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Jul 18, 2018, 02:21 PM
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 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:27 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
The week in wildlife – in pictures

Pacific walruses, Tapanuli orangutan twins and a moon bear are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

Compiled by Eric Hilaire
14 Jul 2018 14.33 BST

Click here to see all: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2018/jul/13/the-week-in-wildlife-in-pictures

 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:22 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Heatwave sees record high temperatures around world this week

From Europe to Africa, extreme and widespread heat raises climate concerns in hottest La Niña year to date on record

Jonathan Watts
14 Jul 2018 16.28 BST

Record high temperatures have been set across much of the world this week as an unusually prolonged and broad heatwave intensifies concerns about climate change.

The past month has seen power shortages in California as record heat forced a surge of demand for air conditioners. Algeria has experienced the hottest temperature ever reliably registered in Africa. Britain, meanwhile, has experienced its third longest heatwave, melting the roof of a science building in Glasgow and exposing ancient hill forts in Wales.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the rising temperatures were at odds with a global cyclical climate phenomena known as La Niña, which is usually associated with cooling.

“The first six months of the year have made it the hottest La Niña year to date on record,” said Clare Nullis of the WMO.

Taiwan is the most recent place to report a new high with a temperature of 40.3C in Tianxiang on Monday. This followed a flurry of other anomalies.

Last week, a weather station at Ouargla in Algeria’s Sahara Desert, reported a maximum temperature of 51.3C on 5 July, the highest temperature reliably recorded in Africa.

Even when the sun goes down, night is not providing the cooling relief it once did in many parts of the world. At Quriyat, on the coast of Oman, overnight temperatures remained above 42.6C, which is believed to be the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in the world. Downtown Los Angeles also saw a new monthly July minimum overnight record of 26.1C on 7 July.

Globally, the warmest year on record was in 2016, boosted by the natural climate cycle El Niño. Last year, temperatures hit the highest level without that amplifying phenomenon. This year, at the other cooling end of the cycle, is continuing the overall upward trend.

Swathes of the northern hemisphere have seen unusually persistent warmth due to strong, persistent high pressure systems that have created a “heat dome” over much of Eurasia.

“What’s unusual is the hemispheric scale of the heatwave,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s not just the magnitude in any one location but that high temperatures are being seen over such a large area.”

Northern Russia’s exceptionally sunny weather – seen on TV by billions thanks to the World Cup – has caused wildfires that affected 80,000 hectares of forest near the Krasnoyarsk region, which reported daily anomalies of 7C above average. The Western Siberian Hydromet Center has issued storm warnings after temperatures of more than 30C for five days. Climate watchers fear this will accelerate the melting of permafrost, releasing methane – a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

In California, daytime records were also set last week at Chino (48.9C), Burbank airport (45.6C) and Van Nuys airport (47.2C). In Canada, at least 54 deaths have been attributed to the prolonged heatwave and high humidity in Quebec. Montreal saw a new record high temperature of 36.6C on 2 July.

In Europe, the WMO has warned of droughts, wildfires and harvest losses after the second hottest June on record. Over the past two weeks, records have been set in Tbilisi (40.5C), Shannon (32C), and Belfast (29.5C)

Britain has cooled slightly in the past two days, after 17 days of temperatures over 28C. This was the third longest heatwave on record, following the record 19-day run in 2013 and the famous summer of 1976, when there were two prolonged spells of 18 days and 15 days. Dean Hall of the UK’s Met Office said Britain’s temperatures were forecast to rise again over the coming week.

The concern is that weather fronts – hot and cold – are being blocked more frequently due to climate change. This causes droughts and storms to linger, amplifying the damage they cause. This was a factor in the recent devastating floods in Japan, where at least 150 people died after rainfall up to four times the normal level.

Paolo Ruti of the WMO said it was difficult to ascribe any one weather event to climate change, but that recent high temperatures, intense rains and slow-moving fronts were in line with forecasts of how rising emissions will affect the climate.

“Recent analysis suggests that anthropogenic forcing might indeed affect the characteristics of summer blocking events in the Euro-Asia sector, in particular leading to longer blocking episodes,” he said.

Extreme weather events have buffeted much of the world over the past 12months, from the “Day Zero” drought in Cape Town to the abnormally powerful hurricanes Harvey and Irma that buffeted the east coast of the US and Caribbean.

Underscoring the link, a new report from scientists at the World Weather Attribution group indicates that manmade climate change and its effect on rainfall made the recent Cape Town drought three times more likely.

 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:19 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Russian Asbestos Company Makes Trump Its Poster Boy


Asbestos killed at least 45,221 Americans between 1999 and 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found. But President Donald Trump has long expressed his support for the dangerous mineral currently banned by 65 countries.

"If we didn't remove incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that doesn't work, the World Trade Center would never have burned down," he tweeted in 2012.

Now, Uralasbest, a Russian asbestos producer supported by President Vladimir Putin, is thanking Trump for his support.

In a June 25 Facebook post reported by The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Wednesday, the company displayed an image of its product in plastic wrap stamped with Trump's face.

The image was surrounded by a seal reading "APPROVED BY DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES," according to a translation by ADAO and EWG.

"Donald is on our side!" the post accompanying the image began.

Uralasbest also praised the decision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under recently-resigned head Scott Pruitt, to limit risk assessments of asbestos and nine other chemicals mandated by a 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"He supported the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who stated that his agency would no longer deal with negative effects potentially derived from products containing asbestos. Donald Trump supported a specialist and called asbestos '100% safe after application,'" the post read, according to the translation by EWG and ADAO.

The post comes little over six months after Brazil, previously the U.S.'s main supplier of asbestos, decided to ban the substance, bumping Russian into the NO. 1 spot, as Chemical & Engineering News reported in December.

Russia is home to the largest asbestos industry in the world, The Center for Public Integrity reported.

"Russia's asbestos industry stand to prosper mightily as a result of the Trump Administration's failure to ban asbestos in the U.S.," EWG President Ken Cook said in a press release. "Helping Putin and Russian oligarchs amass fortunes by selling a product that kills thousands each year should never be the role of a U.S. president or the EPA, but this is the Trump administration. Russia's interests are Trump's interests, and any clear-eyed American knows it."

Trump is slated to meet with Putin in Finland July 16.

 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:18 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

NOAA Proposes Opening Marine Monuments to Fishing Within 90 Days


When reports surfaced in June that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) might shift the language of its mission statement away from climate and conservation and towards security and the economy, acting head Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet rushed to reassure reporters that the agency's mission would remain unchanged.

But a copy of the presentation in which Gallaudet floated the language change, reviewed by The Huffington Post Thursday, reveals a much more specific proposal which exemplifies what a shift away from conservation might mean: opening marine national monuments to commercial fishing.

Gallaudet gave the presentation at the Department of Commerce's "Vision Setting Summit." In it, he outlined the Commerce Department's "Strategic Priorities for 2018," which included cutting the U.S. seafood trade deficit (the U.S. imports more than 80 percent of the seafood it consumes) and expanding maritime commerce. To meet those goals, he proposed granting "permit fishing in marine monuments" within 90 days of the meeting.

The proposal comes as the world's oceans are increasingly threatened by plastics and overfishing. As of 2016, nearly 90 percent of fisheries were either fished to capacity or overfished. Another 2016 report warned there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

For Oceans 5 program director Seth Horstmeyer, Gaulladet's proposal would "fly in the face" of the goal of the marine national monument program, which is to preserve ocean ecosystems and resources, including fisheries. He told The Huffington Post that allowing fishing in these protected waters would turn them into "paper monuments."

Horstmeyer also said that fishing in marine monuments would do nothing to impact how much fish the U.S. catches relative to other countries.

"Each year the Hawaii-based longline fishery is allocated a quota for how much bigeye tuna they can catch, so opening marine monuments will not allow more fish to be caught and certainly will not reduce the trade deficit," he said.

Despite this, opening marine national monuments to fishing is not a new idea for the Trump administration.

In 2017, President Donald Trump signed executive orders asking for a review of 27 national monuments on land and sea.

A draft of a report by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke leaked to the press in September recommended opening the Pacific Remote Islands, Rose Atoll and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monuments to commercial fishing, but the final draft of his report did not mention authorizing commercial fishing in any particular monument.

Instead, it suggested Trump lift the current prohibition on fishing in monuments and move authority over fisheries to regional councils as allowed by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976.

NOAA spokeswoman Julie Roberts called attention to Gaulladet's statement when news of the presentation first surface last week, in which he said it was not "a final, vetted proposal." But when asked about fishing specifically, Roberts did mention Zinke's proposal for managing fisheries in national monuments based on the 1976 act.

"Successful implementation of this statute has been the key to the U.S. having the most sustainable wild-caught fisheries management in the world," Roberts wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. She did not answer questions about which monuments could be impacted.

 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:16 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

In A&E I see children's terror as they choke from polluted air this summer

The cocktail of pollution and pollen in London kills people. Politicians should spend a night on the wards to see the harm

Guddi Singh
14 Jul 2018 10.03 BST

Summer nights are supposed to be quiet on the children’s unit in A&E. Kids are normally healthy during the warmer months: the risk of colds and flu is low, and their bodies are invigorated by sunshine and exercise. They might suffer the odd scrape or broken bone from playing outside, but nothing that would land them in hospital in the middle of the night.

Not this summer. Something is different. I spent the first week of July working nights in the A&E of a major central London hospital, and it was full of children. Rushing between the emergency room and the ward, I barely had a moment to myself from 8pm when I started my shift to 10am when I handed over to the day team. It’s not normal. Children aren’t supposed to be this sick.

As far as I can tell, it’s largely down to a single problem. Pollution. Each night we filled more than half the beds on the paediatrics ward with children choking with asthma. This is not some mild, ordinary wheeze. Many of those we treated were in a life-threatening condition. I sat by their beds as they writhed, struggling for air, their small bodies wracked with coughs. It is a kind of torture, to fear for your next breath. You can see the sheer terror in the children’s eyes.

It’s a horrible feeling – to wonder whether a child will make it through the night. In many cases the toxic drugs and steroids we give them aren’t enough, and we have to breathe for them. Sometimes we have to put them into intensive care. Not all survive. And these are just the most obvious symptoms: studies show that air pollution is also detrimental to brain development in children, and can have adverse effects on unborn babies.

We’re in the middle of a public health crisis. Air pollution levels in London far outstrip legal limits, and it is worsening as the temperatures rise. Pollen also rises with the temperatures, and dangerous pollutants – such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) – congeal with pollens to create “super-pollens” that can be deadly. This noxious cocktail is claiming the lives of children across London, particularly those who live near busy roads or in low-lying areas; 24% of London’s primary schools are in areas that breach the legal limits on NOx.

Every year, air pollution kills 40,000 people across Britain. Roughly a quarter of these deaths happen in London. Our politicians treat this as an abstract figure – maybe they think it’s just a few years knocked off the end of life. They are wrong. The suffering is visceral. The deaths are real – we see them happening in front of our eyes. No one can fully appreciate how serious this is until they hold a wheezing infant in their arms.

My crowded children’s ward might seem like a medical problem, but it’s not. It’s a political problem. Our politicians are too reluctant to put up the right legislation or enforce the laws we do have.

As mayor of London, Boris Johnson ignored the crisis. We see the consequences of this inaction each night in A&E. Sadiq Khan’s plan for London is a step in the right direction. He put a £10 charge on the most toxic vehicles entering the city, promises to raise emissions standards for diesel vehicles by next year, and wants to start phasing out diesel buses. But, frankly, this is not good enough. Every day we have to wait is another day that my ward fills with children desperate for breath.

Paris plans to ban diesel cars by 2024 and petrol cars by 2030. There’s no reason that London shouldn’t beat them to it. The financial incentives are strong. Air pollution costs Britain more than £20bn each year. Even the most aggressive regulatory action will cost us only a fraction of that total.

It would take immense pressure off our NHS. And it would save tens of thousands of lives each year. If only those in charge of making decisions could spend one night in A&E with me to see what it’s like on the frontline of this crisis.

    Guddi Singh is a paediatric doctor in London and a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine

 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:13 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Huge iceberg drifts close to Greenland village, causing fears of a tsunami

14 Jul 2018 at 07:20 ET                   

An iceberg the size of a hill has drifted close to a tiny village on the western coast of Greenland, causing fear that it could swamp the settlement with a tsunami if it calves.

The iceberg towers over houses on a promontory in the village of Innaarsuit but it is grounded and has not moved overnight, local media KNR reported.

A danger zone close to the coast has been evacuated and people have been moved further up a steep slope where the settlement lies, a Greenland police spokesman told Reuters.

Last summer, four people died after waves swamped a settlement in northwestern Greenland.

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:10 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
As D.I.Y. Gene Editing Gains Popularity, ‘Someone Is Going to Get Hurt’

After a virus was created from mail-order DNA, scientists are sounding the alarm about the genetic tinkering carried out in garages and living rooms.

By Emily Baumgaertner
NY Times
WASHINGTON — As a teenager, Keoni Gandall already was operating a cutting-edge research laboratory in his bedroom in Huntington Beach, Calif. While his friends were buying video games, he acquired more than a dozen pieces of equipment — a transilluminator, a centrifuge, two thermocyclers — in pursuit of a hobby that once was the province of white-coated Ph.D.’s in institutional labs.

“I just wanted to clone DNA using my automated lab robot and feasibly make full genomes at home,” he said.

Mr. Gandall was far from alone. In the past few years, so-called biohackers across the country have taken gene editing into their own hands. As the equipment becomes cheaper and the expertise in gene-editing techniques, mostly Crispr-Cas9, more widely shared, citizen-scientists are attempting to re-engineer DNA in surprising ways.

Until now, the work has amounted to little more than D.I.Y. misfires. A year ago, a biohacker famously injected himself at a conference with modified DNA that he hoped would make him more muscular. (It did not.)

Earlier this year, at Body Hacking Con in Austin, Tex., a biotech executive injected himself with what he hoped would be a herpes treatment. (Verdict: No.) His company already had live-streamed a man injecting himself with a home-brewed treatment for H.I.V. (His viral load increased.)

In a recent interview, Mr. Gandall, now 18 and a research fellow at Stanford, said he only wants to ensure open access to gene-editing technology, believing future biotech discoveries may come from the least expected minds.

But he is quick to acknowledge that the do-it-yourself genetics revolution one day may go catastrophically wrong.

“Even I would tell you, the level of DNA synthesis regulation, it simply isn’t good enough,” Mr. Gandall said. “These regulations aren’t going to work when everything is decentralized — when everybody has a DNA synthesizer on their smartphone.”

The most pressing worry is that someone somewhere will use the spreading technology to create a bioweapon.

Already a research team at the University of Alberta has recreated from scratch an extinct relative of smallpox, horsepox, by stitching together fragments of mail-order DNA in just six months for about $100,000 — without a glance from law enforcement officials.

The team purchased overlapping DNA fragments from a commercial company. Once the researchers glued the full genome together and introduced it into cells infected by another type of poxvirus, the cells began to produce infectious particles.

To some experts, the experiment nullified a decades-long debate over whether to destroy the world’s two remaining smallpox remnants — at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and at a research center in Russia — since it proved that scientists who want to experiment with the virus can now create it themselves.

The study’s publication in the journal PLOS One included an in-depth description of the methods used and — most alarming to Gregory D. Koblentz, the director of the biodefense graduate program at George Mason University — a series of new tips and tricks for bypassing roadblocks.

“Sure, we’ve known this could be possible,” Dr. Koblentz said. “We also knew North Korea could someday build a thermonuclear weapon, but we’re still horrified when they actually do it.”

Experts urged the journal to cancel publication of the article, one calling it “unwise, unjustified, and dangerous.” Even before publication, a report from a World Health Organization meeting noted that the endeavor “did not require exceptional biochemical knowledge or skills, significant funds or significant time.”

But the study’s lead researcher, David Evans, a virologist at the University of Alberta, said he had alerted several Canadian government authorities to his poxvirus venture, and none had raised an objection.

Many experts agree that it would be very difficult for amateur biologists of any stripe to design a killer virus on their own. But as more hackers trade computer code for the genetic kind, and as their skills become increasingly sophisticated, health security experts fear that the potential for abuse may be growing.

“To unleash something deadly, that could really happen any day now — today,” said Dr. George Church, a researcher at Harvard and a leading synthetic biologist. “The pragmatic people would just engineer drug-resistant anthrax or highly transmissible influenza. Some recipes are online.”

“If they’re willing to inject themselves with hormones to make their muscles bigger, you can imagine they’d be willing to test more powerful things,” he added. “Anyone who does synthetic biology should be under surveillance, and anyone who does it without a license should be suspect.”

Authorities in the United States have been hesitant to undertake actions that could squelch innovation or impinge on intellectual property. The laws that cover biotechnology have not been significantly updated in decades, forcing regulators to rely on outdated frameworks to govern new technologies.

The cobbled-together regulatory system, with multiple agencies overseeing various types of research, has left gaps that will only widen as the technologies advance.

Academic researchers undergo strict scrutiny when they seek federal funding for “dual-use research of concern”: experiments that, in theory, could be used for good or ill. But more than half of the nation’s scientific research and development is funded by nongovernmental sources.

In 2013, a quest to create a glowing plant via genetic engineering drew almost half a million dollars through Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website.

“There really isn’t a national governance per se for those who are not federally or government funded,” said Dr. William So, a biological countermeasures specialist at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Instead, he said, the agency relies on biohackers themselves to sound the alarm regarding suspicious behavior.

“I do believe the F.B.I. is doing their best with what they have,” said Dr. Thomas V. Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

“But if you really want to do this, there isn’t a whole lot stopping you.”

Underground Experimenters

The F.B.I. has befriended many white-hat biohacking labs, among them Genspace in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Behind an inconspicuous steel door on a gritty, graffiti-lined street, biohackers-in-training — musicians, engineers, retirees — routinely gather for crash courses in genetic engineering.

Participants in “Biohacker Boot Camp” learn basic technical skills to use in homegrown genetics projects, like concocting algae that glows.

“The double helix is the most iconic image of the 20th century, perhaps rivaled only by the mushroom cloud,” the bootcamp’s leader, Michael Flanagan, said to a recent class.

Genspace’s entryway resembles a college dorm room, complete with sagging couch, microwave, mini-fridge. But the lab itself is palatial: two stories of white brick walls, industrial kitchen counters marked with dry-erase notes, shelves towering with glassware and reagents.

It’s a significant upgrade for Genspace. Daniel Grushkin, the co-founder, used to host bacterial experiments in his living room over pizza and beer.

The group later moved into a rental for creatives — roboticists, organic fashion designers, miniature-cupcake makers — and constructed a makeshift lab using old patio screen doors. It was Mr. Grushkin who reached out to the F.B.I.

“People might be calling you because we are nonscientists doing science in a busted-up old building,” he recalled telling bureau agents. “But we aren’t a meth lab, and we aren’t bioterrorists.”

Mr. Grushkin has become a trailblazer in biohacking risk management, in part because he recognizes that letting neophytes manipulate live organisms is “less like a ‘hackerspace,’ more like a pet store.”

He has posted community guidelines, forbidden infectious agents in the lab, and accepted a grant of almost $500,000 to design security practices for some four dozen similar labs across the country.

Most of them report not having heard so much as a greeting from the F.B.I. At many, the consequence for breaking safety guidelines is simply the loss of membership — leaving the perpetrator to experiment in isolation, but still among thousands of enthusiasts huddled online in Facebook groups, email listservs and Reddit pages.

Many find their inspiration in Josiah Zayner, a NASA scientist turned celebrity biohacker who straps a GoPro camera to his forehead and streams experiments on himself from his garage. He’s the man who tried to make his muscles bigger.

“This is just normal Scotch packing tape,” Mr. Zayner, chief executive of a biohacking start-up called The Odin, told his YouTube audience one summer night, muttering expletives as he stripped the top layer of skin from his forearm. “This is Day 1 of my experiment to genetically engineer myself.”

In an interview, Mr. Zayner conceded that among his biohacking followers, an accident — not a premeditated offense — was conceivable.

“I guess I can see why they don’t let the entire public have access to Ebola,” he said. “The risk is, if they’re working with Ebola and their house burns down, the Ebola could somehow get out.”

Even Mr. Zayner is apprehensive of the movement he helped begin; he plans to include live frogs in The Odin’s D.I.Y.-Crispr kits to encourage his followers to experiment on animals instead of themselves — or others.

“I have no doubt that someone is going to get hurt,” he said. “People are trying to one-up each other, and it’s moving faster than any one of us could have ever imagined — it’s almost uncontrollable. It’s scary.”

A Biological Arms Race

If nefarious biohackers were to create a biological weapon from scratch — a killer that would bounce from host to host to host, capable of reaching millions of people, unrestrained by time or distance — they would probably begin with some online shopping.

A site called Science Exchange, for example, serves as a Craigslist for DNA, a commercial ecosystem connecting almost anyone with online access and a valid credit card to companies that sell cloned DNA fragments.

Mr. Gandall, the Stanford fellow, often buys such fragments — benign ones. But the workarounds for someone with ill intent, he said, might not be hard to figure out.

Biohackers will soon be able to forgo these companies altogether with an all-in-one desktop genome printer: a device much like an inkjet printer that employs the letters AGTC — genetic base pairs — instead of the color model CMYK.

A similar device already exists for institutional labs, called BioXp 3200, which sells for about $65,000. But at-home biohackers can start with DNA Playground from Amino Labs, an Easy Bake genetic oven that costs less than an iPad, or The Odin’s Crispr gene-editing kit for $159.

Tools like these may be threatening in the wrong hands, but they also helped Mr. Gandall start a promising career.

At age 11, he picked up a virology textbook at a church book fair. Before he was old enough for a driver’s permit, he was urging his mother to shuttle him to a research job at the University of California, Irvine.

He began dressing exclusively in red polo shirts to avoid the distraction of choosing outfits. He doodled through high school — correcting biology teachers — and was kicked out of a local science fair for what was deemed reckless home-brew genetic engineering.

Mr. Gandall barely earned a high-school diploma, he said, and was rebuffed by almost every college he applied to — but later gained a bioengineering position at Stanford University.

“Pretty ironic, after they rejected me as a student,” he said.

He moved to East Palo Alto — with 14 red polo shirts — into a house with three nonbiologists, who don’t much notice that DNA is cloned in the corner of his bedroom.

His mission at Stanford is to build a body of genetic material for public use. To his fellow biohackers, it’s a noble endeavor.

To biosecurity experts, it’s tossing ammunition into trigger-happy hands.

“There are really only two things that could wipe 30 million people off of the planet: a nuclear weapon, or a biological one,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, an adviser on pandemic influenza preparedness to the World Health Organization.

“Somehow, the U.S. government fears and prepares for the former, but not remotely for the latter. It baffles me.”

 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:06 AM 
Started by GoldLeaf - Last post by GoldLeaf
Hello everyone,

I have a question about the use of psychedelics. I'm currently thinking about embarking on a micro dosing schedule (taking sub-perceptual amounts of psychedelics). The main reasons for this are related to long term depression and anxiety. I have little inclination to go down the pharmacy route and not convinced that SSRI's are the right thing.

In the autumn 2017 I began working with Hermetics and specifically the Lesser banishing ritual and the middle pillar exercise as instructed by the golden dawn. I felt that my life lacked meaning and I know I must integrate a spiritual practice at this time in my life and this western system attracted me. At the same time I had a renewed interest in psychedelics, and was 'guided' to some local mushrooms (apparently they don't grow in my area).

I have always been interested in altered states, not for fun and fireworks, but to discover aspects of myself. I have experimented with MDMA in the past, and my first experience with this substance back in 1998 was life changing. Also in 1998 I met hermetics/alchemy for the first time, and this also coincided with the onset of a deep depression and search for deeper meaning in life.

In December this year I consumed a moderate amount of mushroom, and had a spiritual experience. I met a spirit guide who manifested in the clouds and he performed the cabalistic cross in the sky. As he finished the exercise he pointed to his crown Chakra and the sun broke through...it was intense and deeply personal. I Feel that this was not an hallucination and the rest of the  trip wasn't particulate visual. I felt strongly that I was visited by another.

Since the experience I have experimented several times with mushrooms. The experiences have been difficult, but I'm expecting to have to work with some dark material, as I have a moon in Scorpio, and Jeff green has told me that I haven't had a good time during my short time on earth (only one nice life he said, which was in India!)

In may of this year I had shingles, and was given medication. I had a reaction to these meds, which resulted in hallucinations! I have since been recovering from this, and as a result my spiritual practice has waned and fervour for a psychedelic experience has been put on hold!

Currently I am experiencing a lot of uranian action in my chart...I feel strongly that all the above correlates to Uranus. Natal Uranus in scorpio, conjunct mid heaven, moon and north node...
Uranus in early Taurus is sq my natal Venus, which rules both my south node and Pluto, so this is powerful stuff. In 1998 Uranus was conjunct my natal Venus, which correlates to the beginning of my psychedelic/hermetic quest.

I would love to know if anyone has any advice or insights regarding Uranus and micro dosing and psychedelic use. I'm aware that spiritual realities correlate to Neptune, but micro dosing helps rewire the brain and this is clearly linked to Uranus. Neptune transit is currently trine my moon and node.....

Any help or guidance is greatly appreciated. I can't post charts but I include the birth details if people are inclined; 21.02 1976, 4.20am Newport south wales, UK


 on: Jul 13, 2018, 09:03 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Tens of thousands gather in London for anti-Trump protests

Agence France-Presse
13 Jul 2018 at 09:34 ET                   

Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated in London on Friday against US President Donald Trump, whose four-day visit to Britain has been marred by his extraordinary attack on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.

“#DumpTrump”, “This is the carnival of resistance” and “My mum doesn’t like you! And she likes everyone” read some of the signs held up by protesters as they marched down Oxford Street towards Trafalgar Square.

“No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!”, the protesters chanted.

Some protesters banged on pots and pans, others blew on trumpets and many held up orange “Stop Trump” balloons.

One woman wore a pink knitted “pussy hat” at the start of the “Women’s March”, which will be followed later in the day by the main “Together Against Trump” coalition.

“Donald Trump is misogynistic, chauvinistic, homophobic, xenophobic, promotes bigotry… and has tiny little hands!”, said one of the participants, 42-year-old Georgina Rose.

Grant White, 32, carried a sign depicting Trump as the Twitter bird symbol wearing a swastika around his arm.

“I am anti-Brexit, anti-Trump. There is a wave of fascism which we have to get rid of,” he said.

Dawn, 49, came with her 11-year-old daughter Sadie.

“Trump is the man with the biggest ego in charge of the biggest power in the world. He doesn’t have a grasp of what is needed in the world,” the mother said.

Her daughter said: “He doesn’t accept people who have a different religion in his country, where there is big diversity.”

Campaigners elsewhere in London flew a “Baby Trump” balloon, an act of protest approved by London mayor Sadiq Khan which has proved particularly contentious for Trump and his supporters.

“As an American, I think it’s great. It’s a peaceful way of protesting and there are a lot of people who agree with it,” said Brett Kirchner, 25, from the US state of North Carolina.
AFP / Niklas HALLE’NDrag queens joined the anti-Trump rallies in London

“Back home in the States, there will be some who are very upset about this protest and who think it’s insulting. I have been asked to send photos back though. Not everyone likes Trump,” he said.

Jason Caines, 50, said of the inflatable: “It’s good. It needs to be done because he’s a bigot and a racist. He shouldn’t be president, it should have been Hillary Clinton.”

Paul Fonseca, 23, said: “I think it’s hilarious. It’s an accurate representation of his politics which are so immature. He never enters into adult discussion.”

 on: Jul 13, 2018, 06:42 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Bad blood over golf course stalks Trump’s Scotland trip

Agence France-Presse
13 Jul 2018 at 08:10 ET                   

Discord over a golf course dating back over a decade means there is little love lost between Donald Trump and the pro-independence government in Scotland, where he will be teeing off over the weekend during his visit to Britain.

Trump, whose mother was from Scotland, is expected to stay at his luxury golf resort at Turnberry.

Most of the controversy has centred on his other course, known as Trump International Golf Links.

In the run-up to his first visit as US president, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been celebrating the construction of a wind farm that the billionaire tycoon tried to stop because it spoiled the view from his resort.

“A famous golf course owner from America who, I think, has now turned his hand to politics, decided to take the Scottish government to court to try to block these wind turbines,” the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said as the first turbine was switched on last week.

“The Scottish government beat that American golf course owner in court… and these amazing wind turbines generated their first electricity,” she said.

Sturgeon has refused to meet Trump on his visit but has resisted pressure from some Scottish lawmakers to deny him landing rights at Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport.

He will be greeted by Scottish Secretary David Mundell, from the British Government, when he arrives north of the border on Friday.

– Fierce opposition –

For someone who claims extraordinary negotiation skills, Trump’s forays into Scottish tourism and politics over the years have had mixed results.

He bought 1,400 acres (567 hectares) of land near Aberdeen in 2006 and promised to build “the world’s best golf course”.

The proposal was welcomed by former first minister Jack McConnell — who named Trump a “Global Scot” business ambassador in 2006 shortly before his Labour Party lost power to the SNP.

But local councillors rejected the plan amid fierce opposition from conservationists and neighbouring residents.

The SNP government overturned the councillors’ decision shortly after golf-loving nationalist Alex Salmond took control, kicking off a short and tempestuous bromance with Trump who called Salmond “an amazing man”.

However, the relationship cooled when Trump’s promise to create 6,000 jobs and invest £1 billion failed to materialise, and Trump began interfering with the SNP’s flagship plan to make Scotland a renewable energy powerhouse.

The Trump Organisation has spent around £100 million on the course, known as Trump International Golf Links, and employed around 650 temporary and permanent staff — but the company insists the resort remains a work in progress.

– ‘I am the evidence’ –

Three years later Trump visited the Scottish Parliament to complain about plans to build 11 “ugly” offshore wind turbines near his newly minted Aberdeenshire resort, insisting the development would do “terrible damage” to Scottish tourism.

Trump declared “I am the evidence” when Scottish lawmakers asked him to back up his assertion that the wind farm would “destroy the financial wellbeing of Scotland”.

Six years on, overseas visitors to Scotland have increased by nearly a quarter and renewable energy now powers over two-thirds of Scottish homes and rising.

Trump threatened to pull all of his investment in Scotland if the wind farm went ahead — but bought another golf course instead.

With dramatic timing, Trump came to Scotland to open his second golf resort at Turnberry on June 24, 2016 — the day after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Protests are expected across Scotland over the weekend, including at his golf courses as well as at Glasgow’s George Square and in the capital, Edinburgh.

Demonstrators rallied for Trump’s arrival in Britain Thursday, massing at several sites he visited, ahead of a mass protest expected to draw thousands on Friday.

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