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U.S. study suggests parents' income indirectly affects growth of children's brains

© Getty
The structure and growth of a child's brain may be indirectly affected by their parents' income, a study in the US has claimed.

In research involving more than a thousand children and young people, scientists found that those with poorer parents were more likely to have smaller brain surface area in key regions linked with language and reading.

The effects of income, as well as parent's educational history, appeared to be independent of genetic factors, the researchers from nine American universities said.

Social and economic background has long been linked with variations in brain functioning, but the new research is thought to be the first to suggest these factors can even affect the structure of the brain itself.

A link between income and children's diet, healthcare, lack of access to good schools and play areas, and even exposure to polluted areas may lie behind the connection, neuroscientists said.

Not all children of poorer families had smaller brain surface areas and the authors of the study said their findings did not mean that a person's social status led to "an immutable trajectory of cognitive of brain development".

Comment: Such a link is practically a no-brainer (no pun intended). Of course, when you are living in poverty, without access to healthy food and no doubt in a stressful environment, development will be negatively affected and thus brain function. Unfortunately, that's the price we have to pay for America's exceptionalism. The empire simply can't thrive without vast inequality and the slow but steady consumption of human material (i.e., 'useless eaters', slaves for the 1%). That includes our children.

Bizarro Earth

Renowned violinist gets naked, roams hotel halls, tries to strangle woman


Renowned German violinist Stefan Arzberger
A renowned German violinist went on a naked rampage at a Manhattan hotel, forcing his way into a female tourist's room and choking her
, law-enforcement sources told The Post.

Staffers at the boutique Hudson Hotel at Columbus Circle were first alerted to the bizarre antics of Stefan Arzberger after guests reported seeing a man roaming around naked early Friday, the sources said.

A 64-year-old female hotel guest from North Carolina "heard a knock and opened her door slightly'' at around 8 a.m., a law-enforcement source said.

She was confronted by a wild-eyed Arzberger — who recently performed at the Library of Congress — "completely naked,'' the source said.

"He stuck his arm out, and she tried to slam the door shut, but he stuck his arm in between the door and the door jamb," the source said of the 42-year-old lead violinist for the internationally acclaimed Leipzig String Quartet, which has played at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

"He barged inside and grabbed her around the neck with both hands and started strangling her."

The violinist allegedly choked the woman so hard that the blood vessels in her eyes were ruptured, according to a court complaint.

Hotel staff heard the victim crying for help and pulled the crazed man off her, cops said.

Arzberger managed to flee back to his room, but police arrested him shortly after, the sources said.


Operation 'Jade Helm': Are US special forces training for martial law?

© Reuters / Lucas Jackson
As elite branches of the US military prepare to hold military training in seven southwest states, with some troops operating incognito among civilians, some Americans fear the training is actually preparation for imposing martial law.

Operation Jade Helm, which is scheduled to kick off in July and run for eight weeks, will involve the participation of 1,200 troops from the US military's most elite fighting forces, including Green Berets, Navy SEALS and Special Operations from the Air Force and Marines.

The troops will be participating in what has been called Realistic Military Training in towns in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah.

Comment: Well, there was this recent drill: Operation Vigilant Guard. Here's a somewhat creepier explanation of Operation Jade Helm:
So what happens after all the players are on the ground?

The most likely scenario is that at the JOAX and CRF "events" the operation will go terribly wrong and while the large force at the JOAX will likely handle the fake disaster in the area they parachute into, the CRF will have to "escape and evade."

So, America's special forces will most likely have to evade capture by local law enforcement, suspicious citizens, and whatever military unit is turned loose to try to catch them. One source believes the force from the JOAX will become the "bad guys" and try to catch the CRF troops while they attempt to make their way undetected to a safe (blue states on the map) "country."

This "survival" and "evasion" portion of the exercise explains Chief Deputy Roy Boyd's ominous statement:
"They're going to set up cells of people and test how well they're able to move around without getting too noticed in the community."
There is no way of knowing exactly what the scenario presented to the troops will be, but it is a certainty that this is not a federal takeover.

At some point, some or all of the troops will be captured. They will begin attempting to "resist" interrogation and plan their "escape."

Why the big secret?

These exercises are very common. Let's suppose you were 1000 miles from where you had to be and you had little or no funds to get there. What would you have to do to arrive safely at your destination while avoiding law enforcement and a military detachment?

These training exercises are not discussed because America's most elite units will most likely be committing a slew of minor crimes along the way. They will certainly trespass, engage in petty theft, sneak onto a train, hide in the back of an 18-wheeler, they might even steal a car. This training is absolutely necessary for these troops' survival in extreme situations, however, the public reaction to the above wouldn't be favorable.
Read the full article here.


Again? Vehicle rams gate at NSA headquarters, shots fired, one dead

© Reuters/NSA
Gunfire was heard after a vehicle appeared to ram the gates of the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland, on Monday morning. One person has apparently died at the scene of the attack, and another was injured.

Authorities say an officer who was involved at either the crash or the shooting is one of the people injured. Emergency workers were seen carrying a person in uniform to one of the ambulances.

© Screenshot from Google Maps

Comment: From earlier this month: NSA headquarters damaged by multiple gunshots. Something interesting is going on here.


Canadian/UK's Harry Smith: Sets his sights on Stephen Harper

The 92-year-old anti-austerity campaigner, a UK sensation, sets his sights on Canada.

Harry Smith

Harry Smith: 'Since Harper has come into power, everything has gone downhill.'
A sparkling-clean nation where everyone willingly paid their taxes is the Canada that Harry Leslie Smith remembers choosing as a place to raise his family and live his life decades ago.

Now, at 92, Smith has become a sensation in the United Kingdom for his opinion pieces and memoir Harry's Last Stand, in which he draws parallels between his brutal childhood in the U.K. and where the western world is headed today as government austerity grips many of its countries.


Themba & Thandi: A Rhino poacher's mutilation and a man's desperate attempt to save them

Rhino Poaching Trade
Rangers find 3 rhinos, hacked and left for dead by poachers. The heroics of these very few men, will have a truly lasting impact.
From Youtube:

Nearly three years after surviving a brutal poaching attack that left two male rhinos dead, Thandi the rhino gave birth to a calf on 13 January 2015 at Kariega Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. With footage of Thandi and her calf captured moments after the birth, this film by photographer and filmmaker Adrian Steirn documents Thandi's journey from attack to recovery. This is story of the rhino that should never have been born.


Vancouver police: Authoritarian officer smashes driver's window when asked a valid question

Vancouver Police
A YouTube video of a Vancouver police sergeant, who smashed a motorist's window, has raised questions about the rights drivers have when they are pulled over by police.

The testy exchange caught on video shows the unidentified driver opening his window just a crack and infuriating the police officer by not stepping out of the vehicle when he was told to do so.

Instead, the driver repeatedly asked the police officer for an explanation for why he was pulled over.

"Hit the brakes, you moron," the police officer says.

"Sir, why have you pulled me over?" the unidentified driver replies.


Sex trafficking victim says police involved in human slave trade abused and threatened her

police_human trafficing
© Unknown
After years of enduring abuse and sexual exploitation in the human sex trafficking trade, Jessa Dillow-Crisp is telling her story. Part of the details of that story implicates many who were sworn to "serve and protect" who were doing anything but that.

Instead, Dillow-Crisp told an audience at the Colorado State Capitol that many of those involved - on the level of abuse and helping facilitate human trafficking - were police officers.

This revelation came as part of Human Trafficking Awareness and Advocacy Day.

Dillow-Crisp recounted that her victimization began when she was a child, saying that "I was a little girl and was sexually abused by family members. I had to pose for pornographers and was sold to countless men on a daily basis."

She explains that she was trafficked domestically in Canada and throughout the United States.

She knew she had few options to get out, as she couldn't even turn to the police who had themselves taken part in the abuse.

"There was gang raping," she recalled. "The police officer who handcuffed me and raped me, told me I would be put in jail if I opened my voice."


'Tanks? No Thanks!': Czech activists protest military convoy

© still from Ruptly video
Anti-NATO demonstrators protest against the US Army's "Dragoon Ride" military exercise in Prague March 28, 2015.
Several hundred protesters gathered for an anti-NATO rally on Saturday in Prague, protesting against a US military convoy set to parade through the Czech Republic. The rally clashed with a pro-NATO demonstration held nearby.

Footage by RT's Ruptly agency shows anti-war activists carrying flags and placards with logos such as 'Tanks? No Thanks!' and 'Stop US Army.' At the same time, the pro-NATO demonstrators armed themselves with flags in support of the US military forces.

Comment: United they stand, divided they fall.


Cop-caused accidents: The misconduct no one talks about

police car
Violent police are increasingly criticized for everything from killing dogs to shooting the homeless and beating the mentally ill. These abuses of power are disturbing and desperately need attention. One under-discussed problem with police accountability (or lack thereof), however, is police irresponsibility while driving.

Stories about drunk officers driving the wrong direction on freeways and hitting civilians or soberly ramming into pedestrians are not uncommon. This week alone, three cops caused mayhem and fatalities on the road.

In New Jersey, a car of off-duty officers (who had posted a picture of whiskey shots to Instagram earlier that evening) drove the wrong direction on a freeway, killing a civilian and one of the officers in the vehicle. Two other officers were critically injured. The driving officer had a previous DUI and 8 prior accidents on record. The Police Chief of Linden, James Schulhafer, was vague in his comments, saying "We were all young once and I'm sure we've all done stupid things in our life."