Archive for October, 2015


From: voxday.blogspot.com

It isn’t over. It has barely begun.

Three African immigrants who brutally raped a 14-year-old girl to the point where she wanted to kill herself were given extremely light sentences by a court in Norway, with one receiving community service and avoiding prison altogether.

The incident happened on the night of July 30 when the three men accosted the girl on a commuter train before also molesting her in a farm house and at an apartment in Oslo.

During her ordeal, the girl was raped both orally and anally before being forced to take drugs. According to reports, the abuse, which lasted for hours, was so horrific that at one point the girl expressed a desire to take her own life to end the suffering.

The girl suffered “severe mental damage” and PTSD as a result of the incident, missed a year of school and is still struggling to deal with what happened.

The three men, 18-year-old Bile Mohamed Elmi, 21-year-old Abdirizak Nur Ali and 21-year-old Mohamed Abdirisak Mohamed, were initially charged with gang rape, which carries a maximum sentence of 21 years.

However, prosecutor Cecilie Schloss Møller insisted there wasn’t enough evidence and the three men were convicted of sexual contact with a child under 16 years of age, which carries a lighter sentence.

I always figured they’d put up statues to the guy one day, but at this rate, they’ll be letting him out of prison and turning over the military to him before long. He looks less and less crazy every passing day.

Source: voxday.blogspot.com

http://redicecreations.com/article.php?id=34643

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'Man with his girlfriend holding hands with another woman' [Shutterstock]‘Man with his girlfriend holding hands with another woman’ [Shutterstock]

by Dana Dovey
Posted with permission from Medical Daily

While we may view cheating as a flaw in someone’s character, a recentAsapSCIENCE video suggests our likelihood to cheat is actually more closely related to our DNA.

Humans are classified as part of only 3 percent of monogamous mammals, or mammals that stay with one sexual partner for life, but cheating is still very much a common occurrence. One commonly cited study on this practice is one conducted by sex researcher Shere Hite in her bestseller,  The Hite Report.According to The Washington Post, Hite found that as many as 70 percent of married women and 72 percent of married men had cheated on their spouses at some point in their marriage. While more recent research has found these numbers to be smaller, the fact remains that many people cheat.

According to AsapSCIENCE, our likelihood to cheat is actually written in the coding for ourdopamine receptors, also known as the “happy hormone.” For example, about 50 percent of individuals who posses the long allele variant of this hormone have confessed to cheating at some point in their lives, compared to only 22 percent of individuals who possess the short allele variant. Individuals with this long variant are also more likely to engage in risky behavior and deal with substance abuse.

Another hormone related to cheating is vasopressin. This hormone is released when we come into close physical contact with others and is found in smaller amounts in individuals who have social development issues, such as those with autism.

With that being said, biology is not the only factor that plays a role in our likelihood to stray. Factors such as the amount of money both spouses earn, emotional problems, and alcohol abuse are all known to affect the chances of cheating. Ultimately, however, although our hormones do help to control our behavior, at the end of the day, only you can make the final decision whether or not to stay faithful.

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/cheating-on-your-partner-could-be-ingrained-in-your-dna/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheRawStory+%28The+Raw+Story%29

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What happened when I decided to Get Enlightened or Die Tryin’

by Brent R. Oliver

At the beginning of this year I made a vow. If you’ve read my other columns here you’ll no doubt be aware of the fact that I’ve had trouble picking—and then sticking with—a specific Buddhist modality. There’s so much available, especially with the advent of teaching via Internet, that my attention has always been divided among the glut of Buddhist approaches that have flooded the West. I’ve snatched up every shiny object out there and fiddled with it only to become entranced by another sparkly thing close by. The sentence that best sums up my journey is probably “Ohhhh, look at that delightful thing . . . oh, SHIT what’s that over there?!”

So I’m a bad Buddhist. I’ve known that for a while. Yet I’ve never had any issues with the basic underpinnings of the philosophy. The first time I read about suffering, no-self, and impermanence, I was transformed. Those things and many other, finer details have always sublimely resounded with me.

Not so with actual practice. After years of swaying capriciously between meditative methods, I finally wore myself out. I was so disgusted with my constant vacillation that I decided to just nail it down. I was going to stand pat on one hand and play it to the end. Vipassana had always seemed to produce the best fruit for me so I vowed to do that in such a hardcore manner that I’d reach awakening lickety split-ish. It was time to get enlightened or die tryin’. Here are the five most uncomfortable things I discovered while doing so.

1. Where the hell is my free time?

The first thing I had to do after making this decision was carve out time in my daily life. It’s no different from a resolution to start jogging and get in shape, except I could keep eating Slim Jims and I didn’t have to buy new shoes. My vow to meditate—damn, twice a day?—required me to plop my body down rather than get it active. Nonetheless, it’s mental fitness and I had to find a way to cram it into a life that’s already packed with three jobs, a wife, and trivia night at the local brewery.

The time commitment was sudden and unwieldy. Following the fairly traditional format—sitting in the morning and the evening—totally messed up my personal hygiene routine. But I’d made the move to get enlightened or die tryin’—I needed to sit twice a day.

My usual carefree 25 or 30 minutes wasn’t hardcore enough, either. I made up my mind to do 45 minutes in the morning and at least that much, maybe an hour, at night. That sent my schedule into a tailspin. Instead of rising half an hour early, I was setting the alarm almost an hour before my usual time. That’s because I needed at least five to ten minutes to lie in bed and moan. My wife was a huge fan of that. “I’m so glad you’ve decided to meditate with such diligence,” she’d say, while rolling away and cuddling a pillow. “There are various things on my nightstand I can throw at you if you don’t go get enlightened in the other room.” Then it was get up or get divorced.

I wait tables and bartend at two restaurants for a living, and will have to continue until some foolish Buddhist outlet hires me to relate these ridiculous stories full-time. I often work both day and night shift, which is a severe restriction on time as it is. Not much room for hobbies, is what I’m saying. Formal sitting practice truncated that even further. Ninety or so minutes a day for meditation doesn’t sound like much, but when you have to shoehorn it into an already crazy schedule, there isn’t a lot of extra time for learning origami and air guitar.

My free time eroded quickly. My sleep schedule, already touch and go, became a nebulous thing that I just got to when I could. Which brings up the fact that . . .

2. Everyday life gets more difficult.

There’s a modern misconception that meditation is a panacea for all of life’s various travails, that the calm, focus, and serenity you cultivate on the cushion will bleed into daily existence and your worries will fly away.

I’m not here to pop any poodle-shaped balloons a nice clown blew for you, but it just isn’t true. There’s no doubt—and I repeat, no doubt—that meditation is helpful. But the notion that the practice simply flips a switch from THIS SUCKS to FANTASTIC is seriously messed up.

Meditation definitely has immediate, noticeable benefits. But it also brings some side effects that popular interpretations may not have mentioned. For example, I just asked my desk lamp if “interpretation” was the right word to use there. And, more amazingly, I waited for a response.

That’s probably not normal, but the side effects I’m talking about are a bit grimmer than that. Any serious delving into how your mind works will bring about things you may not be ready to face. Buried things, deep in the muck of your consciousness, that can break out at any time.

I was sitting over 90 minutes a day when it really got uncomfortable. Morning sits often produced a nausea that made me dread the rest of the day. It faded over time, but launching yourself off the cushion with a positive sense of well-being is one thing. Crawling off it with disturbing rumblings in your belly is another. As I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t always cosmic-flavored cotton candy and fluffy kittens. This practice digs deep into your buried shit and heaves it out into sunlight.

Most of the time, I just had to go to work with that feeling. I slung drinks, talked to customers with my happy face, and pretended nothing was amiss. Which was wretched. I also became much more aware of all the negative aspects of my persona. As I began to see the connections with what popped up in my mind and the actions that followed, I realized I dealt with the world in a deeply flawed way. It was depressing. In the midst of all the nausea and mental turbulence I kept wondering if this was working.

Again, I have to reiterate: meditation is helpful. It leads to a better life. But it can also dip you into darkness. There’s a righteous light on the other side of that darkness but you have to stick with it. If you don’t, you could get stuck in the dusk and never see the dawn.

Which is awful, because . . .

http://www.tricycle.com/blog/5-realities-becoming-hardcore-meditator

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by Phillip J. Watt 

We all want to know how at least part of our future will unfold. How will our lives change? Will our current relationship last? Will we get the dream job we applied for?

We want an answer. No wait, we need an answer.

Well, we think we do. Sometimes we think that until the questions are answered we won’t have peace. But that’s misguided, because once we answer those questions, other ones manifest.

Nevertheless, reading our horoscopes also has benefits. They fill us with wonder. At times they help us to better understand the experiences we’re having in that moment. But most importantly, they remind us of the big questions, such as ‘Are we connected to the universe?’ & ‘What is our destiny?’

Anyone who reads their stars will tell you that sometimes they’re extremely accurate and at other times they’re not. Some astrologers appear to be more advanced at their interpretation of how the movement of the planets relates to us humans as well. These irregularities now and again make us question the worth of reading our Horoscopes.

It’s also these inconsistencies which the sceptics fall on to debunk the authenticity of this ancient art. This is absolutely understandable because we need the truth, not irrelevant superstition, but Astrology is much more than just our daily Horoscopes. In this article, I will demystify this practice and aim to contribute to its legitimacy as an actual science.

The unfortunate reality is that the materialist bigots and the Atheist priests think people are stupid to believe in Astrology. As an example, Richard Dawkins has arrogantly and ignorantly claimed to have discredited that the sky relates to human life on planet earth. In a TV show he walks up to random people and reads the horoscopes he has been provided by an Astrologer. Dawkins embarrassingly claims his success because they didn’t relate to the response of the participant.

What he fails to do is actually understand the true definition of reading the stars. As a materialist – which is a metaphysical and unproven interpretation of scientific endeavour – he has effectively debunked his own misconceptions. How unscientific, Dawkins. Someone should probably tell him that as a scientist he should at least understand the theory that he is examining.

Astrology is simply defined as how astronomical mathematics correlates with human character and behaviour. The term literally means ‘knowledge of the stars’. It is not meant to be deterministic, but influential; free will and other factors still bear their weight. It acts as an interpretive guide as to the energy in our lives and what challenges and opportunities we have in every given moment.

It does this through the art of symbolism where each object has its own intrinsic meaning and energy. Just like an advertisement represents information, so does everything else. This is what tribal and traditional societies studied philosophically and practically for thousands of years.

In Astrology, each planet and its mathematical position represents information. This information is meaningful to the experience we have as humans because the macrocosm mirrors the microcosm. They’re interrelated – as quantum physics makes abundantly clear.

This can be illustrated by a simple example. Imagine that a planet in retrograde symbolises a backwards movement. This is because the planet is moving backwards in relation to our perspective (even though it’s still following its usual forward path). Each planet also has its own symbolic meaning, such as Mercury reflecting logic and communication. I’m not an expert astrologist, so please forgive this layman account, but if Mercury is in retrograde, then it loosely symbolizes how our communication, among other qualities, are being challenged in a past tense.

In addition, we can draw on the symbolic meaning of animals to elaborate on how symbolism works. A dragonfly for example, is understood by many independent cultures to symbolise transformation and change. This is because they live most of their lives as a nymph in the water – a universal symbol of the unconscious – and then grow their wings to transform into a flying creature. So as an animal object, they represent the transformation that needs to occur to reach its full potential.

They can also move in all six directions in an eloquent and controlled manner. They can fly backwards like a hummingbird and hover like a chopper. These characteristics represent power, agility and composure – something that comes with age. So more meaningful information that we can take from the Dragonfly is a representation of maturity.

This is how the symbolism of the stars works. The sun, moon and planets each have information that they inherently convey.

This information has been investigated for millennium by our ancient ancestors and has been developed over the course of our history. When we consider this objectively, there is obviously room for misunderstanding and misconception, let alone misinterpretation by those who currently study and articulate it.

But that doesn’t make it an illegitimate field of study.

Not only is Astrology the language of the stars, or put another way – a mathematical and symbolic picture of information relating to human individuals and societies in any given moment in our history – it’s also considered as a science because the planets may literally alter our minds and bodies. That’s because we’re made of energy and so are they.

Let’s start with gravity – we know that the moon is so gravitationally powerful that it influences the tides of earth. Considering that a huge proportion of us is made of water, there’s no doubt that the moons gravity has a force on us too. Ask anyone who works in the Police or emergency sectors and they’ll tell you that during a full moon – as well as a day or two, both before and after – the number of incidents and emergencies increase.

So in the space-time continuum, where gravity is a major player, it’s not unrealistic to consider that the Sun and planets may also have a subtle, but real influence on planet earth, and therefore ourselves…

more…

http://www.vitalityguidance.com/how-astrology-works-the-ancient-art-of-symbolism

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by Alex Pietrowski, Staff, Waking Times

Some of the most devastating fires the world has ever seen are happening right now in Indonesia, and this unfolding disaster is getting little attention. Annual fires during the dry season have become typical in the last 20 years or so as slash and burn rainforest farming techniques have ravaged this once pristine part of the world, but now this year they are catastrophic. Some 5000 fires have burned in Borneo alone in just the last 2 months.

“A great tract of Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre: visibility in some cities has been reduced to 30 metres. Children are being prepared forevacuation in warships; already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century – so far.” – George Monbiot

This year’s fires are shaping up to be some of the worst fires on record, as a stretch of some 5000 km of land is burning, casting a deadly cloud of particulate haze over millions of people. These types of fires are unique because it is not just the trees and vegetation that burn, as most of the fires are occurring in the vast tropical peatlands of the rainforest.

Here, the land itself actually catches fire, not just trees and vegetation, because great swaths of the forest sit on enormous eat domes that act as fuel under such dry conditions that have been exacerbated this year by the El Nino weather phenomenon. When the layers of peat are penetrated by fire, then they can smolder for weeks or even months continually releasing toxic gasses which extend for hundreds of miles.

“Peat is formed under very wet conditions, when dead plant material is unable to decay in the flooded environment. This leads to a build-up of partially decomposed organic matter, which over time accumulates in peat domes, like the Sabangau Forest… Here, the peat is around 26,000 years old and measures more than 12 metres deep in the centre. ” [Source]

Why are the fires so intense this year as compared to previous years? Journalist George Monbiot, author of Poisoned Arrowswrites, for the Guardian:

Indonesia’s forests have been fragmented for decades by timber and farming companies. Canals have been cut through the peat to drain and dry it. Plantation companies move in to destroy what remains of the forest to plant monocultures of pulpwood, timber and palm oil. The easiest way to clear the land is to torch it. Every year, this causes disasters. But in an extreme El Niño year like this one, we have a perfect formula for environmental catastrophe. – George Monbiot

Indonesia Fire
The burning of land by both corporations and by small land holders has become a serious social and political issue, but the greatest damage may be inflicted upon wildlife and other invaluable treasures.

“The fires are destroying treasures as precious and irreplaceable as the archaeological remains being levelled by Isis. Orangutans, clouded leopards, sun bears, gibbons, the Sumatran rhinoceros and Sumatran tiger, these are among the threatened species being driven from much of their range by the flames. But there are thousands, perhaps millions, more.” -George Monbiot

Tragically, the fires are devastating Indonesian Borneo and places like Gunung Palung National Park, home to some of the largest populations of orangutans on the planet. Several organizations are working tirelessly to evacuate trapped animals, but the toll on wildlife in Indonesia is already staggering. Some estimate that as many as 20,000 orangutans may be wiped out.

“The situation is dire and deteriorating by the day.” – Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project

orangutans-fire-MAIN

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Here is a short clip of aerial drone footage showing some of the burn areas of the forest in the last couple of months. The burned areas surrounding villages extend for miles and the loss in some areas is staggering, total. Footage is courtesy of GreenPeace International.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

The effect on cities and surrounding urban areas from the haze and particulate from the smoke is causing an extreme emergency, affecting millions of people. In the city of Palangkaraya, visibility has dropped to as low as 2o meters, and fatalities from respiratory problems are rising.

Indonesia Haze

Indonesia Fires

Some are already calling this the greatest ecological catastrophe of the 21 st century so far, and some are even calling it a crime against humanity, as the fires have stoked political flames as well between regional governments. Yet this disaster is receiving very little coverage in the mainstream media, which is, as always, distracting us by featuring ridiculous news about scandals, celebrities and political candidates.

Sadly, this is what the future looks like with virtually unchecked deforestation.

Finally, here is footage from Borneo in support of the efforts OUTROP, the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project who is working to stop the fires and protect people and wildlife. Please support their effort here.

About the Author

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and Offgrid Outpost, a provider ofstorable food and emergency kits. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.

Sources:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/151029-wildfires-smoke-asthma-indonesia-california-health/
http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/614964/Experts-warn-20-000-orangutans-are-on-verge-of-being-burned-out-of-forest-retreats
http://outrop.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/borneo-is-burning-but-why.html
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-17/southeast-asia-haze-what-is-behind-the-annual-outbreak/6783688
http://www.outrop.com/forest-fire-appeal-2015.html
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-forest-fires/2165346.html
http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/10/22/orangutans-are-dying-indonesia-burns

This article (The Eco-Apocalypse in Indonesia That No One is Talking About) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alex Pietrowski and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

The Eco-Apocalypse in Indonesia That No One is Talking About

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© Wikipedia

Scientists are marveling at a keenly evolved canine, not only because of its physical qualities, but for the rapid expansion of the population as well. One key question remains unsettled by biologists with regards to the coywolf: Is it actually a different species?

In the northeastern region of North America, a century or two ago, wolves were in trouble. Humans were fundamentally altering their habitat, chopping down trees and creating new farmlands for themselves. Wolves saw fewer of their own kind, but more coyotes coming across the plains as well as the farmers’ dogs.

Apparently the wolves liked what they saw, or as biologists describe it, they had no other choice. What resulted from their crossbreeding is being called “amazing.”

Instead of a weaker offspring, what emerged was more advanced in seemingly every sense. Dr. Roland Kays of North Carolina State University described it as an “amazing contemporary evolution story that’s happening right underneath our nose” to the Economist.

Dr. Kays estimates that there are millions of coywolves populating eastern North America, spreading southward from their original home in southern Ontario.

Ecologist and evolutionary biologist Javier Monzon, previously at Stony Brook University in New York, now at Pepperdine University in California, analyzed 437 coywolves’ DNA and found the genes to be about 65 percent wolf, 25 percent coyote and 10 percent dog.

The physical traits are impressive. Coywolves weigh twice that of a coyote, around 55lbs (25kg) or more. They’re able to, on their own, hunt deer, or among fellow travelers capture a moose, thanks to their enlarged jaws, increased muscle, and quickening legs. What’s spookier is their howl, or yip, since the sound is reminiscent of both wolves and coyotes. A YouTube video captures the nighttime call at 45 seconds in:

Beyond the physical, their ability to adapt environmentally is also expanded. Coyotes favor open spaces, but wolves do better with forestry. Coywolves? They love both. And in the last decade, they’ve even sprung up in cities like Boston, Washington, DC, and New York City. The Gotham Coyote Project counts 20 of the hybrids in New York.

City-dwelling isn’t so much of a challenge for the coywolves. They’ve been observed looking both ways before crossing the street. They eat garden produce and scraps as well as rodents or pets. Evolution has shown them a world of flavors, and they aren’t picky. Lawns and parks make for great hunting grounds, especially at night, which is when most choose to come out. If a coywolf spots an appetizing cat, no part of it will go undigested.

Controversy over how to classify the coywolf is bound to grow. Jonathan Way, founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research and author of Suburban Howls, will claim the hybrids are so unique that they are their own species.

The definition of “species” isn’t exactly clear. Some scientists say a species is defined by its inability to reproduce with other species, and since coywolves still mate with coyotes and wolves, that would seem to disqualify them. However, that brings up the question of whether coyotes and wolves are their own species themselves, since they certainly are the genetic parents of coywolves.

https://www.rt.com/usa/320214-coywolf-dog-coyote-wolf-hybrid/

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STRANGE THINGS AFOOT ON U.S. INTERSTATE?

BY LEXI MORGAN

COLFAX, Calif. (INTELLIHUB) — An exclusive video obtained by the Nevada County Scooper appears to show something out of the ordinary–but doesn’t end just there.

The video appears to have been captured by a pole-mounted traffic camera which the Scooper reports to be on a stretch of Interstate 80 (I-80) near Colfax.

Shockingly, adding an ominous vibe to the whole situation, the Nevada County Scooper reported:

“The video […] was anonymously delivered to the Scooper offices [and was] contained on a 32GB flash drive and sealed in a plain, bubble-wrapped manila envelope […]”

Additionally it was reported that small note was stuffed inside the envelope reading:

“I have more where this came from. I am risking my life to share this with you. The transformation has begun. All is clear for the relocation. Pray.”

While for obvious reasons, namely the invention of Photoshop, Intellihub can not confirm nor deny the authenticity of the video or its source. However, we are rather leaving it up to you, the reader, to decide.

*VIDEO* ‘Inter-dimensional portal’ , disappearing vehicle, captured by traffic cam?

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You Think You Like Salmon Because of a Fish Industry Lie

by Ria Misra

Hey, you, what’s your favorite fish? Oh, salmon, that’s cool. Except that “salmon” may not have been what you think it was at all. So what was it?

A new study put out by Oceana deals exactly with that question, and finds that at least 43 percent of the time, the label on your salmon (whether on a package or a menu line item) and the fish that you’re actually eating are not the same.

Just how likely your salmon is to be lie though, depends on which kind of salmon you’re eating. The more specific categories (sockeye salmon, coho) tended to be correct, while the generic “wild salmon” was more likely than not to be something else, whether farmed salmon or another fish altogether.

You Think You Like Salmon Because of a Fish Industry Lie

Image: Chart via Oceana

The most interesting part of the study, though, may actually be what happens when you compare it to the results of a similar study done two years ago, which found almost no fraud at all (just 7 percent). So why did salmon mislabeling suddenly skyrocket? The answer has a little to do with what’s going on with salmon—but much more to do with how food supplies work in general.

The last study was done during the summer. This recent study? It took place during the winter of salmon’s discontent (a.k.a., every winter). Essentially, the last study found almost no salmon fraud because there was a plentiful supply of salmon. When that supply dried up with the season, salmon fraud was suddenly everywhere.

Studies like these often try to focus on finding the “most” mislabeled food, the underlying message being that these are the foods you should be most wary of when you shop or order. But the truth is that food is always a moving target, and the risks and trouble spots, move right along with that.

Top image: MaraZe / Shutterstock

http://gizmodo.com/you-think-you-like-salmon-because-of-a-fish-industry-li-1739196060

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Saudi Arabia executes people over drugs while its princes are caught with tons of drugs at the airport(Credit: Reuters/Carolyn Kaster)

The Saudi monarchy executes someone over drugs every four days while princes smuggle tons and hold decadent parties

Saudi prince Abdel Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdulaziz was caught in an airport in Lebanon on Monday with over two tons of drugs.

Lebanese security found 40 suitcases full of more than 4,000 pounds of amphetamine pills and cocaine on the prince’s private plane, which was on its way to Saudi capital city Riyadh. A security source told AFP that this was the largest smuggling operation ever foiled by Beirut International Airport security.

While this may seem like just another case of rich and powerful aristocrats going wild, the implications of this drug bust are much more insidious: In Saudi Arabia, people are executed over drugs. And not rarely — several times a month, on average.

In fact, just hours after the Saudi prince was caught with thousands of pounds of drugs, a Pakistani drug smuggler was executed by the Saudi government.

Roughly half (47 percent) of people executed in Saudi Arabia are killed for drug-related offenses, according to Amnesty International. From August 2014 to August 2015, Amnesty documented 175 Saudi executions, an average of one every two days.

Every four days then, on average, the Saudi government executes someone for drug-related offenses — while its own princes are caught in airports with tons of drugs.

Although an extremist theocratic absolute monarchy in which women are not granted equal rights, Saudi Arabia — which has the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves — is a close Western ally.

When the Saudi regime was appointed to be the head of a U.N. Human Rights Council panel last month, the U.S. State Department said it “welcomed” the news, happily adding “we’re close allies.”

The Saudi regime officially has the world’s third-highest execution rate, after China and Iran. Yet China has almost 50 times more people, and Iran’s population is roughly three times that of Saudi Arabia.

http://www.salon.com/2015/10/27/saudi_arabia_executes_people_over_drugs_while_its_princes_are_caught_with_tons_of_drugs_at_the_airport/

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(Credit: Ariko Inaoka)

You may think your body and mind are your own. In fact, you are a fusion of many organisms – including, potentially, another person.

Words by David Robson, photography by Ariko Inaoka.

Once upon a time, your origins were easy to understand. Your dad met your mum, they had some fun, and from a tiny fertilised egg you emerged kicking and screaming into the world. You are half your mum, half your dad – and 100% yourself.

Except, that simple tale has now become a lot more complicated. Besides your genes from parents, you are a mosaic of viruses, bacteria – and potentially, other humans. Indeed, if you are a twin, you are particularly likely to be carrying bits of your sibling within your body and brain. Stranger still, they may be influencing how you act.

A very large number of different human and non-human individuals are struggling inside us for control

“Humans are not unitary individuals but superorganisms,” says Peter Kramer at the University of Padua. “A very large number of different human and non-human individuals are all incessantly struggling inside us for control.” Together with Paola Bressan, he recently wrote a paperin the journal Perspectives in Psychological Science, calling for psychologists and psychiatrists to appreciate the ways this may influence our behaviour.

That may sound alarming, but it has long been known that our bodies are really a mishmash of many different organisms. Microbes in your gut can produce neurotransmitters that alter your mood; some scientists have even proposed that the microbes may sway your appetite, so that you crave their favourite food. An infection of a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, meanwhile, might just lead you to your death. In nature, the microbe warps rats’ brains so that they are attracted to cats, which will then offer a cosy home for it to reproduce. But humans can be infected and subjected to the same kind of mind control too: the microbe seems to make someone risky, and increases the chance they will suffer from schizophrenia or suicidal depression. Currently, around a third of British meat carries this parasite, for instance – despite the fact an infection could contribute to these mental illnesses. “We should stop this,” says Kramer.

Infiltrating siblings

In this light, it becomes clear that our actions are not entirely our own. It’s enough to make you question your sense of identity, but the idea of infiltration becomes even more eerie when you realise that your brain has not just been invaded by tiny microbes – but also by other human beings.

Even non-conjoined twins could be sharing organs without realising it

The most visible example might be a case of conjoined twins sharing a brain, says Kramer, but even regular twins could have shared organs without realising it. During early development, cells can be passed between twins or triplets. Once considered a rare occurrence, we now know it is surprisingly common. Around 8% of non-identical twins and 21% of triplets, for example, have not one, but two blood groups: one produced by their own cells, and one produced by “alien” cells absorbed from their twin. They are, in other words, a chimera – a fusion of two bodies – and it may occur in many organs, including the brain.

A chimera brain could have serious consequences. For instance, we know that the arrangement of different brain regions can be crucial for its function – but the presence of foreign tissue, being directed by different genes carrying a different blueprint, may throw that intricate design into disarray. This may explain, for instance, why twins are less likely to be right-handed – a simple trait that normally relies on the relative organisation of the right and the left hemispheres. Perhaps chimerism has upset the balance.

Even if you do not think you ever had a twin, there are many other ways you might be invaded by another human’s cells. It’s possible, for instance, that you started off as two foetuses in the womb, but the twins merged during early development. Since it occurs at such an early age of development, the cells can become incorporated into the tissue and seem to develop normally, yet they are carrying another person’s genetic blueprint. “You look like one person, but you have the cells of another person in you – effectively, you have always been two people,” says Kramer. In one extreme case, a woman was surprised to be told that she was not the biological mother of her two children (See “Brother from another mother”, left). Alternatively, cells from an older sibling might stay around the mother’s body, only to find their way into your body after you are conceived…

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http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150917-is-another-human-living-inside-you

WIKK WEB GURU

WIKK WEB GURU

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