News from a World gone mad

yet there is still so much beauty


December 27, 2015

Psilocybin is found in mushrooms such as Psilocybe mexicana.

At first glance, Psilocybe cubensis doesn’t look particularly magical. In fact, the scientific name of this little brown-and-white mushroom roughly translates to “bald head,” befitting the fungus’s rather mild-mannered appearance. But those who have ingested a dose of P. cubensis say it changes the user’s world.

The mushroom is one of more than 100 species that contain compounds called psilocybin and psilocin, which are psychoactive and cause hallucinations, euphoria and other trippy symptoms. These “magic mushrooms” have long been used in Central American religious ceremonies, and are now part of the black market in drugs in the United States and many other countries, where they are considered a controlled substance.

How does a modest little mushroom upend the brain so thoroughly? Read on for the strange secrets of ‘shrooms.

1. Mushrooms hyperconnect the brain

An artist's image shows neurons sending signals within the human brain.

The compounds in psilocybin mushrooms may give users a “mind-melting” feeling, but in fact, the drug does just the opposite —  psilocybin actually boosts the brain’s connectivity, according to an October 2014 study. Researchers at King’s College London asked 15 volunteers undergo brain scanning by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. They did so once after ingesting a dose of magic mushrooms, and once after taking a placebo. The resulting brain connectivity maps showed that, while under the influence of the drug, the brain synchronizes activity among areas that would not normally be connected. This alteration in activity could explain the dreamy state that ‘shroom users report experiencing after taking the drug, the researchers said.

read more at   Storigami









s a Parisian, I’ve learned a lot about the second time the German army occupied the French capital during the Nazi invasion of WWII. But what about the first time the Germans took hold of the city of Paris? One forgets they managed it twice. The winter of 1870-1871 was a traumatic time for Parisians, an ordeal that saw the city sustain more damage over just a few months than in any other conflict in history. And yet, it’s one that seems to have almost vanished from collective memory– perhaps for a few very good reasons…


What you’re looking at is a restaurant’s Christmas day menu during the five month-long siege of Paris at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. The French capital was surrounded by the soon-to-be German Empire, its citizens bombarded into surrendering and starved into submission. A dire shortage of food supplies into the city saw the Parisian diet change quite drastically.

A few key dishes to look out for…

Consommé d’Elephant → Elephant soup.

Goujons Frits – Le Chameau rôti à l’Anglaise → Fried Camel Nuggets

Le Civet de Kangourou → Kangaroo stew.

Côtes D’Ours roties sauce Poivrade → Bear Chops with Pepper Sauce

Cuissot de Loup, sauce chevreuil → Haunch of Wolf with Venison Sauce

Le Chat Flanqué de Rats → Cat flanked by rats.

La Terrine d’Antelope aux Truffes → Antelope terrine with truffles

Oh, and lest we forget the stuffed donkey’s head as the hors d’oeuvre. This menu was cooked and served by the great Parisian chef, Alexandre Étienne Choron at one of the fanciest restaurants in Paris once upon a time, Voisin, located on Rue Saint Honoré.

By now in its fourth month, the siege of Paris had brought the population to near starvation. Napoleon III, a man of astoundingly terrible judgement, had infamously declared war on Prussia over some he-said-she-said, alleging the Prussian emperor had insulted him. (It actually makes modern politicians seem like saints).


Bismarck with Napoleon III after his capitulation

Prussia’s prime minister Otto von Bismarck with a strong and obedient army at the ready, was all too happy to go to war and suggested shelling Paris to ensure the city’s quick surrender. The King of Prussia, said to be a chivalrous man, didn’t like that idea, so instead it was decided that the capital would have to be starved into surrender.


read more at Messynessy

Ishaq Khalil Hassan’s mother, Amna Hassan.

CreditWissam Nassar for The New York Times

GAZA — Something drove Ishaq Khalil Hassan, 28, into the Mediterranean last week, to walk naked in the shallow surf, to attempt what has become all but impossible for Palestinians: an escape from the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials insisted that Mr. Hassan, who tried to wade across the border into Egypt on Thursday, was mentally ill. His family said he was sane, but desperate — he had been trying all year, unsuccessfully, to legally enter Egypt for medical treatment for an old injury.

“Ishaq thought that Egyptians will be like Europeans, who deal with Syrians and welcome them,” said his brother, Ibrahim Hassan.

But as soon as Mr. Hassan crossed the frontier, Egyptian border guards opened fire, spraying the sea with bullets while ignoring a Palestinian guard who whistled and frantically gestured with his hands that Mr. Hassan had mental problems. A video that captured the shooting made at least one thing clear: Mr. Hassan appeared to pose no immediate threat to anyone.

When the firing stopped, Egyptian soldiers pulled Mr. Hassan’s apparently lifeless body from the water, as the camera kept rolling: an image that evoked the perilous journeys of migrants across the Mediterranean but also laid bare the hemmed in lives of Palestinians in Gaza, unable to wander even a few steps from their own borders.


On Sunday, Palestinians gathered to protest Mr. Hassan’s death. CreditMohammed Salem/Reuters

read more at the New York Times









© Lee Jae Won

US scientists have developed a new polymer that has a unique capacity to remove pollutant substances from water “in seconds.” The discovery could revolutionize the water-purification industry, make the process cheaper, and involve minimum energy.

A team of researchers from Cornell University made the breakthrough. The full research has been published in Journal Nature this week.

“What we did is make the first high-surface-area material made of cyclodextrin [sugar molecules bound together in a ring],”said Will Dichtel, associate professor of chemistry, who led the research, “combining some of the advantages of the activated carbon with the inherent advantages of the cyclodextrin.”

READ MORE: Scientists find hormone that controls sugar, alcohol cravings

“These materials will remove pollutants in seconds, as the water flows by,” he said. “So there’s a potential for really low-energy, flow-through water purification, which is a big deal.”

A porous material made from cup-shaped cyclodextrins, which rapidly bind pollutants and remove them from contaminated water. © Dichtel Group

The polymer has already shown the “uptake of pollutants through adsorption at rates vastly superior to traditional activated carbon – 200 times greater in some cases,”says the press release of the university.

According to Dichtel, activated carbons don’t bind pollutants as strongly as the new polymer.

READ MORE: Each glass of tap water contains 10mn ‘good bacteria’ from water pipes – study

“We knew that [water filtering] would be a likely application if we were successful,” Dichtel says. “We were definitely pleasantly surprised with just how good the performance is.”

Dichtel hopes this new material can open ways to commercial water purification and also improve life in developing countries.

source RT









URGENT: ISIS withdraws from Ramadi center, takes hundreds as hostages

Iraqi forces.Archival photo.

( Anbar – On Sunday, Khalidiya Council in Anbar Province announced, that all elements of ISIS organization had withdrawn from the center of Ramadi to the eastern areas of the city, while pointed out that the organization had taken hundreds of civilians as hostages and human shields.

The head of Khalidiya Council Ali Dawood said in a statement received by, “The intelligence information revealed that all ISIS elements had escaped from the center of Ramadi areas to Khalidiya Island east of the city, along with hundreds of civilian hostages,” pointing out that, “The cells of ISIS organization were completely collapsed during the cleansing battles.”

Dawood added, “The organization has taken hundreds of civilians as hostages and human shields during their withdrawal from Ramadi, while the security forces are pursuing the elements of the organization to liberate the abducted civilians.”

Source Iraqi News






My family went to Sweden, I chose India where I felt more accepted: A Syrian refugee

Syrian refugee, 32 (Delhi)

Fled the war-torn country this year and works as Arabic translator in hospitals

A few kilometres away from its DDA houses and across the subzi-mandi in South Delhi’s Sarita Vihar, a narrow lane lined with ‘Forex money exchange’ shops and vendors selling ‘green olives’ leads to a four-storey guest house. The 32-year-old can be often found on its terrace. Here, for the past four years, an “underground” Syrian restaurant has been turning out dishes from back home — syrup-soaked baklavas, pita bread and fresh hummus.

The 32-year-old first came to India from Homs, a city in western Syria, in 2011, when he enrolled for a Masters in English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi.

He is back here as a refugee — one among the six million Syrians on the run from civil war and Islamic State-unleashed violence. Homs was at the centre of that violence, declared by the rebels as their capital before they were chased out.

In 2013, the 32-year-old and his family — father an engineer, mother an Arabic teacher, and his three siblings — first left for Turkey as “we didn’t feel safe”. “We felt unsettled in Turkey and so decided to move to Europe, like the others,” he says. But when the rest of his family left for Sweden, he came to India — a country where he felt more “accepted”.

In August this year, he officially got “refugee status” from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Still, he no longer trusts strangers, and so refuses to be named or even meet face-to-face.

He stays in Jamia Nagar near Sarita Vihar, like he did during his student days, and makes about Rs 15,000-20,000 a month as an Arabic translator at city hospitals, he tells over the phone. Sometimes he takes private tuitions. Sarita Vihar has scores of guest-houses with people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, etc, some seeking asylum, others looking for affordable medical treatment. Read the full story at the

The Indian Express

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