Apr 18, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon


11Seismologists Say Recent Strand Of Earthquakes Along Pacific Coast Not Related

Experts from the United States Geological Survey say the recent strand of earthquakes to hit countries along the North and South American pacific coasts are not related. United States Geological Survey (USGS) seismologist John Vidale spoke to USA Today about the quakes that shook up Chile, Panama, and Southern California in recent weeks.

“The odds are overwhelming that they're not related," Vidale said, adding that the quakes were too far apart to be linked to one another.

The only common thread between the earthquakes is their occurrence on the Ring of Fire, a semi-circle of tectonic plate boundaries spanning from New Zealand to Southern Chile where seismologists says 90% of the world’s earthquakes take place. The USGS says 4,000 earthquakes occur each day around the world.

The USGS does note, however, that there is a good chance the latest 8.2 earthquake in Chile will be followed by a significant aftershock.

“The biggest risk is aftershocks for the 8.2 in the same area where the 8.2 occurred. They’ll become less frequent with time, but the risk still exists for days and weeks,” said seismologist Kate Hutton.

The likelihood of another 8.2 quake happening in coming months is low given that an earthquake of that size tends to happen only once a year. Seismologists are still aware of the possibility that the recent 8.2 quake could have been a foreshock to an even larger approaching earthquake.

"This earthquake is of a size that happens somewhere about once a year," said Robert Muir-Wood, a scientist who works in catastrophe modeling. "The location is no particular surprise — the Chile subduction zone is the world's most active, and northern Chile has not seen really big subduction zone earthquakes for some decades, unlike southern Chile."

A subduction zone is where two tectonic plates come together, with one riding over the other. Chile is home to an extremely active subduction zone, where the Nazci plate slides under the South American continental plate at about three inches per year.

Here is a map of the infamous Ring of Fire:

Pacific Ring of Fire.svg

Sources: USA Today, RT

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11Chilean Teen Arrested For Putting Newborn Baby Up For Sale On Facebook

Police say a teenager in Maipu, Chile, was arrested for selling her newborn baby on Facebook for $113.

Veronica Carrera Chaparro, 18, was arrested along with her mother Angela Chaparro, 42, and sister Daniela Perez, 24, who have been accused of helping her sell the baby, the New York Daily News reports.

Chaparro found out she was two months pregnant in February 2013, police claim.

She revealed the news to her then 17-year-old boyfriend and told him to keep it a secret, but he told her family, anyway.

Police Chief Miguel Ampuero said the mother and sister gave her three options, "sell it, abort it or give it up for adoption."

The child was advertised for sale on Facebook, and the day after the baby was born on Nov. 4, a family from the Santiago neighborhood of Puente Alto expressed their interest and offered to pay formal registration fees of $1,870.

Chaparro, her mother and sister were arrested and charged in connection with the sale.

They appeared before a court Sunday, where prosecutor Ernesto Silva described the case as “very serious” but explains that it falls within a legal loophole. He adds that Chilean law does not make it "a crime to offer the delivery of a newborn over the Internet, even though financial compensation is offered."

The unidentified buyers were also detained and will appear before a court on Monday, Cooperativa reported.

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11Is ‘Dalmatian Man’ About To Be Evicted From His Home?

A man in Chile wanted to do everything he could to help rescue as many dogs as possible. However, with more than 40 dogs living in his backyard and unhappy neighbors, the man faces possible eviction from his residence.

It all began for Nelson Vergara, 55, after he saw the 1996 movie “101 Dalmatians,” according to MSN. The unemployed Vergara, who is known as “Dalmatian Man,” now reportedly has 42 Dalmatians living in his backyard. He feeds the animals mostly through donations.

Vergara’s neighbors aren’t too thrilled and often complain about the smell coming from his backyard.

Municipal officials have threatened to evict him by the end of the month, according to ABC News.

“I wanted to help — not just the Dalmatians but all dogs, because in Chile we need a solution to the canine problem,” Vergara reportedly said. “Every day you see news of abandoned dogs roaming, but no one does anything about it. If we had a shelter, we wouldn't have these kinds of problems.”

Chile does have an issue with stray dogs as millions apparently roam free in the country. Owners of dogs apparently rarely spay or neuter them.

Vergara’s rescues have included some that have been suffering from malnutrition, and he said he only wants to set an example and raise consciousness so others in the country can help in saving the growing number of stray dogs.

Sources: MSN, ABC News

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11Study Finds Being Religious Or Spiritual Can Lead To Depression

After following a group of people for a year, researchers found that there is an inverse relationship between religious belief and depression.

The results of the study, which was conducted in several different counties, showed that participants who identified as either religious or spiritual were nearly three times more likely to experience an episode of depression than the secular group.

These results contradict previous research that indicated formally religious people had good mental health habits and lifestyle. The study, “Spiritual and religious beliefs as risk factors for the onset of major depression: an international cohort study,” was conducted by researchers from University College London. Professor Michael King led the study, The Huffington Post reported.

People featured in the study were from the U.K., Spain, Slovenia, Estonia, the Netherlands, Portugal and Chile. The results of the study were recently published in the psychiatric journal “Psychological Medicine.”

This is the study’s abstract:

“Several studies have reported weak associations between religious or spiritual belief and psychological health. However, most have been cross-sectional surveys in the USA, limiting inference about generalizability. An international longitudinal study of incidence of major depression gave us the opportunity to investigate this relationship further. Method Data were collected in a prospective cohort study of adult general practice attendees across seven countries. Participants were followed at 6 and 12 months. Spiritual and religious beliefs were assessed using a standardized questionnaire, and DSM-IV diagnosis of major depression was made using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Logistic regression was used to estimate incidence rates and odds ratios (ORs), after multiple imputation of missing data.

RESULTS: The analyses included 8318 attendees. Of participants reporting a spiritual understanding of life at baseline, 10.5% had an episode of depression in the following year compared to 10.3% of religious participants and 7.0% of the secular group (p < 0.001). However, the findings varied significantly across countries, with the difference being significant only in the UK, where spiritual participants were nearly three times more likely to experience an episode of depression than the secular group [OR 2.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.59-4.68]. The strength of belief also had an effect, with participants with strong belief having twice the risk of participants with weak belief. There was no evidence of religion acting as a buffer to prevent depression after a serious life event. CONCLUSIONS: These results do not support the notion that religious and spiritual life views enhance psychological well-being.”

Sources: The Huffington Post, Research Gate

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Sebastian Pinera

11Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera Creates Stir With Praise For 11-Year-Old Rape Victim Who Won’t Have Abortion

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera set off a social media firestorm after saying an 11-year-old girl shows her “depth and maturity” after she said she will go through with the birth of a baby that was conceived when she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend.

The girl cannot get an abortion in Chile, even though doctors have warned that the pregnancy poses a threat to her health. Abortions, even for medical reasons and in the case of rape, have been illegal since 1973 in one of Latin America's most socially conservative nations.

"I've asked the health minister to personally look after the [girl's] health," Pinera said on Tuesday. "She's 14 weeks pregnant, and yesterday she surprised us all with words showing depth and maturity, when she said that, despite the pain caused by the man who raped her, she wanted to have and take care of her baby."

The girl's mother's boyfriend confessed to sexually abusing the girl during the last two years and he is now in police custody.

Experts note that the girl's life is at risk and do not feel that she is prepared to make a decision about her pregnancy.

"At that age the girl doesn't have a capacity of discernment, not even at age 14 would she have the mental and emotional capacity to discern this," said Giorgio Agostini, a forensic psychologist who has worked on dozens on child sex abuse cases. "It's very likely that she is saying that she wants to have the baby like a living doll. We've seen this in other investigations. So what the president is saying doesn't get close to the psychological truth of an 11-year-old girl. It's a subjective view that is not based on any scientific reasoning to support it."

Former President Michelle Bachelet, who is the frontrunner in the upcoming presidential elections, favors legalizing abortion is cases of rape or risks to the health of the pregnant woman or the child.

"She's a girl who needs to be protected and therefore I think a therapeutic abortion, in this case because of rape, would be in order," Bachelet told local Radio ADN.

Only Cuba, Uruguay and some local governments make early abortions accessible to all women in Latin America. Many countries in the region outlaw abortion in all circumstances.

Sources: CBC News, The Huffington Post


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1111-Year-Old Chilean Girl Raped by Mother’s Boyfriend Denied Life-Saving Abortion

An 11-year-old Chilean girl who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend cannot get an abortion, despite the fact that doctors warned the pregnancy poses a threat to her health. Abortion under any circumstances has been illegal in the highly conservative country since 1973.

Her mother’s boyfriend confessed to sexually abusing the girl, who is 14 weeks pregnant, during the last two years. He is now in police custody.

Now that the girl’s case has been made public, those who oppose the ban are standing behind her and asking that the ban make exceptions in the case of women who are raped or when the mother’s health is at risk. A petition was even started online to make exceptions to the ban.

"The Chilean elite is very conservative and this has had an influence in Congress," said Chilean political scientist Patricio Navia. "Laws, therefore, change at a much slower pace than the rest of Chilean society. Because society is much less conservative than it was 15 or 20 years ago."

Chile is one of six countries in the world, including Vatican City, which has a total ban on abortion. The ban was instated by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, and in the last year the current conservative administration has shot down three bills that would modify the ban. 

“It’s the first online petition I’ve signed in my life, but I think this case really deserves it,"  Chilean web designer Eduardo Hernandez, 30, told the Associated Press. "I hope this case serves as precedent to have a serious discussion about abortion. When I heard about this little girl, my first reaction was to support abortion because I think it’s the best option in this case.”

Front-running in the country’s upcoming election, former president Michele Bachelet said on Twitter that she plans to work to decriminalize abortion for rape victims if elected.

Last year, a 31-year-old woman died in Ireland after being denied an abortion in a Catholic hospital, although numerous doctors confirmed that an abortion would have saved her life. Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant before her death, was allegedly told by a senior midwife at an Irish hospital that they could not terminate her dying baby because “it's a Catholic thing.”

Sources: ThinkProgress, Newser

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11Tiny 'Alien' Skeleton From Chile Still A Medical Mystery

A tiny skeleton with an alien-like cone head and unusual amount of ribs discovered ten years ago has inspired speculation again following the release of Sirius, a UFO conspiracy documentary film.

The film follows Dr. Stephen Greer, an osteopath and ufologist, to Chile where he performed an exam on the six-inch mummified body, collecting DNA samples.

Greer’s analysis concluded that the body was human, not alien, and despite the size had lived to be six or seven years old. The high amount of calcium in its bones indicated that the skeleton had not been a fetus.

The skeleton was later transferred to Stanford, where professor of microbiology and immunology Garry Nolan probed the bones. His findings were also featured in Sirius

"I've only scratched the surface in the analysis.” He said, “But there is nothing that jumps out so far as to scream 'nonhuman.'"

While nine percent of the genes could not be referenced to human genomes, the mismatch could be attributed to various factors like degradation, artifacts from lab preparation of the specimen or insufficient data.

Nolan and his team analyzed the skeleton with high-resolution photography, x-rays, and computed tomography scans. The goal was to discover some mutation that could lead to an irregular amount of ribs (10 instead of 12) and high-head syndrome. Nolan wrote that his research did not point to dwarfism as a cause for the disfigurements at this stage of the analysis.

"It's an interesting medical mystery of an unfortunate human with a series of birth defects that currently the genetics of which are not obvious," Nolan wrote.

Sources: Beta News, The Inquisiter 

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11Chilean Cult Burns Baby For Being 'Antichrist'

Four Chileans were arrested on Thursday after participating in a bonfire ritual that burned a baby alive. The sect leader believed the baby was the antichrist and that an apocalypse was near.

The group formed in 2005 under Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete’s leadership.

The 3-day-old baby, naked and strapped with tape, was taken to a hill in the town of Colliguay on Nov. 21 last year and thrown into a bonfire after spirits were called upon. The baby’s mother, Natalia Guerra, approved.

The sect leader, Gaete, 36, reportedly used a hallucinogenic brew plant to control the crowd. He remains uncaptured.

“Everyone in this sect was a professional.” Miguel Ampuero, of the Police Investigative Unit, said. “We have someone who was a veterinarian and who worked as a flight attendant, we have a filmmaker, a draftsman. Everyone has a university degree.”

Gaete was last seen in Peru.

Sources: National Post, ABC News

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