Daily Archives: September 22, 2015

Leaked Document Shows U.S. Had Planned To Destabilise Syria In 2006

Syria has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism in the US since 1979. (AFP/File)
Syria has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism in the US since 1979. (AFP/File)

A WikiLeaks document of an alleged telegram sent from Damascus appears to show the US had big plans when it came to Syria — long before the conflict began in 2011.

In the 2006 document classified as “secret,” the US allegedly wrote plans to want to destabilize the Syrian government.

That in itself may not be very interesting; the US is not exactly known for its support for President Bashar al-Assad. The whole country has been listed as a “state sponsor of terrorism” since 1979. The devil, however, is in the details.

There have been several conspiracy theories when it comes to the US involvement with Daesh (ISIS) — creating the militant group to overthrow Assad and destabilize the region. This document appears to support some of those theories.

“Possible actions” to destabilize the regime addressed lots of issues that continue to play on Middle Eastern politics today, often seeming to have a disregard for the consequences for Syrians. Strategies included using the media to cause “Bashar personal angst and may lead him to act irrationally.”

Another listed strategy was playing on “Sunni fears of Iranian influence,” a description that seems to fit the militants who formed Daesh.

read the document below

source http://www.albawaba.com/loop/wikileaks-document-appears-show-us-plans-destabilize-syria-back-2006-744678

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1. (S) Summary. The SARG ends 2006 in a much stronger position domestically and internationally than it did 2005. While there may be additional bilateral or multilateral pressure that can impact Syria, the regime is based on a small clique that is largely immune to such pressure. However, Bashar Asad’s growing self-confidence )- and reliance on this small clique — could lead him to make mistakes and ill-judged policy decisions through trademark emotional reactions to challenges, providing us with new opportunities. For example, Bashar,s reaction to the prospect of Hariri tribunal and to publicity for Khaddam and the National Salvation Front borders on the irrational. Additionally, Bashar,s reported preoccupation with his image and how he is perceived internationally is a potential liability in his decision making process. We believe Bashar,s weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as a the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising. These proposals will need to be fleshed out and converted into real actions and we need to be ready to move quickly to take advantage of such opportunities. Many of our suggestions underline using Public Diplomacy and more indirect means to send messages that influence the inner circle. End Summary. 2. (S) As the end of 2006 approaches, Bashar appears in some ways stronger than he has in two years. The country is economically stable (at least for the short term), internal opposition the regime faces is weak and intimidated, and regional issues seem to be going Syria,s way, from Damascus, perspective. Nonetheless, there are some long-standing vulnerabilities and looming issues that may provide opportunities to up the pressure on Bashar and his inner circle. Regime decision-making is limited to Bashar and an inner circle that often produces poorly thought-out tactical decisions and sometimes emotional approaches, such as Bashar,s universally derided August 15 speech. Some of these vulnerabilities, such as the regime,s near-irrational views on Lebanon, can be exploited to put pressure on the regime. Actions that cause Bashar to lose balance and increase his insecurity are in our interest because his inexperience and his regime,s extremely small decision-making circle make him prone to diplomatic stumbles that can weaken him domestically and regionally. While the consequences of his mistakes are hard to predict and the benefits may vary, if we are prepared to move quickly to take advantage of the opportunities that may open up, we may directly impact regime behavior where it matters–Bashar and his inner circle. 3. (S) The following provides our summary of potential vulnerabilities and possible means to exploit them: — Vulnerability: — THE HARIRI INVESTIGATION AND THE TRIBUNAL: The Hariri investigation ) and the prospect of a Lebanon Tribunal — has provoked powerful SARG reactions, primarily because of the embarrassment the investigation causes. Rationally, the regime should calculate that it can deal with any summons of Syrian officials by refusing to turn any suspects over, or, in extreme cases by engineering “suicides.8 But it seems the real issue for Bashar is that Syria,s dignity and its international reputation are put in question. Fiercely-held sentiments that Syria should continue to exercise dominant control in Lebanon play into these sensitivities. We should seek to exploit this raw nerve, without waiting for formation of the tribunal. — Possible action: — PUBLICITY: Publicly highlighting the consequences of the ongoing investigation a la Mehlis causes Bashar personal DAMASCUS 00005399 002 OF 004 angst and may lead him to act irrationally. The regime has deep-seated fears about the international scrutiny that a tribunal — or Brammertz accusations even against lower-echelon figures — would prompt. The Mehlis accusations of October 2005 caused the most serious strains in Bashar’s inner circle. While the family got back together, these splits may lie just below the surface. — Vulnerability: — THE ALLIANCE WITH TEHRAN: Bashar is walking a fine line in his increasingly strong relations with Iran, seeking necessary support while not completely alienating Syria,s moderate Sunni Arab neighbors by being perceived as aiding Persian and fundamentalist Shia interests. Bashar’s decision to not attend the Talabani ) Ahmadinejad summit in Tehran following FM Moallem,s trip to Iraq can be seen as a manifestation of Bashar’s sensitivity to the Arab optic on his Iranian alliance. — Possible action: — PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN
INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business. Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here, (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders), are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue. — Vulnerability: — THE INNER CIRCLE: At the end of the day, the regime is dominated by the Asad family and to a lesser degree by Bashar Asad,s maternal family, the Makhlufs, with many family members believe to be increasingly corrupt. The family, and hangers on, as well as the larger Alawite sect, are not immune to feuds and anti-regime conspiracies, as was evident last year when intimates of various regime pillars (including the Makhloufs) approached us about post-Bashar possibilities. Corruption is a great divider and Bashar’s inner circle is subject to the usual feuds and squabbles related to graft and corruption. For example, it is generally known that Maher Asad is particularly corrupt and incorrigible. He has no scruples in his feuds with family members or others. There is also tremendous fear in the Alawite community about retribution if the Sunni majority ever regains power. — Possible Action: — ADDITIONAL
DESIGNATIONS: Targeted sanctions against regime members and their intimates are generally welcomed by most elements of Syrian society. But the way designations are applied must exploit fissures and render the inner circle weaker rather than drive its members closer together. The designation of Shawkat caused him some personal irritation and was the subject of considerable discussion in the business community here. While the public reaction to corruption tends to be muted, continued reminders of corruption in the inner circle have resonance. We should look for ways to remind the public of our previous designations. — Vulnerability: — THE
KHADDAM FACTOR: Khaddam knows where the regime skeletons are hidden, which provokes enormous irritation from Bashar, vastly disproportionate to any support Khaddam has within Syria. Bashar Asad personally, and his regime in general, follow every news item involving Khaddam with tremendous emotional interest. The regime reacts with self-defeating anger whenever another Arab country hosts Khaddam or allows him to make a public statement through any of its media outlets. — Possible Action: DAMASCUS 00005399 003 OF 004 — We should continue to encourage the Saudis and others to allow Khaddam access to their media outlets, providing him with venues for airing the SARG,s dirty laundry. We should anticipate an overreaction by the regime that will add to its isolation and alienation from its Arab neighbors. Vulnerability: — DIVISIONS
IN THE MILITARY-SECURITY SERVICES: Bashar constantly guards against challenges from those with ties inside the military and security services. He is also nervous about any loyalties senior officers (or former senior officers) feel toward disaffected former regime elements like Rif,at Asad and Khaddam. The inner circle focuses continuously on who gets what piece of the corruption action. Some moves by Bashar in narrowing the circle of those who benefit from high-level graft has increased those with ties to the security services who have axes to grind. — Possible Action: —
ENCOURAGE RUMORS AND SIGNALS OF EXTERNAL PLOTTING: The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Khaddam and Rif,at Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime,s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction. Vulnerability: —
REFORM FORCES VERSUS BAATHISTS-OTHER CORRUPT ELITES: Bashar keeps unveiling a steady stream of initiatives on economic reform and it is certainly possible he believes this issue is his legacy to Syria. While limited and ineffectual, these steps have brought back Syrian expats to invest and have created at least the illusion of increasing openness. Finding ways to publicly call into question Bashar,s reform efforts )- pointing, for example to the use of reform to disguise cronyism — would embarrass Bashar and undercut these efforts to shore up his legitimacy. Revealing Asad family/inner circle corruption would have a similar effect. — Possible Action: — HIGHLIGHTING FAILURES OF REFORM: Highlighting failures of reform, especially in the run-up to the 2007 Presidential elections, is a move that Bashar would find highly embarrassing and de-legitimizing. Comparing and contrasting puny Syrian reform efforts with the rest of the Middle East would also embarrass and irritate Bashar. — Vulnerability: —
THE ECONOMY: Perpetually under-performing, the Syrian economy creates jobs for less than 50 percent of the country,s university graduates. Oil accounts for 70 percent of exports and 30 percent of government revenue, but production is in steady decline. By 2010 Syria is expected to become a net importer of oil. Few experts believe the SARG is capable of managing successfully the expected economic dislocations. — DISCOURAGE FDI,
ESPECIALLY FROM THE GULF: Syria has enjoyed a considerable up-tick in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last two years that appears to be picking up steam. The most important new FDI is undoubtedly from the Gulf. — Vulnerability: — THE KURDS: The most organized and daring political opposition and civil society groups are among the ethnic minority Kurds, concentrated in Syria,s northeast, as well as in communities in Damascus and Aleppo. This group has been willing to protest violently in its home territory when others would dare not. There are few threats that loom larger in Bashar,s mind than unrest with the Kurds. In what DAMASCUS 00005399 004 OF 004 is a rare occurrence, our DATT was convoked by Syrian Military Intelligence in May of 2006 to protest what the Syrians believed were US efforts to provide military training and equipment to the Kurds in Syria. — Possible Action: — HIGHLIGHT KURDISH
COMPLAINTS: Highlighting Kurdish complaints in public statements, including publicizing human rights abuses will exacerbate regime,s concerns about the Kurdish population. Focus on economic hardship in Kurdish areas and the SARG,s long-standing refusal to offer citizenship to some 200,000 stateless Kurds. This issue would need to be handled carefully, since giving the wrong kind of prominence to Kurdish issues in Syria could be a liability for our efforts at uniting the opposition, given Syrian (mostly Arab) civil society,s skepticism of Kurdish objectives. — Vulnerability: — Extremist elements increasingly use Syria as a base, while the SARG has taken some actions against groups stating links to Al-Qaeda. With the killing of the al-Qaida leader on the border with Lebanon in early December and the increasing terrorist attacks inside Syria culminating in the September 12 attack against the US embassy, the SARG,s policies in Iraq and support for terrorists elsewhere as well can be seen to be coming home to roost. — Possible Actions: — Publicize presence of transiting (or externally focused) extremist groups in Syria, not limited to mention of Hamas and PIJ. Publicize Syrian efforts against extremist groups in a way that suggests weakness, signs of instability, and uncontrolled blowback. The SARG,s argument (usually used after terror attacks in Syria) that it too is a victim of terrorism should be used against it to give greater prominence to increasing signs of instability within Syria. 4. (S)
CONCLUSION: This analysis leaves out the anti-regime Syrian Islamists because it is difficult to get an accurate picture of the threat within Syria that such groups pose. They are certainly a long-term threat. While it alludes to the vulnerabilities that Syria faces because of its alliance with Iran, it does not elaborate fully on this topic. The bottom line is that Bashar is entering the new year in a stronger position than he has been in several years, but those strengths also carry with them — or sometimes mask ) vulnerabilities. If we are ready to capitalize, they will offer us opportunities to disrupt his decision-making, keep him off-balance, and make him pay a premium for his mistakes. ROEBUCK
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South Africa’s new human ancestor, Homo neledi, sparks racism row

Some prominent South Africans have dismissed the discovery of a new human ancestor as a racist theory designed to cast Africans as “subhuman”, an opinion that resonates in a country deeply bruised by apartheid.

“No one will dig old monkey bones to back up a theory that I was once a baboon. Sorry,” said Zwelinzima Vavi, former general secretary of the powerful trade union group Cosatu, a faithful ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

“I am no grandchild of any ape, monkey or baboon — finish en klaar (Afrikaans for “that’s it”),” he said on his Twitter account, which is followed by more than 300,000 people.

His comments were backed by the South African Council of Churches (SACC), which was historically involved in the fight against apartheid.

Vavi recalled that when South Africa was under apartheid rule he was a target of racist remarks: “I been also called a baboon all my life so did my father and his fathers.”

continue http://www.msn.com/en-au/news/world/south-africas-new-human-ancestor-homo-neledi-sparks-racism-row/ar-AAeoZXn?li=AAavLaF&ocid=SL5MDHP

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Retired Cop Claims He Was Paid To Help Tupac Fake His Death

tupac-still-alive-900x350

A retired police officer has hinted that Tupac might still be alive.

David Myers, who is in a critical medical condition in hospital, claims he was paid $1.5 million to help the star fake his own death.

Tupac Shakur, or 2Pac as he was known on stage, died after he was hit in a drive-by shooting back in 1996 when he was just 25.

But Myers says he now wants the world to know the truth and from his death bed – he said: “The world needs to know what I did. I’m ashamed that I let a price be put on my word and I cannot die without letting the world know.”

He claims Suge Knight, who is currently in jail awaiting trial for murder, played a big part in helping it happen.

Over 30 people were reportedly paid to help fake his death – including police, medics and various witnesses.

Myers even claims 2Pac paid $50,000 for a body double to be taken to the morgue. It is not the first time there have been theories that he may not have died.

Tupac’s death is still a mystery

However, the mystery deepens as it later emerged one of the original websites to report Myers’ extraordinary tale is using a fake image to represent the police officer on his deathbed, plunging the conspiracy theory into disrepute.

continue http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/tupac-still-alive-retired-police-6467534

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The largest Australian nature discovery project finds four new bee species

Four new native bee species were recognized as part of the largest Australian nature discovery project ‘Bush Blitz.’ The South Australian bee specialists used molecular and morphological evidence to prove them as new. Three of them belonged to a group of bees with characteristic narrow heads and long mouth parts — adaptations to the narrow constrictions at the base of the flowers of Emu-bushes (Eremophila).Share:


“The narrow face and long labial palps of Euhesma aulaca n. sp. allows the bee to obtain nectar from the flowers from emu-bushes (Eremophila), that have a constriction at the base.”
Credit: Dr. Remko Leijs; CC-BY 4.0

Four new native bee species were recognised as part of the largest Australian nature discovery project, called ‘Bush Blitz’. The South Australian bee specialists used molecular and morphological evidence to prove them as new. Three of the species had narrow heads and long mouth parts — adaptations to foraging on flowers of emu-bushes, which have narrow constrictions at the base. The new species are described in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Bees are important pollinators of crops and native plants, but habitat loss and pesticides are proved to be causing a serious decline in their populations in Europe and the United States of America. Meanwhile, the conservation status of native Australian bees is largely unknown because solid baseline data are unavailable and about one third of the species are as yet unknown to science. Furthermore, identification of Australian bees is hampered by a lack of keys for about half of the named species.

continue http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916215551.htm

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‘Dislike Button’ Scams Target Facebook Users

Facebook users are once again under attack from scammers. Users are being enticed to spam their friends, hand over personal information via dodgy survey sites, and install malware via the promise of a ‘Dislike Button’ for their Facebook accounts.

Facebook dislike button scams are nothing new. However, recent media reports that claim that Facebook may soon be unveiling an official dislike button have given criminals cause to resurrect an old scammer tactic. But, as discussed in more detail below, there is, as yet, no official dislike button available and any post that claims that you can get such a button now is sure to be a scam.

Circulating scam posts like the one shown in the example below claim that you can click a link to get the new dislike button on your profile. However, if you do click the link, you will be taken to a fake Facebook page that instructs you to share and like the post and then send it to a number of Facebook groups before you can add the promised dislike button. This ruse ensures that the scam post reaches an ever-widening Facebook audience.

And, even after you have shared, liked, and spammed your groups as instructed, you will still not get hold of the promised dislike button. Instead, you will be told via a popup window that you must verify your account by clicking a link to participate in a survey.

The link will open a dodgy website that promises the chance to win various prizes in exchange for filling in a survey and providing your personal information. However, fine-print on the page will inform you that the information you provide will be shared with third-party marketing companies and ‘site sponsors’. Thus, you may soon be inundated with unwanted phone calls, emails, and surface mail that tries to entice you to buy various products and services.

continue http://www.hoax-slayer.com/facebook-dislike-button.shtml

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Bernie Sanders Quote About Rape Should Horrify Women Everywhere

sanders3

Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders once penned an essay claiming that men fantasize about abusing women and women fantasize about being raped.

It’s not exactly what you’d expect from the far Left candidate whose campaign runs on the idea of equality for all Americans.

The 1972 article “Man — and Woman,” published in the Vermont Freeman, displays Sanders’ views on gender and sexuality at the time of its publishing.

“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy,” wrote Sanders. “A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused.”

When in comes to female fantasies, Bernie also knows all.

“A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously,” the essay reads.

His controversial views of male and female sexuality have little explanation, other than he was a part of a radical hippie movement back in his younger years.

The essay was written and published after Sanders launched his first bid for the Senate in 1972, the first of four losing campaigns for U.S. Senate and then governor. He was then elected mayor of Burlington in 1981.

When Sanders first ran for office the year “Man — and Woman” was published, he was anti-war, a proponent of guaranteeing a livable minimum wage, cracking down on big corporations and legalizing drugs.

source http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/bernie-sanders-woman-fantasizes-being-raped/article/2565191

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AVG can sell your browsing and search history to advertisers

Security firm AVG can sell search and browser history data to advertisers in order to “make money” from its free antivirus software, a change to its privacy policy has confirmed.

The updated policy explained that AVG was allowed to collect “non-personal data”, which could then be sold to third parties. The new privacy policy comes into effect on 15 October, but AVG explained that the ability to collect search history data had also been included in previous privacy policies, albeit with different wording.

AVG’s potential ability to collect and sell browser and search history data placed the company “squarely into the category of spyware”, according to Alexander Hanff security expert and chief executive of Think Privacy.

“Antivirus software runs on our devices with elevated privileges so it can detect and block malware, adware, spyware and other threats,” he told WIRED. “It is utterly unethical to [the] highest degree and a complete and total abuse of the trust we give our security software.” Hanff urged people using AVG’s free antivirus to “immediately uninstall the product and find an alternative”.

continue http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-09/17/avg-privacy-policy-browser-search-data

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Intensive Meditation Training Influences Emotional Responses to Suffering.

Meditation practices purportedly help people develop focused and sustained attention, cultivate feelings of compassionate concern for self and others, and strengthen motivation to help others who are in need. We examined the impact of 3 months of intensive meditative training on emotional responses to scenes of human suffering. Sixty participants were assigned randomly to either a 3-month intensive meditation retreat or a wait-list control group. Training consisted of daily practice in techniques designed to improve attention and enhance compassionate regard for others. Participants viewed film scenes depicting human suffering at pre- and posttraining laboratory assessments, during which both facial and subjective measures of emotion were collected.

continue http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25938614

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Estonian Students Build Giant Wooden Megaphones To Listen To The Forest

A group of interior architecture students have built king-size wooden megaphones deep in the woods in Estonia. It is a large scale acoustic installation that amplifies the sounds of the forest.

The installation blends contemporary architectural space and wilderness and is accessible for hikers and nature lovers for free.The objects were placed at such a distance and angle that the sound feed from all the three directions creates a delicate unique sound at the very centre.

continue and see wondeful photo’s http://www.boredpanda.com/estonian-students-build-amazing-unplugged-walk-in-megaphones-in-the-middle-of-nowhere/

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Concorde enthusiasts hope to have the jet in the air by 2019

(UPI) — A group of Concorde lovers say they’ve raised enough money to purchase one of the jetliners from the retired fleet, with the goal of returning it to the skies by 2019.

The Concorde enthusiasts say they also have the investments needed to put another of the luxury supersonic jets on display in London.

The Concorde is a turbo-powered jet capable of achieving a speed of Mach 2.04, twice the speed of sound. The first Concorde took to the air in 1969, the last in 2003. British Airways and Air France still co-own the fleet of 20 jets, but have no plans to put the planes back in service.

Sums of 40 million pounds (for the grounded plane) and 120 million pounds (for the airborne plane) were raised by Club Concorde, which according it its website is: “A club for all things Concorde, run by ex-Captains, ex-charterers and people passionate about Concorde, working together to keep Concorde in people’s hearts and minds.”

continue http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2015/09/19/Concorde-enthusiasts-hope-to-have-the-jet-in-the-air-by-2019/8881442690269/

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Embryo Editing Studies attacked as step toward eugenics and ‘designer babies

Genetics 09.19.2015 0 Comments

U.K. Scientists Seek Gov’t OK for Embryo Editing Studies

Research has been attacked as step toward eugenics and ‘designer babies’

  • by Kate Kelland
    Reuters Staff

LONDON (Reuters) — British scientists have applied for permission to edit the genes of human embryos in a series of experiments aimed at finding out more about the earliest stages of human development.

Just months after Chinese scientists caused an international furor by saying they had genetically modified human embryos, Kathy Niakan, a stem cell scientist from London’s Francis Crick Institute, has asked the British government’s fertility regulator for a license to carry out similar experiments.

In a statement about her application, which was made to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), Niakan said she had no intention of genetically altering embryos for use in human reproduction, but aimed to deepen scientific understanding of how a healthy human embryo develops.

“This knowledge may improve embryo development after in vitro fertilization (IVF) and might provide better clinical treatments for infertility,” she said in a statement, adding that any donated embryos would be used for research purposes only.

continue http://www.medpagetoday.com/Genetics/GeneralGenetics/53643

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Antidepressant Paxil Is Unsafe New Analysis Says

A reanalysis of a 2001 study found that Paxil, the antidepressant, is not safe for teenagers. Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Fourteen years ago, a leading drug maker published a study showing that the antidepressant Paxil was safe and effective for teenagers. On Wednesday, a major medical journal posted a new analysis of the same data concluding that the opposite is true.

That study — featured prominently by the journal BMJ — is a clear break from scientific custom and reflects a new era in scientific publishing, some experts said, opening the way for journals to post multiple interpretations of the same experiment. It comes at a time of self-examination across science — retractions are at an all-time high; recent cases of fraud have shaken fields as diverse as anesthesia and political science; and earlier this month researchers reported that less than half of a sample of psychology papers held up.

“This paper is alarming, but its existence is a good thing,” said Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, who was not involved in either the original study or the reanalysis. “It signals that the community is waking up, checking its work and doing what science is supposed to do — self-correct.”

The authors of the reanalysis said that many clinical studies had some of the same issues as the original Paxil study, and that data should be made freely available across clinical medicine, so that multiple parties could analyze them.

The dispute itself is a long-running one: Questions surrounding the 2001 study played a central role in the so-called antidepressant wars of the early 2000s, which led to strong warnings on the labels of Paxil and similar drugs citing the potential suicide risk for children, adolescents and young adults. The drugs are considered beneficial and less risky for many adults over 25 with depression.

Over the years, thousands of people taking or withdrawing from Paxil or other psychiatric drugs have committed violent acts, including suicide, experts said, though no firm statistics are available. Because many factors could have contributed to that behavior, it is still far from clear who is at risk — and for whom the drugs are protective.

continue http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/health/antidepressant-paxil-is-unsafe-for-teenagers-new-analysis-says.html?emc=edit_th_20150917&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68337520&_r=0

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Swiss Insurance Company Will Charge Higher Premiums For Lazy People

Basis Band On Wrist

Dan Bracaglia

In June, Swiss insurance provider, CSS Insurance announced that it would launch a pilot program to monitor its customers’ digital pedometers. Now that project is nearly halfway completed, the company’s higher-ups report that the results have been overwhelmingly positive—so positive, in fact, that the provider may soon start charging higher premiums for those who don’t meet their daily step quota or choose not to participate in the program, according to the Swiss news organization, The Local.

The pilot program, called MyStep, is the first of its kind by any insurer in Europe. The company monitors the step count of 2,000 people using digital pedometers like Fitbits or Apple Watches. That information is regularly synced with CSS’ online portal.

continue http://www.popsci.com/swiss-insurance-company-will-charge-higher-premiums-for-lazy-people

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Expert calls for ban on robot prostitutes: ‘These aren’t Barbies’

Welcome to the campaign against the latest mythical robotic menace

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A campaign has been launched to ban sex robots – or, at least, robot prostitutes. And, actually, human prostitution as well. Maybe it’s actually about prostitution and not about robots at all.

Talking to The Register, Dr Kathleen Richardson informed us of her campaign to ban the development of robots designed to be used for sex. Dr Richardson contends that sex droids would strongly contribute to the continuing plight of prostituted women and children.

Richardson is a senior research fellow, focusing on the ethics of robotics, at De Montfort University. She is not a robot herself, despite the BBC’s description of her as “a robot ethicist”.

Dr Richardson’s background is not in robotics or engineering but anthropology, in which subject she holds an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge. She said that use of sex-bots is deeply connected to the use of prostituted women.

She explained to El Reg that it was in investigating the manufacture of sex-robots that she initially became concerned about the philosophy going into the creation of robo-whores.

“The relationship that is being imported,” by the sex-bot developers is one that has come directly from that between “prostitutes and johns” according to Richardson, who finds it “very disturbing”.

In a paper titled “The Asymmetrical ‘Relationship’: Parallels Between Prostitution and the Development of Sex Robots”, Richardson proposes “that prostitution is no ordinary activity and relies on the ability to use a person as a thing and this is why parallels between sex robots and prostitution are so frequently found by their advocates.”

continue http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/09/15/anti_robot_prostitution_campaign/

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This simple code can increase your smartphone battery life by 16% – and yes, it’s free

Let’s face it: we’re never going to be happy with our battery life. Even if it’s better, it will still run out (usually when you need it most), but even a slight improvement is still an improvement: researchers at Purdue University in the US have developed a new tool for Android users that could increase your battery life by 16%.

Together with Intel and Indiana-based battery startup Mobile Enerlytics, the researchers studied the use of 2,000 Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 smartphones across 191 mobile carriers in 61 countries, finding that almost half (45.9 percent) of the battery drain happens while the screen is off and we’re not actually using the phone. Most of this (28.9 percent) is guzzled up by apps that run in the background.

“This was the first large-scale study of smartphone energy drain ‘in the wild,’ or in everyday use by consumers,” said Y. Charlie Hu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, in a press release.

While some of these apps are important and ensure that your communications systems are working properly… not all of them are.

“During screen-off, the phone hardware should enter the sleep state, draining close to zero power,” Hu said. “Apps wake the phone up periodically during screen-off to do useful things, but then afterward, they should let the phone go back to sleep. They are not letting the phone go back to sleep because of software bugs and, specifically, due to the incorrect use of Android power control application programming interfaces called wakelocks.”

Now, in a paper they presented at the Association for Computing Machinery MobiCom 2015 conference in Paris this month, they demonstrated a code-based solution, HUSH, that extends battery life by a sixth (16%). HUSH works by identifying which apps are useful for users and which aren’t. For example, frequent Facebook updates during screen-off may be useful to a user who checks Facebook feeds and reacts to notifications often, but maybe useless for someone else: HUSH analyzes your behavior and treats apps accordingly. The best part of all this? It’s completely free for download!

Here’s the code on GitHub. It hasn’t been packaged in the form of an app yet, but you can still use it. You can either use it now as it is, or wait until they turn it into an app. Enjoy your extra battery!

source http://www.zmescience.com/research/technology/code-battery-smartphone-16092015/

Categories: Uncategorized

Obama Issues Executive Order for Government Use of Behavioral Data

A new executive order from President Obama directs all government agencies to use psychological science and data to help connect more Americans to government programs.

The order instructs government agencies to use “behavioral science”— a tactic used by Obama’s political campaigns to harness data from their supporters to target them effectively.

The program has already existed in an experimental form, but now Obama has formally established the federal “Social and Behavioral Sciences Team,” ordering them to to use psychology and experimental behavior data to make government more user-friendly.

An example of these techniques used during Obama’s campaign was that it was better to affirm a positive message rather than denying a negative message.

According to reports, behavioral science was used to advise the campaign to focus on Obama’s Christianity instead of trying to deny the notion that he was a Muslim. Other tactics included encouraging supporters to act for the campaign in small ways before asking them to commit to bigger goals.

A study released today by the president’s office of National Science and Technology reveals that behavioral science has already helped government agencies target individuals.

continue http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/09/15/obama-issues-executive-order-government-use-behavioral-data/

Categories: Uncategorized

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