Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Not Severely Damaging to Growth, Learning, Study Suggests

Crack Babies: The Epidemic That Wasn’t

Children exposed to cocaine in the womb face serious consequences from the drug, but fortunately not in certain critical physical and cognitive areas as previously believed, according to a new comprehensive review of research on the subject from scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. When a pregnant woman uses cocaine, it can interrupt the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the baby, putting such children at risk for premature birth, low birth weight and many other problems.

The new review of multiple major studies conducted on cocaine-exposed, school-aged children found this negative impact significantly affected children in subtle areas such as sustained attention and self-regulated behavior. The research, however, showed surprisingly little impairment directly from cocaine in key areas such as growth, IQ, academic achievement and language functioning.

Many of the children did have low IQ and poor academic and language achievement. The research suggested, though, that these apparent impairments were often caused by the troublesome home environment that goes along with cocaine use, rather than directly from the cocaine itself.

Read More – Science Daily: Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Not Severely Damaging to Growth, Learning, Study Suggests

See also: Crack Babies: The Epidemic That Wasn’t

The mythical potency of terrorism fear-mongering

fear mongering mcain

Glenn Greenwald:

That Terrorism fear-mongering has long been a central GOP political tactic is beyond dispute, but its current efficacy is far from clear. Just consider a new Washington Post poll released today. After months of GOP and media pummeling of Obama for being generally “soft on terror” and specifically for the crime of using the rule of law against (some) accused Terrorists, Americans approve of Obama’s “handling of the threat of terrorism” by a margin of 56-39 (his highest rating by far on any single issue). […]

Even more compelling evidence is found in the 2006 and 2008 elections. As I documented at length, the centerpiece of Karl Rove’s 2006 midterm strategy was to depict the Democrats as “soft on terror” by virtue of their alleged opposition to warrantless eavesdropping, military commissions, and torture (he arranged votes on those issues right before the election) — yet the Republicans were crushed in that election in one of the most humiliating defeats of the last several decades, losing control of both houses of Congress.

Glenn Greenwald: The mythical potency of terrorism fear-mongering

Also good by Greenwald: Rich Lowry’s brain

Obama advisor suggests “cognitive infiltration”

paranoia circo de invierno

Glenn Greenwald on Nudge co-author Cass Sunstein’s creepy propaganda proposal:

Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama’s closest confidants. Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama’s head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs.” In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and psuedo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here.

Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.” He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”

Glenn Greenwald: The creepy mind-set behind Cass Sunstein’s creepy proposal

See also: Air Force launching blog comment propaganda program

(Photo credit: Circo de Invierno / CC BY 2.0)

Birther Site Is Already Lying About Ft. Hood Shooter and Obama

Jerome Corsi, of Swift Boat infamy, has written a piece connecting Nidal Malik Hasan to Obama on WorldNetDaily (“the leading source of disinformation that the president wasn’t born an American.”)

Corsi points to a Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University paper titled “Thinking Anew – Security Priorities for the Next Administration: Proceedings Report of the HSPI Presidential Transition Task Force” which lists Hasan as “Task Force Event Participant.”

What does that mean? It means Hasan, as Spencer Ackerman writes: “Hasan attended a meeting of a private organization that gave the transition some unsolicited advice.”

Washinton Independent: Birther Site Is Already Lying About Ft. Hood Shooter and Obama

(via Jeremy Scahill)

Media was happy to be bullied by Bush, but Obama is “controlling”

With hypocrisy that pervasive, who could ever hope to take note of all of it? Still, the complaints from America’s Right — and especially former Bush officials — that the Obama administration is attempting to “control the media,” all because the White House criticizes Fox News, is in a class of hypocrisy all by itself. That those petulant complaints are being amplified by a virtually unanimous press corps — “it’s Nixonian!” is their leading group-think cliché — makes it all the more intolerable.

John Cole itemizes just some of the measures adopted by the Bush White House to manipulate, control, punish and bully the very few media outlets which were ever hostile to it — each of those Bush measures, standing alone, is infinitely more invasive and threatening than the mild and perfectly appropriate criticisms of Fox coming from the Obama White House. Indeed, the Bush White House did exactly the same thing with NBC as the Obama White House is doing with Fox, and virtually all of the media stars who today are so righteously lamenting the “attacks on Fox” said nothing. Worse, the very same Bush official who this week said it was “like what dictators do” for the Obama White House to criticize Fox — Dana Perino — herself stood at the White House podium a mere two years ago and did exactly that to NBC News.

But the Bush administration did far worse to media outlets than merely criticize them. They explicitly threatened to prosecute New York Times journalists — to criminally prosecute them — for reporting on Bush’s illegal spying program aimed at American citizens. They imprisoned numerous foreign journalists covering their various wars. The administration’s obsessive and unprecedented secrecy — Dick Cheney refused to disclose even the most basic information about his whereabouts, his meetings, or even the number of staff members he had — was the ultimate form of media control. And what was the Pentagon’s embedding process other than an attempt to control media coverage and ensure favorable reporting? One will search in vain for much media protests about any of that.

But it was the Bush Pentagon’s “military analyst”/domestic propaganda program that was, far and away, the most egregious case in a long, long time of a White House attempting to control media content and political coverage in the United States. […]

Whatever else is true, Fox has taken on a political role that is very rare, at least in modern times, for a large American news organization. Its news coverage is not merely biased or opinionated; there’d be nothing unusual about that. Instead, it is a major participant — the leading participant — in organizing, promoting and fueling protests, including street protests, against the government. Fox has undertaken a role typically played by media outlets in, say, Venezuela or various unstable, under-developed countries — sponsoring rather than reporting on protests against the government — and it is difficult to recall any recent example that is similar.

Glenn Greenwald: What “controlling the media” really means

Greenwald has more, plus citations for the claims he makes in the text above.

Benito Mussolini Was British Intelligence Asset

History remembers Benito Mussolini as a founder member of the original Axis of Evil, the Italian dictator who ruled his country with fear and forged a disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany. But a previously unknown area of Il Duce’s CV has come to light: his brief career as a British agent.

Archived documents have revealed that Mussolini got his start in politics in 1917 with the help of a £100 weekly wage from MI5.

For the British intelligence agency, it must have seemed like a good investment. Mussolini, then a 34-year-old journalist, was not just willing to ensure Italy continued to fight alongside the allies in the first world war by publishing propaganda in his paper. He was also willing to send in the boys to “persuade” peace protesters to stay at home.

Guardian: Recruited by MI5: the name’s Mussolini. Benito Mussolini

(via Cryptogon)

Contracter granted 10m contract for propaganda news site

The secretive US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has awarded arms globocorp General Dynamics a $10m contract to set up a network of psychological-warfare “influence websites” supporting the Global War On Terror. France and Britain are specifically included as “targeted regions”. […]

The SOCOM psywar sites will be run much in the same fashion as any normal web-media portal. There will be “indigenous content stringers and editors” within “targeted regions” providing 24-hour “original features, news, sports, entertainment, economics, politics, cultural reports, business, and similar items of interest to targeted readers”.

Register: US Spec Ops operates psywar websites targeted at UK

(via Cryptogon)

I guess if all newspapers fold, we’ll always at least have state propaganda. See also: Voices of America.

Real Life Death Panels

As the United States debates how to overhaul its health-care system, arguments have become increasingly outlandish — perhaps none more so than former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s assertion that the Obama administration plans to implement state-sponsored “death panels” to determine whether the elderly and infirm deserve life-saving medical treatment. Writing in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Palin doubled down on her claims, saying that though “establishment voices” dismissed them, they nonetheless “rang true for many Americans.”

Of course, the U.S. government has no plans to “pull the plug on grandma”; the claims were false and the provision that sparked the rumors – a measure providing for free advice on how individuals can create living wills to inform their doctors and families what kind of end-of-life care they want — was removed from prospective legislation, just in case. But Foreign Policy took a close look around the world, in places where something akin to death panels is alive and well. […]

In 1999, as governor of Texas, former U.S. President George W. Bush signed legislation giving medical professionals an unprecedented level of autonomous power and creating perhaps the country’s only example of a “death panel” in action. […]

So, what about literal death panels? Fifty-eight countries still use the death penalty today, and they have a broad range of trial, appeals, and execution processes. The United States and Japan are the only OECD countries that still execute criminals for the crimes of murder and treason. (Other countries have not outlawed it outright, but no longer apply it.) Both have extensive review and appeals processes, and take years between conviction and execution. And, in both, the country’s Supreme Court is essentially the highest-ranking “death panel,” the last recourse for those looking to overturn their verdicts or commute their sentences.

Foreign Policy: Real Life Death Panels

(via OVO)

Why we believe lies, even when we learn the truth

For their study, the scientists whittled down surveys filled out by 246 voters, of whom 73 percent believed in a Saddam-9/11 link, to 49 believers who were willing to be interviewed at length in October 2004. Even after the 49 were shown newspaper articles reporting that the 9/11 Commission had not found any evidence linking Saddam and 9/11, and quoting President Bush himself denying it, 48 stuck to their guns: yup, Saddam Hussein, directly or indirectly, brought down the Twin Towers.

When the scientists asked the participants why they believed in the link, they offered many justifications. Five argued that Saddam supported terrorism generally, or that evidence of a link to 9/11 might yet emerge. These counterarguments are not entirely illogical. But almost everyone else offered some version of “I don’t know; I don’t know anything”—that is, outright confusion over the conflict between what they believed and what the facts showed—or switched subjects to the invasion of Iraq. As one put it, when asked about his Saddam-9/11 belief, “There is no doubt in my mind that if we did not deal with Saddam Hussein when we did, it was just a matter of time when we would have to deal with him.” In other words, holding fast to the Saddam-9/11 belief helped people make sense of the decision to go to war against Iraq.

Newsweek: Why we believe lies, even when we learn the truth

(via Spinegrinder)

The peasant mentality lives on in America

After all, the reason the winger crowd can’t find a way to be coherently angry right now is because this country has no healthy avenues for genuine populist outrage. It never has. The setup always goes the other way: when the excesses of business interests and their political proteges in Washington leave the regular guy broke and screwed, the response is always for the lower and middle classes to split down the middle and find reasons to get pissed off not at their greedy bosses but at each other. That’s why even people like Beck’s audience, who I’d wager are mostly lower-income people, can’t imagine themselves protesting against the Wall Street barons who in actuality are the ones who fucked them over. Beck pointedly compared the AIG protesters to Bolsheviks: “[The Communists] basically said ‘Eat the rich, they did this to you, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” He then said the AIG and G20 protesters were identical: “It’s a different style, but the sentiments are exactly the same: Find ‘em, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” Beck has an audience that’s been trained that the rich are not appropriate targets for anger, unless of course they’re Hollywood liberals, or George Soros, or in some other way linked to some acceptable class of villain, to liberals, immigrants, atheists, etc. — Ted Turner, say, married to Jane Fonda.

But actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated.

Matt Taibi: The peasant mentality lives on in America

(via Chris Arkenberg)

Remember: Any government attempts to curb the powers of the wealthy is socialism/communism/fascism and will ultimately lead to the mass enslavement of the American people. The ONLY solution to ALL our problems is reduced regulation of big business.

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