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Sat, 25 Jan 2020
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MindMatters: Halloween Special: Oh the Horror! Why Do People Like Getting Scared?

halloween special
It's that time of year again: when All Saints's Day, the Day of the Dead, and Halloween come around and our propensity to view or read some horror becomes that much more likely. But why do we indulge in horrific stories year around? Or better put - why do we seem to enjoy horror? What is it about horror, which can be so unpleasant - yet makes people crave a dose of the willies from time to time? Is the viewing or reading of it cathartic? A reminder of something intrinsic to the human experience? Can it even be healthy in a way? Or is it just morbid fascination? Maybe all of the above?

This week on MindMatters we take a look at some of our favorite scary books and movies and, in an effort to answer the questions posed, get into those stories and ideas that we find truly frightening; a top 5 more or less. We'll also be sharing some of our own scary experiences, and seeing what, if anything about them, has brought value to our lives and a greater understanding of the world in which we live.

Running Time: 01:34:14

Download: MP3 — 86.3 MB

Cowboy Hat

'Lucky' Trump Basks in Glory of Russia's Landmark Security Achievement in Syria

trump speech
Russia has pulled off an impressive security deal to avoid escalation of violence and war in Syria. It's a win-win formula for peace, drawn up by Russia and Turkey. Arguably, the luckiest beneficiary is US President Donald Trump.

Although, you wouldn't think that listening to Trump's trumpeting about the latest ceasefire, worked out by Russia and Turkey. The American leader arrogated all praise for the peace accord as being "an outcome created by us, the United States... No other nation did this."

In Trump's vainglory, he reckons his dubious policy shift earlier this month, which many saw as a shameful betrayal of the Kurds, was the precursor for the Sochi memorandum creating a new peace corridor in northeast Syria, to be overseen by Russia, Turkey, and Syrian state forces.

It's like someone who throws down a basket of eggs. Then, when someone else comes along and somehow turns the mess into an omelette, the original wrecker slaps himself on the back for being a gourmet chef.


SJWs as Bourgeois Bolshies: Book Review of 'The House of Government'

soviet pride poster LGBT
© designboom.com
I'm reading one of the best books I've ever seen, historian Yuri Slezkine's The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution. It's a massive — over 1,000 pages — history of the Bolshevik movement, focusing on the people who lived in a vast apartment building constructed across the Moskva River from the Kremlin, for party elites. In the 1930s, during the purges, it was the most dangerous address in the country. The secret police came for people there all the time.

The book has given me a breakthrough in understanding why so many people who grew up under communism are unnerved by what's going on in the West today, even if they can't all articulate it beyond expressing intense but inchoate anxiety about political correctness. Reading Slezkine, a UC-Berkeley historian, clarifies things immensely. Let me explain as concisely as I can. All of this is going into the book I'm working on, by the way.

In my book, I identify two main factors that make the "soft totalitarianism" we're drifting into different from the hard totalitarianism of the communist years. One is the vastly greater capabilities of surveillance technology, and its penetration into daily life in this current stage of capitalism. The other is the pseudo-religion of Social Justice, the holy trinity of which is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The mathematician James Lindsay last year wrote an insightful essay analyzing Social Justice ideology as a kind of postmodern religion ("faith system," he writes). Reading Slezkine on Bolshevism illuminates this with new depth.


Vladimir Putin, Syria's Pacifier-in-Chief

Russia-Turkey deal establishes 'safe zone' along Turkish border and there will be joint Russia-Turkey military patrols
putin erdogan sochi

The negotiations in Sochi were long - over six hours - tense and tough. Two leaders in a room with their interpreters and several senior Turkish ministers close by if advice was needed. The stakes were immense: a road map to pacify northeast Syria, finally.

The press conference afterwards was somewhat awkward - riffing on generalities. But there's no question that in the end Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed the near-impossible.

The Russia-Turkey deal establishes a safe zone along the Syrian-Turkish border - something Erdogan had been gunning for since 2014. There will be joint Russia-Turkey military patrols. The Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Units), part of the rebranded, US-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces, will need to retreat and even disband, especially in the stretch between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, and they will have to abandon their much-cherished urban areas such as Kobane and Manbij. The Syrian Arab Army will be back in the whole northeast. And Syrian territorial integrity - a Putin imperative - will be preserved.

Comment: As we suspected, the Turkish 'invasion' of northeastern Syria last month was more like an incursion done with a view to stimulating Syrian-Kurdish cooperation, presenting Trump with a problem if American troops got caught in the crossfire.

Trump probably saw through the ruse, but to his credit he played along with it and spun US troops' withdrawal from the border region into a 'win' in terms of his electoral promise to 'end endless wars'.

Trump can claim all the credit if he wants, but everyone knows there's only one peacemaker...
Putin peacemaker
© dailystar
Putin banner that says 'Peacemaker' hangs over Manhattan Bridge, New York, 6 Oct, 2016

Heart - Black

Only Cowards, Sadists And Sellouts Support The Persecution of Assange

assange court
© Matt Dunham/Associated Press
Julain Assange is taken from court, where he appeared on charges of jumping bail seven years ago, in London.
Former British ambassador Craig Murray has published a very disturbing account of Julian Assange's court appearance yesterday which I recommend reading in full. There have been many reports published about Assange's case management hearing, but the combination of Murray's prior experience with torture victims, his familiarity with British courts, his friendship with Assange, and his lack of reverence for western power structures allowed for a much more penetrating insight into what happened than anyone else has been able to provide so far.

Here is a small excerpt:

Comment: Ruptly (again) managed to get more footage of Assange, this time inside a paddywagon transporting him from court back to prison:


World in Flames: Why Are Protests Raging Around The Globe?

chile protest
Protests and demonstrations have rocked every corner of the world in recent days, with tax hikes, corruption and supposed environmental injustice all raising public anger. But why have they spread?

Watching the news over the last week, one would be convinced that the world has devolved into a series of flashpoints, with corrupt governments across the political spectrum facing the wrath of their enraged citizens. To be fair, that's not far from the truth.

Four continents have seen anti-government demonstrations over the last week, many of them sparked by seemingly innocuous taxes or changes to the law. In Lebanon, protesters have set Beirut ablaze in response to a proposed fee of 20 cents per day on internet voice calls, dubbed the "WhatsApp tax." Chileans set metro stations on fire following a $1.17 increase in public transport fares, and the streets of Ecuador are filled with rubble after a planned removal of fuel subsidies triggered mass unrest.

Comment: By the way, the above was not an exhaustive list of the rebellions that have erupted in the last few weeks/months. There's Haiti, Iraq, Indonesia, the ongoing stand-off in Venezuela of course, Algeria...

Each protest movement is motivated by different things of course. Still, many of them have much in common, especially where they involve mass resistance against onerous taxation and so-called austerity measures. That and the fact that people in almost all countries are subject to overwhelming barrages of fake news on a daily basis.

Other protest movements lack an 'internal logic', as is the case in Hong Kong, where extremists are now calling for full independence from China - where no such political demand existed just several weeks ago. These ones are geopolitical in nature, a form of 'proxy warfare' substantially directed from without.

Then there are entirely fake movements, like the 'Extinction Rebellion' in London, an elite-driven project. However, as deluded as the middle class participants in this latter movement are, they might - in a roundabout way - be the most 'on topic'.

Whatever their outward, stated rationale for protesting, it strikes us that people generally are 'acting out' because they sense that something is seriously 'amiss' with the world. Greta got one thing right y'know: we are living through the Sixth Extinction (except it's NOT man-made)...

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Objective:Health #34 - The Healing Potential of Psychedelics

O:H header
In the 1960s in the US, the psychedelic drug subculture exploded out into the mainstream, bringing with it promises of peace and love, ushering in the 'Age of Aquarius' (whatever that means).

Unfortunately, all they really accomplished was scaring the crap out of 'the authorities', who subsequently made all psychedelics illegal. Thus all the therapeutic potential of the drugs, which had already been studied for over a decade previously, ground to a screeching halt. Scientists could no longer get access to these promising substances.

Today we seem to be witnessing a cautious renaissance of study on psychedelics. Government regulators have been loosening restrictions on researchers who have taken up where their forefathers in the 50s left off. Scientists at well-respected institutions such as Johns Hopkins University have been investigating the benefits of psilocybin on those dying from cancer, for example.

Preliminary results of psychedelic research are showing benefits in cases of crippling depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addictions. There is the potential that the substances could benefit many other conditions as well.

Join us for a discussion on the healing potential of psychedelics - so much more than party drugs! And be sure to stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment, where she gives us some examples of extreme animal births.

And check us out on Brighteon!

For other health-related news and more, you can find us on:

♥Twitter: https://twitter.com/objecthealth
♥Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/objecthealth/

And you can check out all of our previous shows (pre YouTube) here.

Running Time: 01:11:59

Download: MP3 — 65.4 MB

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MindMatters: The Value And Relevance of Joker

Amidst much controversy and warning from the 'woke' media, 'concerned citizens' - and even the US military - the movie Joker landed in theaters just a few weeks ago. We were told that the film would empower incels, inspire shootings and have a deleterious effect on the general public - "so don't go!!" In an effort to get to the bottom of all the rancor (and take a break from our computers) we went to go see it for ourselves. And what we realized about the film is that it was not only being grossly misrepresented by very influential groups and individuals, but actually had quite a lot to say that could not be more relevant to some of the most urgent issues facing Western society.

This week on MindMatters we examine the themes and subtexts of this nihilistic anti-hero story: how Joker holds a mirror up to our contemporary societal malaise - and how the film succeeds in its functioning as art. We also look at how it strips away the charismatic "clown prince of crime" and agent of chaos - into a much more clinical, nuanced and accurate reading of the criminal mind, and just why this depiction is so insightful, rightfully disturbing, and extremely valuable to a public that is all too used to two-dimensional representations of evil in popular culture.

Running Time: 01:54:24

Download: MP3 — 105 MB


Tulsi Nails it on National TV: US Regime-Change Wars

Tulsi Gabbard
© Stefani Reynolds
Tulsi Gabbard
No wonder Democratic Party bosses and mainstream media are trying to bury presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard. She is the only candidate, perhaps the only politician in the US, who is telling the American public exactly what they need to know about what their government and military are really up to: fighting illegal regime-change wars, and to boot, sponsoring terrorists for that purpose.

It didn't come much clearer nor more explicit than when Gabbard fired up the Democratic TV debate this week. It was billed as the biggest televised presidential debate ever, and the Hawaii Representative told some prime-time home-truths to the nation:

"Donald Trump has blood of the Kurds on his hands, but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime-change war in Syria that started in 2011... along with many in the mainstream media who have been championing and cheer-leading this regime-change war."

Comment: Outspoken, brave, truthful - which is why the establishment wants to shut her down:

Tulsi Gabbard takes the gloves off on Twitter:


Turkish Invasion of Syria, Day 10: 'Ceasefire' Goes Into Effect, Followed by Immediate Violations - UPDATES

turkish tank
© Reuters / Murad Sezer
Turkey has confirmed reaching an agreement with the US on temporarily halting its military operation against Kurdish-led militias in northern Syria but refused to call it a 'ceasefire', adding that it will go on with its plans.

'Operation Peace Spring' will be seized for five days, Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu announced. It came just as US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - currently on a visit to Ankara - were breaking the same news to journalists there.

While saying that the Turkish Army would indeed stop a further incursion and let the Kurdish YPG militias - which Ankara calls a 'terrorist organization' - leave the 'safe zone', Cavusolgu still refused to call it a ceasefire. Such a thing is only possible between "two legitimate sides," he told the local media.

Comment: Because the Turkish side is so "legitimate" - complete with jihadist lunatics.

He also said that Turkey intends to pursue its initial strategy and create a 32-kilometer deep 'safe zone' along its border with Syria stretching from the Euphrates River to Syria's border with Iraq. He added that, under the fresh deal with the US, this zone would be controlled by Turkish troops.

Another part of the agreement involves the "collection" of all heavy arms from the YPG (key force of the Kurdish-led SDF) and destruction of their positions in the area. That said, Cavusoglu made it clear that Turkey did not give America any "guarantees" on the fate of such cities as Kobani (liberated in 2015 from Islamic State by the Kurds).

Comment: The Syrians and Russians currently hold Kobani, so the Turks would have to start another war in order to take it. As for the ceasefire, the Syrian Kurds welcomed the decision:
Senior Kurdish official Aldar Khalil welcomed on Thursday the agreement between the United States and Turkey on a ceasefire in Syria, Al-Arabiya television reported. "We welcome the truce," Khalil said. According to Khalil, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced to compromise and agree to the ceasefire "because of the Kurdish resistance."

Later, SDF commander Mazloum Kobani said that they accept the agreement with Turkey and will do what's needed to make it succeed, Ronahi TV reported. He added, however, that the ceasefire agreement is just the beginning and will not achieve Turkey's goals.
Despite demanding such a move, top Democrats are naturally criticizing it - because Trump - saying it destroys U.S. credibility (as if the U.S. didn't lose what credibility it had years ago):
Can Trump do anything right? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer don't seem to think so, calling his agreement to pause Turkey's military campaign in northeastern Syria a "sham."

The US-Turkey agreement to pause Ankara's operation "seriously undermines the credibility of America's foreign policy and sends a dangerous message to our allies and adversaries alike that our word cannot be trusted," Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement on Thursday.
President Erdogan has given up nothing, and President Trump has given him everything.
Just last week, however, the pair were tearing their hair out over what they were certain was the impending genocide of the Kurds at Turkey's hands. Pelosi called President Donald Trump's decision to pull troops out of northern Syria in order to clear the way for the Turkish anti-terror operation "a foolish attempt to appease an authoritarian strongman," while Schumer insisted Trump was "putting America in danger."

With Trump having "rescued" the Kurds from the doom predicted by his opponents - though Ankara has insisted all along that their quarrel is not with the Kurds, but with the PKK, a Kurdish militia group designated terrorists by Turkey, and its alleged offshoot in Syria - the top Democrats have rushed to condemn the deal he made, though it's hard to see how anyone loses under the agreement.
Assad advisor Bouthaina Shaaban commented on the agreement and the surrounding issue of potential Kurdish autonomy:
"Of course we cannot accept it," Shaaban said in an interview with al-Mayadeen television responding to the question of whether Damascus could accept a "copy" of Iraqi Kurdistan on its territory.

"There are no grounds for this [Kurdish autonomy] ... We will never be able to speak about it from such an angle, since Syria consists of many ethnic and religious layers, and we do not say that someone is a Kurd, or someone follows such and such religion, we simply don't say that. The majority of the Kurds are a precious part of our society for us, but some Kurdish organizations have made a political decision that is contrary to the interests of the country," Shaaban stressed.

"The ceasefire agreement announced by the US and Turkey is unclear," Shaaban also said in an interview with al-Mayadeen television. "As for the term a 'security zone,' it is incorrect: what Turkey really implies is a zone of occupation," she added.
Republican Mitt Romney - another idiot - is also criticizing Trump's Syria withdrawal, saying it "will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history." Jesus, Mitch, you really think this will stand out compared to the utter bloodbaths of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other nations the U.S. has invaded? Get a grip.

The SDF reports that Turkish forces have already violated the ceasefire by attacking Ras al-Ayn, killing at least one SDF fighter. SOHR repots that a series of Turkish airstrikes targeted the town, killing 4 SDF, 7 civilians and injuring 21. Syrian media reports that the Turks have used chemical weapons in their attacks on the Kurds in Ras al-Din. The SDF say the Turks used phosphorus weapons:
After meeting with US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien in Ankara on Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that "information emerged that terror groups are intending to use chemical weapons and blame it on Turkish military".

"Turkish military does not have any chemical weapon in its inventory, everybody knows this," the defense minister added.
The Turkish-backed jihadists have been using U.S.-made TOW missiles against the SDF.

Erdogan will meet Putin on October 22:
"There will be a meeting with Putin in Sochi on Tuesday. Our aim is to identify an acceptable solution. We want the areas under the control of the Syrian government to be cleared of militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] and the Self Defense Forces [YPG]," told a news conference in Istanbul on October 18, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

The Turkish President went on to state that he has no objections against placing the "safe-zone" under the Damascus government's control.

After talking with Trump, Erdogan has promised a "new page" in relations with the U.S.:
"My counterpart is Trump. Just as we hold necessary talks on the phone, we will also hold face-to-face meetings that will turn a new page in Turkish-US ties, a new milestone," he said on Friday. "Trump's circle supporting his positive approach will make our work easier."

Though he initially vowed he would "never stop this fight, no matter what anyone says," Erdogan has backed off somewhat in recent days. With the incursion paused for 120 hours starting Thursday, the Turkish leader has signaled his willingness to negotiate with Washington, and will involve Russian President Vladimir Putin in discussions.
He also promised to "crush the heads" of any Kurdish militias who don't leave the area by the end of the 5-day pause.

The Turkish military accused Kurdish forces of violating the ceasefire, carrying out "14 attacks in the last 36 hours". The Syrian army reportedly clashed with Turkish-backed jihadists near Ras al-Ayn, preventing the terrorists from taking a village. Here are some videos and pictures of the Syrians entering Kobani for the first time since 2012:

Assad again has called for the withdrawal of all illegal forces from Syria:
The Syrian President made the statement during a meeting with a Russian delegation headed by special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev in Damascus on Friday.

"Assad confirmed that efforts should be directed at ending this [Turkish] aggression and the pullout of all illegal forces, including the Turkish and American soldiers, from Syrian territory since they are considered occupying forces under international convention," the press service pointed out.

Lavrentyev, in turn, underscored Russia's firm support for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Friday meeting came a day after Assad pledged that Damascus would give a relevant response to Turkey's military operation.

"No matter what false slogans could be made up for the Turkish offensive, it is a flagrant invasion and aggression. Syria has frequently hit [Turkish-backed] proxies and terrorists in more than one place. Syria will respond to the assault and confront it anywhere within the Syrian territory through all legitimate means available", Assad stressed during his talks with Iraqi National Security Adviser Falih al-Fayyadh.
Hilariously, Macron says he found out about the U.S. withdrawal on Twitter. He called the Turkish offensive "madness" and criticized NATO's reaction:
He also criticized NATO's position in the debacle and its inability to react to the unfolding situation as a "serious mistake" that "weakens our credibility to find partners on the ground who will be by our side thinking they are protected in the long-term."

"So that raises questions on how NATO functions," Macron added.
Trump has caused some confusion by claiming on Twitter that the U.S. managed to "secure the oil" in Syria. Will U.S. troops remain in eastern Syria, and not just in al-Tanf? A military source told Al-Masdar News that U.S. forces aren't withdrawing from the oil-field regions of Deir Ezzor and don't plan to.

And finally, some videos of Russians in the abandoned U.S. bases:
The journalists included a correspondent from Zvezda, the official television channel of Russia's Defence Ministry. The correspondent gave a tour of what remains of the base, which was built about three years ago, and is situated about 7 km outside the town of Manbij itself.

Along with an estimated 300 US servicemen, the base housed about 15 vehicles, which US forces used to patrol the area.

"It appears that US forces managed to evacuate only their weapons, ammunition and vehicles; they weren't even able to set fire to the base. However, it seems they understood perfectly well who would come to replace them. Across the base one finds messages for Russians," the correspondent explained, pointing to a makeshift drawing of a bald eagle with the phrase "America is watching - always watching" written on its feathers. Separately, he pointed to a book with the message "With love from the US Army" written into its cover.

Zvezda's reporters weren't the only ones to make it into the base, with News-Front posting another video featuring several more of the so-called "messages to Russians" mentioned by the outlet, including a whiteboard with the message "WE LOVE USA, heart, Russia @realDONALDTRUMP" and "#TheComrades" and a separate whiteboard proclaiming that American Nike was better than Adidas (the German clothing brand preferred by Russians, according to US pop culture) and that whiskey was superior to vodka.

At about 9:50 into the video the correspondent discovers a notebook with the phrase "I expect Nothing from this deployment, and I'm still let down," in the cover.

The videos also showed other areas of the base, including a soundproof room believed to have been the base's command centre, the canteen, laundry room, barracks, and more.
For previous analyses and updates, see: