I have to say this. Yes, pharmaceuticals are evil and stuff, but when I was working in the social work sphere I did come across a few young people, (and yes the majority of damaged people are adults) I would have not only have prescribed antidepressants, I would have prescribed cyanide. Some humans can’t be helped. That’s where compassion comes in. After everything fails compassion is there.
June 22, 2017
According to the organization Young Minds, that may very well be the case. The rates of anxiety and depression among teenagers have grown a staggering 70 percent in the last 25 years. Further statistics from the charity paint more disturbing picture: three in four children with a diagnosable mental health condition are unable to access the support they need.
This support, of course, being psychological therapy, which should be given to them in the first place instead of antidepressants like setraline and fluoxetine, more commonly known as Zoloft and Prozac. As per the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), children under 18 should be prescribed antidepressants only if they suffer from moderate or severe depression. And even then, these should be given alongside psychological treatment. Among children between the ages of five and 11, they should be given antidepressants only when therapy has failed them.
“The rise in the number of children and young people being prescribed antidepressants is worrying,” Marc Bush, senior policy adviser at Young Minds, told the DailyMail.co.uk. “Long waiting times and high thresholds for treatment mean that [general practitioners] may feel under pressure to prescribe antidepressants to children. There can be a place for medication in treating young people’s mental health problems, but it shouldn’t be used as a sticking plaster for poor access to talking therapies.” (Related: Antidepressant drugs may cause aggressive, violent behavior in youth)
Indeed, the sheer volume of antidepressant prescriptions may speak loudly about the state of healthcare more than anything else.
“There is no doubt a significant link between the growing use of antidepressants and the immense pressure children’s mental health services are under,” said Norman Lamb, health spokesman for the Liberal Democrat party. “Children’s mental health services are in desperate need of more resources. The Conservative government has failed to invest properly and has failed to make good on the funding promises we made in the coalition. Money isn’t getting through to the frontline, and now we are seeing the consequences of this neglect.”
Yet as disconcerting as these figures are, the UK isn’t the first country to have them. In 2009, five deaths have already been linked to antidepressants in Australian children aged 10 to 19; moreover, 89 recorded adverse reactions in children under nine were associated with antidepressants. Dr. Joe Tucci, Chief Executive of the Australian Childhood Foundation, said: “I cannot think of a good reason why any six-year-old, or younger, should be treated with antidepressants. I think it’s gone up because medication is being used to treat the symptoms and not the cause.”
Whatever the case, antidepressants should only be prescribed when all other options have been thoroughly exhausted. They are temporary fixes for children, not solutions.
For other stories about mental health, visit Psychiatry.news.
Yo Donald, it takes a smart man to know what a smart man is.
June 22, 2017
Donald Trump has said he doesn’t want “a poor person” running the US economy and has defended his decision to appoint wealthy individuals to his cabinet.
Speaking to his supporters in Iowa on Wednesday, Trump said: “Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? … I said because that’s the kind of thinking we want.”
“I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?”
Trump, a billionaire businessman from New York, lauded the appointments of former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn as chief economic adviser, and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary, as “smart” decisions.
He explained that Cohn and Ross “had to give up a lot to take these jobs” and “went from massive pay days to peanuts.”
Cohn served as President and COO of Goldman Sachs during the 2008 financial crisis when financial risks by the investment bank lost $1.2bn of its clients’ money.
“Of course, we regret that we did not do many things better,” he told Congress in 2010.
In 2010, Goldman agreed to pay $550m to settle civil fraud charges by the SEC of misleading buyers of mortgage-related securities.
Cohn is just one of a number of former Goldman executives who have joined the Trump administration. White House adviser Steve Bannon and Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin both worked for the financial institution.
Meanwhile, Wilbur Ross, a former investment banker at Rothschild & Co., helped Trump avoid bankruptcy in the early 1990s and saved his Taj Mahal casino hotel from collapse.
Ross helped bondholders negotiate with Trump, where the final deal reduced Trump’s ownership stake in the Taj but left him in charge. According to author Hilary Rosenberg, the bondholders were unhappy when Ross presented the plan.
Trump’s supporters have openly welcomed the fact that he is a businessman and not a politician beholden to special interest groups. But the wealth of Trump’s cabinet picks has led to accusations that some may still have business holdings that leave the door open for potential conflicts of interest.
We have too many people living in the streets; we have Native reservations with no clean water, and we are spending these amounts of money? For what? Appeasing our Southern bloody doofus neighbors? Bring them troops back Justin and don’t do this again. Ever. We are not a military country.
June 19, 2017
If you’re going to get into a mess with no idea when you’ll ever get out, there are worse places to do it. On Monday more than 400 Canadian soldiers stood in the midday sun on the parade square at Camp Adazi, a Latvian army base tucked into a pine forest northeast of Riga, the tiny Baltic nation’s capital. To the right of the Canadians stood about as many Latvian troops. On either side were smaller groups of Spanish, Italian, Polish, Slovenian and Albanian soldiers.
This is the Canadian-led battlegroup, 1,138 troops in full from the six visitor nations, plus their Latvian hosts, and Monday was the newcomers’ first official day on the job. On hand for a welcoming ceremony were Latvia’s president Raimonds Vējonis, NATO’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, Canada’s defence minister Harjit Sajjan, and the top soldier in every participating country’s armed forces, including Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance.
Their mission is to scare off the Russians. Probably it will work. Everybody’s pretty sure it will work. If it didn’t work, things would get very nasty here.
But this was a day for looking on the bright side. “Many of you have travelled over 7,000 km, all the way from Alberta, Canada, to serve here in the Eastern part of the alliance,” Stoltenberg told the troops. And indeed it’s so, because the first Canadians to serve a six-month rotation here are from the 1st Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, stationed in Edmonton. “You embody the unique spirit and solidarity of NATO,” Stoltenberg told them.
There was much talk of solidarity. “Our alliance stands as one,” Stoltenberg said. “An attack on one ally will be regarded as an attack on all.”
That’s what NATO was designed for, back in the middle of the 20th century, during a cold war everyone here insists they don’t want to see returning. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty says that an attack on any member state will meet a response from them all. NATO didn’t have Georgia’s back when Vladimir Putin invaded that country in 2008, nor did it really have Ukraine’s when Russia annexed Crimea and made trouble in other regions of Eastern Ukraine in 2014. They weren’t NATO member states. Latvia, Lithuanian and Estonia are, which is why there is a NATO battlegroup in each of those Baltic countries and in Poland, starting today: To make it crystal-clear that invading a NATO member state would not be fun.now begun to patrol.
According to a new study, older people who engage in sexual activity on a frequent basis scored higher on tests that reflect cognitive abilities.
More frequent sexual activity has been linked to improved brain function in older adults, according to a study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford.
Researchers found that people who engaged in more regular sexual activity scored higher on tests that measured their verbal fluency and their ability to visually perceive objects and the spaces between them.
The study, published today in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences, involved 73 people aged between 50 and 83.
Participants filled in a questionnaire on how often, on average, they had engaged in sexual activity over the past 12 months – whether that was never, monthly or weekly – as well as answering questions about their general health and lifestyle.
The 28 men and 45 women also took part in a standardised test, which is typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults, focussing on attention, memory, fluency, language and visuospatial ability.
This included verbal fluency tests in which participants had 60 seconds to name as many animals as possible, and then to say as many words beginning with F as they could – tests which reflect higher cognitive abilities.
They also took part in tests to determine their visuospatial ability which included copying a complex design and drawing a clock face from memory.
It was these two sets of tests where participants who engaged in weekly sexual activity scored the most highly, with the verbal fluency tests showing the strongest effect.
The results suggested that frequency of sexual activity was not linked to attention, memory or language. In these tests, the participants performed just as well regardless of whether they reported weekly, monthly or no sexual activity.
This study expanded on previous research from 2016, which found that older adults who were sexually active scored higher on cognitive tests than those who were not sexually active.
But this time the research looked more specifically at the impact of the frequency of sexual activity (i.e. does it make a difference how often you engage in sexual activity) and also used a broader range of tests to investigate different areas of cognitive function.
The academics say further research could look at how biological elements, such as dopamine and oxytocin, could influence the relationship between sexual activity and brain function to give a fuller explanation of their findings.
Lead researcher Dr Hayley Wright, from Coventry University’s Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, said:
“We can only speculate whether this is driven by social or physical elements – but an area we would like to research further is the biological mechanisms that may influence this.
“Every time we do another piece of research we are getting a little bit closer to understanding why this association exists at all, what the underlying mechanisms are, and whether there is a ‘cause and effect’ relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function in older people.
“People don’t like to think that older people have sex – but we need to challenge this conception at a societal level and look at what impact sexual activity can have on those aged 50 and over, beyond the known effects on sexual health and general wellbeing.”
Source: Coventry University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Frequent sexual activity predicts specific cognitive abilities in older adults” by Hayley Wright, Rebecca A. Jenks, and Nele Demeyere in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B. Published online June 21 2017 doi:10.1093/geronb/gbx065
Welcome to New World Next Week — the video series from Corbett Report and Media Monarchy that covers some of the most important developments in open source intelligence news. In this week’s episode:
Story #1: Saudi King Names Son New Crown Prince, Upending Royal Succession Line
NWNW Flashback: Saudi Arabia Plans $2 Trillion Megafund For Post-Oil Era (Apr. 7, 2016)
The long-term cost of Saudi succession shake-up
PROFILE: New Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef
Full text of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030
Story #2: World On Precipice As Russia Threatens To Shoot Down U.S. Jets, U.S. Refuses To Back Down
Russia is going to target any ‘flying objects’ over Syria where its air force is active
Can the U.S. Establish a ‘Deconfliction’ With Russia in Syria?
Story #3: CRISPR Gene Editing Can Cause Hundreds Of Unintended Mutations
CRISPR-induced mutations – what do they mean for food safety?
DNA Replication Has Been Filmed For The First Time, And It’s Not What We Expected
Scripps Scientists Publish How They Made Bird Flu More Transmissible
Jennifer Lopez Set To Produce NBC Bio-Terror Drama ‘C.R.I.S.P.R.’
With permission from
June 22, 2017
Coping with modern life can sometimes feel like a remorseless treadmill. Many of us end up exhausted, with a vague feeling that all this pressure can’t be doing us any good. But we do it anyway, driven by the notion that stress is for wimps. And there’s always a glass of wine and a takeaway to look forward to at the end of the week. Big mistake. Far from being for wimps, physical and psychological stress are major triggers of a modern scourge that has been linked with every malady from heart disease, depression and chronic pain to neurodegenerative diseases.
That scourge is inflammation. Until recently, we have known little about how what starts as a protective immune process in the body goes awry, and there have been frustratingly few evidence-based suggestions on what we should do about it. But now we are starting to learn more about how the process works, how it connects body and mind, and what we might do to keep it in check. This new understanding is leading to treatments that may finally let us douse this constant fire — not by stopping it from happening, but by turning it off when it is no longer useful.
Such treatments could benefit the millions of people around the world who have chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and celiac disease. They could also assist those of us who want to have our cake, eat it and not end up inflamed. Finding a way to manage inflammation could help prevent modern life from damaging our long-term physical health.
“There’s no question, inflammation is everything,” says Charles Serhan, an immunologist at Harvard Medical School. “In the post-genomic era, understanding inflammation is the next frontier.”
Inflammation is the body’s first line of defense. Without it, we would be at the mercy of every pathogen going. When the body’s protective barrier has been breached by injury or infection, the classic inflammatory response brings redness, heat, swelling and pain. First, damaged cells secrete chemicals known as cytokines, which increase blood flow to the affected area and alert the rest of the immune system to prepare for a fight. Heat comes as a side effect of increased blood flow, redness as blood vessels dilate, bringing blood closer to the surface of the skin, and swelling happens as blood vessels become more permeable, allowing fluid and white blood cells to leak out and flood the tissue. These cells then attack and gobble up any invading pathogens, and later clear up the debris.
This basic response comes in different flavours, depending on what challenge the body is facing. If you sprain your ankle, for example, the joint swells and becomes hot, painful and difficult to move. If you have a cold, it is the blood vessels in the airways that swell, blocking the nose while inflammatory histamines stimulate mucus production, which in turn sets off coughs and sneezes. If you have flu, you get all of this, plus inflammation spreads throughout the body, causing joints and muscles to ache.
Throughout our evolutionary history, acute inflammation has mostly worked just fine, flaring up, tackling the problem and dying away again when the danger has passed. But now modern life is stacked against this delicate balance. Obesity, stress, pollution, bad diet and ageing can all tip us into a low-level state of inflammation that, rather than being confined to a specific tissue, keeps the entire body in a perpetual state of readiness for a threat that never comes.
This persistent background inflammation might not always make us feel ill, but it can store up problems for the future, from heart disease to type 2 diabetes and neurodegenerative disease. In 2008, immunobiologist Ruslan Medzhitov of Yale University dubbed this “para-inflammation” and argued that it is an unfortunate consequence of our longer, calorie-rich lives.
Stress is a particular problem. The hormone noradrenaline, which is released in anticipation of an impending life-or-death situation, sets off the same chain of events as an infection or injury. Yet although stresses passed quickly in our evolutionary past, these days many of us are walking around with a ticking time bomb of stress-induced inflammation that never quite goes away. “Chronic, low-grade inflammation is being discussed in our field as one of the main pathways linking stressful life conditions with disease,” says Nicolas Rohleder of Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Over the past few years, for example, Rohleder has found that the long-term strains of caring for a seriously ill family member, and a series of short-term stresses, both increase levels of inflammatory markers in otherwise healthy people.
Obesity is another inflammation-inducing modern disease. A small amount of body fat is healthy, and in fact necessary for regulating not just the immune system, but also appetite, mood and metabolism. Once the scales tip past 25 to 30 per cent body fat, however, the balance shifts. Body fat stores large quantities of inflammatory cytokines, and if there is too much fat on board, particularly around the organs, they can seep out, leading to ongoing, low-level inflammation. “Fat in large amounts is an inflammatory tissue,” says Derek Gilroy, an immunologist at University College London. “So you can envisage that lifestyle — eating the wrong food — throws these checks and balances out of kilter.”
Modern, high-sugar diets can also lead to gum disease. This can push the body into an inflammatory state that has been linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis: fatty deposits in the arteries that are one of the main risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.
The longer these inflammatory markers hang around, the more likely they are to cause problems. These can be relatively minor, prolonging colds by keeping up the response when it is no longer needed, for instance. Or they can be life-threatening. A recent study of nearly 300 people found that inflammation is directly linked to the early stages of heart disease. Over the course of three years, people with higher levels of reported stress and stress-related brain activity, not only had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, but also had a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. It seems that when there are higher levels of white blood cells in circulation, they get attracted to any fatty plaques accumulating in the arteries, making these more likely to build up and eventually rupture. This can lead the vessel wall to bleed and form a clot, which could go on to cause a heart attack or stroke.
Chronic inflammation might also increase the risk of depression. Many of the psychological symptoms that come with such inflammation — tiredness, malaise and a loss of appetite — look a lot like depression. Some people are beginning to wonder if a rumbling level of inflammation is behind at least some cases of depression and other mental health problems. This might be the reason why antidepressant drugs, which don’t reduce inflammation, are often ineffective.
The key then seems to be to keep the life-saving properties of the acute inflammatory response without allowing it to become chronic. But how?
One clue came in 2000 when Serhan and his team revealed that inflammation has an off switch. Until then, the reaction was thought to peter out as the immune cells that secrete cytokines gradually reduced in number and their effects became diluted. In fact, Serhan found that neutrophils and macrophages, the types of white blood cell that kick off the process, actively change tack once it has got going, releasing a second set of chemicals — called resolvins — that help mop up any remaining cytokines and sweep away any debris.
Broken switchThis made Serhan and others wonder whether chronic inflammation might be caused not by the on signals being turned up too high, but by a problem with the off switch. In the years since, he has been studying resolvins and related chemicals to see if there is a way to harness or mimic their actions.
One fly in the ointment is that there is so far no way to tell the difference between the various stages of acute inflammation — from a cut or cold, perhaps — and more troublesome chronic, low-level inflammation. That’s partly because immune cells and cytokines circulate around the body all the time, so any snapshot of the blood or tissues might make them seem inflamed when actually they are healthy.
Serhan thinks that looking at levels of circulating resolvins might be a better option. He has found that people with type 2 diabetes tend to have higher levels of cytokines in circulation, but lower levels of resolvins. This is relevant because the same white blood cells that kick-start the inflammation response should also step in to secrete resolvins to end it. So if someone has lots of cytokines but few resolvins, it is a sign of chronic inflammation — and a problem with the off switch. “I think that this can start to be diagnostic,” Serhan says.
He has also been working with periodontal researcher Thomas Van Dyke of the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on a mouthwash containing resolvins. In rabbits, the mouthwash not only cleared up their inflamed gums, it also reduced inflammatory markers for cardiovascular disease. Human trials are now under way.
As well as finding ways to diagnose and treat low-level inflammation in healthy looking people, researchers are searching for drugs to stimulate the body to resolve inflammation in those with chronic conditions like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. The current generation of anti-inflammatory drugs, including steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and naproxen, inhibit the onset of inflammation, but do nothing to bring it to an end. Taking these drugs can reduce painful swelling in the joints, but by turning down the immune response, they leave people more vulnerable to recurring infections and less able to fight off a virus or recover from an injury.
“Chronic inflammation may be a main pathway linking stressful life with disease”
Increasing resolvin levels would help to solve the problem, rather than just mask its effects. Resolvins actively assist in ridding the body of bacteria and viruses, says Serhan, “so there is little to no chance for immune suppression or becoming vulnerable to recurring infections like there is with a lot of the current drugs”. It’s a win-win situation.
Although trials of new treatments are under way, the only drug currently available that has some resolvin-like effects is aspirin. It does block pro-inflammatory mediators, but Serhan’s group has found that low-dose aspirin has another unique ability: to trigger the production of more stable versions of natural resolvins. With currently available drugs, there is only one thing you can do to jump-start resolution of inflammation. “Take low-dose aspirin,” Serhan says.
That may soon change, however. Gilroy and his team are trialling a new drug called anabasum that mimics natural painkillers called cannabinoids in the body. So far, it is proving to work as well as a steroid at preventing inflammation but with fewer side effects. It also actively clears bacteria from wounds. “No matter how effective your drug is, if you don’t clear the antigen then inflammation won’t resolve,” says Gilroy. “It’s showing, at least in a healthy group of individuals, a pro-resolving effect that we simply don’t see and have never seen in any other drug.” The experiments he has done so far have been with skin inflammation, but the drug has since been tested in cystic fibrosis with promising effects.
Pain-relieving drugs could also benefit from a new understanding of how inflammation comes to an end. Resolvins have been found to regulate pain, and their receptors have been identified in the dorsal root ganglion, a kind of junction between the sensory nerves and the spinal cord. “If they can be harnessed therapeutically they could, in the future, replace opioids as a pain-control mechanism and one that would not lead to addiction,” says Serhan.
Gilroy, however, warns against getting too carried away with the resolvin story. The reason that inflammation seems to be the root of all health problems, he points out, is because it is not one thing, but many.
“The inflammation that we have in diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, autoimmune diseases like osteoarthritis, all of these are very different inflammatory processes,” he says. “It is hard for me to understand, given that there are many ways that a disease occurs, that they can resolve by the same mechanism.”
A Moving TargetThis was demonstrated in recent experiments where Gilroy’s team injected bacteria under the skin of people with osteoarthritis — a painful condition characterised by chronic inflammation often due to autoimmune disease. Their osteoarthritis-related inflammation remained, but they had no problems in shutting down the skin-based inflammation that followed the injection. The two types of inflammation, and their resolution pathways, seemed to be completely different. This is also true for the same disease in different people, as well as for different tissues in the same person, says Gilroy. Then there are gender differences in susceptibility: for some unexplained reason, women are far more likely than men to get autoimmune diseases. “Inflammation is not inflammation,” says Gilroy. “The requirements to resolve that process will be, I think, disease, organ and circumstance specific.”
Pinning down the solutions — and even figuring out which to use in which instance — won’t be simple. “It’s like you walk into a bar and there is a great big bar-room brawl, but you don’t know who is involved, and you don’t know who started it and how it’s going to end up,” says Gilroy. “Teasing and separating these separate factions will make it much easier to understand the processes going on.”
While we wait for these insights, there are simple things we can do at home to keep inflammation at bay. All of the resolvins so far identified are made in the body from omega-3 essential fatty acids. These aren’t produced in the body to any great extent, so can only come from the diet, the richest source being oily fish. Making sure we get the recommended three weekly portions of oily fish, or equivalent, might help ensure that our bodies have enough raw material to wind down inflammation, says Serhan. The link between omega-3s and the resolution of inflammation might explain why a diet rich in these is associated with a lowered risk of heart disease.
Studies also link diets containing more fat and sugar to inflammation. This, combined with research suggesting that pigments found in fresh fruit and vegetables help to regulate inflammation, indicate that the standard advice about eating well applies here too: consume fewer processed foods and plenty of whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
Certain kinds of exercise seem to help, too. In recent experiments in rats with inflammation of the back, stretching the affected muscles twice a day stimulated the release of resolvins within the muscle, which enabled the rats full to regain movement and heal more quickly than control rats. The team that did this work, led by Lisbeth Berrueta of Harvard Medical School, is investigating whether this “yoga experiment” works in human volunteers.
Exercise in general certainly seems to tackle inflammation. Admittedly, it causes a spike of the cytokine IL-6 in the muscles and blood, which is often taken as a sign that inflammation is on its way. Yet according to Mark Febbraio of the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia, who discovered the effect in 2008, in this case, IL-6 works as an anti-inflammatory molecule, peaking only briefly before signalling to the liver to metabolise fat and remove excess IL-6 from the blood. So, Febbraio says, unless it leads to injury, there is no amount of physical activity that will push you into an inflammatory state. “Exercise is completely anti-inflammatory. Even in heavily trained athletes, most of the time IL-6 is [very low],” he says.
But you don’t need to be training for triathlons for exercise to help tamp down inflammation. Researchers have found that even a 20-minute stroll can be enough to make a difference.
Beyond advice to eat well and exercise, these days it seems everyone from celebrity chefs to pop stars has a quick-fix tip for how best to fight inflammation. So is there a sliver of substance to endorsements of basil-leaf infused bubble baths or turmeric lattes? The jury is out. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties in cells in a Petri dish, but clinical trials in humans have so far been underwhelming. This might be because most of it passes through the body without being absorbed. Likewise, quite how the basil in your bath is supposed to infuse into your body is anyone’s guess. On the other hand, if it helps you unwind — and as long as following the latest fads doesn’t become a source of stress on its own — go for it. In the fight against chronic inflammation, every firefighter helps.
More proof that the war on drugs is a farce of epic proportions.
The head of the FSKN, Viktor Ivanov, explained the staggering trend at a March U.N. conference on drugs in Afghanistan. Opium growth in Afghanistan increased 18 percent from 131, 000 hectares to 154, 000, according to Ivanov’s estimates.
“Afghan heroin has killed more than one million people worldwide since the ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ began and over a trillion dollars has been invested into transnational organized crime from drug sales,” said Ivanov according to Counter Current News.
Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, opium production was banned by the Taliban, although it still managed to exist. The U.S. and its allies have been accused of encouraging and aiding in the opium production and the ongoing drug trafficking within the region. Ivanov claimed that only around 1 percent of the total opium yield in Afghanistan was destroyed and that the “international community has failed to curb heroin production in Afghanistan since the start of NATO’s operation.”
Afghanistan is thought to produce more than 90 percent of the world’s supply of opium, which is then used to make heroin and other dangerous drugs that are shipped in large quantities all over the world. Opium production provides many Afghan communities with an income, in an otherwise impoverished and war-torn country. The opium trade contributed around $US2.3 billion or around 19 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP in 2009 according to the U.N.
Around 43 percent of drugs produced in Afghanistan are moved through Pakistan, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The Islamic State Group is reported to have recently taken over opium production and trafficking. In November, the extremist group was estimated to be earning over $US 1 billion from the opium trade. Profits also go to international drug cartels and money-laundering banks.
The election of Donald Trump has polarised the American society on many levels, including in its attitudes to intellect and science. Trump’s supporters see him as a shrewd and smart deal breaker, the salt of the earth, while his critics describe him as the ultimate ignoramus worthy of nothing but contempt. Is there any middle ground between the two? To discuss this, Oksana is joined by Lawrence Krauss, Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist.
Trump’s victory lap back in January after Ford cancelled plans for a brand new $1.6 billion production facility in Mexico may have been premature. As it turns out, per a press release from earlier this morning, one of the first strategic actions taken by Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, will be to relocate the company’s ‘Focus’ production to China rather than Mexico.
Back in January, Trump took a very public victory lap when Ford decided to scrap plans to build a $1.6 billion manufacturing facility in Mexico and invest in its Michigan facilities instead (we discussed it here: Trump Takes Victory Lap After Ford Cancels $1.6 Billion Mexican Expansion Plan As “Vote Of Confidence” In President-Elect).
As Ford announced at the time, the decision was sold to the public and the United Auto Workers as an opportunity to permanently shift production capacity, that would have otherwise been built in Mexico, back to Wayne, Michigan.
To support the new era of vehicles, Ford is adding 700 direct new U.S. jobs and investing $700 million during the next four years, creating the new Manufacturing Innovation Center at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant.
Ford today announced it is cancelling plans for the new plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It also announced that, to improve company profitability and ensure the financial as well as commercial success of this vehicle, the next-generation Focus will be built at an existing plant in Hermosillo, Mexico. This will make way for two new iconic products at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, where Focus is manufactured today – safeguarding approximately 3,500 U.S. jobs.
This incremental investment in Flat Rock Assembly Plant comes from $1.6 billion the company previously had planned to invest in a new plant in Mexico.
“I am thrilled that we have been able to secure additional UAW-Ford jobs for American workers,” said Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president, National Ford Department. “The men and women of Flat Rock Assembly have shown a great commitment to manufacturing quality products, and we look forward to their continued success with a new generation of high-tech vehicles.”
But, as Ford points out today, Trump’s victory lap may have been premature as one of the first strategic actions taken by the company’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, will be to relocate the company’s ‘Focus’ production to China rather than Mexico.
Exciting new Ford Focus on the way for North American customers beginning in 2019 with more technology, more space and a number of new Focus models. Next-generation Focus for North America will be globally sourced primarily from China – rather than Hermosillo, Mexico – with production starting in the second half of 2019. Current model production ends in mid-2018
This manufacturing plan allows the company to further grow its leadership as an exporter and deliver world-class Focus to North American customers in a way that makes business sense – with no U.S. employees out of a job
Ford is saving $1 billion in investment costs versus its original Focus production plan, improving the financial health of its Focus business and further improving manufacturing scale in China – all helping create a more operationally fit company
And while Ford has suggested that the move will not cost a single UAW worker his/her job here in the United States, we have our doubts as manufacturing capacity, much like cash, is somewhat fungible…so unless Ford plans to massively grow market share and/or permanently increase overall demand, shifting production to China must mean that production will decline somewhere else…we suspect that ‘somewhere else’ will be somewhere in the U.S.
Stone’s documentary “The Putin Interviews,” which the director has been making for two years, is based on the conversations between the famous filmmaker and the Russian president and covered a number of issues, including Russia-US ties, crises in Syria and Ukraine and the case of US National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, among other issues.
During the press conference, Stone reiterated that there is a tendency in the United States to demonize Russia and Putin in particular.
He also said that Russians are largely misunderstood by Western people, something he wanted to change with his movie.
“…The U.S. is not a democracy, but rather, an oligarchy that serves the interests of the rich and powerful while ignoring the majority of its people.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently admitted that America’s official foreign policy includes a regime-change operation in Iran. The CIA has created an office for this sole purpose, tasking Michael D’Andrea — also known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike — with leading this operation.
Though Iran is hardly democratic by Western standards given the stringent requirements for becoming a political candidate in the first place, it is still vastly more democratic than most of America’s closest allies in the region. According to a U.S. State Department document:
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the Al Saud family…The following significant human rights problems were reported: no right to change the government peacefully; torture and physical abuse; poor prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention; denial of fair and public trials and lack of due process in the judicial system; political prisoners; restrictions on civil liberties such as freedoms of speech (including the Internet), assembly, association, movement, and severe restrictions on religious freedom; and corruption and lack of government transparency. Violence against women and a lack of equal rights for women, violations of the rights of children, trafficking in persons, and discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, sect, and ethnicity were common. The lack of workers’ rights, including the employment sponsorship system, remained a severe problem.” [emphasis added]
Despite this grim reality, Saudi Arabia remains a close U.S. ally while Iran is being targeted for regime change even though the Iranian people just elected a popular reformist government on their own — without American interference.
In 1953, the Iranian people democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh immediately posed a threat to the U.S. and British economic interests in the region, and the CIA worked with the British to topple him and replace him with a brutal dictator, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. According to the Guardian:
“Britain, and in particular Sir Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, regarded Mosaddeq as a serious threat to its strategic and economic interests after the Iranian leader nationalised the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, latterly known as BP. But the UK needed US support. The Eisenhower administration in Washington was easily persuaded.” [emphasis added]
The idea that America’s interests and priorities have changed over half a century later is clearly untenable considering the current American president has openly suggested that America should seize Iraq’s oil as “reimbursement.”
In 2011, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — together with Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy — told us the world needed to bomb Libya to save the country from a massacre. Never mind that under Gaddafi, the people of Libya had state-sponsored healthcare, education, subsidized housing and transport and enjoyed the highest standard of living in the entire region. Never mind that Sarkozy was being investigated for accepting 50 million euros from Gaddafi himself for his 2007 presidential campaign.
Never mind that Libya actually had a fully functioning democratic system that allowed for decision-making at the local level. As Counterpunch has explained:
“Far from control being in the hands of one man, Libya was highly decentralized and divided into several small communities that were essentially ‘mini-autonomous States’ within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya’s democracy were Local Committees, Basic People’s Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.”
This system was no secret to the mainstream media, as further explained by Counterpunch:
“In 2009, Mr. Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation’s direct democracy. The New York Times, [which] has traditionally been highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi’s democratic experiment, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that ‘everyone is involved in every decision…Tens of thousands of people take part in local committee meetings to discuss issues and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools.’”
Was Gaddafi a brutal leader who tortured and oppressed his own people? Most probably.
Is the Iranian government a brutal theocratic regime that also oppresses its own people? Almost certainly.
However, America’s concerns with these countries are not rooted in goals of promoting “freedom” or “democracy.” These countries already had democratic institutions that worked more or less effectively.
Iran already had democracy before the U.S. overthrew it in favor of a monarch in 1953. Now, the U.S is attempting the same strategy with full knowledge that ISIS-inspired Sunni movements are the types of elements currently exerting pressure on the Iranian government.
There is a reason why “spreading democracy” is no longer an official explanation for America’s military adventures in the Middle East: that claim is a complete (and unbelievable) lie.
It’s time to call this strategy out for what it is – an unnecessary, baseless, undemocratic, rights-abusing neoconservative agenda that will see the region explode as countless more lives are lost in the near future.
Iran poses no tangible threat to the United States — and neither did Libya in 2011. Overthrowing the Iranian government will not lead to stability or security and has no legal basis in the first place, something the mainstream media and the international community rarely discuss.
All of this poses the question: why is the U.S. targeting functioning democracies for regime change and siding with dictatorships across the globe?
Do democracies pose a threat to the United States? The United States seems to think so.
In this context, it may not be a surprise to learn that a study from Princeton and Northwestern University contended that the U.S. is not a democracy, but rather, an oligarchy that serves the interests of the rich and powerful while ignoring the majority of its people.
The US fighter jet downed an armed drone belonging to pro-Syrian government forces in southern Syria, near a base in the al-Tanf region, on June, 20 as the drone was advancing on US-backed forces, according to a coalition statement.
This is happening at a time of escalating tension between Moscow and Washington. Also on Tuesday, Australia said it is temporarily suspending air operations in Syria.
RT discussed the latest developments in Syria with former US Congressman Ron Paul.
RT: Australia halted its cooperation. How significant is this development? Why did they do it?
Ron Paul: I think that is good. Maybe wise enough, I wish we could do the same thing – just come home. It just makes no sense; there’s a mess over there. So many people are involved, the neighborhood ought to take care of it, and we have gone too far away from our home. It has been going on for too long, and it all started when Obama in 2011 said: “Assad has to go.” And now as the conditions deteriorate …it looks like Assad and his allies are winning, and the US don’t want them to take Raqqa. This just goes on and on. I think it is really still the same thing that Obama set up – “Get rid of Assad” and there is a lot of frustration because Assad is still around and now it is getting very dangerous, it is dangerous on both sides. One thing that I am concerned about – because I’ve seen it happen so often over the years are false flags. Some accidents happen. Even if it is an honest accident or it is deliberate by one side or the other to blame somebody. And before they stop and think about it, then there is more escalation. When our planes are flying over there and into airspace where we shouldn’t be, and we are setting up boundaries and say “don’t cross these lines or you will be crossing our territory.” We have no right to do this. We should mind our own business; we shouldn’t be over there, when we go over there and decide that we are going to take over, it is an act of aggression, and I am positively opposed to that. And I think most Americans are too if they get all the information they need.
RT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier that he wanted to ask his American counterpart why the US-led coalition isn’t targeting Al-Nusra in Syria. What sort of answer do you think he’ll get?
RP: I think it will be wishy-washy. He’ll probably think it is in their interests not to do anything to damage the radicals, the extremists, the rebels because I think that our government thinks that they could be helpful in undermining Assad. I don’t think they are going to say “Yeah, they are our buddies now, we consult with them all the time.” It won’t be that. They’ll argue “We have to help the Kurds out” or something along those lines and make excuses. I think that there’s a net benefit to the radicals for usition which ought to try to bring about peace.
The propaganda the American people hear is such that they get them pretty excited about it, but I am very confident that if the American people had more information…because when I talk to them, they side with my arguments. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be doing what we are doing, and that’s why I persist in trying to get to the facts but trying to eliminate the danger, try to obey international law, try to do the things that are in our best interest. And if we are talking about America’s interest – it isn’t helped by our policy in the Middle East for the last 15-20 years, I think it has all been negative.
Richard Black, Republican member of Virginia State Senate, told RT that “the US and the coalition are in Syria without any permission, without any lawful authority to be present”.
“Some members of the coalition may say “We are in clear violation of international law, maybe this is not right.” Others bought into this coalition to be part of a group fighting ISIS, and now they are saying “Wait a minute. We didn’t go into Syria to fight the legitimate duly elected government of Syria; we went there to fight this terrorist organization.”…The coalition is certainly not there to help the Syrian people; it is there to help Saudi Arabia with its Wahhabi radical Islamic domination of the entire world beginning with the countries close to it”.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
There were more hospital admissions in Canada last year for alcohol-related conditions than for heart attacks.
By Sherry Noik
Jun 22, 2017
Taking into account law enforcement, lost productivity as well as prevention and research initiatives, the estimated total cost of alcohol-related harm in Canada was more than $14 billion in 2002, the most recent year for which this data is available, CIHI said. About $3.3 billion of that was directly related to health care.
There were more hospital admissions in Canada last year for alcohol-related conditions than for heart attacks.
Alcohol poisoning, alcohol withdrawal, liver disease, chronic alcohol abuse and other conditions that are “100 per cent caused by the harmful consumption of alcohol” accounted for about 77,000 admissions, according to a report released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
That’s 212 each day, on average, not including those who were treated in emergency departments and released.
The 2015–2016 year was the first time CIHI has looked at this specific number, so there is no data from previous years to compare. To put the number in context, the number of admissions for heart attacks in the same period was 75,000.
“Our expectation is that this will be an important indicator for monitoring public health,” said Geoff Hynes, manager of the Canadian Population Health Initiative for CIHI. “We can look at patterns, which could inform what governments and the health system can do to address these high numbers.”
The majority of alcohol-related hospitalizations were linked to mental health and addictions.
On average, there were more alcohol-related hospitalizations in the territories than in the provinces, and more in the west than in the east, with the exception of Nova Scotia.
Excessive drinking carries a number of known health risks, including illnesses such as pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease — not to mention the risk of death.
In 2015, there were 5,082 alcohol-attributable deaths in Canada, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation cited by CIHI.
In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada says alcohol is a leading cause of injury and death in Canada, including those resulting from impaired driving and from illnesses with known links to alcohol, like certain types of cancer.
Alcohol abuse doesn’t harm just the abuser; there are measurable societal costs, too.
For instance, in 2014–2015, the average cost for hospitalization that was entirely caused by alcohol was estimated at $8,100, compared to the average hospital stay for other causes at $5,800. That’s mostly because of longer stays (11 days on average compared to seven days, respectively).
There are also broader social implications, the report said, such as unemployment, crime and the “substantial” impacts on people other than the drinker. These include injuries related to assault, workplace accidents, motor vehicle collisions, family disruption, violence and lost income.The toll on families, coworkers and communities is impossible to tally because the relationships between consumption and harm are complex, Hynes said. These are influenced by things like individual, cultural and social factors, as well as how government regulates consumption and accessibility.
CIHI found wide variations in the “alcohol policy landscapes” across Canada that showed no one factor can account for the differences in hospitalization rates.
For instance, in Quebec, where beer and wine have been available in corner stores for years, there were fewer alcohol-related hospitalizations.
“So we know there is something else playing out,” Hynes said.
Pricing controls are another area that varies from region to region: some have minimum prices for items at retail, others have minimum prices set at bars and restaurants, and others still index the price of liquor to inflation or to alcohol content.
And pricing, Hynes said, is “one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to reduce alcohol harm, population-wide.”
Basically, making liquor more expensive should curb consumption, as it did with cigarettes.
“For us, those differences represent opportunities for potential improvement,” Hynes said. “Measuring this, and monitoring these rates can help us identify whether the policies and approaches are effective in reducing alcohol harm.”
It will take “a strategy that brings together multiple effective policies” to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, Hynes said.
This is the long overdue study of the Frankfurt School and Cultural Marxist philosophy which now controls Western intellectualism, politics, and culture. It was by design; it was created by an internationalist intelligentsia to eradicate Western values, social systems, and European racial groups in a pre-emptive attempt to spark global, communist (think liberal) revolution. Andrew Breitbart’s historical notes are taken into the narrative.
NASA revealed details and viewing advice for the upcoming eclipse, which will see the moon pass between the sun and Earth, casting a dark shadow and making visible the solar corona – the sun’s normally obscured atmosphere, as well as bright stars and planets.
A total of 14 states from Oregon in the west to South Carolina in the east will experience more than two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day over a span of almost two hours.
This will be the first total eclipse in the US since 1979 and the first coast-to-coast eclipse since 1918.
The US will be the only country to experience the total eclipse. International visitors, however, are expected to descend on the country for the rare chance to see the sun disappear behind the moon, transforming daylight into twilight.
At least three NASA aircraft, 11 other spacecraft, and more than 50 high-altitude balloons, as well as the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, will capture images.
“Never before will a celestial event be viewed by so many and explored from so many vantage points – from space, from the air, and from the ground,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington said.
NASA is warning potential viewers to put safety first and use specialized solar viewing glasses to observe the non-eclipsed or partially-eclipsed sun.
The space agency says it’s safe to look at the total eclipse with the naked eye only during the brief period of totality, which will last about two minutes, depending on location.
NASA will broadcast live video of the celestial event, along with coverage of activities held across the country in its honor.