultimate act of defilement. Ahmed Yousef, the editor of Quds, feels no qualms in publishing such graphic scenes.

‘After years of only hearing the Israeli narrative, we are presenting the Palestinian narrative,’ he told me, scrolling through stories lionising the valiant young ‘martyrs’ who have died for the cause in recent days.

These news items, needless to say, make no mention of their victims. Such innocents as the brave rabbi knifed to death while trying to defend a young man from stabbers in Jerusalem’s Old Town; and the blameless 60-year-old passenger cut down when riding home on a number 78 bus.

To Yousef, however, they represent the truth. ‘Our reporters are thousands of young Palestinians who are using their phones to film the injustices perpetrated on us by the Israelis and sending them in to us,’ he said.

Declaring that the Third Intifada had ‘already started’, he added: ‘For the first time, we are able to write our own story. It will become our history.’

Perhaps so, but many Jewish families are determined to write their own script.

There has also been a rush to buy pepper sprays, as I saw at a combat equipment shop called Defence, in the heart of Jerusalem’s tourist district

There has also been a rush to buy pepper sprays, as I saw at a combat equipment shop called Defence, in the heart of Jerusalem’s tourist district

With the stabbings becoming ever more random and indiscriminate, Israeli mothers and children are enrolling in self-defence classes

With the stabbings becoming ever more random and indiscriminate, Israeli mothers and children are enrolling in self-defence classes

Israeli soldiers take aim as they patrol the streets of Hebron, situated in the West Bank

Israeli soldiers take aim as they patrol the streets of Hebron, situated in the West Bank

Palestinians hold knives during an an anti-Israel protest in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip 

Palestinians hold knives during an an anti-Israel protest in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip

With the stabbings becoming ever more random and indiscriminate, mothers and children are enrolling in self-defence classes, where they are taught how to protect themselves should a knife-attacker suddenly strike as they go shopping or walk to school.

Those civilians with firearm licences are dusting down their guns and stocking up on ammunition.

Those without are concealing any makeshift weapon they can find — hammers, bats, screwdrivers, umbrellas and even selfie sticks — beneath their clothing before leaving home.

There has also been a rush to buy pepper sprays, as I saw at a combat equipment shop called Defence, in the heart of Jerusalem’s tourist district.

‘When it rains, people always buy umbrellas,’ shrugged a sales assistant at the shop, before selling another £18 spray, with a range of 10ft. His latest customer was Joshua Cross, 17, a Jew from Gibraltar holidaying in Israel.

Why did Joshua feel the need for the device? ‘I’m slightly paranoid,’ he said. ‘The streets have become noticeably quieter since we arrived, and I just feel things are about to happen.

‘Having said that, I took a selfie by the Arab souk [market], just to show my friends that no matter what might happen, I’m still here and showing my solidarity for Israel.’

Harbouring similar fears, others are relying on less obvious weapons. One man was reportedly seen boarding a bus with a frying-pan tucked in his belt.

But Molly Livingstone, 32, whose Jerusalem apartment lies close to the scene of the number 78 bus attack (in which two young Palestinians killed two and wounded ten others before being shot dead by security services), prefers to carry a rolling-pin in her handbag.

‘I wanted to buy a Taser, but they are illegal so I keep this by me,’ said the American Jew, the mother of two young children. ‘If anyone attacked me I would thrust it into their b***s. But then, I guess they don’t have any.

‘I moved here ten years ago from Boston, at the end of the second intifada, and I saw a few bombings. But this is worse. There’s so much more hatred under the surface. There is this constant feeling of fear, mistrust and trepidation.’

Israeli riot police officers operate in the Arab neighborhood of Issawiyeh in Jerusalem

Israeli riot police officers operate in the Arab neighborhood of Issawiyeh in Jerusalem

Palestinians carry the body of 27-year old Iyad el-Avavde killed by Israeli soldiers last week

Palestinians carry the body of 27-year old Iyad el-Avavde killed by Israeli soldiers last week

One needs only to walk around her affluent neighbourhood, which borders on the contrastingly rundown Palestinian enclave of Jaber Mukaber — a seething hotbed of unrest — to understand what she means.

On the Jewish side of the divide, behind the so-called ‘cement wall’ of 8ft-high concrete blocks that have just been installed as a supposedly temporary buffer between the factions, a smart apartment block is charred by the smoke from Molotov cocktails lobbed from the street below.

With fingers poised on the trigger of their M16 rifles, security guards routinely stand sentry at many bus stops and roadside checkpoints, which are blocked off with huge stone blocks.

Some Jewish schools have even laid off Arab members of staff under pressure from parents who perceive any Palestinian as a potential threat.

To anyone who has followed this seemingly intractable conflict, the causes of this latest uprising will be grimly and wearily familiar.

The Palestinians complain of increasing oppression by the hard-line government of Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu; the continued occupation of their territories; and the lack of progress towards independence.

And, as with the Second Intifada, which broke out in 2000 — about a decade after the first — and stretched on for five years claiming thousands of lives, the violence is being stoked by a dispute over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jews and Muslims consider the site of the vast mosque, which the Israelis call Temple Mount, to be of major religious significance, and the right of access to it has been bitterly contested for years.

The Muslims claim that increasing, and deliberately provocative, Jewish encroachment is disrupting their access to the mosque, and is intended to threaten their long-term tenure of the shrine.

Yet in many ways this uprising is very different from the first and second. Then, the violence was highly orchestrated and the attackers bombed buses and restaurants. They were being directed by an organised and clearly identifiable leadership.

Around 2000 participants took part in an Arab-Israeli demostration for peace in the center of Jerusalem last week

Around 2000 participants took part in an Arab-Israeli demostration for peace in the center of Jerusalem last week

Knife attacks in Israel and the West Bank have left many civilians fearing for their own safety

Knife attacks in Israel and the West Bank have left many civilians fearing for their own safety

Palestinians demonstrate on the streets at an anti-Israeli protest in Jabalia in the Gaza Strip

Palestinians demonstrate on the streets at an anti-Israeli protest in Jabalia in the Gaza Strip

This time, the attacks appear to be haphazard and carried out by young, lone-wolf fanatics seemingly acting on their own initiative.

Usually they are armed with knives, which they wield without mercy against defenceless members of the public and the security forces alike — every Jew, man or woman, old or young, is apparently seen as a legitimate target.

And their motivation and loose co-ordination appears to be coming via the internet propaganda filtered through their mobiles, which somehow even the poorest Palestinian teenager can afford.

But, of course, cross to other side of the often invisible divide that separates Jew from Arab here, and one hears an utterly opposing view. It is a story of oppression, lack of educational and professional opportunity, and unpunished brutality by the security services and Jewish ‘settlers’.

As Israeli soldiers eye them from a nearby machine-gun post draped with the Star of David flag, a group of smartly uniformed Arab schoolgirls sit defiantly on the cement wall and air their grievances.

‘We have apartheid here now,’ says Loreen Tayem, 15, the anger burning in her eyes. ‘There was no need to build this barrier. There are usually no clashes here. Well, I can remember only one firebomb, and the people who threw it were arrested.

‘The Israelis have built these walls in an attempt to expel us from our own city. It used to take us 15 minutes to get to school. Now it takes at least 40 minutes. But if they build 100 walls like this, we will still be here! This is our land!’

People claim, perhaps with some justification, that the Jews, with home-fashioned self-defence weapons, are rarely if ever searched.

Driving deeper into Jaber Mukaber, whose narrow, mountainside streets are now virtually sealed off by the West Bank fence and wall erected after the last intifada, I pass a display of blown-up photographs depicting a handsome, bearded young man.

Beside the picture is a gushing tribute, marking his ‘heroic acts, in Jerusalem on Tuesday, October 13, 2015’. This, it turns out, is one of the two number 78 bus attackers, 22-year-old Baha Aliyan. Evidently the district’s new poster-boy.

At his family’s spacious house — doubtless soon to be dynamited by the Israelis, under the law that sanctions the state destruction of terrorists’ homes — I find his grieving father, Mohammad, a 60-year-old lawyer, and his older brother Husam, 26.

Gentler and more polite people you could not wish to meet.

Invited to describe Baha, they portray a remarkable young man — ‘a genius’, his father calls him — who devoted his brief life to the community after achieving the highest awards in the Boy Scouts.

He initiated many youth projects in the neighbourhood, they say, but his greatest day came in March 2013, when he organised 10,000 people to form a human chain around the Jerusalem wall, each reading a book of their choice, in a show of peace and solidarity.

So why would such a young man wish to slaughter people riding on a bus? Tellingly, we might think, it emerges that his father was also involved in an attack on an Israeli bus during the Seventies. He declines to elaborate, but says he served a decade in jail before being released, in 1985, under a prisoner-exchange deal.

In any event, he insists this had no bearing on his son’s actions because they never discussed it.

Instead, he attempts to cast doubt on Baha’s culpability, suggesting that, since no one has produced video evidence of the attack, his son might have been caught up among the innocent passengers. That the Israelis might have mistaken him for a terrorist and shot him dead in error.

It sounds like one more attempt to distort reality.

But no doubt this version of events will find its way onto the Palestinian ‘news’ websites, so that the truth is turned on its head, and the ruthless knifeman becomes the hapless victim.

It will then be relayed to thousands of phones and become part of the new ‘Palestinian narrative’ — a grisly, internet-driven story that is filling impressionable young minds with self-righteous intent and sending them out to kill.

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Breaking news: Michael J. Fox arrested for insider sports betting



Los Angeles—Michael J. Fox was arrested Wednesday morning in relation to insider sports betting on DraftKings.

Fox aroused suspicion after achieving a statistically-impossible, perfect record on the site under the username NoChicken.

Authorities found an unusually worn copy of a sports almanac which was just recently printed and which has markings cataloging winning bets Fox has placed since the late 80’s.

“The operating theory is that the Back to the Future films were really documentaries from an original, prime timeline,” said NASA astrophysicist Barry Manilow. “The implications are heavy. It is suspected that we are living in an alternate 2015, as there are no flying cars and there are only four Jaws movies. We can only assume that we are forever stunted as a society. The amount of lives lost due to our lack of progress in technology and medicine is unfathomable. Worst of all, instead of hoverboards, this sad reality is limited to the Swagway.”

“We suspect Mr. Fox has been using an alias to hide his real identity after damaging the space time continuum,” said one source within the FBI’s TimeCrime division.

Under the name of Marty McFly, he was an accomplice to Dr. Emmett Brown in negotiation with terrorists to obtain materials to build a dangerous weapon allowing the pair to travel through time.

Dr. Brown is still on the run and “extremely dangerous.”

“We are looking for a criminal mastermind,” said FBI director Tim Travell. “He is extremely intelligent and capable of producing weapons of mass destruction with scarce resources. He built a highly advanced technology known as a flux capacitor in his garage.”

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Tom Brady on Coca-Cola and Frosted Flakes: ‘That’s Poison’

Tom Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen. (Photo:

A run-of-the-mill post-game radio interview with Tom Brady ended up being a lot more than that, when the Patriots quarterback took a swing at the processed food industry — calling out Coca-Cola and Frosted Flakes, specifically.

Brady’s been known to stick to an extremely healthy diet — avocado “ice cream,” anyone? — but this interview revealed the passion behind his healthy habits. (Also in the interview: Brady defending his partnership with Alex Guerrero, who’s gotten in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission over health claims.)

Check out some highlights from the interview:

On standing up to food companies: “I think we’ve been lied to by a lot of food companies over the years, by a lot of beverage companies over the years. But we still do it! That’s just America, and that’s what we’ve been conditioned to. We believe Frosted Flakes is actually a food. And you just keep eating those things and wondering why we do have incredible rates of disease in our country. And no one thinks it has anything to do with what we put in our body.“

On soda: “You’ll probably go out and drink Coca-Cola and think, oh yeah, that’s no problem, why? Because they pay a lot of money for advertisements. … I totally disagree with that. And when people do that, I think that’s quackery. I think that the fact that they can sell that to kids — that’s poison for kids! But they keep doing it.”

On donuts: “Of course they taste very good. All those companies make lots of money selling those things, they have lots of money to advertise. When you go to the Super Bowl, who are the sponsors? That’s the education we get, that’s what we get brainwashed to believe. That all these things are just normal food groups that you should eat. And these are the things you should take when you get sick. I like to try to avoid those things.”

On the food pyramid: “I disagree with that. I disagree with a lot of things that people tell you to do.”

On his diet: “I try to eat really well, I try to have a clean diet … so that I can play for long periods of time…

There’s a lot of things that are the norm that are very systematic that just don’t work. So much of my diet is based on an acid/alkaline principal.Which does reduce inflammation in my body, and when you’re running around and taking hits, that’s a really positive thing for me.”

On prevention: “So much of what [my business partner Alex Guerrero and I] talk about is prevention. It’s probably a lot different than most of the Western medicine. … In any sport in general, you play the game until you basically get hurt. And then you go to rehab and you try to come back and then you try to play your sport again. And I think so much for me, and so much of what we try to accomplish, with what my regimen is and my methods and my belief system is trying to do things proactively so that you can avoid getting injured.”

On taking a different approach to health: “There’s a lot of things that I see on a daily basis in Western medicine that I think, wow, why would they ever do that? That is crazy, that doesn’t work. That’s just how life is. There’s a lot of things that are the norm, that are very systematic, that just don’t work.

I’ve had doctors with the highest and best education in this country telling me that I wouldn’t be able to play football again. That I would need multiple surgeries on my knee for my staph infection.  That I would needed a new ACL, a new MCL. That I wouldn’t be able to play with my kids when I’m older… It’s interesting because, like I’ve said, I’ve chosen a different approach, and that approach works for me.


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The Cream of the Crop

U.S. News & World Report ranks UCSB number 8 among the country’s top public universities
U.S. News & World Report ranks UCSB number 8 among top public universities

In its 2016 listing of the “Top 30 Public National Universities” in the country, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UC Santa Barbara number 8. This marks the university’s highest ranking ever in the magazine’s annual listing.

UCSB — which this year experienced the most competitive admissions process in campus history — jumped two spots among the “Top 30 Public National Universities.” Among the “Best National Universities” ranking, which includes both public and private institutions, UCSB moved up three places to number 37.

Within the University of California system, only UC Berkeley and UCLA ranked above UCSB. Other UC campuses in the Top 30 include UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Davis.

In addition, UCSB placed number 6 among public universities in the magazine’s list of colleges and universities that offer students the best education value. UCSB’s College of Engineering is ranked number 18 among public universities on the U.S. News & World Report list of “Best Programs at Engineering Schools Whose Highest Degree is a Doctorate.”

The magazine has just released its annual college rankings online at The 2016 “America’s Best Colleges” guidebook goes on sale Tuesday, September 23.

“Students are the reason all of us are here at UC Santa Barbara,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “As part of our vibrant and diverse academic community, our students study with award-winning professors, engage in original undergraduate research projects, and enjoy a unique learning and living environment in a spectacular location.”

To rank colleges and universities for the Best Colleges 2016 guidebook, U.S. News & World Report assigns institutions to categories developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. UCSB’s category of national universities includes only institutions that emphasize faculty research and offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s degree and doctoral programs.

Of prospective freshman and undergraduate transfer students, UCSB continues to attract the best of the best. The academic qualifications and the diversity of the applicants accepted by UCSB remain exceptionally high. For the 2015-16 academic year, the average high school grade-point average of applicants admitted is 4.19, and the average total score achieved on the required SATR Test is 1975 out of a possible 2400.

Of the admitted freshmen, 24 percent are members of underrepresented minority groups (African-American, American Indian, and Chicano and Latino students. In addition, 32 percent of admitted freshmen are first-generation college students.

The rankings in the Best Colleges 2016 guidebook are based on data U.S. News & World Report collects directly from colleges and universities, as well as from other sources. This year, the magazine reported that 92.75 percent of the 1,376 colleges and universities it surveyed responded to its request for statistical information. Additional data was obtained from the American Association of University Professors, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Council for Aid to Education and the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The magazine evaluates and analyzes data on various indicators of academic quality and assigns a weight to each factor based on its relative importance. It then tabulates composite scores and ranks institutions against others in the same peer group.

Complete U.S. News & World report rankings are available at

UCSB has performed exceptionally well in a variety of other recent national and international rankings. The 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked UCSB number 38 among the top 500 universities in the world. In addition, UCSB is ranked number 11 among the top 200 universities in physics, number 13 in chemistry, and number 17 in engineering and in natural sciences and mathematics.

Also, UCSB came in at number 14 in Washington Monthly’s 2015 National Universities Rankings and number 14 among schools with 10,000 or more undergraduates in Teach for America’s 2015 Teaching Corps. In addition, Princeton Review ranks UCSB number 3 overall — and number 1 among public universities — on its annual list of the Top 50 Green Colleges.

Finally, in PayScale’s 2015-16 College Salary Report, which ranks universities in terms of graduates’ salary potential, UCSB came in first in computer science and number 7 in engineering.

Contact Info:

Andrea Estrada
(805) 893-4620


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5 breast cancer organizations to check out before you buy anything with a pink ribbon on it.


Every two minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
It is the second-most common-cancer worldwide, and there are over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States alone.

Photo by Rana Sajid Hussain/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images.

With numbers like that, it makes sense that when we are shopping for groceries, we would buy the box of cereal with a pink ribbon on it rather than the one without. Part of our purchase goes to finding a cure for breast cancer, right? Or to supporting survivors and their families? Or to educating about breast cancer prevention and recovery?

Not always. For many companies, stamping a package with a pink ribbon just means that they’re “raising awareness” — and that pink ribbon is rarely accompanied by any facts or figures to actually educate the public.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.
While organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Avon Foundation are painting the country pink this Halloween season, some people are pushing them to do better and are raising public awareness of a different problem. On Oct. 7, the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas issued a notice to consumers to “be on alert for ‘pinkwashing’ and breast cancer charity scams.”

Pinkwashing is what happens when your grocery store aisles and football jerseys suddenly turn pink for a month in the name of “supporting breast cancer awareness.”
Technically speaking, yes, people are more “aware” of breast cancer as a result.
Those pink ribbons are pretty conspicuous. They also aren’t trademarked (although the Komen Foundation has trademarked their own version of the pink ribbon), so pretty much any company can put a ribbon on a package and call it a day without actually having to give any money or do anything about breast cancer.

It sometimes feels like awareness organizations care more about the body parts and less about the actual people living with cancer.
Those awareness campaigns rarely include any information other than the obvious: Breast cancer exists, and it’s scary. And while some campaigns are just empty promises of awareness, others are also fairly short-sighted.

With campaigns like “Save the Tatas” and “I Love Boobies” implying that the breasts are more important than the people attached to them, it sometimes feels like awareness organizations care more about the body parts and less about the actual people living with cancer.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
Finding a cure, building survivor support networks, and raising awareness about early detection are all admirable goals.
Donating directly to an organization helps ensure that more of your donation goes toward breast-cancer-related research and support programs. But not all organizations use their funds the same way. A portion of donations always go toward company overhead — and that’s OK. Nonprofits need to pay their staff members and pay the rent on their buildings.

But figuring out where to direct your donations dollars and support to make sure they’re actually being used wisely is sometimes a lot harder than it should be.

Here’s a list of five organizations other than Komen or Avon that you might want to support this Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
1. Breast Cancer Research Foundation
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation believes that to achieve a world without breast cancer, we need to fund research to understand how cancer works, how to prevent it, and how to cure it. Of all money donated, 88% goes directly toward research, and only 3% goes toward awareness programming. They’re still pinking out this October, but you can rest easier knowing that your dollars are funding scientists across the globe. And this month, a donor is matching all gifts to the BCRF — up to $50,000 total.

2. Sisters Network Inc.

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Sisters Network Inc. is dedicated to educating about the impact that breast cancer has on black communities. Black women experience the highest breast cancer mortality rates, and breast cancer is the second-highest cause of death among black women — behind only lung cancer. Sisters Network Inc. provides financial assistance for medical-related lodging, prosthesis, copays, and office visits. They also lead educational initiatives targeted toward young women.

3. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute provides medical services for breast cancer patients, including treatment therapies, reconstructive surgeries, diagnostics, and customized treatment plans. Although their breast-cancer-related services are housed in their Center for Women’s Cancers, they have a program dedicated to supporting and treating men with breast cancer.

4. Breast Cancer Fund

The Breast Cancer Fund is working to connect the dots between breast cancer and environmental factors that cause breast cancer. They educate about chemicals in food, packaging, and cosmetics that may be linked to breast cancer. You won’t find a splash of pink on their website because BCF believes that we are all plenty aware of breast cancer and it’s time to work on taking action.

5. Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Living Beyond Breast Cancer builds connections between people who have been affected by breast cancer. It’s based in Pennsylvania, but they work nationwide. And Healthline listed their blog as one of the best breast cancer blogs of 2014. Their online resources include webinars, help chat lines, writing workshops, and live-stream panels, so anyone can access support services — regardless of where they live.

Breast cancer survivors deserve more than pretty pink ribbons — they deserve real hope, strong support systems, and accessible medical care.
So while we’re painting our towns pink this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s make sure that we’re also supporting organizations that are spreading real knowledge and working directly with those affected.


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