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  • https://udumbara.net/yemens-houthis-issue-warning-to-oil-looters
    https://udumbara.net/yemens-houthis-issue-warning-to-oil-looters
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Yemen's Houthis issue warning to oil ‘looters’
    Yemen’s Houthi rebels warned that they could target oil companies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as a six-month ceasefire expired on Sunday
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  • https://udumbara.net/90-year-old-cardinal-in-dock-as-dark-awaits-dawn
    https://udumbara.net/90-year-old-cardinal-in-dock-as-dark-awaits-dawn
    UDUMBARA.NET
    90-Year-Old Cardinal in Dock ‘As Dark Awaits Dawn’
    The nonagenarian Cardinal Zen, Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, belonging to the very highest echelon of the Roman Catholic Church, who was arrested by the Hong Kong government (HKgov), stood in the dock on Sept. 26. The silence of the Holy See has been criticized both inside and outside the Catholic Church, and has also sparked heated discussions on Sino-Vatican relations.Some commentators think that Zen was “abandoned by the Pope;” Some people think that as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) saw the current weakness of the Vatican, it did not shy away from arresting Zen in a high-profile manner. In fact, both the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong and the Pope held back from criticising the CCP regarding the incident. As one of the trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund in Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen, who was accused of conspiring to collude with a foreign country or foreign force, was arrested for allegedly violating the “Hong Kong National Security Law,” by the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force. This is the first time that a current cardinal has been arrested under the CCP. Zen presided over mass on May 28 following his arrest in May and told the congregation that his arrest was just another experience for him and said, “Martyrdom is normal in our Church.” Zen Experienced the Hardships of the Church in China Zen is a politically exposed person because of his long history of resistance to the CCP. Zen was born in Shanghai and moved to Hong Kong to study theology in 1948. Later, he trained in Rome, where he was ordained in 1961. After obtaining his PhD at the Salesians’ University in Rome in 1964, Father Zen then served as a professor of theology at Catholic seminaries in Hong Kong in 1971. From 1978 to 1983 he was Provincial Superior of Salesians covering Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and China. From 1989 to 1996, Zen returned to the mainland to teach in government-sanctioned seminars for six months every year, in seven different dioceses including Shanghai, Xi’an, Wuhan, Shijiazhuang (Hebei), Shenyang, and Zhejiang Province, as well as the National Seminary in Beijing. “During my seven years of teaching in China, I tried my best to follow the rules and never publicly condemned the undesirable conditions at the time. I needed to remain silent because I didn’t want to sacrifice this opportunity to educate young Chinese seminary students. During this period, my most important responsibility is to find out, observe, and understand the realities of the times.” The CCP strictly controls religious freedom, and its religious persecution is pervasive and widespread. According to a 2020 report by the human rights group Freedom House, in China, all leading religious groups’ activities are tightly circumscribed, and they must accept the CCP’s leadership as a condition for their existence. China ensures state-sanctioned ideology by controlling all religious practices and beliefs. Therefore, people who do not recognize the government-approved bishops set up underground churches, and today an estimated 12 million Catholics in China are split between a state-sanctioned church and an underground church that rejects government ties and answers only to Rome. During his seven-year of experience in China, he profoundly felt the plight of the mainland churches. Since then, he has actively opposed the totalitarianism of the CCP and fought for religious freedom for the 12 million mainland Catholics. Zen Rejects CCP’s Deprivation of Freedom of Hongkongers In 1997, Hong Kong’s sovereignty was handed over to China and CCP slowly began trying to restrict Hong Kongers’ liberties. Since then, Zen, who is outspoken, chose what is good and held fast to it. He is committed to Hongkonger’s freedom and over the years he has repeatedly voiced high-profile support for social events and criticized certain decisions of the Hong Kong government, including the 2001 right of abode dispute. In the dispute, children born to mainland parents in Hong Kong were defined as having no right of abode in Hong Kong. While they were fighting for the right of abode through legal channels, HKgov stated that the children were not allowed to go to school before the judgment. Zen, as an assistant bishop of Hong Kong, publicly called on Catholic schools to take in the children who were banned from going to school without residency rights. He was warned by the HKgov that he may have broken the law. In 2002, Zen was made bishop of Hong Kong and he resigned in 2009. He was created a Cardinal in 2006. In 2011, Zen opposed the government’s imposition of the Education (Amendment) Ordinance regarding school-based management policy, believing that it would weaken the autonomy of sponsoring bodies, and sued the government for this. After losing the lawsuit, he fasted for three days to express his grief. In 2006, Zen strongly criticized the Beijing government for banning Falun Gong, a private practice group, and accusin
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  • https://udumbara.net/chinese-billionaire-richard-liu-settles-us-rape-allegation
    https://udumbara.net/chinese-billionaire-richard-liu-settles-us-rape-allegation
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Chinese Billionaire Richard Liu Settles US Rape Allegation
    MINNEAPOLIS—Chinese billionaire and JD.com founder Richard Liu agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a former University of Minnesota student who alleged he raped her in her Minneapolis apartment after a night of dinner and drinks with wealthy Chinese executives in 2018, attorneys for both sides announced late Saturday.A settlement amount was not disclosed. Richard Liu, who stepped down as the CEO of Beijing-based e-commerce company JD.com this year amid increased scrutiny of China’s technology industry by the Chinese communist regime, has denied raping the woman, Jingyao Liu, and prosecutors never filed criminal charges. A joint statement from attorneys for both sides called the encounter “a misunderstanding.” “The incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed substantial public attention and brought profound suffering to the parties and their families,” the joint statement said. “Today, the parties agreed to set aside their differences, and settle their legal dispute in order to avoid further pain and suffering caused by the lawsuit.” The settlement was announced just two days before the civil trial was set to begin Monday in a Minneapolis courtroom. On Friday, a jury of seven men and five women were picked to hear the case. Richard Liu is a celebrity in China, part of a generation of entrepreneurs who created the country’s internet, e-commerce, mobile phone, and other technology industries since the late 1990s. Forbes estimated his wealth at $10.9 billion on Saturday. Jingyao Liu alleges the attack happened in 2018 while Richard Liu was in Minneapolis for a weeklong residency in the University of Minnesota’s doctor of business administration China program, geared toward high-level executives in China. Jingyao Liu, a Chinese citizen, was at the university on a student visa and was a volunteer in the program at the time. The Associated Press does not generally name people alleging sexual assault, but Jingyao Liu has agreed to be identified publicly. Jingyao Liu was 21 and Richard Liu was in his mid-40s at the time, the lawsuit said. They are not related. Richard Liu, also known as Liu Qiangdong, was arrested on suspicion of felony rape in August 2018, but prosecutors said the case had “profound evidentiary problems” and declined to file criminal charges. Jingyao Liu sued Richard Liu and JD.com in 2019, alleging sexual assault and battery, along with false imprisonment. The case drew widespread attention in China. Richard Liu’s supporters and opponents waged aggressive public relations campaigns on Chinese social media; censors shut down some accounts that supported Jingyao Liu for “violating regulations.” Jingyao Liu said in her lawsuit that she had to withdraw from classes in fall 2018 and seek counseling and treatment. Her attorney said she has since graduated but has post-traumatic stress disorder. She sought compensatory as well as punitive damages from Richard Liu. Her lawsuit said she was seeking more than $50,000, a standard figure that must be listed in Minnesota if a plaintiff intends to seek any larger amount. She was expected to ask a jury to award much more. On the night of the alleged attack, according to the lawsuit, Richard Liu and other executives went to a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis and one of the men invited Jingyao Liu at Richard Liu’s request. She felt coerced to drink as the powerful men toasted her, and Richard Liu said she would dishonor him if she did not join in, her lawsuit claimed. According to text messages reviewed by The Associated Press and Jingyao Liu’s interviews with police, she said that after the dinner Richard Liu pulled her into a limousine and groped her despite her protests. She said he raped her at her apartment. At one point, she texted a friend: “I begged him don’t. But he didn’t listen.” Her friend notified police, who went to her apartment. Jingyao Liu told one officer, “I was raped but not that kind of rape,” according to police. When asked to explain, she changed the subject and said Richard Liu was famous and she was afraid. She told the officer that she did not want police to get involved. Police said they released Richard Liu because “it was unclear if a crime had actually taken place.” In a later interview with an investigator, Richard Liu said the sex was consensual. Jingyao Liu told a police sergeant that she wanted to talk with Richard Liu’s attorney and threatened to go to the media if she did not, according to police. Richard Liu’s former attorney recorded the phone call, in which Jingyao Liu said she didn’t want the case to be in the newspaper and “I just need payment money and apologize and that’s all.” A recording of the phone call was expected to be played as evidence at trial. Surveillance videos from the restaurant, the restaurant’s exterior and the halls of the woman’s apartment complex were also expected to be played for jurors.
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  • https://udumbara.net/study-finds-chinese-medicine-effective-in-improving-long-covid-hkha
    https://udumbara.net/study-finds-chinese-medicine-effective-in-improving-long-covid-hkha
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Study Finds Chinese Medicine Effective in Improving Long COVID: HKHA
    The Hong Kong Hospital Authority (HA) announced on Sept. 28 a study of clinical data of Chinese medicine in the treatment of recovered COVID-19 patients, indicating that Chinese medicine treatment in the recovery period can promote the resolution of residual symptoms, and improve lung functions and body constitutions.The study was conducted between September 2020 and December 2021. The research team collected clinical data of 150 recovered COVID-19 patients, of whom more than 60 percent were women and more than 30 percent were men, ages ranging from 18 to over 80 years old, mostly middle-aged. During the infection period, patients often experienced fever, fatigue, dry cough, muscle or joint pain, and headache. The study found that recovered patients had lower lung function performance than their same age group when taking the walk test. After 3 to 6 months of Chinese medicine treatment, their lung function improved, and the compliance rate increased from 5 percent to 15 percent, but 85 percent of them still did not meet the standard. Studies have also shown that more than 70 percent of the recovered patients have a deficiency of both lungs and spleen or a deficiency of vital energy, and more than 40 percent have both. After treatment, 16 percent of the recovered patients achieved a balanced body constitution. The clinical symptoms of the recovered patients also improved. 35.7 percent of the recovered patients stopped coughing, 28.6 percent of them recovered from shortness of breath, and 36.5 percent of them recovered from fatigue. The study pointed out that the concept of holistic treatment in traditional Chinese medicine is not aimed at specific clinical symptoms, but is aimed at the patient’s body constitution, lifestyle, and habits, to increase their immune system, therefore eliminating the factors that lead to illnesses. Bian Zhaoxiang, Associate Vice-President of Hong Kong Baptist University, said that studies have shown that Chinese medicine can effectively promote the resolution of residual symptoms, and improve the lung functions and body constitutions of recovered COVID-19 patients. The research team is composed of the HA, the School of Chinese Medicine at Hong Kong Baptist University, the School of Chinese Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the School of Chinese Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, and 7 Chinese medicine clinics and teaching and research centers. The research has been published in an international academic journal Chinese Medicine, it is the first internationally published clinical research from Hong Kong that focused on the effects of Chinese medicine on COVID-19 rehabilitation.
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  • https://udumbara.net/unofficial-chinese-police-stations-in-canada-likely-number-more-than-3-says-report-co-author
    https://udumbara.net/unofficial-chinese-police-stations-in-canada-likely-number-more-than-3-says-report-co-author
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Unofficial Chinese Police Stations in Canada Likely Number More Than 3, Says Report Co-Author
    The Chinese regime has likely established more unofficial overseas police stations in Canada than the three in Toronto identified in a report by a human rights NGO, a co-author of the report says.Spain-based Safeguard Defenders published a report in September warning of the regime’s “long-arm policing” around the world through what’s been dubbed the “110 overseas police stations”—an operation named after the police emergency phone number, 110, in China. The report, titled “110 Overseas: Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild,” identified 54 Chinese overseas police stations in 30 countries, including 3 in Toronto. The stations are all under the jurisdiction of two local-level police services in China—the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, and the Qingtian County police in Zhejiang Province, the report said. Peter Dahlin, founder and director of Safeguard Defender and co-author of the report, says that following the release of his organization’s findings, security police or related government agencies from North America and Europe have approached his organization asking “to sit down and have a briefing discussion” on the Chinese operations overseas. “So they are certainly aware of it, at least in some countries,” Dahlin told The Epoch Times. More Locations While the Chinese authorities say these police stations are created to better serve its overseas nationals, the report noted that those stations have been used to “persuade” up to 230,000 Chinese nationals to “voluntarily” return to China to face criminal proceedings between April 2021 and July 2022. “Persuasion to return” is a key method of the Chinese regime’s “involuntary returns” operations, which include its “Operation Fox Hunt” and the broader “Sky Net” campaign, according to Safeguard Defenders. Many of the targets for persuasion to return were overseas Chinese allegedly involved in telecommunication fraud, though the report said a number of non-suspects and their family members in China have also been targeted for police harassment and intimation. Map of the 30 countries where Chinese police have established 54 known “110 Chinese overseas police stations.” (Courtesy of Safeguard Defenders) Dahlin said that in addition to the three stations in Toronto—two in Markham and one in Scarborough, whose locations were published in a Chinese state media outlet—there are likely other unofficial Chinese police stations either existing or being established in Canada, though they have yet to be discovered. “We’ve also seen a [Chinese] government notice that said that 10 different provinces should launch these types of operations on a pilot basis,” he told The Epoch Times, pointing to the report’s citation of a July 5, 2018, news release issued by the Chinese regime. “So, we have two of these operations uncovered [in Fujian Province and Zhejiang Province]. There might be eight more provinces doing this that could have their own stations, and we have not been able to track down that information yet. That’s why we keep saying that … we believe and we have good reason to think that there are more [overseas Chinese police stations].” The news release is in relation to the Chinese State Council’s 2018 “Work Plan for the Supervision of the National Special Struggle Against Gang Crimes.” A Chinese state media reported in January 2019 that Beijing had conducted a first-round one-month supervision training from July to September 2018 in the 10 provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Fujian, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Guangdong, Chongqing, and Sichuan. Another report that year, in April 2019, said the regime had completed a second-round training for another 11 provinces, including Zhejiang Province where the Qingtian police service is located. Given the large Chinese diaspora population in Vancouver, Dahlin noted that he would find it “very strange” if the city didn’t have at least one 110 police station. ‘Transnational Repression’ Safeguard Defenders says its September report is part of its ongoing monitoring of China’s growing global transnational repression. Dahlin said the report came on the heels of another report by his organization, titled “Involuntary Returns—report exposes long-arm policing overseas.” That earlier report, published in January 2022, looked at the Chinese regime’s claim in December 2021 that its Sky Net operations, along with partner Operation Fox Hunt, have successfully brought some 10,000 “fugitives” back to China from around the globe since 2014, when Fox Hunt was launched as part of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Those operations target what Dahlin described as “high-value targets.” Officially, Sky Net says it only targets economic criminals and officials accused of crimes like corruption or bribery, according to the Safeguard Defenders report, but Dahlin said Sky Net has been found to also target human rights defenders. Operations against high-value targets are run by the Chinese
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  • https://udumbara.net/us-and-israel-launch-high-level-tech-talks-washington-concerned-about-chinese-influence
    https://udumbara.net/us-and-israel-launch-high-level-tech-talks-washington-concerned-about-chinese-influence
    UDUMBARA.NET
    US and Israel Launch High-Level Tech Talks, Washington Concerned About Chinese Influence
    The United States and Israel engaged in their first meeting of “U.S.-Israel Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology” initiative on Sept. 28 aimed at establishing a partnership on emerging and critical technologies between the nations.The countries agreed to support research and implementation of a “trustworthy AI in healthcare,” including “fair AI-driven health systems” as well as boosting the ability of health researchers to test the impacts of medicines and treatments, according to a Sept. 30 White House Fact Sheet. They will also explore ways to use AI to develop new crop varieties, including seeds that have a “stronger tolerance to climate change.” Next month, Israel and the United States plan on signing a Memorandum of Understanding seeking to strengthen cooperation in biomedical research like molecular and genomic medicine. They will work together on global health security and pandemic preparedness. Climate change technology initiatives will include support for renewable hydrogen and solar energy, extreme weather prediction and disaster risk reduction initiatives, and cooperation on battery supply chains. “The joint research with the US has been only 19 percent of Israel’s research with other countries, as opposed to 56 percent for Europe,” said Farkash-Hakohen, Israel’s minister for Innovation, Science and Technology, according to a Sept. 29 press release by Israel’s foreign ministry. “Good partners and allies, like Israel and the US, need and can take significant steps to increase the scope of the joint research that constitutes the basis for high-tech and that is what we are currently doing.” The Dialogue was agreed upon by President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in July. The Sept. 28 meeting was held in Washington between U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Israeli national security advisor Dr. Eyal Hulata. The next meeting will be held in Israel in 2023. Countering Chinese Influence The push to deepen tech cooperation between Israel and the United States comes amid concerns about rising Chinese influence in the Middle Eastern nation’s technologies. During the Trump administration, Washington pressured Israel to set up a review process aimed at allowing government officials to block deals in the case of national security concerns. While Israel did set up the review process in 2019, the tech industry was left out of it. During the Sept. 28 meeting, the United States and Israel agreed on a plan to manage risks to their technology ecosystems, including investment screening. A 2020 study by global policy think tank RAND Corporation found that the security risks of Chinese investments and construction could affect the relationship between the United States and Israel. It pointed out that the interests of China and Israel in the Middle East are incompatible and warned that Chinese Communist Party investments and construction projects in Israel could result in cyber espionage as well as the leaking of sensitive technology. In an interview with Bloomberg, Ehud Levy, a general partner at Canaan Partners Israel and also a partner at China’s Lenovo Capital, said that even though Washington has not succeeded in getting Israeli startups to fully adopt its policy agenda, the United States has succeeded in convincing several entrepreneurs to pick sides. “If you have a term sheet from a Chinese investor and you have a term sheet from a US investor, the CEO is going for the safe option,” Levy said. “It’s not like a governmental guidance or anything like that. It’s purely a commercial decision.” Follow Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
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  • https://udumbara.net/falun-gong-adherents-brave-rain-in-brooklyn-to-denounce-chinese-communist-partys-abuses
    https://udumbara.net/falun-gong-adherents-brave-rain-in-brooklyn-to-denounce-chinese-communist-partys-abuses
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Falun Gong Adherents Brave Rain in Brooklyn to Denounce Chinese Communist Party’s Abuses
    NEW YORK CITY, N.Y.—Heavy rain and cold winds did not deter hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners from parading down Brooklyn’s Chinatown on Oct. 2 to call for an end to the Chinese Communist Party’s 23-year-long persecution of the spiritual group.Participants, drenched by the rain despite many of them wearing yellow plastic rain jackets, held banners and signs urging people to distance themselves from the myriad abuses committed by the communist regime, and supporting the more than 400 million who have severed their ties with the Party. The wind and rain, however, were nothing compared to what adherents have experienced in China, said organizer Yi Rong, a representative of the Falun Dafa Association in New York. “In mainland China, there’s no way that practitioners can hold a parade [like this],” Yi told The Epoch Times. “If you do the Falun Gong exercises, you will be arrested and sentenced, and even lose your life.” Falun Gong practitioners attend a parade in Brooklyn, New York City, on Oct. 2, 2022, to call an end to the Chinese regime’s persecution. (Zhang Jingchu/The Epoch Times). An untold number of Falun Gong adherents have died from torture or forced organ harvesting while detained in prisons, labor camps, detention centers, and brainwashing centers across the country during the CCP’s more-than-two-decades-long campaign to suppress the faith group. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, includes meditative exercises and a set of moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. It found itself the target of Beijing’s repression after the group surged in popularity, with an estimated 70 million to 100 million practicing by 1999—with the communist party deeming such numbers and their values to be a threat to the regime’s control over society. A Broken Family One parade participant, He Aishan, who recently arrived in the United States from the central Chinese province of Hubei, relayed her own experiences of persecution. “It might be very hard for someone from a free society to imagine this: that in China from 1999, a good person who has done nothing wrong and simply believes in Falun Gong and ‘truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance’ will suffer vicious persecution from the CCP,” she told The Epoch Times. He started practicing Falun Gong while in high school before the persecution, a decision, she said, that helped with her studies and health. But after 1999, everything changed. Her mother, also a practitioner, was sent to labor camp twice, and detained and sent to brainwashing facilities multiple times, He said. Falun Gong practitioners attend a parade in Brooklyn, New York City, on Oct. 2, 2022, to call an end to the Chinese regime’s persecution. (Zhang Jingchu/The Epoch Times). When He was in college, the university referred her to detention at a labor camp where she was forced to under brainwashing classes where she was psychologically tormented. Ahead of a major party meeting in 2012, authorities stepped up their persecution of Falun Gong, seeking to round up known adherents. He’s family was targeted again. She was followed by police and her phone was tapped. The police ransacked her home and arrested her mother again. He avoided this fate as she was not at home at the time. But when her father returned home and found the apartment turned upside down, he collapsed, suffered a stroke and later died. “In my family, we have been left ruined and broken from the CCP’s persecution,” she said. Members of the Falun Gong marching band at a parade in Brooklyn, New York City, on Oct. 2, 2022, to call an end to the Chinese regime’s persecution. (Zhang Jingchu/The Epoch Times). Understanding the Persecution Passerby Liu Aling was impressed seeing the Falun Gong practitioners brave the torrential conditions. Having grown up in mainland China herself, she said it was difficult for people there to get uncensored information about the spiritual practice hated by the regime. “In China, the websites only give you good news. They censor all the bad news,” Liu told The Epoch Times. On the internet, television, and print, the only information about Falun Gong is CCP propaganda that vilifies the practice, aiming to stir up mass hatred towards the group. Any information about the persecution is heavily censored on the CCP-controlled internet. So Liu didn’t believe what was happening in China. It wasn’t until she came to the United States, where she was able to access uncensored news sources and websites, that she slowly came to understand that the persecution of Falun Gong was real. “It’s too horrific,” Liu said, describing the regime’s rights abuses targeting adherents. Falun Gong practitioners attend a parade in Brooklyn, New York City, on Oct. 2, 2022, to call for an end to the Chinese regime’s persecution. (Zhang Jingchu/The Epoch Times) She also quit the party not long after coming to New York, noting that she—like virtually all other children—had join
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  • https://udumbara.net/a-banking-crisis-looms
    https://udumbara.net/a-banking-crisis-looms
    UDUMBARA.NET
    A Banking Crisis Looms
    Commentary My columns have turned rather apocalyptic of late, but for a valid reason. Just this week, we got confirmation that our financial system is, again, on the brink of collapse, when the Bank of England (BOE) was forced to enact, de facto, a bailout of the pension funds of the United Kingdom. On Sept. 28, around noon, the Bank of England stepped (back) into the gilt markets and started buying government bonds with longer maturities to stop the collapse in their value, which could have caused the financial system to become unhinged. Pension funds were faced with major margin calls, which threatened to cause a rapidly cascading run on their liabilities, as trust in their liquidity and solvency would have become questioned by a widening circle of investors and customers. Effectively, the BOE stepped in to limit the vicious circle of margin calls faced by pension funds because of the crashing values of the gilts. Without the BOE intervention, mass insolvencies of pension funds, with about $3 trillion worth of assets—and thus most likely other financial institutions—could have commenced on that afternoon. It’s obvious that if one of the major financial hubs of the world, the City of London, would face a financial panic, it would spread to the rest of the world in an instant. It looks as though the global financial system was pulled from the brink of collapse, once again, by central bankers. However, this was only a temporary fix. It’s now clear that an outright financial collapse threatens all Western economies, because if pension funds, often considered very dull investors because of their risk-averse investing profile, face a threat to their insolvency, it can happen to any other financial institution. I consider that the banking sector will be the next in line. Banking is a business of trust. If the trust in a bank or in the unlimited support of authorities for the bank, disappears, a bank run commences. One of the most prominent scholars of financial crises, Gary B. Gorton, defines a financial crisis in his book “Misunderstanding Financial Crises: Why We Don’t See Them Coming” as “an event where holders of short-term debt issued by financial intermediaries withdraw en masse or refuse to renew their loans.” In common language, Gorton says that during financial crises, a large number of holders of banks’ financial liabilities, such as deposits, want to cash out. Hence the name: a bank run. For example, during the Panic of 1819 in the United States, people queued outside banks in long lines to change their new financial innovations, bank notes, to metallic currency. The Panic of 1819 helped to create the first economic depression in the United States. However, a bank run may not be visible, in the sense that other banks and financial institutions “run” on the liabilities of a bank. For example, during the crisis of 2007–2008, there was a run on sale and repurchase agreements (repo) market, market of commercial paper, and on prime broker balances. Most people didn’t notice these first stages of the panic, because financial firms ran on liabilities and assets of other financial firms. The main point is that, as liabilities are withdrawn in whatever form, en masse, the bank eventually runs out of assets to pledge/sell to fulfill the withdrawal requests, and the bank fails. Going forward, the biggest risk of a systemic bank run most likely lays in Europe. European companies and households have been and continue to be decimated by ravaging inflation, fast-rising interest rates, and spiking energy prices. They are being hit on all sides, and this will, most likely, cause many of them to fail financially. Banks are also currently being hit by heavy declines in the value of government bonds, which they use as collateral. These may easily lead to cascading losses on banks, possibly with a never-before-seen speed, size, and width. I find it hard to imagine how these developments wouldn’t lead to a banking crisis, without massive intervention by governments and central banks, that is. And like I’ve been detailing, a banking crisis that begins in Europe, won’t stay there. How do you prepare for it then? A characteristic feature of a banking crisis is that many banks, possibly all, will close their doors to customers, and issue withdrawal limits. Another characteristic is disruptions in the financial system, most notably on card payments, as a result of which the retail payments system may seize up altogether. While I was in Greece, in the summer of 2015 with my ex-wife, the whole economy turned into a cash-based one basically over the weekend. The 2015 Greek banking crisis was caused by the European Central Bank, when it, totally irresponsibly and most likely driven by political motives, shut Greek banks from its emergency liquidity assistance. Cash withdrawal limits were set, credit card machines “disappeared” or “broke down” in restaurants, shops, and more, and finally, cash stopped coming out f
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-thinnest-veneer-of-civilization
    https://udumbara.net/the-thinnest-veneer-of-civilization
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The Thinnest Veneer of Civilization
    CommentaryCivilization is fragile. It hinges on ensuring the stuff of life. To be able to eat, to move about, to have shelter, to be free from state or tribal coercion, to be secure abroad, and safe at home—only that allows cultures to be freed from the daily drudgery of mere survival. Civilization alone permits humans to pursue sophisticated scientific research, the arts, and the finer aspects of culture. So, the great achievement of Western civilization—consensual government, individual freedom, rationalism in partnership with religious belief, free market economics, and constant self-critique and audit—was to liberate people from daily worry over state violence, random crime, famine, and an often-unforgiving nature. But so often the resulting leisure and affluence instead deluded arrogant Western societies into thinking that modern man no longer needed to worry about the fruits of civilization he took to be his elemental birthright. As a result, the once prosperous Greek city-state, Roman Empire, Renaissance republics, and European democracies of the 1930s imploded—as civilization went headlong in reverse. We in the modern Western world are now facing just such a crisis. We talk grandly about the globalized Great Reset. We blindly accept the faddish New Green Deal. We virtue signal about defunding the police. We merely shrug at open borders. And we brag about banning fertilizers and pesticides, outlawing the internal combustion engine, and discounting Armageddon in the nuclear age—as if on autopilot we have already reached utopia. But meanwhile Westerners are systematically destroying the very elements of our civilization that permitted such fantasies in the first place. Take fuel. Europeans arrogantly lectured the world that they no longer need traditional fuels. So, they shut down nuclear power plants. They stopped drilling for oil and gas. And they banned coal. What followed was a dystopian nightmare. Europeans will burn dirty wood this winter as their civilization reverts from postmodern abundance to premodern survival. The Biden administration ossified oil fields. It canceled new federal oil and gas leases. It stopped pipeline construction and hectored investors to shun fossil fuels. When scarcity naturally followed, fuel prices soared. The middle class has now mortgaged its upward mobility to ensure that they might afford gasoline, heating oil, and skyrocketing electricity. The duty of the Pentagon is to keep America safe by deterring enemies, reassuring allies, and winning over neutrals. It is not to hector soldiers based on their race. It is not to indoctrinate recruits in the woke agenda. It is not to become a partisan political force. The result of those suicidal Pentagon detours is the fiasco in Afghanistan, the aggression of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the new bellicosity of China, and the loud threats of rogue regimes like Iran. At home, the Biden administration inexplicably destroyed the southern border, as if civilized nations of the past never needed such boundaries. Utter chaos followed. Three million migrants have poured into the United States. While some cross over clandestinely, others clear border stations without an adequate audit, and largely without skills, high-school diplomas, or capital. The streets of our cities are anarchical—and by intent. Defunding the police, emptying the jails, and destroying the criminal justice system unleashed a wave of criminals. It is now open season on the weak and innocent. America is racing backwards into the 19th-century Wild West. Predators maim, kill, and rob with impunity. Felons correctly conclude that bankrupt postmodern “critical legal theory” will ensure them exemption from punishment. Few Americans know anything about agriculture, except to expect limitless supplies of inexpensive, safe, and nutritious food at their beck and call. But that entitlement for 330 million hungry mouths requires massive water projects, and new dams and reservoirs. Farmers rely on steady supplies of fertilizer, fuels, and chemicals. Take away that support—as green nihilists are attempting—and millions will soon go hungry, as they have since the dawn of civilization. Perhaps nearly a million homeless now live on the streets of America. Our major cities have turned medieval with their open sewers, garbage-strewn sidewalks, and violent vagrants. So, we are in a great experiment in which regressive progressivism discounts all the institutions, and the methodologies of the past that have guaranteed a safe, affluent, well-fed, and sheltered America. Instead, we arrogantly are reverting to a new feudalism as the wealthy elite—terrified of what they have wrought—selfishly retreat to their private keeps. But the rest who suffer the consequences of elite flirtations with nihilism cannot even afford food, shelter, and fuel. And they now feel unsafe, both as individuals and as Americans. As we suffer self-inflicted mass looting, random street violen
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  • https://udumbara.net/cory-morgan-liberals-pending-indo-pacific-plan-will-fall-short-if-main-focus-is-climate-agenda
    https://udumbara.net/cory-morgan-liberals-pending-indo-pacific-plan-will-fall-short-if-main-focus-is-climate-agenda
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Cory Morgan: Liberals’ Pending Indo-Pacific Plan Will Fall Short if Main Focus Is Climate Agenda
    CommentaryThe Indo-Pacific zone is fast becoming one of the most powerful geopolitical regions on the planet. A hostile communist China is growing increasingly belligerent, while those hoping to counter its force are forming partnerships with regional powers like India. Every country with coastal access to the region is impacted by it and has come up with plans and strategies for dealing with China’s growing political and economic might. Every country besides Canada, that is. Canada has 27,000 kilometres of coastline along the Pacific Ocean, and two-thirds of Canada’s GDP is based on international trade. If any country should be taking developments in the Indo-Pacific region seriously it’s Canada, yet our foreign affairs department appears to be treating the zone as an afterthought. The United States announced its plan to create a new, comprehensive Indo-Pacific strategy in September 2021 and released it in February 2022.  So where is Canada’s? Canada talked about creating an Indo-Pacific strategy back in 2020. Foreign Minister Joly said on Sept. 30 the strategy will be released by the end of this year. She said the strategy will be shaped by the outcome of the Chinese Communist Party’s national Congress, a weeklong meeting that starts on Oct. 16. That means the strategy isn’t even fully crafted yet. China is a growing consumer of Canada’s natural resources, while Canada is dependent on China for manufactured goods. With expanded trade comes influence as nations try to discourage Chinese expansionism into Taiwan. Countries such as India and the Philippines are growing, and hungry for Canadian energy products. Canada is well-placed to be an influential player in the politically fluid Indo-Pacific region, it just needs a plan. So what does Minister Joly want to focus on with the plan that’s apparently in the works? Climate change, of course. Joly wants to be able to coax China to join Canada in its crusade to reduce greenhouse gases. She feels confident she can convince them to do so at an upcoming UN summit in Montreal. It is safe to say climate change policy is not a top priority for the Beijing regime, which is more interested in superseding a weakened West. The American Indo-Pacific plan is based on five principles. Climate change policy is not among them. Washington understands that political and economic stability must come first. Canada has been left out of key Indo-Pacific initiatives already. In May, Canada was embarrassed as it was left out of the 13-nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity spearheaded by President Biden, and Canada was also excluded from the Quad, a joint security alliance of Pacific nations. This is becoming a pattern. With its abundance of natural resources, Canada is well-positioned to prosper by supplying the world with clean, ethical products, but it won’t be able to do so until it has national leadership that is taken seriously on the world stage. Ineptitude on the world stage in recent years has relegated Canada to the kiddie table at international summits. Our lack of an Indo-Pacific strategy at such a critical juncture in history is yet another embarrassment setting us back on the world stage. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Cory Morgan is a columnist based in Calgary.
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  • https://udumbara.net/brazils-lula-and-bolsonaro-head-to-runoff
    https://udumbara.net/brazils-lula-and-bolsonaro-head-to-runoff
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Brazil's Lula and Bolsonaro head to runoff
    Brazil's election authority has announced that incumbent Jair Bolsonaro will face off against ex-President Lula da Silva in a runoff vote
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  • https://udumbara.net/erdogan-voices-principled-position-on-nato-expansion
    https://udumbara.net/erdogan-voices-principled-position-on-nato-expansion
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Erdogan voices ‘principled position’ on NATO expansion
    US security advisor Jake Sullivan has met with the top advisor to Türkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan on plans to add Sweden and Finland to NATO
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  • https://udumbara.net/ex-cia-chief-predicts-nato-would-take-out-russian-forces
    https://udumbara.net/ex-cia-chief-predicts-nato-would-take-out-russian-forces
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Ex-CIA chief predicts NATO would ‘take out’ Russian forces
    Retired US General David Petraeus claims the US would eliminate all Russian forces if President Putin uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine 
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  • https://udumbara.net/restrict-calories-to-boost-immune-function
    https://udumbara.net/restrict-calories-to-boost-immune-function
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Restrict Calories to Boost Immune Function
    New research suggests that moderate caloric restriction in humans has benefits beyond weight loss. In a two-year study, researchers saw improved immune function and T cell production, and a reduction in inflammation in participants who reduced their calories by about 14 percent.Caloric restriction (CR) has been an important topic in aging and longevity research for many years. We’ve learned from studies on many types of animals—from flies to mice to nonhuman primates—that moderate CR without malnutrition prolongs lifespan, slows biological aging, and delays the development of chronic diseases. More recent research has tried to understand the biology behind the beneficial, longevity-promoting effects of CR, and how it could be used to improve human health. The Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) trial was the first CR trial conducted in healthy humans. Participants in the CR group were instructed to reduce calorie intake moderately (a goal of 20 percent) for two years. Previous results from the CALERIE trial suggested moderate CR reduced fat mass, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammatory markers, and improved cardiovascular risk biomarkers. A new study from the CALERIE trial investigated immune function and gene expression in fat tissue in participants who restricted calories by an average of 14 percent for 2 years. CR and Immune Function Some research in animals had suggested that CR could impair immunity. However, these studies usually reduced calories more dramatically, by about 40 percent. These animals lived longer, on average, than control animals but were more susceptible to infection. This suggests that a 40 percent calorie reduction led to insufficient resources for the immune system. Moderate CR of 14 percent, however, in the CALERIE trial, showed signs of improved immune function in the newly published study. The researchers chose to analyze the thymus, where T cells (a subset of immune cells) mature, in CALERIE participants, because aging of the thymus begins earlier than other organs. Starting in middle age, the thymus begins to shrink, accumulate fat, and release fewer T cells, reducing the capacity for immune surveillance. Using MRI and indicators of T cell abundance in the blood, the researchers determined that the thymus glands in the CR participants were larger and less fatty, and were releasing more T cells after two years than they were at the beginning of the study, whereas the control group showed no change. Inflammation-Reducing Changes in Gene Expression Since excess fat tissue drives inflammation and inflammation drives aging, the researchers also investigated gene expression in adipose (fat) tissue at baseline, one year, and two years of caloric restriction. They found increases in the expression of 233 genes and decreases in 131. Several of the largest gene expression changes were indicative of a lower level of inflammation. They focused on one particular gene: the platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase (PLA2G7), whose expression was decreased in response to CR. Little is known about PLA2G7 so far. However, higher circulating levels of PLA2G7 have been linked to inflammation-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and Type 2 diabetes. They investigated PLA2G7 further by deleting the gene in mice, and found lower circulating proinflammatory cytokines, reduced inflammation in fat tissue, limited weight gain, and maintenance of the volume of the thymus compared to control animals. These results are consistent with improved immune health and lower inflammation, and were similar to the results in humans under moderate CR, suggesting PLA2G7 is an important gene underlying the benefits of CR. Overall, the findings from this study suggest that moderate caloric restriction alters gene expression to promote immune function and reduce inflammation, strengthening the evidence that moderate caloric restriction in the context of micronutrient excellence extends life span. I developed the nutritarian diet, a plant-based, nutrient-dense diet, as a powerful way to reverse chronic disease, strengthen immune defenses, and slow the aging process. It’s unique in that it pays attention to comprehensive micronutrient adequacy using a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods along with a judicious use of supplements (such as DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and K2, zinc, and iodine) to prevent any insufficiencies from reducing or eliminating animal products. This nutritarian approach lowers the instinctual drive for calories, allowing people to be satisfied with fewer calories and enjoy eating more. Sources:Aging and Caloric Restriction Research: A Biological Perspective With Translational Potential Caloric Restriction in Humans Reveals Immunometabolic Regulators of Health Span A 2-Year Randomized Controlled Trial of Human Caloric Restriction: Feasibility and Effects on Predictors of Health
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  • https://udumbara.net/toddler-formula-raises-concerns-and-confusion
    https://udumbara.net/toddler-formula-raises-concerns-and-confusion
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Toddler Formula Raises Concerns and Confusion
    Formula for toddlers is a burgeoning business in the United States. Sales of the drinks more than doubled in recent years as companies convinced parents that their little ones needed the liquid boost. But many experts warn that these products, designed for children aged 1 to 3, fill no nutritional needs beyond what is available in a typical toddler diet, are subject to less regulation than infant formula, and are expensive.In addition, some parents feed the toddler versions to infants even though they don’t meet federal standards for infant formula and may not provide babies with adequate nutrients to sustain their growth. Pediatricians and federal health officials say that when most children turn 1 year old, they can begin drinking cow milk or an unsweetened plant-based milk substitute. In a 2019 “consensus” statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other health and nutrition organizations recommended against using toddler formulas, saying “they offer no unique nutritional value beyond what could be obtained with healthy foods; furthermore, they may contribute added sugars to the diet.” The toddler formulas often contain sweeteners and fats that add calories. Some of the same companies that produce infant formula—including Enfamil, Gerber, and Similac—also make toddler formulas, as do some smaller, boutique brands that advertise that they have organic or other special qualities. Toddler formulas are available nearly everywhere infant formulas are sold and are marketed as providing extra nutrients to help children’s brain, immune system, and eye development, among other benefits. They are different from medical formulas prescribed for children with specific needs. A 2020 study found that sales of toddler formula in the United States rose to $92 million in 2015 from $39 million in 2006. Parents are often confused by the marketing for the formulas, according to a study led by Jennifer Harris, a marketing and public health researcher at the University of Connecticut. She found that 60 percent of caregivers falsely believed toddler formulas have nutrients that toddlers can’t get from other foods. Dr. Anthony Porto, a pediatric gastroenterologist and pediatrics professor at Yale University, said he’s concerned these products could be giving toddlers more nutrients and calories than they need. Unlike what’s designed for infants, toddler formula has no nutritional regulations; experts say standardizing a supplement to toddlers’ diets is impossible because no two children are alike. In focus groups, Harris said, parents report feeding their children toddler formula to fill nutritional gaps when a child isn’t eating enough, a common concern among parents. “Infants are often voracious eaters,” said Dr. Stephen Daniels, chair of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado. But at around a year of age, children’s growth plateaus, he said, and “they’re suddenly not hungry in the way they used to be anymore.” That can worry parents, he added, but “it’s a completely normal phenomenon.” If parents have concerns about their children’s diet, Daniels said, they should consult a pediatrician or family doctor. Blanche Lincoln, president of the Infant Nutrition Council of America, which represents the makers of Enfamil, Gerber, Similac, and store brands, said in an email that the toddler formulas can be helpful because they can fill “nutritional gaps during this period of transition to table foods.” Lincoln, a former U.S. senator from Arkansas, said the drinks “help contribute to the specific nutritional needs of toddlers by providing energy and important nutrients, as well as essential vitamins and minerals during this important period of growth and development.” Toddler formula isn’t being ingested by toddlers alone—it’s also being fed to infants. In a recent study, Porto and colleagues found that 5 percent of infants’ parents reported giving their babies drinks marketed for the older age group. And Harris’ research indicated that 22 percent of parents of infants older than 6 months had fed their babies toddler formula in the previous month. Both studies were conducted before the recent infant formula shortage, which may have exacerbated the problem. “Infant formulas and toddler formulas tend to be next to each other in the supermarket,” Harris said. “They look similar, but the toddler formulas are cheaper than the infant formulas. So people confuse them, and they grab the wrong one. Or they think, ‘Oh, this one is less expensive. I’ll get this one instead.’” According to an email from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesperson Lindsay Haake, toddler drinks don’t meet the definition of infant formula, so they aren’t subject to the same requirements. That means they don’t have to undergo the clinical trials and pathogen safety testing that the infant versions do. “Unlike infant formulas, toddler formulas are not necessary to meet the nutritional needs of their intended consumers,” Haake said. In a s
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-5-best-ways-to-beat-a-cold
    https://udumbara.net/the-5-best-ways-to-beat-a-cold
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The 5 Best Ways to Beat a Cold
    Here are the five top tips to help you fight the cold this seasonVitamin C This most famous cold fighter both prevents and treats colds. When you take 500mg a day of vitamin C, you are 66% less likely to catch a cold than when you take a placebo dose of 50mg. A review of 21 studies that used 1-8g of vitamin C found that, in each of them, vitamin C reduced the length and severity of colds by 23%. A recent double-blind study gave 1g of vitamin C or placebo to 28 people for eight weeks. In the vitamin C group, seven people got colds; in the placebo group eleven people did: that’s a 45% reduction in risk. Compared to placebo, vitamin C shortened the length of the cold by 59%. But, it’s best to take at least 2g a day. The most current word on vitamin C comes from a meta-analysis of nine controlled studies that found that taking extra vitamin C on top of regular supplementation at the onset of a cold shortens the cold by a significant 56% and significantly relieves symptoms, including chest pain, fever and chills. Zinc The media says that zinc lozenges don’t work. And they’re right: when a study deliberately gives the wrong form or a placebo dose, they don’t. But when you take the right dose of the right form, zinc lozenges kill the common cold every time. Research convincingly shows that, when you use an effective form of zinc, zinc lozenges have a remarkable ability to kill colds. Several studies show (here, here, here and here) that taking 13-23mg of zinc lozenges every 2 waking hours fights off a cold in about four days compared to 7-11 days with a placebo. A review of the research found that when at least 75mg of zinc lozenges a day was used, people got better significantly faster in seven out of eight studies. A recent meta-analysis looked at three placebo-controlled studies that all used an effective form of zinc lozenge: zinc acetate. The zinc lozenges lessened the length of the cold by nearly three days. The average length of the cold in the three studies was seven days. But taking zinc lozenges shortened the cold by 2.73-2.94 days: that’s a big improvement! The most recent meta-analysis also included only studies of zinc acetate lozenges. It included three studies of 199 people with colds. The doses ranged from 80-92mg a day of elemental zinc. By the fifth day of the study, 70% of the zinc lozenge group had recovered from their colds compared to only 27% of the placebo group. That’s huge! That means that 2.6 times more people were cured in the zinc lozenge group. People taking zinc lozenges recovered 3.1 times faster. The researchers called this “a clinically important effect.” Zinc lozenges not only beat the cold, they did so safely: there were no serious side effects. The best forms are zinc acetate, gluconate or gluconate-glycine. Other forms or those flavoured with citric acid, tartaric acid, sorbitol, or manitol don’t work as well. Echinacea The king of the immune herbs both prevents and treats colds. In the largest study ever done on echinacea, 673 healthy people were given either echinacea or a placebo for four months in a double-blind fashion. The people on the echinacea had significantly fewer colds and cold symptoms, showing that echinacea both prevents and treats colds. The echinacea group caught 149 colds that lasted a total of 672 days; the placebo group caught 188 colds that lasted 850 days. The echinacea group also had significantly less recurrence of colds: 65 compared to 100 in the placebo group. If you do catch a cold, echinacea helps you get better faster: symptoms improve by day four instead of taking twice as long on a placebo (1). A double-blind study found that when echinacea is given at the first sign of a cold, the cold lasted an average of six days versus nine days with a placebo. Echinacea also reduces the symptoms you’ll suffer. One study found echinacea to reduce symptoms by 23.1%. Other studies have also shown that echinacea helps you get rid of your cold faster. An important meta-analysis included six high quality, placebo-controlled, long term studies of echinacea on respiratory tract infection recurrence and complication (including pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infection, sinusitis). Echinacea reduced the risk of recurrence by a significant 35%. In people with higher susceptibility due to stress or weakened immunity, the reduction was an even more impressive 50%. Echinacea reduced the risk of complications by 50%, including 64.9% reduction of risk of pneumonia, ear infection and tonsillitis. As for Tamiflu, the leading flu drug, a double-blind study that compared a blend of echinacea and elderberry found that by day five, the herbs were already slightly more effective; by day ten, 90.1% of the herb group had recovered versus 84.8% of the drug group. There were less complications and side effects in the herb group. An especially effective and well-studied combination is echinacea, wild indigo and thuja (2,3,4). Elderberry And, speaking of elderberry, this herb
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  • https://udumbara.net/exploring-is-good-for-teens-but-comes-with-risks
    https://udumbara.net/exploring-is-good-for-teens-but-comes-with-risks
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Exploring Is Good for Teens, but Comes With Risks
    Teenagers become more given to exploration with age and become increasingly likely to visit new places over time, a study finds.The results also show that greater exploration is associated with enhanced psychological well-being and larger social networks. The researchers also discovered that adolescents who explored their natural environments more also reported a greater number of risky behaviors. “While adolescent risk taking is typically seen as a problematic behavior, we found that heightened exploration was also linked to greater social connectivity and emotional well-being,” said Catherine Hartley, an associate professor in New York University’s department of psychology and the senior author of the study in the journal Psychological Science. “This suggests that risk taking may have an adaptive function during adolescence.” Previously, Hartley and the University of Miami’s Aaron Heller reported that new and diverse experiences are linked to enhanced happiness and that this relationship is associated with greater correlation of brain activity. Those findings, which appeared in the journal Nature Neuroscience, show a connection between our daily physical environments and our sense of well-being. In the new study, Hartley, Heller, and University of California–Los Angeles doctoral student Natalie Saragosa-Harris sought to better understand teens’ and young adults’ exploration of their environments, how it relates to behaviors we tend to see as “risky,” and what the psychological significance of these behaviors might be. Earlier studies have suggested that, compared to children and older adults, adolescents and young adults tend to engage in more exploratory and novelty-seeking behaviors—whether it’s trying out new hobbies, sampling new friend groups, or visiting new places. However, most studies of adolescent exploratory behaviors have relied on self-report or behavior in controlled laboratory environments, leaving open the question as to whether heightened adolescent exploration is evident in the real world—when participants are in natural daily settings. To better capture these phenomena, the scientists measured the everyday lives of 58 teenagers and adults (aged 13 to 27) in New York City, using GPS tracking to measure how often participants visited novel locations over the course of three months. From these measurements, they were able to capture daily exploration based on movement. Based on these GPS data and self-reporting, the researchers found several notable patterns: There was an association between daily exploration and age, with individuals near the transition to legal adulthood (18- to 21-year-olds) exhibiting the highest exploration levels. Regardless of age, people reported better moods on days when they explored more, supporting the notion that exploration is linked to psychological well-being. People who had higher average levels of exploration also reported larger social networks—measured by the number of unique individuals the subjects interacted with via phone calls and direct-messaging platforms. Adolescents who explored their natural environments more also reported a greater number of risky behaviors (e.g., gambling, heavy drinking, illicit drug use, and more)—an association not evident in adults. “These findings point to an important role for exploration in sustaining adolescent well-being and establishing social connectivity,” Hartley said. “And while risky behaviors undoubtedly pose challenges, a healthy amount of exploration is important, particularly as individuals become adults, gain independence, and form their identities.” Support for the work came from the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award. This article was originally published by New York University. Republished via Futurity.org under Creative Commons License 4.0.
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  • https://udumbara.net/does-vitamin-d-aggravate-dementia-new-research-faces-2-controversies
    https://udumbara.net/does-vitamin-d-aggravate-dementia-new-research-faces-2-controversies
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Does Vitamin D Aggravate Dementia? New Research Faces 2 Controversies
    Vitamin D is a health supplement that many people take regularly, but a recent study found that one type of vitamin D may exacerbate Alzheimer’s disease. In light of this finding, how should we supplement vitamin D correctly?Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has complex mechanisms, of which much is still unknown. For instance, vitamin D deficiency has been found in Alzheimer’s patients. So, is their insufficient intake of vitamin D causing AD? A recent Taiwanese study published in the journal Aging Cell suggests that a low level of vitamin D is a consequence of AD, and that supplementation of vitamin D may even exacerbate the disease. The Taiwanese researchers fed AD mice (transgenic mice) a diet containing sufficient vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), or a D3-supplemented diet, and the animals subsequently showed significantly lower levels of serum vitamin D, and their AD worsened more quickly than in the control group. Besides animal models, the scientists also conducted a large-scale analysis of data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD). Their findings included: Dementia-free adults 65 years or older taking active vitamin D3 supplements (calcitriol) for over 146 days per year were 1.8 times more likely to develop dementia than those not taking the supplements. Dementia patients taking active vitamin D3 supplements over the long term had 2.17 times the risk of mortality than those not taking the supplements. The report researchers warn that AD patients should not use vitamin D supplements for a prolonged period. However, this research raises two important points that must be considered: 1. Active vitamin D3, calcitriol, should not be equated with inactive vitamin D supplements The vitamin D that people obtain from basking in the sun, consuming food, and taking supplements is an inactive vitamin D called cholecalciferol. It must first be converted into calcifediol in the liver before being metabolized by the kidneys to become the active vitamin D, calcitriol. Calcitriol was used in the study of the older AD patients. It is commonly used by patients with kidney diseases, parathyroid diseases, rickets, and severe osteoporosis. “To endocrinology, calcitriol and inactive vitamin D are two completely different things, and we will never think that taking active vitamin D is supplementing inactive vitamin D,” said Dr. Chieh-Li Wang, a hemodialysis physician and director of the Bo-An Dialysis Clinic in Taiwan. He pointed out that inactive vitamin D needs to be metabolized by the liver and kidneys to become effective. And the human body has precise regulation: When the body’s demand for vitamin D is high, it will be converted into calcitriol quickly and rapidly metabolized. The blood test for serum vitamin D refers to calcifediol, not calcitriol, because calcifediol has the longest half-life in the body and its inventory is the best indicator of vitamin D deficiency. Dr. Wang said that if people with insufficient vitamin D in the body are given active calcitriol, their blood test results will still show vitamin D deficiency. 2. Patients who need to take calcitriol are also at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease This study did not observe real-world patients, but instead analyzed Taiwan’s health insurance database, which has its limitations and blind spots. Dr. Shih-Heng Chang, director of Precise Holistic Medical Clinic in Taipei, Taiwan, observed that the database shows that patients taking calcitriol have a higher chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the future. However, their AD is not necessarily caused by calcitriol; the patients’ own chronic diseases could also be the cause. For example, people with kidney diseases often need to take calcitriol to treat their thyroid problems. Dr. Chih-Hao Lin, director of the Department of Neurosurgery of Lin Shin Hospital in Taiwan, said that patients with kidney diseases are prone to dementia due to poor circulation and strokes caused by vascular problems. People with kidney diseases may also suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure, which are also risk factors for dementia. At the same time, due to their illness, chronic disease patients who take calcitriol often tend to have a low level of physical and social activity, or poor sleep quality, which are also risk factors for dementia. The database used for the study only records the use of calcitriol, but does not have data on inactive vitamin D; it doesn’t show a correlation between inactive vitamin D intake and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Chang said that although animal experiments have shown that inactive vitamin D intake could worsen dementia, there is a gap between animals and humans. “There are results observed in animals that are actually not seen in humans,” he said. Is Vitamin D Supplementation Good or Bad for Alzheimer’s Disease? There has been much research on the relationship between vitamin D and Alzheimer’s disease. A 2021 study by Harvard Medical Schoo
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  • https://udumbara.net/vitamin-k-a-little-known-but-noteworthy-nutrient
    https://udumbara.net/vitamin-k-a-little-known-but-noteworthy-nutrient
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Vitamin K: A Little-Known but Noteworthy Nutrient
    When Danish scientist Henrik Dam fed a cholesterol-free diet to baby chicks in his lab about 90 years ago, he noticed excessive bleeding in some of them. It did not stop after he replaced the cholesterol. Dam ultimately concluded the bleeding was related to a “depletion of an anti-hemorrhagic compound,” which he called vitamin K (for “koagulation,” as spelled in Danish). For that discovery, Dam won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1943.Most people know about vitamins A, B, C, D and/or E, but vitamin K slips under the nutritional radar. Yet it is essential for life because it’s required for blood to clot normally. Now scientists are now realizing there is more to know about this less appreciated nutrient. Today, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University houses the only research team in the world focused exclusively on vitamin K nutrition. I am a research scientist on that team. We study how food provides vitamin K to support healthy aging. Scientists explore the mysteries of vitamin K at Tufts University’s USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.Deb Dutcher/USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging/Tufts University, CC BY-SA Why Is Vitamin K Important? Over the past few decades, scientists discovered vitamin K-dependent proteins in many tissues throughout the body. This suggests vitamin K has physiological roles well beyond blood clotting. For example, in arterial tissue, proteins dependent on vitamin K can help prevent calcification. This is critical, because arterial calcification can lead to heart attacks. Without vitamin K, these proteins cannot prevent calcification. And because these proteins are present in cartilage and bone, we are also studying how these vitamin K-dependent proteins may be involved in osteoarthritis. Just as there are several forms of B vitamins, there are also multiple forms of vitamin K. Scientists know of at least 12. Phylloquinone, also known as vitamin K1, is synthesized by plants. Green leafy vegetables, like spinach and collard greens, and vegetable oils, like soybean and canola oil, contain high amounts of phylloquinone. Menaquinones, a class of vitamin K compounds also known as vitamin K2, are found in variable amounts in animal-based foods, such as dairy foods and some meats. Menaquinones are also produced by intestinal microbiota, although their nutritional value is uncertain. Our lab has measured the amount of vitamin K in thousands of foods commonly consumed in North America. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this information is publicly available at the USDA’s Food Data Central website, the most comprehensive nutrition database in the world. Over 350,000 foods are profiled. What’s Next? A goal of our research is to establish a recommended dietary allowance for vitamin K. In North America, current dietary recommendations for vitamin K are referred to as “adequate intake,” the amount assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy. An adequate intake is set when insufficient scientific evidence exists to provide a more precise recommended dietary allowance. For men over 18, the adequate intake for vitamin K is 120 micrograms a day. For women, it is 90 micrograms a day. One cup of raw spinach contains 145 micrograms of phylloquinone. Patients who are taking warfarin need to consult with their healthcare professional for guidance on their vitamin K intakes. Dark green leafy vegetables, like kale, are high in vitamin K.Lindsay Upson via Getty Images Clotting abnormalities due to low dietary vitamin K intakes are extremely rare because nearly everyone consumes enough vitamin K in his or her diet to maintain normal coagulation. Although emerging evidence suggests low vitamin K intakes may influence health outcomes unrelated to coagulation, right now this evidence does not support the need to take vitamin K supplements, even though they are on the market. Menaquinone supplements have become particularly popular because there are claims they have unique health benefits that phylloquinone does not. However it is very difficult to isolate the effect of a nutrient on a health outcome, and even more difficult to recommend supplement use based on the studies that have been done to date. Large clinical trials must be designed to address the question. These trials, which can cost millions, have not yet been conducted with vitamin K. The smaller trials that have been done do not meet the standards of scientific rigor required to promote vitamin K supplements at this time. As our research continues, we strive for a better understanding of vitamin K’s role in human health beyond coagulation. We want to know how much vitamin K is needed to protect against age-related disease and disability. However, until we have more robust evidence that supplements are needed, it is safer, and more enjoyable, to obtain vitamin K from food. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this pub
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  • https://udumbara.net/invasive-procedures-may-not-be-needed-to-investigate-mild-heart-attacks-study
    https://udumbara.net/invasive-procedures-may-not-be-needed-to-investigate-mild-heart-attacks-study
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Invasive Procedures May Not Be Needed to Investigate Mild Heart Attacks: Study
    Patients may no longer need to endure invasive procedures to investigate mild heart attacks, according to a new study from Flinders University in South Australia.If a randomised control trial (RCT) is successful, the CT scan could become a preferred tool for doctors which could also reduce the risk of complications. The current preferred procedure is a coronary angiography, which involves threading a slender catheter through the body’s largest artery (aorta) via an artery in the wrist or groin. When it reaches the coronary arteries of the heart, an X-ray sensitive dye is injected through the catheter and then X-ray images are taken to see if any arteries are narrowed or blocked. Although the procedure only takes around 40 minutes, medical staff must monitor things like blood pressure, the pulse, breathing, and wound site regularly afterwards, with the patient needing up to six hours before being discharged. There are also a bevy of potential complications from the procedure including bleeding from the wound, allergic reaction to the contrast dye, heart arrythmia, heart attack, and stroke. Troponin is a protein that appears in the blood when heart muscles become damaged. (jarun011/Adobe Stock) Chief Investigator Associate Professor Sam Lehman, a practising cardiologist and academic with Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health, said in a release on Oct. 3 that due to the increase in high-sensitivity troponin tests, which can identify damage to the heart muscle, more patients are being found to have heart damage and sent for coronary angiographies. “This is despite the fact that most patients with lower levels of troponin are not found to need surgery to reduce or remove a blockage,” he said. “Our current standard of care is based on evidence that was established in an earlier era, when our tests were less sensitive. The benefit of the current standard has not been established with the more modern troponin tests and has significant implications for rural and regional areas, where patients are often transferred to metropolitan centres, potentially unnecessarily.” The Trial and Expected Benefits The RCT will involve 3,000 patients and evaluate the safety of first-line investigations carried out by a non-invasive CT coronary angiography (CTCA) compared to an invasive coronary angiography (ICA). Over the 12-month period, patients with suspected acute coronary syndrome and low-level troponin elevation will be monitored for potential cardiovascular death, and new or recurrent damage to the heart. In addition, the trial will assess whether a CT angiography is a more suitable method with regards to bleeding, the potential for heart muscle injury and patient satisfaction. Through the trial, a machine learning algorithm will also be created to assist clinicians in deciding which diagnostic technique is most appropriate for each patient. Employing cardiac CT scans to investigate mild heart attacks could lower the risk of complications and minimise the need for patients to travel to metropolitan health facilitiies. (Tawesit/Adobe Stock) Lehman said the overall aim of the trial is to advance the evidence base for these procedures, as well as facilitate their translation into practice and policy. “Alongside a reduction in health care costs, there is potential for early CT coronary angiography to be a non-invasive alternative to ICA, leading to a reduction in ad hoc revascularisations (surgery to unblock the heart), reducing the potential for patient harm and providing for more accessible treatment throughout Australia,” he said. “Rural and remote areas often have less access to cardiac expertise that can inform care, with only 11.5 percent of cardiologists located in these geographic regions, despite 28 percent of Australia’s population living in these areas, potentially driving inappropriate treatment. “Changing the standard of care could drive more appropriate access to acute cardiac investigations and equitable health outcomes in regional and remote areas.” The trial—”Impact of non-invasive coronary angiography on suspected acute coronary syndromes with low concentration troponin elevation”—has been granted almost $1 million by the Medical Research Future Fund 2021 Cardiovascular Health Grant Opportunity, a government fund set up to support research into improved cardiovascular health for Australians.
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  • https://udumbara.net/%E6%9E%97%E6%9B%89%E6%97%AD%E5%9B%9B%E5%84%84%E6%B0%91%E7%9C%BE%E9%80%80%E9%BB%A8%E4%BA%BA%E9%A1%9E%E7%B2%BE%E7%A5%9E%E7%9A%84%E8%A6%BA%E9%86%92
    https://udumbara.net/%E6%9E%97%E6%9B%89%E6%97%AD%E5%9B%9B%E5%84%84%E6%B0%91%E7%9C%BE%E9%80%80%E9%BB%A8%E4%BA%BA%E9%A1%9E%E7%B2%BE%E7%A5%9E%E7%9A%84%E8%A6%BA%E9%86%92
    UDUMBARA.NET
    林曉旭:四億民眾退黨人類精神的覺醒
    林曉旭:四億民眾退黨人類精神的覺醒
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  • https://udumbara.net/is-it-real-the-leaked-xi-jinping-talk-and-the-leadership-names-of-the-20th-party-congress
    https://udumbara.net/is-it-real-the-leaked-xi-jinping-talk-and-the-leadership-names-of-the-20th-party-congress
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Is it real? The leaked Xi Jinping talk and the leadership names of the 20th Party Congress
    Is it real? The leaked Xi Jinping talk and the leadership names of the 20th Party Congress
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  • https://udumbara.net/theyre-just-liars-and-cheaters-and-they-want-to-destroy-this-country-peter-navarro-on-the-ccp
    https://udumbara.net/theyre-just-liars-and-cheaters-and-they-want-to-destroy-this-country-peter-navarro-on-the-ccp
    UDUMBARA.NET
    'They're Just Liars and Cheaters, and They Want to Destroy This Country': Peter Navarro on the CCP
    'They're Just Liars and Cheaters, and They Want to Destroy This Country': Peter Navarro on the CCP
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  • https://udumbara.net/box-office-hit-return-to-dust-disappears-from-chinese-theatres-and-streaming-services
    https://udumbara.net/box-office-hit-return-to-dust-disappears-from-chinese-theatres-and-streaming-services
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Box Office Hit ‘Return to Dust’ Disappears From Chinese Theatres and Streaming Services
    A popular Chinese love-story movie was removed from all Chinese theatres and streaming services only weeks after its release.The arthouse movie “Return to Dust,” with a budget of 2 million yuan (about $280,000), tells the story of a couple in an arranged marriage who live in a rural area of China’s northwestern Gansu Province. Against the odds, they gradually fall in love amid hardship and poverty. As their lives are gradually improving, the wife accidentally falls in a ditch and drowns. The movie ending hints that the husband later commits suicide. The movie premiered at the Berlina International Film Festival in February this year and has been well received by critics internationally. The China Film Administration issued a permit to screen the movie, which opened on July 8. It nabbed the top spot at the box office on Sept. 7, grossing over 100 million yuan (about $14 million). However, the movie suddenly disappeared from Chinese theaters and streaming services on Sept. 26. China experts believe the movie was banned because it depicts the true situation of rural life in China, and is considered a sensitive topic to show prior to the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th national congress. The censors will not allow any film that has content the Party objects to. Poverty Revealed Written and directed by Chinese director Li Ruijun, the movie is set in a village in one of the poorest regions in the country. The storyline is simple and realistic, and the characters are played by local farmers, except for actress Hai Qing who plays the female lead. Ma Youtie, played by a local farmer and untrained actor Wu Renlin, is a poor farmer who has only an old donkey. He is hardworking and good at doing various jobs on the farm. Ma’s harvest consists of 2,010 pounds of wheat and 8,811 pounds of corn, which he sells for 3974 yuan (about $557). He had to spend 1570 yuan (about $220) for chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds. Thus, the family’s net income for the year is 2400 yuan (about $337). Farmer Liu Qingyou at his residence in Baojing County, in central China’s Hunan Province on Jan. 12, 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images) Controversy The movie was sold to several European distributors and was well received abroad. Deadline Hollywood praised Li Ruijun, the playwright and director of the movie, as “a significant cinematic talent.” Jessica Kiang’s  Variety review says the movie is “absorbing” and “beautifully framed.” At home, China’s online streaming platform Douban rated the movie 8.5 out of 10, the highest rating in 2022, according to Radio Free Asia in September. Comments about the movie posted on Douban’s website were largely positive. One user wrote: “We need more films like this… This is one of the few outstanding films about farmers or people at the bottom of society in mainland China in recent years.” Another user posted: “In the movie, nearly 11,000 pounds of grain can only be sold for more than three thousand yuan. After deducting the expenses, Ma earns only 2000 yuan for a year. This is not just a movie, but the real state of the countryside. For decades, the state owes the farmers the most.” One person wrote: “There are 800 million people in China, who they [the communist authorities] called ‘comrades’ in the early years, ‘fellow villagers’ later, and ‘migrant workers’ recently. These people are in so low a profile that they only appear in the public once a year—as characters in sketches, poor fellows whose wages are paid—on the central television channel on Chinese New Year’s Eve. ” One user wrote ironically that Chinese farmers should “hide themselves in the dust” as they are not inconspicuous enough, because “poverty in China has been eliminated.” However, Party supporters publicly attacked the movie. Zheng Yanshi, a researcher at a China thinktank Kunlunce, criticized the movie for smearing the ‘great achievements of poverty alleviation under the leadership of the [Chinese Communist] Party.’” He asked the production team: “Who are you speaking for, and is your ass already sitting on the side of imperialism?” Zheng then condemns the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) watchdog of movies and TV programs: “Those who are responsible for the censorship and gatekeeping, how did you assess such a bad and filthy movie?” The Chinese regime has mandated that all computers sold in China must come with pre-installed censorship software. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images) In China, all movies and TV series must be submitted to the State Film Administration for its approval. It issues a permit for screening after it makes a judgment that the assessed work meet all its propaganda requirements. A social media influencer by the username “Alfa World Observation” says in his post that the movie depicts the poverty and backwardness in China’s rural areas to “bring extremely bad negative influence to overseas Chinese all over the world” and to “extremely smear China’s image.” He labels movies of this kind
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  • https://udumbara.net/7-hong-kong-doctors-arrested-for-issuing-covid-19-jab-exemption-certs-20000-certs-become-invalid
    https://udumbara.net/7-hong-kong-doctors-arrested-for-issuing-covid-19-jab-exemption-certs-20000-certs-become-invalid
    UDUMBARA.NET
    7 Hong Kong Doctors Arrested for Issuing COVID-19 Jab Exemption Certs, 20,000 Certs Become Invalid
    Seven Hong Kong doctors are suspected of issuing false “jab-free certs,” the COVID-19 vaccination medical exemption certificates. Some patient organizations worry that the incident will have a chilling effect, making it more difficult for those who really meet the requirements to find a doctor to issue the certificate in the future.Alex C.Y. Lam, the chairman of the Hong Kong Patients’ Voices, said on a radio program on Sept. 28 that more than 20,000 “jab-free certs” were issued by the seven arrested doctors, and some “jab-free certs” cost thousands of Hong Kong Dollars (approx. US$ 400). He described the numbers as mind-boggling, reflecting the need for the “jab-free cert,” and it is difficult for the public to find a doctor to issue a “jab-free cert.” He pointed out that patients with chronic diseases or immune system problems think that their health condition is not suitable for injections, but they cannot find a doctor to issue a “jab-free cert”. Some doctors refused to issue “jab-free cert” without knowing the patient’s health condition. Some doctors in public hospitals even confirmed that some patients should not get vaccinated, but they stated that they would not issue the exemption certificate. Lam said that there are very few doctors who are willing to issue a “jab-free cert.” This incident will also make doctors worry about the consequences of issuing the certificates. He also worried about the chilling effect, which makes it more difficult for people in need to find a doctor to issue the certificate. “It was difficult in the past, but it is even more difficult now.” He also mentioned that the government’s Vaccine Allergy Safety Clinic is now booked until 2028, and he considered the services useless. He pointed out that the world is gradually easing the pandemic prevention measures, and Hong Kong has also changed the quarantine requirement for arrival to “0+3” days. The Hong Kong government should consider whether it still needs to tighten the Vaccine Pass. Judgment of ‘Borderline Cases’ Leung Hon-fai, president of the Hong Kong Doctors Union, attended the same radio program and said that doctors need time to assess the patient’s condition, and some patients even need examinations. For example, an examination is needed for heart disease or other acute diseases when a patient claims he feels chest pain. On average, more than 100 “jab-free certs” were issued every day by the arrested seven doctors, Leung believed that the patients had not been examined before they were issued the certificates. But he also believed that less than 10 percent of the 20,000 “jab-free certs” are in real need. Leung agreed that this incident will bring pressure on other doctors and affect the judgment of “borderline cases,” but he believed that it would not be too difficult to issue such certificates as long as it is handled in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Health of Hong Kong. He said that since there is a two-week buffer period before the relevant “jab-free certs” expire, there is enough time for affected patients in need to get re-evaluated by another doctor and get a new “jab-free cert.” Follow
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  • https://udumbara.net/taiwanese-businessmans-death-in-china-allegedly-due-to-delay-in-medical-treatment
    https://udumbara.net/taiwanese-businessmans-death-in-china-allegedly-due-to-delay-in-medical-treatment
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Taiwanese Businessman’s Death in China Allegedly Due to Delay in Medical Treatment
    China’s draconian zero-COVID policies have resulted in delayed medical treatment, and caused many deaths across the country since the COVID-19 outbreak.A Taiwanese businessman working in China was reported to have died on Sept. 18 in Xiamen, a city in China’s eastern coastal province of Fujian, after he was isolated in a quarantine facility near the Xiamen Xiang’an International Airport. According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA), Mr. Chen Xin, worked for a Taiwanese energy technology enterprise in China’s Kunshan City, about 43 miles west of Shanghai. Chen had earlier returned to Taiwan to see a doctor due to a chronic health issue. On Sept. 17, Chen flew from Taiwan to China, and was quarantined at the Xiamen International Health Station, an isolation facility 20 minutes from the airport. Xiamen, a city in Fujian Province, China, is close to Taiwan. (Google Maps) On Sept. 18, Chen died of a massive hemorrhage. The 34-acre Xiamen International Health Station, that cost 2.2 billion yuan ($309 million) to build, is exclusively for the quarantine of inbound passengers, according to Xiamen Daily, a state-run local mouthpiece, on March 30. Xiamen Daily said that the health station has its own medical center that offers onsite medical services to “meet one-stop health management requirements” of inbound travelers isolated in the facility. The health station, upon its completion, will have nine buildings with 6001 rooms as quarantine facilities for inbound international travelers and four dormitory buildings with 1624 rooms for staffers working in the complex. Chen called for help seven times, and it took over an hour for an ambulance to arrive at the health station, according to the CNA, citing a Taiwanese businessman, by then, Chen had vomited a lot of blood. He was taken to a hospital in Xiamen, but didn’t survive, the CNA reported. At a regular press conference of the Chinese regime’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Sept. 28, a reporter with Taiwan’s UDN (United Daily News Group) queried the spokeswoman about what effective help the Taiwan Affairs Office offers Taiwanese when they encounter problems after entering China. He also asked the spokeswoman to explain whether Chen’s death was due to the pandemic control measures delaying his medical treatment. Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman of the Taiwan Affairs Office, replied that Xiamen’s local medical emergency personnel “arrived in time” and that Chen died “despite efforts to save [Chen].” She said that both the isolation facility and the hospital did their best to rescue Chen, adding that Chen’s family members “expressed their recognition.” She asked that Taiwanese people “fully understand various requirements [of entry to China]” before their departure. Zhu’s explanation of Chen’s death was removed from the Taiwan Affairs Office official website, but the full transcript of her answers at the press conference is still available on Netease, a news portal in China, and on the Taiwan channel of the state-run People’s Daily of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Deaths Reported in Shanghai and Xinjiang In April, when Shanghai was under stringent lockdown measures, residents were confined to their homes, and hospitals mandated PCR tests had to be done before any medical treatment would be given to patients. A city street during a COVID-19 lockdown in the Pudong district of Shanghai, China, on May 30, 2022. (Liu Jin/AFP via Getty Images) Larry Hsien Ping Lang, a well-known Hong Kong-based economist and commentator, wrote a post on his Weibo account on April 11, saying that his mother had to wait for a PCR test result before she could be treated for kidney failure. She waited in the Emergency Department for four hours and died there without seeing a physician or getting any medical treatment. Lang had to “spend a lot of time communicating with relevant departments” before he was allowed to go to the hospital, as Shanghai strictly banned its residents from leaving their homes. He could not get any transportation, as all public transport systems and taxis were suspended. His mother passed away before he got to the hospital. Lang wrote that he was “deeply shocked” by the long time taken to complete PCR tests and that he “hoped this tragedy would not happen again.” A 17-month-old toddler died in August in Yining city, Xinjiang. The boy became sick, but his father couldn’t leave their house, which had been locked from the outside by the local authorities. In the end, the desperate father called the police and forced a government car to take the child to a nearby hospital. But it was too late. Doctors told the father that if he had come ten minutes earlier, the baby might have been saved. The father’s online posts were removed from China’s social media platforms. Li Jing contributed to the article. Follow Sophia Lam joined The Epoch Times in 2021 and covers China-related topics.
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  • https://udumbara.net/man-abducted-killed-and-buried-in-a-hong-kong-rural-village-over-3-million-hkd-debt
    https://udumbara.net/man-abducted-killed-and-buried-in-a-hong-kong-rural-village-over-3-million-hkd-debt
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Man Abducted, Killed, and Buried in a Hong Kong Rural Village Over 3 Million HKD Debt
    The Hong Kong government has been claiming how safe Hong Kong is since the implementation of the National Security Law, but citizens feel differently. Netizens questioned if the National Security Law had made Hong Kong safer and less chaotic.The public is growing concerned for their safety as there has been an increasing number of crimes, including armed robbery in Hong Kong recently. A 51 years old man was kidnapped and murdered in Ping Yeung Old Village, Ta Kwu Ling. The victim’s body was found in the rural village a little over a week later. On Sep 14, the Hong Kong Police apprehended two males surnamed Chan, aged 29 and 64, on one count of murder. Superintendent Chan Kong-ming spoke to the press after the arrest at the New Territories North Crime Investigation Unit. (Photo by Big Mack/The Epoch Times) Crimes or Terrorism? Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung mentioned previously that the overall crime rates in Hong Kong remain “stable.” However, Tang said it is still vital to stay alert during the time of peace and prevent lone wolf crimes and local terrorism. Police returned with two suspects to the scene for crime scene reconstruction. (Big Mack/The Epoch Times) Citizens doubt if the Hong Kong government only knows how to spend taxpayers’ money on ‘National Security to suppress and bully young Hongkongers while allowing social order to deteriorate. When Missing Person Became Murder On Sep 5, a woman reported a missing person. Local authorities began an investigation. According to media reports, the missing person, Cheung, was seen leaving his apartment in Fanling on security footage and was last seen dining in a restaurant nearby. Two suspects were chained and escorted to the crime scene. (Big Mack/The Epoch Times) On Sep 5, Cheung from the Ping Yeung Old Village said she could not locate her husband after searching everywhere. Mrs. Cheung then contacted the Police and filed a missing person case. Mrs. Cheung said her husband, a 51- year-old male Mr. Cheung, disappeared around Sep 5 and was never seen again. After Police’s investigation, the victim turned out to have boarded a car around noon on Sep 14. The Police said the victim got into the vehicle willingly. There was no sign of struggle or abduction. Police believed that the victim might have been friends with his kidnappers. Retrieving The Body The Police dispatched the New Territories North Police Tactical Unit (PTU) and many police officers to search along the mountainside of the Ping Yeung Village on Sep 14. The victim’s body was buried near Kwan Tai Temple in Ta Ku ling on a hillside. It was 30 cm (11.8 inches) below ground. (Big Mack/The Epoch Times) On Sep 15, at around 4:00 p.m., Police units finally found the victim’s body on a hillside next to Kwan Tai Temple in the village. The victim was buried in a hole 30 cm (11.8 inches) below the ground. The deceased was first covered with a layer of cement, followed by a layer of sand. Forensics arrived at the crime scene for preliminary examination and found the victim’s head and hands were bound with tapes. There were wounds on the left side caused by stabbing by a hard and sharp object. The victim was estimated to have been dead for 8 to 10 days. However, the cause of death could only be confirmed after the autopsy and toxicology tests. The murder weapon was still missing as of Sep 27. The victim, Mr. Cheung, lived in Fanling and was actively participating in village affairs and football events before he was murdered. Football enthusiasts in the village knew Cheung well. Police Roundup On Sep 15 at 9:00 p.m., Hong Kong Police Senior Superintendent Chan Kong-ming of the New Territories North Criminal Headquarters met with reporters to explain the case. Chan said the Police received a report of a missing person on Sep 5. A wife claimed she had lost contact with her husband after he went for lunch in the afternoon. “The wife, Mrs. Cheung, received unknown calls and messages in the evening and demanded HK$3.6 million (US$458,600) to pay off her husband’s debt. Mrs. Cheung reported to the Police the same evening. Police believed the two suspects were friends with the victim. (Big Mack/The Epoch Times) The senior superintendent believed the victim was taken to the Kwan Tai Temple to negotiate his debt. Then he was attacked and stabbed by sharp objects. Chen continued, “After the attack, the perpetrators took the opportunity to extort ransom from the victim’s family.” Chen also pointed out the two male suspects have been detained for investigations.” Chen said the two suspects have been captured and charged with one count of murder. They were taken to Fanling Magistrates’ Courts for a hearing. As to whether anyone else is involved, the Police said they would follow the direction of the amount and types of debt. The Police did not rule out additional charges of extortion later. Cheng also explained that the Police had escorted the two male suspects to the crime sc
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  • https://udumbara.net/chairman-of-hong-kong-journalists-association-travels-to-uk-while-on-bail
    https://udumbara.net/chairman-of-hong-kong-journalists-association-travels-to-uk-while-on-bail
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Chairman of Hong Kong Journalists Association Travels to UK While on Bail
    Although out of jail on bail, Ronson Chan Ron-sing, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, left Hong Kong for the UK via Bangkok, on the evening of Sept. 29 for a six-month fellowship at the University of Oxford. Before boarding the plane, he said that he was a Hong Kong reporter and would return [to Hong Kong] and continue to report the truth.Chan said that a friend told him about the fellowship programme at Oxford University after Stand News ceased operations. He said he was lucky that his application was accepted. Stand News was an online publication that focused on social and political issues in Hong Kong and was seen as pro-democracy. Chan was arrested outside MacPherson Stadium on Sept. 7, while on an interview assignment. He was charged with “obstructing police officers” and released after paying HK$20,000 (about $ 2,574) bail. Chan said at the time that he was surprised that he was granted bail and was uncertain if he would be allowed to travel outside the country. He described his feelings about getting permission to leave Hong Kong as a mixture of sadness and happiness. He said he was happy to see many reporters and friends come to the airport to say farewell to him. He expected that he would have good experiences and gain insights in the coming six months in Oxford, and hoped to bring back the experiences and views of outstanding reporters from around the world so that Hong Kong residents can better face the complex and ever-changing environment. “We have always been journalists in Hong Kong. We have to stay in Hong Kong and continue to report the truth and facts,” he said. Chan successfully boarded the plane to Bangkok on his way to the UK on Sept. 29. (Facebook photo from Ronson Chan) He will stay at a friend’s house in London for two days before traveling to Oxford and he hopes to watch a football (soccer) game. He said he was grateful for the enthusiastic support of his friends in the UK. Chan said that in the week of Oct.3, there would be different gatherings and social activities every day, and he would be very busy. He said that he misses his wife because he has not traveled alone for more than 10 years. “I do not have problems in everyday life, but whether you miss Hong Kong or not depends on whether you are staying here for a long time or not.” When he was asked if he had worried about being banned from traveling to the UK, Chan said he hadn’t worried too much. Once he returns to Hong Kong, he will be affected by the current laws in Hong Kong, “I will not do any risky thing, but I will try my best to talk about (the situation in Hong Kong). People said that leaving Hong Kong is not complete freedom, you can say it this way.” Ronson Chan, Chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, went to the UK to participate in the “fellowship programme” of the University of Oxford. (Sung Pi-Lung /The Epoch Times) Chan also pointed out that it was a pity that since his family did not want to be photographed, they could only say farewell to him remotely. When asked what he was taking to the UK, he replied that he was taking several sets of football shirts because he loves football. He was also taking a formal suit as he might have to attend a grand occasion after arriving in the UK, and he packed a large amount of medication for diabetes. After arriving in the UK, Chan must inform the Hong Kong police of his UK address and telephone number and notify it within 48 hours of any change. Follow
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  • https://udumbara.net/us-philippine-defense-chiefs-discuss-military-alliance-amid-chinataiwan-tension
    https://udumbara.net/us-philippine-defense-chiefs-discuss-military-alliance-amid-chinataiwan-tension
    UDUMBARA.NET
    US, Philippine Defense Chiefs Discuss Military Alliance Amid China–Taiwan Tension
    Top defense officials of the United States and the Philippines have pledged to bolster military cooperation to tackle regional challenges amid the growing tensions between China and Taiwan.U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Philippine counterpart Jose Faustino in Hawaii on Friday to discuss reinforcing the U.S.-Philippines mutual defense treaty and improving maritime cooperation. “By deepening our cooperation and modernizing our alliance, we can help secure the Philippines’ future, tackle regional challenges and promote peace and security in the Indo-Pacific,” Austin said at a joint press conference. Defense and security engagement remains “a key pillar of Philippines-U.S. bilateral relations,” Faustino said while expressing his gratitude to Washington for its willingness to work with the Philippines as “an equal, sovereign partner.” Faustino said the Philippines is concerned with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ongoing military drills near Taiwan as more than 130,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan could be in danger if Taiwan is attacked. “While the Philippines adheres to the One China Policy, we urge all concern parties to exercise restraint and that diplomacy and dialogue must prevail,” he said. Faustino said the Philippines would continue to update and enhance its contingency plans to ensure the safety of Filipino citizens living in Taiwan. China has increased its military drills around Taiwan following U.S. House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August. The CCP claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to conquer it by force if necessary. The Philippines earlier said that it would allow U.S. forces access to its military bases during a Taiwan conflict if it was deemed “important” to Philippine security. Any attack on Taiwan could threaten Philippine security due to its proximity to Taiwan, with which it shares a sea border off the Luzon Strait. ‘Volatile’ Situation in South China Sea Faustino said that his government would continue to engage in diplomacy with China to address the “volatile situation” in the South China Sea, citing the territorial dispute as “the Philippines’ foremost security concern.” “We continue to engage with like-minded countries and make sure that the rule of law and the rules-based international order will prevail in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea,” he added. China has increased its influence in the South China Sea through its artificial islands and military buildup. The CCP claims the majority of the South China Sea under its so-called “nine-dash line” despite competing claims with other nations. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier vowed to uphold The Hague’s 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippines in the South China Sea dispute, saying that he will not allow China to encroach on “a single square millimeter of our maritime coastal.” Aside from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei have all made their own overlapping claims in the South China Sea. Follow Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
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  • https://udumbara.net/glory-to-hong-kong-when-playing-a-song-is-sedition
    https://udumbara.net/glory-to-hong-kong-when-playing-a-song-is-sedition
    UDUMBARA.NET
    “Glory to Hong Kong”: When Playing a Song Is Sedition
    If Hongkongers had to choose one thing to represent their time of fighting for freedom, it would be singing “Glory to Hong Kong” during the anti-extradition movement.Since then, the unofficial Hong Kong anthem has been characterized as an anti-government song. On multiple occasions, performers who played the song have been arrested and charged by Hong Kong police. At first, the charges were “playing an instrument without a license” and “misconduct in a public place” but have morphed to “suspected of committing inciting acts.” The change reflects that the public can be found guilty, of not just  what they say but also what they sing. Li Jiexin, 68, has gone to court three times for playing “Glory to Hong Kong” since 2020. Li Jiexin was charged for playing “Glory to Hong Kong” on the erhu at Tung Chung Bus Terminal on April 29, 2022. (HK Situation Report/Screenshot via The Epoch Times) The most recent charges were on Aug. 3, Aug. 18, and Sept. 9, 2021. Li played Glory to Hong Kong on his erhu (a Chinese two-stringed musical instrument played with a bow) outside the Mongkok MTR station. Without permits issued by the Commissioner of Police or legal rights or explanations, the Hong Kong Police issued Li three summonses. If found guilty, Li could be penalized a maximum of 2,000 HKD (about $255) or three months imprisonment. Since 2019, Li has been playing “Glory to Hong Kong” in public and has been interrupted by the police a number of times. In May 2020, when he was playing his erhu on a street corner in Yuen Long, some passersby accused Li of making noise and called the police. When police arrived, they gave Li a ticket and charged him with playing an instrument without a permit. Li went to Tuen Mun Magistrate’s Court on Sept. 1, 2020. Li was adamant about not pleading guilty. He thought the police ticketed and charged him only because they wanted to suppress his playing of “Glory to Hong Kong.” Li said, “It is my right to play erhu. I will defend myself with the International Covenant On Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.” However, by March 2022, the prosecutors stated they would no longer provide evidence on the summons against Li. The magistrate eventually revoked the warrant. Isn’t Hong Kong Under ‘One Country, Two Systems?’ The 68-year-old was again given a ticket and summoned to court for “playing an instrument without a permit.” This time he was accused of playing “Glory to Hong Kong” at Tung Chung Bus Terminal on April 29, 2022. When the court inquired about the case in July, Li denied the charges. He also pointed out, “I used to play in the UK, Thailand, even on the streets of mainland China. Why can’t I play on the streets of Hong Kong? Isn’t Hong Kong supposed to be ‘one country, two systems?’ So why can’t I play freely in Hong Kong?” At the time, the provisional magistrate Tsang Hing-tung responded, “No, you can’t.” The erhu player says he had gone to the police station twice to apply for a permit to perform, but the officers refused to issue it, citing “the pandemic” as the reason. The case resumed in August. When the police officers testified, they said they arrived at the scene after receiving a noise complaint. They found Li playing his music amplified with a loudspeaker, and it was audible 20 meters (65.6 ft.) from where Li was seated. The police officers then said they asked Li to show his identity card. Li planned to pack up and leave and stated that if the police wanted to summon him, he would continue playing his erhu. As Li did not have a legal representative, he defended himself in Mandarin. Li asked the specific officers about the nature of “Glory to Hong Kong.” Provisional Magistrate Tam Lap-fung said it was irrelevant to the case. “The key is whether the defendant was playing an instrument with a permit.” Ultimately, the court decided that the prosecutors did not provide all indicted elements to prove the charges. The magistrate thought that the evidence only proved that the defendant was playing the erhu at the time in question, but not whether he had a permit. Hence Tam ruled insufficient evidence and revoked the charges. Li was also granted 500 Hong Kong Dollars (about $ 64) for his litigation fees. Li expressed his satisfaction with the ruling outside the court and said he would perform on the street again. Li thought that summons issuance was a waste of time. He emphasized, “The truth will also be on our side. Glory will always belong to Hong Kong.” However, the closed case took a strange turn. Provisional Magistrate Tam Lap-fung overturned his verdict four days later. The case was heard on Sept. 2. Tam claimed that upon reviewing the regulations, he found the charges involved in Li’s case did not require the prosecution to submit evidence. The court asked Li to defend against the established evidence and revoked his litigation fee. Li said that playing his erhu was nothing political. “I was only performing notes on a music sheet.” The case was adjou
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-politicization-of-the-department-of-justice
    https://udumbara.net/the-politicization-of-the-department-of-justice
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The Politicization of the Department of Justice
    The following is adapted from a speech delivered on Sept. 16, 2022, in Washington, D.C., at Hillsdale College’s Constitution Day Celebration.The seal of the U.S. Department of Justice reads, “Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur”—“Who prosecutes for Lady Justice.” Depictions of Lady Justice are as familiar as they are instructive: she stands blindfolded while holding the scales of justice, representing her unyielding devotion to equal justice under the law. Contrary to this ideal, the DOJ today appears to be increasingly motivated by partisanship. Compounding the problem, it has access to the powers of the modern surveillance state. As someone passionate about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I believe there is no higher priority than addressing this danger. The tragic events of 9/11 marked a turning point in our nation’s recent civil rights history. First the terrorists attacked us—and then, in the name of national security, we began to attack ourselves. It has become almost cliché to say that we live in a surveillance state, but we do. Ever since Congress, on a fully bipartisan basis, enacted the Patriot Act six weeks after the attacks on 9/11, the ever-present eye of the government has been searching for new and creative ways to spy on American citizens. The government has the technology to monitor all of our electronic devices, listen to our phone calls, and read our emails and text messages—all under the auspices of national security. This special law designed for an emergency has become a permanent addition to the government’s investigatory toolbox. The unfortunate reality is that the bulk of the actions taken by law enforcement under the Patriot Act have almost nothing to do with combating terrorism. Once-rare applications for surveillance warrants to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court have multiplied many times in relative peacetime. Most of the spying conducted under the Patriot Act is for run-of-the-mill crimes that we’ve long expected law enforcement to address without special surveillance authority. Now, it is bad enough to have a politically-neutral surveillance state controlled by the national security crowd and their DOJ cousins. But take that panopticon and put it in the hands of an executive branch willing to weaponize its reams of information against its perceived political enemies, and we’ve got a frightening problem on our hands. Laws such as the Patriot Act were designed to fight the unique problem of terrorism. But they quickly morphed into a mechanism by which the government keeps constant tabs on law-abiding Americans and threatens to disrupt their lives if they dare act contrary to those in power. And it’s within this world of omnipotent oversight and control that the U.S. Department of Justice now operates. They have all the tools of the surveillance state at their disposal, and the only thing standing in their way is an independent judiciary willing to enforce our constitutional rights. But we all saw how easy it is to spy on Americans—with virtually no judicial oversight—from the disgraceful episodes of broad surveillance applications, on flimsy and sometimes falsified pretexts, against citizens such as Carter Page. *   *   * Let me discuss three recent examples that illustrate the threats we face from a politicized DOJ: the DOJ raid on Project Veritas journalists, the DOJ raid on Mar-a-Lago, and the DOJ’s efforts to undermine election integrity and chill free speech. Project Veritas Raid In July 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo forbidding federal prosecutors from seizing journalists’ records. He did this with much fanfare, hauteur, and virtue signaling. But even as Mr. Garland was decrying the seizure of journalists’ records as a “wrong” his department would “not let … happen,” the DOJ was in the midst of a year-long campaign of spying on Project Veritas—a campaign that involved no fewer than 19 clandestine subpoenas, orders, and warrants obtained from nine magistrate judges. The secrecy of this spying campaign was maintained through the use of wide-ranging gag orders, including at least two that were obtained without notice to the judge overseeing the Project Veritas case. Through this spying campaign, we now know that the DOJ obtained approximately 200,000 Project Veritas emails from Microsoft and countless text messages (and heaven knows what else) from Apple, Google, Uber, and other still unknown companies. Only six months after Mr. Garland’s memo was issued, the DOJ raided the homes of three Project Veritas journalists, seizing 47 electronic devices. And how did the world learn about this? Conveniently, someone leaked information about the raids to The New York Times—which Project Veritas happens to be suing. Indeed, The New York Times called Project Veritas for comment as the raids were still in progress. What was the pretext for the raids? In the fall of 2020, confidential sources had approached Project Veritas journalists with a
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  • https://udumbara.net/inside-a-san-francisco-drug-den
    https://udumbara.net/inside-a-san-francisco-drug-den
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Inside a San Francisco Drug Den
    To anyone vaguely familiar with the colorful history of San Francisco in Victorian times, the mere mention of an “opium den” conjures up visions of dimly lit enclaves deep in the catacombs of Chinatown where hundreds of people languished about in self-induced euphoric stupors.Well, guess what, folks—the concept of the clandestine drug den operation is back, only this time it is being sponsored by the city and promoted by those particularly ambitious politicians seeking fame and fortune, and it is providing a menu that is far more reaching than just opium. Several weeks ago, I was able to sneak into the Tenderloin Center located right in the middle of San Francisco at 1172 Market and Leavenworth, at UN Plaza. Not everyone is allowed in. This is the same Tenderloin Linkage Center that was the centerpiece of San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s much-touted plan to eradicate drug use, reduce overdose deaths, and “link” addicts to rehabilitation services. With the exception of the common areas for showering and outdoor meals, this facility is specifically designed for the consumption of illegal drugs purchased by addicts in the black market. It is a drug den where anybody and everybody can come in to ingest, inject, smoke, or inhale any type of illegal drug that they themselves have acquired off the street from the black market. You might be asking how this “bait and switch” plan became a reality in San Francisco. When Mayor Breed announced the opening of the Tenderloin Linkage Center in January, she touted it as a “safe, welcoming space for those ready to access San Francisco’s health and human service resources easily and quickly.” The idea, according to Breed and other city officials, was to create an easy path for those suffering from drug addiction or mental illness to be “linked” to services. The mayor’s wildly publicized plan included an “Overdose Prevention Facility” where showers and a hot meal could be had along with the ability to engage in any type of drug use in a supervised and safe environment with clean needles and sterilized drug paraphernalia supplied by the city. The mere fact that this new Center promised to provide “linkage” to additional services such as drug treatment, counseling, and rehabilitation was enough to prevent it from being classified as a “safe injection site,” as such sites are currently illegal by both federal and state laws. According to city records, the facility catered to some 49,000 users in the first five months of this year but only made 53 referrals to substance abuse treatment. How is that for delivering on promises? No wonder the mayor is embarrassed. The most important aspect of the whole program, the referral process for drug treatment, was totally ignored in favor of providing a space to get loaded! The Center has dropped the word “Linkage” from its name and become the “Tenderloin Center” because it was not even marginally successful at linking many addicts to real treatment. During the course of my visit to the Center, I was able to personally witness what was going on in the facility and its nearby surroundings. Make no doubt about it—it is still operating as a full-on illegal drug consumption site. Within several hundred yards of the facility, open-air drug transactions are taking place between black market dealers and addicts. It soon became obvious to some of the “guards” lurking about the place that I was not a user or a “client,” so I was asked to leave. Outsiders, including journalists and reporters, are not allowed in. Before leaving, I witnessed a scene that one could only imagine in a third-world environment. Dozens of drug-addled human beings were wandering and strewn about the premises, both inside the building and immediately outside on the public sidewalk, in varied states of nervousness, anticipation, agitation, coma, and euphoria. Upon exiting the facility, I noted that no one was in the booth that was supposed to be making referrals for drug addiction and treatment. Compared to the streets, this is a relatively safe environment for the addicts, with different types of security loitering about to help if any situation gets out of hand. There is also a medical doctor available and several certified medical technicians (CMTs) whose job it is to monitor the drug consumption to prevent overdose. Outside the Center, I was approached by one of the CMTs, who was on her lunch break, and we engaged in conversation about the facility. Being a homeless advocate, she was quick to opine that since the majority of people visiting the Center were homeless, a facility like the consumption site would not need to exist if society would just provide them all with a place to live and a roof over their heads. I couldn’t understand her correlation between a roof over someone’s head versus where they are shooting up, so I diverted the conversation to more pertinent facts, since she had been employed there since January. She told me that in January the dr
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  • https://udumbara.net/what-is-man-that-science-art-mindful-of-him
    https://udumbara.net/what-is-man-that-science-art-mindful-of-him
    UDUMBARA.NET
    What Is Man That Science Art Mindful of Him?
    CommentaryThe past few years have witnessed a reconfiguring of concepts of human rights, of real and unreal, right and wrong, and also the absence of any such distinctions. We have witnessed the wealthiest increase their wealth by rallying against inequity, and democratic governments manipulating their people through fear and intimidation. We have watched as elderly are abandoned, children isolated, and societies locked down, impoverishing hundreds of millions in the name of protecting their health. Those driving these events can explain their actions as logical, rational, and purposeful. They are dealing with opposition from a completely incompatible world view, and cannot be expected to engage with or respect it. A Rational View of Us To consider any action to be intrinsically wrong would require an acceptance of fundamental good and bad. However, if human thought is no more than chemical signaling and electron transfer, then such views can be reconfigured like any other software and cannot be absolute. What if the movement to reinvent humanity, the “fourth industrial revolution,” the melding of biology and machines makes sense? If we humans are indeed just chemistry, a construct of physical laws, then any apparent contradictions are acceptable, as are lies, manipulation and the denigration of others that define our changing world. A potential chemical reaction proceeds to a product, or it does not, with implications concerning the arrangement of atoms. This arrangement cannot be ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ if there is nothing but further chemistry impacted by it. One arrangement may result in an electrical potential in a cell membrane, resulting in a neuron signaling to cells nearby. For this product to have worth, there would have to be something external and non-physical perceiving it. Otherwise, the reaction could have run in any other direction and that would simply be reality. This reality cannot be good or bad, just a change in the properties of some physical thing. Humans are a complex conglomeration of chemical structure and interaction, resulting from a process of chemical replication patterned on strings of nucleic acids. This DNA codes for the construction of complex proteins from more simple, common molecules. The process is partially derived from some single-celled construct eons ago, partly from other simple bacteria that happened to replicate more consistently when enveloped within these cells. A mass of cells that are in themselves just packets of chemicals, combined to make a structure in some ways more complex, but in essence just the same as each cell that forms it. When equilibrium ceases to be sustainable due to transcription errors or invasion of incompatible organisms, the structure falls apart. A chemical soup produced by molds, bacteria, or reactions no longer suppressed. No more maintenance of membrane potentials, no more chemical signaling to distant receptors. The personality, memory, fears, and pride that were themselves merely a manifestation of chemistry and electrical impulses are no more. The thing is dead, though never really ‘alive,’ as this is really just rearrangement of atoms. Whatever ‘it’ was, it was not ‘conscious,’ just a passing ‘self-awareness’ that could only have been a chemical process that promoted the likelihood of replication. It was worth nothing, and of no consequence. The blankness of the chemical soup soaked into the ground has no further perception of anything. It may as well never have existed. Worthless, because in such a transient world there can be no such thing as worth. One day the sun will become a supernova, swallow up whatever organic material remains on this particular planet, and all these unnoticed and unnoticeable events—life on earth—will be no more. So rationally, if one particular biological lump is programmed to increase its persistence through feedback loops manifested as ‘positive feelings’—something that drives its probability of replication—so be it. If this chemical drive engulfs other biological masses, or triggers their pain receptors, or causes tens of millions to disintegrate, nothing is really lost. Those disintegrated biological constructs had no more meaning or worth than a lump of rock. Dying is not actually sad if there is no sadness, no happiness, no value. Even striving to replicate the DNA—the selfish gene concept—cannot be selfish. Genes are, after all, just arrangements of matter. A strand of nucleic acids cannot ‘think’—it cannot store charge or excite receptors until a new chemical structure assembles according to its code. Even love and protection of families must be ridiculous, if this logic is followed, as each member is a spiritless transient mass of matter, unrelated once physically separated from another. So if a portion of the population is killed by a pharmaceutical, designated to be carted off in railroad cars, fried with napalm on a distant roadside, disappeared the day before it’s due in court, or exclu
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-us-is-furthering-its-own-decline-by-scaring-off-chinese-scientists
    https://udumbara.net/the-us-is-furthering-its-own-decline-by-scaring-off-chinese-scientists
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The US is furthering its own decline by scaring off Chinese scientists
    A sizeable portion of Chinese scientists could leave the US, fed up with discrimination
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  • https://udumbara.net/german-defense-minister-pledges-more-arms-on-surprise-ukraine-visit
    https://udumbara.net/german-defense-minister-pledges-more-arms-on-surprise-ukraine-visit
    UDUMBARA.NET
    German defense minister pledges more arms on surprise Ukraine visit
    Germany’s Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht vowed to provide more military aid to Ukraine in the coming days
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  • https://udumbara.net/russia-bans-soundcloud
    https://udumbara.net/russia-bans-soundcloud
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Russia bans SoundCloud
    Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has blocked SoundCloud over “calls for civil unrest”, “extremism” and spreading false information
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  • https://udumbara.net/how-potassium-helps-to-treat-high-blood-pressure
    https://udumbara.net/how-potassium-helps-to-treat-high-blood-pressure
    UDUMBARA.NET
    How Potassium Helps to Treat High Blood Pressure
    Hypertension affects nearly half the people in the US, and many are unaware they have itSTORY AT-A-GLANCE Nearly half—47 percent—of all Americans have high blood pressure, costing about $131 billion each year in direct medical costs Many who have hypertension don’t have it under control, which affects your microvascular system, triggering damage to your eyes, kidneys, heart, and sexual performance By ensuring that you have enough potassium in your daily diet, you may prevent hypertension or reduce your dependence on medication to control it According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one-half—47 percent—of Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension).1 Hypertension carries a high cost to your health. It’s a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke,2 which are the first and fifth leading causes, respectively, of death in the United States.3 Hypertension comes with an annual financial burden of more than $131 billion in direct medical costs and lost work days; that doesn’t include a number of other health conditions worsened by hypertension, including kidney disease and cognitive decline. Only 1 in 4 of those with hypertension have their blood pressure under control.4 Unfortunately, while blood pressure monitoring has become commonplace at dentists’ and eye doctors’ offices, the CDC estimates that 1 in 3 people aren’t aware they have hypertension.5 There are several ways to reduce your blood pressure without drugs, which I discuss below. Among them is balancing your potassium level, as this electrolyte has a significant effect on muscle contraction and arterial wall relaxation, but most Americans barely get half of the recommended daily allowance.6 What Is High Blood Pressure? When your physician takes your blood pressure, he uses a sphygmomanometer to measure the amount of pressure your heart exerts to push blood through your arterial system. The top number represents the highest pressure needed, and the bottom number the lowest pressure needed. These numbers are related to the elasticity and diameter of your arterial walls. When the pressure required to circulate your blood is high, it places an abnormal amount of stress on your heart muscle and smaller arteries, and reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the smallest blood vessels in your body. Both of these consequences account for many of the secondary effects of hypertension. Your blood pressure reading can vary throughout the day, so one high reading isn’t a concern. It’s only when your blood pressure is consistently or chronically higher than normal that significant health conditions may occur. The validity of your blood pressure reading will be affected by the size of the blood pressure cuff, the position of the cuff on your arm, and whether you’re nervous. Measuring your blood pressure in both arms at the same office visit may also give vital information about your circulatory health. A number of studies have revealed that a significant difference between your right and left arm pressure may indicate circulatory problems that raise your risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, or other cardiovascular problems. While small differences between your arms are normal, researchers found people with a difference of 5 points in the systolic reading (top number) had double the risk of dying from heart disease in the following eight years.7 The difference suggests the presence of plaque in the artery supplying the arm with the higher pressure.8 In a meta-analysis evaluating mortality rates of more than 17,000 participants with inter-arm systolic blood pressure differences, researchers found participants with a greater than 10-point difference between arms had a 58 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to those with a less than 10-point difference.9 When the difference increased to 15 points, the risk increased to 88 percent. Potassium Level Affects Blood Pressure Potassium is a naturally occurring mineral that your body uses as an electrolyte, or substance in solution that will conduct electricity. It’s vital for normal functioning, as your body relies on electrical charges for countless processes, from cell signaling to nerve impulses to healthy brain function. Diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating (such as when using a sauna), and some drugs may deplete or disrupt your potassium balance. The most common reason that potassium levels aren’t within normal limits is due to poor dietary choices. The average reported intake of potassium from food is about half of the recommended 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day.10 Research demonstrates that these low levels of potassium may have a significant impact on blood pressure, especially as it relates to the amount of salt normally found in a Western diet. Dr. Paul Whelton, professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, conducted an analysis in 1997 of more than 29 tri
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  • https://udumbara.net/the-mental-and-physical-effects-of-humming
    https://udumbara.net/the-mental-and-physical-effects-of-humming
    UDUMBARA.NET
    The Mental and Physical Effects of Humming
    Humming has measurable physiological effects that can be healing and health-promotingMaking a simple, self-created sound for just five minutes might help to reduce blood pressure and stress, and keep nasal passages and sinuses healthy. Humming requires no musical ability. It’s a sound that everyone with a voice can make. It’s something babies do. It’s something elderly people do. Yet, the benefits of humming go beyond just the fun of humming a favorite tune. Research suggests that humming can be an important, portable self-help tool that can be used to reduce stress, relax, perhaps improve the health of nasal and sinus passages, and more. The Basics of Humming Sit up straight, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths, then hum from your mouth up through your nose with your lips closed. You can hum for 10 seconds and longer. For an extended session, you can hum for five minutes followed by five minutes of silence to ground yourself afterward. Jonathan Goldman, an authority on sound healing, has worked with all sorts of sounds for 40 years. He and his wife, Andi Goldman, a licensed psychotherapist, have worked in the field of sound healing for the past 20 years. They’d been looking for an accessible form of sound healing for the masses. When they considered the simple act of humming and looked at the research on its benefits, they were amazed by what they found and compiled the information in their book “The Humming Effect: Sound Healing for Health and Happiness.” Key Points to Know About Humming There are two ways that sound affects the body: Through psycho-acoustics: through hearing or listening, which affects the nervous system. Through vibro-acoustics: by making the sound, and the sound literally vibrates the body—all the way down to the cellular level. “Humming is, from my perspective, the most powerful vibro-acoustic sound we can make,” Jonathan Goldman said. Keep in mind that there are many pitches of hums, and each person is a unique vibratory being. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. As a unique vibratory being, play with the pitch, and hum in the manner that seems best suited to you, the Goldmans recommend. In addition, to reap the most benefits from humming, Jonathan Goldman says that silence is mandatory. After you hum for five minutes, then go into stillness and silence for a few minutes. “Silence is the yin to the yang of sound. Silence is the place where the sound can create the shifts and changes on a vibrational level, on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level,” he said. The following lines of research point to several important health benefits of humming, including reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and stress, and increased levels of nitric oxide, which plays an important role in keeping the nasal cavity and sinuses healthy. Blood Pressure and Heart Rate In a 2010 study, participants practiced a specific type of humming combined with deep breathing—a yogic practice called bhramari pranayama—for five minutes. The slow-paced humming caused both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures of participants to decrease significantly, accompanied by a slight decrease in their heart rates. The authors concluded that this type of humming induced “parasympathetic dominance” on the cardiovascular system, which is beneficial, as the parasympathetic nervous system is sometimes thought of as the system that erases stress and puts the body back into a state of balance. Five minutes seems to be the minimum time necessary for sound to create this beneficial effect on the body. The Goldmans have experienced this reduction in blood pressure and heartbeat. “Andi and I have found that if we’re about to go into a meeting or do some task that may be challenging and we find that we’re nervous, all that’s necessary is for us to spend a couple of minutes taking some nice deep breaths and humming,” Jonathan Goldman said. “Our heartbeat and blood pressure most usually will drop quite amazingly—to about the level that pharmaceuticals might achieve.” Chanting ‘Om’ Can Reduce the Stress Response A study in the International Journal of Yoga in 2011 found that when participants of the study chanted “Om”—which is often considered to be essentially the same sound as humming—there was deactivation of the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that regulates autonomic and hormonal functions, particularly in response to the intense emotions of fear or anger. When the limbic system is activated, we often experience the “fight or flight” phenomenon. When the limbic system is deactivated, we experience a reduction in stress and enhanced calmness. More Nitric Oxide in the Nasal Passages Additional research on humming shows that it greatly increases nitric oxide in a localized area of the body—the nasal passages. Nitric oxide is a neural transmitter fundamental to health and well-being. It plays many important roles in the body: It enhances t
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  • https://udumbara.net/beyond-serotonin-trend-of-2-prescriptions-alleviate-depression-get-at-root-cause
    https://udumbara.net/beyond-serotonin-trend-of-2-prescriptions-alleviate-depression-get-at-root-cause
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Beyond Serotonin: Trend of 2 ‘Prescriptions’ Alleviate Depression, Get at Root Cause
    Globally, 5 percent of adults suffer from depression, and a total of 280 million people suffer from depression. Although the use of antidepressants have increased, the treatment results are inconsistent, and people’s symptoms sometimes don’t even improve. However, there are two naturally present antidepressants that people can try.Antidepressants Don’t Work for Some People? Data from the National Health Interview Survey showed that in 2019, 18.5 percent of adults had symptoms of depression that were either mild, moderate, or severe in the past 2 weeks. This means that about one in five adults experienced any symptoms of depression. Among them, 22 percent of adult women, and 15 percent of adult men, experienced some degree of depression. The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) study found that an estimated 21 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode, accounting for 8.4 percent of all U.S. adults. Conventional science believes that depression was caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, especially low serotonin; and antidepressants will affect a number of chemicals in the brain that influence mood and anxiety, such as serotonin, among others. Although antidepressants are constantly being updated, there are still some patients who do not respond to two or more antidepressants. Some patients even find that the medication gradually stops working for them over time. It is unclear what factors lead to increased tolerance to antidepressants. Perhaps due to the limited effectiveness of medical treatment, the long-term risk of recurrence after recovery from major depressive disorder (MDD) in the general population is high. The estimated cumulative recurrence of MDD was 13.2 percent at five years, 23.2 percent at 10 years, and 42 percent at 20 years. In other words, antidepressants may not necessarily be the solution to depression. Johann Hari is one example. Beyond Serotonin: Deeper Causes of Depression Hari had depression when he was a teenager. Doctors told him that it was a chemical imbalance, and that antidepressants would help him. He felt better with the medication, but then the pain came back, and a higher dose was given, until he reached the legal dose limit. Hari visited many doctors and experts in the field. He later concluded that depression wasn’t necessarily caused by simply low serotonin in the brain, not a “malfunction” or “glitch” in the system. Rather, “You’re a human being with unmet psychological needs,” he said. He wrote his findings in a book titled “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions.” In his book, he recorded a story: A South African psychiatrist named Derek Summerfield arrived in Cambodia in the early 21st century. For the first time, chemical antidepressants were being introduced to local doctors. Dr. Summerfield tried his best to explain to them what antidepressants could actually do. However, they said that they already had antidepressants. It was the “Rule of the Cow.” A local doctor told him the story of a man he treated who was living with crippling depression. He was a farmer who used to work in his rice fields every day. One day, upon stepping on a landmine in a rice field, he instantly lost his left leg. Afterwards, he had to work with an artificial limb, which made laboring in water exceptionally painful. He then became desperate and in pain and tears, and became bedridden. The local doctors visited him, listened to his tearful complaints, and tried to understand the cause of his pain. They later figured out that it was too difficult for the man to work in the paddy fields with his prosthesis, and that his physical pain was causing him great stress. Thus, he did not want to live anymore. After discussing with his neighbors, the doctors believed that he could become a dairy farmer instead. So he no longer needed to go to the rice fields. They all chipped in and bought him a cow. Several weeks after becoming a dairy farmer, his depression disappeared. The doctors told Summerfield, “You see, doctor, the cow was an antidepressant.” “To them,” Hari wrote, “finding an antidepressant didn’t mean finding a way to change your brain chemistry. It meant finding a way to solve the problem that was causing the depression in the first place.” Hari concluded that people have physiological needs, such as breathing, eating, and sleeping. If their basic physiological needs cannot be met, they will get sick. The human mind also has basic needs. When these psychological needs cannot be met, people will also become sick. These abnormalities in the body, such as lowered serotonin levels and many typical physiological indicators and symptoms of depression, may also be signals from our body, indicating that there are needs deep inside that are not being met. The World Health Organization has also indicated that depression is the result of a combination of social, psychological,
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  • https://udumbara.net/inflammation-may-curb-not-cause-chronic-pain
    https://udumbara.net/inflammation-may-curb-not-cause-chronic-pain
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Inflammation May Curb, Not Cause, Chronic Pain
    In Brief: Challenging previous notions about inflammation and pain, scientists found that a robust initial inflammatory response appears to protect against chronic pain rather than contribute to it. The findings suggest that suppressing inflammation to treat acute musculoskeletal pain may be counterproductive for long-term pain relief. Many of us have felt the ache of a thrown-out back or a sore jaw that makes chewing difficult. This pain, though sometimes agonizing, usually resolves on its own and is referred to as acute pain. But in some cases, acute pain becomes chronic and persists for months or years, and scientists don’t entirely understand why. Researchers have long thought that inflammation, a key part of the body’s healing process, when excessive or prolonged, is somehow involved in the switch from acute to chronic pain. But a new study turns that thinking on its head, finding that inflammation, rather than contributing to the development of chronic pain, appears to help curb it. The NIDCR-supported study, published in Science Translational Medicine, suggests that painkillers that work by suppressing inflammation might be counterproductive for relieving pain in the long run. The results also lend new insights into healing, potentially explaining how activities that stimulate the immune system to produce inflammation—such as exercise, massage, and heat therapy can often help resolve pain. “It turns out, acute pain is a very active biological process, and developing chronic pain is the absence of this process,” says senior author Luda Diatchenko, MD, Ph.D., a human geneticist at McGill University, Canada. “We should be careful with inhibiting our immune response at the acute stage, understand the consequences, and pay more attention to pain resolution.” Diatchenko wanted to know why some patients’ pain simply fades away, while others’ stubbornly persists. Her team decided to focus on low back pain, one of the leading causes of disability in the world. The researchers sampled blood from 98 research participants when they first developed low back pain and again three months later. By that time, half of the volunteers had developed chronic low back pain, while the other half had recovered. By comparing biological markers in blood cells between the two groups, Diatchenko expected to find that chronic pain sufferers would have greater activation of genes that stir up inflammation and are thought to fuel chronic pain. But the results took her by surprise. Nothing much was happening in patients who developed chronic pain. “It was kind of frozen, in terms of their gene activity,” Diatchenko says. “But in patients who recovered, we saw enormous activity happening. More than half of their genome changed expression.” Cells from the recovered volunteers were initially buzzing with activity from inflammation-related genes, and this activity gradually diminished over the three months of the study. In contrast, the chronic pain group started out with less inflammatory gene activity, which did not change over time. The researchers observed similar results in a cohort of 64 research participants with another common musculoskeletal pain condition called temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which affects the jaw joints and muscles. In the TMD group, people who ultimately recovered also had initially intense inflammatory gene activity that receded over time, suggesting that inflammation in the acute phase might protect against chronic pain. When Diatchenko shared the results with her co-author and McGill colleague, pain researcher Jeffrey Mogil, Ph.D., he was in disbelief. For decades, scientists have known that inhibiting inflammation relieves pain. But there’s a caveat—Diatchenko and Mogil realized that people and animals given anti-inflammatory treatments in prior studies had not been followed long enough to know what happens beyond the immediate period of pain reduction. Mogil set out to investigate Diatchenko’s findings in mice with pain states similar to humans’. Over six days, the animals were given saline as a control, or dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid commonly prescribed for lower back pain. Although dexamethasone at first blunted animals’ pain responses by blocking the inflammatory immune response, the pain eventually returned and became chronic, lasting in some cases up to 120 days. For mice that received saline, pain responses generally subsided in about half that time. The team also saw prolonged pain in mice treated with diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in the same class as the over-the-counter painkiller ibuprofen. But mice did not develop persistent pain when they were given drugs that suppress pain without altering inflammation. To better understand whether the findings could apply to humans, the researchers turned to the UK Biobank, a database of health information and genetic data from half a million participants in the UK. An analysis of 2,624 people
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  • https://udumbara.net/taste-nerve-reveals-coronavirus-entryways
    https://udumbara.net/taste-nerve-reveals-coronavirus-entryways
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Taste Nerve Reveals Coronavirus Entryways
    Sprinkled like confetti throughout this image are dozens of green, yellow, and red-ringed axons—nerve cell fibers that transmit electrical signals throughout the nervous system. The axons are bundled in a human cranial nerve, shown here in a cross-section view (see illustration below for context). Nerves like this exit the brainstem and project to areas of the tongue, mouth, and throat, where taste signals are detected and relayed back to the brain. Credit: Lynn Vitale-Cross, Ildiko Szalayova, and Aiden Scoggins A research team led by NIDCR senior investigator Eva Mezey, MD, Ph.D., found that the outer surfaces of the axons in these nerves are studded with protein “entry factors” used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to invade cells. The presence of entry factors like TMPRSS2 proteins (yellow) and ACE2 receptors (red) points to the possibility that the virus could infect taste-sensing nerves and offers a potential explanation for the taste loss that affects about 39 percent of those who have COVID-19. Mezey says the results suggest that viruses like SARS-CoV-2 could reach the central nervous system by traveling in nerves from the mouth. “The nerve terminals around the taste buds and gums could be a back door for pathogens to get into the brain,” she says. Mezey and her team are exploring this possibility in mice by determining whether and how certain oral bacteria can travel from the mouth to the brain. References SARS-CoV-2 entry sites are present in all structural elements of the human glossopharyngeal and vagal nerves: Clinical implications. Vitale-Cross L, Szalayova I, Scoggins A, Palkovits M, Mezey E. eBioMedicine. 2022 Apr 4; 78: 103981. PMID: 35390636. Taste loss as a distinct symptom of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hannum ME, Koch RJ, Ramirez VA, et al. Chem Senses. 2022 Jan 1;47:bjac001. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjac001. PMID: 35171979. “Taste Nerve Reveals Coronavirus Entryways was originally published by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.”
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  • https://udumbara.net/detainment-of-us-diplomats-in-chinese-covid-19-camps-must-end-congressmen
    https://udumbara.net/detainment-of-us-diplomats-in-chinese-covid-19-camps-must-end-congressmen
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Detainment of US Diplomats in Chinese COVID-19 Camps Must End: Congressmen
    Detainment of US Diplomats in Chinese COVID-19 Camps Must End: Congressmen
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  • https://udumbara.net/tiktok-is-everything-that-you-do-not-want-in-a-modern-democracy-tech-expert
    https://udumbara.net/tiktok-is-everything-that-you-do-not-want-in-a-modern-democracy-tech-expert
    UDUMBARA.NET
    TikTok Is ‘Everything That You Do Not Want in a Modern Democracy’: Tech Expert
    Social media giant TikTok and its nebulous connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) present a threat to U.S. national security, according to one expert.Geoffrey Cain, an independent investigative journalist and author of a book on the CCP’s efforts to build a totalitarian surveillance state, believes that TikTok’s troubled emergence, shadowy corporate structure, and connection to China’s data laws make it a unique threat to the United States. “The problem of TikTok is that it is a national security threat to the United States and to countries outside of China,” Cain said during a Sep. 29 interview with NTD’s “American Thought Leaders.” “It is a disaster waiting to happen, because TikTok, though the company denies it, is fundamentally obligated to follow the laws of China, the laws that were created by the Chinese Communist Party.” TikTok’s Move to US Shrouded in Secrecy Cain highlighted that TikTok is not only owned by Chinese corporation ByteDance, but was also created by one of the company’s leaders in artificial intelligence (AI) using funding from U.S.-based Sequoia Capital. Moreover, Cain said that TikTok’s move into the world market occurred under dubious circumstances, as the company only reached a global audience after it was paired with the Santa Monica office of Music.ly, another Chinese-owned social media company. TikTok did not inform U.S. officials about the merger despite both companies’ ties to China, Cain said. “There are many red flags, but the biggest red flag about this acquisition is that TikTok did not notify the U.S. government about the acquisition,” Cain said. “That should sound alarm bells. Why did TikTok decide not to do that review? It’s as if they kind of snuck into the market and placed their software in the hands of the next generation.” Following that revelation, the Trump administration attempted to get TikTok banned or otherwise sold to an American parent company, and the case has been under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) ever since. Cain recently testified before the U.S. Senate about the issue. In his testimony (pdf) he discussed documented ties between ByteDance, TikTok, and the CCP, including internal meetings at the companies in which employees allegedly praised the CCP. Now, Cain said he believes the CCP is using TikTok to spread its surveillance and censorship around the globe. “TikTok executives have admitted in the past that the algorithm that TikTok [uses] has been used to suppress bad news coming out of China,” Cain said. Cain referred to the sworn testimony of one TikTok executive who testified before the British Parliament in 2020 that TikTok censored or otherwise suppressed information about the genocide of the Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province at the request of CCP authorities. Cain also pointed to a moderation guideline leaked back in back in 2019 that showed that TikTok and ByteDance instructed the global moderators, including in America, to suppress any videos showing poverty, slums, or ugly people in China, and to censor critical comments about China’s actions in Tibet and Tiananmen Square. TikTok has said that these policies are no longer in effect. The CCP Can Access Everything At the heart of Cain’s concern about the risk of TikTok was the intersection of CCP data laws and the relationship between the company and its China-based owners. The CCP’s National Intelligence Law and National Security Law, for example, require all companies operating within mainland China or with a majority Chinese stake to hand over all data to the CCP upon request. This means that any executive at TikTok or ByteDance, if based in China, could be legally compelled by the CCP to hand over the company’s data, including information on users’ facial recognition, browsing activity, and key-logged passwords. As such, some security experts have said that TikTok is a “weaponized” application that benefits the CCP’s military and espionage campaigns. “This is where the TikTok and the ByteDance connection becomes extremely problematic,” Cain said. “There’s not going to be a separate line between [TikTok and ByteDance], the Chinese Communist Party will see TikTok as fundamentally a Chinese company and one that needs to report to the Chinese Communist Party.” TikTok previously said that all American user data was stored within the United States. TikTok has since admitted that this is not true, however, and in a September congressional hearing, TikTok executives refused to commit to stopping the flow of American data to China. Cain feared that such data could all too easily be leveraged by the CCP to hunt down and silence its political enemies. “These could be Hong Kong dissidents, these could be American military commanders, [these] could be anybody who might be of an interesting nature to the Chinese Communist Party,” Cain said. “Those executives are required by Chinese law to hand over the data.” A Threat
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  • https://udumbara.net/beijing-arrested-143-million-people-in-a-100-day-security-campaign-ahead-of-national-meeting
    https://udumbara.net/beijing-arrested-143-million-people-in-a-100-day-security-campaign-ahead-of-national-meeting
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Beijing Arrested 1.43 Million People in a 100-Day Security Campaign Ahead of National Meeting
    Beijing has detained 1.43 million Chinese in a three-month security campaign ahead of the Party’s national meeting. However, not all those arrested were criminals.Tightened security is required as the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), scheduled for October, approaches. The regime set up a “100-day Operation” that started on June 25. In a press conference on Sept. 27, the Ministry of Public Security touted the campaign’s success: To date, the operation has resolved more than 640,000 criminal cases and arrested more than 1.43 million people. However, many so-called suspects are simply ordinary Chinese citizens, such as dissidents, activists, petitioners, Christians, and Falun Gong adherents. Enemies of the People The regime claims the operation was the “hard fists” needed to protect vulnerable groups, such, as women, minors, the elderly, and the disabled. The Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times learned that police targeted many non-criminals, including people who dare to speak up and defend the interests of citizens in need. For instance, lawyer Chen Jiahong has been missing since Sept. 24 when the police visited his home in Guangxi Province in southern China. Chen was previously imprisoned on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power” for voicing his support of victims of the “709 Crackdown,” a 2015 mass arrest of civil rights lawyers and rights activists. Xiang Jinfeng, an outspoken rights activist from Fujian Province on China’s southeastern coast, was detained by local police in Longyan City on Sept. 1 on an unknown charge. The family was only told that his detention would last a month, Xiang’s brother told The Epoch Times. On Human Rights Day, a few Shanghai petitioners took a group photo outside Beijing Train Station, after they arrived to petition on Dec. 10, 2020. The sign above the group states, “Human rights are above sovereignty; Defending rights is patriotic.” (Courtesy of interviewees) CCP’s Societal Risk Factor: Petitioners Petitioning the government in Beijing has become routine for many Chinese who believe their voices need to be heard by the authorities. However, they too have become targets of the latest operation. Hu Jianguo, for example, is a Shanghai activist, who once said, “By defending our rights, we are fighting for democracy and freedom, which is our greatest hope in life.” He revealed to The Epoch Times on Sept. 28 that the police have been stationed in his garage, watching him day and night, for two weeks, just to prevent him from going to Beijing to petition the government. According to Hu, some of the other Shanghai petitioners such as Yang Yonglan, Gu Guoping, and Peng Miaolin and her daughter Peng Jun, are also under 24-hour police surveillance. He said, “I told those communists that they are all embezzlers and thieves who keep money abroad and bully the people. For that, they sent a few more people [to my home], even a van was parked right outside watching us.” Since 2005, the annual number of petitions in China has remained as high as 10 million, according to a 2013 book titled, “Petitions, Democracy, and the Rule of Law: China Topics,” by City University of HK Press, In fact, the total number of complaints about the regime’s governance reached 10.24 million nationally in 2000, according to a 2005 research paper by Xiong Yihan, a researcher at Political Science, Fudan University. People line up for a nucleic acid test to detect COVID-19 at a makeshift testing site in Chaoyang District on April 25, 2022 in Beijing. China is trying to contain a spike in coronavirus cases in the capital city after dozens of people tested positive for the virus, which caused local authorities to initiate mass testing in some areas and lockdowns in neighborhoods where cases were found, in an effort to maintain the country’s zero-COVID strategy. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images) Zero-COVID Versus Zero-Petitioners In 2021 alone, there were more than 3.8 million complaints specifically addressed to the state anti-corruption offices, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervision Commission. The regime claimed that corrupt officials at the grass-roots level are the major cause of mass incidents. To crack down on corruption, local officials initiated the “zero-petitioners” campaign. For example, Shanxi Province adopted the zero-petitioners initiative in 2020 as one of the main tasks of the provincial standing committee of the CCP. This year, the Education Bureau of Jiyuan, Henan Province, also promoted the zero-petition initiative to ensure proper implementation of the zero-COVID policy. Wu Shaoping, a human rights lawyer in the United States, said that the CCP’s harsh controls put the entire society in a state of tension and anxiety. The pandemic is only an excuse to control people. He believes the CCP is fully aware that “people’s madness [anger] and protests may lead to the collapse of the regime,” he said.
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  • https://udumbara.net/eu-statement-hk-human-rights-eroded-national-security-law-suppress-democracy-and-new-electoral-system-lost-political-plurality
    https://udumbara.net/eu-statement-hk-human-rights-eroded-national-security-law-suppress-democracy-and-new-electoral-system-lost-political-plurality
    UDUMBARA.NET
    EU Statement | HK Human Rights Eroded, National Security Law Suppress Democracy and New Electoral System Lost Political Plurality
    The EU representative, in his address to the UNHRC meeting on Sept. 26, specifically mentioned the human rights situation in Hong Kong, expressing their grave concern about the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) and the renewed use of the Sedition Law, and mentioned the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen, the chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the conviction of members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists for sedition relating to the Children’s Book Case. He described that all of the above constitute deterioration of freedoms.This UNHRC meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland. The EU representative issued a statement on Sept. 26 expressing concern about the human rights situation in many countries and regions, including China, Hong Kong, Russia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Belarus (Belarus), Eritrea, Turkey, Palestine, Myanmar, and Nicaragua. Among them, he made Hong Kong a separate paragraph. The EU’s statement stated that they remain gravely concerned about the repressive National Security Law (NSL), the renewed use of the Sedition Law, and the sweeping changes in the electoral system that constitute a violation of democratic principles and political pluralism. The legitimate exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of expression including media freedom, has been substantially eroded. Cardinal Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong, was arrested for alleged “collusion with foreign forces” by the Hong Kong authority in May 2022 because of being a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund. The Fund aimed to provide humanitarian and relevant financial support to persons who are injured, arrested, attacked, or threatened with violence during Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill protests. The chairman of the HKJA, Ronson Chan, was stopped by the police for inquiry on his way to a news interview in June this year and asked to hand over his Identity card. He complied but then was arrested for obstructing police officers and disorder in a public place. Five members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists have been sentenced to 19 months imprisonment for publishing what prosecutors said were anti-government “seditious” children’s books. One defendant, Lorie Lai Man-ling, former chairperson of the Great Union said, “I am willing to pay the price for exercising my freedom of speech. Even if I lose, I still stand and be counted.” She believes that there are restrictions on freedom of speech, which should not be a political red line. The statement mentioned Cardinal Zen, four other trustees, and the fund secretary, who was arrested in connection with the 612 cases, Ronson Chan, the chairman of the HKJA, who was recently arrested and the five members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists have been sentenced to imprisonment for publishing children’s books. They constitute deterioration of the freedoms guaranteed in the Hong Kong Basic Law. The statement also mentioned the independence of the judiciary is under immense pressure and that the lengthy pre-trial detention in NSL cases is a source of concern, as well as the closure of numerous civil society groups. The EU urges China and the Hong Kong authorities to restore full respect for the rule of law, democracy, and human rights, including freedom of association and freedom of expression, guarantee the independence of the judiciary, and preserve Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle, in compliance with Hong Kong’s Basic Law and China’s domestic and international commitments. As for China, the EU agreed with the release of the assessment report of human rights concerns in Xinjiang by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report underscores the serious human rights violations occurring in Xinjiang and finds that these may constitute crimes against humanity. The EU reiterates its persistent and serious concerns about the existence of a large network of political re-education camps, mass arbitrary detentions, widespread surveillance, tracking and control measures, systemic and severe restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief, as well as the use of forced labour, torture, forced abortion and sterilisation. All of the above is proved by reports. The EU urges the CCP to respect, protect and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including Uighurs and persons belonging to ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities across China, especially in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia. Follow
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  • https://udumbara.net/republicans-probe-whether-china-quarantined-us-diplomats-to-steal-intelligence-demand-investigation
    https://udumbara.net/republicans-probe-whether-china-quarantined-us-diplomats-to-steal-intelligence-demand-investigation
    UDUMBARA.NET
    Republicans Probe Whether China Quarantined US Diplomats to Steal Intelligence, Demand Investigation
    Two Republican Congressmen requested that the State Department preserve documents linked to the forced quarantine of more than a dozen U.S. diplomats in China, citing concerns that the communist regime may have pressured them into surrendering intelligence.The Sep. 29 letter (pdf), which was addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and signed by Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), said that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials may have used COVID-19 quarantines to pressure diplomats into giving up vital intelligence. “U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing recently confirmed that 16 U.S. diplomats and their family members—throughout the pandemic—have been involuntarily held in quarantine camps and subjected to strict confinement measures with no definitive release date,” the letter said. “Committee Republicans are concerned that U.S diplomats could be or have been pressured to surrender intelligence while detained in [Chinese] quarantine camps.” Comer is the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which published the letter. McCaul leads the GOP’s China Task Force and is the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. “We must protect our personnel from Chinese counterintelligence efforts,” said a statement by the Oversight Committee on Twitter. Comer and McCaul suggested that the involuntary quarantine of American diplomats in China was a national security threat, and suggested that the CCP’s quarantine of key U.S. officials could be part of a larger espionage effort. “The confinement of U.S. diplomats in [China] raises grave national security concerns,” the letter said. “[China] poses a geopolitical threat to the United States and should not be coercing U.S. diplomats into and surveilling them under draconian quarantine policies.” The letter also cited evidence from internal whistleblower correspondence made available to Congress and original reporting from The Washington Post to outline how CCP officials forcibly tested U.S. diplomats for other diseases in addition to COVID-19 and attempted to separate American diplomats from their children for extended periods by placing them in a “fever clinic.” It also underscored the history of CCP operations against U.S. citizens and partners, saying that the United States and CCP were in a “cool war,” and noting that the regime previously executed 30 U.S. intelligence sources during the Obama administration. “Given that troubling reality,” the letter said, “it is reasonable to wonder and worry about the threats posed by [China] to U.S. diplomats while they are or were being involuntarily and unjustly quarantined, ostensibly under the guise of COVID-19 protocols.” “Unfortunately, these extreme containment measures are part of [China’s] attempt to undermine United States national security and undermine basic reciprocity in diplomatic relations.” Follow Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.
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  • https://udumbara.net/human-rights-lawyer-decries-chinese-regimes-attempt-to-suppress-reporting-on-forced-organ-harvesting
    https://udumbara.net/human-rights-lawyer-decries-chinese-regimes-attempt-to-suppress-reporting-on-forced-organ-harvesting
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    Human Rights Lawyer Decries Chinese Regime’s Attempt to Suppress Reporting on Forced Organ Harvesting
    An international human rights lawyer has decried the Chinese regime’s efforts to smear reporting on Beijing’s forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience.After Italian magazine Panorama published a piece on Aug. 24 titled “China: When the State Wants Your Organs,” the Chinese Embassy in the country publicly accused the publication of plagiarism and called on other Italian media outlets to “eliminate” the articles. Panorama hit back at the embassy’s claims, publishing another piece citing more evidence of the Chinese regime’s grisly practices. Applauding Panorama for not backing down, international criminal lawyer Eleanor Stephenson called the embassy’s response “abusive, inadequate, and misleading.” Stephenson is a barrister in England and Wales, and currently works for an international criminal tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. She is a legal officer at the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), an advocacy group that in 2018 initiated the China Tribunal, an independent panel of lawyers, medical professionals, human rights advocates, and other experts tasked to investigate forced organ harvesting in China. China Tribunal The China Tribunal, based in London, was chaired by noted human rights lawyer Sir Geoffrey Nice KC, who served as lead prosecutor in the war crimes trial of Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milošević. In its final judgment, dated June 2019, the tribunal concluded that “forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one—and probably the main— source of organ supply.” The China Tribunal logo (Chinatribunal.com/Screenshot via The Epoch Times) The Chinese Embassy in the UK at the time responded to the tribunal’s findings, calling it a show trial while claiming Nice was a “notorious expert in the abuse of lawsuits in the international human rights circle.” It provided no evidence for either accusation in its statement. Stephenson, in an email to The Epoch Times on Sept. 22, said the embassy’s response should be dismissed because it provided no evidence to support its assertions. “The China Tribunal was an independent people’s tribunal that examined a wide range of evidence related to forced organ harvesting over the course of 12 months,” Stephenson wrote. “They questioned over 50 fact witnesses, experts, investigators, and analysts over 5 days of public hearing between December 2018 and April 2019. The China Tribunal reviewed written submissions, investigative reports, and academic papers and received expert legal advice on relevant international law, including in relation to core international crimes (crimes against humanity and genocide).” The China Tribunal’s judgment states that China’s commission of crimes against humanity “has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.” It warns that “governments and any who interact in any substantial way” with China should recognize that they are “interacting with a criminal state.” Beijing Ignored Invite to Participate in China Tribunal For well over a decade, the Chinese regime has vehemently denied that it has engaged in forced organ harvesting, while refusing independent investigators access to its transplant system and data. Stephenson noted that “the government of China were asked to participate in the China Tribunal on 5 occasions, but no reply was ever received to the invitations.” “Despite cogent evidence of forced organ harvesting of the Falun Gong and other persecuted groups, China appears unwilling and or unable to provide any evidence to rebut the obvious inferences of widespread and systematic forced organ harvesting in China … Presumably if the government of China had some evidence relating to forced organ harvesting which could allay the widespread concerns it would have provided it at one of the many opportunities it has had to do so.” She added, “Protestations of innocence without evidence can themselves be incriminating.” The Chinese embassy insisted that “the human rights of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are fully protected and there is no ‘genocide’ or ‘crimes’ against humanity.” Uyghur Tribunal The International Criminal Court is the world’s first permanent international court, an international tribunal charged with prosecuting individuals for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression. However, China did not sign the United Nations treaty governing the International Criminal Court, therefore the ICC’s prosecutors have no jurisdiction in China. For this reason, independent tribunals such as the China Tribunal play an important role in investigating the Chinese regime’s rights abuses. Another such tribunal is the Uyghur Tribunal, which Stephenson cited as “an independent people’s tribunal established in September 2020 to investigate ‘ongoing atrocities and possible Genocide’ against the Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Turkic Muslim populations.” The Uyghur Tribunal’s fi
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