Terrified by Trump, Eurocrats in Brussels over these past few days have conveyed to Asia Times fears about the end of NATO, the end of the World Trade Organization, even the end of the EU.
Hysteria is at fever pitch. After the NATO summit in Brussels, the definitive Decline of the West has been declared a done deal as President Trump gets ready to meet President Putin in Helsinki.
It was Trump himself who stipulated that he wants to talk to Putin behind closed doors, face-to-face, without any aides and, in theory, spontaneously, after the preparatory meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was canceled. The summit will take place at the early 19th century Presidential Palace in Helsinki, a former residence of Russian emperors.
As a preamble to Helsinki, Trump’s spectacular NATO blitzkrieg was a show for the ages; assorted “leaders” in Brussels simply didn’t know what hit them. Trump didn’t even bother to arrive on time for morning sessions dealing with the possible accession of Ukraine and Georgia. Diplomats confirmed to Asia Times that after Trump’s stinging “pay up or else” tirade, Ukraine and Georgia were asked to leave the room because what would be discussed was strictly an internal NATO issue.
Previewing the summit, Eurocrats indulged in interminable carping about “illiberalism” taking over, from Viktor Orban in Hungary to Sultan Erdogan in Turkey, as well as mourning the “destruction of European unity” (yes, it’s always Putin’s fault). Trump though would have none of it. The US President conflates the EU with NATO, interpreting the EU as a rival, just like China, but much weaker. As for the US “deal” with NATO, just like NAFTA, that’s a bad deal.
NATO is ‘obsolete’
Trump is correct that without the US, NATO is “obsolete” – as in non-existent. So essentially what he did in Brussels laid bare the case for NATO as a protection racket, with Washington fully entitled to up the stakes for the “protection”.
But “protection” against what?
Since the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, when NATO was repositioned in its new role as humanitarian imperialist global Robocop, the alliance’s record is absolutely dismal.
That features miserably losing an endless war in Afghanistan against a bunch of Pashtun warriors armed with Kalashnikov replicas; turning functional Libya into a militia wasteland and headquarters for Europe-bound refugees; and having the NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council lose its bet on a galaxy of jihadis and crypto-jihadis in Syria spun as “moderate rebels”.
NATO has launched a new training, non-combat mission in Iraq; 15 years after Shock and Awe, Sunnis, Shi’ites, Yazidis and even Kurdish factions are not impressed.
Then there’s the NATO Readiness Initiative; the capacity of deploying 30 battalions, 30 battleships and 30 aircraft squadrons within 30 days (or less) by 2020. If not to wreak selected havoc across the Global South, this initiative is supposedly set up to deter “Russian aggression”.
So after dabbling with the Global War on Terror, NATO is essentially back to the original “threat”; the imminent Russian invasion of Western Europe – a ludicrous notion if there ever was one. The final statement in Brussels spells it out, with special emphasis on item 6 and item 7.
The combined GDP of all NATO members is 12 times that of Russia. And NATO’s defense spending is six times larger than Russia’s. Contrary to non-stop Polish and Baltic hysteria, Russia does not need to “invade” anything; what worries the Kremlin, in the long term, is the well being of ethnic Russians living in former Soviet republics.
Russia can’t be both threat and an energy partner
Then there’s Europe’s energy policy – and that’s a completely different story.
Trump has described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as “inappropriate”, but his claim that Germany gets 70% of its energy (via natural gas imports) from Russia may be easily debunked. Germany gets at best 9% of its energy from Russia. In terms of Germany’s sources of energy, only 20% is natural gas. And less than 40% of natural gas in Germany comes from Russia. Germany is fast transitioning towards wind, solar, biomass and hydro energy, which made up 41% of the total in 2018. And the target is 50% by 2030.
Yet Trump does have a sterling point when, stressing that “Germany is a rich country”, he wants to know why America should “protect you against Russia” when energy deals are on the table. “Explain that! It can’t be explained!” as he reportedly said to Nato Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.
In the end, of course, it’s all about business. What Trump is really aiming at is for Germany to import US shale gas, three times more expensive than pipeline-delivered Russian gas.
The energy angle is directly linked to the never-ending 2% defense spending soap opera. Germany currently spends 1.2% of GDP on NATO. by 2024, it’s supposed to reach at best 1.5%. And that’s it. The majority of German voters, in fact, want US troops out.
So Trump’s demand for 4% of GDP on defense spending for all NATO members will never fly. The sales pitch should be seen for what it is: a tentative “invitation” for an increased EU and NATO shopping spree on US military hardware.
In a nutshell, the key factor remains that Trump’s Brussels blitzkrieg did make his case. Russia cannot be a “threat” and a reliable energy partner at the same time. As much as NATO poodles may be terrified of “Russian aggression”, the facts spell out they won’t put their money where their rhetorical hysteria is.
Are you listening now?
“Russian aggression” should be one of the top items discussed in Helsinki. In the – remote – possibility that Trump will strike a deal with Putin, NATO’s absurd raison d’etre would be even more exposed.
That’s not the US “deep-state” agenda, of course, thus the 24/7 demonization of the summit even before it happens. Moreover, for Trump, the transactional gambling man’s Make-America-Great-Again point of view, the ideal outcome would always be to get even more European weapons deals for the US industrial-military-intelligence complex.
Terrified by Trump, diplomats in Brussels over these past few days have conveyed to Asia Times fears about the end of NATO, the end of the World Trade Organization, even the end of the EU. But the fact remains that Europe is absolutely peripheral to the Big Picture.
In Losing Military Supremacy, his latest, groundbreaking book, crack Russian military-naval analyst Andrei Martyanov deconstructs in detail how, “the United States faces two nuclear and industrial superpowers, one of which fields a world-class armed forces. If the military-political, as opposed to merely economic, alliance between Russia and China is ever formalized – this will spell the final doom for the United States as a global power.”
The US deep state (its influential bureaucrats) may be wallowing in perpetual denial, but Trump – after many a closed-door meeting with Henry Kissinger – may have understood the suicidal “strategy” of Washington simultaneously antagonizing Russia and China.
Putin’s landmark March 1 speech, as Martyanov stresses, was an effort to “coerce America’s elites, if not into peace, at least into some form of sanity, given that they are currently completely detached from the geopolitical, military and economic realities of the newly emerging power configurations of the world”. These elites may not be listening, but Trump seems to indicate he is.
As for the NATO poodles, all they can do is watch.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Distinguished Collaborator Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of “Globalistan” (2007), “Red Zone Blues” (2007), “Obama does Globalistan” (2009) and “Empire of Chaos” (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is “2030”, also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.
“Attention is an intentional, unapologetic discriminator. It asks what is relevant right now, and gears us up to notice only that,” cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz wrote in her inquiry into how our conditioned way of looking narrows the lens of our perception. Attention, after all, is the handmaiden of consciousness, and consciousness the central fact and the central mystery of our creaturely experience. From the days of Plato’s cave to the birth of neuroscience, we have endeavored to fathom its nature. But it is a mystery that only seems to deepen with each increment of approach. “Our normal waking consciousness,” William James wrote in his landmark 1902 treatise on spirituality, “is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.”
Half a century after James, two new molecules punctured the filmy screen to unlatch a portal to a wholly novel universe of consciousness, shaking up our most elemental assumptions about the nature of the mind, our orientation toward mortality, and the foundations of our social, political, and cultural constructs. One of these molecules — lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD — was a triumph of twentieth-century science, somewhat accidentally synthesized by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in the year physicist Lise Meitner discovered nuclear fission. The other — the compound psilocin, known among the Aztecs as “flesh of the gods” — was the rediscovery of a substance produced by a humble brown mushroom, which indigenous cultures across eras and civilizations had been incorporating into their spiritual rituals since ancient times, and which the Roman Catholic Church had violently suppressed and buried during the Spanish conquest of the Americas.
Together, these two molecules commenced the psychedelic revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, frothing the stream of consciousness — a term James coined — into a turbulent existential rapids. Their proselytes included artists, scientists, political leaders, and ordinary people of all stripes. Their most ardent champions were the psychiatrists and physicians who lauded them as miracle drugs for salving psychic maladies as wide-ranging as anxiety, addition, and clinical depression. Their cultural consequence was likened to that of to the era’s other cataclysmic disruptor: the atomic bomb.
And then — much thanks to Timothy Leary’s reckless handling of his Harvard psilocybin studies that landed him in prison, where Carl Sagan sent him cosmic poetry — a landslide of moral panic and political backlash outlawed psychedelics, shut down clinical studies of their medical and psychiatric uses, and drove them into the underground. For decades, academic research into their potential for human flourishing languished and nearly perished. But a small subset of scientists, psychiatrists, and amateur explorers refused to relinquish their curiosity about that potential.
The 1990s brought a quiet groundswell of second-wave interest in psychedelics — a resurgence that culminated with a 2006 paper reporting on studies at Johns Hopkins, which had found that psilocybin had occasioned “mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and significance” for terminally ill cancer patients — experiences from which they “return with a new perspective and profound acceptance.” In other words, the humble mushroom compound had helped people face the ultimate frontier of existence — their own mortality — with unparalleled equanimity. The basis of the experience, researchers found, was a sense of the dissolution of the personal ego, followed by a sense of becoming one with the universe — a notion strikingly similar to Bertrand Russell’s insistence that a fulfilling life and a rewarding old age are a matter of “[making] your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.”
More clinical experiments followed at UCLA, NYU, and other leading universities, demonstrating that this psilocybin-induced dissolution of the ego, extremely difficult if not impossible to achieve in our ordinary consciousness, has profound benefits in rewiring the faulty mental mechanisms responsible for disorders like alcoholism, anxiety, and depression.
One good way to understand a complex system is to disturb it and then see what happens. By smashing atoms, a particle accelerator forces them to yield their secrets. By administering psychedelics in carefully calibrated doses, neuroscientists can profoundly disturb the normal waking consciousness of volunteers, dissolving the structures of the self and occasioning what can be described as a mystical experience. While this is happening, imaging tools can observe the changes in the brain’s activity and patterns of connection. Already this work is yielding surprising insights into the “neural correlates” of the sense of self and spiritual experience.
Pollan reflects on the psilocybin studies of cancer patients, which reignited scientific interest in psychedelics, and the profound results of subsequent studies exploring the use of psychedelics in treating mental illness, including addiction, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder:
What was most remarkable about the results… is that participants ranked their psilocybin experience as one of the most meaningful in their lives, comparable “to the birth of a first child or death of a parent.” Two-thirds of the participants rated the session among the top five “most spiritually significant experiences” of their lives; one-third ranked it the most significant such experience in their lives. Fourteen months later, these ratings had slipped only slightly. The volunteers reported significant improvements in their “personal well-being, life satisfaction and positive behavior change,” changes that were confirmed by their family members and friends.
What is striking about this whole line of clinical research is the premise that it is not the pharmacological effect of the drug itself but the kind of mental experience it occasions — involving the temporary dissolution of one’s ego — that may be the key to changing one’s mind.
My default perspective is that of the philosophical materialist, who believes that matter is the fundamental substance of the world and the physical laws it obeys should be able to explain everything that happens. I start from the assumption that nature is all that there is and gravitate toward scientific explanations of phenomena. That said, I’m also sensitive to the limitations of the scientific-materialist perspective and believe that nature (including the human mind) still holds deep mysteries toward which science can sometimes seem arrogant and unjustifiably dismissive.
Was it possible that a single psychedelic experience — something that turned on nothing more than the ingestion of a pill or square of blotter paper — could put a big dent in such a worldview? Shift how one thought about mortality? Actually change one’s mind in enduring ways?
The idea took hold of me. It was a little like being shown a door in a familiar room — the room of your own mind — that you had somehow never noticed before and being told by people you trusted (scientists!) that a whole other way of thinking — of being! — lay waiting on the other side. All you had to do was turn the knob and enter. Who wouldn’t be curious? I might not have been looking to change my life, but the idea of learning something new about it, and of shining a fresh light on this old world, began to occupy my thoughts. Maybe there was something missing from my life, something I just hadn’t named.
The root of this unnamed dimension of existence, Pollan suggests, is the inevitable narrowing of perspective that takes place as we grow up and learn to navigate the world by cataloguing its elements into mental categories that often fail to hold the complexity and richness of the experiences they name — an impulse born out of our longing for absolutes in a relative world. Psychedelics break down these artificial categories and swing open the doors of perception — to borrow William Blake’s famous phrase later famously appropriated by Aldous Huxley as the slogan of the first-wave psychedelic revolution — so that life can enter our consciousness in its unfiltered, unfragmented completeness. In consequence, we view the world — the inner world and the outer world — with a child’s eyes.
Over time, we tend to optimize and conventionalize our responses to whatever life brings. Each of us develops our shorthand ways of slotting and processing everyday experiences and solving problems, and while this is no doubt adaptive — it helps us get the job done with a minimum of fuss — eventually it becomes rote. It dulls us. The muscles of attention atrophy.
Habits are undeniably useful tools, relieving us of the need to run a complex mental operation every time we’re confronted with a new task or situation. Yet they also relieve us of the need to stay awake to the world: to attend, feel, think, and then act in a deliberate manner. (That is, from freedom rather than compulsion.)
The efficiencies of the adult mind, useful as they are, blind us to the present moment. We’re constantly jumping ahead to the next thing. We approach experience much as an artificial intelligence (AI) program does, with our brains continually translating the data of the present into the terms of the past, reaching back in time for the relevant experience, and then using that to make its best guess as to how to predict and navigate the future.
One of the things that commends travel, art, nature, work, and certain drugs to us is the way these experiences, at their best, block every mental path forward and back, immersing us in the flow of a present that is literally wonderful — wonder being the by-product of precisely the kind of unencumbered first sight, or virginal noticing, to which the adult brain has closed itself. (It’s so inefficient!) Alas, most of the time I inhabit a near-future tense, my psychic thermostat set to a low simmer of anticipation and, too often, worry. The good thing is I’m seldom surprised. The bad thing is I’m seldom surprised.
Together with his wife, Judith, he ingests a psilocybin mushroom he himself has picked from the woods of the Pacific Northwest with the mycologist Paul Stamets, author of the foundational guide to psilocybin mushrooms. Pollan reflects on the perplexity of the experience:
In a certain light at certain moments, I feel as though I had had some kind of spiritual experience. I had felt the personhood of other beings in a way I hadn’t before; whatever it is that keeps us from feeling our full implication in nature had been temporarily in abeyance. There had also been, I felt, an opening of the heart, toward my parents, yes, and toward Judith, but also, weirdly, toward some of the plants and trees and birds and even the damn bugs on our property. Some of this openness has persisted. I think back on it now as an experience of wonder and immanence.
The fact that this transformation of my familiar world into something I can only describe as numinous was occasioned by the eating of a little brown mushroom that Stamets and I had found growing on the edge of a parking lot in a state park on the Pacific coast — well, that fact can be viewed in one of two ways: either as an additional wonder or as support for a more prosaic and materialist interpretation of what happened to me that August afternoon. According to one interpretation, I had had “a drug experience,” plain and simple. It was a kind of waking dream, interesting and pleasurable but signifying nothing. The psilocin in that mushroom unlocked the 5-hydroxytryptamine 2-A receptors in my brain, causing them to fire wildly and set off a cascade of disordered mental events that, among other things, permitted some thoughts and feelings, presumably from my subconscious (and, perhaps, my reading too), to get cross-wired with my visual cortex as it was processing images of the trees and plants and insects in my field of vision.
Not quite a hallucination, “projection” is probably the psychological term for this phenomenon: when we mix our emotions with certain objects that then reflect those feelings back to us so that they appear to glisten with meaning. T. S. Eliot called these things and situations the “objective correlatives” of human emotion.
Pollan finds in the experience an affirmation of James’s notion that we possess different modes of consciousness separated from our standard waking consciousness by a thin and permeable membrane. The psychedelic puncturing of that membrane, he suggests, is what people across the ages have considered “mystical experiences.” But they are purely biochemical, devoid of the divine visitations ascribed to them:
I’m struck by the fact there was nothing supernatural about my heightened perceptions that afternoon, nothing that I needed an idea of magic or a divinity to explain. No, all it took was another perceptual slant on the same old reality, a lens or mode of consciousness that invented nothing but merely (merely!) italicized the prose of ordinary experience, disclosing the wonder that is always there in a garden or wood, hidden in plain sight… Nature does in fact teem with subjectivities — call them spirits if you like — other than our own; it is only the human ego, with its imagined monopoly on subjectivity, that keeps us from recognizing them all, our kith and kin.
Before this afternoon, I had always assumed access to a spiritual dimension hinged on one’s acceptance of the supernatural — of God, of a Beyond — but now I’m not so sure. The Beyond, whatever it consists of, might not be nearly as far away or inaccessible as we think.
After another psychedelic journey on the drug LSD, which left him with “a cascading dam break of love” for everyone from his wife to his grandmother to his awkward childhood music teacher, Pollan reflects on some of the things he had said during the experience, recorded by his guide, and the limitations of language in conveying the depth and dimension of the feelings stirred in him. A century after William James listed ineffability as the first of the four features of transcendent experiences, Pollan writes:
It embarrasses me to write these words; they sound so thin, so banal. This is a failure of my language, no doubt, but perhaps it is not only that. Psychedelic experiences are notoriously hard to render in words; to try is necessarily to do violence to what has been seen and felt, which is in some fundamental way pre- or post-linguistic or, as students of mysticism say, ineffable. Emotions arrive in all their newborn nakedness, unprotected from the harsh light of scrutiny and, especially, the pitiless glare of irony. Platitudes that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Hallmark card glow with the force of revealed truth.
Psychedelics can make even the most cynical of us into fervent evangelists of the obvious… For what after all is the sense of banality, or the ironic perspective, if not two of the sturdier defenses the adult ego deploys to keep from being overwhelmed — by our emotions, certainly, but perhaps also by our senses, which are liable at any time to astonish us with news of the sheer wonder of the world. If we are ever to get through the day, we need to put most of what we perceive into boxes neatly labeled “Known,” to be quickly shelved with little thought to the marvels therein, and “Novel,” to which, understandably, we pay more attention, at least until it isn’t that anymore. A psychedelic is liable to take all the boxes off the shelf, open and remove even the most familiar items, turning them over and imaginatively scrubbing them until they shine once again with the light of first sight. Is this reclassification of the familiar a waste of time? If it is, then so is a lot of art. It seems to me there is great value in such renovation, the more so as we grow older and come to think we’ve seen and felt it all before.
In a passage that calls to mind Nathaniel Hawthorne’s stunning description of the transcendent state between wakefulness and sleep, Pollan writes:
Because the acid had not completely dissolved my ego, I never completely lost the ability to redirect the stream of my consciousness or the awareness it was in fact mine. But the stream itself felt distinctly different, less subject to will or outside interference. It reminded me of the pleasantly bizarre mental space that sometimes opens up at night in bed when we’re poised between the states of being awake and falling asleep—so-called hypnagogic consciousness. The ego seems to sign off a few moments before the rest of the mind does, leaving the field of consciousness unsupervised and vulnerable to gentle eruptions of imagery and hallucinatory snatches of narrative. Imagine that state extended indefinitely, yet with some ability to direct your attention to this or that, as if in an especially vivid and absorbing daydream. Unlike a daydream, however, you are fully present to the contents of whatever narrative is unfolding, completely inside it and beyond the reach of distraction. I had little choice but to obey the daydream’s logic, its ontological and epistemological rules, until, either by force of will or by the fresh notes of a new song, the mental channel would change and I would find myself somewhere else entirely.
For me it felt less like a drug experience… than a novel mode of cognition, falling somewhere between intellection and feeling.
Temporarily freed from the tyranny of the ego, with its maddeningly reflexive reactions and its pinched conception of one’s self-interest, we get to experience an extreme version of Keats’s “negative capability” — the ability to exist amid doubts and mysteries without reflexively reaching for certainty. To cultivate this mode of consciousness, with its exceptional degree of selflessness (literally!), requires us to transcend our subjectivity or — it comes to the same thing — widen its circle so far that it takes in, besides ourselves, other people and, beyond that, all of nature. Now I understood how a psychedelic could help us to make precisely that move, from the first-person singular to the plural and beyond. Under its influence, a sense of our interconnectedness — that platitude — is felt, becomes flesh. Though this perspective is not something a chemical can sustain for more than a few hours, those hours can give us an opportunity to see how it might go. And perhaps to practice being there.
Looking back on his theoretical and empirical investigation — his research on the ancient history and modern science of psychedelics; his interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists, mycologists, hospice patients, and ordinary psychonauts; his own experience with a variety of these substances and his sometimes meticulous, sometimes messy field notes on the interiority of his mind under their influence — Pollan writes:
The journeys have shown me what the Buddhists try to tell us but I have never really understood: that there is much more to consciousness than the ego, as we would see if it would just shut up. And that its dissolution (or transcendence) is nothing to fear; in fact, it is a prerequisite for making any spiritual progress. But the ego, that inner neurotic who insists on running the mental show, is wily and doesn’t relinquish its power without a struggle. Deeming itself indispensable, it will battle against its diminishment, whether in advance or in the middle of the journey. I suspect that’s exactly what mine was up to all through the sleepless nights that preceded each of my trips, striving to convince me that I was risking everything, when really all I was putting at risk was its sovereignty… That stingy, vigilant security guard admits only the narrowest bandwidth of reality… It’s really good at performing all those activities that natural selection values: getting ahead, getting liked and loved, getting fed, getting laid. Keeping us on task, it is a ferocious editor of anything that might distract us from the work at hand, whether that means regulating our access to memories and strong emotions from within or news of the world without.
What of the world it does admit it tends to objectify, for the ego wants to reserve the gifts of subjectivity to itself. That’s why it fails to see that there is a whole world of souls and spirits out there, by which I simply mean subjectivities other than our own. It was only when the voice of my ego was quieted by psilocybin that I was able to sense that the plants in my garden had a spirit too.
It is a notion evocative of Ursula K. Le Guin’s conception of poetry as a means to “subjectifying the universe” — a counterpoint to the way science objectifies it. “Science describes accurately from outside, poetry describes accurately from inside. Science explicates, poetry implicates,” Le Guin wrote. Perhaps psychedelics, then, are a portal to the poetic truth that resides beyond scientific fact — the kind of transcendence Rachel Carson found in beholding the marvels of bioluminescence, “one of those experiences that gives an odd and hard-to-describe feeling, with so many overtones beyond the facts themselves.” Such a feeling radiates beyond the walls of the ego-bound self and into a deep sense of belonging to the whole of nature, part and particle of the universe.
The usual antonym for the word “spiritual” is “material.” That at least is what I believed when I began this inquiry — that the whole issue with spirituality turned on a question of metaphysics. Now I’m inclined to think a much better and certainly more useful antonym for “spiritual” might be “egotistical.” Self and Spirit define the opposite ends of a spectrum, but that spectrum needn’t reach clear to the heavens to have meaning for us. It can stay right here on earth. When the ego dissolves, so does a bounded conception not only of our self but of our self-interest. What emerges in its place is invariably a broader, more openhearted and altruistic — that is, more spiritual — idea of what matters in life. One in which a new sense of connection, or love, however defined, seems to figure prominently.
One of the gifts of psychedelics is the way they reanimate the world, as if they were distributing the blessings of consciousness more widely and evenly over the landscape, in the process breaking the human monopoly on subjectivity that we moderns take as a given. To us, we are the world’s only conscious subjects, with the rest of creation made up of objects; to the more egotistical among us, even other people count as objects. Psychedelic consciousness overturns that view, by granting us a wider, more generous lens through which we can glimpse the subject-hood — the spirit! — of everything, animal, vegetable, even mineral, all of it now somehow returning our gaze. Spirits, it seems, are everywhere. New rays of relation appear between us and all the world’s Others.
In the remainder of the immensely fascinating How to Change Your Mind, Pollan goes on to explore the neuroscience of what actually happens in the brain during a psychedelic experience, how such a temporary rewiring of the cognitive apparatus can translate into enduring psychological change and precipitate profound personal growth, and why this breaking down of “the usually firm handshake between brain and world” may be particularly palliative to those perched on the precipice of mortality. Complement it with Albert Camus on consciousness and the lacuna between truth and meaning, then revisit William James’s trailblazing treatise on the limits of materialism.
(CE) On more than one occasion, Russian President Vladmir Putin has shared information that Western media won’t air. Two months ago he revealed that ISIS is funded by the West (you can watch that video below), and now he is making more noise at the G20 summit that’s currently taking place in Turkey, where he has supposedly shared intelligence data on Islamic State financing with his G20 colleagues.
[During the summit] I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries and, there are some of the G20 members among them.
He also voiced his concern regarding the illegal oil trade by IS, stating that he has seen photos taken from space and from aircraft that demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products.
I’d also like to mention that I am aware that RT News is sponsored by Russia, but the fact remains that Putin has said that Western nations are funding ISIS before.
At the summit he also revealed that the “motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon. “
Again, it’s not the first time Putin has stressed that the people who are going after ISIS and invading other countries (U.S. and their allies) are the very same people who funded and created ISIS in the first place.
And it’s not as crazy as it might sound. If we take 9/11, for example, you may be surprised to learn that approximately half the population of the United States does not believe the official story provided to them by their government. Many people think that 9/11 was an inside job, a ‘false flag’ terrorist attack enacted in order to justify the infiltration of Iraq for ulterior motives. And there is a tremendous amount of evidence to prove it.
This trend appears to continue with the recent attacks in Paris. A Canadian Economist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Ottawa recently called them “9/11 French Style.” He argues that the global war on terrorism is based on fake premises, and that the Western world is going after a fictitious enemy, the Islamic state, when in fact the Islamic state is fully supported by the Western military alliance.
As you can see, Putin isn’t alone in his thoughts, and even some celebrities have been weighing in. Russell Brand is one, who touches on the topic on this video, and Steven Seagal is another, doing the same in this video.
That being said, when it comes to politics and the hidden hands that control this sphere, it is difficult to know what to believe, regardless of who is spreading the message. For all we know, this could all be part of one big, elaborate plan toward establishing a New World Order.
The world is waking up, and it’s not easy to come to grips with the fact that the version of reality being presented to you via your television might be completely false. If the so-called ‘terrorists’ we are going after are nothing but the creation of the same countries who are attacking them, what is really going on here? Why is it so hard to believe that Western media would be lying to us? Why do we instantly believe what mainstream media offers, without ever questioning it? Why do we experience such a harsh resistance to the simple questioning of these matters?
I did not delve into false flag terrorism with this article because we’ve written about it in detail in the articles below, so if you would like to learn more, feel free to check them out.
Death by Calcium — Proof of the Toxic Effects of Dairy and Calcium Supplements” by Tom Levy, MD on May 15th, 2014. For the most part, vitamin and mineral supplementation impacts very positively on the overall health of the population, in spite of much of the aggressive and irrational attacks lead by the pharmaceutical industry. However, the evidence is now overwhelming that one of the most popular supplements ever, with the ongoing support of most conscientious physicians and other healthcare practitioners, is in fact very toxic and should never be chronically supplemented. The supplement is calcium, in any form, although some forms are more toxic than others. Furthermore, it is now clear that excess dietary calcium, as is realized with the routine ingestion of milk and other calcium-laden dairy foods, is also a toxic and life-shortening practice.
When you think of addiction in America today, one thing comes to mind: the opioid epidemic. And it should. It’s serious. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, almost 64,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016 (more than died in the Vietnam War), an average of 175 people a day. In that year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that 11.5 million Americans “misused” pain medication. (Note that such figures are still on the rise.) Only recently, the surgeon general issued a rare national advisory “urging more Americans to carry naloxone, a drug used to revive people overdosing on opioids.” This crisis of addiction has already cost the country an estimated $1 trillion since 2001 and might, in the next three years alone, cost more than half that much again.
The United States, however, has two other crises that, in the long run, will cost Americans far more. Yet they get remarkably little attention as addiction phenomena. The first is so obvious that no one should have to comment on it. Here’s the strange thing, though: it’s a rare moment when there’s any serious analysis of it or real attention given to it as an addiction.
This country (and above all its media) is addicted to Donald J. Trump in a way that no population, no media, possibly not even the Communist Chinese press in the days of Mao Zedong, ever was to any figure. Since he rode that Trump Tower escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and took out after Mexican “rapists” and future Great Walls, no one — nothing — has ever been covered or attended to this way, online or off, in daily life or in our increasingly shared, increasingly addictive media life. (Yes, the Internet and social media are undoubtedly addictions of some sort, too, but let’s not head down that road or I’ll never stop writing!)
Not Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory, nor his tax “reform” gift to the 1%, nor his chance to appoint a second Supreme Court justice (with more openings likely to come) — none of these or anything else he’s done or is likely to do will qualify as the truest, deepest, most far-reaching of his triumphs. That can only be the unprecedented way he continues to draw attention. It represents a victory of the first order for him of a unique, almost incomprehensible sort, made more so by the inability of those who report on him to take in what’s happened to them or analyze their situation in any serious way.
Addicted to Trump
Donald J. Trump, as candidate and president, has trumped the attention span of this country, possibly of the planet. Eyes have been focused on him, his insults, his tweets, his passing thoughts, his every comment, his acts, major and minor, and the associated acts and reactions of those who circle around him, as never before in history — not for a king, an emperor, or a dictator, and certainly not for a president. His truest triumph has been to make himself into the voluntary drug of choice for most of a country and all of the media in a way we’ve never imagined possible, and for which, it seems, there is no naloxone.
He has, in the deepest sense, turned the media he loves to loathe, thrives on hating, into a genuine mechanism for producing “fake news” — about him. It’s only real news if you think that The Donald should be the focus of essentially everything, if you believe that nothing else on this planet should take place except refracted through him.
When it comes to the media in particular, Donald Trump is the opioid crisis. He’s their drug of choice. He gets them high. They can’t help themselves, nor can they stop. As head of CBS Leslie Moonves put it during election campaign 2016: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” And then he added, “The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this [is] going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”
And it’s never ended. The president glues eyeballs to papers, to the endlessly talking heads on the cable news networks, to Twitter, to anything that now passes for media, at a time when so many news outfits are in so many other ways coming unglued. More reporters have undoubtedly been assigned to cover him and his acolytes than ever covered anything or anyone else on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis. Every day of Donald Trump’s life is, in coverage terms, something like the equivalent of the Kennedy assassination, which might be thought of as the first 24/7 TV event, or perhaps the 1994 O.J. Simpson white Ford Bronco car chase that was, in some strange way, a preview of this Trumpian media moment.
It really doesn’t matter much what the “story” is when it comes to his presidency. Whatever it is, it’s promptly swarmed by that media without the slightest sense of proportion or any feeling for what actually matters on this planet of ours. In almost every sense, in fact, Donald Trump now regularly blots out the sun.
Take a small incident just over two weeks ago. With a party of family members, Trump Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stopped off at the Red Hen, a tiny farm-to-table restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. Mid-meal, she was asked to leave by the owner after staff members raised “concerns.” I’m only reminding you of this — a couple of weeks ago you undoubtedly could have told me every detail — because it’s already been consigned to the dust bin of history as other Trump-infused tales — from the resignation of Supreme Court justice Kennedy to prank-calling the president — have swept it aside. Of course, Sanders’s half-eaten dinner also helped sweep aside previous stories of our time like that message on the back of Melania Trump’s coat on her first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border (“I really don’t care. Do U?”).
When Sanders left that restaurant and then tweeted about it, a storm of coverage, as well as a firestorm of tweets, Facebook posts, insults, and praise about the judgment of the restaurant’s owner, arguments over the ideological polarization of the country, and so much else, including the “weaponization” of the restaurant-review website Yelp, flooded over us. Unrelated restaurants with “Red Hen” in their name elsewhere in the country (or even the world) received threats of all sorts and were inundated with insulting messages as were shops and restaurants that happened to be located near the actual Red Hen.
The story became front-page news nationwide and, for instance, led NBC Nightly News(which I happened to watch) on the evening that the stock market swooned over trade-war fears. In my own hometown paper, the New York Times, it was a front-page story and not one but two reporters were assigned to a crucial sideline piece about why President Trump’s Twitter finger was so slow; why, that is, he waited 48 hours — two full days! — before tweeting his support for his press secretary by attacking the Red Hen for having a “filthy” exterior and undoubtedly being “dirty” inside. The Times journalists focused on “the president’s uncharacteristically tepid, delayed response,” wondering whether it was a sign that Sanders was on her way out. (The Washington Post, on the other hand, dissected the president’s response in terms of, as the headline on one of its articles put it, “everything Trump got wrong about Red Hen, in one tweet.”) And so it went.
Tell me, then, if this isn’t an addiction, what is it? And what’s the one thing you know about addictions? Whatever high they give you — and let’s not deny that Donald Trump offers us a constant set of highs (whether as rushes of agreement and pleasure or horror and dismay) — if you can’t stop yourself from taking the drug, day after day, night after night, there will be a price to pay. Somebody better have the equivalent of naloxone on hand.
Addicted to War
And then there’s that other twenty-first-century all-American addiction, in some ways far stranger than the Trumpian one and likely to be no less costly in the long run: addiction to war. Almost 17 years after the Global War on Terror was launched, the highs — the invasion of Afghanistan! The taking of Kabul! The smashing of Iraq! The capture of Saddam Hussein! — are long gone. Now exhausted and discouraged, those hooked nonetheless remain unable to stop.
In some ways, ddiction may seem like a strange category when applied to this country’s war-making, as for most Americans the very opposite seems to be true. Since a series of historic global antiwar protests faded out with the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, it’s as if most Americans had gone cold turkey on this country’s credit-card wars. Willfully demobilized by the top officials of the Bush administration, who preferred to conduct their military operations without citizen or congressional oversight, they simply turned away and went about their business. Meanwhile, America’s all-volunteer military, increasingly a kind of foreign legion for much of the population, has continued to fight never-endingly and remarkably fruitlessly across a vast swath of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
The divorce of most Americans from Washington’s wars and those fighting them may be less than apparent because, according to the polls, the public has a kind of blind trust and soaring “confidence” in the U.S. military, unlike any other part of the government or, for that matter, the society, and because the urge to “thank” the “warriors” is now such a basic part of American life. But all of that is, I suspect, little more than a massive compensation reaction from a public that otherwise could not care less.
When it comes to Washington’s still-spreading war on terror, the media has, if anything, followed suit. Recently, for instance, Reuters correspondent Indrees Ali posted a photo on Twitter of a large, almost empty room filled with chairs, with the caption: “There are exactly four journalists at the Pentagon briefing on Afghanistan.” That single image sums up the present situation vividly. Almost 17 years after the invasion of Afghanistan by a military repeatedly hailed as “the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” at a moment when Taliban insurgents are again gaining ground, a Pentagon briefing on developments there is of no interest. Yes, events in such wars are still dutifully reported from time to time, but those reports, often tucked away on the inside pages of papers or deep in the nightly news, don’t hold a candle to Melania’s jacket, the president’s latest tweet, or a Red Hen rebuff.
And yet the photo of that Pentagon briefing is deceptive. It leaves out a key group still in the room: those addicted to an American style of war-making through which, year after year, the still-theoretically dominant power on the planet only seems to induce the spread of terror movements, disorder, destruction, and the displacement of increasingly large populations (contributing to a global refugee crisis that is, in its own way, helping to remake the planet).
Missing from that photo are the characters who have OD’d on U.S. military power and yet can’t stop mainlining it in ways that have become all-too-familiar since 2001. I’m thinking of the generals of the U.S. military, the men who have led an endless set of campaigns as part of what those inside the Pentagon are now grimly referring to as an “infinite war” leading nowhere. And they’re strung out. As Mark Perry reported recently in Foreign Policy, Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis and other American generals, unlike the president’s new civilian counselors, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are not eager for the next potential war, the one with Iran that already looms on the horizon. They understand that they could launch such a conflict successfully, destroying much of Iran’s military (and its nuclear facilities), and still, as with Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and so on, somehow not get out.
And yet, much as they don’t want a bright, shiny new war (and who could blame them under the circumstances), they can’t imagine leaving the old ones behind either. And that’s America’s war addiction in a nutshell, one that has long had in its grip most of elite Washington and the rest of a national security state set up around a style of infinite-war-making that must always be fed with ever increasing numbers of taxpayer dollars. Thanks to those dollars, we, the taxpayers, could be thought of as so many street-level drug peddlers in this country’s war equivalent of the opioid epidemic. The politicians who feed those dollars into the military maw would be the doctors who prescribe opioids, understanding full-well their ability to hook patients. And the Military-Industrial Complex — the giant weapons companies and the warrior corporations that now go into action in lock-step with that military — would be the drug companies that have profited so off the opioid crisis even as they stoked it.
Returning momentarily to Donald Trump, you can feel the power of that war addiction in his inability to fulfill his promise to fight those conflicts in a winning style and, if necessary, quickly extricate the country from what he termed its “$7 trillion” Greater Middle Eastern disaster. In his own fashion, he, too, has been hooked. And when the increasingly tired and distraught generals he chose to surround himself with provedunpalatable to him, Trump notably picked as replacements civilians guaranteed to keep the ball rolling when it came to America’s wars from hell.
So, addiction? If you don’t think this country has an addiction crisis (other than opioids), think again.
The most alarming public health issue is the relentless increasing autism epidemic. New Jersey reports 1 in 34 children, and about 5 percent of Eight-Year-Old boys affected as of 2014.(10) If this rate continues, half of all children born in 2025 will be autistic according to Stephanie Seneff PhD.(11)
What is Causing the Epidemic?
Our government health agencies, academic medicine and public health institutions have been silent on this question of what is causing the autism epidemic. They merely shrug their shoulders and say “we don’t know”, quickly adding, “It is certainly not vaccines”.
It IS The Vaccines – Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines Cause Autism
We now have 5 years of medical research, mostly from outside the United States, incriminating aluminum adjuvants in vaccines as the SOLE cause of autism epidemic. JB Handley does a nice job laying out the argument and summarizing this research.(3) He uses the web site, Vaccine Papers, as a good source for the documentation.(4) Many others have raised the red flag on aluminum adjuvants.(1-2)(31)
Very High Aluminum Levels in Autistic Brains
Revelations about aluminum neuro-toxicity have been made even more urgent by the findings of Dr Christpher Exley who found extremely high aluminum content in post mortem brains of autistic individuals. (5-8) Left Image Aluminum Foil courtesy of Wikimedia commons.
Plausible Mechanism Has Been Discovered
Aluminum at the vaccine injection site is taken up by macrophages which travel to the brain causing micro-glial activation, inflammation and immune activation with increased IL-6 cytokine levels, and impaired neuro development, leading to many of the symptoms of autism in animal models.(12-30)
Studies on Aluminum Adjuvant Safety – Using Aluminum in the Placebo
The “authorities” have told us repeatedly that vaccines are safe, and the science is settled. You might then ask the obvious question, “Where is the data on studies showing the safety of vaccine aluminum adjuvants”? The correct answer is: “There are no suitable safety studies.“(16) The FDA merely ASSUMED aluminum adjuvants to be safe. It appears the FDA is very good at assuming things. Another outrageous gimmick is the use of aluminum adjuvants in the placebos used in trials for FDA approval. (24-25) In these studies, half the patients are injected with the vaccine and the other half are injected with placebo, and the number of adverse reactions are reported. A placebo should contain inert sugar water, not an immunotoxic aluminum adjuvant. This simple ploy allows the immunotoxicity of the aluminum adjuvant to be ignored.(24-25)
Aluminum Adjuvants and the Autoimmune Epidemic
Based on published data in the medical literature, rates of auto-immune diseases are increasing at epidemic proportions.(36) See above image showing increase incidence of various auto-immune diseases, Courtesy of Bach, 2002 (37) Although the exact cause is speculative, many authors have implicated aluminum adjuvants in vaccines. (31-35) One such author is Yehuda Shoenfeld MD, who says in a July 2017 editorial in IMAJ:(33)
Adjuvants stimulate the immune system, and therefore lead to more effective immune reactions…Despite the benefits of adjuvant use in vaccination, such additives can induce non-specific constitutional musculoskeletal or neurological clinical manifestations, and in certain cases can lead to the appearance or acceleration of an autoimmune disease in a patient with a genetic susceptibility . …The induction of autoimmune diseases by adjuvants was also reported in animal models…The interaction between the adjuvant material and genetic predisposition may lead to the development of autoimmune diseases as well as lymphoproliferative disorders. (33)
Conclusion: Recent medical research makes a strong case for neuro-toxicity of aluminum adjuvants as the cause of our autism epidemic. Adjuvants have also been implicated in increasing rates of auto-immune diseases. The din of silence in the media has been quite remarkable. Nothing will change unless you get involved and bring about change. Print out this article and send it to all your friends, congressmen, doctors, and family members. It is time for the din of silence to become a deafening roar that cannot be ignored.
Watch the Video JB Handley Del Big Tree Interview: Aluminum in Vaccines and Autism
“there’s an ongoing, permanent immune-system activation in the brains of autistic people.”
Discovery #1: “Maternal Immune Activation” can cause autism
Discovery #1: Immune Activation from the Cytokine Interleukin-6
While Dr. Pardo and colleagues were the first to find this “microglial activation” in the brain of children with autism, this finding has now been replicated many times, here’s a study from Japan in 2013 finding the same thing:
“Maternal infection during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia and autism in the offspring. Supporting this correlation, experimentally activating the maternal immune system during pregnancy in rodents produces offspring with abnormal brain and behavioral development. We have developed a nonhuman primate model to bridge the gap between clinical populations and rodent models of maternal immune activation (MIA).”
“In summary, our study supports a critical role of IL-6 elevation in modulating autism-like behaviors through impairments on synapse formation, dendritic spine development, as well as on neuronal circuit balance. These findings suggest that manipulation of IL-6 may be a promising avenue for therapeutic interventions.”
Discovery #2: Aluminum Adjuvant causes immune activation and is far more neurotoxic than previously thought
“Concerns about its [aluminum adjuvant’s] safety emerged following recognition of its unexpectedly long-lasting biopersistence within immune cells in some individuals, and reports of chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive dysfunction, myalgia, dysautonomia and autoimmune/inflammatory features temporally linked to multiple Al-containing vaccine administrations.”
Discovery #3: Aluminum can increase IL-6 in the brain
Discovery #4: Hepatitis B vaccine induces IL-6 in postnatal rats
The Hep B vaccine rats, however, showed the kind of immune activation event we are seeing in autism (high IL-6) This is biological proof of the link between a vaccine — given to a post-natal animal — inducing an immune activation event, including the cytokine marker for autism, IL-6. A scientific first.
Discovery #5: High levels of aluminum in autism brains
No vaccine containing aluminum adjuvant has ever been explored for its relationship to autism, despite a growing and clear body of evidence implicating aluminum adjuvant in causing “immune activation,” the central cause of autism.
Will we look back one day and say that aluminum adjuvant caused the autism epidemic the way we say that Thalidomide triggered birth defects? I think we will, but that’s just my opinion.
Aluminum Adjuvant Toxicity
It is now known that aluminum adjuvants are not safely eliminated from the body, as assumed by vaccine advocates. Rather, they are taken up by immune system cells (macrophages) and transported around the body, including into the brain. Aluminum adjuvant can cause brain injury and autoimmune diseases.
Immune Activation Brain Injury
Human brain development is controlled by immune-system signals (i.e. “cytokines”). Activation of the immune system during brain development causes disruptions in these signals, resulting in permanent brain injury. The injury manifests as autism, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Adverse vaccine reactions are proven to stimulate a cytokine (interleukin-6) proven to cause autism. There is a large amount of research on this, by many laboratories around the world, but the connection to vaccines is being overlooked.
Aluminum and Immune Activation
Aluminum and immune activation are connected, because aluminum triggers immune activation, and interleukin-6 specifically. Aluminum stimulates IL-6 in the brain. Aluminum also stimulates Th2 activation, a type of immune activation shown to impair brain development in animal studies. So the issues of aluminum adjuvant toxicity and immune activation are connected.
Aluminium crosses the membrane that separates the brain from blood
The metal accumulates in cells that maintain a constant internal environment
Autism sufferers may have genetic changes that cause them to hold aluminium
Disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield linked autism to the MMR vaccine in 1995
His views are widely discredited, but the WHO says vaccine fears put many off
By Professor Chris Exley For The Hippocratic Post and Alexandra Thompson Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 11:03 EDT, 30 November 2017 | Updated: 11:56 EDT, 3 December 2017
While the effect of our proposed reduction on the final antigenicity of the vaccine is unknown, the full effects of the high injected doses of aluminum on the developing brain are also unknown. Indications of accumulation of aluminum associated with autism were recently published  in which the majority of tissue samples from post-mortem brains of patients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were found to contain high concentrations of aluminum. Many samples contained extremely high concentrations, and the study also localized aluminum in glial cells in the brain, consistent with aluminum-induced gliosis models of neurodevelopmental disorders.
12) Wei, Hongen, et al. “Brain IL-6 elevation causes neuronal circuitry imbalances and mediates autism-like behaviors.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease 1822.6 (2012): 831-842
“Here we show that mice with elevated IL-6 in the brain display many autistic features, including impaired cognitive abilities, deficits in learning, abnormal anxiety traits and habituations, as well as decreased social interactions. IL-6 elevation caused alterations in excitatory and inhibitory synaptic formations and disrupted the balance of excitatory/inhibitory synaptic transmissions. IL-6 elevation also resulted in an abnormal change in the shape, length and distributing pattern of dendritic spines. These findings suggest that IL-6 elevation in the brain could mediate autistic-like behaviors, possibly through the imbalances of neural circuitry and impairments of synaptic plasticity.”
13) Tomljenovic, Lucija, and C. A. Shaw. “Mechanisms of aluminum adjuvant toxicity and autoimmunity in pediatric populations.” Lupus 21.2 (2012): 223-230.
14) Tomljenovic, Lucija, and Christopher A. Shaw. “Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the rising prevalence of autism?.” Journal of inorganic biochemistry 105.11 (2011): 1489-1499.
15) Couette, Maryline, et al. “Long-term persistence of vaccine-derived aluminum hydroxide is associated with chronic cognitive dysfunction.” Journal of inorganic biochemistry 103.11 (2009): 1571-1578.
17) Shaw, Christopher A., and Michael S. Petrik. “Aluminum hydroxide injections lead to motor deficits and motor neuron degeneration.” Journal of inorganic biochemistry 103.11 (2009): 1555-1562.
18) Exley, Christopher, et al. “A role for the body burden of aluminium in vaccine-associated macrophagic myofasciitis and chronic fatigue syndrome.” Medical hypotheses 72.2 (2009): 135-139.
19) Agmon-Levin, N., G. R. V. Hughes, and Y. Shoenfeld. “The spectrum of ASIA:’Autoimmune (Auto-inflammatory) Syndrome induced by Adjuvants’.” (2012): 118-120.
20) Luján, Lluís, et al. “Autoimmune/autoinflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA syndrome) in commercial sheep.” Immunologic research 56.2-3 (2013): 317-324.
21) Shaw, C. A., Y. Li, and L. Tomljenovic. “Administration of aluminium to neonatal mice in vaccine-relevant amounts is associated with adverse long term neurological outcomes.” Journal of inorganic biochemistry 128 (2013): 237-244.
22) Shaw, C. A., and L. Tomljenovic. “Aluminum in the central nervous system (CNS): toxicity in humans and animals, vaccine adjuvants, and autoimmunity.” Immunologic research 56.2-3 (2013): 304-316.
23) Israeli, Eitan, et al. “Adjuvants and autoimmunity.” Lupus 18.13 (2009): 1217-1225.
26) Comprehensive Guide to Autism pp 1585-1609 | Cite as Autism Spectrum Disorders and Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants Lucija Tomljenovic Russell L. Blaylock Christopher A. Shaw
27) Gherardi, Romain Kroum, et al. “Biopersistence and brain translocation of aluminum adjuvants of vaccines.” Frontiers in neurology 6 (2015): 4.
28) Crépeaux, Guillemette, et al. “Highly delayed systemic translocation of aluminum-based adjuvant in CD1 mice following intramuscular injections.” Journal of inorganic biochemistry 152 (2015): 199-205.
29) Gherardi, Romain K., Josette Cadusseau, and François‐Jérôme Authier. “Aluminum Particle Biopersistence, Systemic Transport, and Long‐Term Safety: Macrophagic Myofasciitis and Beyond.” Vaccines and Autoimmunity. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2015. 261-270.
34) Watad, Abdulla, et al. “The autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA)/Shoenfeld’s syndrome: descriptive analysis of 300 patients from the international ASIA syndrome registry.” Clinical rheumatology 37.2 (2018): 483-493.
In the past several years, more and more studies proposed some concerns on the possibly increased risk of autoimmune diseases in individuals receiving vaccinations, but published studies on the associations of vaccinations with risks of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) reported conflicting findings. A systematic review and meta-analysis was carried out to comprehensively evaluate the relationship between vaccinations and risk of SLE and RA.
METHODS:Pubmed, Web of Science and Embase were searched for observational studies assessing the associations of vaccinations with risks of RA and SLE. Two authors independently extracted data from those eligible studies. The quality of eligible studies was assessed by using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS). The pooled relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) was used to measure the risk of RA and SLE associated with vaccinations, and was calculated through random-effect meta-analysis.
RESULTS:Sixteen observational studies were finally considered eligible, including 12 studies on the association between vaccinations and SLE risk and 13 studies on the association between vaccinations and RA risk. The pooled findings suggested that vaccinations significantly increased risk of SLE (RR=1.50; 95%CI 1.05-2.12, P=0.02). In addition, there was an obvious association between vaccinations and increased risk of RA (RR=1.32; 95%CI 1.09-1.60, P=0.004). Meta-analysis of studies reporting outcomes of short vaccinated time also suggested that vaccinations could significantly increase risk of SLE (RR=1.93; 95%CI 1.07-3.48, P=0.028) and RA (RR=1.48; 95%CI 1.08-2.03, P=0.015). Sensitivity analyses in studies with low risk of bias also found obvious associations of vaccinations with increased risk of RA and SLE.
CONCLUSION:This study suggests that vaccinations are related to increased risks of SLE and RA. More and larger observational studies are needed to further verify the findings above and to assess the associations of vaccinations with other rheumatic diseases.
Dr. Jeffrey Dach, MD, is the founder and Medical Director of a clinic in Davie, Florida specializing in bioidentical hormones, natural thyroid and natural medicine called TrueMedMD. To see his full Curriculum Vitae visit his website here.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The United States has been trying to “get into the head” of Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for years prior to his election this July, secret cables published by WikiLeaks have showed.
The two-cable series has revealed confidential exchanges between Washington and US outposts in Mexico since 2006, bearing testimony to attempts by the previous administration to profile the nation’s leftist leaders and parties.
A 2009 memo written in the name of then State Secretary Hillary Clinton inquired about ties between Lopez Obrador, also known as AMLO, and his political allies, and the extent to which they were likely to work together in the run-up to 2010 and 2012 elections.
An August 2006 cable by the Mexico City bureau to the State and other departments explored the possibility of AMLO becoming Mexico’s “shadow president” in the wake of his defeat by a paper-thin margin in the July presidential vote, an outcome he refused to accept.
The report pointed to AMLO’s “rigid, self-righteous way of thinking, which excluded the possibility of compromise, and his tremendous charisma, which guaranteed that he would never lack for a core of dedicated followers.”The analysis also cited AMLO’s biographer Alejandra Lajous, in a chapter titled “Getting into AMLO’s Head,” who said that the politician was “extremely manipulative and willing to betray longtime allies and supporters in order to advance ‘his cause’.”
The unflattering report was released ahead of this Friday’s visit by State Secretary Mike Pompeo and a delegation of high-profile officials to Mexico to meet with sitting President Enrique Pena Nieto, as well as with Lopez Obrador, who will be sworn in on December 1.
It is a fierce fight between the retail giants, with no end in sight. Walmart, the vulnerable emperor of brick-and-mortar discount stores, is dueling Amazon, an e-commerce powerhouse with automated warehouses, and operates its retail segment at a loss to crush the industry as a whole.
In a world where Amazon is forcing inefficient big-box stores out of the picture, Walmart is under intense pressure to increase labor efficiency. Walmart is plagued with large overhead expenses, including retail real estate and full-time employees; while those overhead expenses are not as much for Amazon, which relies heavily upon automation in warehouses and an extensive network of subcontracted delivery workers.
As the retail war intensifies, it seems as Walmart has followed Amazon’s lead, and is now making moves to incorporate emerging technologies to improve labor efficiency.
Who will win?
On Tuesday, the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office approved Walmart’s patent for surveillance tools that audibly track their employees’ productivity.
It seems as both retailers [Walmart and Amazon] are progressing towards the Orwellian era of mass surveillance in the form of microchipping their workforce to improve labor efficiency.
According to the patent, the audio surveillance technology would include various sensors strategically placed around the check-out area of the store that would secretly collect and analyze audio data.
The “listening to the frontend” technology, as it is called, could include the sounds of employees bagging items to the conversations between patrons. Through artificial intelligence, Walmart could then use the data to evaluate an employee’s performance automatically.
As BuzzFeed News notes, the most startling feature is the audio surveillance system’s ability to comprehend conversations and use them to assess an employee’s performance:
“If however the performance metric is based on the content of the conversation (e.g., was a specific greeting used or script followed), the system can process the audio detected by the sound sensors 102 (e.g., using speech recognition) to determine the performance metric,” the patent description explains.
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In other words, a talkative cashier with low labor efficiency could find themselves reprimanded for being too chatty — or even fired.
While it is unknown if Walmart will ever pursue this technology, the patent shows the company is serious about using mass surveillance techniques to manage and make its workforce more efficient, which is the largest in the United States.
Walmart believes the new audio system could help it save lots of money and increase customer satisfaction.
“We’re always thinking about new concepts and ways that will help us further enhance how we serve customers,” a Walmart spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
However, there is one labor expert that is not convinced the new audio system detailed in the Walmart patent would produce the desired effect of increased labor efficiency. “Several studies have shown that there is a psychological impact of pervasive surveillance,” Ifeoma Ajunwa, an assistant professor at Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations School, told BuzzFeed News. “[Workplace surveillance] can lead to this opposition feeling, where employees view the employer not as benevolent, but as dictators. And it can impact that attitude toward the higher-up and can lead to resistance.”
Ajunwa also cited a study that discovered that mass surveillance could slow the productivity of employees, who are less efficient when they are nervous or feel they are being watched.
In other words, the audio surveillance system could backfire on the retail giant who is struggling to keep up with Amazon. If Walmart decides to install it, though, employees could be powerless: Ajunwa says the technology is legal, so long the company says it is for business purposes. Thus, this technology would help to usher in a corporate Orwellian era where mass surveillance networks monitor employees at America’s largest employer to improve labor efficiency, as the retail war intensifies with Amazon.
The two presidents will meet in Finland’s capital on July 16 to discuss bilateral relations and various international issues. It will be their first bilateral meeting, as they have previously only met on the sidelines of larger summits.
Seagulls, which usually fly above the Market Square near the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, have suddenly disappeared, days ahead of the planned talks between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reported. The media pointed out that the disappearance of the birds is a great relief for visitors, as they often try to steal food from bystanders.
The newspaper asked the city’s ecological service about whether the disappearance of the seagulls had been ensured by technical means ahead of the important talks between the two leaders, but it was told that this was not the case. The ecologists noted that the seagulls might have left due to several birds of prey moving into the area, threatening the usual feathered residents.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are expected to discuss relations between the two countries, as well as other international issues in Helsinki on July 16. This will be their first tete-a-tete meeting to take place beyond international summits.
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