3,582 articles from NOVEMBER 2019

The Suburbs Are Kicking the Animals Out. Enter the Animal Rescue Squad.ATLANTA -- In a small suburban park on a muggy morning a few months ago, a woman in elbow-length gloves was armed with a net, a loaf of bread and a tall cardboard box, all in hopes of catching an elusive goose.The goose, whose left leg was tightly wound in fishing line, walked with a pronounced hobble; as it swam, the leg dragged listlessly in the water. Yet despite its condition, animal instinct prevailed. The goose simply refused to be caught.Cindy Rooker, the would-be captor, hoped to retrieve the recalcitrant Canada goose, tuck it into the cardboard box she had brought, and drive it to a wildlife rehabilitation center a few hours away in South Carolina, where the bird would receive medical attention.But after several attempts, Rooker knew it was time to call it a day. Birds are easily stressed, and waterfowl have an inconvenient and frustrating knack for flying right into the center of a pond. Also, she didn't bring a kayak this time.A police officer who lives in Canton, Georgia, Rooker, 56, volunteers for the Wildlife Resources and Education Network (WREN). She started working with the organization at the beginning of the summer, and has since completed about 10 transports, crisscrossing the northern half of the state with the likes of orphaned baby opossums and injured hawks in the cab of her Nissan pickup truck.WREN connects people like Rooker -- committed animal lovers in the Southeast with spare time, spare gas money and an empty back seat -- with wildlife rehabbers and veterinary clinics that lack the resources to transport an animal on their own.In other words, Rooker and her fellow transporters are Mother Nature's unpaid Uber drivers.Robert Jones, an animal lover whose other pursuits include military history and small-business consulting, started WREN with Liz Crandall in 2016. The two met at the Southeastern Raptor Center at Auburn University, where Crandall worked and Jones volunteered and, later, interned.They formed WREN as a wildlife educational initiative, but with time, sharpened their focus largely on transportation after seeing the same challenge day after day: More people seemed to be stumbling upon injured wildlife every passing year, but few wanted to transport the animals to rehabbers themselves."It's a really large gap," said Jones, 34, who now lives in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and is the executive director of the Tilted Tavern Animal Sanctuary. Nonprofits like the raptor center don't always have the resources or staff to send someone out to fetch an animal, especially one that's hours away.That's where WREN -- and a handful of similar organizations, like the Connecticut Emergency Animal Response Service -- step in.When I first spoke with Crandall, 46, by phone, she had just finished up "a fawn call" (which, at least in this instance, is not a pun). Crandall, who is the assistant director of the Tilted Tavern Animal Sanctuary, said that she fields roughly a dozen calls a day and manages a handful of transports each week, often across state lines.That number is increasing each year, for reasons both dismal and hopeful: While humans are pushing into wildlife territory more and more, some of them are also becoming more aware of, and attuned to, the wildlife in their backyards."I think people are more conscientious," Crandall said. "They want to help more."WREN uses Slack to communicate to its volunteers and manage logistics, like making sure each transporter has an appropriate container for the animal (typically a cardboard box or a lidded Rubbermaid bin with holes for oxygen).Driving a captured animal requires total silence in the car -- no phone conversations, no podcasts or music -- sometimes for hours on end."It takes a lot for people to commit to something where they'll get a call maybe once a month, or maybe every day," Crandall said. Working with nature has inherent challenges and frustrations. It requires patience and flexibility, not to mention thick skin: Not every case has a happy ending.One of the organizations WREN works with is the Chattahoochee Nature Center, where Kathryn Dudeck works as wildlife director. Dudeck said that the center fields 400 to 500 phone calls a month, and takes in more than 650 animals for rehab each year.Those cases range from natural causes, like nestlings blown out of their nests in a hurricane, to injury explicitly at the hands of humans: an owl with buckshot in its wings, a red-tailed hawk hit by a car. "Needless to say, Mother Nature didn't invent the vehicle or the gun," Dudeck said. "So, we have a moral obligation to assist."David Crawford is the founder of Animal Help Now, a 911-like website and smartphone app that links people to wildlife rehabbers and transporters like WREN. App usage has increased every year since its inception in 2012, he said."As we expand and build new roads and build new suburbs, you have a lot more interaction with animals," he said. Then, he added, there is climate change: more destructive hurricanes will yield more injuries and habitat destruction; prolonged droughts, raging forest fires and searing heat waves will continue to push desperate animals further into human habitats."People are going to be interacting with wildlife a lot more than they are right now," said Crawford. He estimates that by the end of 2019, Animal Help Now will have been used in 40,000 wildlife emergencies across the country.A week after the first attempt, Rooker was back at Laurel Park. This time, there was a scrum of additional helpers, including Crandall, along with two kayaks. There were, however, no geese.Just before the group split off to search nearby ponds for the flock, Darcell Patterson, a sneaker-shod woman, intercepted the volunteers. Patterson, 66, has walked around the park every day for the last four years, she said, and brings dried food pellets with her to "establish rapport" with the resident ducks and geese.She matter-of-factly informed the group that the injured goose is named Gary, and that his leg has been wrapped in that line for a couple of years. Gary, it seems, can survive on his own, and has not yet been ostracized from his avian comrades.Crandall decided to let Gary be for now, knowing he was under Patterson's watchful eye. As long as the bird can still fly, walk and eat, Crandall explained, the stress of relocation isn't justifiable yet."Gary's got friends in high places," Patterson said.While it wasn't the Disney-worthy victory that the volunteers may have had in mind this go-round, it was still a victory by their standards."Sometimes letting wild be wild is the right thing to do," Jones said. "You teach people what situations need our intervention, and what situations don't."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


Scientists praise stronger beers as ‘very, very healthy’ thanks to gut-friendly bacteriaCertain beers could be considered “very healthy” thanks to the amount of gut-friendly bacteria they contain, according to scientists specialising in gut health.Professor Eric Claassen, who works at Amsterdam University, explained that strong Belgian beers, including Hoegaarden, Westmalle Tripel and Echt Kriekenbier, are rich in probiotic microbes that offer a range of health benefits.


Jeanne Calment was 122 when she died. But last year a Russian scientist claimed she was a con artist, sparking an international dispute over the woman who may still hold the secret to eternal life

If time makes fools of us all, you couldn’t blame André-François Raffray for taking it more personally than most. In 1965, Raffray, a lawyer in the southern French city of Arles, thought he had hit on the real-estate version of a sure thing. The 47-year-old had signed a contract to buy an apartment from one of his clients “en viager”: a form of property sale by which the buyer makes a monthly payment until the seller’s death, when the property becomes theirs. His client, Jeanne Calment, was 90 and sprightly for her age; she liked to surprise people by leaping from her chair at the hairdresser. But still, it couldn’t be long: Raffray just had to shell out 2,500 francs a month and wait it out.

Jeanne said she had met Van Gogh in her teens. He was ugly and dishevelled, she said; they called him ‘the dingo’

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The Sinister Scientist Behind the CIA’s Mind-Control MayhemPhoto Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/APStephen Kinzer has written books about civil wars, terror attacks, and bloody coups, but his latest might be his most alarming. “I’m still in shock,” Kinzer says of what he learned about the appalling experiments conducted by a government scientist most Americans have never heard of. “I can’t believe that this happened.”These aren’t the words of an author trying to fire up the hype machine. Though the events recounted in Kinzer’s Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control took place a half-century ago, they’re scandalous in a way that transcends time.For much of his 22-year CIA career, Gottlieb ran mind-control projects designed to help America defeat Communism. In the ’50s and ’60s, Kinzer writes, Gottlieb “directed the application of unknowable quantities and varieties of drugs into” countless people, searching for the narcotic recipe that might allow him to mold his human test subjects’ thoughts and actions.Gottlieb and a network of medical professionals gave LSD and other drugs to prisoners, hospital patients, government employees, and others—many of whom had no idea they were being dosed. A CIA staffer died in highly suspicious fashion after Gottlieb had his drink spiked with LSD. Meanwhile, when his bosses considered killing a foreign leader, Gottlieb developed custom-made poisons. Numerous people were harmed by Gottlieb’s work, but because he destroyed his files on the eve of his 1973 retirement, it’s hard to quantify the carnage he wrought.Perilous Discoveries: The Unintended Consequences of Scientific SecrecyThe broad outlines of Gottlieb’s story have been public for years. Major newspapers ran obituaries when he died in 1999. In 2017, he was portrayed by actor Tim Blake Nelson in Errol Morris’ Wormwood. But Kinzer’s book, the first proper Gottlieb biography, includes fascinating new facts about the end of his career and fresh details about disturbing episodes he orchestrated. Poisoner in Chief describes Gottlieb’s little-known participation in torture sessions at U.S. military sites in foreign countries and reports that in at least one case a doctor who worked with Gottlieb gave LSD to children. Gottlieb was “the Josef Mengele of the United States,” Kinzer, a former New York Times reporter and the author of many books, told me in a recent interview.How did Gottlieb, the Bronx-born son of Hungarian Jews, become a man who would earn comparisons to a ghoulish Nazi doctor?After getting a doctorate in biochemistry from the California Institute of Technology, Gottlieb joined the CIA in 1951, a time of fear and uncertainty. Just six years after the end of World War II, American troops were fighting in Korea. Washington was increasingly worried about what many believed was the existential threat posed by the Soviet Union. Gottlieb was on the job for a few weeks, Kinzer writes, when he was tapped “to invigorate” what would be known as the Artichoke project.Artichoke—the name was essentially meaningless; it might’ve been a CIA boss’ favorite vegetable—gave Gottlieb broad license to carry out mind control projects. Kinzer cites a CIA memo that describes the mission: “the investigation of drug effects on ego control and volitional activities, i.e., can willfully suppressed information be elicited through drugs affecting higher nervous systems? If so, which agents are better for this purpose?”The CIA aimed to create truth serum to use on prisoners and other compounds that would help wipe away memories of events that would cause trouble for the agency. If all went as planned, intelligence officers would have the ability to program people to carry out missions like those later seen in Richard Condon’s novel The Manchurian Candidate and the subsequent movie.Artichoke projects often amounted to “medical torture,” Kinzer writes. Inspired in part by brutal experiments conducted by the Japanese military and the Nazis in the ’40s, Artichoke included the “dosing (of) unwilling patients with potent drugs, subjecting them to extremes of temperature and sound (and) strapping them to electroshock machines.” Artichoke squads worked with impunity at American military sites in Europe and Asia. Such projects were closely guarded secrets, but Poisoner in Chief contains details that will be new to most readers.For instance, Kinzer notes that when “Artichoke scientists came up with a new drug or other technique they wished to test… they asked the CIA station in South Korea to supply a batch [of] ‘expendable’ subjects.” A related CIA memo said the subjects were needed for the testing of an unnamed but “important new technique,” adding, “Technique does not, not require disposal problems after application.” This is ambiguous language, but it suggests that the CIA knew that in some cases, human test subjects might be killed in the process.Gottlieb oversaw a scientific unit at Maryland’s Camp Detrick (since renamed Fort Detrick), where chemists researched the effects of LSD, heroin, and other drugs, sometimes trying the substances themselves. But he was not just a creature of the lab. “We know that he participated in torture sessions in East Asia,” Kinzer says, speaking from his home in Massachusetts. “We know that he made repeated visits to Germany, which, like Japan, was under U.S. occupation, so he didn’t have to obey any laws. And he was also active in other parts of Europe.”In time, Gottlieb became intimately familiar with LSD’s mind-altering effects. He admitted that he’d used the drug more than 200 times. “When I look at the variety of the projects that he was involved in,” Kinzer says, “from hypnotism to electroshock to parapsychology to handwriting analysis, I begin to think that maybe it was while he was on LSD that he was thinking, ‘I got another idea.’”By 1953, Kinzer writes, “Artichoke had become one of the most violently abusive projects ever sponsored by an agency of the United States government.” That year, Allen Dulles, one of Gottlieb’s ardent backers, got the CIA’s top job. The new boss, Kinzer writes, was among Washington’s leading mind control proponents: “Dulles never recoiled from the most extreme implications of ‘brain warfare.’” Dulles wanted “to intensify and systematize” the work done under Artichoke, Kinzer adds, and he tapped Gottlieb to head a new program: MK-ULTRA, named for the “ultra-sensitive” activities it was expected to carry out.With a generous budget and an “effectively unlimited supply” of LSD—the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly manufactured the hallucinogenic drug for the CIA—Gottlieb became perhaps “the most powerful unknown American of the 20th century,” Kinzer says.A key MK-ULTRA initiative involved medical professionals who agreed to administer drugs to their patients—often without the patients’ knowledge or consent. For instance, when Gottlieb wanted to know how much LSD a body could withstand, he got in touch with Harris Isbell, a researcher at a Lexington, Kentucky addiction center who had made his curiosity about LSD known in a letter to the CIA.Working with a group of men who “were not told what sort of drug they would be fed or what its effects might be,” Kinzer writes, Isbell administered large doses of LSD. He reported that the men experienced anxiety, hallucinations, and “choking.” As always with CIA projects of this kind, it’s tough to say how much damage was done. But Kinzer writes that at least one patient did speak out, saying that “for the rest of his life he suffered from delusions, paranoia, panic attacks, and suicidal impulses.”Another keen CIA collaborator chaired the pharmacology department at Emory University. “As subjects,” Kinzer writes, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer “used inmates at the federal prison in Atlanta and at a juvenile detention center in Bordentown, New Jersey,” administering depressants and hallucinogens in volumes that resulted in seizures and hallucinations that lasted for days. One of Pfeiffer’s subjects was James “Whitey” Bulger, who later became a notorious Boston gangland killer. Bulger said that as a young inmate, he was given LSD daily for more than a year.Another doctor—a New York allergist named Harold Abramson, who got an $85,000 MK-ULTRA stipend—“developed a special curiosity about the impact of mind-altering drugs on children,” Kinzer writes. “He closely monitored experiments, including one in which 12 ‘pre-puberty’ boys were fed psilocybin, and another in which 14 children between the ages of six and 11, diagnosed as schizophrenic, were given 100 micrograms of LSD each day for six weeks.”In Manhattan, meanwhile, Gottlieb helped set up a CIA safe house, where, with the hands-on help of a local narcotics cop, “unsuspecting citizens would be lured and surreptitiously drugged,” their behavior monitored via surveillance equipment in an adjoining apartment.It was around this time that Gottlieb attended a retreat with some other CIA men. The colleagues began drinking, and a few minutes later, Kinzer writes, “Gottlieb asked if anyone was feeling odd. Several said they were. Gottlieb then told them that their drinks had been spiked with LSD.” The incident triggered an emotional crisis in one of the men, a scientist named Frank Olson. Days later, Olson plunged to his death from the window of a Manhattan hotel. As seen in Morris’ film Wormwood, there’s compelling circumstantial evidence that Olson was murdered because the CIA feared he would divulge one of the secret projects he’d worked on.One of Gottlieb’s most remarkable duties involved adversarial foreign heads of state. According to colleagues, he prepared “a pre-poisoned tube of toothpaste” meant for Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba (it went unused) and ran a scientific team that considered a bizarre plot to disgrace Fidel Castro. Believing that the Cuban leader’s charisma was linked to his facial hair, Gottlieb wanted to have thallium salts sprinkled in his boots. “His beard would then fall out,” Kinzer writes, “leaving him open to ridicule and overthrow.” This, of course, never came to pass.By 1963, MK-ULTRA’s final year, Gottlieb and his colleagues “were forced to face their cosmic failure,” Kinzer writes. “Their research had shown them that mind control is a myth—that seizing another person’s mind and reprogramming it is impossible.”Nonetheless, Kinzer believes that Gottlieb left a deeply lamentable imprint on the modern CIA. He says there’s “a direct line between Sidney Gottlieb’s work and techniques that U.S. agents taught to Latin American security services in the 1960s and ’70s—these techniques were also used in Vietnam—and then later on to the techniques of torture and so-called extreme interrogation that were used at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.”Though Gottlieb’s decision to destroy his files means that there’s much we’ll never know, Kinzer appears to be the first journalist to directly tie his departure from the CIA to the scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency. Gottlieb’s team, he reports, “prepared false identity papers for two of” the men who broke into the Democratic National Committee’s offices in the Watergate complex. The break-in set off a chain of events that result in the ouster of CIA Director Richard Helms. “Helms,” Kinzer explains, “was Gottlieb’s number one promoter and enabler and sponsor for 20 years.” Nixon fired Helms in February 1973. Gottlieb retired four months later.After the CIA, Gottlieb took steps to reinvent himself. The long-married father of four joined an arts council in his Virginia town, acted in local holiday plays and worked with children who had speech problems. “It definitely seems from the recollections of people that knew him in his last 20 years that he was a very gentle soul, kind of an eco-hippy,” Kinzer says. “Nobody had any idea of what he had done in the past, but he was tormented by it.”Gottlieb died in March 1999, and when a cause of death wasn’t announced, at least two observers came to believe that he killed himself to derail intensifying legal inquiries into his actions. Eric Olson—Frank’s son—and Sidney Bender, a lawyer for a man who says his life was ruined by a Gottlieb dosing, had both tried to hold Gottlieb to account while he was alive. Instead, Kinzer writes, “they drank a toast to the death of a man they considered a monster.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Massive black hole that 'should not even exist' has been discoveredA black hole with a mass 70 times greater than the Sun was discovered, leaving scientists stunned. "Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our Galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution," Professor Jifeng Liu, who led the team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences that made the discovery, said in a statement. Scientists previously believed that the mass of an individual stellar black hole could not be more than 20 times that of the Sun. These stellar black holes are different than so-called supermassive black holes, which are found at the center of galaxies and can be billions of times the mass of our Sun.



FRIDAY 29. NOVEMBER 2019


Blue Origin’s expansion plans rush ahead at its Seattle-area HQ — and in Los AngelesKENT, Wash. — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture is rapidly expanding on several fronts, ranging from its headquarters facility south of Seattle to a new beachhead in the Los Angeles area — within the orbit of its main competitor, Elon Musk's SpaceX. Just three and a half years ago, Blue Origin's workforce amounted to 600 employees, and even then, Bezos said his company's 300,000-square-foot office and production facility in Kent was "busting out of the seams." Now the employee count is at around 2,500, heading toward 3,500 in the next year. That's according to a report from… Read More


If you have turned on a TV or read the news during the past few months, you have probably heard of the widespread fires that wrought havoc on the Amazon rainforest this year. Fires occur in the rainforest every year, but the past 11 months saw the number of fires increase by more than 70% when compared with 2018, indicating a major acceleration in land clearing by the country's logging and farming industries.

Neutrinos are the lightest of all the known particles that have mass. Yet their behavior as they travel could help answer one of the greatest puzzles in physics: why the present-day universe is made mostly of matter when the Big Bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. In two recent papers, the NA61/SHINE collaboration reports particle measurements that are crucial for accelerator-based experiments studying such neutrino behavior.

This year has been challenging for retailers, to put it mildly. According to the British Retail Consortium, sales were down 1.3% year on year in September, the most recent month available, and the worst since the consortium's records began in 1995. The summer wasn't much better, with sales down 0.5% in August and up only 0.3% in July – itself a record low. The Centre for Retail Research says it is anticipating less than 1% growth in real terms for the year as a whole.

Determining the quantum mechanical behavior of many interacting particles is essential to solving important problems in a variety of scientific fields, including physics, chemistry and mathematics. For instance, in order to describe the electronic structure of materials and molecules, researchers first need to find the ground, excited and thermal states of the Born-Oppenheimer Hamiltonian approximation. In quantum chemistry, the Born-Oppenheimer approximation is the assumption that electronic and nuclear motions in molecules can be separated.

Researchers at Japan's Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) of Nagoya University, the Netherlands' University of Groningen, and colleagues have found a new way to regulate the biological clocks of cells. Further studies on their approach, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, could lead to treatments for a variety of conditions, including sleep disorder.