Symptoms of Trauma Passed On through Sperm

Sperm can pass trauma symptoms through generations, study finds

April 13, 2014

Seweryn Olkowicz / Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have put ample effort into identifying genes that help explain why cancer or heart disease run in some families. But scientists still don’t know if some genes can explain why the children and grandchildren of people who’ve survived traumatic events are more likely to experience mental illnesses than the general population. If there is a gene, or set of genes, that make the children of survivors more likely to develop depression and schizophrenia, scientists have yet to find it. Now, new research suggests that many scientists might have been looking in the wrong place.

A group of European researchers have discovered that early life traumatic events can alter a non-genetic mechanism governing gene expression in the sperm cells of adult mice. And they think that this finding, published today in Nature Neuroscience, explains why the offspring of these mice exhibit the same depressive-like behaviors that their parents do.

Early childhood trauma

The idea that altered gene expression can be passed down is controversial

People who experience early childhood trauma, like abuse or war, often exhibit a number of hormonal imbalances. The mechanisms involved are poorly understood, but most scientists agree that traumatic events alter gene expression, which then causes misregulations in a number of biological processes. But whether these changes can actually be passed down to offspring is a controversial question, because it would imply that

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The Onion’s Staff Will Cry Too Hard To Focus When They Try To Riff On This

May 21, 2018

Trump’s New Campaign Against Iran Will Not Achieve Its Aims

The Trump administration made it perfectly clear today that it wants regime change in Iran by whatever means it has.

In a well promoted speech at the Heritage Foundation Secretary of State Pompeo laid out twelve demands towards Iran. He threatened the “strongest sanctions in history” if those demands were not fulfilled.

But the demands do not make sense. They only demonstrate the incompetence of the Trump administration. The means the Trump administration laid out to achieve its aims are not realistic and, even if they were implementable, insufficient to achieve the desired results.

Iran is asked to stop all uranium enrichment. Stopping enrichment is a no-go for Iran. The program has wide support in Iranian politics as it is seen as an attribute its sovereignty.

Pompeo demands that Iran closes its heavy water reactor. Iran can not close its heavy water reactor. It

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Vatican Assails Wall Street for Creating an “Amoral Culture”

Vatican Assails Wall Street for Creating an “Amoral Culture”

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 18, 2018 ~ 

Pope Francis, Who Advocates Against Materialism, Arrives at the White House on September 23, 2015 in a Humble Little Fiat

Pope Francis, Who Advocates Against Materialism, Arrives at the White House on September 23, 2015 in a Humble Little Fiat

The Vatican released a lengthy report yesterday on how the drive for accumulating money at any cost has turned Wall Street and much of the global financial system into an “amoral culture,” noting that the idea that markets will be self-policing is pure bunk. The Vatican has apparently decided to keep the debate alive that Senator Bernie Sanders started during the presidential campaign of 2016 when he repeatedly railed against Wall Street for having a “business model of fraud.” The Vatican’s entry into this critical conversation would be much more meaningful if each time it or the Pope lectures the world on the meaning of morality they would acknowledge the Catholic Church’s own moral failings over decades in protecting sexual predators of children, refusing to report the assaults to law enforcement and moving the predators from parish to parish — not all that dissimilar to the private justice system run by Wall Street as predator brokers move from firm to firm. (See our related article on the Pope here.)

That being said, there were some interesting and profound nuggets in both the press conference held by the Vatican to release the report and in the report itself, which was titled: “Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System.” H.E. Msgr. Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had this to say at the press conference:

“The purpose of these Considerations is to state clearly that, at the root of the spread of dishonest and predatory financial practices, there are first of all an anthropological myopia and a progressive crisis of the human that have been achieved. Man, today, no longer knowing who he is, and what he is doing in the world, does not even know how to act well, ending up remaining at the mercy of the convenience of the moment and of the interests that dominate the market.

“The profit of the strongest has taken over from the authentic good and has become the real dominant factor in economic and social relations. In this way, the common good has disappeared in many environments from the horizons of living, the conflict of relationships has increased and inequalities have become more pronounced.

“The strongest economic subjects have become Superstars who seize huge amounts of resources, resources that are ever less evenly distributed and increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. It is incredible even to think that ten people may hold almost half of the world’s wealth: today this fact is now a reality!”

Little of how Wall Street fleeces the public was spared from the Vatican’s report. Likely referring to the 14 to 20 percent interest rates that Wall Street banks are allowed to charge their customers on credit cards, the report said this:

“In this sphere, it is clear that applying excessively high interest rates, really beyond the range of the borrowers of funds, represents a transaction not only ethically illegitimate, but also harmful to the health of the economic system. As always, such practices, along with usurious activities, have been recognized by human conscience as iniquitous and by the economic system as contrary to its good functioning.”

The Vatican’s assessment of the risk of derivatives was equally spot on, calling them “a ticking time bomb.” As for one segment of the derivatives market – the credit default swaps that collapsed the large U.S. insurer AIG in 2008 and required a $185 billion taxpayer bailout of the company because it was the counterparty for these instruments to every major bank on Wall Street – the report had this to say:

“A similar ethical assessment can be also applied for those uses of credit default swap (CDS: they are particular insurance contracts for the risk of bankruptcy) that permit gambling at the risk of the bankruptcy of a third party, even to those who haven’t taken any such risk of credit earlier, and really to repeat such operations on the same event, which is absolutely not consented to by the normal pact or insurance.,

“The market of CDS, in the wake of the economic crisis of 2007, was imposing enough to represent almost the equivalent of the GDP of the entire world. The spread of such a kind of contract without proper limits has encouraged the growth of a finance of chance, and of gambling on the failure of others, which is unacceptable from the ethical point of view.

“In fact, the process of acquiring these instruments, by those who do not have any risk of credit already in existence, creates a unique case in which persons start to nurture interests for the ruin of other economic entities, and can even resolve themselves to do so.”

Dwell on that sentence for a moment or two. Does the Vatican know something that the rest of us don’t yet know? Is there another

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Tick Epidemic

 

Rise of the ticks

May 19, 2018

Hugh Clark/Alamy Stock Photo

Tick- and mosquito-borne diseases are a growing danger of the American outdoors. Here’s everything you need to know:

How serious is the threat?
It’s become a real concern for anyone who spends time in the outdoors. Ticks and mosquitoes that can be found in backyards, the woods, fields, and even cities are transmitting Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other illnesses. Reported cases of these diseases more than tripled between 2004 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Part of that rise, from 27,388 cases to 96,075, is attributable to the mosquito-borne Zika outbreak in South Florida in 2016. But tick-borne illnesses are truly epidemic, with a doubling of reported cases over that period, as the bloodthirsty arachnids expand into new regions of the U.S. Scientists have also discovered nine new vector-borne diseases, some of them potentially fatal. “These are more than summertime nuisances,” says Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Vector-Borne Diseases division. “People really do need to take this seriously.”

Why is this happening?
Climate change appears to be a major factor, with warmer temperatures enabling disease-spreading bugs to thrive in areas they used to find inhospitable. The number of counties deemed high-risk for Lyme, which affects an estimated 300,000 Americans a year (many cases are not reported), has increased by more than 320 percent since the late 1990s; northern states such as Maine and Vermont used to be too cold for the deer ticks that carry Lyme, but are now crawling with them. Warmer temperatures also reduce the amount of time it takes for ticks to mature, and increase the period over the summer in which the parasites are active. The other driving factor is suburbanization. Deer ticks mostly feed on mice and deer — that’s also where they pick up the bacteria — so the closer people are to them, the higher their chances of exposure. “Once you start to carve up the forest into little bits,” says Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, “you get an increase in Lyme risk.”

How dangerous are these diseases?
Most are bacterial, so if the infection is caught early, antibiotic treatment is usually effective. More serious problems arise when people don’t realize they’ve been infected, and the bacteria have a chance to spread throughout the body, including the nervous system. Lyme disease is notorious in this respect. Up to

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RussiaGate: Little More than the Usual Rabbit Hole

Making Excuses for Russiagate

May 18, 2018

As months turn into nearly two years and no solid evidence emerges to nail Russia for nabbing Election 2016, some big Russia-gate cheerleaders are starting to cover their tracks, as Daniel Lazare explains.

By Daniel Lazare  Special to Consortium News

The best evidence that Russia-gate is sinking beneath the waves is the way those pushing the pseudo-scandal are now busily covering their tracks.  The Guardiancomplains that “as the inquiry has expanded and dominated the news agenda over the last year, the real issues of people’s lives are in danger of being drowned out by obsessive cable television coverage of the Russia investigation” – as if The Guardian’s own coverage hasn’t been every bit as obsessive as anything CNN has come up with. 

The Washington Post, second to none when it comes to painting Putin as a real-life Lord Voldemort, now says that Special counsel Robert Mueller “faces a particular challenge maintaining the confidence of the citizenry” as his investigation enters its second year – although it’s sticking to its guns that the problem is not the inquiry itself, but “the regular attacks he faces from President Trump, who has decried the probe as a ‘witch hunt.’”

And then there’s The New York Times, which this week devoted a 3,600-word front-page article to explain why the FBI had no choice but to launch an investigation into Trump’s alleged Russian links and how, if anything, the inquiry wasn’t aggressive enough.  As the article puts it, “Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials and a review of documents show that the FBI was even more circumspect in that case than has been previously known.”

It’s Nobody’s Fault

The result is a late-breaking media chorus to the effect that it’s not the fault of the FBI that the investigation has dragged on with so little to show for it; it’s not the fault of Mueller either, and, most of all, it’s not the fault of the corporate press, even though it’s done little over the last two years than scream about Russia.  It’s not anyone’s fault, evidently, but simply how the system works.

This is nonsense, and the gaping holes in the Times article show why.

The piece, written by Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, and Nicholas Fandos and entitled “Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation,” is pretty much like everything else the Times has written on the subject, i.e. biased, misleading, and incomplete.  Its main argument is that the FBI had no option but to step in because four Trump campaign aides had “obvious or suspected Russian ties.”

At Putin’s Arm’

One was Michael Flynn, who would briefly serve as Donald Trump’s national

security adviser and who, according to the Times, “was paid $45,000 by the Russian government’s media arm for a 2015 speech and dined at the arm of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.”  Another was Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Trump’s campaign chairman and was a source of concern because he had “lobbied for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine and worked with an associate who has been identified as having connections to Russian intelligence.”  A third was Carter Page, a Trump foreign-policy adviser who “was well known to the FBI” because “[h]e had previously been recruited by Russian spies and was suspected of meeting one in Moscow during the campaign.”

The fourth was George Papadopoulos, a “young and inexperienced campaign aide whose wine-fueled conversation with the Australian ambassador set off the investigation.  Before hacked Democratic emails appeared online, he had seemed to know that Russia had political dirt on Mrs. Clinton.”

Seems incriminating, eh?  But in each case the connection was more tenuous than the Times lets on.  Flynn, for example, didn’t dine “at the arm of the Russian president” at a now-famous December 2015 Moscow banquet honoring the Russian media outlet RT.  He was merely at a table at which Putin happened to sit down for “maybe five minutes, maybe twenty, tops,” according to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein who was just a few chairs away.  No words were exchanged, Stein says, and “[n]obody introduced anybody to anybody.  There was no translator.  The Russians spoke Russian.  The four people who spoke English spoke English.”

The Manafort associate with the supposed Russian intelligence links turns out to be a Russian-Ukrainian translator named Konstantin Kilimnik who studied English at a Soviet military school and who vehemently denies any such connection.  It seems that the Ukrainian authorities did investigate the allegations at one point but declined to press charges.  So the connection is unproven.

Page Was No Spy

The same goes for Carter Page, who was not “recruited” by Russian intelligence, but, rather, approached by what he thought were Russian trade representatives at a January 2013 energy symposium in New York.  When the FBI informed him five or six months later that it believed the men were

 

 

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A Student’s Loan Story

I’ve Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

Kaitlyn Cawley

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news about my student loan debt. My father was in front of me, his typically ruddy face redder than usual. “A 9.25 percent interest rate?” he yelled, “How can you put that on a kid?” It was clear he was worried, and he had every right to be — as the cosigner of my loans, my debt would be his responsibility, too.

The loan, ironically called a “Smart Option” loan, has a variable interest rate that fluctuates based on changes in the financial market — which may have been explained to me at the time (I truly don’t remember), but I know I didn’t fully grasp what that meant. Either way, neither of my parents wanted me to take it — I could tell that much. My mother didn’t even have to say it, as she sat wordlessly next to me on the couch. Like most working-class parents, she couldn’t fathom paying more than $30,000 a year for my education (let alone $60,000). My father, an electrician who worked nights driving Amtrak trains to put himself through trade school, only earned his associate’s degree in his mid-30s. My mother held a few random part-time jobs over the years while she devoted herself to raising my brother and me, but she never graduated from high school. The concept of attending a private college, let alone paying for it, was completely foreign to them. They wanted me to chase something bigger than they ever had access to. They just didn’t want “bigger” to mean drowning for the next 20 years in an all-consuming pile of debt.

At this point in my education, after two years of private college (and one in a public university), I had already taken out eight substantial loans totaling over $67,000, whose repayment I hadn’t even begun to contemplate. Knowing how much debt I had already amassed, my father tried to impress upon me the difference between this new loan and all of the others I had already taken out — whose average interest rate meted out to a little under 6 percent — and why this loan would be harder to pay in a sea of already-hard-to-pay debt. I knew racking up one more loan and another $24,000 wasn’t ideal, but what was the alternative? Dropping out? Transferring to a new school and hoping my credits would translate? Leaving all the relationships I had cultivated with students and professors alike behind? So I chose to take the loan. In my final year of college, with my back against the wall, Sallie Mae made me an offer I did not know how to refuse.

Bustle

Now, eight years later, that loan — one of nine that left me $95,000 in debt upon graduation (because, yes, interest does accrue while you’re in school) — very clearly marks the exact moment when I lost control of my own financial destiny.

According to a February 2018 study published by the Levy Economic Institute, a nonpartisan policy think tank at Bard College, there are 44.2 million Americans with student loans, which adds up to about $1.4 trillion in debt. There already exists a myriad of research-driven articles that wax on the impact of the student loan crisis on the future of this country (screwed), our economy (broken), and the weight of the loan crisis (crippling). Those are all important to read, but this story isn’t one of them. I’ve learned that citing the national student loan debt totals in the trillions doesn’t get across how this massive problem impacts us individually, in real life.So, I’d rather talk honestly about what it’s like to live this… to explain in everyday dollars and cents how I get by living in a debt spiral, month to month, paycheck to paycheck.

When I was 18, I fully believed that taking out student loans was the only way to achieve my dream and my parents’ dream for me — to transcend my working class upbringing. I was desperate and uninformed and, because of this, I entered into a dangerous relationship with a loan company that will last half my lifetime. Now, I’m finally facing up to the brutal details (after years of sticking my head in the sand) and learning the ins and outs of my debt — and the truth is mind-blowing.

I had no idea so much of the money I was paying did nothing but abate rising interest, barely touching the principal sum.

Part of the problem lies in how complicated it is to find that truth in the first place.Navient, as Sallie Mae’s student loan division is now known after it splintered into two companies in 2014, doesn’t make it easy to access the specific details of your loans; sure, its online portal does have a tab that says “Loan Details,” but inside that section, only the money you still owe is listed (not the money you’ve already paid).

Bustle/Navient

(You can also see here that the interest rate for that loan isn’t 9.25 percent anymore. Because it’s a loan with a variable interest rate, it’s up to 11 percent — a fact I only learned when I called to ask why my monthly payments had increased. As my lender matter-of-factly loan-splained, “We’re not legally required to disclose when we change your interest rate, as per the contract.” I had missed that clause in the multi-page contract I signed when I was 20.)

In order to determine how much money you’ve actually paid to a loan, you have to browse your “Account History” and download a jumbled Excel file that’s filled with extraneous details that don’t make simple addition or subtraction easy. (That’s if the files work at all — my browser crashed repeatedly for weeks just trying to get this information. When I called Navient to report this, they offered to mail me the details, which they said would arrive within 18 days.)

Maybe it’s technically difficult to list what a client has paid thus far on that details page… or maybe that information made readily available and visible to the world would catapult most borrowers into fits of rage. It’s hard to tell, and my repeated calls to Navient media reps for comment received no reply. No matter why it’s so difficult to find, the truth behind my payments and how they were allocated stopped me dead in my tracks. I had no idea so much of the money I was paying did nothing but abate rising interest, barely touching the principal sum.

For example, the worst of my nine loans looks like this:

Bustle/Navient

Yes, I’ve paid more than $18,000 to my original $24,000 student loan — and, yes, only $171 worth of my back-breaking monthly payments (more on those soon) even manage to skim the original amount. If, like me, you didn’t receive a ton of financial education in high school, and you’re wondering how that’s even possible, welcome to my boat.

 

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Yalta International Economic Forum

The real international community meets in Yalta – without the neocon thought police

Neil Clark

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

The real international community meets in Yalta – without the neocon thought police

Around 600 participants from 71 countries met in Crimea at the 4th Yalta International Economic Forum to discuss global co-operation and the building of a better world.

This was the real ‘international community,’ as opposed to the pretend one restricted to just the US and its closest allies.

In February 1945, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, the so-called ‘Big Three,’ met in Yalta to plan for the post-war world. In April 2018, the world faces the threat of war again – not from goose-stepping Nazis – but from similarly Russophobic neocon hawks who seem hell-bent on total global domination.

The imperialist agenda has been thwarted in Syria, where regime-change plans have been blocked, hence a ratcheting up of Cold War 2.0 tensions with Russia from Washington and London. But at the YIEF, one could see the strength of resistance to the serial warmongers.

I had the great honor to be asked to be the moderator for a debate on The Future of the World, which included a diverse lineup of speakers from nine different countries. I opened proceedings by noting that this month marked the 50th anniversary of Tony Richardson’s classic anti-war film The Charge of the Light Brigade, which covered events which took place not far from where the conference was taking place. In 1968, Richardson was lampooning the Establishment-induced Russophobia of the 1850s. Today, rather obscenely, we are back to where we were 160 years ago. ‘The Russians! The Russians! The Russians!’ is once again the demented cry of the political and media elite.

Journalists and other public figures in Britain today who don’t go along with Russophobia face attacks from truly repulsive gatekeepers. Even university academics are under threat for daring to question the War Party line. At least in Crimea, we didn’t have to worry about the witch-hunters.

In a passionate address which got a great reception from the audience, Oumar Mariko, a member of the National Assembly of Mali and the Secretary-General of the African Solidarity for Democracy and Independence Party, stressed how important it was that Africa’s voice was heard.

When Western hawks talk about the ‘international community,’ they never include Africa (ironically while at the same time attacking their opponents for ‘racism’), but at Yalta it was very different. Mariko said that even though African countries had gained formal independence from the old imperial powers,

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