Depression may result from “hyperactivity” in “the disappointment circuit” of the brain

Gerald Gabernig (CC By 2.0)

Gerald Gabernig (CC By 2.0)

Dr Jeremy Dean writes at PsyBlog:

People who are depressed may have hyperactivity in a part of the brain known as ‘the disappointment circuit’, a new study finds.

Scientists led by Professor Roberto Malinow of the University of California, San Diego, found what could amount to an antidote to feeling let-down.

The study focused on a part of the brain called the lateral habenula, which has been linked to the feeling of disappointment which follows from the absence of an expected reward.

Professor Roberto Malinow, who led the study, said:

“The idea that some people see the world as a glass half empty has a chemical basis in the brain.

What we have found is a process that may dampen the brain’s sensitivity to negative life events.”

The neuroscientists found that this area, unlike almost any other in the brain, produces neurotransmitters which both ramp up and damp down brain activity.

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How the CIA made Google

Patrick Barry (CC BY 2.0)

Patrick Barry (CC BY 2.0)

Nafeez Ahmed writes at Medium:

INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.’

The origins of this ingenious strategy trace back to a secret Pentagon-sponsored group, that for the last two decades has functioned as a bridge between the US government and elites across the business, industry, finance, corporate, and media sectors. The group has allowed some of the most powerful special interests in corporate America to systematically circumvent democratic accountability and the rule of law to influence government policies, as well as public opinion in the US and around the world.

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Rapper Tiny Doo Facing Long Prison Sentence Over Lyrics

So now you can go to prison because of the lyrics of a song? In California, the answer may be “yes” reports CNN:

Song lyrics that glorify violence are hardly uncommon. But a prosecutor in California says one rapper’s violent lyrics go beyond creative license to conspiracy.

San Diego-based rapper Tiny Doo has already spent eight months in prison, and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted under a little-known California statute that makes it illegal to benefit from gang activities.

The statute in question is California Penal Code 182.5. The code makes it a felony for anyone to participate in a criminal street gang, have knowledge that a street gang has engaged in criminal activity, or benefit from that activity.

It’s that last part — benefiting from criminal activity — that prosecutors are going after the rapper for.

Tiny Doo, whose real name is Brandon Duncan, faces nine counts of criminal street gang conspiracy because prosecutors allege he and 14 other alleged gang members increased their stature and respect following a rash of shootings in the city in 2013.

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Banker Suicides Continue

ABN AMRO4.jpg

ABN AMRO headquarters in Amsterdam.

Last year we ran stories about the unusually high number of suicides among bankers. The trend is continuing in 2015, reports ZeroHedge, with the death of a “cheerful” Dutch playboy financier making it four suicides at one bank alone, ABN Amro:

Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen – the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few years. As Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen  – the head of ABN’s corporate finance and capital markets -“startled” friends and colleagues as the 42-year-old “had a great reputation” at work, came from an “illustrious family,” and enjoyed national fame briefly as the boyfriend of a famous actress/model. As one colleague noted,

“he was always cheerful, good mood, and apparently he had everything your heart desired. He never sat in the pit, never was down, so I was extremely surprised.

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Tangerine Dream Founder Edgar Froese Dead at 70

Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons.

Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons.

Daniel Kreps writes at Rolling Stone:

Edgar Froese, founding member and keyboardist of the long-running band Tangerine Dream and an electronic music pioneer, passed away after suffering a pulmonary embolism on January 20th. Froese was 70.

“This is a message to you we are very sorry for… On January 20th, Tuesday afternoon, Edgar Froese suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from the effects of a pulmonary embolism in Vienna,” the band posted on Facebook Friday afternoon. “The sadness in our hearts is immensely. Edgar once said: ‘There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address.’ Edgar, this is a little comfort to us.”

Formed in 1967 in West Berlin and born out of the same Krautrock scene that produced Kraftwerk, Cluster, Neu! and Can, Tangerine Dream’s 1970 debut LP Electronic Meditation, which featured fellow electronic music giant Klaus Schulz, shared many of the same musical qualities as their German peers.

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Secret TPP Negotiations—And Public Protests—To Be Held in New York City

Expect vocal opponents to the New World Order to show up in New York this coming week to protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, warns EFF:

The next round of secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations begins this Monday, January 26, and runs through the following week at the Sheraton New York Time Square Hotel in downtown Manhattan. As with many previous TPP meetings, the public will be shut out of talks as negotiators convene behind closed doors to decide binding rules that could impact how our lawmakers set digital policy in the decades to come. Big content industry interests have been given privileged access to negotiating texts and have driven the US Trade Representative’s mandate when it comes to copyright—which is why the TPP carries extreme copyright measures that ignore users’ rights.

Stop TPPA rally. (15550752528).jpg

Protest against TPP in New Zealand. Photo: Neil Ballantyne (CC)

 

Some claim that this could be the final official round of TPP negotiations.

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Read The Very First Comic Book: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck

 

Obadiah Oldbuck

Via Open Culture.com

Comic books, as any enthusiast of comics books won’t hesitate to tell you, have a long and robust history, one that extends far wider and deeper than the 20th-century caped musclemen, carousing teenagers, and wisecracking animals so many associate with the medium. The scholarship on comic-book history — still a relatively young field, you understand — has more than once revised its conclusions on exactly how far back its roots go, but as of now, the earliest acknowledged comic book dates to 1837.

The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, according to thecomicbooks.com’s page on early comic-book history, “was done by Switzerland’s Rudolphe Töpffer, who has been considered in Europe (and starting to become here in America) as the creator of the picture story. He created the comic strip in 1827,” going on to create comic books “that were extremely successful and reprinted in many different languages; several of them had English versions in America in 1846.

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An Hereditary Meritocracy

Images Money (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Images Money (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via The Economist:

The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. That’s a problem.

“MY BIG fear,” says Paul Ryan, an influential Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is that America is losing sight of the notion that “the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.” “Opportunity,” according to Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, “is slipping away.” Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, thinks that “each element” of the sequence that leads to success “is eroding in our country.” “Of course you have to work hard, of course you have to take responsibility,” says Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state, “but we are making it so difficult for people who do those things to feel that they are going to achieve the American dream.” When discussing the chances of ordinary Americans rising to the top, politicians who agree about little else sound remarkably similar.

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I Am Not Corn: Guantánamo Diary Reveals 14-Year-Long Vision of Hell

Camp_x-ray_detainees

Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

After a seven-year legal battle and 2,500 redactions by the same government that has beat, tortured, humiliated and held him incommunicado for twice that time, this week sees the release of the first book detailing harrowing life and near-death inside Guantánamo by one of its longest-held prisoners – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a 44-year-old electrical engineer from Mauritania who studied in Germany and Canada and briefly joined (a U.S.-supported) Al Qaeda in 1992 before beginning his “endless world tour” of American black sites and torture chambers, from Jordan to Bagram to Guantánamo, because he fit a terrorist profile (distant cousin to known bad guy, prayed at wrong place at wrong time etc) that turned out to be “smoke but no fire.”

Slahi’s extraordinary account, born from 466 pages of manuscript handwritten from his single cell at Camp Echo, begins at his family home in Noakchott, Mauritania two months after 9/11, when he is summoned to answer questions at the country’s intelligence ministry; he remembers his mother watching his disappearance, and “the taste of helplessness.” What follows is months and then years of brutal abuse: interrogation, isolation, blindfolding, shackling, sleep deprivation, freezing temperatures, sexual humiliation, death threats, a mock execution and other tortures set out in a “special plan” approved personally by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, all within an absurdist context of fantastic conjecture worthy of Kafka, Beckett, Orwell, Vonnegut and Dostoevsky, all rolled into one well-funded, quintessentially American “intricate machine for generating self-reinforcing fiction.”

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