Researchers have found a way of permanently deleting painful memories, which they say could lead to drugs for post-traumatic stress disorder.
A team at John Hopkins University in the U.S removed a protein from the region of the brain responsible for recalling fear in tests on mice.
The mice were then unable to recall fear associated with a loud sound.
The method is similar to that imagined in the film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, where Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet decide to erase each other from their memories after a difficult break-up.
The scientists, whose report appears in Science Express, said it had important implications for patients whose lives were blighted by fear.
Lead researcher, Dr Richard L Huganir, said: ‘When a traumatic event occurs, it creates a fearful memory that can last a lifetime and have a debilitating effect on a person’s life.
‘Our finding describing these molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in that process raises the possibility of manipulating those mechanisms with drugs to enhance behavioural therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.’
Behavioural therapy has been shown to ease the depth of the emotional response to traumatic memories, but not in completely removing the memory itself, making relapse common.
Dr Huganir and post-doctoral fellow Roger Clem focused on the nerve circuits in the amygdala, the part of the brain known to underly so-called fear conditioning in people and animals.
Using sound to cue fear in mice, they observed that certain cells in the amygdala conducted more current after the mouse was exposed to a loud, sudden tone.
They found temporary increases in the amount of particular proteins – the calcium-permeable AMPARs – within a few hours of fear conditioning that peaked at 24 hours and disappeared 48 hours later.
These particular proteins are uniquely unstable and can be removed from nerve cells.
Dr Huganir said: ‘The idea was to remove these proteins and weaken the connections in the brain created by the trauma, thereby erasing the memory itself.’
In further experiments, they found that removal of these proteins depended on the chemical modification of the GluA1 protein.
Mice lacking this chemical modification of GluA1 recovered fear memories induced by loud tones, whereas litter mates did not recover the same fear memories.
Dr Huganir suggests that drugs designed to control and enhance the removal of calcium-permeable AMPARs may be used to improve memory erasure.
Dr Huganir said: ‘This may sound like science fiction, the ability to selectively erase memories.
‘But this may one day be applicable for the treatment of debilitating fearful memories in people, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome associated with war, rape or other traumatic events.’
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Drilling of the Leviathan 1 exploratory well began today, at a cost of $150 million. The Israeli partners in the Leviathan licenses – Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) subsidiaries Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) and Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L), as well as Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) LP (TASE:RATI.L) – announced that Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) had informed them that the Sedco Express platform had begun drilling. The drilling is due to take five months.
The deep water well in the Rachel license, 135 kilometers west of Haifa, will be drilled to a depth of 7,200 meters, including 1,634 meters of water. The well will seek to locate the gas bearing structure, which the 3D seismic study conducted for Noble Energy indicated the presence of 453 billion cubic meters of natural gas with a geologic chance of success of 50%.
When the well reaches the target structure in about two months, the partners will decide whether to carry out production tests. After these are completed, the Sedco Express will carry out development drilling at the Tamar site, also owned by Noble Energy and Delek Group, together with Isramco Ltd. (Nasdaq: ISRL; TASE: ISRA.L) and Dor Gas Exploration Ltd.
Noble Energy owns 39.66% of the Leviathan licenses, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil each own 22.67%, and Ratio owns 15%.
A second platform, North America Pride, is due to arrive at Leviathan in January 2011 to drill to the deeper structures, where current information estimates the presence of three billion barrels of oil at a depth of 5,800 meters, with a geologic probability of 17%, and the presence of 1.2 billion barrels of oil at a depth of 7,200 meters, with a geologic chance of success of 8%.
Avner Oil’s share price rose 1.8% to NIS 2.71, Delek Drilling’s share price rose 1.9% to NIS 16.40, and Ratio’s share price rose 4.6% to NIS 0.456, on the day’s second largest turnover of NIS 105 million.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com
During the Nuremberg Trials, the chief American prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson, famously stated[i]: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
BY ADAM HUDSON, PUBLISHED OCTOBER, 2010
During the Nuremberg Trials, the chief American prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson, famously stated[i]: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” America has a long history of war and its accumulated evils. It began as thirteen small colonies that sat along the Atlantic coast. In over a century, the United States expanded all the way to the Pacific Ocean – from sea to shining sea. The process was not pretty. It involved the genocide of the native Americans and the enslavement of millions of black Africans whose free labor was needed to fuel the American capitalist economy. At the dawn of the twentieth century, the United States began to colonize other lands, such as Hawaii, the Philippines and Cuba. Since then, it has occupied and intervened with military force in all regions of the globe[ii], such as Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. This is not to mention the democratically-elected leaders America overthrew in places like Chile and Iran. The United States currently occupies two countries – Iraq and Afghanistan – and has a network of over 700 military bases globally[iii]. As such, the United States is a de facto empire[iv].
One key element of American imperial history is its use of torture, which can be traced back to America’s treatment of African slaves. Such an analysis of torture, especially in the post-9/11 era, is very uncommon in mainstream political discourse. As such, before I proceed, it is important to dispel the current myths about torture propagated in the mainstream media.
As is well known, the United States has tortured hundreds of detainees suspected of being involved in terrorism. It is hard not to notice when the former Vice President brags about personally authorizing the use of torture on national television[v]. These acts included water-boarding, physical beatings, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and, in some cases, murder[vi].
The primary justification is that torture is a necessary tool to extract information from people who might know about impending threats of terrorism. Politicians (both Republican and Democrat), intellectuals, pundits and other leaders argue that America faces a new kind of threat. America is up against extremist, religious fanatics who hate the United States and wish to kill innocent Americans. Current domestic and international laws and law enforcement tactics are not sufficient to subdue this threat. As Alberto Gonzalez said to former President George W. Bush, the Geneva Conventions are “obsolete” in this new war against terrorism.[vii]
As a result, the United States must be willing to torture terrorist suspects in order to extract vital information that could prevent the next terrorist attack. This apocalyptic mindset has impacted the current American psyche and post-9/11 American foreign policy. Since the war is against a nebulous enemy, the war against terrorism is essentially a permanent war.
Despite the compelling arguments used to justify torture, adopting an objective view of the facts rips them asunder. First, there is little to no evidence to prove that torture is a useful interrogation technique. In fact, the evidence that does exist proves the opposite – that torture is ineffective because the suspect will say anything, whether it’s true or not, in order to make the torture stop. Ali Soufan, an intelligence official who interrogated Guantanamo terror suspect Abu Zubaydah, stated[viii] that conventional interrogation techniques compelled Zubaydah to provide actionable intelligence. It was only after Zubaydah was waterboarded several times that he could not provide useful intelligence.
Second, most of the people detained, usually indefinitely, in places like Guantanamo Bay and CIA-owned black sites are not diehard terrorists. The vast majority of them are innocent. Even President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and other high government officials may have been aware of this[ix]. Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Cheney “had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees were innocent…If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.” The apocalyptic mindset of the broader War on Terror justified this tragedy.
Third, torture and cruel or inhumane treatment is a violation of U.S. domestic law and international law. The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment and the Torture Act prohibits the use of torture[x]. There are several international treaties that prohibit the use of torture. Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions[xi], the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[xii], the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture explicitly prohibit torture and cruel or inhuman treatment[xiii]. The Convention Against Torture even states that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Sending a person to a country where it is known they will be tortured – a practice known as extraordinary rendition – is also illegal under international law. However, the current Obama administration continues this practice. Torturing an individual violates that person’s fundamental human rights and their inherent dignity as a human being. Not only is torture illegal, it is also immoral and one of the many accumulated evils of war.
Given the transparency of official justifications for torture, one question remains. Why does the United States continue to torture people, even though it is ineffective, illegal and immoral? Torture has historically been used by governments for four main reasons.[xiv] One reason is to extract a confession and establish guilt. Torture is commonly used in countries where the presumption of innocence does not exist in the legal system. The second reason is for power. Powerful rulers would torture people in order to instill fear in their citizenry and remind them of who has authority. The third reason is to curb political dissent. While all three of these reasons may be applicable to the United States, the fourth reason gets to the heart of why America tortures. The fourth historical reason for utilizing torture is to subjugate a group of people considered to be sub-human.
An apt comparison to the American use of torture would be the French use of torture during the Algerian War of Independence.[xv] The French colonization of Algeria was based on the racist ideology of the French civilizing mission. In the eyes of the French colonial power, their culture was superior and more advanced than the cultures of racially-inferior “others”, in this case, the Algerians. The French saw it was their duty to “civilize” people who they viewed as primitive through colonialism. As such, the French annexed Algeria and established colonial settlements on Algerian land. When Algerian nationalists engaged in guerrilla warfare to oust the French, France felt it was up against a new kind of enemy – Maoist-inspired guerrillas. In order to defeat this enemy, the French believed it was necessary to engage in exceptional and unconventional means of warfare. This included denial of prisoner-of-war protections for captured combatants, trials in military tribunals, torture and execution. The French counter-insurgency strategy is very similar to American foreign policy post-9/11. It was motivated, in large part, by a belief in Algerian sub-humanity; in other words, racism.
Racism is not just an individual problem of prejudice or hate. It is an ideology used to justify systems of hegemony and oppression. It creates a binary between the Self and the Other. The Self is ascribed all positive aspects of humanity, such as rationality, intelligence, high culture, and credit for creating the benefits of modern civilization. The Other is ascribed all negative aspects of humanity, such as irrationality, primitivity, criminality, and barbarity. By categorizing certain groups as inferior “others”, hegemonic powers rob those people of their humanity, thus, making it easier to commit acts of brutality against them for imperial interests.
Racism, under the banner of “manifest destiny”, was used to justify the genocide committed against the Native Americans that made room for American territorial expansion. Racism was used to justify the enslavement of millions of black Africans whose free labor was exploited to work on plantations and build the American economy.
Despite the advancements made during the civil rights movement, racism still exists in many areas of American life, such as the disproportionate number of African-Americans and Latinos in prison, de facto housing segregation, inequality in the education system, and police brutality committed against people of color. Some of the most recent cases of police brutality were the deaths of 22-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland[xvi] and 7-year-old Aiyana Jones in Detroit[xvii] – both of whom were African-American.
America’s wars against Afghanistan and Iraq serve to maintain American global hegemony and access to key resources such as oil. The racist dehumanization of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians is committed to justify America’s wars and acts of torture primarily against people from countries whose populations are predominantly Muslim and black and brown-skinned, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. It is not difficult to witness the manifestations of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism in American society. It exists within the media and underlies the sophistry of politicians and leading intellectuals. Muslims, Arabs and South Asians are always suspected of being terrorists, similar to how black and Latino people are suspected of being drug-dealers, gang members and criminals. Racism is the fundamental ideological motivation behind America’s wars and use of torture.
The key task now is to end America’s use of torture and, more broadly, eliminate racism and imperialism; a daunting task but a necessary one, nevertheless. First, it is important for everyone, of all races, to see and treat every other person as a human being. Despite our cultural differences, we are part of one human family. Second, it is crucial that we hold our political leaders accountable for authorizing acts of torture and starting wars. At Stanford, we can start by pressuring our government to hold current Professor and former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and other government officials, accountable for authorizing torture and engaging in aggressive wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. Third, it is vital that we work to build institutions that foster peace instead of war and sustain humanity rather than destroy it. To build a better future for humanity is by no means an easy task. But a million-mile journey begins with one step. Let’s make that first step.
Millions of America’s unemployed job-seekers will be cut off from existing federal jobless benefits starting November 30 unless Congress takes urgent action to renew and extend those benefit programs through 2011. These benefits have helped keep more than 9 million jobless workers and their families going this year alone, while they look for work in a tough economy. More than 5 million Americans who have been struggling to find jobs for six months or more currently rely on these federal unemployment benefits. Combined with state benefits, the expanded federal unemployment programs kept an estimated 3.3 million Americans out of poverty in 2009.
Renewing the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and Extended Benefits (EB) programs is critical to helping jobless workers support their families while they continue their job searches as the holidays approach. And economists agree that unemployment benefits are critical to supporting local jobs in our communities as they strive to recover from the worst downturn since the 1930s.
Sign the Petition to Congress!
Extend the Federal Unemployment Insurance Programs
Tell Congress to take urgent action to renew these critical unemployment benefits programs now. Just fill out the form below and click “Submit Form” to sign this petition:
To Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate:
Your action is urgently needed to renew the federal unemployment insurance programs before they expire November 30. These benefits have a significant, positive impact, not only helping millions of job-seekers in a tough economy, but also providing support for communities striving to achieve a sustained economic recovery.
When Congress reconvenes after the elections, its first priority must be to renew and continue the full federal unemployment benefits program. As the holidays approach, don’t turn your backs on America’s unemployed workers and their families!
ORIENTAL REVIEW on Political Trust and Human Deception
So far the most tangible outcome of notorious ‘Reset’ of the US-Russian relations (or perezagruzka, another Russian word of the global outreach) announced by foreign ministers last year was the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START III). As a reminder it limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 which is down nearly two-thirds from the original START treaty as well as 30% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The text was inked by the presidents in April and now is waiting for approval by both parliaments. In Russia the ruling party United Russia enjoys a constitutional majority in the Russian State Duma and thus the ratification in Moscow is guaranteed once happens on the Capitol Hill. So the ball is certainly on the US side. However, as the Congressional elections this week are expected to shift the balance in the Senate to Republican’s favor, the perspective of successful ratification is notably fading out. The conservative skepticism about this particular Treaty and overall Reset with Russia is increasing although lacks any fresh argumentation or reasonable basis.
If we look through the recent memo on the matter by a prominent American analyst or an earlierFact Sheet by the same think tank, there is a standard set of accusations and suspicions towards Russian Bear that can be easily challenged by any insightful reader.
First, Russia is blamed for ‘repeatedly violating the 1991 START all the way to its expiration in December 2009’. The supporting argument is the ‘testing of intercontinental ballistic missile with multiple individually targeted re-entry vehicles’. Obviously this thesis refers to the new RS-24 (Yars) ballistic missile tested in Russia in May 2007 to replace outdated Topol-M rocket. It is true that the secret R&D on RS-24 was initiated well before the expiration of the START I (although RS-24 was put in service only after the term of the treaty expired in December last year). But what triggered that decision? Was it motivated by ‘rising imperial ambitions’ of Russia and ‘aspiration for restoring its past influence’? Did it secure a critical one-side advantage for Moscow in nuclear parity with the USA? Hardly. For Russians it was just the only way to level the misbalanced parity after the United States unilaterally left Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and for 7 years were pressuring Eastern Europeans to approve the US anti-missile shield installations against non-existent ‘Iranian nuclear threat’. It is only logical that the system of ‘nuclear’ treaties between Russia and USA should be considered as a single whole providing a fine balance of security and vulnerability for both parties. Once defense on one side is increased for another party there is no choice but augment offensive capability. By the way, the START I Treaty was negotiated in 1991 with ABM Treaty 1972 in force and it would not be concluded without ABM restrictions.
At the same time the United States cannot be considered as a saint lamb either in following START I provisions. During the last years the Russian inspectors have detected 12 serious violations on the US nuclear facilities to say nothing about well-known circumventions like stockpiling of dismantled warheads instead of their physical liquidation as Russians do. Maybe the United States needs a return Nunn-Lugar Program – Russian edition? That would be an affordable venture taking current Russian budgetary conditions. There are also several technical, but never confirmed assumptions, e.g. on the quantity of warheads on the US Minuteman 3 missiles capable to carrythree, but counted as one for Treaty purpose. No Russian inspector has ever been allowed an access under the cover of Minuteman 3 missile to check it. Russian Defense Ministry prefers keeping the reports on inspections confidential and holds negotiations with the US officials in private at the Joint Commission on Inspections and Compliance meetings in Geneva. Maybe it’s time for the Russians to abandon this saving-face-of-the-partner practice and start issuing public reports on detected violations like Americans do?
To complete the picture it would not be redundant to recall that well before the formal withdrawal from the ABM Treaty the United States had clearly violated the latter when the anti-ballistic radarGlobus II was activated in Norway in 2001.
Anyway, seeking other’s nuclear skeletons might be an exciting exercise for professional Bear-chasers. A clinical mistrust might be a well-paid job when the interests of enormous military complex are involved. The party of war-mongers is chattering again only two years after the tactical withdrawal from the White House.
START III was envisaged as a first serious step towards Nuclear-Free World. Now the decision apparently depends on lame-duck session of the US Senate. Obviously the matrix of the US-Russian relations is much more complex and reaching far beyond securing strategic nuclear balance. The train of mutual mistrust and misunderstanding burdens the way forward. But somebody should make this step. Why not we?
ORIENTAL REVIEW will continue analyzing the key obstacles to the mutually beneficial and trustful relations between Russia and the US in response to Heritage leaflet. We will share the outlook of the Russian civil society on Western threat, Iranian problem, Al-Qaeda, Gas Weapon and – certainly – ‘authoritarian Kremlin regime’.