The Hidden Systems That Have Frozen Time and Stop Us Changing The World

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A tremendous essay from filmmaker (The Power of Nightmares, The Century of the Self) Adam Curtis for the BBC is a must read for all disinfonauts:

If you are an American politician today, as well as an entourage you also have a new, modern addition. You have what’s called a “digital tracker”. They follow you everywhere with a high-definition video camera, and they are employed by the people who want to destroy your political career.

It’s called “opposition research” and the aim is to constantly record everything you say and do. The files are sent back every night to large anonymous offices in Washington where dozens of researchers systematically compare everything you said today with what you said in the past.

They are looking for contradictions. And if they find one – they feed it, and the video evidence, to the media.

On one hand it’s old politics – digging up the dirt on your opponent.

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USA Today Whips Up Fear of Ebola In United States

With a headline that Ebola is “only a plane ride away” from the United States, the lowest common denominator newspaper USA Today sounds increasingly like a British tabloid:

The growing Ebola outbreak in West Africa serves as a grim reminder that deadly viruses are only a plane ride away from the USA, health experts say.

The outbreak is the largest and deadliest on record, with more than 670 deaths and more than 1,200 infections in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fatality rates for Ebola have been as high as 90% in past outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization.

The virus — which has an incubation period of a few days to three weeks — could easily travel to the USA through infected travelers, says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

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Fake Birth Control in Peru

The organization, Prosalud Interamericana, worried that emergency contraception pills being sold in Peru were not, in fact, birth control pills at all. They investigated and what they found was disturbing: 1 out of 4 pills was a generic antibiotic.

A split dose of two emergency contraceptive pills (most are now provided as one single-dose pill). [photo by Anka Grzywacz]

A split dose of two emergency contraceptive pills (most are now provided as one single-dose pill). [photo by Anka Grzywacz]

via Popular Science:

As a traditionally Catholic country, Peru has been slower than most to accept contraceptives. Over the past decade, most citizens’ ideology has gradually stretched to accommodate the need for birth control, but emergency contraception (AKA the “morning after” pill) is still highly controversial in Peru. Although some question the pill on moral grounds, others are starting to question it based on sinister scientific findings: some of the pills are not the pill.

With a growing number of “verified” emergency contraceptives being registered in Peru over the past few years, leaders of Prosalud Interamericana, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about sexual health, became suspicious that some of the birth control being sold in Peruvian pharmacies was not the pill described on the packaging.

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Natural News: A Truly Deadly Brand of Pseudoscience?

What do you make of Mike Adams and his Natural News site, disinfonauts? Big Think has a very negative take:

If there was an award for the single greatest hub of pseudoscience on the internet, the website Natural News would well and truly take the crown tin foil hat. Expect to find anti-vaccine paranoia which extends not only to your garden variety antivaxxer favorites such as the debunked link to autism but to crackpot claims that vaccines caused the “cancer epidemic” and were even responsible for the “origin” of AIDS. According to Natural NewsMicrosoft is developing “eugenics vaccines that target specific races and nationalities with infertility-inducing pharmaceuticals“. Alongside this you’ll also find full blown AIDS denialism (emphasis mine):

1-Aids-Denialism
HIV does NOT cause AIDSHIV does not cause anything. A staggering statement given the hype and acceptance by the scientific establishment and, through them, the public that the HIV virus is the only cause of AIDS. HIV is a weak virus and does not dismantle the immune system.

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EPA to Host Four Public Hearings on Climate Change Reduction

mokestack of Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility waste-to-energy plant.

Smokestack of Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility waste-to-energy plant.

And yet another battle in the climate change arena.

via EcoWatch:

This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host four public hearings on its plan to reduce climate change pollution from power plants. The speakers list is already filling up. Physicians will outline the health hazards linked to climate change. Farmers will talk about the challenges of raising crops in the face of extreme weather. And governors and mayors will describe the benefits of attracting clean energy investment to their communities.

Many people will testify in favor of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This should come as no surprise considering 7 in 10 Americans view global warming as a serious problem and want the federal government to reduce the pollution that causes it, according to a recent ABC News poll.

But the hearings will also attract another group of speakers: representatives from the American Coal Council, Americans for Prosperity and other dirty industries.

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Oldest Medical Report of Near-Death Experience Discovered

What an amazing thrift store find.

Cover of the book "Anecdotes de Médecine," by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux (1733-1766) Credit: Archive.org - Book contributor: Fisher - University of Toronto. Digitizing sponsored by University of Ottawa

Cover of the book “Anecdotes de Médecine,” by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux (1733-1766)
Credit: Archive.org – Book contributor: Fisher – University of Toronto. Digitizing sponsored by University of Ottawa

via Live Science:

Reports of people having “near-death” experiences go back to antiquity, but the oldest medical description of the phenomenon may come from a French physician around 1740, a researcher has found.

The report was written by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux, a military physician from northern France, who described a case of near-death experience in his book “Anecdotes de Médecine.” Monchaux speculated that too much blood flow to the brain could explain the mystical feelings people report after coming back to consciousness.

The description was recently found by Dr. Phillippe Charlier, a medical doctor and archeologist, who is well known in France for his forensic work on the remains of historical figures. Charlier unexpectedly discovered the medical description in a book he had bought for 1 euro (a little more than $1) in an antique shop.

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Massachusetts Monks Brew ‘Trappist Ale’ to Pay for Medical Costs

St. Joseph’s Abbey is the only monastery in the US that brews “Trappist Ale.” The other monasteries are located in Belgium (6), the Netherlands (2), and Austria (1).

Example beers of the 8 recognised Trappist breweries as of August 2013. Soon to include the ale of St. Joseph's Abbey. (Photo by Philip Rowlands)

Example beers of the 8 recognised Trappist breweries as of August 2013. Soon to include the ale of St. Joseph’s Abbey. (Photo by Philip Rowlands)

via Reuters:

(Reuters) – Tucked off a two-lane highway in a hilly, wooded section of central Massachusetts, a group of Roman Catholic monks has embraced a centuries-old tradition they hope can sustain their aging members in a world of rapidly rising health costs.

The 60 monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey still rise at 3 a.m. for prayers and pass most of their days in silence. But when it is time for work, a handful head down to the monastery’s new brewery, the first outside Europe to produce certified Trappist Ale.

The venture has proven to be less labor-intensive than the monks’ other businesses, making religious vestments and fruit preserves.

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Furniture That Looks and Feels Like Human Flesh

I don’t think I’ll be buying the chair and stool anytime soon, but I’d definitely be willing to try it out if ever given the opportunity.

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via Wired:

“Children have been one of the most interesting demographics in relation to the work,” Barker, creator of the skin series and founder of design studio 9191, told Wired.co.uk. “Without any of the hang ups we later develop, they are free to truly explore and interact with the work. Work regarding the human body is very personal and we all have a very immediate reaction to it so the reactions have reflected this.”

The skin stool and skin chair sell for £440 and £1,500 respectively. And in case there was any doubt as to whether furniture that looks, feels and smells like skin (it’s impregnated with human pheromones and aftershave) is on the consumer agenda, Barker’s MA show at Central Saint Martin’s was a sell-out last month and she’s already in talks with retailers.

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Big Pharma’s Latest Trick: Testing Meds on Homeless People

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Are the massive pharmaceutical corporations known collectively as “Big Pharma” now the world’s worst corporate villains? Carl Elliott writes of a dastardly plan to test trial medications on homeless people, at Medium:

Two years ago, on a gray January afternoon, I visited the Ridge Avenue homeless shelter in Philadelphia. I was looking for poor people who had been paid to test experimental drugs. The streets outside the shelter were lined with ruined buildings and razor wire, and a pit bull barked behind a chain-link fence. A young guy was slumped on the curb, glassy-eyed and shaky. My guide, a local mental health activist named Connie Schuster, asked the guy if he was okay, but he didn’t answer. “My guess is heroin,” she said.

We arrived at the shelter, where a security guard was patting down residents for weapons. It didn’t take long for the shelter employees to confirm that some of the people living there were taking part in research studies.

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