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Here’s How You Can Still Get Heart Healthy After 40

A new study by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers offers middle-aged Americans hope that they can still improve their heart health.
The study, published in the May 15 edition of the journal Circulation, concluded that increasing physical activity levels over a span of six years in middle age was linked to a significantly decreased risk of heart failure.

But that doesn’t mean you can assume past years of healthy living will protect your heart as you enter old age. The researchers found that six years without physical activity in middle age was linked to an increased risk of heart failure, too.

Heart failure, which affects about 6.5 million U.S. adults, is a chronic condition where the heart doesn’t circulate enough blood to fully meet the body’s needs. It’s the leading cause of hospitalization in adults over age 65, according to Johns Hopkins.

“The results are not too surprising given that people that exercise [typically] maintain health longer than individuals that do not exercise,” said Dr. Deepak Gupta, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center cardiologist.

Gupta said the report again emphasizes how important physical activity is for good health.

“We would expect that individuals that increase their physical activity lower their future risk of heart failure, and these results now provide the supporting scientific evidence,” Gupta told Healthline. “An equally important finding is that individuals who were active initially, but became less active over time, were at increased risk for future heart failure.”
The researchers used data previously gathered from 15,792 participants in the federally-funded Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Participants, with an average age of 60, were recruited from 1987 to 1989 in Forsyth County, North Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Washington County, Maryland.

They were monitored annually for an average of 19 years for cardiovascular-related disease such as heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Plus, at the first and third ARIC study visits—which were six years apart—each participant filled out a questionnaire asking them to evaluate their physical activity levels.

These were categorized as:

  • poor: no exercise
  • intermediate: 1–74 minutes per week of vigorous intensity or 1–149 minutes per week of moderate exercise
  • recommended: at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity or at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity

Participants categorized as meeting recommended activity levels at both the first visit and then six years later at the third visit, had the largest decrease of heart failure risk—an overall decrease of 31 percent.

This risk of heart failure also continued to diminish with more activity. It decreased by about 12 percent in participants who increased their physical activity levels from poor to intermediate or recommended, or from intermediate to recommended.

On the other hand, heart failure risk increased by 18 percent in participants who reported decreased physical activity between the first and third visits.

“You’re never too old to start exercising… and the opposite is also true,” said Dr. Richard Josephson, a cardiologist at University Hospitals Health System in Ohio. “At some point you’re exercising regularly and you stop or cut back, that has negative health consequences.”

Frequency Counts

The recent study joins a large body of evidence on the link between working out consistently and staying heart healthy.

“Heart failure is among the most common causes of morbidity, particularly among older individuals,” said Gupta. “We are increasingly aware that heart failure can be prevented in some individuals. Maintaining or increasing physical activity in middle age appears to be effective in reducing heart failure risk.”

A related study recently published in The Journal of Physiology found that in an across-sectional examination of 102 people over age 60, a lifelong history of exercise of two to three times a week resulted in more youthful middle-sized arteries. Those who exercised four to five times a week also had more youthful large-central arteries.

Tips for Keeping Fit

If you’re concerned about staying heart healthy in middle age, Josephson has some tips for people who want to get in shape.

“In general, start low and go slow,” he said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Josephson suggested starting off by walking for five to 10 minutes a day while incrementally increasing the time or distance every few weeks. When reaching 30 to 45 minutes, increase the intensity by picking up the pace.

“The same approach would be relevant if you’re using exercise equipment in a gym,” he said.

When it comes to cardio-specific health, he recommended setting a goal to exercise at least every other day because some of the beneficial biochemical changes that take place in the body from exercise dissipate after 48 hours.

He said that whether it’s aerobic exercise like walking, cycling, or swimming, or isometric strengthening exercises like weight training, the key to sticking to a program is picking one you enjoy.

“You need to find the type of exercise that you can do, that you want to do,” said Josephson.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while exercising for two hours a day is certainly better than one hour, most of the benefits actually take place within that first hour, he said.

So don’t beat yourself up if you max out at 60 minutes.

Jessica Peralta is a contributor to Healthline where this article was originally published.

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Psychedelics Shown to Heal Damaged Brain Cells from Depression

Research in recent years has shown that psychedelics like LSD, magic mushroomsMDMA and DMT from ayahuasca can help with addiction, depression, phobias, schizophrenia, anxiety and even prisoner recidivism rates.

New research on substances like tryptamines, DMT and magic mushrooms; amphetamines, including MDMA; and ergolines, like LSD revealed that some of these substances can regrow parts of nerve cells in the brain, which may explain their restorative abilities. Amazingly, they can repair parts of the prefrontal cortex, involved in the brain’s reward center and executive functioning.

The Independent reports on the new study, hot off the presses in the journal Cell Reports:

Researchers in California have demonstrated these substances, banned as illicit drugs in many countries, are capable of rewiring parts of the brain in a way that lasts well beyond the drugs’ effects.

This means psychedelics could be the “next generation” of treatments for mental health disorders which could be more effective and safer than existing options, the study’s authors from the University of California.


In previous studies by the same team, a single dose of DMT, the key ingredient in ayahuasca medicinal brews of Amazonian tribes, has been shown to help rats overcome a fear of electric shock meant to emulate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Now they have shown this dose increases the number of branch-like dendrites sprouting from nerve cells in the rat’s brain.

The effects of three psychedelics, DMT, LSD, amphetamines (DOI) and one control (VEH) on neurons in the prefrontal cortex (Ly et al)

They find that the “dendrites end at synapses where their electrical impulses are passed on to other nerve cells and underpin all brain activity” but can “atrophy and draw back in people” struggling with mental health issues.

Interestingly, this same atrophy happens in the brain during PTSD, anxiety, and addiction.

In fact, Dr David Olson, lead of the study said:

One of the hallmarks of depression is that the neurites in the prefrontal cortex – a key brain region that regulates emotion, mood, and anxiety – those neurites tend to shrivel up.

People have long assumed that psychedelics are capable of altering neuronal structure, but this is the first study that clearly and unambiguously supports that hypothesis.

Notably, the researchers were mainly concerned if the effects of these psychedelics could match or supersede those of ketamine.

We’ve written about ketamine’s effects on depression, and receive snarky comments that ketamine’s effects are only because it is a tranquilizer.

But no, that’s not it! What I didn’t know is that ketamine is shown to change brain plasticity, and that’s a horse of a different color.

Dr. David Olsen added:

Ketamine is no longer our only option. Our work demonstrates that there are a number of distinct chemical scaffolds capable of promoting plasticity like ketamine, providing additional opportunities for medicinal chemists to develop safer and more effective alternatives.

The rapid effects of ketamine on mood and plasticity are truly astounding. The big question we were trying to answer was whether or not other compounds are capable of doing what ketamine does.

Now that you can see the visual proof that psychedelics like LSD, DMT and more have actual restorative effects on neurons in depressed or traumatized brains – what do you think?

About the Author

Heather Callaghan is a Health Mentor, writer, speaker and energy medicine practitioner. She is the Editor and co-founder of NaturalBlaze as well as a certified Self-Referencing IITM Practitioner. 

This article (Psychedelics Shown to Heal Damaged Brain Cells from Depression) was originally published at Natural Blaze and is reposted here with permission. 

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BOMBSHELL: “Consensus” theory of evolution of the species falls apart; new mitochondrial DNA study reveals NO animal species more than 200,000 years old

A surprising new study is casting serious doubt on the popular theory that modern animals are the result of millions of years of evolution. After looking at the mitochondrial DNA of thousands of animal species, including humans, researchers reached the stunning conclusion that nearly every species dates back just 100,000 to 200,000 years.

The study was carried out by the University of Basel’s David S. Thaler and The Rockefeller University’s Mark Young Stoeckle. According to the conventional narrative of evolution involving adaption based on genetic mutations and survival of the fittest, one would expect older species and those with big populations spread across the planet to have greater genetic variation. However, the researchers actually found that 90 percent of the animal species have mitochondrial DNA variation that is similarly low.

The scientists were taken aback by the finding. Thaler said: “This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could.” After all, the common notion that the evolution of species on our planet has been a progressive and slow process is rarely challenged by scientific studies.

This study took a different approach than those of the past, which have looked at nuclear DNA. Every animal has DNA in its mitochondria. One of the genes found in mitochondria, COI, is used for DNA barcoding. While nuclear DNA differs dramatically from species to species, animals have the same mitochondrial DNA, making a good basis for comparison.

After analyzing these barcodes across 100,000 species, they discovered strong evidence that almost all animals emerged right around the time humans did. This was because there was no variation in the “neutral” mutations, or slight DNA changes across generations that don’t impact an individual’s odds of survival. The similarity of these neutral mutations to one another can be likened to the rings in a tree in terms of their ability to indicate a species’ approximate age.

Humans, animals remarkably similar

It’s also very interesting to note their findings that the genetic differences between humans around the world aren’t any greater than the differences between any two pigeons or any other animals. According to Stoeckle, “Culture, life experience and other things can make people very different but in terms of basic biology, we’re like the birds.

“By determining the genetic variety within species of the animal kingdom, made possible only recently by the burgeoning number of DNA sequences, we’ve documented the absence of human exceptionalism.”

How can it be that the vast majority of animal life is approximately the same age, genetically speaking? According to their findings, most – if not all – animal species actually got their start 200,000 years ago with their mitochondrial clock essentially set at zero. They were believed to have gotten their start with small “founding” populations that later expanded, possibly in response to extreme conditions like the last ice age. This means that the possibility of intelligent design is still very much on the table, despite what Darwinian adherents would have you believe. (Related: Huge contradictions in “scientific” thinking revealed … Theory of evolution in no way explains origins of life.)

Follow more news on published science at Science.news.

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Bad News for the World: Hurricanes and Cyclones Are Slowing Down

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey drenched Houston and nearby areas with as much as 50 inches of rain in one day, leaving some areas under several feet of water.

Photo: Aerial view of buildings partially underwater
Photo: U.S. Air National Guard

Some hurricanes are moving more slowly, spending increased time over land and leading to catastrophic local rainfall and flooding, according to a new study published Wednesday (June 6) in the journal Nature.

Emigrate While You Still Can! Learn More…

While hurricanes batter coastal regions with destructive wind speeds, study author James Kossin says the speed at which hurricanes track along their paths — their translational speed — can also play a role in the damage and devastation they cause. Their movement influences how much rain falls in a given area.

This is especially true as global temperatures increase.

“Just a 10 percent slowdown in hurricane translational speed can double the increase in rainfall totals caused by 1 degree Celsius of global warming,” says Kossin, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate. He is based at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Based at UW–Madison, Jim Kossin is a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate.

 Photo: Greg Anderson

The study compared 68 years (1949–2016) of worldwide hurricane track and intensity data, known as best-track data, from NOAA to identify changes in translational speeds. It found that, worldwide, hurricane translational speeds have averaged a 10 percent slowdown in that time.

One recent storm highlights the potential consequences of this slowing trend. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey stalled over eastern Texas rather than dissipating over land, as hurricanes tend to do. It drenched Houston and nearby areas with as much as 50 inches of rain over several days, shattering historic records and leaving some areas under several feet of water.

How much hurricanes have slowed depends on where they occur, Kossin found. “There is regional variation in the slowdown rates when looking at the 10 percent global average across the same time frame,” he says.

The most significant slowdown, 20 percent, occurred in the Western North Pacific Region, an area that includes Southeast Asia. Nearby, in the Australian Region, Kossin identified a reduction of 15 percent. In the North Atlantic Region, which includes the U.S., Kossin found a 6 percent slowdown in the speeds at which hurricanes move.

When further isolating the analysis to hurricane speeds over land, where their impact is greatest, Kossin found that slowdown rates can be even greater. Hurricanes over land in the North Atlantic have slowed by as much as 20 percent, and those in the Western North Pacific as much as 30 percent.

Hurricane Harvey stalled over eastern Texas rather than dissipating over land, as hurricanes tend to do.

Photo: NASA/NOAAKossin attributes this, in part, to the effects of climate change, amplified by human activity. Hurricanes move from place to place based on the strength of environmental steering winds that push them along. But as the Earth’s atmosphere warms, these winds may weaken, particularly in places like the tropics, where hurricanes frequently occur, leading to slower-moving storms.

Additionally, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, potentially increasing the amount of rain a hurricane can deliver to an area.

The study complements others that demonstrate climate change is affecting hurricane behavior.

For instance, in 2014, Kossin showed that hurricanes are reaching their maximum intensities further from the tropics, shifting toward the poles in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. These shifts can deliver hurricanes to areas — including some heavily populated coastal regions — that have not historically dealt with direct hits from storms and the devastating losses of life and property that can result.

Another study, published in April by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, used a modeling approach to look at what would happen to hurricanes under future climate projections. Using real hurricane data from 2000–2013, the researchers found future hurricanes will experience a 9 percent slowdown, higher wind speeds, and produce 24 percent more rainfall.

“The rainfalls associated with the ‘stall’ of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in the Houston, Texas, area provided a dramatic example of the relationship between regional rainfall amounts and hurricane translation speeds,” says Kossin. “In addition to other factors affecting hurricanes, like intensification and poleward migration, these slowdowns are likely to make future storms more dangerous and costly.”

Contacts and sources:
Eric Verbeten

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Study: How Magnesium Supplementation Could Help with Depression

Sadly, depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people in Australia and around the world. However, there are many natural therapies for depression that give you back your power, as they are more preventive in nature and help your body to heal itself. One of these natural solutions for depression may be magnesium, as pointed out in recent research.

This study involved 126 men and women who suffered from mild to moderate depression. Sixty-two were given a supplement containing 248mg of magnesium (as magnesium chloride, not the best supplemental form) for 6 weeks, and then spent 6 weeks with no supplementation. The others first spent 6 weeks taking no magnesium, and then swapped with the first group for the second half.

All volunteers were given questionnaires to evaluate their depression and anxiety at the start of the study and every 2 weeks during treatment.

During supplementation, depression and anxiety scores improved significantly, and participants were less likely to suffer from headaches. During the control period, however, depression scores did not change and anxiety worsened.

As their symptoms showed improvement in 2 weeks, magnesium could be a rapid-acting remedy for mild and moderate depression, while offering a wide range of side benefits. And if you are worried about negative social attitudes towards depression, magnesium is indicated for so many health complaints that a supplement implies nothing.

So, Why? What Does Magnesium Do?

From energy production to the synthesis of neurotransmitters that control mood, magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. If you are deficient, and many people are, then these chemical reactions are limited.

Of course, magnesium is not the only nutrient that we need to make neurotransmitters. B vitamins, particularly B12, folate (B9), B6, and niacin (B3), are essential co-factors in neurotransmitter production.

Deficiencies do not just affect mood, but overall brain function and memory.

A balance of omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids is also important, as they are a part of nerve cell membranes and play a role in communication between cells. Impaired communication affects things like mood, memory and function in general.

Vitamin D deficiency is another common problem, which can contribute to depression by altering gene expression and the ability to control inflammation.

Overall, the ‘chemical imbalance’ is more complex than conventional medicine tells you, and we have far more control over it too.

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Study: Women Store DNA From Every Man They’ve Ever Made Love With

Women “harvest” every male’s DNA, according to a new study.

Women retain and carry living DNA from every man with whom they have sexual intercourse.

This bombshell discovery has been unearthed during a brand-new study by the University of Seattle and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Women Store DNA From Every Man They've Ever Made Love With

The scientific study actually discovered the shocking information by accident.

Scientists were initially attempting to identify whether ladies who were pregnant with a son are more susceptible to specific neurological illnesses that take place more regularly in males.

But as the scientists picked apart the female brain, the research study began to drift hugely off course.

Women harvest DNA

What they actually found, however, is that the female brain is far more complex than we previously believed.

The research study found that female brains typically harvest “male microchimerism.”

Or, to put it simply; they found the existence of male DNA that stemmed from other individuals.

These cells are genetically unique from those that make up the “host” female.

Women Store DNA From Every Man They've Ever Made Love With

According to the research, the study reports:

“63% of the females (37 of 59) tested harbored male microchimerism in the brain.

“Male microchimerism was present in multiple brain regions.”

So 63% of women carry male DNA cells that live in their brains.

Clearly, the scientists wanted to know where the male DNA originated from.

Perhaps you would naturally assume it was inherited from the woman’s father?

No. Your father’s DNA integrates with your mother’s to create your special DNA.

So where else could it come from?

Through the study, the researchers presumed that the most likely answer was that male DNA found living in the female brain came from a male pregnancy.

That was the safe, politically correct assumption.

However, these researchers were living in denial.

Since, when they conducted an autopsy, the brains of ladies who had actually never ever even been pregnant, not to mention with a male kid, they STILL discovered male DNA cells common in the female brain.

At this point, the scientists were baffled.

Despite their confusion, they did their best to cover-up the proof up until they could understand and discuss it.

They buried it in various sub-studies and posts, but if you sort through them all you will find the damning declaration.

There’s one line that gives the game away and describes precisely where these male DNA cells originate from.

What are they so afraid of?

“CONCLUSIONS: Male microchimerism was not irregular in females without sons.

“Besides known pregnancies, other possible sources of male microchimerism include unrecognized spontaneous abortion, disappeared male twin, an older sibling transferred by the maternal blood circulation, or SEXUAL INTERCOURSE.

“Male microchimerism was substantially more frequent and levels were greater in ladies with induced abortion than in women with other pregnancy histories.

“More research studies are needed to figure out specific origins of male microchimerism in women.”

So according to the scientists, the possible sources of the male DNA cells residing in the women’s brains are:

  • an abortion the female was unaware of
  • a male twin that disappeared
  • an older sibling transferred by the maternal flow
  • sexual intercourse

Thinking about the reality that 63% of women have male DNA cells living in the recesses of their brain, which of the above possibilities do you think is the most likely origin of the male DNA?

The first 3 alternatives use a very little portion of ladies.

They could not potentially represent the 63% figure. The fourth choice? It’s rather more typical.

The answer is 4. Sex.

This has crucial ramifications for females.

DNA stays with women for life

Every male you absorb spermatazoa from becomes a living part of you for life.

The women autopsied in this research study were elderly.

Some had been carrying the living male DNA inside them for well over 50 years.

Sperm is alive.

It is living cells.

When it is injected into you it swims and swims until it crashes headlong into a wall, and then it attaches and burrows into your flesh.

If it’s in your mouth it swims and climbs into your nasal passages, inner ear, and behind your eyes.

Then it digs in.

It enters your bloodstream and collects in your brain and spine.

Like something out of a sci-fi movie, it becomes a part of you and you cannot eliminate it.

We are only now beginning to understand the full power and implications of sexual intercourse.

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Study: Satellites show no acceleration in global warming for 23 years

Global warming has not accelerated temperature rise in the bulk atmosphere in more than two decades, according to a new study funded by the Department of Energy.

Image result for Global warming hoax


University of Alabama-Huntsville climate scientists John Christy and Richard McNider found that by removing the climate effects of volcanic eruptions early on in the satellite temperature record it showed virtually no change in the rate of warming since the early 1990s.

“We indicated 23 years ago — in our 1994 Nature article — that climate models had the atmosphere’s sensitivity to CO2 much too high,” Christy said in a statement. “This recent paper bolsters that conclusion.”

STUDY: Satellites Show No Acceleration In Global Warming For 23 Years

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Study: Cannabis Compounds Can Kill Cancer Cells

A medical marijuana activist holds a sign during a rally Jan. 4, 2010, in Oakland, Calif. Research suggests marijuana may fight cancer itself, not just side effects. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A British researcher has found that cannabinoids, a term for chemicals derived from marijuana, can kill leukemia cells, and he expects clinical trials for new medications to begin soon.

The findings, published in the October issue of the journal Anticancer Research, show that certain non-psychoactive cannabinoids “resulted in dramatic reductions in cell viability” and “caused a simultaneous arrest at all phases of the cell cycle,” according to an abstract posted online.

The study tested six cannabinoids, together and independently, on leukemia cells.

Study author Wai Liu, an oncologist at the University of London’s St. George’s medical school, told U.S. News the chemicals displayed “potent anti-cancer activity” and, significantly, “target and switch off” pathways that allow cancers to grow.

[POLL: 58 Percent of Americans Say Legalize Marijuana]

“There’s quite a lot of cancers that should respond quite nicely to these cannabis agents,” Liu said. “If you talk about a drug company that spent billions of pounds trying to develop these new drugs that target these pathways, cannabis does exactly the same thing – or certain elements of cannabis compounds do exactly the same thing – so you have something that is naturally produced which impacts the same pathways that these fantastic drugs that cost billions also work on.”

Liu stresses that his research focused on chemicals that would not intoxicate patients.

“By using these drugs in combination with each other we can actually get an enhanced effect, and what that means is that we can – after doing some further studies – take this into the clinic and hopefully get the medication that can be used in patients in the next 12 to 18 months,” Liu said.

He cautions the treatments might not work on all varieties of cancer and said it’s currently unclear if smoking marijuana would have the same benefits.

[READ: New Breathalyzer Can Detect Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin]

“When we talk about smoking marijuana versus marijuana in its purest form, it’s very difficult to say. I get asked that a lot,” Liu said, “I wouldn’t say ‘smoke marijuana to fight leukemia’ only because we don’t know how these different chemicals react with each other inside the patient who smokes it.”

The National Cancer Institute has funded some research into the effects of cannabis on cancer, including a preclinical study through 2012 that looked at the effects of cannabinoids on slowing breast cancer, spokesman Michael Miller noted. The NCI has not funded research into the effect of the compounds on leukemia.

The NCI’s website notes that “[s]tudies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.”

[WATCH: McCain Says ‘Maybe We Should Legalize’ Marijuana]

Preclinical studies show that cannabinoids can cause breast cancer cell death, potentially reduce the risk of colon cancer, damage or kill liver cancer cells and make chemotherapy more effective against glioma cell cancer, which affects the brain or nervous system, according to the NCI website.

The cannabinoids dronabinol and nabilone are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for combating the side-effects of chemotherapy, but no cannabinoids are currently approved for treating cancer itself.

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access, said that American scientists looking into cannabinoids “have often given up in disgust” because of “the harsh climate for research” in the U.S.

Hermes says researchers must receive approval from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and also from the U.S. Public Health Service before looking into the plant’s possible benefits. NIDA holds a monopoly on cannabis used for research and requires all scientists to use plants grown at the University of Mississippi.

[RELATED: Rand Paul Upsets Pot Activists by Saying Drug Is ‘Not Healthy’]

“Very little research is going on in this country mainly because of the obstruction of research by the federal government,” Hermes said. “If we want to get ahead of the curve or learn more about this therapeutic substance and bring it to as many people in the U.S. who can benefit from it, we need to break down the barriers to research.”

In 2011, ASA produced a report detailing what it calls arbitrary obstruction of research by government officials.

ASA and other drug reform advocates are urging the U.S. government to reclassify marijuana – currently a schedule one substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 – but efforts so far have been unsuccessful. On Oct. 7 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to entertain an appeal from ASA that sought to force reclassification.

[READ: D.C. Councilman Pushes Pot Legalization, Predicts Congress Would Allow It]

According to Liu, who says he does not smoke marijuana, European countries are the primary drivers of cannabis research. He believes business interests may have historically played a role in deterring research into marijuana-derived substances.

“The actual countries that are keen to drive cannabis as an anti-cancer treatment are places like Spain and Italy, as well as the U.K.,” he said. “The reason why we believe it to be the case is because the way that these drugs work is very similar to how conventional drugs work.”

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Surprise! Study Shows Islamic Terrorism is Islamic

  • Although the internet evidently did play a role in the radicalization process, the study showed that face-to-face encounters were more important, and that dawa, the proselytizing of Islam, played a central role in this process, as the men themselves became missionaries for Islam.
  • The third factor was the establishment of a “them and us” distinction between the radicalized men and the rest of the world, especially the belief that the West is an enemy of the Muslim world. The distinction also involved a rejection of democracy and a commitment to the establishment of a caliphate governed by sharia law, which the men want to bring about either through dawa (proselytizing) or violence (jihad).
  • “The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar’s programs. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic? Al Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world. Al Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate. Al Azhar is hostile towards religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc. Al Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from non-Muslims]. Al Azhar teaches stoning people. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?” — Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr, scholar of Islamic law, graduate of Egypt’s Al Azhar University, explaining why it refused to denounce ISIS as un-Islamic, 2015.

Western leaders insist that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. Evidence to the contrary appeared again this week from Mohamad Jamal Khweis, an ISIS recruit from the United States who said in a 2016 interview with Kurdistan24, “Our daily life was basically prayer, eating and learning about the religion for about eight hours.” Khweis was sentenced to 20 years in prison on October 27 for providing material support to ISIS, according to CBS News.

As early as 2001, immediately after 9/11, then-President George W. Bush gave a speech in which he claimed that in the United States, the terrorist acts in which over 3,000 people were killed “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith” and that “Islam is peace”.

Twelve years and many spectacular terrorist attacks later, in 2013, when two jihadists murdered Lee Rigby in broad daylight in London, the prime minister at the time, David Cameron, declared that the attack was “a betrayal of Islam… there is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act”.

In January 2015, jihadists in Paris shouting “Allahu Akbar” attacked Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, murdering 15 people. French President François Hollande said that the jihadists had “nothing to do with the Muslim faith”.

Two years later, when a jihadist targeted the very heart of European democratic civilization, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge, British PM Theresa May said: “It is wrong to describe this as Islamic terrorism. It is Islamist terrorism and the perversion of a great faith”.

In the face of hundreds of Muslim terrorists yelling “Allahu Akbar” while bombing, shooting, stabbing, and car-ramming thousands of innocent civilians to death and wounding thousands of others, it would be reasonable to assume that elected representatives might feel obliged to put their denial of reality on hold long enough to read at least bits of the Quran. They might start by reading the commands in “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them…” (9:5), or, “So fight them until there is no more fitna [strife] and all submit to the religion of Allah” (8:39).

If that is asking too much, perhaps they might be willing to consider a recent study by Islamic theologian and professor of Islamic religious education at the University of Vienna, Ednan Aslan, which was commissioned by the Austrian ministry of Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the 310-page study, which was conducted over 18 months and involved interviews with 29 Muslims who were all jailed or in juvenile detention (over half for having committed terrorist offenses) was reportedly to investigate the role that Islam plays in the radicalization of young Muslims in Austria. The study showed that jihadists are not, as Western leaders claim, ignorant of Islam and therefore “perverting” it. On the contrary, the jihadists apparently have a deep understanding of Islamic theology. Aslan explicitly warns against reducing the issue of Islamic terrorism to questions of “frustrated individuals, who have no perspective, are illiterate and have misunderstood Islam”.

The study found that three factors were particularly relevant to the radicalization process of the interviewees. The first factor was Islam itself: The interviewees had actively participated in their own radicalization, by engaging with the content, norms and standards of Islamic doctrine, and had apparently found this engagement to be a positive turning point in their lives. The study describes the approach to Islam of these men as “Salafism”, which it defines as the view that Islam comprises all aspects of life, religious, personal and societal. Moreover, the majority of the men evidently came from religious Muslim homes and were therefore already familiar with the foundations of Islam. The study explicitly states that the prevailing assumption that the majority of radicalized Muslims know very little about Islam could not be confirmed by the interviewers’ findings.

The second factor was the environment: the specific mosques and imams to which the men went and on which they relied. Although the internet evidently did play a role in the radicalization process, the study showed that face-to-face encounters were more important, and that dawa, proselytizing Islam, played a central role in this process, as the men themselves became missionaries for Islam. Notably, the study showed that the level of theological knowledge determined the individual’s role in the hierarchy — the more knowledge they had of Islam, the more authority they had.

The third factor was the establishment of a “them and us” distinction between the radicalized men and the rest of the world, especially the belief that the West is an enemy of the Muslim world. The distinction also involved a rejection of democracy and a commitment to the establishment of a caliphate governed by sharia law, which the men want to bring about either through dawa (proselytizing) or violence (jihad).

Critics might argue that a qualitative study of 29 radical Muslims is not representative of most Islamic terrorists, but that is hardly true. In 2015, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr, a scholar of Islamic law and graduate of Egypt’s Al Azhar University, explained why the prestigious institution, which educates mainstream Islamic scholars, refused to denounce ISIS as un-Islamic:

“The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar’s programs. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic? Al Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world. Al Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate. Al Azhar is hostile towards religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc. Al Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from non-Muslims]. Al Azhar teaches stoning people. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?”

In 2015, Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt — a prestigious institution that educates mainstream Islamic scholars — refused to denounce ISIS as un-Islamic. (Image source: Sailko/Wikimedia Commons)

Western leaders did not listen.

They also did not listen when, in 2015, The Atlantic published a study by Graeme Wood, who researched the Islamic State and its ideology in depth. He spoke to members of the Islamic State and Islamic State recruiters and concluded:

“The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam”.

How much longer can the West afford to ignore reality?

Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.


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EU Researchers Unite To Study Conspiracy Theories; Will Produce “Definitive Handbook”

Conspiracy theories – the belief that events are secretly manipulated behind the scenes by powerful groups – have a long history and are more prominent than ever before. Opinion polls show that most people believe that the official versions of events like the assassination of JFK and 9/11 cannot be trusted.

Their significance has increased to the extent where conspiracy theories are being referenced by governments and politicians, yet the study of these theories is still in its infancy. The COST Action COMPACT – Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories – is addressing the issue by uniting researchers and academics from across Europe.

Anti-New world Order.jpg

Credit: VOCSociety / Wikimedia Commons

“The aim of this Action is to provide a comparative analysis of conspiracy theory,” says Dr Stef Aupers, chair of COMPACT’s dissemination subcommittee. “It looks at different causes, manifestations and effects across countries, cultures, time periods, political systems and media regimes. We’re developing recommendations and strategies for stakeholders confronted by the challenges that conspiracy theories present.”Pulling together the disparate strands of research into the subject is central to COMPACT’s work, as Vice-Chair Dr Michael Butter elaborates.

“Synthesis is really needed, because conspiracy theory research is done in quite a number of disciplines. These disciplines often don’t talk to each other, or they employ very different methodologies, so they arrive at very different results.”

COMPACT is doing this by working with stakeholders like journalists, teachers and policy makers at a series of workshops across Europe.

Leaving a legacy is also an important facet of COMPACT’s work, with Dr Butter revealing it will produce what he calls “a definitive handbook of conspiracy theory research – a huge encyclopaedia with entries by country, different types of theories and different periods.”

Conspiracy theories are often localised to particular countries, but COMPACT is helping improve understanding by putting a diverse array of interested parties into the same room to share ideas and working methods.

“Given the fact that research on conspiracy theories is generally local and, primarily, focussed on the US, the main goal of the Action is to compare and contextualize conspiracy theory in Europe,” adds Dr Aupers. “COMPACT has helped to unite an emergent, by and large fragmented field of research. International scholars from different countries and disciplines – political science, sociology, media studies, cultural studies, history, social psychology and philosophy – are now recognizing that they are part of a bigger picture.”

COST Action:http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/ca/CA15101
Project website: conspiracytheories.eu


Source: http://www.ineffableisland.com/2017/10/eu-researchers-unite-to-study.html

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