Nature Editorial on Evolution

June 23, 2007 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
This remark almost sounds like it was written by Douglas Adams.
clipped from www.nature.com
the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside

This does not utterly invalidate the idea that the human mind is, as Senator Brownback would have it, a reflection of the mind of God. But the suggestion that any entity capable of creating the Universe has a mind encumbered with the same emotional structures and perceptual framework as that of an upright ape adapted to living in small, intensely social peer-groups on the African savannah seems a priori unlikely.

Dirt for Depression?

June 23, 2007 at 9:59 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
I always wondered why I felt so good while playing in the mud. It all makes sense now.
clipped from www.sciencedaily.com
Getting Dirty May Lift Your Mood

Science Daily Bacteria found in the soil activated a group of neurons that produce the brain chemical serotonin.

Treatment of mice with a ‘friendly’ bacteria, normally found in the soil, altered their behavior in a way similar to that produced by antidepressant drugs, reports research published in the latest issue of Neuroscience.
Dr Chris Lowry, lead author on the paper from Bristol University, said: “These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all be spending more time playing in the dirt.”

The new research supports this hypothesis, but future studies will be designed to determine if M. vaccae, other bacteria, or pharmaceutical compounds have antidepressant properties through activation of this group of serotonin neurons.

Imperial presidency declared null and void

June 23, 2007 at 4:42 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment

The resistance within the administration to Bush’s torture policy, the ultimate expression of the war paradigm, has come to an end through attrition and exhaustion

clipped from www.salon.com
In private, Bush administration sub-Cabinet officials who have been instrumentalin formulating and sustaining the legal “war paradigm” acknowledge that theirefforts to create a system for detainees separate from due process, criminaljustice and law enforcement have failed. One of the key framers of the warparadigm (in which the president in his wartime capacity as commander inchief makes and enforces laws as he sees fit, overriding the constitutionalsystem of checks and balances), who a year ago was arguing vehemently forpushing its boundaries, confesses that he has abandoned his belief in the wholedoctrinejack.jpg   

Jack Bauer of “24″ questions Fayed in the episode “Day 6: 10:00 P.M. – 11:00 P.M.”

Yet another Bush legal official, even now at the commanding heights of power,admits that the administration’s policies are largely discredited. In itsdefense, he says without a hint of irony or sarcasm, “Not everything we’ve donehas been illegal.” He adds, “Not everything has been ultra vires” — a legalterm referring to actions beyond the law.

The CIA’s torture teachers

June 23, 2007 at 4:35 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment

Psychologists helped the CIA exploit a secret military program to develop brutal interrogation tactics — likely with the approval of the Bush White House

clipped from www.salon.com
 There is growing evidence of high-level coordination between the CentralIntelligence Agency and the U.S. military in developing abusive interrogationtechniques used on terrorist suspectsAfter the Sept. 11 attacks, both turnedto a small cadre of psychologists linked to the military’s secretive Survival,Evasion, Resistance and Escape program to “reverse-engineer” techniquesoriginally designed to train U.S. soldiers to resist torture if captured, byexposing them to brutal treatment. stem_cell_start.gifThe military’s use ofSERE training for interrogations in the war on terror was revealed in detailin a recently declassified report. But the CIA’s use of such tactics — workingin close coordination with the military — until now has remained largelyunknown.
two CIA-employed psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, were at thecenter of the program, which likely violated the Geneva Conventions on thetreatment of prisoners

One U.S. soldier who must be counted

June 23, 2007 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
clipped from www.salon.com
 As of 10 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, 3,529 American military service members andcivilian employees had died in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.That prepositional distinction, “in Iraq,” matters. On the same day, June 20,doctors withdrew life support from Army Cpl. Frank Sandoval, followingcomplications from brain surgery for injuries he sustained in Iraq in 2005. Hehad been declared brain-dead several days prior. Sandoval didn’t die in Baghdador Fallujah; he died in a hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. But as of Thursday,Sandoval has not been included in the official tally by the Department ofDefense.story.jpg Will Sandoval’s death count, as it were? It’s not just a matter ofstatistical accuracy; it’s a basic question of his honor and dignity.
He died as a result of his valor in battle — heroism further exemplified by hisensuing 18-month battle against the odds. Nevertheless, Sandoval’s death inCalifornia is unlikely to make any national headlines when the next Iraq “deathtoll”

Giuliani’s loyalty to an accused priest

June 23, 2007 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment

Giuliani employs his childhood friend Monsignor Alan Placa as a consultant at Giuliani Partners despite a 2003 Suffolk County, N.Y., grand jury report that accuses Placa of sexually abusing children, as well as helping cover up the sexual abuse of children by other priests

clipped from www.salon.com
 Anyone who has followed the career of Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani knows thevalue he places on personal loyalty. Loyalty is what inspired the former mayorof New York to make Bernard Kerik, once his personal driver, the commissioner ofthe New York Police Department, and then a partner in his consulting firm, andthen to suggest him to President Bush as apotential head of the Department of Homeland Security.cty-mayor.jpg After revelations about Kerik’s personal history derailed his bid for the federal post,Giuliani demonstrated that there were limits to loyalty. He has distancedhimself from Kerik, who resigned from Giuliani’s firm and later pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Giuliani has not,however, sought to distance himself from another, much closer friend whosepersonal baggage is also inconvenient, and would send most would-be presidentsrunning.

“A Mighty Heart”

June 23, 2007 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment

This unmooring, bleakly beautiful film — starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl — gets to the essence of the unstable world we now live in. 

clipped from www.salon.com
Mariane Pearl’s 2003 “A Mighty Heart,” a memoir of her life with her husband,journalist Daniel Pearl, and her efforts to locate him after his kidnapping byIslamic extremists in Karachi, Pakistan, in early 2002 — a kidnapping thatended in his beheading — is an almost unassessable bookIts clear-eyed visionnotwithstanding, “A Mighty Heart” is so infused with personal pain that deemingit “good” or “bad” is nearly impossible: Daniel and Mariane had been marriedonly a few years, virtual newlyweds, and Mariane was six months’ pregnant withtheir first child.2007_a_mighty_heart_003-3.jpg 
That sense of one small, private world shattering within the larger and even more unstable one around it is the essence of Michael Winterbottom’s unmooring, bleakly beautiful film version of “A Mighty Heart.” There’s no safety here: “A Mighty Heart” understands, deeply and intuitively, the nature of the changed and in some ways unfathomable world we now live in.

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