Arquivo mensal: junho 2014

Stop Italy’s Soccer Hooligans (New York Times)

I love soccer in general, and the Nerazzurri of Inter Milan in particular. Our bright blue and black jersey mirrors the heavens, while our crosstown rivals, Silvio Berlusconi’s A.C. Milan, wear a more infernal red and black.

Inter Milan is often overshadowed by Mr. Berlusconi’s team, but we don’t care. In 2010 we won the “triplete” — the Italian League, the Italian Cup and the European Champions League — and this year they trail us in Serie A, Italy’s top league.

On April 26, minutes before an Inter Milan-Napoli game kicked off at Milan’s San Siro stadium, Inter supporters unfurled a large banner. “Reading opens your mind,” it said. Then came another, even bigger banner in the shape of an antique book. “Television ignores us,” it said. “But without our passion, there is no soccer.”

As I was mentally congratulating them, the local fans started chanting hate slogans at the visitors from Naples. The kindest of these was, “Do your stuff, Vesuvius!” I wrote in a Twitter post from San Siro: How can the same people be so imaginative yet so stupid?

I received plenty of replies, but the most convincing one arrived a week later, at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The crowd was waiting for the Coppa Italia final between Napoli and Fiorentina to get underway. The game was delayed, inexplicably. A powerless prime minister, a passive leader of the Senate and an embarrassed president of the International Olympic Committee looked on as a delegation of police officers walked over to a flabby, tattooed hulk perched on a security fence. It was up to him, apparently, whether the match would start.

The hulk’s name is Gennaro de Tommaso, alias “Genny a’ carogna,” or Genny the Swine. He’s the boss of the hard-core Napoli supporters and is suspected of ties with the Camorra organized crime ring. Apparently, if the game began without his permission, violence would follow.

In fact, even as the stadium waited for his nod, the scene was turning bloody. Fans were throwing flares onto the field. A firefighter was injured by a smoke bomb. The crowd booed during the national anthem. Outside the stadium, a man was being treated for gunshot wounds to his spinal cord.

Can we call this sport? Obviously not. It’s madness, and it’s been going on for 30 years. In 1985, just before the beginning of the European Cup final between Italy’s Juventus and Britain’s Liverpool at the Heysel stadium in Belgium, 39 fans were crushed to death during a stampede. In 1989, 93 fans were killed at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, England. The British government decided it was time to step in with seating-only stadiums and zero tolerance for hooligans. It worked, and the Premier League is now a major money-spinning machine watched all over the world.

Regretfully, Italy has yet to learn this lesson. Over here, hard-core fans are known as “ultras,” which means “beyond” in Latin. And beyond is where they go. Beyond decency. Beyond common sense. Beyond criminal law. At every match, in every Italian stadium, even if nobody gets hurt, the ultras fill the air with insults, racist chants and smoke bombs. They spit and swear at their police escort as they swagger from stadium to train station, where they proceed to smash up the trains, or get into their buses and fight one another at gas stations along the autostrada.

New regulations were introduced during the 2009-10 season to put an end to the violence, including “tessera del tifoso,” a card that identifies fans as supporters of a specific team and that authorities can use to separate trouble makers. Legislation hasn’t stopped the thugs: 5,000 people have been specifically barred from stadiums, but they cause havoc nearby instead (last year, hooligan attacks on the police increased by 85 percent).

The violence has persuaded many people to stay away from stadiums, which are often painfully empty. Italian soccer is losing a million attendees a year, down to 12.3 million tickets sold in 2012-13 from 13.2 million in 2011-12. Serie B and lower leagues suffer more than Serie A, the main national league. With declining audiences, there is no way soccer teams can sort out their financial mess. The collective debt of Serie A’s 30 clubs is close to 3 billion euros.

Filmmakers, writers and journalists have given hooliganism in Italy and elsewhere a lot of attention. Soccer violence is, after all, spectacular. But it’s also a burden. The Azzurri, as the Italian national team is known, have won four World Cups, most recently in 2006, by playing elegant soccer. Their country has a reputation for flair and style. Mindless aggression is un-Italian.

How do we prevent the hooligans from destroying Italian soccer? Simple. Scrap all military-style paraphernalia, including riot police officers, barbed wire, cage-like stands. Then call a crime a crime wherever one is committed. Offensive language. Threatening behavior. Assault. Zero tolerance worked in Britain; it can work here.

Italy’s penal code covers all that, so there is no need for any more legislation. It is simply a matter of enforcement. Soccer stadiums are not on some planet of their own. They are on Italian soil. They belong to the people who love the sport.

If Matteo Renzi, our 39-year-old prime minister, wants to leave a cost-free mark quickly, this is his chance. He’ll then be able to take his three children to see their beloved Fiorentina play Inter Milan. As usual, the Nerazzurri will win. But that won’t matter.

Beppe Severgnini is a columnist at Corriere della Sera and the author of “La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind.”

Transgênicos, 20 anos de avanços e polêmicas (Valor Econômico)

JC e-mail 4973, de 16 de junho de 2014

Futuro imaginado: desafio dos cientistas é entender a soja como um circuito, onde todas as peças são conhecidas

Vinte anos após a aprovação do primeiro alimento geneticamente modificado do mundo – um tomate com maior durabilidade criado na Califórnia -, o mercado de transgênicos atinge a maturidade com números expressivos, ainda que cercado de polêmicas. A cada 100 hectares plantados com soja hoje no planeta, 80 já são de sementes com os genes alterados. No caso do milho, são 30 para cada 100, o que significa que a chance de encontrar essas matérias-primas na dieta alimentar humana e animal cresceu substancialmente.

Em menos de duas décadas, a área com culturas transgênicas subiu 100 vezes, de 1,7 milhão de hectares para 175,2 milhões. Os EUA continuam na liderança desse processo, com 70 milhões de hectares e 90% de adoção de tecnologia em lavouras de soja, milho e algodão, espelhando uma tendência em outros grandes países agrícola.

Com movimentação global de US$ 16 bilhões em 2013 nessas tecnologias, as companhias agrícolas travam uma “batalha de foice no escuro” para arrebatar mercados ainda não conquistados.

Na soma de perdas e ganhos, os produtores rurais dizem ter angariado benefícios, o que justificou a adoção da tecnologia. Desde a aprovação para consumo do tomate “Flavr Savr”, desenvolvido pela Calgene (comprada pela Monsanto), em 1994, a redução das aplicações de inseticidas recuaram 90% até 2010. O uso de herbicidas também caiu, embora casos pontuais de resistência de plantas daninhas ao glifosato, tenham acendido o sinal amarelo no Sul do Brasil e em regiões do EUA. A Monsanto, detentora da tecnologia, credita esses episódios a erros do produtor, como falta de rotação de culturas e o mau uso de produtos químicos.

Se os números até agora são favoráveis, a descoberta de novos “eventos” – o jargão da indústria para variedades novas – é crucial para manter o fôlego da indústria. Nos EUA, os pedidos para liberações de testes de campo, um medidor importante da intensidade das pesquisas em biotecnologia agrícola, têm se mantido à ordem 800 por ano, segundo o Departamento de Agricultura dos EUA (USDA). A Monsanto é a empresa que mais protocola esses pedidos junto às autoridades americanas, seguida por DuPont Pioneer e Syngenta.

No Brasil, 53 tiveram a liberação planejada no ambiente aprovadas este ano pela Comissão Técnica Nacional para a Biossegurança (CTNBio) e 19 aguardam o O.K. comercial – a maior parte para milho e soja, com novidades também em cana-de-açúcar e eucalipto.

Os esforços nos laboratórios estão centrados em trazer soluções para velhas e novas necessidades do campo. Questões agronômicas, como o aumento de produtividade, continuam norteando as pesquisas. Mas as mudanças no clima trouxeram demandas de outra ordem, como a de sementes resistentes ao calor e ao estresse hídrico.

A complexidade também mudou. Segundo os cientistas, para atender os sistemas de produção atuais, não basta reformular plantas com uma única característica. Kristie Bell, gerente de comunicação da DuPont Pioneer para América Latina, diz que o avanço está em construir variedades agrícolas com benefícios múltiplos – os chamados eventos “piramidados”, tidos como a evolução natural do conhecimento científico. É aí que reside o futuro da biotecnologia.

“À medida em que a população global crescerá de sete para nove bilhões até 2050, os produtores rurais enfrentarão necessidades pontuais tanto para elevar a produtividade quanto entregar alimentos mais nutritivos”, diz Bell, acrescentando que mais da metade das vendas de sementes da companhia já são de variedades transgênicas. Em 2013, a divisão de sementes da DuPont investiu US$ 2,2 bilhões em Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento (P&D), sendo que 60% foi destinado a inovações em agricultura e biotecnologia.

Extremamente complexas do ponto de vista fisiológico, essas sementes “piramidadas” tentarão agrupar o maior número possível de características genéticas novas. “Essa tem sido a maior demanda do mercado”, afirma Ricardo Abdenoor, pesquisador da Embrapa Soja. Nos países que adotaram a biotecnologia, a área com tratamentos combinados totalizou 47,1 milhões, ou 27% do total.

Hoje, o que há de mais avançado aprovado no mercado é a soja Intacta RR2 PRO, da Monsanto. A tecnologia combina resistência ao herbicida glifosato e é tolerância a lagarta e, segundo a empresa, entrega também um ganho de produtividade de 10% em relação à tecnologia anterior. A Intacta fez sua estreia no mercado brasileiro nesta safra, a 2013/14. “Ela foi aprovada apenas no mercado brasileiro porque não há incidência de lagartas nos Estados Unidos”, afirma Geraldo U. Berger, diretor de regulamentação da Monsanto no Brasil, segundo maior mercado para a multinacional americana.

Desde 1996 no mercado de sementes transgênicas, com a aprovação nos EUA da soja Roundup Ready (RR), tolerante ao herbicida glifosato, a Monsanto lidera o segmento com US$ 14,9 bilhões em vendas em 2013, 70% dos quais da divisão de sementes e genômica.

Se o agrupamento de características novas às plantas já é uma realidade nos centros de pesquisa agrícola, a remodelação completa de um cromossomo é o exercício mais difícil da engenharia genética. Elibio Rech, pesquisador da Embrapa Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnologia, diz o que se pretende é trabalhar com as plantas como um circuito, onde todas as peças são conhecidas. Nesse sentido, ao invés de substituir genes ou blocos de genes de uma soja, por exemplo, os cientistas criarão um cromossomo novo. “Queremos modificar a rota metabólica até reconstruir completamente um cromossomo. É a fronteira da fronteira científica”. A vantagem? Editar mais facilmente os gentes, ganhando tempo, dinheiro e agilidade na obtenção dos resultados.

Até agora, soja, milho e algodão mantiveram-se como as mais presentes no pipeline (produtos em desenvolvimento) das empresas. Segundo Adriana Brondani, diretora-executiva do Conselho de Informações sobre Biotecnologia (CIB), isso se explica porque “com o custo alto e o tempo de demora entre o desenvolvimento de uma variedade à chegada ao mercado, só as commodities pagam o investimento”. A tendência, porém, é que as pesquisas gradativamente contemplem outras culturas, de forma a minimizar a chamada “fome oculta” – alimentos populares mas com baixo valor nutricional.

Na Ásia, pesquisadores filipinos do Instituto Internacional de Pesquisa do Arroz (IRRI, em inglês) concluíram os testes de campo do recém-desenvolvido “arroz dourado”, variedade com altos níveis de vitamina A graças à modificação genética. Aqui, a Embrapa recebeu a aprovação comercial do feijão resistente ao vírus do mosaico, enquanto outro grupo de cientistas da entidade tenta criar uma alface enriquecida com ácido fólico.

Curiosamente, outro efeito da biotecnologia foi alavancar as pesquisas científicas convencionais, nas quais os cruzamentos são feitos sem a transferência de material genético. “O domínio da biologia molecular ajudou os cientistas a entender melhor e aperfeiçoar as plantas”, diz Adriana, do CIB.

Por causa disso, a Monsanto tornou-se também a maior empresa global de sementes de hortifrutis convencionais, com legumes mais doces, crocantes e nutritivos. “A Monsanto acumulou tanto know-how científico que criou vegetais com as vantagens da engenharia genética sem lançar mão de qualquer traço Frankenstein”, escreveu a revista americana “Wired”, repetindo o termo usado por grupos contrários à tecnologia para se referir aos transgênicos. “Se não precisassem de agrotóxico, poderiam até ser considerados orgânicos”.

(Bettina Barros / Valor Econômico)
http://www.valor.com.br/agro/3584620/transgenicos-20-anos-de-avancos-e-polemicas#ixzz34o6ixLiV

Agora manteiga faz bem e carne faz mal? (Jornal da Ciência)

JC e-mail 4973, de 16 de junho de 2014

Artigo de Luís Maurício Trambaioli para o Jornal da Ciência

Está sendo amplamente divulgado na mídia um recente estudo em que os pesquisadores de Harvard, a partir de questionário de perguntas feito em 1991 a enfermeiras, inferiu que mulheres teriam 22 % de risco relativo aumentado de câncer de mama quando consumindo uma porção a mais de carne vermelha que mulheres que consomem menos.

Entretanto, risco relativo não é risco absoluto, o qual pode ser calculado pelos dados originais. A chance de desenvolver a doença seria vista em 1 em cada 100.000 mulheres, e não em 22 em cada 100 mulheres como tem sido noticiado pela falsa impressão que o ‘risco relativo’ nos dá. Mais, esta incidência é exatamente em grupos de mulheres que mais fumam.

É importante cuidado na forma que se divulga as notícias de estudos epidemiológicos e feitos por apenas um grupo. Melhor seria obter um parecer de especialistas na área e ainda preferencialmente resultados advindos de mais estudos obtidos por outros pesquisadores, evitando assim bias e viés na ciência. Sob risco de acontecer acusações levianas como ocorrido na década de 80 que levou a demonizar a gordura saturada há exatos 30 anos sem evidências científicas que suportassem tal idéia, o que direcionou a humanidade ao desespero de consumo de alimentos sem gordura e compensando com a ingestão de mais “carboidratos complexos” (amido) e baixos em micronutrientes. E o resultado foi a epidemia de diabetes e obesidade (chamado no exterior de diabesity), doenças cardiovasculares, câncer, dentre outras.

E agora, o que cortar do bacon: a gordura ou a carne ?

Luís Maurício Trambaioli é professor associado da Faculdade de Farmácia da UFRJ e pesquisador associado do INMETRO

Referências:

BMJ – “Dietary protein sources in early adulthood and breast cancer incidence: prospective cohort study” – http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3437

Resposta ao estudo: http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3437?tab=responses

Time Magazine, 26/03/1984 – And Now the Bad News –
http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1704183_1704257_1704499,00.html

Time Magazine, 23/06/2014 – Ending the War on Fat – http://time.com/2863227/ending-the-war-on-fat/
http://oglobo.globo.com/sociedade/saude/carne-vermelha-pode-aumentar-risco-de-cancer-de-mama-diz-estudo-de-harvard-12803653

Sobre o exoesqueleto na abertura da Copa do Mundo

JC e-mail 4973, de 16 de junho de 2014

Ciência Hoje On-line: Lance polêmico

Aguardada demonstração de exoesqueleto criado por grupo do brasileiro Miguel Nicolelis recebe pouco destaque na abertura da Copa do Mundo, mas pode ser marco da ciência nacional

Centenas de milhões de telespectadores em todo o mundo. Muito rebuliço na imprensa pela demonstração que faria um brasileiro com deficiência andar com um exoesqueleto robótico. Olhares atentos de uma comunidade científica reticente. Por tudo isso, a demonstração de poucos segundos, realizada em meio a outras atrações da festa de abertura do mundial de futebol, na beira do campo e cortada pela transmissão oficial, merecia um tratamento melhor.

Mesmo assim, a iniciativa liderada pelo brasileiro Miguel Nicolelis, da Universidade Duke, nos Estados Unidos, levou ciência a um dos maiores eventos esportivos do mundo e apontou possibilidades tecnológicas da medicina do futuro – apesar de não ter entregado exatamente o prometido e das críticas pela maneira pouco transparente como foi realizada.

A demonstração do projeto Andar de novo ocorreu pouco antes de a bola rolar na Arena Corinthians para a primeira partida do mundial. Em meio à festa, enquanto a transmissão se dividia entre a chegada da seleção brasileira ao estádio e as papagaiadas do espetáculo, o atleta Juliano Pinto utilizou a mente para comandar o equipamento robótico e chutar de leve a Brazuca, bola oficial do torneio. A proposta inicial era de que o exoesqueleto andasse cerca de 20 metros, o que não aconteceu – na verdade, ele não andou, nem dobrou o joelho ou deslocou seu centro de gravidade de maneira significativa, apenas moveu a perna.

Leia a matéria completa na CH On-line, que tem conteúdo exclusivo atualizado diariamente: http://cienciahoje.uol.com.br/noticias/2014/06/lance-polemico

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JC e-mail 4973, de 16 de junho de 2014

O show do exoesqueleto

Artigo de Roberto Lent publicado em O Globo de 14/6. A prévia publicação nas revistas especializadas é o selo de qualidade do produto científico, como o selo do Inmetro o é para os produtos industriais

Não deve ter sido por acaso que a Fifa reduziu para poucos segundos a exibição do exoesqueleto do cientista Miguel Nicolelis na abertura da Copa do Mundo. Talvez a prudência lhe tenha imposto essa medida.

Em torno desse polêmico episódio, há várias questões a considerar. Primeiro: não é possível aferir a originalidade e o impacto científico e prático da propalada tecnologia de comando cerebral do exoesqueleto sob feedback sensorial eletrônico. A razão é simples: Nicolelis ainda não a publicou em revistas especializadas. Sua produção científica e sua capacidade de trabalho permitem supor que o fará brevemente para a avaliação da comunidade científica da área. Ficaremos aguardando. Mas o fato é que até o momento pouco se pode comentar sobre o experimento da Copa que não sejam especulações.

Segundo: a exibição pública, para milhões de pessoas em todo o mundo, do chute à bola efetuado por um paraplégico vestindo o exoesqueleto é em si uma iniciativa importante para valorizar a ciência perante a sociedade. No entanto, do modo como foi feita, viola um princípio ético básico da divulgação científica – só se deve divulgar ao público leigo o que antes se publica nas revistas especializadas. Elitismo? Falta de espírito democrático? Não, responsabilidade social. A prévia publicação nas revistas especializadas é o selo de qualidade do produto científico, como o selo do Inmetro o é para os produtos industriais, a licença da Anvisa para os medicamentos, o carimbo do Ministério da Agricultura para os produtos agrícolas. Essas revistas, antes de publicar qualquer artigo, submetem-no a uma rigorosa revisão por especialistas. Além disso, os autores têm que apresentar todos os detalhes dos métodos que empregaram e dos resultados que obtiveram. Na abertura da Copa, o show do exoesqueleto representou uma ruptura com esse princípio. Talvez tenha sido isso que a Fifa percebeu a tempo.

Mas há outras questões em jogo: uma delas é o contraste entre o financiamento que o projeto Nicolelis obteve e o que conseguem obter os pesquisadores brasileiros de nossas universidades, com todo o crescimento dos recursos conseguido nos últimos anos. A Finep, agência de financiamento do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, colocou R$ 33 milhões no exoesqueleto. Nada errado nisso: trata-se de uma agência de inovação, cuja missão é justamente investir em projetos ousados, assumindo os riscos, que de resto são inerentes a todos os projetos científicos. Mas é inevitável comparar: o edital recentemente lançado por outras agências do mesmo ministério para a criação de Institutos Nacionais de Ciência e Tecnologia anunciou que proverá no máximo R$ 10 milhões para cada um dos grupos que vencerem uma acirrada concorrência. Como esses R$ 10 milhões se destinam a grupos que associam vários pesquisadores independentes, cada pesquisador contará com algo em torno de R$ 1 milhão para o seu projeto.

Três a um foi a vitória da seleção brasileira; 33 a 1 foi a vitória de Nicolelis sobre a comunidade científica brasileira.

Roberto Lent é professor do Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

(O Globo)
http://oglobo.globo.com/opiniao/o-show-do-exoesqueleto-12856030#ixzz34nrMrffx

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JC e-mail 4973, de 16 de junho de 2014

Baixaram a bola da Ciência Brasileira

Artigo de Marcelo Träsel publicado no Zero Hora

Uma das atrações mais esperadas na abertura da Copa do Mundo de 2014 era a apresentação do exoesqueleto desenvolvido pelo cientista brasileiro Miguel Nicolelis, que permitiria a um paraplégico dar o chute inicial do primeiro jogo. Ele de fato fez um paraplégico se levantar e dar um pontapé numa bola de futebol no Itaquerão. Mas quase ninguém viu esse marco da ciência _ pelo menos, não ao vivo, porque a Rede Globo o exibiu por apenas alguns segundos, em meia tela, para mostrar o ônibus da Seleção Brasileira chegando ao estádio no mesmo momento.

Nicolelis havia dado a impressão, em suas entrevistas, de que o tal chute ocorreria no início do jogo, não que seria apenas um acontecimento paralelo à beira do gramado enquanto J.Lo, Pitbull e Claudia Leitte erravam o playback do tema da Copa do Mundo. Existe a possibilidade de que ele tenha recebido promessas e estas tenham sido descumpridas. Também houve boatos de que a Fifa teria impedido o chute no centro do campo por medo de o peso do aparelho prejudicar o gramado.

De qualquer forma, a ausência de cerimônia com que esse enorme passo do engenho brasileiro foi tratado, primeiro, pela organização da festa de abertura e, depois, pela principal emissora do país, simboliza com perfeição o espaço que damos à ciência no imaginário nacional. Até 2012, o Brasil investia cerca de 1,3% do PIB em pesquisa e desenvolvimento de tecnologia, bastante menos do que a média dos países da OCDE, que era de 2,3%. Conforme estudo da ONG Battelle, em 2014 o país deve investir os mesmos 1,3% de 2012, bem mais do que os 0,6% da Argentina, mas ainda longe dos 3,6% da Coreia do Sul, ou dos 2% da China.

As cerimônias de abertura da Copa, das Olímpiadas e outros eventos do gênero servem não apenas para mostrar um país, mas também para projetar um ideal, o desejo de uma sociedade para o futuro. O Brasil, na Copa de 2014, poderia ter projetado se tornar também uma potência mundial em pesquisa e produção de tecnologia, mas preferiu continuar sendo apenas uma potência esportiva e cultural _ o país do futebol e do Carnaval.

Marcelo Träsel é pesquisador e professor de comunicação na PUCRS.

(Zero Hora)
http://wp.clicrbs.com.br/opiniaozh/2014/06/16/artigo-baixaram-a-bola-da-ciencia-brasileira/?topo=13,1,1,,,13

World Cup Reflections on Soccer of Old (New York Times

CreditPaul Hornschemeier

IT’S wonderful that America has fallen in love with World Cup soccer, as it plays out across the greenswards of Brazilian host cities like Natal, Manaus and Curitiba. To walk through New York City on Monday night and hear the restaurant crowds’ whooping at John Brooks’s late-game goal, which propelled the United States over Ghana, was to experience soccer as it is experienced in the rest of the world: collective, noisy and cathartic.

But as someone who grew up in England in the 1970s and ’80s, I still can’t take seriously this idea of soccer as a wholesome multicultural bauble, the sporting equivalent of the small-plate gastropub. I’m bemused by these young people all over New York with their World Cup sticker albums, wearing club shirts from Barcelona and Chelsea — and even Paris St.-Germain, for heaven’s sake.

Until recently, when the Qatar Investment Authority bought Paris St.-Germain and scrubbed it up, investing tens of millions of dollars in new players, it was a terrifying club. Its stands were ruled by a group of fascist skinheads, the notorious Kop de Boulogne. Few Parisians dared venture to its games. At a match in 2008, its fans greeted the visiting club from Lens with a banner reading, “Pedophiles, unemployed and inbred.”

Longtime Chelsea fans now complain that games at their home ground, Stamford Bridge, once raucous affairs, have become as stodgy as a night at the opera. It’s now just thousands of well-behaved bankers and lawyers, chuntering approval at the latest high-priced midfield acquisition. The old frisson of hooliganism is gone.

In Northampton, the town where I grew up, the professional team was nicknamed the Cobblers, a reference to Northampton’s past as a center for shoemaking, but unfortunately also Cockney rhyming slang for “rubbish.” The Cobblers played at the County Ground a mile or so from our house, and on game days my parents ordered me inside and locked the doors as hundreds of fans walked to the game and back, chanting and leaving a trail of lager cans along Christ Church Road.

As a schoolboy, I had to play endless unwanted hours of mediocre soccer. There was the occasional sunny afternoon in our backyard when I would imagine myself as Glenn Hoddle, the midfield genius of Tottenham Hotspur and England’s national team. But if I had to play one of those rapid-fire word association games, here’s what would spring to mind: freezing, rain, ball like a rock, pain, bruise, yelling, losing. My favorite moment from the United States-Ghana match wasn’t the goals but Clint Dempsey’s taking a blow to the face and playing on.

As a cub newspaper reporter, I would drive to lower-division professional matches around the south of England. I would park my car, hide my stereo and walk to the match past a line of mounted police officers in riot gear. You took your life in your hands just eating the meat pies at these games. Grown men would swear with such explosive force you feared their teeth would pop out. Their feelings for the referee and the opposition, rendered in chant, were unprintable.

England’s national team used to be made up of hard nuts willing to bleed for the country on the field and drink off it. On their way back home from a friendly match before the European championships in 1996, they got soused and trashed a plane to the tune of more than $5,000 in damage.

I’m happy the players today are all listening to their nutritionists and thanking God for their blessings, but I wonder if ever there will be another Stuart (Psycho) Pearce to grace the England back four or a Paul (Gazza) Gascoigne to celebrate scoring by pretending to drink pint after pint of lager.

When I moved to New York, in 1998, the Yankees were en route to another championship. It was easy to love Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and the high-kicking Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez. I went to games at Yankee Stadium, read the works of Roger Angell and Roger Kahn. For one birthday, my wife even bought me a copy of “The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” so I could nerd out on sabermetrics.

But when I tried to talk baseball with Americans, I could tell no one took me seriously. However much I knew, I could never really “know” the game in the same way as those who had endured hot summer afternoons of Little League or long losing droughts with the Mets. Anyone could like El Duque, the same way anyone can like Lionel Messi.

So it is with the new crowds of World Cup fans. If I feel a little protective of my game, it’s because my enthusiasm for it has been uneven and hard won. The good news is I don’t have to worry about this ever happening with cricket.

Prominent Anthropologist Welcomes Football Team Name Trademark Cancellation (American Anthropological Association)

by Damon

June 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

In a move that was hailed by the anthropological community, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced on Wednesday morning that it had canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name “Washington Redskins” citing testimony and evidence that the Washington, DC- based football team’s name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and thus in violation of federal trademark laws banning offensive terms and language.

While the decision today means that the team can continue to use the term, the phrase is no longer owned by the organization, meaning it will be difficult to stop others from using the term, and thus limiting its financial benefit to the club.

Dr. Bernard C. Perley, a Native American and anthropologist, released the following statement in the wake of the government’s decision:

Today, I am celebrating the US Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to cancel the six trademark registrations of the NFL Washington professional football team. The Patent and Trademark Office made their decision based on evidence and concluded that the trademark (the “r word”) is “disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered”.

This decision represents the best values of the American people as established in the founding documents of the United States. It also echoes the work of generations of anthropologists who have worked and continue to work with Native American communities to promote social justice for the first peoples of the Americas.

Unfortunately, there are many Americans who will make any excuse to support the NFL and the Washington team in their defense of the disrespectful name. The ruling does not prevent the team from continuing to use the derogatory term and it is likely the team will appeal the decision.

The US Patent and Trademark decision is good news but there is still much work to be done. The public debate over the “r word” has contributed to the growing awareness of the American public regarding the derogatory aspect of the term to many Native Americans. Anthropology can support and enhance that awareness by making public the ongoing work of anthropologists and Native American community leaders in promoting respect and understanding. We can accomplish this by disseminating the inspiring stories of Native American resilience and their contributions to the American experience.”

Dr. Perley is also a member of the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association

US Scientists, Oil Giant Stole Indigenous Blood (Common Dreams)

Published on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 by Common Dreams

For years, scientists working with Maxus Energy took blood samples from hundreds of Amazonian tribal members

– Max Ocean, editorial intern

Members of the Ecuadorean indigenous group known as the Huaorani (Credit: Jean-François Renaud/cc/flickr)

U.S. scientists working together with oil company Maxus Energy took around 3,500 blood samples from the indigenous Amazonian tribe known as the Huaorani, Ecuador charged on Monday.

The Huaorani are known for a unique genetic makeup that makes them immune to certain diseases.

René Ramírez, the head of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, told Ecuador state TV on Monday that samples were taken from around 600 Huaorani, and that multiple pints of blood were taken from many members of the tribe. Ramírez said that it is not yet known whether the samples have resulted in any commercial gains, but that samples were sold for scientific research.

According to an initial investigation two years ago, “It was demonstrated that the Coriell Institute has in its stores samples (from the Huaorani) and that it sells genetic material from the Huaorani people.” Harvard University was among the purchasers. Specifically, the 2012 report found that since 1994, seven cell cultures and 36 blood samples were distributed to eight different countries.

In the same report the Huaorani said that scientists had tricked them into allowing their blood to be taken between 1990 and 1991; however, President Rafael Correa said that there is now evidence that samples were taken as far back as the 1970s “in complicity with the oil company operating in the area.”

The Huaorani allegedly agreed to give the blood samples because scientists lied to them about why the samples were being taken. They were told the samples were being taken for medical tests, but never received results.

According to the website Hispanically Speaking News, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Correa said that at least 31 research papers were written between 1989 and 2012 based on the blood samples obtained––all without the consent of the Huaorani or the royalty payments normally required.

The taking of the samples was illegal, as Ecuador’s constitution bans the use of scientific research including genetic material in violation of human rights.

According to AFP, when the allegations first emerged in 2012, the U.S. Embassy said it was not aware of the case, and they did not immediately issue a response after Ecuador brought the charges on Monday.

Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time (IO9)

19.jun.2014

Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time

Anesthesia was a major medical breakthrough, allowing us to lose consciousness during surgery and other painful procedures. Trouble is, we’re not entirely sure how it works. But now we’re getting closer to solving its mystery — and with it, the mystery of consciousness itself.

When someone goes under, their cognition and brain activity continue, but consciousness gets shut down. For example, it has been shown that rats can ‘remember’ odor experiences while under general anesthesia. This is why anesthesiologists, like the University of Arizona’s Stuart Hameroff, are so fascinated by the whole thing.

“Anesthetics are fairly selective, erasing consciousness while sparing non-conscious brain activity,” Hameroff told io9. “So the precise mechanism of anesthetic action should point to the mechanism for consciousness.”

The Perils of Going Under

The odds of something bad happening while under anesthetic are exceedingly low. But this hasn’t always been the case.

Indeed, anesthesiology has come a long way since that historic moment back in 1846 when a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital held a flask near a patient’s face until he fell unconscious.

But as late as the 1940s, anesthesia still remained a dicey proposition. Back then, one in every 1,500 perioperative deaths were attributed to anesthesia. That number has improved dramatically since that time, mostly on account of improved techniques and chemicals, modern safety standards, and an influx of accredited anesthesiologists. Today, the chances of a healthy patient suffering an intraoperative death owing to anesthesia is less than 1 in 200,000. That’s a 0.0005% chance of a fatality — which are pretty good odds if you ask me (especially if you consider the alternative, which is to be awake during a procedure).

It should be pointed out, however, that “healthy patient” is the operative term (so to speak). In actuality, anesthesia-related deaths are on the rise, and the aging population has a lot to do with it. After decades of decline, the worldwide death rate during anesthesia has risen to about 1.4 deaths per 200,000. Alarmingly, the number of deaths within a year after general anesthesia is disturbingly high — about one in every 20. For people above the age of 65, it’s one in 10. The reason, says anesthesiologist André Gottschalk, is that there are more older patients being operated on. Anesthesia can be stressful for older patients with heart problems or high blood pressure.

Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time

(Tyler Olson/Shutterstock)

But there are other dangers associated with anesthesia. It can induce a condition known as postoperative delirium, a state of serious confusion and memory loss. Following surgery, some patients complain about hallucinations, have trouble responding to questions, speak gibberish, and forget why they’re in the hospital. Studies have shown that roughly half of all patients age 60 and over suffer from this sort of delirium. This condition usually resolves after a day or two. But for some people, typically those over the age of 70 and who have a history of mental deficits, a high enough dose of anesthesia can result in lingering problems for months and even years afterward, including attention and memory problems.

Researchers speculate that it’s not the quality of the anesthetics, but rather the quantity; the greater the amount, the greater the delerium. This is not an easy problem to resolve; not enough anesthesia can leave a patient awake, but too much can kill. It’s a challenging balance to achieve because, as science writer Maggie Koerth-Baker has pointed out, “Consciousness is not something we can measure.”

Rots the Brain

Deep anesthesia has also been linked to other cognitive problems. New Scientist reports:

Patients received either propofol or one of several anesthetic gases. The morning after surgery, 16 percent of patients who had received light anesthesia displayed confusion, compared with 24 percent of the routine care group. Likewise, 15 percent of patients who received typical anesthesia had postoperative mental setbacks that lingered for at least three months—they performed poorly on word-recall tests, for example—but only 10 percent of those in the light anesthesia group had such difficulties.

To help alleviate these effects, doctors are encouraged to talk to their patients during regional anesthesia, and to make sure their patients are well hydrated and nourished before surgery to improve blood flow to the brain.

But just to be clear, the risks are slight. According to the Mayo Clinic:

Most healthy people don’t have any problems with general anesthesia. Although many people may have mild, temporary symptoms, general anesthesia itself is exceptionally safe, even for the sickest patients. The risk of long-term complications, much less death, is very small. In general, the risk of complications is more closely related to the type of procedure you’re undergoing, and your general physical health, than to the anesthesia itself.

The Neural Correlates of Consciousness

Typically, anesthesia is initiated with the injection of a drug called propofol, which gives a quick and smooth transition into unconsciousness. For longer operations, an inhaled anesthetic, like isoflurane, is added to give better control of the depth of anesthesia.

Here’s a chart showing the most common applications for anesthesia (via University of Toronto):

Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time

It should really come as no surprise that neuroscientists aren’t entirely sure how chemicals like propofol work. We won’t truly understand anesthesia until we fully understand consciousness itself — a so-called hard problem in science. But the neuroscience of anesthesia may shed light on this mystery.

Researchers need to chart the neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs) — changes in brain function that can be observed when a person transitions from being conscious to unconscious. These NCCs can be certain brain waves, physical responses, sensitivity to pain — whatever. They just need to be correlated directly to conscious awareness.

As an aside, we’ll eventually need to identify NCCs in an artificial intelligence to prove that it’s sentient. And in fact, this could serve as a viable substitute to the now-outdated Turing Test.

Scientists have known for quite some time that anesthetic potency correlates with solubility in an olive-oil like environment. The going theory is that they make it difficult for certain neurons to fire; they bind to and incapacitate several different proteins on the surface of neurons that are essential for regulating sleep, attention, learning, and memory. But more than that, by interrupting the normal activity of neurons, anesthetics disrupt communications between the various regions of the brain which, together, triggers unconsciousness.

Cognitive Dissonance

But neuroscientists haven’t been able to figure out which region or regions of the brain are responsible for this effect. And indeed, there may be no single switch, particularly if the “global workspace” theory of consciousness continues to hold sway. This school of thought holds that consciousness is a widely distributed phenomenon where initial incoming sensory information gets processed in separate regions of the brain without us being aware of it. Subjectivity only happens when these signals are broadcast to a network of neurons disbursed throughout the brain, which then start firing in synchrony.

Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time

(New Scientist)

But the degree of synchrony is a very carefully calibrated thing — and anesthetics disrupt this finely tuned harmony.

Indeed, anesthetics may be eliciting unconsciousness by blocking the brain’s ability to properly integrate information. Synchrony between different areas of the cortex (the part of the brain responsible for attention, awareness, thought, and memory), gets scrambled as consciousness fades. According to researcher Andres Engels, long-distance communication gets blocked, so the brain can’t build the global workspace. He says “It’s like the message is reaching the mailbox, but no one is picking it up.” Propofol in particular appears to cause abnormally strong synchrony between the primary cortex and other brain regions — and when too many neurons fire in a strongly synchronized rhythm, there’s no room for exchange of specific messages.

Rebooting the Global Workspace

There’s also the science of coming out of unconsciousness to consider. A new study shows it’s not simply a matter of the anesthetic “wearing off.”

Researchers from UCLA say the return of conscious brain activity occurs in discrete clumps, or clusters — and that the brain does not jump between all of the clusters uniformly. In fact, some of these activity patterns serve as “hubs” on the way back to consciousness.

“Recovery from anesthesia, is not simply the result of the anesthetic ‘wearing off’ but also of the brain finding its way back through a maze of possible activity states to those that allow conscious experience,” noted researcher Andrew Hudson in a statement. “Put simply, the brain reboots itself.”

Relatedly, a separate study from 2012 suggested that post-surgery confusion is the brain reverting to a more primitive evolutionary state as it goes through the “boot-up” process.

Quantum Vibrations in Microtubules?

There’s also the work of Stuart Hameroff to consider, though his approach to consciousness is still considered speculative at this point.

He pointed me to the work of the University of Pennsylvania’s Rod Eckenhoff, who has shown that anesthetics act on microtubules — extremely tiny cylindrically shaped protein polymers that are part of the cellular cytoskeleton.

Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time

Jeffrey81/Wikimedia Commons

“That suggests consciousness derives from microtubules,” Hameroff told io9.

Along with Travis Craddock, he also thinks that anesthetics bind to and affect cytoskeletal microtubules — and that anesthesia-related cognitive dysfunction is linked to microtubule instability. Craddock has found ‘quantum channels’ of aromatic amino acids in a microtubule subunit protein which regulates large scale quantum states and bind anesthetics.

I asked Hameroff where neuroscientists should focus their efforts as they work to understand the nature of consciousness.

“More studies like those of Anirban Bandyopadhyay at NIMS in Tsukuba, Japan (and now at MIT) showing megahertz and kilohertz vibrations in microtubules inside neurons,” he replied. “EEG may be the tip of an iceberg of deeper level, faster, smaller scale activities in microtubules. But they’re quantum, so though smaller, are non-local, and entangled through large regions of brain or more.”

Indeed, brain scans of various sorts are definitely the way to go, and not just for this particular line of inquiry. It will be through the ongoing discovery of NCCs that we may eventually get to the bottom of this thing called consciousness.

More:

The history of anesthesiaBite Down on a Stick: The History of AnesthesiaThere was a time when all the pain alleviation involved in surgery was a little cotton wool in the…Read more

Anesthesia unlocks a more primitive level of consciousness – If you’ve ever been put under anesthesia, you might recall a disoriented, almost delirious…Read more

Um estádio sem cantos (Globo Esporte)

Quarta-feira, 18/06/2014 às 11:57 por David Butter

Quem diria: o pior da Copa é a torcida da seleção brasileira. Não falo da torcida dos bares, das casas e das ruas, de fora dos estádios por falta de condição, gosto ou oportunidade, mas da torcida das arquibancadas. – digo “torcida” por falta de outro termo.

Não, não andamos vendo a vergonha e o banzo circulando de cabeça baixa por aeroportos ou estradas, como imaginavam antes da competição os profetas da catástrofe, e sim pelas cadeiras das arenas “padrão Fifa”. Há algo de triste em quem passa por essas cadeiras: uma modorra atravessada de impaciência e melancolia.

Pois a torcida brasileira desta Copa é, até agora, uma torcida reativa. Até no seu canto mais efusivo (“Sou brasileiro/Com muito orgulho/Com muito amor”), a torcida de estádio parece estar respondendo a alguma ofensa não-enunciada.  É como se o brasileiro entrasse xingado e cuspido nas arenas, e não extraísse disso mais do que a força para dizer: “Eu gosto do que eu sou”.

A torcida brasileira desta Copa não tem canções: tem musiquinhas que caberiam melhor numa festa de firma: expressões vagas de solidariedade e espírito coletivo – praticamente um convite às vaias e aos muxoxos. “Está ruim o salgado”, “que banda horrível é esta”, “aqueles pães-duros economizaram no uísque”: enxergo no torcedor desta Copa o “Mauro da Contabilidade”, um Jekyll chatíssimo que, nas confraternizações de fim de ano, converte-se num Hyde mais chato ainda.

E os Mauros todos converteram nisto a atual “experiência”  de ser ver um jogo da seleção: um investimento individual de tempo (e dinheiro) em troca de algum retorno. A seleção “presta serviços” aos torcedores-consumidores; é uma seleção-bufê, um atração para eventeiros. Cantar qualquer coisa além do cânone santificado pela imprensa e pela publicidade não está no “briefing”.

(Ao fato: a torcida do México berrou por cima da torcida brasileira em Fortaleza. A ponto de me parecer que, para um jogo em Guadalajara, a seleção mexicana deveria encarar o empate como um tropeço.)

O hino se esgota antes da bola rolar. Não há tempo para concursos, nem festivais. Não existe, tampouco, era de ouro de cantoria para se espelhar. O que pode entoar de novo e de firme a torcida brasileira? Funk, sertanejo, paródia obscena, qualquer coisa mais viva, e menos encaixável num anúncio de banco ou sobe-som de telejornal – jogo as opções ao alto, por desespero de causa.

Surpreenda o Brasil, Mauro. Rasgue o abadá. Seja menos convencional uma vez na vida. Tenha algo a contar para seus filhos, algo diferente de “Os mexicanos/chilenos/argentinos me calaram”.

“Exoesqueleto é um grande ganho”, diz jovem do chute inaugural da Copa (Zero Hora)

JC e-mail 4974, de 17 de junho de 2014

Paraplégico rebate contestações ao projeto do neurocientista Miguel Nicolelis

Por três segundos na última quinta-feira, Juliano Alves Pinto, 29 anos, apresentou às câmeras um projeto de R$ 33 milhões: o exoesqueleto que permitiu o jovem paraplégico dar o pontapé inaugural da Copa do Mundo. Se ao projeto do neurocientista Miguel Nicolelis não faltaram críticas, o paciente não economiza elogios ao experimento.
– Aqueles que criticam são pessoas sem informação sobre o projeto – defendeu Juliano na manhã desta segunda-feira em entrevista a Zero Hora.

Questionamentos ao experimento científico se baseiam na dimensão da demonstração frente à grandeza da promessa, classificada quase como um milagre: munido de uma veste robótica, um paraplégico levantaria de uma cadeira de rodas, caminharia até o gramado do Itaquerão e chutaria uma bola acionando apenas a força do pensamento. Não foi o que ocorreu.
– O tempo foi muito curto para que isso acontecesse – constatou o jovem.

O uso do exoesqueleto representou mais um aprendizado na vida do morador de Gália – cidade de 7 mil habitantes a cerca de 400 quilômetros da capital paulista. Há 7 anos e meio, ele perdeu o movimento das pernas ao fraturar a coluna em um acidente de trânsito – no qual perdeu um irmão de 27 anos. Sob a nova condição em cima de uma cadeira de rodas, teve de readquirir as habilidades comprometidas:

– Minha vida mudou. Antes eu conseguia fazer as minhas coisas e, de repente, precisava das pessoas para me ajudar. Tive de reaprender a fazer tudo sozinho. Hoje, levo uma vida praticamente independente, dirijo, pratico esportes, me troco, tomo banho.

Passados os segundos de fama e a repercussão posterior à abertura do Mundial – na sua cidade, foi recebido com carreata -, Juliano retoma a rotina habitual. Ainda nesta semana, participa de um campeonato que representa uma das suas motivações: o atletismo. Para o futuro, ele busca ajuda para a compra de uma nova cadeira de corrida para participar de torneios e, quem sabe, acumular pontos para se tornar profissional. Paralimpíadas em mente?

– Sonho sim. Não perco as esperanças, nunca – diz o galiense.

Confira os principais trechos da entrevista que o jovem concedeu a Zero Hora, por telefone, nesta segunda-feira:

Como ocorreu a seleção para participar do projeto Andar de Novo e da abertura da Copa?
Sou paciente da AACD (Associação de Assistência à Criança Deficiente) de São Paulo, onde o projeto já estava acontecendo e onde estavam sendo selecionados alguns pacientes. Há uns seis meses, surgiu o convite para mim e eu aceitei. Ao todo, foram selecionados 10 pacientes, oito continuaram e três foram pré-selecionados para fazer a demonstração na Copa, mas todos os outros estavam preparados para usar o exoesqueleto. Depois veio a notícia, faltando uns quatro dias para o evento, que eu fui o escolhido.

Qual foi a sensação quando você recebeu a notícia?
Fiquei muito feliz não só por estar fazendo parte do projeto e representando todos eles, mas representando todos que também têm uma deficiência como eu e sonham, um dia, ter um bem-estar melhor para a sua vida. Creio que toda essa parte da ciência vem para nos ajudar, é um bem-estar a mais para a pessoa.

Como foi a preparação e o treinamento para o projeto?
Estávamos cercados de grandes profissionais não só na parte da ciência, mas também fisiatras, fisioterapeutas. Deu tudo certo. Eu saía de Gália de madrugada, chegava em São Paulo às 8h, ficava o dia todo em treinamento e voltava para a casa.

Por que você foi o escolhido?
Eu estava mais preparado para o dia da Copa. Não que os outros não estivessem, mas eu me enquadrava melhor no perfil que eles procuravam.

Qual foi a sensação ao vestir o exoesqueleto?
Posso dizer por mim e acho que pelos outros pacientes que também tiveram a oportunidade de andar no exoesqueleto que é muito bom. Você está em uma cadeira de rodas e, por mais que ela permita que você se locomova normalmente mesmo sem ter a mobilidade das pernas, você poder trocar alguns passos novamente, é um grande ganho. No meu caso, depois de sete anos e meio, o exoesqueleto trouxe isso de volta. É algo muito satisfatório, de muita alegria, você novamente poder fazer algo que perdeu lá atrás.

Foi como caminhar novamente?
A sensação, sim. Creio que isso depende, também, da gente começar a se adaptar mais… mas, poxa, é uma sensação bem real, mesmo.

Pelo sua sensação, será possível, no futuro, trocar a cadeira de rodas pelo exoesqueleto?
Creio que sim. Durante esse pouco tempo que acompanhei o doutor Nicolelis e sua equipe, percebi que eles têm um grande potencial para que isso venha a acontecer. Mesmo que haja críticas, que as pessoas não acreditem, estando ali e presenciando o projeto, creio que isso será possível, sim.

Inicialmente, a expectativa era que você levantaria da cadeira de rodas, caminharia até a bola e a chutaria. Não foi o que aconteceu. Como você avalia o resultado da experiência?
Como o próprio Miguel Nicolelis abordou, o tempo foi muito curto para que isso viesse a acontecer. A gente se enquadrou dentro de um roteiro da Fifa. Muita gente questionou por que fizemos o que fizemos na abertura também nos ensaios, mas foi porque o tempo era aquele. Para a gente fazer tudo isso(levantar, caminhar e chutar), teríamos que ter um tempo maior, não tinha como. É como o doutor Nicolelis falou, não existe na história uma demonstração da parte robótica dessa maneira em 29 segundos. Conseguimos fazer em 16 segundos, e menos apareceu na mídia. Então, a gente se enquadrou no padrão que nos passaram, fizemos aquilo para obedecer o tempo que chegou até nós. Não que a gente tenha fugido do que foi dito, mas nos adequamos dentro do tempo que tínhamos.

Então pode-se dizer que foi um sucesso?
Com certeza. Foi um marco, algo que entrou para a história.

Apesar da ampla divulgação do projeto, o chute ganhou apenas três segundos na televisão. Você ficou chateado com a pouca visibilidade dada no momento?
Eu não tinha conhecimento que havia sido transmitido em tão pouco tempo. Quando comecei a acompanhar vi que, realmente, foi pouco mesmo. Mas, depois, foi amplamente abordado, a mídia trouxe bastante o assunto, mas acho que poderia, sim, ter se dado um tempo maior para a apresentação, ter focado mais. Não sei se posso dizer que fiquei triste, mas posso dizer que gostaria que tivesse sido dado um tempo maior.

Críticos ao neurocientista Miguel Nicolelis disseram que o projeto foi um fracasso. O que você tem a dizer a eles?
Aqueles que criticam são pessoas sem informação sobre o projeto. Eles se baseiam no que pensam, mas eu creio que, se essas pessoas estivessem vivenciando o que os pacientes viveram durante todo esse tempo, tenho certeza que os pensamentos e argumentos seriam diferentes. Não tem como você falar de uma coisa que você não conhece, como dizer que o produto é bom se você não conheceu e não sabe detalhes. Então, eu creio que essas pessoas não têm informações corretas acerca do que está acontecendo.

O que mudou na sua rotina desde quinta-feira passada?
Estou procurando viver uma rotina normal. Agora, vou voltar a treinar e quero levar a minha rotina normal. O que mudou foi aparecer bastante na mídia, foi um assunto que ficou bastante visto, mas acho que isso não tem me atrapalhado. O que eu quero fazer é deixar as coisas bem claras, não me esconder, e estar disposto a esclarecer o projeto também.

Quais são seus planos?
O projeto continua, e estou buscando a minha classificação nos jogos de atletismo que participo. Tenho o sonho de conseguir um equipamento melhor, uma cadeira de corrida, para disputar e conseguir um índice para um nacional ou até um mundial. No Brasil não se acha, apenas com representantes, e o preço vai lá em cima porque é uma cadeira importada.

(Débora Ely / Zero Hora)
http://zh.clicrbs.com.br/rs/noticias/planeta-ciencia/noticia/2014/06/exoesqueleto-e-um-grande-ganho-diz-jovem-do-chute-inaugural-da-copa-4528138.html

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro: El consumo no evita la queja (Clarín)

16/06/14

Tensión. Para el pueblo brasileño, “el gobierno se vendió a la FIFA”, sostiene el antropólogo Viveiros de Castro.

El antropólogo carioca Eduardo Viveiros de Castro estuvo recientemente –y por primera vez– en Buenos Aires. Participó del seminario “La bolsa o la vida. Modelos de desarrollo, nuevas conflictividades sociales y derechos humanos”, organizado por la Biblioteca Nacional y presentó el libro La mirada del jaguar. Una introducción al perspectivismo amerindio (Tinta Limón), que compila una serie de entrevistas donde cuenta su trayectoria como investigador. O mejor dicho, su experiencia fugitiva: cómo se conectó con los indios para huir de Brasil. “Fui a estudiar a los indios porque los indios justamente no eran brasileños. Me interesaba su total incompetencia ciudadana. La pregunta era ¿cómo salir de Brasil?, en el sentido de evitar esa problemática teórica de la nacionalidad, el destino de Brasil como nación, el carácter nacional”. La incorrección política que planteaba esa posición en los años 70 no deja de ser actual y sigue generando polémica. En esta conversación Viveiros de Castro cuenta cómo se vivieron las recientes movilizaciones callejeras y lo que se espera para este 2014 que luego del Mundial, afronta las elecciones presidenciales.

–La consigna que circuló en estos meses era sintética pero directa “No habrá copa” ¿Qué concentra esa frase?
–Para el pueblo la imagen es que el gobierno se vendió a la FIFA. La sensación es que la FIFA ha logrado que se instale un micro-estado de excepción que entrará en vigor incluso antes del campeonato. Hay una indignación patriótica por el modo en que Brasil se ha sometido a esa mega máquina de explotación capitalista que es la FIFA en tanto reduce el fútbol a un puro negocio. En Río, muchas favelas fueron removidas para hacer obras para el mundial, también por cuestiones de “seguridad”. Todo eso sucede al mismo tiempo de la propaganda de que Brasil es la nueva potencia económica mundial, con obras de infraestructura enormes, que incluye el desmonte de la Amazonía, hechas por las cinco constructoras más grandes del país que son las que contribuyen históricamente a financiar las campañas de todos los partidos, sean de derecha o de izquierda.

–¿Cómo caracterizaría esas manifestaciones?
–Son bastante inéditas. Hubo partidos de izquierda pero sin ningún control sobre la movilización. Los partidos de derecha no van. Y toda vez que un periodista de la red O Globo se acerca es expulsado, por eso estas manifestaciones son fuertemente atacadas por la prensa. Han producido su propia prensa, que se llama Midia Ninja. No hay además un solo tema. Aunque podría decirse que existen dos cuestiones fundamentales. El problema de la movilidad urbana de la población obrera de San Pablo que vive en las periferias de la ciudad y tiene que viajar horas, lo cual supone un reclamo por el tiempo que lleva ir de las casas al trabajo, una reivindicación del tiempo libre. La segunda es contra la reacción represiva de la policía frente a las marchas, ante lo cual muchos jóvenes se indignaron.

–¿Esto está en el origen de la formación de los black bloc (grupos de protesta)?
–La práctica del black bloc, especialmente en Río, tiene que ver con la respuesta al accionar de la policía militar con la que cuenta cada Estado provincial, que es como un ejército privado y una herencia del imperio. Es una policía que usa armas pesadas y entrenada para la guerra. El gobierno es acusado de complicidad con esta violencia de los Estados provinciales. Dilma ha dicho por tv que está en contra de toda manifestación que ponga en peligro el orden público. Estas palabras, viniendo de una mujer que estuvo en la guerrilla, que dijo haber sido revolucionaria, orientan el discurso del PT hacia una retórica de orden propia de una derecha más clásica.

–Las movilizaciones en Brasil, a diferencia de las últimas en Europa o EE.UU., no se dan en un momento de crisis o ajuste. Más bien lo contrario: es claramente un momento de desarrollo en términos de inclusión masiva al consumo. ¿Cómo lo interpreta?
–Hay algo muy complejo vinculado al llamado crecimiento. Una gran parte de este aumento de los ingresos por medio de beneficios sociales como el de “Bolsa Familia” ha sido utilizado como método de endeudamiento para los jóvenes pobres. El prototipo podríamos describirlo como un joven de 22 años, sin educación formal, que trabaja de cadete, cuya familia recibe ahora estos subsidios, además de las posibilidades de acceso al microcrédito que el gobierno implementó. ¿Y qué es lo primero que hace este joven? Compra una moto y se endeuda por muchísimos años de su vida con un préstamo muy oneroso con los bancos. Parte fundamental del crecimiento es por este endeudamiento general de las clases populares, especialmente con electrodomésticos. Y no está mal que alguien que no tenía heladera pase a tenerla, todo lo contrario. El problema es que no pasan a tener la heladera sino a ser tenidos por ella, es decir, por la deuda a la que quedan obligados, casi siempre por medio de tarjetas de crédito. En la medida en que ciertos gobiernos de la región se diferencian de las políticas neoliberales tal como se dieron durante los años 90 y promueven un aumento general del consumo, se genera un consenso sobre la legitimidad de estos modelos y cualquier crítica se la clasifica como proveniente de la derecha. En Brasil los que argumentan así son los que llamamos “gobernistas”, es decir, la gente de la antigua izquierda que apoya al gobierno más allá de la medida que se trate porque siempre dicen “otro gobierno sería mucho peor”. Comparado con la Argentina, en Brasil resulta más complicado porque la dictadura no terminó, los militares no han sido juzgados y siguen diciendo públicamente que salvaron al país del comunismo. Y esto, me parece, funciona en acuerdo con el PT: los militares “toleran” que el actual gobierno “de izquierda” gobierne y el gobierno “tolera” que los militares sigan diciendo lo que dicen y no se los juzgue.

–Volviendo a la cuestión del consumo, ¿no cree que cierta crítica al consumo debería plantearse el desafío de deshacerse de toda carga moral?
–Me parece que la democratización en América Latina no llega por el consumo sino por la ampliación de servicios del Estado: salud, transporte, educación. Lo que pasa en Brasil es que el consumo ha sustituido esa provisión de servicios para las clases populares. Entonces, las clases populares en vez de tener más y mejores servicios tienen su crédito para comprar bienes producidos por el gran capital, sea su motocicleta o su heladera. La cuestión es qué resulta más importante: ¿que el gobierno invierta en cloacas, puestos de salud y escuelas o que invierta en liberar de impuestos la compra de autos baratos para que los pobres puedan tener un auto? Se podría responder “las dos cosas” y es una buena cuestión. El hecho a subrayar es que el gobierno brasileño ha invertido masivamente en el consumo mediante el crédito. Y el pedido de mejoramiento de servicios públicos es justamente uno de los reclamos del Movimiento de Passe Livre que inició la ola de manifestaciones. La verdadera inclusión pasa por la inclusión en el acceso a servicios que el Estado tiene la obligación de proveer a todos. Además creo que hay dos tipos diferentes de consumo que hay que distinguir.

–¿Cuáles?
–Por un lado, el consumo de quienes no tenían nada y ahora pueden comprar su tv o su heladera. Nadie puede oponerse. De todas maneras, eso no los convierte en clase media, como dice el gobierno. Pasan de ser pobres a un poco menos pobres. Y después está el consumo inmenso de una clase media-media que pasa a ser una clase media-alta y protagoniza un ascenso de clase verdaderamente consumista: es la gente que va a Miami o a Buenos Aires para llenar valijas con productos importados de marcas de lujo. Esta gente se multiplicó tanto o más que los pobres que acceden a un crédito.

Ayahuasca: A Strong Cup of Tea (New York Times)

Then, one at a time, each got up to receive a cup of thick brownish liquid with a muddy herbal taste. It was ayahuasca (eye-uh-WAH-skuh) tea, a hallucinogenic brew from the Amazon that they hoped would open them to personal insights through optic and auditory hallucinations.

Once they drank and had settled into their spots, they waited in the darkness with just one candle flickering. The shaman played traditional stringed and wind instruments while chanting ritualistic melodies, some sweet, some guttural.

A participant who asked that her name not be used because it might jeopardize her teaching positions at several graduate programs in Manhattan settled in for the all-night journey. She had abstained for several days from alcohol, red meat, spicy foods, aged cheese and television, as prescribed by email. She had not had sex and she was not on antidepressants.

Those who have spoken positively of ayahuasca’s powers include, clockwise from top left, Lindsay Lohan, Tori Amos, Penn Badgley, Devendra Banhart and Sting. Credit Scott Roth/Invision/AP; Mike Marsland/WireImage; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Robert Wright for The New York Times; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

This would be the second time she would be in Brooklyn to participate since February, when she decided to have an ayahuasca experience just a month after her husband, who was Peruvian, had died. She had done it in Lima several years ago and found it meaningful.

“It’s a transitional time for me right now, and I want to stay open,” she had said in a phone interview the night before. “I find ayahuasca to be a purifying psychological journey.”

She’s not alone. In a world increasingly dominated by screen time, not dream time, it is not surprising that many people, having binged on yoga and meditation for years, are turning to a more dramatic catalyst for inner growth. But those who swear by ayahuasca’s usefulness (many say it’s like having 10 years of therapy in a night) also caution that it has to be treated seriously, calling their experiences while under its influence “work” because, in addition to causing them to vomit and sometimes have diarrhea, it can be frightening and challenging to the psyche.

And although two religious organizations in the United States are sanctioned to use it legally, the N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (or D.M.T.) in ayahuasca is a Schedule I controlled substance — considered to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. It is in the same category as ecstasy and heroin.

“It must be used carefully, but it has a good mind and body connection,” said Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz, Calif., who has a doctorate in public policy from Harvard. “You have a sense of inner light in your brain.”

Or as William S. Burroughs put it in a letter to Allen Ginsberg collected in the book, “The Yage Letters” about his ayahuasca experience in Panama in 1953, “I experienced first a feeling of serene wisdom so that I was quite content to sit there indefinitely.”

If the proliferation of websites, blogs, books and conferences are any indication, interest of late has been soaring for ayahuasca tea, a mix of two Amazonian plants, one a vine, the other a leaf. Combined, they contain D.M.T. and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which promote psychedelic visions and euphoria.

Following the paths of Paul Simon, Oliver Stone, Tori Amos and Sting (who wrote in his 2005 autobiography, “Broken Music,” that it was the only religious experience he ever had), younger musicians like Devendra Banhart, Ben Lee and Father John Misty of the Fleet Foxes are speaking out and creating work about their ayahuasca use in the Amazon or at home.

In an interview with L.A. Weekly, which last November put ayahuasca on its cover (calling it “exceedingly trendy” and referencing “ladies at Soho House discussing their transcendental experiences”), Chris Robinson, the lead singer of the Black Crowes and the former husband of Kate Hudson, attributed it to the opening of his mind and heart.

And at a 2012 event, Ayahuasca Monologues, Penn Badgley, who made his mark with the less than transcendent “Gossip Girl,” called it a “glittering spiritual tool.” Jennifer Aniston has a notably inauthentic Ayahuasca experience in the 2012 movie “Wanderlust,” and it has also shown up on “Weeds” and “Nip/Tuck.”

Then, in April, to push things into another level of trending, Lindsay Lohan confided on the OWN channel’s series about her that she had participated in an ayahuasca cleanse and it was helping with her addiction issues and keeping her sober.

“I saw my whole life in front of me,” she told the camera while putting on thigh high black boots and having her lips done by a makeup man. “And I had to let go of past things.” She added that she saw herself die and then being reborn.

“It was intense,” she said.

One could imagine a better advocate. On the other hand, researchers have for years been investigating psychedelics for stopping addiction to everything from cigarettes and alcohol to methamphetamine. Ibogaine (an African bark derivative with psychoactive properties that is banned in the United States) is used for heroin addiction in other countries, including Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. Ayahuasca is under study for similar uses.

“It’s a fascinating compound with a great deal to be learned from its effects,” said Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist who is the director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center and who helped administer a study in Manaus, Brazil, in the 1990s that linked dramatic positive transformations among alcoholics and drug addicts with ayahuasca use. But along with its positives, Dr. Grob is quick to list its dangers.

“When used with antidepressants it creates an excess of serotonin in the central nervous system, which can cause confusion and tremulousness,” he said. “And it can affect cardiovascular function when people have heart issues.” There are also risks of adverse effects among people with psychological problems like bipolarity or schizophrenia.

“It all comes down to preparation and setting,” he said. “If the individual is prepared, following medical and dietary restrictions in advance, and is having the experience with a knowledgeable facilitator like a traditional shaman, it is relatively safe.”

Soaring popularity has been increasing greed and trouble. In Amazonian regions of Brazil and Peru, where ayahuasca is deemed a traditional and legal medicine, tourists flock to partake in ceremonies. Most are conducted at jungle retreats by legitimate medicine men that screen for physical and mental stability and are skilled in handing severe psychological responses.

But increasingly, wrote Kelly Hearn in 2013 in Men’s Journal, a visit for ayahuasca tourists can become a nightmare, “and some don’t go home at all.” Inexpertly mixed brews or the use of another more dangerous plant, Toe, have contributed to bad reactions, as well as poor screening for medical issues. There have been cases of sexual molestation, too.

In the United States, perhaps because of the secrecy surrounding ayahuasca use and the law, there have been no negative reports. But ayahuasca made the news in 2006 when a Supreme Court ruling deemed its use legal as a tea for religious purposes. A group based in New Mexico with Brazilian roots called Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal, commonly known as U.D.V., had won its case. (The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit also sanctioned another religious organization with Brazilian roots, Santo Daime, to use ayahuasca.)

Jeffrey Bronfman, whose family once controlled the Seagram Company, is the national vice president of the U.D.V. church. “The tea really is an instrument to help us get in touch with our own spiritual nature,” he told National Public Radio last year.

Several years ago, Dr. Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies attended a ceremony at the U.D.V. church in Santa Fe. The intense ritualistic singing prompted him to think about his own inability to sing and lack of emotional connection. He went home to the Boston area, took voice lessons and started sharing lullabies with his children.

“I felt such relief when I finally sang to them,” he said.

Stories of transcendence and psychological advancement triggered by ayahuasca are a regular part of the conversation. But if visions are achieved that psychologists link to the collective unconscious, they are only made useful with rigorous interpretation upon waking.

Abby Aguirre, reporting for Marie Claire in February, described a hairdresser in her group in California using ayahuasca for addiction problems and an actress who found it helped her get over a romantic breakup by suggesting that her ex-boyfriend didn’t matter anymore.

“It’s as though a lens has been dropped over my vision, giving me heightened self-awareness and emotional intelligence,” she wrote of her own experience. The outcome? A realization that the extensive to-do lists she carries are an absurd manifestation of anxiety.

If it sounds banal to an outsider, for her, as for many others, the takeaway is profound. One fashion insider hallucinated a snake coming toward her that she perceived as representing a difficult work colleague and found herself saying, “I won’t harm you,” which reduced the threat’s size. Dr. Eduardo Gastelumendi, a psychiatrist in Lima, Peru, recalled hearing from a patient who had a troubled and distant relationship with his father. He hallucinated hugging him. A few days later, he knocked on his father’s door, threw his arms around him and they reconciled in tears.

“It opened a transformative experience for him,” said Dr. Gastelumendi, who is also a psychoanalyst. “With ayahuasca, empathy is enhanced and you see things in a different light.”

In the ayahuasca ceremony in Brooklyn, after taking a second dose of the brew and regurgitating violently (commonly referred to as a purge), the woman who had recently lost her husband was starting to see things.

“It was like a collage or jigsaw puzzle of words that was bright as an LED display in Times Square,” she recalled the next day. “It was very beautiful, but the only words I could decipher in all of it were ‘Enjoy life.’ ” She thought it might be a message from her late husband.

Not long after that, the shaman and his assistant awakened her and the rest of the group, including a young couple with a baby, to the light of a Brooklyn morning. The woman got a ritual hug, a ceremonial brushing with a frond from the jungle, ate the healthy foods people had brought, and listened to and shared hallucinatory experiences. A man in the group seemed unmoored as he talked about his discovery on this evening that everything written on paper is a lie. Others shared gentler visions and insights. Then, with two friends she had brought along, the woman left to drive back to Manhattan.

One of her friends wasn’t so sure of what she had just experienced.

“It was cool, but what did I learn from it?” she asked.

Correction: June 15, 2014
An earlier version of this article described Ayahuasca as a stimulant. It is a hallucinogen.

Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown (The Guardian)

Social science is being militarised to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and protest movements

Thursday 12 June 2014 02.00 EDT

Pentagon Building in Washington

The Pentagon is funding social science research to model risks of “social contagions” that could damage US strategic interests. Photograph: Jason Reed/REUTERS

A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term “warfighter-relevant insights” for senior officials and decision makers in “the defense policy community,” and to inform policy implemented by “combatant commands.”

Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD ‘Minerva Research Initiative’ partners with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”

Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilisation and contagions.” The project will determine “the critical mass (tipping point)” of social contagians by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”

Twitter posts and conversations will be examined “to identify individuals mobilised in a social contagion and when they become mobilised.”

Another project awarded this year to the University of Washington “seeks to uncover the conditions under which political movements aimed at large-scale political and economic change originate,” along with their “characteristics and consequences.” The project, managed by the US Army Research Office, focuses on “large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity,” and will cover 58 countries in total.

Last year, the DoD’s Minerva Initiative funded a project to determine ‘Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?’ which, however, conflates peaceful activists with “supporters of political violence” who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on “armed militancy” themselves. The project explicitly sets out to study non-violent activists:

“In every context we find many individuals who share the demographic, family, cultural, and/or socioeconomic background of those who decided to engage in terrorism, and yet refrained themselves from taking up armed militancy, even though they were sympathetic to the end goals of armed groups. The field of terrorism studies has not, until recently, attempted to look at this control group. This project is not about terrorists, but about supporters of political violence.”

The project’s 14 case studies each “involve extensive interviews with ten or more activists and militants in parties and NGOs who, though sympathetic to radical causes, have chosen a path of non-violence.”

I contacted the project’s principal investigator, Prof Maria Rasmussen of the US Naval Postgraduate School, asking why non-violent activists working for NGOs should be equated to supporters of political violence – and which “parties and NGOs” were being investigated – but received no response.

Similarly, Minerva programme staff refused to answer a series of similar questions I put to them, including asking how “radical causes” promoted by peaceful NGOs constituted a potential national security threat of interest to the DoD.

Among my questions, I asked:

“Does the US Department of Defense see protest movements and social activism in different parts of the world as a threat to US national security? If so, why? Does the US Department of Defense consider political movements aiming for large scale political and economic change as a national security matter? If so, why? Activism, protest, ‘political movements’ and of course NGOs are a vital element of a healthy civil society and democracy – why is it that the DoD is funding research to investigate such issues?”

Minerva’s programme director Dr Erin Fitzgerald said “I appreciate your concerns and am glad that you reached out to give us the opportunity to clarify” before promising a more detailed response. Instead, I received the following bland statement from the DoD’s press office:

“The Department of Defense takes seriously its role in the security of the United States, its citizens, and US allies and partners. While every security challenge does not cause conflict, and every conflict does not involve the US military, Minerva helps fund basic social science research that helps increase the Department of Defense’s understanding of what causes instability and insecurity around the world. By better understanding these conflicts and their causes beforehand, the Department of Defense can better prepare for the dynamic future security environment.”

In 2013, Minerva funded a University of Maryland project in collaboration with the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to gauge the risk of civil unrest due to climate change. The three-year $1.9 million project is developing models to anticipate what could happen to societies under a range of potential climate change scenarios.

From the outset, the Minerva programme was slated to provide over $75 million over five years for social and behavioural science research. This year alone it has been allocated a total budget of $17.8 million by US Congress.

An internal Minerva staff email communication referenced in a 2012 Masters dissertation reveals that the programme is geared toward producing quick results that are directly applicable to field operations. The dissertation was part of a Minerva-funded project on “counter-radical Muslim discourse” at Arizona State University.

The internal email from Prof Steve Corman, a principal investigator for the project, describes a meeting hosted by the DoD’s Human Social Cultural and Behavioural Modeling (HSCB) programme in which senior Pentagon officials said their priority was “to develop capabilities that are deliverable quickly” in the form of “models and tools that can be integrated with operations.”

Although Office of Naval Research supervisor Dr Harold Hawkins had assured the university researchers at the outset that the project was merely “a basic research effort, so we shouldn’t be concerned about doing applied stuff”, the meeting in fact showed that DoD is looking to “feed results” into “applications,” Corman said in the email. He advised his researchers to “think about shaping results, reports, etc., so they [DoD] can clearly see their application for tools that can be taken to the field.”

Many independent scholars are critical of what they see as the US government’s efforts to militarise social science in the service of war. In May 2008, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) wrote to the US government noting that the Pentagon lacks “the kind of infrastructure for evaluating anthropological [and other social science] research” in a way that involves “rigorous, balanced and objective peer review”, calling for such research to be managed instead by civilian agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The following month, the DoD signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the NSF to cooperate on the management of Minerva. In response, the AAA cautioned that although research proposals would now be evaluated by NSF’s merit-review panels. “Pentagon officials will have decision-making power in deciding who sits on the panels”:

“… there remain concerns within the discipline that research will only be funded when it supports the Pentagon’s agenda. Other critics of the programme, including the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, have raised concerns that the programme would discourage research in other important areas and undermine the role of the university as a place for independent discussion and critique of the military.”

According to Prof David Price, a cultural anthropologist at St Martin’s University in Washington DC and author of Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State, “when you looked at the individual bits of many of these projects they sort of looked like normal social science, textual analysis, historical research, and so on, but when you added these bits up they all shared themes of legibility with all the distortions of over-simplification. Minerva is farming out the piece-work of empire in ways that can allow individuals to disassociate their individual contributions from the larger project.”

Prof Price has previously exposed how the Pentagon’s Human Terrain Systems (HTS) programme – designed to embed social scientists in military field operations – routinely conducted training scenarios set in regions “within the United States.”

Citing a summary critique of the programme sent to HTS directors by a former employee, Price reported that the HTS training scenarios “adapted COIN [counterinsurgency] for Afghanistan/Iraq” to domestic situations “in the USA where the local population was seen from the military perspective as threatening the established balance of power and influence, and challenging law and order.”

One war-game, said Price, involved environmental activists protesting pollution from a coal-fired plant near Missouri, some of whom were members of the well-known environmental NGO Sierra Club. Participants were tasked to “identify those who were ‘problem-solvers’ and those who were ‘problem-causers,’ and the rest of the population whom would be the target of the information operations to move their Center of Gravity toward that set of viewpoints and values which was the ‘desired end-state’ of the military’s strategy.”

Such war-games are consistent with a raft of Pentagon planning documents which suggest that National Security Agency (NSA) masssurveillance is partially motivated to prepare for the destabilising impact of coming environmental, energy and economic shocks.

James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, concurs with Price’s concerns. Minerva-funded social scientists tied to Pentagon counterinsurgency operations are involved in the “study of emotions in stoking or quelling ideologically driven movements,” he said, including how “to counteract grassroots movements.”

Minerva is a prime example of the deeply narrow-minded and self-defeating nature of military ideology. Worse still, the unwillingness of DoD officials to answer the most basic questions is symptomatic of a simple fact – in their unswerving mission to defend an increasingly unpopular global system serving the interests of a tiny minority, security agencies have no qualms about painting the rest of us as potential terrorists.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @nafeezahmed.

We Have a Weather Forecast For Every World Cup Match, Even the Ones a Month Away (Five Thirty Eight)

It’s the moment every soccer fan’s been waiting for. The teams are out on the field and the match is about to begin. Then comes the rain. And then the thunder. And then the lightning. Enough of it that the match is delayed.

With the World Cup taking place in a country comprising several different ecosystems — a rain forest among them — you’re going to be hearing a lot about the weather in Brazil over the next month.

But we don’t have to wait until the day of — or even five days before — any given match to get a sense of what the weather will be. We already know the broad outlines of the next month of weather in Brazil — June and July have happened before, after all, and somebody kept track of whether it rained.

I did something like this for the Super Bowl in New York, when I provided a climatological forecast based on years worth of historical data. This isn’t the most accurate way to predict the weather — seven days before a match there will be far better forecasts — but it is a solid way to do it many weeks in advance.

I collected past weather data for the World Cup’s timespan (mid-June through mid-July) from WeatherSpark and Weather Underground for the observation stations closest to the 12 different World Cup sites. Keep in mind, the data for the different areas of Brazil hasn’t been collected for as long as it has in the United States. In some cases, we only have records since the late 1990s, which is about half as many years as I’d like to make the best climatological assessment. Still, history can give us an idea of the variability of the weather in Brazil.

You can see what high temperatures have looked like for the 12 World Cup sites in the table below. I’ve taken the average, as well as the 10th, 25th, 75th and 90th percentile for past high temperatures. This gives us a better idea of the range of what could occur than just the average. Remember, 20 percent of high temperatures have fallen out of this range.  (For games starting in the early evening, knock off a few degrees to get the expected average.)

enten-feature-worldcupweather3

What we see is that the weather can be quite comfortable or hot, depending on the site. In the southern coastal region, we see high temperatures that average below 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the cities of Curitiba and Porto Alegre. (I’ve presented all temperatures in Fahrenheit.) It may seem odd to you that southern areas are actually coolest, but remember that this is the southern hemisphere, so everything’s topsy-turvy for a Northerner. It’s winter in Brazil, and climatology suggests that we shouldn’t be surprised if the high temperature is below 60 degrees at one of these sites.

Host sites for the 2014 World Cup.
Wikimedia CommonsHost sites for the 2014 World Cup.

But most of the country is not like these two sites. Belo Horizonte and Brasilia reach the mid- to high 70s usually, but don’t go too much higher because of their elevation (2,720 feet for the former and 3,500 feet for the latter). From Rio de Janeiro northward, temperatures average 80 degrees or greater, but winds from the ocean will often keep them from getting out of hand.

The site tied for the highest median temperature is Manaus, which is also surrounded by the Amazonian rainforest, making it the most interesting site climatologically. There’s a 15 percent chance that it will rain in Manaus on any given day during the tournament. In small quantities, rain can help a passing game by making the grass slick, but if there’s too much precipitation, it can slow the ball significantly as the pitch gets waterlogged. And that doesn’t even get to the threat of lightning, which can halt a game completely.

But Manaus isn’t the site with the highest chance of rain. (Just the highest chance of thunderstorms.) To figure out what is, I looked at the average rainfall and thunderstorm tallies during the 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. hours during June and July in past years. From there I estimated the chance of rain during two-hour stretches in the afternoon and early evening, rather than for the entire day.

So here are approximations for each site on rain and thunderstorms during the games:

enten-weather-table-1It probably won’t rain during any given match, but if it does it’s likely to be in the sites closest to the tropics in the north and thehumid subtropical climate in the south. Recife, for example, has the best chance of rain of any site in the country, in part because it’s right where a lot of different air masses combine, which makes the weather there somewhat more unpredictable.

Thunderstorms, on the other hand, rarely occur anywhere besides Manaus, where the chance of a thunderstorm in a given afternoon hour is in the double digits. Manaus is also where the United States will be playing against Portugal in its second match; climatology suggests it should be a muggy game.

The Americans’ other games are likely to be hot but dry. The United States’ first match, against Ghana, is in Natal on Monday, a city that normally is expected to offer a high temperature around 84 degrees, with a slightly cooler temperature by the evening game time. The current forecasts (based on meteorological data, rather than climatology) are calling for something around normal with around a 15 percent chance of rain, as we’d expect. The weather for the U.S. team’s third match, on the coast in Recife, should be about the same. Thunderstorms probably won’t interrupt the game, but rain is possible.

Most likely, though, the weather will hold up just fine. The optimistic U.S. fan can safely engage in blue-sky thinking — for the team’s chances, and for the skies above it, even if our coach is finding another way to rain on the parade.

More Corporations Using Tag And Release Programs To Study American Consumers (Onion)

ISSUE 50•23 • Jun 13, 2014

A Procter & Gamble marketing team attaches a tracking collar to an incapacitated head-of-household specimen.

NEW YORK—In an effort to more closely observe the group’s buying habits and personal behaviors, a growing number of corporations are turning to tag and release programs to study American consumers, sources confirmed Friday.

According to reports, multinationals such as Kraft, General Electric, Goodyear, and Apple have embraced the technique of tracking down potential customers in their natural habitats of department stores and supermarkets, forcibly tranquilizing them as they shop, and then fitting them with electronic tracking devices that allow marketing departments to keep a detailed record of individuals’ every movement and purchasing decision.

“In recent weeks, we have employed our tag and release initiative to sedate and earmark consumers in several Costco parking lots and Best Buy television aisles, which has already yielded valuable data from numerous middle-class family units,” said Sony market researcher Nathan McElroy, whose team gathers data on the consumer population by attaching radio-transponder collars to specimens across all age groups and income levels. “Today we subdued and chipped a beautiful white male earning $60,000 annually whose subsequent actions—where he eats, where he works, whether he purchases extended warranties on electronic devices—will give us important insights into his demographic.”

“We’re really starting to get a clear idea of just what sales promotions and big-ticket expenditures make these fascinating creatures tick,” he continued.

Representatives from several Fortune 500 companies described to reporters a delicate process in which marketing associates journey to such varied field sites as Marshalls, OfficeMax, and Bed Bath & Beyond, where they lie in wait behind a row of shopping carts or a promotional cardboard cutout. Once a desirable target moves into view, a member of the marketing team reportedly attempts to immobilize it by firing a tranquilizer dart into its neck or haunches before it can panic and skitter off into another aisle. The unconscious consumer is then fitted with a small, subdermal acoustic tag that is synced to the subject’s credit cards, allowing marketers to both physically and financially track their quarries.

Claiming that every effort is taken to employ humane handling procedures and inflict minimal trauma, marketing associates stressed that consumers always wake up in the same clothing department or mini mall in which they were found, and most obliviously resume their browsing of store shelves within 30 minutes of being sedated.

Researchers affirmed they have become increasingly interested in valuable targets such as college graduates who allot more than $500 per month to discretionary purchases, saying they have become fascinated by the group’s herd-like movements to Panera Bread and IKEA as well as their ritual use of products such as Swiffers and tablets. By monitoring these consumers as they feed, groom, use their rewards cards, and mate, marketers acknowledged they have amassed a tremendous amount of useful knowledge.

“Just last month we collar-tagged a prime specimen of a variety we’d been attempting to capture for a very long time,” said BMW marketing executive Samantha Barlow, referring to a suburban mother in her late 40s who was found gathering bunches of watercress and beet greens at a Whole Foods, where her precise weekly route through the aisles has now been recorded and analyzed. “And we finally have geolocators implanted in several dozen young professionals aged 25 to 35, whose consumption of products such as Stella Artois, Hugo Boss apparel, and designer colognes suggest they’ll provide us with fruitful data for years to come.”

“It’s important that we tag them early in the development of their buying habits,” Barlow added. “Obviously, once they reach 65, they become useless for our purposes and we remove their tags, or just let them chew them off.”

Despite the success of their tracking programs, researchers admitted their work has been hindered by limits in their methodology, noting that they are unable to observe any quantifiable activity from as many as a quarter of their tagged targets who remain sedentary almost around the clock and rarely leave their dens. Marketers noted these larger, slower specimens must often be hit with two or three darts before they can be safely approached.

“A large portion of our targets are fast food consumers, and you’ll lose 10 or 12 percent of those each year, usually to heart disease,” said Jonathan Lockhart, an independent marketing consultant. “You hate to see that, but the upside is that we get useful data we can then turn around and sell to pharmaceutical companies.”

“What’s bad news for Burger King is great news for Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer,” he added.

Apesar do cerco das autoridades e do controle das fronteiras, barras bravas argentinas estão no Rio (Extra)

15/06/14 05:00 

Barra brava do Clube Atlético Chaco For Ever no Cristo Redentor

Barra brava do Clube Atlético Chaco For Ever no Cristo Redentor Foto: Reprodução/Twitter

Leandro Saudino e Rafael Soares

O governo argentino entregou às forças de segurança brasileiras uma lista com 2,1 mil nomes de integrantes de torcidas organizadas argentinas — as populares e violentas barras bravas. Para evitar brigas em jogos do Mundial, esses “hinchas” — que já foram condenados pela Justiça ou barrados dos estádios pelos clubes — estão proibidos de entrar em território brasileiro. Quando identificados pelas autoridades nas fronteiras, são deportados. Porém, a Interpol vê brechas no sistema.

— Pelo ar, não há como passar pelo controle migratório. Mas, por vias terrestres, em postos sem pontes, como em Santana do Livramento, na fronteira com o Uruguai, não há como controlar. Não vamos fechar 100% as fronteiras — admitiu, ao Jogo Extra, o chefe da Interpol no Brasil Luiz Eduardo Navajas. — Sem contar que torcedores fora da lista também podem fazer parte de torcidas e não temos motivos para barrá-los.

Barras do Club Atlético Talleres na praia de Copacabana

Barras do Club Atlético Talleres na praia de Copacabana Foto: Reprodução/Twitter

Apesar do cerco, alguns “hinchas” já estão no Rio: no Twitter, o perfil “barrabravphotos” postou, durante a semana, imagens que mostram os “hinchas” desfilando, com naturalidade, com suas faixas e surdos por pontos turísticos como o Cristo Redentor e a Praia de Copacabana. Nas fotos, aparecem torcedores de equipes de menor expressão no cenário argentino, como Club Deportivo Laferrere, Club Atlético Talleres e Clube Atlético Chaco For Ever.

A Polícia Federal e a Interpol monitoram os grupos de torcedores que entram no país. Os órgãos de inteligência da PF já identificaram que os torcedores mudaram a rota de entrada no país após cinco torcedores serem deportados — dois pela via aérea e três pelo município de Uruguaiana. Agora, eles estão tentando entrar pelo Uruguai, onde o controle é mais difícil.

— A lista com os barras bravas pode ser acessada em todo posto de imigração. Os barras bravas que estão na lista e conseguirem entrar vão fazer isso de forma ilegal. Vamos intensificar os bloqueios da Polícia Rodoviária nessas regiões — afirma Navajas.

Barras do Club Sportivo Dock Sud a caminho do Rio

Barras do Club Sportivo Dock Sud a caminho do Rio Foto: Reprodução/Twitter 

Alto escalão abre portas para torcedores

Organizadas, influentes e poderosas. As “hinchadas”, ao mesmo tempo em que protagonizam alguns dos episódios mais tristes do futebol argentino, frequentam os gabinetes do alto escalão da política nacional. Criado para a Copa da África do Sul, com apoio e financiamento do governo kirchnerista, o grupo Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas (HUA) — que conta com integrantes de torcidas de mais de 40 clubes do país — teve sua dissolução anunciada no início de junho.

Durante a coletiva de imprensa, a advogada da entidade Débora Hambo acusou a Associação do Futebol Argentino (AFA) de repassar entradas da Copa do Mundo do Brasil para outros grupos de barras bravas, ligados aos grandes clubes de futebol do país vizinho, como Boca Juniors e River Plate.

Barras do Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata

Barras do Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata Foto: Reprodução/Twitter

Nesse mesmo evento, a HUA divulgou que 150 integrantes da entidade viriam ao Brasil, mesmo sem ingressos, para torcer para a Argentina. Esses torcedores viriam ao Rio para tentar se encontrar com o presidente da AFA, Julio Grondona. Antes da dissolução, a HUA havia pedido à AFA 1.500 ingressos.

Em abril, o jornal argentino “Olé” publicou uma entrevista com o líder de uma torcida organizada do Internacional (Gilberto Bitancourt Viegas), conhecido como Giba, em que ele afirmava que conseguiria ingressos para 200 argentinos verem jogos da Copa.

Mesmo que os barras bravas consigam os ingressos, eles não poderão entrar nos estádios com suas faixas e instrumentos: a Fifa proíbe a entrada de cartazes com manifestações ou nomes de organizações nos estádios.

Leia mais: http://extra.globo.com/esporte/apesar-do-cerco-das-autoridades-do-controle-das-fronteiras-barras-bravas-argentinas-estao-no-rio-12864333.html#ixzz34jWTYw3z

Fogo amigo (Ciência Hoje)

Estudos mostram que a prática indígena de queimar grandes áreas de cerrado é benéfica para o bioma. Além de inofensivas, queimadas controladas protegem a vegetação e a fauna locais.

Por: Sofia Moutinho

Publicado em 05/06/2014 | Atualizado em 05/06/2014

Fogo amigo

Na ‘caçada de fogo’, tradição cultural dos xavantes, grupos de indígenas promovem queimadas controladas para acuar animais. (foto: James Welch)

Nos últimos sete anos, os índios xavantes da aldeia Pimentel Barbosa, no Mato Grosso, atearam fogo a cerca de 370 mil hectares de cerrado, o equivalente a 83% da reserva federal em que vivem. A maioria das queimadas é provocada intencionalmente para caçar animais que, acuados com as labaredas, se dispersam e caem nas mãos dos caçadores indígenas.

A informação sem contexto pode parecer chocante e antiecológica, mas pesquisadores garantem que a prática de queimar grandes áreas de cerrado – adotada por nativos há séculos – é benéfica para o bioma e seus moradores.

Os xavantes, bem como os caiapós, os crahôs e os canelas, usam o fogo para tratar a terra de plantio, para rituais e para promover a ‘caçada de fogo’. Nesse evento, realizado pelo menos uma vez por ano, indígenas liderados pelos mais velhos da tribo ateiam fogo a grandes áreas de forma controlada e estratégica. Formam um grande círculo de fogo, que pode se estender por centenas de hectares, e aguardam os animais em fuga. A caça é apresentada em cerimônias como casamentos e ritos de passagem para a vida adulta.

Veja como são feitas as caçadas de fogo

De acordo com estudos recentes, essa tradição cultural não só é inofensiva, como também promove a proteção da vegetação e, por consequência, da fauna. Análises conduzidas por pesquisadores da Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) sobre imagens de satélite da aldeia Pimentel Barbosa registradas nas últimas quatro décadas mostram que, apesar das queimadas constantes, a terra indígena mantém-se coberta de vegetação e mais bem conservada que a região ao redor, ocupada por fazendeiros. Enquanto a área desmatada na aldeia se manteve estável em 0,6% entre 1973 e 2010, o desmatamento em seu entorno aumentou de 1,5% para 26% durante igual período.

Coimbra Jr.: “A  estratégia xavante de manejar o ambiente para a própria sobrevivência é muito mais compatível com uma preservação de longa duração que as estratégias de tomada de áreas de cerrado por fazendeiros”

As imagens de satélite também revelam que, a partir de 2000, o desmatamento na terra indígena caiu 68%. O número se explica pelas incorporações de latifúndios devastados que passaram a ser dos índios a partir da década de 1980 e foram recuperados.

“Ao analisar os dados, observamos que dentro da terra indígena não existe devastação ambiental”, afirma um dos envolvidos no estudo, o biólogo e antropólogo Carlos Coimbra Jr. “As evidências apontam muito fortemente que a estratégia xavante de manejar o ambiente para a própria sobrevivência é muito mais compatível com uma preservação de longa duração que as estratégias de tomada de áreas de cerrado por fazendeiros. Fica claro que a caçada de fogo promove a preservação.”

Pesquisas dos últimos 20 anos demonstram que, de fato, o fogo pode ter um papel protetor da vegetação em paisagens campestres e de savana, como a maior parte do cerrado brasileiro. A bióloga Vânia Pivello, da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), que estuda a ação do fogo sobre a vegetação, explica que as plantas do cerrado convivem com as chamas, provocadas por raios e por humanos, há milênios.

Assim, o bioma se adaptou às queimadas. As árvores têm troncos grossos resistentes ao calor e muitos frutos têm invólucros que protegem as sementes de altas temperaturas.

Benéfico e necessário

“Em certas paisagens como as florestas tropicais – por exemplo, a Amazônia –, o fogo é extremamente prejudicial. Mas há vegetações, como a do cerrado, que precisam do fogo para cumprir seu ciclo biológico (promovendo a floração, a produção de frutos e a liberação das sementes) e, por consequência, manter os animais que se alimentam dessas plantas”, aponta. “O fogo não é só benéfico, como necessário para o cerrado.”

Por ficar muito seca na época da estiagem, a vegetação do cerrado queima com facilidade – não é à toa que a região é campeã de ocorrências de incêndios florestais do país, geralmente iniciados por raios ou queimadas ilegais que saem de controle. Por mais estranho que pareça, para evitar que esses incêndios se alastrem, o melhor aliado é o próprio fogo.

Experiências conduzidas por Pivello e colegas mostram que queimadas controladas previnem o avanço de incêndios ao consumir o excesso de matéria orgânica seca acumulada, um combustível poderoso que só espera por uma centelha para deflagrar calamidades. “O fogo pode ser um importante instrumento de manejo da vegetação”, diz a pesquisadora. “Áreas intencionalmente queimadas em padrão de mosaico funcionam como barreiras que impedem a expansão de incêndios.”

Você leu apenas o início da reportagem publicada na CH 314. Clique aqui para acessar uma edição resumida da revista e ler o texto completo.

Sofia Moutinho 
Ciência Hoje/ RJ

Rapid Language Evolution in 19th-century Brazil: Data Mining, Literary Analysis and Evolutionary Biology – A Study of Six Centuries of Portuguese-language Texts (Stanford University)

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Stanford collaboration offers new perspectives on evolution of Brazilian language

Using a novel combination of data mining, literary analysis and evolutionary biology to study six centuries of Portuguese-language texts, Stanford scholars discover the literary roots of rapid language evolution in 19th-century Brazil.

L.A. Cicero Stanford biology Professor Marcus Feldman, left, and Cuahtemoc Garcia-Garcia, a graduate student in Iberian and Latin American Cultures, combined forces to investigate the evolution of Portuguese as spoken in Brazil.

Literature and biology may not seem to overlap in their endeavors, but a Stanford project exploring the evolution of written language in Brazil is bringing the two disciplines together.

Over the last 18 months, Iberian and Latin American Cultures graduate student Cuauhtémoc García-García and biology Professor Marcus Feldman have been working together to trace the evolution of the  Brazilian Portuguese language through literature.

By combining Feldman’s expertise in mathematical analysis of cultural evolution with García-García’s knowledge of Latin American culture and computer programming, they have produced quantifiable evidence of rapid historical changes in written Brazilian Portuguese in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Specifically, Feldman and García-García are studying the changing use of words in tens of thousands of texts, with a focus on the personal pronouns that Brazilians used to address one another.

Their digital analysis of linguistics development in literary texts reflects Brazil’s complex colonial history.

The change in the use of personal pronouns, a daily part of social and cultural interaction, formed part of an evolving linguistic identity that was specific to Brazil, and not its Portuguese colonizers.

“We believe that this fast transition in the written language was due primarily to the approximately 300-year prohibition of both the introduction of the printing press and the foundation of universities in Brazil under Portuguese rule,” García-García said.

What Feldman and García-García found was that spoken language did in fact evolve during those 300 years, but little written evidence of that process exists because colonial restrictions on printing and literacy prevented language development in the written form.

A national sentiment of “write as we speak” arose in Brazil after Portuguese rule ended. García-García said their data shows an abrupt introduction in written texts of the spoken pronouns that were developed during the 300-year colonization period.

Drawing on Feldman’s experience with theoretical and statistical evolutionary models, García-García developed computer programs that count certain words to see how often they appear and how their use has changed over hundreds of years.

In Brazilian literary works produced in the post-colonial period, Feldman said, they have “found examples of written linguistic evolution over short time periods, contrary to the longer periods that are typical for changes in language.”

The findings will figure prominently in García-García’s dissertation, which addresses the transmission of written language across time and space.

The project’s source materials include about 70,000 digitized works in Portuguese from the 13th to the 21st century, ranging from literature and newspapers to technical manuals and pamphlets.

García-García, a member of The Digital Humanities Focal Group at Stanford, said their research “shows how written language changed, and through these changes in pronoun use, we now have a better understanding of how Brazilian writing evolved following the introduction of the printing press.”

Feldman, a population geneticist and one of the founders of the quantitative theory of cultural evolution, said he sees their project as a natural approach to linguistic evolution.

“I believe that evolutionary science and the humanities have a lot to offer each other in both theoretical and empirical explorations,” Feldman said.

Language by the numbers

García-García became interested in language evolution while studying Brazilian Portuguese under the instruction of Stanford lecturer Lyris Wiedemann. He approached Feldman, proposing an evolutionary study of Brazilian Portuguese, and Feldman agreed to help him analyze the data. García-García then enlisted Stanford lecturer Agripino Silveira, who provided linguistic expertise.

García-García worked with Stanford Library curators Glen Worthey, Adan Griego and Everardo Rodriguez for more than a year to develop the technical infrastructure and copyright clearance he needed to access Stanford’s entire digitized corpus of Portuguese language texts. After incorporating even more source material from the HathiTrust digital archive, García-García began the time-consuming task of “cleaning” the corpus, so data could be effectively mined from it.

“Sometimes there were duplicates, issues with the digitization, and works with multiple editions that created ‘noise’ in the corpus,” he said.

Following months of preparation, Feldman and García-García were able to begin data mining. Specifically, they counted the incidences of two pronouns, tu and você, which both mean the singular “you,” and how their incidence in literature changed over time.

“After running various searches, I could correlate results and see how and when certain words were used to build up a comprehensive image of this evolution,” he said.

Tu was – and still is – used in Portugal as the typical way to say ‘you.’ But, in Brazil, você is the more normal way to say it, particularly in major cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo where the majority of the population lives,” García-García explained.

However, that was not always the case. When Brazil was a Portuguese colony, and up until the arrival of the printing press in1808, tu was the canonical form in written language.

As part of the run-up to independence in 1822, universities and printing presses were established in Brazil for the first time in 1808, having been prohibited by the Portuguese colonizers in what García-García calls “cultural repression.”

By the late 19th century, você emerged as the way to address people, shedding part of the colonial legacy, and tu quickly became less prominent in written Brazilian Portuguese.

“Our findings quantifiably show how pronoun use developed. We have found that around 1840, vocêwas used about 10-15 percent of the time by authors to say ‘you.’ By the turn of the century, this had increased to about 70 percent,” García-García said.

“Our data suggest that você was rarely used in the late 17th and 18th centuries, but really appears and takes hold in the middle of the 19th century, a few decades after 1808. Thus, the late arrival of the printing press marks a critical point for understanding the evolution of written Portuguese in Brazil, ” he said.

From Romanticism to realism

Their research revealed an intriguing literary coincidence – the period of transition from tu to vocêcorrelated with the broad change in the dominant literary genre in Brazilian literature from European Romanticism to Latin American realism.

Interestingly, the researchers noticed that the rapid change was most evident several decades after Brazil’s independence in the 1820s because it took that long for Brazilian writers to develop their own voice and style.

For centuries Brazilian writers were forced to write in the style of the Portuguese, but as García-García said, “with their new freedom they wanted to write stories that reflected their national identity.”

“Machado de Assis, arguably Brazil’s greatest author, is a fine example. His early novels are archetypally Romanticist, and then his later novels are deeply Realist, and the use of the pronouns shift from one to the other,” García-García said.

Nonetheless, in Machado’s work there is sometimes a purposeful switch back to the tu form if, for example, the author wanted to evoke a certain sentiment or change the narrative voice.

“The data-mining project cannot ascertain subtle uses of words and how, in some works, the pronouns are ‘interchangeable,’” he added.

Computational expertise was no substitute for literary expertise, and García-García used the two disciplines in tandem to get a clearer picture in his data.

“I had to stop using the computer and go back to a close reading of a large sample of books, and the literary genre change reflects this period of post-colonial social and historical change,” he said.

Feldman and García-García hope to use their methodology to explore different languages.

“Next we hope to study the digitized Spanish language corpus, which currently comprises close to a quarter of a million works from the last 900 years,” García-García said.

Tom Winterbottom is a doctoral candidate in Iberian and Latin American Cultures at Stanford. For more news about the humanities at Stanford, visit the Human Experience.

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/june/evolution-language-brazil-060414.html

Hurricane Sandy no help to Obama in 2012 presidential race, new study suggests (Science Daily)

Date: June 5, 2014

Source: Union College

Summary: Results suggest that immediately following positive news coverage of Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath, Sandy positively influenced attitudes toward Obama, but that by Election Day, reminders of the hurricane became a drag instead of a boon for the president, despite a popular storyline to the contrary.

After Mitt Romney was defeated by President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, some political pundits and even Romney himself tried to pin the loss in part on Hurricane Sandy.

Observers, particularly conservatives, believed the storm was an “October surprise” that allowed Obama to use the trappings of his office to show sympathy and offer support for the victims. The devastating storm hit a week before Election Day, killing hundreds and causing more than $50 billion worth of damage.

But a new study examining the psychological impact of Sandy on people’s voting intentions indicate the storm’s influence was basically a washout.

“Results suggest that immediately following positive news coverage of Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath, Sandy positively influenced attitudes toward Obama, but that by Election Day, reminders of the hurricane became a drag instead of a boon for the president, despite a popular storyline to the contrary,” said Joshua Hart, assistant professor of psychology and the study’s author.

The study appears in the June/July issue of Social Science Research, a major journal that publishes papers devoted to quantitative social science research and methodology.

Two days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall Oct. 29, Hart began surveying likely voters when it became apparent the storm could impact the bitterly contested race between Obama and Romney.

Over the course of a week, the nearly 700 voters polled were asked about their exposure to the storm and related media coverage, as well as their voting intentions. Hart randomly assigned around half of each day’s sample to think about the hurricane before reporting their voting intentions, so he could compare preference for Obama versus Romney between voters who had been thinking about the storm, and those who had not.

Prior to the positive news coverage for Obama on Oct. 31, there was no influence of Sandy reminders on Obama’s vote share. This was also true on Nov. 1, the day after his well-publicized embrace with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie while touring the hard-hit Jersey Shore. It was that appearance in particular that angered Romney supporters since Christie was a Romney surrogate.

Obama did receive a slight bump in support from study participants on Nov. 2 and 3 who thought about Sandy before reporting their voting intentions, but by Election Day, this trend reversed, when news coverage of the storm shifted and became more negative, focusing on loss of life, lingering damage and power outages.

“The data suggest that people going to the polls Nov. 6 with the hurricane on their mind would have been less inclined to vote for Obama,” Hart said.

Still, that didn’t stop a number of pundits from speculating that the storm was a critical factor in Romney’s loss by slowing his momentum, despite polling evidence to the contrary. In winning 26 states and collecting 332 electoral votes, Obama received 51.1 percent of the popular vote to Romney’s 47.2 percent.

Shortly after the election, Romney insisted Sandy played no role in his defeat.

“I don’t think that’s why the president won the election,” Romney told Fox News, instead blaming his own “47 percent” comments and his inability to connect with minority voters.

Six months later, Romney changed his tune.

“I wish the hurricane hadn’t have happened when it did because it gave the president a chance to be presidential and to be out showing sympathy for folks,” Romney told CNN.

Hart said his study doesn’t reflect the whole of the story on Sandy’s effect in the 2012 race, but that the results say more about the pundits than the voters.

“What it says about voters, perhaps, is that it can be difficult to predict or intuit exactly how they are going to process something like Sandy,” he said.

“It depends on a number of variables and the effect may change over even shorter stretches of time. Yet pundits tend to seize on certain ‘laws’ such as presiding over a disaster makes an incumbent look presidential. But each event like Sandy deserves to be studied as a unique occurrence to help answer questions about the impact of unpredictable, large-scale events as they unfold.”

In trying to determine whether or how an event affects elections, Hart says that it is important to use experimental approaches to test the influence of “priming,” or activating thoughts of different topics, on voters’ attitudes, in addition to more traditional polling methodology.

 

Journal Reference:

  1. Joshua Hart. Did Hurricane Sandy influence the 2012 US presidential election?Social Science Research, 2014; 46: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.02.005

Brazil plans to stop the killing of pink dolphins (Washington Post)

FILE – In this Nov. 2005 FILE photo released by Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (INPA), an Amazon river dolphin swims in the Airao River in Amazonas state, Brazil. Brazil will temporarily ban the catch of a type of catfish in an effort to halt the killing of the Amazon pink dolphin, whose flesh is used as bait, the Fishing and Aquaculture Ministry said Tuesday, June, 3, 2014. (Sefora Antela Violante, INPA, File/Associated Press)

 June 3

SAO PAULO — Brazil will temporarily ban the catch of a type of catfish in an effort to halt the killing of the Amazon pink dolphin, whose flesh is used as bait, the Fishing and Aquaculture Ministry said Tuesday.

Ministry spokesman Ultimo Valadares said the government is working out the details of a five-year moratorium on fishing of the species called piracatinga that is expected to go into effect early next year.

“That should give us enough time to find an alternative bait for the piracatinga,” Valadares said by phone.

Nivia do Campo, president of an environmental activist group in the northern jungle state of Amazonas, welcomed the news because more than 1,500 freshwater dolphins are killed annually in the Mamiraua Reserve where she studies the mammals.

She said that since 2000, when fishermen started slaughtering them for bait, the number of dolphins living on the reserve has been dropping by about 10 percent a year. The reserve currently has a population of about 13,000 dolphins.

Poor fishermen are encouraged to use dolphin flesh as bait by merchants from neighboring Colombia, a big market for that species, de Campo said.

Known as the “water vulture” because it thrives on decomposing matter in rivers, the piracatinga is not consumed by people living along the rivers of the Amazon region.

The pink dolphin is under threat, “and if nothing is done to stop the killing it will become extinct,” de Campo added. “That is why the moratorium is excellent news. It will allow us to discover other baits fishermen can and continue earning money selling piracatinga she said.

The moratorium will also help stop the killing of the Amazon caiman, whose flesh is also used as bait to catch piracatinga.

For centuries, the pink dolphins have been revered by locals and protected by myth. According to one tale, the dolphins transform into handsome men and leave the water at night, seducing local women before returning to the river. Many consider it bad luck to kill them.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Brazil builds nuclear submarine to patrol offshore oil (Channel News Asia)

POSTED: 04 Jun 2014 07:15

Brazil is building five submarines to patrol its massive coast, including one powered by an atomic reactor that would put it in the small club of countries with a nuclear sub.

The BNS S34 Tikuna Brazilian diesel-electric powered submarine moored at the navy base in Niteroi, Brazil. (AFP/Yasuyoshi Chiba)

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil is building five submarines to patrol its massive coast, including one powered by an atomic reactor that would put it in the small club of countries with a nuclear sub.

The South American giant is in the process of exploring major oil fields off its shores that could make it one of the world’s top petroleum exporters.

The new submarines aim to protect that resource, said the navy official coordinating the US$10-billion project, Gilberto Max Roffe Hirshfeld.

“The nuclear-propelled submarine is one of the weapons with the greatest power of dissuasion,” he told AFP.

“Brazil has riches in its waters. It’s our responsibility to have strong armed forces. Not to make war, but to avoid war. So that no one tries to take away our riches.”

The new submarines, which will replace Brazil’s aging fleet of five conventional subs, are being built at a sprawling 540,000-square-metre complex in Itaguai, just south of Rio de Janeiro.

The project is a joint venture between the navy, Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht and French state defense firm DCNS.

Brazil and France signed a deal for the project in 2008 under which DCNS is providing building materials and training while Brazil builds up its own submarine industry.

Brazil is developing the nuclear reactor and enriched uranium itself.

The first submarine, a conventional sub called SBR1, is 45-percent complete and scheduled to launch in 2017. The second is in the early stages of construction and is due to launch in 2019.

Work on the nuclear sub, SNBR, is supposed to start in 2017, with a launch target of 2025, the year the project wraps up.

Workers are assembling the submarines in a massive 38-metre-tall hangar, putting together the giant sheets of steel that will form the hulls.

When complete, the nuclear submarine will measure 100 metres long and weigh 6,000 tonnes. Its conventional cousins will be slightly smaller, at 75 metres and 2,000 tonnes.

Currently the only countries to design and build their own nuclear submarines are the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus India, which has completed one and is in the process of building more.

Unlike conventional submarines, which run on electric or diesel engines and have to resurface every 12 to 24 hours to refuel, nuclear submarines run on atomic power and can stay immersed indefinitely.

They can also be outfitted to launch nuclear warheads — though under Brazil’s constitution and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the country is barred from developing atomic weapons.

Its five new submarines will be equipped with conventional torpedos.

Brazil’s navy says the conventional submarines will patrol ports and other strategic points along the country’s 8,500-kilometre coast.

The SNBR will patrol farther away, around the country’s “pre-salt” deepwater oil reserves — estimated at up to 35 billion barrels — and the so-called Blue Amazon, a biodiverse area off the coast with minerals including gold, manganese and limestone.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Brazil had one of the world’s 15 largest defense budgets in 2013, at US$31.5 billion.

Working with community dogs in Brazil (University of British Columbia)

UNDERGRADUATE EUGENIA KWOK: WORKING WITH COMMUNITY DOGS IN BRAZIL

Eugenia with cachorro

Under the supervision of UBC’s Nina von Keyserlingk, Eugenia Kwok, an undergraduate in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems Applied Animal Biology Program, applied for a MITACS undergraduate research grant to work this summer with Dr Carla Molento, Laboratório de Bem-estar Animal, Division of Agricultural Sciences, Universidade Federal do Parana. Eugenia will spend the summer working on a project entitled “Assessing the incidents of positive and negative behaviour and interaction between stray dogs and the community of Campo Largo, Brazil”. While these animals are collectively cared for by community members, community dogs seem to maintain casual relationships with people and lack true owners or guardians. Currently, very little is known about the daily activities of these stray dogs or the types of interactions that they encounter with humans and other dogs in their area.  Eugenia hopes that her work will contribute valuable information that can improve population management of these community dogs without jeopardizing animal welfare.

Mudanças climáticas já causam queda da produtividade agrícola no mundo (Fapesp)

Avaliação é de Jerry Hatfield, diretor do Laboratório Nacional de Agricultura e Meio Ambiente do Departamento de Agricultura dos Estados Unidos (foto:Eduardo Cesar/FAPESP)

03/06/2014

Por Elton Alisson

Agência FAPESP – As mudanças climáticas têm causado alterações nas fases de reprodução e de desenvolvimento de diferentes culturas agrícolas, entre elas milho, trigo e café. E os impactos dessas alterações já se refletem na queda da produtividade no setor agrícola em países como Brasil e Estados Unidos.

A avaliação foi feita por pesquisadores participantes do Workshop on Impacts of Global Climate Change on Agriculture and Livestock , realizado no dia 27 de maio, no auditório da FAPESP.

Promovido pelo Programa FAPESP de Pesquisa sobre Mudanças Climáticas Globais, o objetivo do evento foi reunir pesquisadores do Brasil e dos Estados Unidos para compartilhar conhecimentos e experiências em pesquisas sobre o impactos das mudanças climáticas globais na agricultura e na pecuária.

“Sabemos há muito tempo que as mudanças climáticas terão impactos nas culturas agrícolas de forma direta e indireta”, disse Jerry Hatfield, diretor do Laboratório Nacional de Agricultura e Meio Ambiente do Departamento de Agricultura dos Estados Unidos (USDA, na sigla em inglês). “A questão é saber quais serão o impacto e a magnitude dessas mudanças nos diferentes países produtores agrícolas”, disse o pesquisador em sua palestra no evento.

De acordo com Hatfield, um dos principais impactos observados nos Estados Unidos é a queda na produtividade de culturas como o milho e o trigo. O país é o primeiro e o terceiro maior produtor mundial desses grãos, respectivamente. “A produção de trigo [nos Estados Unidos] não atinge mais grandes aumentos de safra como os obtidos entre as décadas de 1960 e 1980”, afirmou.

Uma das razões para a queda de produtividade dessa e de outras culturas agrícolas no mundo, na avaliação do pesquisador, é o aumento da temperatura durante a fase de crescimento e de polinização.

As plantas de trigo, soja, milho, arroz, algodão e tomate têm diferentes faixas de temperatura ideal para os períodos vegetativo – de germinação da semente até o crescimento da planta – e reprodutivo – iniciado a partir da floração e formação de sementes.

O milho, por exemplo, não tolera altas temperaturas na fase reprodutiva. Já a soja é mais tolerante a temperaturas elevadas nesse estágio, comparou Hatfield.

O que se observa em diferentes países, contudo, é um aumento da frequência de dias mais quentes, com temperatura até 5 ºC mais altas do que a média registrada em anos anteriores, justamente na fase de crescimento e de polinização.

“Observamos diversos casos de fracasso na polinização de arroz, trigo e milho em razão do aumento da temperatura nessa fase. E, se o aumento de temperatura ocorrer com déficit hídrico, o impacto pode ser exacerbado”, avaliou.

Segundo Hatfield, a temperatura noturna mínima tem aumentado mais do que a temperatura máxima à noite. A mudança causa impacto na respiração de plantas à noite e reduz sua capacidade de fotossíntese durante o dia, apontou.

Pesquisas com milho

Em um estudo realizado no laboratório de Hatfield no USDA em um rizontron – equipamento para a análise de raízes de plantas no meio de cultivo –, pesquisadores mantiveram três diferentes variedades de milho em uma câmara 4 ºC mais quente do que outra com temperatura normal, para avaliar o impacto do aumento da temperatura nas fases vegetativa e reprodutiva da planta.

“Constatamos que a fisiologia da planta é muito afetada por aumento de temperatura principalmente na fase reprodutiva”, contou o pesquisador.

Em outro experimento, os pesquisadores mantiveram uma variedade de milho cultivada nos Estados Unidos em uma câmara com temperatura 3 ºC acima da que a planta tolera na fase de crescimento, em que é determinado o tamanho da espiga.

O aumento causou uma redução de 15 dias no período de preenchimento dos grãos de milho e interrupção na capacidade da planta de completar esse processo, o que se refletiu em queda de produtividade.

“Observamos que, se as plantas forem expostas a uma temperatura noturna relativamente alta no período de preenchimento dos grãos, essa fase de desenvolvimento é interrompida”, afirmou Hatfield.

“O problema não é a temperatura média a que a planta pode ficar exposta na fase reprodutiva, mas a temperatura mínima. Precisamos entender melhor essa interação das culturas agrícolas com o ambiente e o clima para aumentar a resiliência delas à elevação da temperatura e à frequência de eventos climáticos extremos”, avaliou.


Impactos no Brasil

No Brasil, as mudanças climáticas já modificam a geografia da produção agrícola, afirmou Hilton Silveira Pinto, diretor do Centro de Pesquisas Meteorológicas e Climáticas Aplicadas à Agricultura (Cepagri), da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp).

O ano passado foi o mais seco desde 1988 – quando o Cepagri iniciou suas medições climáticas. Registrou-se uma média de 1.186 milímetros de chuva contra 1.425 milímetros observados nos anos anteriores. O mês mais crítico do ano foi dezembro, quando choveu 83 milímetros. A média para o mês é 207 milímetros, comparou Silveira Pinto.

“O final de ano muito seco atrapalhou bastante a agricultura em São Paulo, porque a época de plantio dos agricultores daqui é justamente no período entre outubro e novembro”, disse Silveira Pinto durante sua palestra.

“O plantio de algumas culturas deverá ser atrasado, porque há uma variabilidade bastante sensível no regime pluviométrico das áreas em que determinadas culturas podem ser plantadas”, afirmou.

Segundo o pesquisador, a partir dos anos 2000 não foi registrada mais geada em praticamente nenhuma região de São Paulo, evidenciando um aumento da temperatura no estado.

Um reflexo dessa mudança é a migração da produção do café em São Paulo e Minas Gerais para regiões mais elevadas, com temperaturas mais propícias para o florescimento da planta. A cada 100 metros de altitude, a temperatura diminui cerca de 0,6 ºC, segundo Silveira Pinto.

Durante o período de florescimento do café, quando os botões florais tornam-se grãos de café, a planta não pode ser submetida a temperaturas acima de 32 ºC. Apenas uma tarde com essa temperatura nesse período é suficiente para que a flor seja abortada e não forme o grão.

“O registro de temperaturas acima de 32 ºC tem ocorrido com mais frequência na região cafeeira de São Paulo. Com o aquecimento global, deverá aumentar entre 5 e 10 vezes a incidência de tardes quentes no florescimento da planta”, disse Silveira Pinto. “Isso pode fazer com que não seja mais viável produzir café nas partes mais baixas de São Paulo nas próximas décadas.”

“A produção do café no Brasil deve migrar para a Região Sul”, afirmou. “O café brasileiro deverá ser produzido nos próximos anos em estados como Paraná e Santa Catarina.”

Abelhas “biônicas” vão ajudar a monitorar mudanças climáticas na Amazônia (O Globo)

JC e-mail 4966, de 04 de junho de 2014

Microssensores instalados em insetos vão colher dados sobre seu comportamento e do ambiente

Nas suas idas e vindas das colmeias, as abelhas interagem com boa parte do ambiente em sua volta, além de realizarem um importante trabalho de polinização de plantas que muito contribui para a manutenção da biodiversidade e a produção de alimentos em todo mundo. Agora, enxames delas vão assumir um outro papel, o de estações meteorológicas “biônicas”, para ajudar a monitorar os efeitos das mudanças climáticas na Amazônia e em seu próprio comportamento.

Desde a semana passada, pesquisadores do Instituto Tecnológico Vale (ITV) e da CSIRO, agência federal de pesquisas científicas da Austrália, estão instalando microssensores em 400 abelhas de um apiário no município de Santa Bárbara do Pará, a uma hora de distância de Belém, na primeira fase da experiência, que também visa descobrir as causas do chamado Distúrbio de Colapso de Colônias (CCD, na sigla em inglês), que só nos Estados Unidos já provocou a morte de 35% desses insetos criados em cativeiro.

– Não sabemos como as abelhas vão se comportar diante das projeções de aumento da temperatura e mudanças no clima devido ao aquecimento global – conta o físico Paulo de Souza, pesquisador-visitante do ITV e da CSIRO e responsável pela experiência. – Assim, entender como elas vão se adaptar a estas mudanças é importante para podermos estimar o que pode acontecer no futuro.

Souza explica que os microssensores usados no experimento são capazes de gerar a própria energia e captar e armazenar dados não só do comportamento das abelhas como da temperatura, umidade e nível de insolação do ambiente. Tudo isso espremido em um pequeno quadrado com 2,5 milímetros de lado com peso de 5,4 miligramas, o que faz com que as abelhas, da espécie Apis mellifera africanizadas, com em média 70 miligramas de peso, sintam como se estivessem “carregando uma mochila nas costas”.

– Mas isso não afeta o comportamento delas, que se adaptam muito rapidamente à instalação dos microssensores – garante.

Já a partir no próximo semestre, os pesquisadores deverão começar a instalar os microssensores, que custam US$ 0,30 (cerca de R$ 0,70) cada, em espécies nativas da Amazônia não dotadas de ferrão. Segundo Souza, estas abelhas são ainda mais importantes para a polinização das plantas da região, e são também mais sensíveis a mudanças no ambiente. Assim, a escala da experiência deve aumentar, com a utilização de 10 mil dos pequenos aparelhos ao longo de várias gerações de abelhas, que vivem em média dois meses.

O tamanho dos atuais sensores, porém, não permite que o dispositivo seja instalado em insetos menores, como mosquitos. Por isso, o grupo de Paulo de Souza já trabalha numa nova geração de microssensores com um décimo de milímetro, ou o equivalente a um grão de areia. Segundo o pesquisador, os novos sensores, que devem ficar prontos em quatro anos, terão as mesmas capacidades dos atuais, com a vantagem de serem “ativos”, isto é, vão poder transmitir em tempo real os dados coletados.

– Quando tivermos os sensores deste tamanho, poderemos aplicá-los na forma de spray nas colmeias, além de usá-los para monitorar outras espécies de insetos, como mosquitos transmissores de doenças – diz. – Mas a vantagem principal é que com eles vamos poder fazer das abelhas e outros insetos verdadeiras estações meteorológicas ambulantes, permitindo um monitoramento ambiental numa escala sem precedentes, já que cada abelha ou mosquito vai atuar como um agente de campo.

(Cesar Baima / O Globo)
http://oglobo.globo.com/sociedade/ciencia/abelhas-bionicas-vao-ajudar-monitorar-mudancas-climaticas-na-amazonia-12712798#ixzz33gDI4XQy