Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 27th, 2014

Are you a dog lover? Before scanning his brain?

You love your dog?

Today, dogs are a fixture in almost 50% of American households.

Theresa Fisher  November 20, 2014 566

This partner story is part of BrainMic, a collaboration with GE to share the latest advances in brain research and technology.

In the 30,000 years humans and dogs have lived together, man’s best friend has only become a more popular and beloved pet.

From the way dogs thump their tails, invade our laps and steal our pillows, it certainly seems like they love us back. But since dogs can’t tell us what’s going on inside their furry heads, can we ever be sure?

Actually, yes. (Don’t tell me you know that from the scanning of dog brains?)

Thanks to recent developments in brain imaging technology, we’re starting to get a better picture of the happenings inside the canine cranium.

Scientists are actually studying the brains of dogs. And what the studies show is welcome news for all dog owners: Not only do dogs seem to love us back, they actually see us as their family.

It turns out that dogs rely on humans more than they do their own kind for affection, protection and everything in between.

Dogs gathered around MRI scanner MR Research Center in Budapest. Image Credit: Borbala Ferenczy

The most direct brain-based evidence that dogs are hopelessly devoted to humans comes from a recent neuroimaging study about odor processing in the dog brain.

Animal cognition scientists at Emory University trained dogs to lie still in an MRI machine and used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to measure their neural responses to the smell of people and dogs, both familiar and unknown. Because dogs navigate the world through their noses, the way they process smell offers a lot of potential insight into social behavior.

The scientists found that dog owners’ aroma actually sparked activation in the “reward center” of their brains, called the caudate nucleus. Of all the wafting smells to take in, dogs actually prioritized the hint of humans over anything or anyone else.

These results jive with other canine neuroimaging research.

In Budapest, researchers at Eotvos Lorand University studied canine brain activity in response to different human and dog sounds, including voices, barks and the meaningful grunts and sighs both species emit. Before this study, we had no idea what happens inside canine brains when humans make noise.

Among other surprising findings, the study revealed marked similarities in the way dog and human brains process emotionally laden vocal sounds.

Researchers found that happy sounds in particular light up the auditory cortex in both species. This commonality speaks to the uniquely strong communication system underlying the dog-human bond.

In short: Dogs don’t just seem to pick up on our subtle mood changes — they are actually physically wired to pick up on them.

“It’s very interesting to understand the tool kit that helps such successful vocal communication between two species,” Attila Andics, a neuroscientist and lead author of the study, told Mic. “We didn’t need neuroimaging to see that communication works [between dogs and people], but without it, we didn’t understand why it works. Now we’re really starting to.”

Dog waiting to be scanned at MR Research Center in Budapest. Image Credit: Borbala Ferenczy.

Behavior research supports the recent neuroscience too. According to Andics, dogs interact with their human caregivers in the same way babies do their parents.

When dogs are scared or worried, they run to their owners, just as distressed toddlers make a beeline for their parents. This is in stark contrast to other domesticated animals: Petrified cats, as well as horses, will run away. (Very smart instinct)

Dogs are also the only non-primate animal to look people in the eyes. This is something Andics, along with other researchers, discovered about a decade ago when he studied the domestication of wolves, which he thought would share that trait. They endeavored to raise wolves like dogs. This is a unique behavior between dogs and humans — dogs seek out eye contact from people, but not their biological dog parents.

“Bonding with owners is much more important for dogs than other pets,” said Andics.

Image Credit: Getty

Scientists have also looked at the dog-human relationship from the other direction.

As it turns out, people reciprocate dogs’ strong feelings. In a study published in PLOS One in October, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers measured human brain activity in response to photos of dogs and children.

Study participants were women who’d had dogs and babies for at least two years.

Both types of photos sparked activity in brain regions associated with emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social interaction. Basically, both furry and (typically) less-furry family members make us equally happy.

Dog-lovers have committed a few notable gaffes in interpreting dogs’ facial expressions, e.g., assuming the often-documented hangdog look signifies guilt, an emotion that, most behavior experts agree, requires a multifaceted notion of self-awareness that dogs probably don’t have.

But, as with family, our instinctive hunches about dog behavior are often correct.

“Sometimes our intuition about what’s going on inside dogs’ heads is dead-on,” said Laurie Santos, the lead researcher at Yale’s Canine Cognition Center. “Like, that dogs are seeking out help from us — and that’s true based on studies — which is different from even their closest relatives, wolves.”

The precise wish or worry lurking in a dog’s doleful look may not always be clear. But we can relish the fact that we know our pets love us as much as we hoped, maybe even more. Even if they’re not full-fledged children, they see us as family. And to us? Well, they’ll always be our babies.

Note: What about these people who claim that they know when their dogs are smiling?

Systematic assassination of top academicians and scientists in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon

Israel constant strategic policy is the systematic assassination of top academicians and scientists in the neighbouring countries of the State of Israel (Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon. Iran has been a target since it began its nuclear program). Why?

Apartheid Israel believes that its supremacy and total control and dominion in the region is denying the people any proficient brain power to confront Israel long-term existence.

One of the main objectives of invading Iraq was the elimination of its top 5,000 scientists. The USA pressured over 2,000 top Iraqi scientists to find exile in the US. The remaining scientists were executed and assassinated.

In the 50’s and 60’s Egypt top scientists were the primary target for assassination, and Israel pressured Germany to bring back the German scientists working in Egypt. Germany shelled out $2 billion so that its citizens in Egypt are not killed. 

Since 2011, the Mossad, headed by Tamir Bardo, provided the Nusra faction lists of top Syrian scientist to be executed.

Lately, Al Nusra executed 5 Syrian nuclear engineers and scores of professional generals, pilots and researchers..

L’exécution, par le front Al-Nosra, de cinq ingénieurs dans le domaine de l’énergie nucléaire et atomique ne fut pas une surprise, puisque ces groupes avaient adopté cette méthode dans des opérations similaires.

By Al-Ahednews | Editeur : Walt | Dimanche, 16 Nov. 2014

Assassinats systématiques des académiciens et scientifiques syriens dans l’intérêt d’«Israël»

Les cinq ingénieurs assassinés étaient à bord d’un véhicule qui fut la cible des tirs, dans la région El-Tall, dans le Rif de Damas.

Les ingénieurs martyrs travaillaient dans un centre de recherches scientifiques à Barzé. Selon des sources bien informées, la nature du travail de ces hommes était confidentielle. Ils furent assassinés à la suite d’une période de surveillance.

Ce n’est pas la première fois que des experts, des scientifiques et académiques syriens sont liquidés. Le front Al-Nosra s’est en effet transformé en un bras du chef du Mossad, Tamir Bardo, qui fournit à cette organisation les données et les renseignements, ainsi que le soutien logistique, en contrepartie des opérations d’assassinat. Ce front avait aussi visé une élite de pilotes des avions de chasse syriens, détruit les centres de recherches scientifiques et les centres d’alerte précoce, qui protègent le pays des offensives extérieures.

Avec le début de la guerre contre la Syrie, un groupe armé relevant d’Al-Nosra, muni d’engins de télécommunications sophistiqués, a été démantelé par l’armée syrienne. Les renseignements syriens à ce propos, ont été confirmés par des rapports russes et chinois, pour révéler un rôle effectif des SR sionistes et de la CIA au sein du groupuscule en question, dirigé par le général américain Richard Cleveland.

Les informations ont fait état de forces spéciales entrainées pour perpétrer des assassinats, sous la supervision de la CIA. Ces forces sont entrées en Syrie via la frontière de la Jordanie et du Golan occupé et se sont déployées sur le territoire syrien. En outre, le Mossad a joué un rôle important dans l’installation des chambres d’opérations et des casernes d’entrainement en Jordanie, en Turquie et dans le Kurdistan de l’Irak.

Les équipes entrainées dans ces lieux, en coopération avec la force israélienne «Maglan», spécialisée dans les offensives contre les aéroports et la force «Beta IR», spécialisée dans les assassinats, coordonnent étroitement leurs actions avec les SR israéliens.

Le parrainage de ces groupes ne s’est pas limité à l’entrainement. Les Israéliens ont assuré le soutien à Al-Nosra sur le terrain, dans plusieurs lieux en Syrie, notamment où se situent les postes militaires et académiques, comme Homs et son rif, le rif de Deraa, El-Ghouta-Est et le Qalamoun. Les groupes armés y ont reçu tout genre de soutien technique sophistiqué, dont les moyens de télécommunications, d’espionnage et même l’assistance directe.

L’assassinat des pilotes militaires syriens entrainés sur les avions modernes dans le rif de Homs en est une preuve. En effet, en fin de novembre 2011, six pilotes, techniciens et officiers ont été assassinés par les groupes armés, baptisés plus tard «front Al-Nosra». Les assassinats des cadres et des experts syriens se sont poursuivis plus tard. Le général Abdallah Khaldi fut tué, ainsi qu’un certain nombre de pilotes militaires, pris en otage, puis décapités et leurs corps mutilés.

Dans la période suivante, ces groupes ont entamé une série d’assassinats systématiques, visant plusieurs chercheurs, académiciens, dont notamment le général Nabil Zougheib, responsable du développement du programme des missiles syriens. En plus, Alep fut le lieu de l’assassinat de Dr Samir Rkieh, ingénieur aéronautique, enlevé par Al-Nosra en 2012. Une vidéo a montré plus tard son corps mutilé par les traces de la torture.

Dans le domaine des centres de recherches scientifiques et académiques, les groupes armés ont laissé leurs empreintes dans toutes les régions syriennes. Ils ont adopté la méthode du Mossad dans la prise pour cible des installations scientifiques, des bases aériennes, et des radars, notamment installés dans la région de Marj el-Sultan, dans la Ghouta-Est, et ceux installés dans le rif de Deraa.

Bref, d’après la nature des missions exécutées par le bras du Mossad en Syrie, et l’ampleur des pertes dans les infrastructures économiques et militaires, comprenant aussi les cerveaux et les expertises humaines, les radars, les stations d’alerte précoce, les systèmes de défense aérienne et les pilotes, on peut déduire que le bénéficiaire n’est que l’ennemi principal de l’axe de la résistance.

En effet, l’entité sioniste avait toujours l’objectif de démanteler la structure militaire, scientifique et technique de l’armée syrienne, par le meurtre des cadres habilités, en prélude à l’exclusion de cette armée du cadre du conflit. D’ailleurs, c’est ce que prouve un article publié dans Yediot Ahronot et écrit par le journaliste sioniste Ben Yachay, le 14-1-2012. Ben Yachay avait affirmé que les assassinats en question, étaient caractérisés par le statut et la qualité des hommes tués, sources de connaissances, de renseignements et d’expertises.

«On ne doit pas être expert pour déduire que les assassinats et les explosions en Syrie, sont l’œuvre d’organisations secrètes, liées à des pays bénéficiant de leur action. Seules des organisations dirigées par de tels pays, sont capables d’exécuter ce genre de meurtres», a-t-il écrit.


Migration is a fundamental human right:

Mankind basic acquired law since his inception

I believe in a human right to migration, as fundamental as the right to freedom of expression, or freedom from discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, religion or sexuality.

I have come by this belief by migrating myself. (I’m inclined to prefer the terms migrant and migration to immigrant and immigration: the latter two seem to privilege the country of arrival; every immigrant is also an emigrant, and migrant encompasses both.)

Mohsin Hamid:

why migration is a fundamental human right

Born in Pakistan and educated in the US, Mohsin Hamid has made a home in the UK. He explains why he longs for a world without borders

Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid in Lahore, Pakistan.

I was born in Pakistan. And I live in Pakistan. But when I was three I moved with my parents to Silicon Valley in California. I returned to Pakistan when I was nine for a decade, then spent most of my 20s on America’s east coast and most of my 30s in London.

I possess a British passport and once possessed an American green card.

My life has come full circle, geographically speaking. Twice.

Most of my education has been in the American system. I suspect this has contributed to my discomfort with a great deal of what I see practised around me in Pakistan.

I have friends who are non-Muslim; non-Muslims are legally persecuted here.

I have friends who are gay; homosexuality is legally proscribed here.

An African friend once told me after visiting that Pakistan was among the most blatantly racist places he had ever been.

Pakistani laws discriminate against women.

Pakistani courts fail to deliver any semblance of due process. Pakistani presidents are frequently unelected generals. My largely American-educated self is continually brimming with disappointment.

Yet my largely American-educated self is profoundly disappointed by America, too.

This is partly because the US’s bellicose excesses in foreign policy become more visible the closer you are to where American bombs are hitting the ground. But it is also because I studied American history with American teachers and American law with American professors.

From them I learned about manifest destiny, the notion that Americans were destined to migrate west until they had settled the entire continent; about the melting pot, uniting people of all races, ethnicities and creeds into one nation; about a country of immigrants, with this poem by Emma Lazarus inscribed at the base of its Statue of Liberty:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon- hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest- tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Migration and equality are intertwined at the heart of the US’s story of itself.

As the vast migration to America continued, this story goes, the equality offered by America grew. So it was that the US Declaration of Independence could declare only “that all men are created equal”, but a century and a half later, women too would be granted the vote.

So it was that the US Constitution could openly tolerate slavery, but within one century slavery would be outlawed – and within a second some of slavery’s most toxic residues would be partially mitigated by the famed civil rights movement of the 1960s, the decade before my birth.

And yet, in my lifetime, as someone who has often lived in America, I could see, more and more, a new category of person there, neither slave nor free.

They were everywhere and they numbered in their millions: illegal immigrants.

How, I wondered, was such a thing possible? Surely all Americans were immigrants. Yet legally, it now seemed, not all immigrants were Americans, and as the caste of “illegals” swelled in the closing years of the 20th century and initial years of the 21st, the overall inequality of American society began to grow, too.

If the US distances itself from the human right of migration, the tenor of the dominant story of America changes.

For America’s story is also, frighteningly, a story about the genocide of the pre-Columbian population, a story about the importation of disenfranchised underclasses, initially from Africa and more recently from Latin America, and a story about the quest for unrivalled economic and military dominance around the world.

Such a revised story sits uncomfortably with those equality aspiring institutions that America already has.

This has inevitably led to a crisis. And this crisis helps explain why America is flailing today: America has become incoherent.

An America that denies the human right of migration can no longer be the America it imagines itself to be, because it can no longer champion equality. It can no longer claim to be exceptional. It can no longer believe in being its own best self.

America’s greatest hope lies where it always has: with the homeless, tempest-tossed to that golden door.

And migration is the half-forgotten core of Britishness as well. I migrated to the UK 13 years ago, not expecting to remain long. I thought I would experience London for a year, then return to New York.

But I found London remarkably open to migrants, to dissent, to creativity. I stayed for the better part of a decade, becoming a naturalised citizen in the process. I made a home for myself in Britain, wrote a novel there, worked in business there, got married there, had a child there.

Anti-migrant sentiment was always present, but for a while in the early noughties it seemed it was waning, that a new, more cosmopolitan Britain was being born.

Alas, times have changed.

Sovereignty seems to be the rage in Britain these days. But this sovereignty, at its heart, is imagined not merely as more rights for people in Britain, but as more rights for those whose ancestors have been in Britain longer.

In nativist-sovereign Britain, the plumber of Bulgarian citizenship is a plausible candidate for expulsion. In nativist-sovereign Britain, the British woman with Bangladeshi parents is a problem to be solved.

Surely the dangers of such an outlook are self-evident.

What becomes of Northern Ireland under such a concept of sovereignty?

What becomes of Scotland, which has been ruled from London for less time than England has?

What of the migrant-peopled dominions of Gibraltar and the Falklands?

Treating nativist sovereignty as a virtue, and migration as a crime, threatens to make the United Kingdom dysfunctional.

For Britain, too, is a land of migration, indeed of extreme migration. Without migration, the human population of these and all other islands would be zero.

Without migration, the English language would not exist.

There would be no Commonwealth without migration – no Canada, no Australia, no New Zealand – for without migration there would have been no empire.

And without the British empire there would be precious little of the accumulated wealth and knowledge underpinning the industries on which the British economy is now based.

But as a British person who reads the press of my own (British) country, I encounter a sadly predictable narrative. It sums up the last couple centuries of world history as follows. When a Briton goes abroad, he or she is a hero. When someone else tries to come to Britain, he or she is a villain.

It is not a take on history that suggests future greatness. It suggests instead a retreat into fear and insularity. It deserves more robust challenges than it has received thus far.

The deepest threat Britain faces comes not from migration. It comes from the relentless transfer of wealth and opportunity from the poor and middle class to the wealthy, a transfer masked and rendered temporarily palatable by the chest-thumping of resurgent nationalism and the paper gains of credit-fuelled property prices.

Britain and America are by no means unique in denying the human right to migration. All wealthy democracies do much the same. China and some other countries even restrict the migration of their citizens within their own borders.

This problem must be addressed. The scale of migration we will see in the coming centuries is likely to dwarf what has come before. Climate change, disease, state failure, wars: all these will push hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, to leave one country for another.

If we do not recognise their right to move, we will be attempting to build an apartheid planet where our passports will be our castes, and where obedience will be enforceable only through ever-increasing uses of force.

There is another way. We can recognise the human right to migration. We can recognise that we are ourselves, all of us, doubly migrants. We are migrants historically: our ancestors came from somewhere else, and originated, long ago, in the same spot in Africa.

And we are migrants personally: life is the experience of moving through time, of abandoning each present moment for the next, of temporal migration.

Acknowledging this, we can accept that we have no right to forbid or stigmatise migration. We have only the power to try to do so. And we ought to endeavour to use that power as little as we can manage, less and less over time, for we are using it to deny the human rights of others.

It is we, those who stop migration, who are the criminals, not those who are migrants.

And slowly, at a pace that does not terrify us, but whose direction is clear, we must gradually let go, and allow things to change. Only in doing so can we hope to build a world in accordance with the values we claim to believe in – liberty, equality, democracy – and wash clean the taste of hypocrisy that burns so bitter in so many of our mouths.

I imagine that centuries hence, when people are finally free to move as they please around the planet Earth, they will look back at this moment and wonder, just as we wonder about those who kept slaves, how people who seemed so modern could do such things to their fellow human beings, caging them like animals – merely for wanting to wander, as our species always has and always will.

Mohsin Hamid’s Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York and London is published by Hamish Hamilton on Thursday at £16.99.




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