Revving Up the War Machine for Another Military Adventure (Disaster) in Syria or Elsewhere

Likely bad news in foreign policy will appear soon. U.S. military intervention has caused immense problems in the past several decades.

GLENN GREENWALD: So, obviously, the use of chemical weapons in any instance is horrific. It’s a war crime. It’s heinous. And it ought to be strongly condemned by everybody. I think that it’s—the evidence is quite overwhelming that the perpetrators of this chemical weapons attack, as well as previous ones, is the Assad government, although, in war, there are always lots of reasons to doubt, and we certainly shouldn’t run off and make hasty decisions, until there’s a real investigation, to make the evidence available.

I think the more important question at the moment is: What is the actual solution? Obviously, what’s happening in Syria is and long has been a horrific humanitarian crisis, filled with war crimes committed by pretty much every actor there. The Assad government has killed more people than any other. But the question is: What solutions do you think are viable? Do you think that having Israel fly fighter jets over Syria and bomb whoever they decide is their enemy is something that’s really going to help the humanitarian crisis? As Israel slaughters innocent Gazan protesters and uses snipers to end the lives of journalists who are wearing press jackets, do you really think that Netanyahu is going to help the situation in Syria? Do you think that Donald Trump is going to be able to command a military action that is going to do any good for the people of Syria? Does anyone think that that would be the goal of Trump’s military action or the role of the United States government revving up its war machine, that would end up helping the Syrians?

I think we ought to have learned the lesson by now that when we cheer for military action by Western governments in the Middle East, because we’ve been emotionally manipulated to be angry about some genuinely horrific act, it doesn’t end up doing anything other than making us feel good, and it usually ends up making the situation worse. So I think it’s possible and necessary to express moral outrage at the chemical weapons attack and other attacks on Syrian civilians, while at the same time remaining sober and rational and careful about how we allow our emotions to be funneled and channeled in order to try and come up with solutions.

[…]

As far as Bolton is concerned, obviously, Bolton is a sociopath. He’s one of the most dangerous foreign policy advisers and officials of the last 15 years. People in the Bush administration who served with him and who served with people like Dick Cheney and John Yoo and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz—actual sociopathic maniacs, as well—have said that John Bolton was probably the most unstable and dangerous person in the Bush administration. And now he’s about to move into—or he has moved into an extremely influential position, advising Trump in the White House on matters of national security. But again, it is true that there is a big movement on the right and on the left to oppose U.S. intervention in Syria, on the grounds that it’s not in the U.S. interest to try and control what’s happening in Syria. We’ll see where Bolton falls on that. I mean, one of Bolton’s primary dreams in life is to go to war with Iran. And so, opposing Assad is one way to achieve that. He’s also a loyalist to Israel, and Israel seems to want Assad gone. So it’s very dangerous right now, given who’s in power and this pro-war orthodoxy that is arising almost automatically in Washington, given how high the stakes are and how inflammatory that situation is.

[…]

And this is why, Amy, I think that, you know, the whole debate around Russia over the last 12 months has been so dangerous, because this climate has been created in Washington, the premise of which is that Vladimir Putin and Russia are an existential threat to the United States, that they’re our prime enemy, much like they were during the Cold War, and that we need to confront them further, and any failure on the part of Donald Trump to confront Putin militaristically and directly is proof that he did collude with the Russians or is an agent of Russia. And it’s created this incentive scheme on the part of the Trump administration to try and confront Russia even further. And that is what they’re doing. And it’s a very dangerous game to play, given that Russia and the United States still have thousands of missiles with nuclear tips aimed at each other’s cities, with very archaic, unreliable trigger systems from the Cold War still in place governing how those missiles could be used.

Exercise Can Reverse Damage Caused by Heart Aging

Another one of the benefits of exercise reveals itself.

Exercise can reverse damage to sedentary, aging hearts and help prevent risk of future heart failure — if it’s enough exercise, and if it’s begun in time, according to a new study by cardiologists at UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources.

To reap the most benefit, the exercise regimen should begin by late middle age (before age 65), when the heart apparently retains some plasticity and ability to remodel itself, according to the findings by researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM), which is a collaboration between UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

And the exercise needs to be performed four to five times a week. Two to three times a week was not enough, the researchers found in an earlier study.

“Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the past 5 years, this ‘dose’ of exercise has become my prescription for life,” said senior author Dr. Benjamin Levine, Director of the Institute and Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern. “I think people should be able to do this as part of their personal hygiene — just like brushing your teeth and taking a shower.”

[…]

Sedentary aging can lead to a stiffening of the muscle in the heart’s left ventricle, the chamber that pumps oxygen-rich blood back out to the body, he explained.

“When the muscle stiffens, you get high pressure and the heart chamber doesn’t fill as well with blood. In its most severe form, blood can back up into the lungs. That’s when heart failure develops,” said Dr. Levine, who holds the S. Finley Ewing Chair for Wellness at Texas Health Dallas and the Harry S. Moss Heart Chair for Cardiovascular Research. He also holds the Distinguished Professorship in Exercise Sciences at UT Southwestern, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Earlier research by UT Southwestern cardiologists showed that left ventricular stiffening often shows up in middle age in people who don’t exercise and aren’t fit, leaving them with small, stiff chambers that can’t pump blood as well.

However, the researchers also found that the heart chamber in competitive masters-level athletes remains large and elastic, and that even four to five days of committed exercise over decades is enough for noncompetitive athletes to reap most of this benefit.

Research: Strong Evidence for Alcohol Causing DNA Damage

It relates to alcohol’s property as a carcinogen.

Scientists have shown how alcohol damages DNA in stem cells, helping to explain why drinking increases your risk of cancer, according to research part-funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Nature today (Wednesday).

Much previous research looking at the precise ways in which alcohol causes cancer has been done in cell cultures. But in this study, researchers have used mice to show how alcohol exposure leads to permanent genetic damage.

Scientists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, gave diluted alcohol, chemically known as ethanol, to mice. They then used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to examine the genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, a harmful chemical produced when the body processes alcohol.

They found that acetaldehyde can break and damage DNA within blood stem cells leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently altering the DNA sequences within these cells.

It is important to understand how the DNA blueprint within stem cells is damaged because when healthy stem cells become faulty, they can give rise to cancer.

These new findings therefore help us to understand how drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing 7 types of cancer including common types like breast and bowel.

Professor Ketan Patel, lead author of the study and scientist, part funded by Cancer Research UK, at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, said: “Some cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells. While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage.”

The study also examined how the body tries to protect itself against damage caused by alcohol. The first line of defence is a family of enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH). These enzymes break down harmful acetaldehyde into acetate, which our cells can use as a source of energy.

Worldwide, millions of people, particularly those from South East Asia, either lack these enzymes or carry faulty versions of them. So, when they drink, acetaldehyde builds up which causes a flushed complexion, and also leads to them feeling unwell.

In the study, when mice lacking the critical ALDH enzyme — ALDH2 — were given alcohol, it resulted in four times as much DNA damage in their cells compared to mice with the fully functioning ALDH2 enzyme.

The second line of defence used by cells is a variety of DNA repair systems which, most of the time, allow them to fix and reverse different types of DNA damage. But they don’t always work and some people carry mutations which mean their cells aren’t able to carry out these repairs effectively.

Professor Patel added: “Our study highlights that not being able to process alcohol effectively can lead to an even higher risk of alcohol-related DNA damage and therefore certain cancers. But it’s important to remember that alcohol clearance and DNA repair systems are not perfect and alcohol can still cause cancer in different ways, even in people whose defence mechanisms are intact.”

This research was funded by Cancer Research UK, Wellcome and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s expert on cancer prevention, said: “This thought-provoking research highlights the damage alcohol can do to our cells, costing some people more than just a hangover.

“We know that alcohol contributes to over 12,000 cancer cases in the UK each year, so it’s a good idea to think about cutting down on the amount you drink.”

Loneliness Can Damage Health, Can Possibly Cause Neurological Problems

Loneliness is often a serious problem in an industrialized society. If you’re really feeling down, you can send me an email or try to contact me otherwise, for whatever that’s worth. I know the struggle of isolation all too well, and I therefore feel some responsibility for trying to help others through that.

It turns out that feeling lonely can do more than make you sad: It can predict the way your body will respond to and bounce back from various health challenges. Lonely people are more likely to get sick, and researchers want to know why.

Three of them recently spoke about the current state of loneliness research and how scientists are responding. You can listen to their discussion on Aspen Ideas to Go, the podcast of the Aspen Ideas Festival, or watch the discussion online.

The 40-minute conversation covers such topics as what loneliness seems to do in the body — including increased inflammation and neurological and genetic changes — and how health-care providers are reacting.

For years, researchers have linked loneliness to poor health. People who say that they’re lonely are more likely to have dementia and inflammation, and to die prematurely. And in research presented to the American Psychological Association this summer, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor at Brigham Young University who participated on the Aspen panel, posited that loneliness is a bigger public health risk than obesity.