People with rage disorder twice as likely to have brain parasite infection

In a study involving 358 adult subjects, a team led by researchers from the University of Chicago found that toxoplasmosis, a relatively harmless parasitic infection carried by an estimated 30 percent of all humans, is associated with intermittent explosive disorder and increased aggression.

“Our work suggests that latent infection with the toxoplasma gondii parasite may change brain chemistry in a fashion that increases the risk of aggressive behavior,” said senior study author Emil Coccaro, MD…

“However, we do not know if this relationship is causal, and not everyone that tests positive for toxoplasmosis will have aggression issues,” Coccaro said, adding that additional studies are needed.

Intermittent explosive disorder is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, as recurrent, impulsive, problematic outbursts of verbal or physical aggression that are disproportionate to the situations that trigger them. IED is thought to affect as many as 16 million Americans, more than bipolar disorder and schizophrenia combined.

As part of their pioneering research to improve diagnosis and treatment for IED and impulsive aggression, Coccaro and his colleagues examined possible connections to toxoplasmosis, an extremely common parasitic infection. Transmitted through the feces of infected cats, undercooked meat or contaminated water, toxoplasmosis is typically latent and harmless for healthy adults. However, it is known to reside in brain tissue, and has been linked to several psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and suicidal behavior…

❝ “Correlation is not causation, and this is definitely not a sign that people should get rid of their cats,” said study co-author Royce Lee, MD…“It will take experimental studies to see if treating a latent toxoplasmosis infection with medication reduces aggressiveness,” Coccaro said.

In a nation where a court ruled eating too many Twinkies a legitimate defense for murder, the discovery of a brain parasite that might provoke murderous rage is a bloody-well breakthrough.

Always nice to hear a creep admit the real reason behind a political lie is bigotry!


Role model for Trump & Cruz

The war on drugs: Is it a genuine public health crusade or an attempt to carry out what author Michelle Alexander characterizes as “the New Jim Crow”?

A new report by Dan Baum [paywall] for Harper’s Magazine suggests the latter. Specifically, Baum refers to a quote from John Ehrlichman, who served as domestic policy chief for President Richard Nixon when the administration declared its war on drugs in 1971. According to Baum, Ehrlichman said in 1994 that the drug war was a ploy to undermine Nixon’s political opposition — meaning, black people and critics of the Vietnam War:

At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did…”

…The claim of racial prejudice is not implausible. Although black Americans aren’t more likely to use or sell drugs, they’re much more likely to be arrested for them. And when black people are convicted of drug charges, they generally face longer prison sentences for the same crimes, according to a 2012 report from the US Sentencing Commission.

Ehrlichman claimed this was a goal of the drug war, not an unintended consequence. And Baum cites this as one of many reasons to end the drug war once and for all…

So maybe the drug war reduces drug use. But it also enables and reinforces the justice system’s biases against minority Americans. And it perpetuates a black market for drugs that fuels violence in the US and around the world, particularly in Mexico.

But there are options to draw down the war on drugs without legalization. The US could decriminalize — remove jail time and other criminal penalties for personal possession but not sales — and emphasize prevention and treatment, as Portugal has done. It could allow supervised injection sites for heroin users to provide a safe place to use the drug, as Canada, Switzerland, and several others have done. It could allow for the medical use of some drugs, such as psychedelics, as some researchers have pushed for. These are steps countries and states could take without legalizing drugs…

None of these policies would wholly eliminate drug abuse, drug deaths, or drug-related violence and crime. But drug policy is often about picking the best out of the available bad options, rather than picking the perfect solution.

Reasonably candyass reporting. Still, a solid source acknowledging the criminality of one more of Richard Nixon’s policies. Mated to his “Southern Strategy” and you can see how the Republican Party turned from being the Party of Lincoln to the leading source of legitimizing racism in America.

Pic of the day

CCTV
Click to enlarge

The cantilevered building at the center is the world headquarters of CCTV, China Central Television. On a global stage, they are a provider of news the size and class of competitors like the BBC World Service. Their English-language service speaks to 85 million homes.

And, yes, like many Americans I have access to their programming through CCTV-America. Unlike many Americans, I actually watch a number of their programs. Parochialism is one of the worst characteristics defining Americans.

Anyway – this is about their headquarters building in Beijing. Most photos I’ve seen were from below looking up at the cantilevered shapes. This photo describes what I think may have also been key to the architects, Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren. The setting of cross streets echoing the sharp angles of the structure.

Stunning. And a great photo.

Scientists warning of climate shift — it’s sooner not later, folks!


Photo AP

The nations of the world agreed years ago to try to limit global warming to a level they hoped would prove somewhat tolerable. But leading climate scientists warned on Tuesday that permitting a warming of that magnitude would actually be quite dangerous.

The likely consequences would include killer storms stronger than any in modern times, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets and a rise of the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century…

❝ “We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control,” said James E. Hansen, the retired NASA climate scientist who led the new research. The findings were released Tuesday morning by a European science journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics…

The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift.

Specifically, the authors believe that fresh water pouring into the oceans from melting land ice will set off a feedback loop that will cause parts of the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to disintegrate rapidly.

That claim has intrigued some experts who say the paper may help explain puzzling episodes in Earth’s past when geological evidence suggests the climate underwent drastic shifts. Yet many other scientists are unconvinced by some of the specific assertions the authors are making.

Even scientists wary of the specific claims in the new paper point to Dr. Hansen’s history to argue that his ideas need to be taken seriously.

I think we ignore James Hansen at our peril,” Dr. Mann said.

RTFA for all the gory details. Please, keep in mind that science by definition is a conservative endeavor. These folks aren’t accustomed to throwing fear tactics around for the joy of upsetting Republicans.

Even Dr. Hansen.