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The Bizarre Case Of Ninel Kulagina

‘Psychokinesis, or the ability to manipulate objects with the mind, is a notoriously difficult to prove ability. Most famously Uri Geller achieved fame in the 1970’s with his seemingly amazing ability to bend spoons with nothing other than the power of his mind. Early on in his career, a number of scientists concluded that Geller does indeed posses psychic and psychokinetic abilities, however controversy over Geller’s power developed after a number of stage magician’s, most recently Criss Angel, claimed that Geller’s abilities are simple stage magic tricks. Whichever is the case, Geller remains the most public individual claiming to have these powers.

‘More obscurely, and more defiant against attempts to debunk, is the case of Ninel Kulagina. A female soldier in the Soviet Red Army, Kulagina found that whenever she became angry poltergeist activity would manifest in the room around her. After some time, she began to sense that the force that was responsible for the moving objects came from within her, rather than from a spirit.… Read the rest

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Oliver Sacks: The Abyss

‘Though one cannot have direct knowledge of one’s own amnesia, there may be ways to infer it: from the expressions on people’s faces when one has repeated something half a dozen times; when one looks down at one’s coffee cup and finds that it is empty; when one looks at one’s diary and sees entries in one’s own handwriting. Lacking memory, lacking direct experiential knowledge, amnesiacs have to make hypotheses and inferences, and they usually make plausible ones. They can infer that they have been doing something, been somewhere, even though they cannot recollect what or where. Yet Clive, rather than making plausible guesses, always came to the conclusion that he had just been "awakened," that he had been "dead." This seemed to me a reflection of the almost instantaneous effacement of perception for Clive

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Labour Tries To Block New BAE Inquiry

‘British ministers are refusing to cooperate with the US criminal investigation into allegations of corruption against BAE, Britain’s biggest arms company, the Guardian can disclose.

‘More than two months after an official request for mutual legal assistance (MLA) was received from Washington, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has not yet allowed it to be acted upon. The US investigators believe the British are being obstructive.

‘But legal sources said yesterday that the inquiry team had not been deterred by the UK government’s hostile attitude. Some have already begun taking statements from key British witnesses.’ (Guardian article).

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Ranks Of Child Soldiers Swell Again In Congo

‘Kitchanga, Congo – The prisoners are huddled in a classroom, on display for journalists visiting the rebels led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda. The setting is appropriate, because half of these soldiers are boys who should be in school but have been pressed into war.

‘Fourteen-year-old Bahati Mugisha, a soldier with a Hutu militia, says he was told in early September that he was going to join the Congolese Army. Instead, he was thrown into a fierce battle against Tutsi neighbors in the district of Ngunga, and was captured just days ago, on Sept. 9.

‘"[T]hey told us we were going to fight the Tutsis," says Bahati, speaking in the presence of a rebel intelligence officer. "I’m 14, but there are many boys younger than me. It’s hard to know how many died in battle, but I saw two who died."’ (Christian Science Monitor article).

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Bleeding Into The Mainstream

‘Last December at Ultimate Fighting Championship 66, in the first round of a many-holds-barred, mixed martial arts grudge match between the evenly weighted gladiators Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, the former floored the latter with a gloved right hook that had been fully sanctioned by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Bleeding from a gash over his eye, his back pressed into the ring

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Time To Panic?

‘Barack Obama is improving rapidly as a presidential candidate. His showing at the Service Employees International Union’s spring health-care forum was so bad, an Obama adviser labeled it a "searing experience." But he was dazzling at an SEIU forum on Monday, putting to rest any concern that Obama is too cool and abstract to talk to regular folks. His Tuesday speech unveiling a middle-class tax-cut proposal demonstrated that Obama has moved past the uplifting, but vague, rhetoric of his early campaign and toward concrete policy ideas.

‘This is good news for Obama and his fans, but is it enough good news? While he’s been improving, Hillary Clinton has been improving faster. He was once the Democratic Party phenomenon, but she’s the one with the momentum in the polls. She now leads the national polls by 20 points. In the crucial states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, she’s way ahead, too.… Read the rest

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When Free Radicals Become Free Agents

‘Two decades and 17 Sonic Youth records later, Moore is only now releasing his second solo album of proper songs, Trees Outside the Academy. (He released the ragtag punk-rock masterpiece Psychic Hearts in 1995, and has dabbled in various free-jazz side projects along the way.) The big surprise? It’s folky. And it kind of sounds like a Fahey record. Tracks like "Frozen Gtr" and "The Shape Is in a Trance" feature delicately strummed, alternately tuned acoustic guitars and beautiful, swirling violin arrangements. So what gives? Why abandon the full-throttle, no-wave guitar suicide that Moore pioneered for a roots-rock style perfected decades ago? "Because coming out of the New York punk-rock scene, it’s the last thing people would expect you to do," says Moore. In other words, folk is the new punk.

‘A lot has changed for the 49-year-old. For one thing, he and his wife, Sonic Youth bassist and singer Kim Gordon, left downtown New York in 1999 for the leafy suburbs of Northampton, Massachusetts, where they bought a Georgian-style brick house with a nice yard.… Read the rest

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