"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Links - 28th April 2016

Belgian intensive care doctors back involuntary euthanasia - "The Society also says that intensive care doctors should inform relatives of a decision to euthanase a patient, but it does not instruct them to ask for the relatives’ permission. The policy applies to both adults and children. Furthermore, patients do not have to be suffering; “Shortening the dying process” can actually enhance death, the statement says. The statement concludes by reassuring intensive care doctors that what they are doing is “not be interpreted as killing but as a humane act to accompany the patient at the end of his/her life... doctors need to be able to give lethal injections to shorten lives which are no longer worth living, even if the patients have not given their consent. “The first purpose of medicine is to restore or maintain health, that is, the well-being of the individual, not life at all costs,” he wrote. ”
The slippery slope has already slipped

Belgian Doctors Are Euthanizing Patients Without Their Consent - "A study published this month in the Journal of Medical Ethics examined the “deliberate” euthanasia of patients in Belgium without their explicit, voluntary consent as required by law. The study’s author, Raphael Cohen-Almagor, a professor of philosophy and ethics at the United Kingdom's Hull University, found that life-ending drugs were used “with the intention to shorten life and without explicit request” in 1.7 percent of all deaths in Belgium in 2013. In 52.7 percent of these cases, the patients were 80 years of age or older. The decision to euthanize was not discussed with the patient in 77.9 percent of the cases because he/she was comatose, had dementia, or “because discussion would have been harmful to the patient’s best interest,” according to the study... A 2010 research study conducted in Flanders revealed that only one out of every two euthanasia cases was reported to Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee because most non-reporting physicians did not view the active hastening of their patients’ deaths as euthanasia. Unreported cases were also generally handled less carefully than reported cases and “the lethal drugs were often administered by a nurse alone, not by a physician,” the study noted. “Whether deliberately or not, the physicians were disguising the end-of-life decision as a normal medical practice,” Cohen-Almagor pointed out."

Your Brain on Sugar - "Is sugar worse for you than, say, cocaine? According to a 2012 article in the journal Nature, it's a toxic substance that should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol."

Sugar is 'addictive and the most dangerous drug of the times' - Telegraph - "Paul van der Velpen, the head of Amsterdam's health service, the Dutch capital city where the sale of cannabis is legalised, wants to see sugar tightly regulated. "Just like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is actually a drug. There is an important role for government. The use of sugar should be discouraged. And users should be made aware of the dangers," he wrote on an official public health website. "This may seem exaggerated and far-fetched, but sugar is the most dangerous drug of the times and can still be easily acquired everywhere.""

Sugar Cravings Can Be Treated—Because Sugar Addiction Is Like Any Other Drug Addiction - "If you feel bad because you simply can't help eating that next cookie, don't. Scientists have found that drugs used to treat nicotine addiction could also be used to treat sugar addiction. By treating sugar cravings as we treat other drug addictions, we can reduce sugar consumption significantly. Viewed this way, trying to quit cake and soft drinks unsupported seems as ridiculous as quitting cigarettes or alcohol by going cold turkey. A new study from the Queensland University of Technology used varenicline to treat sugar addiction. Varenicline is usually used to treat nicotine addiction, and is sold under the brand names Chantix and Champix. It does this by stimulating the body's nicotine receptors, but more weakly than nicotine. The Queensland team found that it also works to reduce sugar cravings."

Paris attacks: Visiting Molenbeek, the police no-go zone that was home to two of the gunmen - "Molenbeek has been connected to almost all of Belgium’s terrorism-related incidents in recent years... Brice De Ruyver, who spent eight years as security adviser to then-Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, said Molenbeek suffers from a cocktail of problems. “Youths are poorly educated, attracted by petty crime, have run-ins with police, and then there is a vicious circle, which leads to recruitment by radical groups,” he said, adding that the problems are now so serious, that it is hard to find police willing to bother tackling them. “We don’t officially have no-go zones in Brussels, but in reality, there are, and they are in Molenbeek.”"
Perhaps no-go zones are myths only in that they don't officially exist

Muslim ‘No-Go Zones’ In Europe? - "A motorcyclist and a truck then zipped ahead of us and boxed us in on a nearby highway. Sitting in the car’s front passenger seat, I was accosted and threatened by four young thugs. The city rep pleaded with them, telling them I was a visiting sociologist. They responded first with threatening comments and then by throwing a piece of concrete the size of a football through the back window. Luckily no on was injured, and they let us leave after the intimidating incident had concluded. I provided the mayor’s office with audio, video, and still photographs of the thugs and their license plates. I have kept quiet about this incident for ten months in the hopes that the French judicial system would function. As of today, however no one has been apprehended, no charges have been filed, and to my knowledge, no real investigation ever took place. This incident was the great exception to my 28 other visits to predominantly Muslim areas in Australia, North America, and Western Europe. In all of these places – call them ZUS (French: Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones): I “went” without problems, traveling sometimes alone, sometimes not, in an anonymousrental car during daylight hours wearing normal Western casual male clothing – not in a police uniform, a priest’s habit, skimpy clothing, or with a kippa... I earlier strolled through Rinkeby, a notorious district of Stockholm, on a November 2014 afternoon without encountering so much as a hostile stare; yet a local policeman has testified in reference to Rinkeby that, “If we’re in pursuit of a vehicle, it can evade us by driving to certain neighborhoods where a lone patrol car simply cannot follow because we’ll get pelted by rocks and even face riots. These are no-go zones. We simply can’t go there.” How to reconcile these experiences? My visits establish that non-Muslim civilians can usually enter majority-Muslim areas without fear. But things look very different from the governmental point of view. On a routine basis, firefighters, ambulance workers, and even social workers meet with hostility and violence. For example, days after I visited the Marseille slum, its residents shot at police preparing for a visit by the prime minister of France. Thus does it and its ilk represent a no-go zone for police, a place which government representatives enter only when heavily armed, in convoys, temporarily, and with a specific mission... Whether or not Molenbeek, Rinkeby, and the Marseilles slum are no-go zones, then, depends on what aspect one choses to emphasize – their acessibility to ordinary visitors at ordinary times or their inaccessibility to government officials in times of tension. There are also no-go gradations, some places where attacks are more frequent and violent, others less so. However one sums up this complex situation – maybe partial-no-go zones? – they represent a great danger."

Why few child prodigies grow up to be geniuses - "Child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses who change the world. We assume that they must lack the social and emotional skills to function in society. When you look at the evidence, though, this explanation doesn't suffice: Less than a quarter of gifted children suffer from social and emotional problems. A vast majority are well adjusted - as winning at a cocktail party as in the spelling bee. What holds them back is that they don't learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But as they perform in Carnegie Hall and become chess champions, something unexpected happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn't make new... The parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for homework and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of fewer than one rule. Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it's easy to thwart. By limiting rules, parents encouraged their children to think for themselves. They tended to "place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules", Harvard psychologist Teresa Amabile reports. Even then, though, parents didn't shove their values down their children's throats... Top concert pianists didn't have elite teachers from the time they could walk; their first lessons came from instructors who happened to live nearby and made learning fun. Mozart showed interest in music before taking lessons, not the other way around. Mary Lou Williams learnt to play the piano on her own; Itzhak Perlman began teaching himself the violin after being rejected from music school. Even the best athletes didn't start out any better than their peers... Since Malcolm Gladwell popularised the "10,000-hour rule" suggesting that success depends on the time we spend in deliberate practice, debate has raged about how the number of hours necessary to become an expert varies by field and person. In arguing about that, we've overlooked two questions that matter just as much. First, can't practice itself blind us to ways to improve our area of study? Research reveals that the more we practise, the more we become entrenched - trapped in familiar ways of thinking. Expert bridge players struggled more than novices to adapt when the rules were changed; expert accountants were worse than novices at applying a new tax law. Second, what motivates people to practise a skill for thousands of hours? The most reliable answer is passion - discovered through natural curiosity or nurtured through early enjoyable experiences with an activity or many activities... Relative to typical scientists, Nobel Prize winners are 22 times more likely to perform as actors, dancers or magicians; 12 times more likely to write poetry, plays or novels; seven times more likely to dabble in arts and crafts; and twice as likely to play an instrument or compose music... "Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty," [Einstein] said."

Do heads of government age more quickly? Observational study comparing mortality between elected leaders and runners-up in national elections of 17 countries- "Election to head of government is associated with a substantial increase in mortality risk compared with candidates in national elections who never served."

Studies Suggest Men Handle Pain Better - "Study after study has shown that men have a higher tolerance for pain than women... "The gender-sexual-male macho thing is clearly not the only explanation for sex differences in pain," he says, because even motivated women are not better equipped to deal with pain. "If gender is playing a major role it may not be based on motivation (like the need to protect the male image.) There may be another path"... sex hormones like estrogen play a big part in how we react to pain. That finding helps explain how women, the so-called weaker sex, can deal with the excruciating pain of childbirth"

Maternity Leave: How much time off is healthiest for babies and mothers? - "very long leaves have an economic and professional downside for women, and at best a neutral effect on children. So it’s not simply that more time off is better. Rather, certain amounts of leave may give the biggest bang, while longer periods of leave may yield diminishing returns, at best... paid leave of about 40 weeks saved the most lives. (After that point, according to Ruhm, “there may even be some partial reversal of those gains”)... One study tracked Norwegian children who were born after 1977, when that country increased its paid leave from zero to four months and its unpaid leave from three to 12 months, and found that the kids born after the change had lower high school dropout rates. Military draft data, moreover, tied lengthened leaves to increases in male IQ (and height, too)."

‘Game of Thrones’ Creators Explain Why Queen Elizabeth Refused the Iron Throne - "“No, she’s not allowed to,” explained Benioff on Wednesday’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. “Apparently, the Queen of England is not allowed to sit on a foreign throne, so this is an esoteric rule we didn’t know about until that moment. It looks like we’re saying, ‘Don’t touch, Queen’”... the creators also joked about how nervous their cast members are when they call them on the phone—you know, given the show’s penchant for knocking people off willy-nilly. “The call of death is always a mutual thing,” said Weiss. “If it’s David or Dan they might be OK, and if it’s David and Dan, it’s not good.” “Sometimes we’re just calling to say, ‘Hey, do you guys want to come out for dinner?’ but as soon as they get that phone call they think we’re calling to say, ‘You’re dead,’ like it’s the Grim Reaper on the line,” added Benioff."

ST’s decision not to publish Lee Wei Ling’s commentary escalates into family feud - "If “HL” is who we think LWL is referring to, it is probably the first time that someone has criticised Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as a “dishonorable son”."

Stanford research: Political animosity exceeds racial hostility - "Democrats and Republicans are increasingly polar opposites – their political biases spill over into their social lives. Along party lines and ideology, more than even race or religion, Americans are distrustful of those who are not politically similar... "We were particularly surprised at the extent to which party politics has become a litmus test for interpersonal relations. Marriage across party lines is extremely rare"... negative stereotypes of the other party have intensified and that political affiliation is now a relevant cue for non-political decisions. Partisans are much more likely today to express reservations over the prospect of a son or daughter marrying across party lines, the study noted. Evidence from online dating sites demonstrates that even though people are far from transparent about their politics, ideology is nonetheless a powerful predictor of the dating decision... Both Democrats and Republicans selected their in-party scholarship candidate about 80 percent of the time even when the candidate from the other party had stronger academic credentials. In another study, the researchers asked 800 people to play a "trust" game, in which player 1 is given some money and told that she can give some, all, or none of it to player 2. The researchers found that race didn't matter – but party affiliation did. People gave significantly larger amounts when they were playing with someone who shared their party group identity. Iyengar suggested that – unlike race, gender or other social divides where attitudes and behavior are constrained by social norms of civility and tolerance – there are no similar pressures to temper disapproval of political opponents. People feel free to say bad things about their political opponents, he said. "If anything, the rhetoric and actions of political leaders demonstrate that hostility directed at the opposition is acceptable, even appropriate"... He said he believes that increasing political collegiality will require significant social interventions that enhance the political heterogeneity of neighborhoods and friendship groups. "What we need is greater personal contact between Republicans and Democrats""
And yet some people are still so obsessed by racism instead of what truly divides people. And continue to mercilessly and mindlessly bash "bigots", thus showing themselves to be the true bigots
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