Arquivo mensal: janeiro 2016

Roraima registra 17 mil focos e cenário se parece com o de 1998 (Folha BV)

QUEIMADAS AVANÇAM

Situação do fogo caminha para uma situação muito semelhante ao grande incêndio de 1998, só que desta vez o Estado está melhor preparado

Por Luan Guilherme Correia

Em 27/01/2016 às 00:00

Estimativa da Defesa Civil é que o Estado receba R$ 50 milhões para o combate à estiagem e incêndios (Foto: Rodrigo Sales)

A situação crítica dos municípios de Roraima com a forte estiagem elevou para 17.567 o número de focos de calor registrados somente nos 26 primeiros dias do ano. Os dados são do Sistema de Informações Geográficas e Banco de Dados de todos os Focos, do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe). A situação é muito semelhante ao grande incêndio que atingiu o Estado no ano de 1998.

Os municípios mais afetados por queimadas são Caracaraí, com 4.029 focos; Rorainópolis, com 3.817; Caroebe, com 2.007; Mucajaí, com 1.772; e Iracema, com 1.173 registros. Os municípios de Bonfim, Cantá, São Luiz do Anauá, Pacaraima, Amajari, São João da Baliza, Normandia e Alto Alegre também registraram focos e decretaram situação de emergência por conta da estiagem.

No decreto, os municípios justificaram a emergência para ação imediata de socorro e assistência à população. A alegação é de que a malha viária do Estado é de 7.949 quilômetros, sendo muitas vezes o único meio de acesso às localidades que sofrem com a estiagem. Cada município solicitou do Governo do Estado veículos do tipo pick-up para transporte terrestre de material e pessoal, máquinas retroescavadeiras e escavadeiras para recuperação e escavação de bebedouros e cacimbas, além das pranchas para o transporte dos maquinários.

De acordo com a Defesa Civil Estadual, todos os municípios roraimenses enfrentam graves problemas com a escassez de água e os incêndios florestais. Para contornar a grave situação, o Corpo de Bombeiros mantém bases extras de combate a incêndios e queimadas.

As bases estão montadas em Alto Alegre, Amajari, na região de Samaúma (Mucajaí), no Repartimento (Iracema) e na Vila Felix Pinto (Cantá), além do reforço do efetivo na Capital e nas companhias de Caracaraí, Rorainópolis e Pacaraima. São Luiz do Anauá e Caroebe, na região de Campos Novos, Sul do Estado, onde há a maior incidência de incêndios, inclusive criminosos, devem receber bases nos próximos dias.

O secretário-executivo da Defesa Civil, coronel Claudimar Ferreira, destacou a necessidade de brigadistas para atuarem nas bases dos municípios. “Precisamos de reforço o quanto antes. Para isso, iremos contratar 150 brigadistas e vamos receber mais 100 homens do Exército. Além disso, pedimos mais efetivo da Secretaria Nacional da Defesa Civil para controlar a situação”, disse.

Conforme ele, apesar de os incêndios em áreas de pastagens estarem sendo controlados, a prática criminosa de produtores rurais e de anônimos têm dificultado o trabalho dos brigadistas. “Essa prática não conseguimos dar conta, porque enquanto os bombeiros trabalham, outras pessoas ateiam fogo”, lamentou.

A situação mais crítica, de acordo com Cleudiomar, está na região conhecida como “Arco de Fogo”, que abrange os municípios de Mucajaí, Cantá, Alto Alegre e Amajari. “Tivemos que deslocar para lá vários grupos de outras bases porque a situação saiu do controle. O caos foi total, mas com o reforço do efetivo essas áreas queimadas estão mais controladas”, explicou.

Para ele, Roraima está se encaminhando para um cenário caótico por conta da estiagem, pior do que o encontrado em 1998, quando o Estado ganhou destaque mundial pelos grandes incêndios. “Naquela época, quando demos as primeiras respostas, a situação já era incontrolável. Hoje, estamos muito mais tranquilos, porque estamos nos planejando a tempo de evitar grandes prejuízos”, afirmou.

Estimativa de recursos destinados ao combate à estiagem é de R$ 50 milhões

Somando os recursos necessários para combater a estiagem em Roraima, a estimativa é que o Estado receba R$ 50 milhões nos próximos meses. Conforme o coronel Cleudiomar Ferreira, o montante deverá ser enviado após a formalização de um documento que vai definir onde e em que será aplicado.

Os recursos devem ser empregados com a locação de veículos, máquinas, carretas, carros-pipa, além da contratação de brigadistas e reconstrução de pontes destruídas pela estiagem. “Após redimensionar toda essa estrutura, é provável que isso consiga atingir esse montante. Isso está sendo levantado entre a Defesa Civil e as Secretarias de Agricultura, Planejamento e Infraestrutura”, frisou o coronel. (L.G.C)

Anúncios

Meteorologista da Funceme. “A gente fica feliz com essas chuvas” (O Povo)

AGUANAMBI 282

DOM 24/01/2016

De acordo com o meteorologista da Funceme Raul Fritz, vórtice ciclônico, característico da pré-estação chuvosa, pode render chuvas intensas em janeiro, como ocorreu no ano de 2004

Luana Severo, luanasevero@opovo.com.br

FOTOS IANA SOARES

Segundo Fritz, a ciência climática não chegou a um nível tão preciso para ter uma previsão confiável 

Cotidiano

“Nós não queremos ser Deus, apenas tentamos antecipar o que pode acontecer”. Nascido em Natal, no Rio Grande do Norte, Raul Fritz, de 53 anos, é supervisor da unidade de Tempo e Clima da Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (Funceme). Ele, que afirmou não querer tomar o lugar de Deus nas decisões sobre o clima, começou a trabalhar para a Funceme em 1988, ainda como estagiário, pouco após uma estiagem que se prolongou por cinco anos no Estado, entre 1979 e 1983.

Os anos de prática e a especialização em meteorologia por satélite conferem a Fritz a credibilidade necessária para, por meio de mapas, equações numéricas e o comportamento da natureza, estimar se chove ou não no semiárido cearense. Ele compôs, portanto, a equipe de meteorologistas da Fundação que, na última quarta-feira, 20, previu 65% de chances de chuvas abaixo da média entre os meses de fevereiro e abril deste ano prognóstico que, se concretizado, fará o Ceará completar cinco anos de seca.

Em entrevista ao O POVO, ele detalha o parecer, define o sistema climático cearense e comenta sobre a conflituosa relação entre a Funceme e a população, que sustenta o hábito de desconfiar de todas as previsões do órgão, principalmente porque, um dia após a divulgação do prognóstico, o Estado foi tomado de susto por uma intensa chuvarada.

O POVO – Mesmo com o prognóstico desanimador de 65% de chances de chuvas abaixo da média entre os meses de fevereiro e abril, o cearense tem renovado a fé num “bom inverno” devido às recentes precipitações influenciadas pelo Vórtice Ciclônico de Altos Níveis (VCAN). Há a possibilidade de esse fenômeno perdurar?

Raul Fritz – Sim. Esse sistema que está atuando agora apresenta maior intensidade em janeiro. Ele pode perdurar até meados de fevereiro, principalmente pelas circunstâncias meteorológicas atmosféricas que a gente vê no momento.

OP – Por que o VCAN não tem relação com a quadra chuvosa?

Raul – A quadra chuvosa é caracterizada pela atuação de um sistema muito importante para o Norte e o Nordeste, que é a Zona de Convergência Intertropical (ZCI). É o sistema que traz chuvas de forma mais regular para o Estado. O vórtice é muito irregular. Tem anos em que ele traz boas chuvas, tem anos em que praticamente não traz.

OP – O senhor consegue lembrar outra época em que o VCAN teve uma atuação importante em relação às chuvas?

Raul – Em 2004, houve muita chuva no período de janeiro. Em fevereiro também tivemos boas chuvas, mas, principalmente, em janeiro, ao ponto de encher o reservatório do Castanhão, que tinha sido recém-construído. Mas, os meses seguintes a esses dois não foram bons meses de chuva, então é possível a gente ter esse período de agora bastante chuvoso, seguido de chuvas mais escassas.

OP – O que impulsiona o quadro de estiagem
no Ceará?

Raul – Geograficamente, existem fatores naturais que originam um estado climático de semiaridez. É uma região que tem uma irregularidade muito grande na distribuição das chuvas, tanto ao longo do território como no tempo. Chuvas, às vezes, acontecem bem num período do ano e ruim no seguinte, e se concentram no primeiro semestre, principalmente entre fevereiro e maio, que a gente chama de ‘quadra chuvosa’. Aí tem a pré-estação que, em alguns anos, se mostra boa. Aparenta ser o caso deste ano.

OP – A última seca prolongada no Ceará, que durou cinco anos, ocorreu de 1979 a 1983. Estamos, atualmente, seguindo para o mesmo quadro. O que é capaz de interromper esse ciclo?

Raul – O ciclo geralmente não ultrapassa ou tende a não ultrapassar esse período. A própria variabilidade climática natural interrompe. Poucos casos chegam a ser tão extensos. É mais frequente de dois a três anos. Mas, às vezes, podem se estender a esses dois exemplos, de cinco anos seguidos de chuvas abaixo da média. Podemos ter, também, alguma influência do aquecimento global, que, possivelmente, perturba as condições naturais. Fenômenos como El Niños intensos contribuem. Quando eles chegam e se instalam no Oceano Pacífico, tendem a ampliar esse quadro grave de seca, como é o caso de agora. Esse El Niño que está atuando no momento é equivalente ao de 1997 e 1998, que provocou uma grande seca.

OP – É uma tendência esse panorama de grandes secas intercaladas?

Raul – Sim, e é mais frequente a gente ter anos com chuvas entre normal e abaixo da média, do que anos acima da média.

OP – A sabedoria popular, na voz dos profetas da chuva, aposta em precipitações regulares este ano. Em que ponto ela converge com o conhecimento científico?

Raul – O profeta da chuva percebe, pela análise da natureza, que os seres vivos estão reagindo às condições de tempo e, a partir disso, elabora uma previsão de longo prazo, que é climática. Mas, essa previsão climática pode não corresponder exatamente a um prolongamento daquela variação que ocorreu naquele momento em que ele fez a avaliação. Se acontecer, ele acha que acertou a previsão de clima. Se não, ele considera que errou. Mas, pode coincidir que essa variação a curto prazo se repita e se transforme em longo prazo. Aí é o ponto em que converge. A Funceme tenta antecipar o que pode acontecer num prazo maior, envolvendo três meses a frente. É um exercício muito difícil.

OP – Geralmente, há uma descrença da população em torno das previsões da Funceme. Como desmistificar isso?

Raul – A previsão oferece probabilidades e qualquer uma delas pode acontecer, mas, a gente indica a mais provável. São três que nós lançamos. Acontece que a população não consegue entender essa informação, que é padrão internacional de divulgação. Acha que é uma coisa determinística. Que, se a Funceme previu como maior probabilidade termos chuvas abaixo da média em certo período, acha que já previu seca. Mas, a mais provável é essa mesmo, até para alertar às pessoas com atividades que dependem das chuvas e ao próprio Governo a tomarem precauções, se prevenirem e não só reagirem a uma seca já instalada.

OP – A Funceme, então, também se surpreende com as ocorrências de menor probabilidade, como o VCAN?

Raul – Sim, porque esses vórtices são de difícil previsibilidade. A ciência não conseguiu chegar num nível de precisão grande para ter uma previsão confiável para esse período (de pré-estação chuvosa). De qualquer forma, nos é exigido dar alguma ideia do que possa acontecer. É um risco muito grande que a Funceme assume. A gente sofre críticas por isso. Por exemplo, a gente lançou a previsão de chuvas abaixo da média, aí no outro dia vem uma chuva muito intensa. As pessoas não compreendem, acham que essas chuvas do momento vão se prolongar até o restante da temporada. Apesar da crítica da população, que chega até a pedir para fechar o órgão, a gente fica feliz com a chegada
dessas chuvas.

Frase

“A gente lançou a previsão de chuvas abaixo da média, aí no outro dia vem uma chuva muito intensa. As pessoas não compreendem, acham que essas chuvas do momento vão se prolongar até o restante da temporada”

Raul Fritz, meteorologista da Funceme

VIDEO

Raul Fritz, o cientista da chuva

IANA SOARES/O POVO

Nascido em Natal, no Rio Grande do Norte, Raul Fritz, de 53 anos, é supervisor da unidade de Tempo e Clima da Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (Funceme). Ele começou a trabalhar para a Funceme em 1988, ainda como estagiário, pouco após uma estiagem que se prolongou por cinco anos no Estado, entre 1979 e 1983.

Efeitos bifásicos da ayahuasca (Plantando Consciência)

30 de setembro de 2015

Efeitos bifásicos da Ayahuasca

Foi publicado hoje na revista científica PLOS ONE artigo com os resultados de nosso estudo neurocientífico sobre a ayahuasca. Fruto de pouco mais de quatro anos de intenso e dedicado trabalho, a pesquisa foi conduzida na UNIFESP com financiamento da FAPESP, com cooperações na USP, UFABC, Louisiana State University (EUA) e da University of Auckland (Nova Zelândia). Além da colaboração da União do Vegetal que nos forneceu Hoasca para fins de pesquisa, e de 20 bravos(as) psiconautas experientes no uso da bebida amazônica. Nossos(as) voluntários(as) se disponibilizaram a participar de um processo em um ambiente e com uma proposta que difere em muito dos usos tradicionais, e era bastante desafiadora. Beberam ayahuasca num laboratório universitário, sem canto nem palo santo, sem reza, dança ou fogueira, no meio da conturbada metrópole paulista. E tiveram que usar uma touca que gravava a atividade elétrica de seus cérebros continuamente num notebook próximo a elas. Sentadas em uma poltrona confortável, doaram pequenas quantidades de sangue a cada 25 minutos. Apesar de não ter a fundamental condução dos guias, curandeiros, mestres ou maestros, que fazem trabalhos tão importantes quanto a bebida em si, e de tomarem ayahuasca uma pessoa por vez, foram acompanhados com carinho e cuidado pela equipe científica, nunca sendo deixados sozinhos ou desamparados, e sempre com os baldinhos à disposição… Tudo isso em prol da colaboração dos saberes tradicionais com os saberes científicos e tecnológicos.Uma pesquisa desse tipo se justifica por várias razões, desde um entendimento mais profundo sobre nossa resposta fisiológica aos compostos químicos presentes na ayahuasca, que nos fornece dados cruciais sobre potenciais terapêuticos e segurança de uso; até informações mais sofisticadas sobre as relações entre cérebro e consciência, o chamado “hard-problem”. Com os resultados dessa jornada aprofundamos e expandimos o conhecimento sobre os efeitos dos componentes moleculares da bebida sagrada, sobre como nossos corpos recebem estas moléculas e que efeitos elas ajudam a desencadear, especialmente no cérebro. Ao minimizarmos as intervenções biomédicas somente ao estritamente necessário e ao adotarmos uma postura observacional, deixando e encorajando que os voluntários passassem a maior parte do tempo de olhos fechados em estado introspectivo, pudemos revelar uma imagem fascinante sobre os efeitos da ayahuasca no cérebro. Este efeito ocorre em duas fases qualitativamente distintas e este perfil bifásico ajuda a explicar contradições de estudos semelhantes feitos anteriormente por outras equipes. Com isso abrimos mais portas para fascinantes investigações futuras sobre os diversos estados de consciência que podem ser alcançados com a bebida amazônica.

Cerca de uma hora após a ingestão da ayahuasca, ocorreram diminuições das ondas alfa (8 a 12 ciclos por segundo), especialmente no córtex temporo-parietal, com uma certa tendência de lateralização para o hemisfério esquerdo. A segunda fase ocorre cerca de uma hora depois (ou seja, cerca de duas horas após a ingestão) e enquanto as ondas alfa foram retornando a um padrão parecido com o que estava antes da ingestão da ayahuasca, os ritmos gama, de frequências muito altas (30 a 100 ciclos por segundo), se intensificaram por quase todo o córtex cerebral, incluindo o córtex frontal. Estas oscilações elétricas em distintas frequências, que ocorrem perpetuamente e simultaneamente em todo o cérebro, são resultado da complexa interação da atividade de bilhões de células cerebrais. E estão relacionadas com todas as funções do cérebro, inclusive os aspectos psicológicos e os estados de consciência. Por exemplo, durante o sono profundo predomina no córtex cerebral uma frequência lenta, de 1 a 4 ciclos por segundo, chamada delta. Enquanto durante a maioria dos sonhos, predomina a frequência teta (4 a 8 ciclos por segundo). Ao caracterizar as principais mudanças nestas frequências de oscilações neurais avançamos na criação de um mapa neurocientífico sobre o estado de consciência desencadeado pela ingestão de ayahuasca.

Há variadas nuances de interpretação para estes dados (e muitos estudos posteriores que podem ser feitos de acordo com cada interpretação, para testas hipóteses específicas). Mas a minha favorita e que discutimos no artigo é de que o ritmo alfa é resultado de atividades inibitórias no cérebro, e o ritmo gama representa atividade neural crucial para a consciência. Quando fechamos os olhos e temos a sensacao de um campo visual escuro, sem imagens, o ritmo alfa se fortalece nas regiões do cérebro que recebem estímulos vindos dos olhos. Ou seja, quando estamos de olhos fechados não apenas a informação que chega dos olhos está ausente, mas as áreas visuais são inibidas por “centros superiores” do córtex, capazes de modular a atividade de áreas sensoriais. E nós temos a experiência subjetiva de um mundo escuro e de ausência de visão. No caso da ayahuasca, encontramos um enfraquecimento dessa inibição em áreas multisensoriais. Ou seja, regiões que estão envolvidas não só com visão, mas com audição, tato, paladar, olfato e também com sensações corpóreas das mais diversas. Faz sentido portanto que esta diminuição de alfa esteja relacionada com o efeito tão comum de experiência de mais sensações e mais estímulos durante o efeito da ayahuasca quando comparado com o estado ordinário de consciência, incluindo as famosas visões de olhos fechados. Já o acelerado gama está relacionado com o que se chama na neurociência de integração. Enquanto áreas diversas do cérebro estão relacionadas a percepções subjetivas distintas, como os cinco sentidos mencionados acima, nossa experiência consciente é unificada. Essa unificação de atividades neurais em áreas anatomicamente distintas ocorre nas oscilações rápidas na frequência gama, que permitem ao cérebro temporariamente juntar as peças de um complexo quebra cabeças de atividade neural. Esse aumento de gama pode ajudar a explicar porque durante a ayahuasca a percepção de sons e imagens, por exemplo, parece se fundir e criar relações peculiares, não perceptíveis durante a consciência ordinária, quando o cérebro tende a organizar a atividade neural relacionada aos cinco sentidos de maneira parcialmente independente. Essa função do gama em unificar ou integrar informações no cérebro é conhecida de longa data, pelo menos desde a obra pioneira do cientista Chileno Francisco Varela. E foi observada em dois indíviduos após tomarem ayahuasca em trabalho do antropólogo Luis Eduardo Luna e colaboradores há uma década. Ao confirmarmos os dados de Luna e colaboradores com nova e mais rigorosa metodologia, com mais pessoas e ao detectarmos a combinação destes efeitos com as reduções em alfa, abrimos portas importantíssimas no entendimento não só dos estados não-ordinários de consciência, mas da teoria neurocientifica sobre a consciência como um todo. Um exemplo é uma teoria proposta recentemente sobre a ação dos psicodélicos que sugere que uma das características principais do cérebro durante o efeito de psicodélicos sejam intensificações do gama. Para Andrew Gallimore, do Japão, que se baseia na influente teoria da informacao integrada, ou IIT (integrated information theory), a mais promissora teoria neurocientífica sobre a consciência, a expansão da consciência com psicodélicos é mesmo possível dentro de uma perspectiva neurocientífica, e provavelmente depende do ritmo gama. Esta expansão da consciência inclui a percepção subjetiva de mais conteúdo, de maior intensidade, incluindo fusões entre os sentidos e possivelmente a experiência subjetiva de intensidades e qualidades não perceptíveis durante a consciência ordinária, como cores mais vívidas e brilhantes e estados emocionais mais intensos do que jamais experienciados fora do estado psicodélico. O gama também tem papel fundamental na teoria da consciência proposta pelo matemático Sir Roger Penrose e pelo anestesiologista Stuart Hameroff. Segundo a teoria deles, oscilações na faixa de 40 ciclos por segundo seriam importantes ao permitir reverberações menores e muito mais aceleradas nos microtúbulos, uma rede de fibras e filamentos que percorre todas as células do nosso corpo – e do cérebro.

Ademais de caracterizar as oscilações e regiões corticais mais importantes no processo neural relacionado à modificação da consciência durante a ayahuasca, fizemos coletas periódicas de sangue para quantificar os princípios ativos da ayahuasca e seus metabólitos. E encontramos que durante a primeira fase a concentração da DMT e da harmina estavam próximas do máximo, sendo que na segunda fase acontecem os picos de harmalina e tetrahidroharmina. Com uma análise estatística sofisticada e inédita, desenvolvida especialmente para este estudo, demonstramos que este efeito bifásico no cérebro esta relacionado à concentração sanguínea de vários componentes do chá. Isto expande a visão científica predominante que foca apenas na famosa DMT. De acordo com este modelo, o papel do cipó é apenas de inibir a digestão da DMT. Mas “ayahuasca” é um dos muitos nomes não só da bebida, mas do cipó jagube ou mariri, catalogado nos anais científicos como Banisteriopsis caapi. Isto revela que, para os povos tradicionais, é o cipó a planta mais importante. E de fato há preparações de ayahuasca feitas somente com o cipó, sem qualquer outra planta. Mas na farmacologia esse quadro foi invertido, dando-se ênfase na psicoatividade da DMT apenas, que não vem do cipó, mas de outras plantas que frequentemente são adicionadas no preparo da bebida, como a rainha no Brasil e Peru (Psychotria viridis) ou a chagropanga na Colômbia (Dyplopteris cabrerana). Mas nossa análise com 10 moléculas (DMT, NMT e DMT-NO; Harmina e harmol; Harmalina e harmalol; THH e THH-OH e também o metabólito serotonérgico IAA) revelou associações importantes entre níveis plasmáticos de DMT, harmina, harmalina e tetraidroharmina, bem como alguns metabólitos como a DMT-NO, e os efeitos cerebrais em alfa e gama em momentos distintos da experiência. Revelamos portanto que a psicoatividade da ayahuasca não pode ser totalmente explicada apenas pelas concentrações de DMT, dando um passo importante para reaproximar o saber científico dos saberes tradicionais.

novo infografico pt_br FB

Descobrimos ainda que a concentração de harmalina (e apenas de harmalina) está correlacionada com o momento em que os voluntários(as) vomitaram. Ou seja, a harmalina desempenha um papel fundamental tanto no cérebro, estando relacionada a intensificação das ondas gama, mas também nos efeitos periféricos da ayahuasca, como o vômito. Isso reforça a idéia de que o vômito tem relações importantes com a experiência psicológica, sendo talvez mais apropriado chamá-lo de purga, termo que reforça a idéia de que ocorre uma associação entre físico e psicológico neste momento da experiência. Esses resultados sobre a harmalina também dão nova importância para as pesquisas pioneiras de Claudio Naranjo, terapeuta Chileno que foi um dos primeiros a estudar ayahuasca desde um ponto de vista médico-científico, nos anos 60. A proposta de Naranjo, de que a harmalina era o principal componente psicoativo da ayahuasca foi, entretanto, quase que totalmente esquecida em prol do foco na DMT a partir dos anos 80. Outro fator importante contra a proposta de Naranjo é que as concentrações de harmalina na ayahuasca são em geral abaixo das doses de harmalina que, sozinha, desencadeiam efeitos psicoativos nítidos, conforme relato subjetivo das pessoas que ingeriram harmalina nos estudos de Naranjo. Mas nunca foi testado o efeito da harmalina combinada com a harmina e a tetraidroharmina, como ocorre na ayahuasca. E então nossos resultados reforçam a idéia de que a harmalina também pode ter contribuições importantes no efeito psicoativo da ayahuasca quando em combinação com as outras beta-carbolinas vindas do cipó. Interessantemente, em quase todos os casos a purga ocorreu após a primeira fase, quando os níveis de DMT estão próximos do máximo que atingem no sangue. Como a elevação da concentração de harmalina no sangue é mais lenta que da DMT e da harmina, vomitar pouco interfere nos efeitos da primeira fase e nas concentrações destas duas moléculas, e ajuda a explicar porque mesmo quem vomita rápido pode ter experiências fortes e profundas. Mas vomitar potencialmente interfere nas concentrações de tetraidroharmina, que é a molécula cujas concentrações sobem mais lentamente, e pode permanecer em circulação por alguns dias, dependendo da capacidade de metabolização de cada indivíduo.

Importante notar ainda que o perfil bifásico foi observado com ingestão de apenas um copo (mas com uma dose grande). Mas sabemos que nos usos rituais é muito frequente os participantes tomarem mais de uma dose, com intervalo de uma hora ou mais. É possível então que nestes casos ocorram variadas combinações de efeitos, como por exemplo a segunda fase de uma primeira dose (aumento de gama) coincidir com a primeira fase de uma segunda dose (diminuição de alfa). Isso potencialmente geraria estados cerebrais (e por correlação, estados de consciência) não observados na pesquisa com apenas uma dose. Isto ajuda a entender porque muitas pessoas relatam que a segunda dose é sempre uma “caixinha de surpresas”, e não apenas a intensificação ou prolongação dos efeitos da primeira toma. Ao depender do perfil metabólico de cada pessoa, do tamanho de cada dose, da proporção destas moléculas na bebida e do intervalo entre elas, pode-se atingir outros estados mesclados entre as duas fases observadas na pesquisa. Some-se a isto as influências ambientais, psicológicas, motivacionais e espirituais e temos uma prática de exploração da consciência que não cabe numa resposta simples e singular sobre qual “o efeito” da ayahuasca.

Do ponto de vista neurocientífico, estas possíveis combinações são muito intrigantes, porque relações entre as frequências alfa e gama no córtex parietal e no frontal estão envolvidas em processos de reavaliação psicológica e emocional. Ou seja, quando fazemos certas formas de introspecção que resultam em ressignificação de eventos emocionais de nossas vidas, estas áreas do cérebro se comunicam através de oscilações elétricas nestas duas faixas de frequência. E estas mesmas frequências e áreas cerebrais estão envolvidas em processos criativos de resolução de problemas. Ou seja, através de nossa pesquisa, a neurociência começa a convergir com o saber ancestral ao reafirmar o potencial da ayahuasca em nutrir a criatividade e o autoconhecimento, facilitando formas de terapia focadas no potencial de cada indíviduo em crescer e se desenvolver de maneira consciente.

Para saber mais, confira abaixo minha palestra na World Ayahuasca Confrence, em Ibiza ano passado (disponível com legendas em português e inglês). Ou ainda a mais antiga “Ayahuasca e as ondas cerebrais“, realizada no Brasil no início deste projeto. Ou se você quer mesmo mergulhar fundo, acesse gratuitamente o artigo científico na íntegra.

Referência: Schenberg EE, Alexandre JFM, Filev R, Cravo AM, Sato JR, Muthukumaraswamy SD, et al. (2015) Acute Biphasic Effects of Ayahuasca. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0137202. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137202

 

Is human behavior controlled by our genes? Richard Levins reviews ‘The Social Conquest of Earth’ (Climate & Capitalism)

“Failing to take class division into account is not simply a political bias. It also distorts how we look at human evolution as intrinsically bio-social and human biology as socialized biology.”

 

August 1, 2012

Edward O. Wilson. The Social Conquest of Earth. Liverwright Publishing, New York, 2012

reviewed by Richard Levins

In the 1970s, Edward O. Wilson, Richard Lewontin, Stephen Jay Gould and I were colleagues in Harvard’s new department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. In spite of our later divergences, I retain grateful memories of working in the field with Ed, turning over rocks, sharing beer, breaking open twigs, putting out bait (canned tuna fish) to attract the ants we were studying..

We were part of a group that hoped to jointly write and publish articles offering a common view of evolutionary science, but that collaboration was brief, largely because Lewontin and I strongly disagreed with Wilson’s Sociobiology.

Reductionism and Sociobiology

Although Wilson fought hard against the reduction of biology to the study of molecules, his holism stopped there. He came to promote the reduction of social and behavioral science to biology. In his view:

“Our lives are restrained by two laws of biology: all of life’s entities and processes are obedient to the laws of physics and chemistry; and all of life’s entities and processes have arisen through evolution and natural selection.” [Social Conquest, p. 287]

This is true as far as it goes but fails in two important ways.

First, it ignores the reciprocal feedback between levels. The biological creates the ensemble of molecules in the cell; the social alters the spectrum of molecules in the biosphere; biological activity creates the biosphere itself and the conditions for the maintenance of life.

Second, it doesn’t consider how the social level alters the biological: our biology is a socialized biology.

Higher (more inclusive) levels are indeed constrained by the laws at lower levels of organization, but they also have their own laws that emerge from the lower level yet are distinct and that also determine which chemical and physical entities are present in the organisms. In new contexts they operate differently.

Thus for example we, like a few other animals including bears, are omnivores. For some purposes such as comparing digestive systems that’s an adequate label. But we are omnivores of a special kind: we not only acquire food by predation, but we also producefood, turning the inedible into edible, the transitory into stored food. This has had such a profound effect on our lives that it is also legitimate to refer to us as something new, productivores.

The productivore mode of sustenance opens a whole new domain: the mode of production. Human societies have experienced different modes of production and ways to organize reproduction, each with its own dynamics, relations with the rest of nature, division into classes, and processes which restore or change it when it is disturbed.

The division of society into classes changes how natural selection works, who is exposed to what diseases, who eats and who doesn’t eat, who does the dishes, who must do physical work, how long we can expect to live. It is no longer possible to prescribe the direction of natural selection for the whole species.

So failing to take class division into account is not simply a political bias. It also distorts how we look at human evolution as intrinsically bio-social and human biology as socialized biology.

The opposite of the genetic determinism of sociobiology is not “the blank slate” view that claims that our biological natures were irrelevant to behavior and society. The question is, what about our animal heritage was relevant?

We all agree that we are animals; that as animals we need food; that we are terrestrial rather than aquatic animals; that we are mammals and therefore need a lot of food to support our high metabolic rates that maintain body temperature; that for part of our history we lived in trees and acquired characteristics adapted to that habitat, but came down from the trees with a dependence on vision, hands with padded fingers, and so on. We have big brains, with regions that have different major functions such as emotions, color vision, and language.

But beyond these general capacities, there is widespread disagreement about which behaviors or attitudes are expressions of brain structure. The amygdala is a locus of emotion, but does it tell us what to be angry or rejoice about? It is an ancient part of our brains, but has it not evolved in response to what the rest of the brain is doing? There is higher intellectual function in the cortex, but does it tell us what to think about?

Every part of an organism is the environment for the rest of the organism, setting the context for natural selection. In contrast to this fluid viewpoint, phrases such as “hard-wired” have become part of the pop vocabulary, applied promiscuously to all sorts of behaviors.

In a deeper sense, asking if something is heritable is a nonsense question. Heritability is always a comparison: how much of the difference between humans and chimps is heritable? What about the differences between ourselves and Neanderthals? Between nomads and farmers?

Social Conquest of Earth

The Social Conquest of Earth, Ed Wilson’s latest book, continues his interest in the “eusocial” animals – ants, bees and others that live in groups with overlapping generations and a division of labor that includes altruistic behavior. As the title shows. he also continues to use the terminology of conquest and domination, so that social animals “conquer” the earth, their abundance makes them “dominate.”

The problem that Wilson poses in this book is first, why did eusociality arise at all, and second, why is it so rare?

Wilson is at his best when discussing the more remote past, the origins of social behavior 220 million years ago for termites, 150 million years for ants, 70-80 million years for humble bees and honey bees.

But as he gets closer to humanity the reductionist biases that informed Sociobiology reassert themselves. Once again Wilson argues that brain architecture determines what people do socially – that war, aggression, morality, honor and hierarchy are part of “human nature.”

Rejecting kin selection

A major change, and one of the most satisfying parts of the book, is his rejection of kin selection as a motive force of social evolution, a theory he once defended strongly.

Kin selection assumed that natural selection acts on genes. A gene will be favored if it results in enhancing its own survival and reproduction, but it is not enough to look at the survival of the individual. If my brother and I each have 2 offspring, a shared gene would be doubled in the next generation. But if my brother sacrifices himself so that I might leave 5 offspring while he leaves none, our shared gene will increase 250%.

Therefore, argued the promoters of this theory, the fitness that natural selection increases has to be calculated over a whole set of kin, weighted by the closeness of their relationship. Mathematical formulations were developed to support this theory. Wilson found it attractive because it appeared to support sociobiology.

However, plausible inference is not enough to prove a theory. Empirical studies comparing different species or traits did not confirm the kin selection hypothesis, and a reexamination of its mathematical structure (such as the fuzziness of defining relatedness) showed that it could not account for the observed natural world. Wilson devotes a lot of space to refuting kin selection because of his previous support of it: it is a great example of scientific self-correction.

Does group selection explain social behaviour?

Wilson has now adopted another model in which the evolution of sociality is the result of opposing processes of ordinary individual selection acting within populations, and group selection acting between populations. He invokes this model account to for religion, morality, honor and other human behaviors.

He argues that individual selection promotes “selfishness” (that is, behavior that enhances individual survival) while group selection favors cooperative and “altruistic” behavior. The two forms of selection oppose each other, and that results in our mixed behaviors.

“We are an evolutionary chimera living on intelligence steered by the demands of animal instinct. This is the reason we are mindlessly dismantling the biosphere and with it, our own prospects for permanent existence.” [p.13]

But this simplistic reduction of environmental destruction to biology will not stand. Contrary to Wilson, the destruction of the biosphere is not “mindless.” It is the outcome of interactions in the noxious triad of greed, poverty, and ignorance, all produced by a socio-economic system that must expand to survive.

For Wilson, as for many environmentalists, the driver of ecological destruction is some generic “we,” who are all in the same boat. But since the emergence of classes after the adoption of agriculture some 8-10,000 years ago it is no longer appropriate to talk of a collective “we.”

The owners of the economy are willing to use up resources, pollute the environment, debase the quality of products, and undermine the health of the producers out of a kind of perverse economic rationality. They support their policies with theories such as climate change denial or doubting the toxicity of pesticides, and buttress it with legislation and court decisions.

Evolution and religion

The beginning and end of the book, a spirited critique of religion as possibly explaining human nature, is more straightforwardly materialist than the view supported by Stephen J. Gould, who argued that religion and science are separate magisteria that play equal roles in human wellbeing.

But Wilson’s use of evidence is selective.

For example, he argues that religion demands absolute belief from its followers – but this is true only of Christianity and Islam. Judaism lets you think what you want as long as you practice the prescribed rituals, Buddhism doesn’t care about deities or the afterlife.

Similarly he argues that creation myths are a product of evolution:

“Since paleolithic times … each tribe invented its own creation myths… No tribe could long survive without a creation myth… The creation myth is a Darwinian device for survival.” [p. 8]

But the ancient Israelites did not have an origin myth when they emerged as a people in the hills of Judea around 1250 B.C.E. Although it appears at the beginning of the Bible, the Israelites did not adapt the Book of Genesis from Babylonian mythology until four centuries after Deuteronomy was written, after they had survived 200 years as a tribal confederation, two kingdoms and the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests— by then the writing of scripture was a political act, not a “Darwinian device for survival.”

Biologizing war

In support of his biologizing of “traits,” Wilson reviews recent research that appears to a show a biological basis for the way people see and interpret color, for the incest taboo, and for the startle response – and then asserts that inherited traits include war, hierarchy, honor and such. Ignoring the role of social class, he views these as universal traits of human nature.

Consider war. Wilson claims that war reflects genes for group selection. “A soldier going into battle will benefit his country but he runs a higher risk of death than one who does not.” [p. 165]

But soldiers don’t initiate conflict. We know in our own times that those who decide to make war are not those who fight the wars – but, perhaps unfortunately, sterilizing the general staff of the Pentagon and of the CIA would not produce a more peaceful America.

The evidence against war as a biological imperative is strong. Willingness to fight is situational.

Group selection can’t explain why soldiers have to be coerced into fighting, why desertion is a major problem for generals and is severely punished, or why resistance to recruitment is a major problem of armies. In the present militarist USA, soldiers are driven to join up through unemployment and the promises of benefits such as learning skills and getting an education and self-improvement. No recruitment posters offer the opportunity to kill people as an inducement for signing up.

The high rates of surrender and desertion of Italian soldiers in World War II did not reflect any innate cowardice among Italians but a lack of fascist conviction. The very rarity of surrender by Japanese soldiers in the same war was not a testimony to greater bravery on the part of the Japanese but of the inculcated combination of nationalism and religion.

As the American people turned against the Vietnam war, increased desertions and the killing of officers by the soldiers reflected their rejection of the war.

The terrifying assaults of the Vikings during the middle ages bear no resemblance to the mellow Scandinavian culture of today, too short a time for natural selection to transform national character.

The attempt to make war an inherited trait favored by natural selection reflects the sexism that has been endemic in sociobiology. It assumes that local groups differed in their propensity for aggression and prowess in war. The victorious men carry off the women of the conquered settlements and incorporate them into their own communities. Therefore the new generation has been selected for greater military success among the men. But the women, coming from a defeated, weaker group, would bring with them their genes for lack of prowess, a selection for military weakness! Such a selection process would be self-negating.

Ethnocentrism

Wilson also considers ethnocentrism to be an inherited trait: group selection leads people to favor members of their own group and reject outsiders.

The problem is that the lines between groups vary under different circumstances. For example, in Spanish America, laws governing marriage included a large number of graded racial categories, while in North America there were usually just two. What’s more, the category definitions are far from permanent: at one time, the Irish were regarded as Black, and the whiteness of Jews was questioned.

Adoption, immigration, mergers of clans also confound any possible genetic basis for exclusion.

Hierarchy

Wilson draws on the work of Herbert Simon to argue that hierarchy is a result of human nature: there will always be rulers and ruled. His argument fails to distinguish between hierarchy and leadership.

There are other forms of organization possible besides hierarchy and chaos, including democratic control by the workers who elect the operational leadership. In some labor unions, leaders’ salaries are pegged to the median wage of the members. In University departments the chairmanship is often a rotating task that nobody really wants. When Argentine factory owners closed their plants during the recession, workers in fact seized control and ran them profitably despite police sieges.

Darwinian behavior?

Wilson argues that “social traits” evolved through Darwinian natural selection. Genes that promoted behaviors that helped the individual or group to survive were passed on; genes that weakened the individual or group were not. The tension between individual and group selection decided which traits would be part of our human nature.

But a plausible claim that a trait might be good for people is not enough to explain its origin and survival. A gene may become fixed in a population even if it is harmful, just by the random genetic changes that we know occur. Or a gene may be harmful but be dragged along by an advantageous gene close to it on the same chromosome.

Selection may act in different directions in different subpopulations, or in different habitats, or in differing environmental. Or the adaptive value of a gene may change with its prevalence or the distribution of ages in the population, itself a consequence of the environment and population heterogeneity.

For instance, Afro-Americans have a higher death rate from cancer than Euro-Americans. In part this reflects the carcinogenic environments they have been subjected to, but there is also a genetic factor. It is the combination of living conditions and genetics that causes higher mortality rates.

* * *

Obviously I am not arguing that evolution doesn’t happen. The point is that we need a much better argument than just a claim that some genotype might be beneficial. And we need a much more rigorous understanding of the differences and linkages between the biological and social components of humanity’s nature. Just calling some social behavior a “trait” does not make it heritable.

In a book that attempts such a wide-ranging panorama of human evolution, there are bound to be errors. But the errors in The Social Conquest of Earth form a pattern: they reduce social issues to biology, and they insist on our evolutionary continuity with other animals while ignoring the radical discontinuity that made us productivores and divided us into classes.

Empathy more common in animals than thought (Science Daily)

Date: January 21, 2016

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Summary: A new study reveals that prairie voles console loved ones who are feeling stressed — and it appears that the infamous ‘love hormone,’ oxytocin, is the underlying mechanism.


Prairie voles consoling. This material relates to a paper that appeared in the Jan. 22, 2016 issue of Science, published by AAAS. The paper, by James Burkett at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and colleagues was titled, “Oxytocin-dependent consolation behavior in rodents.” Credit: Zack Johnson

A new study reveals that prairie voles console loved ones who are feeling stressed — and it appears that the infamous “love hormone,” oxytocin, is the underlying mechanism. Until now, consolation behavior has only been documented in a few nonhuman species with high levels of sociality and cognition, such as elephants, dolphins and dogs.

Prairie voles are particularly social rodents, causing them to be the focus of many studies. This led James Burkett and colleagues to explore their potential for empathy-motivated behaviors.

The researchers created an experiment where relatives and known individuals were temporarily isolated from each other, while one was exposed to mild shocks. Upon reunion, the non-stressed prairie voles proceeded to lick the stressed voles sooner and for longer durations, compared to a control scenario where individuals were separated but neither was exposed to a stressor.

Measurements of hormone levels revealed that the family members and friends were distressed when they could not comfort their loved one.

The fact that consoling behavior occurred only between those who were familiar with each other — including non-kin members — but not strangers, demonstrates that the behavior is not simply a reaction to aversive cues, the authors note.

Since the oxytocin receptor is associated with empathy in humans, Burkett et al. blocked this neurotransmitter in prairie voles in a series of similar consolation experiments. Blocking oxytocin did not cause family members and friends to alter their self-grooming behavior, yet they did cease consoling each other.

These findings provide new insights into the mechanisms of empathy and the evolution of complex empathy-motivated behaviors.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. P. Burkett, E. Andari, Z. V. Johnson, D. C. Curry, F. B. M. de Waal, L. J. Young. Oxytocin-dependent consolation behavior in rodentsScience, 2016; 351 (6271): 375 DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4785

Cells talk to their neighbors before making a move (Science Daily)

Comparing notes boosts cells sensing accuracy

Date: January 21, 2016

Source: Emory Health Sciences

Summary: To decide whether and where to move in the body, cells must read chemical signals in their environment. Individual cells do not act alone during this process, two new studies on mouse mammary tissue show. Instead, the cells make decisions collectively after exchanging information about the chemical messages they are receiving.


Like the telephone game — where a line of people whisper a message to the person next to them — an original message starts to become distorted as it travels down the line between cells, report scientists. (Stock image) Credit: © sakkmesterke / Fotolia

To decide whether and where to move in the body, cells must read chemical signals in their environment. Individual cells do not act alone during this process, two new studies on mouse mammary tissue show. Instead, the cells make decisions collectively after exchanging information about the chemical messages they are receiving.

“Cells talk to nearby cells and compare notes before they make a move,” says Ilya Nemenman, a theoretical biophysicist at Emory University and a co-author of both studies, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The co-authors also include scientists from Johns Hopkins, Yale and Purdue.

The researchers discovered that the cell communication process works similarly to a message relay in the telephone game. “Each cell only talks to its neighbor,” Nemenman explains. “A cell in position one only talks to a cell in position two. So position one needs to communicate with position two in order to get information from the cell in position three.”

And like the telephone game — where a line of people whisper a message to the person next to them — the original message starts to become distorted as it travels down the line.

The researchers found that, for the cells in their experiments, the message begins to get garbled after passing through about four cells, by a factor of about three.

“We built a mathematical model for this linear relay of cellular information and derived a formula for its best possible accuracy,” Nemenman says. “Directed cell migration is important in processes from cancer to the development of organs and tissues. Other researchers can apply our model beyond the mouse mammary gland and analyze similar phenomena in a wide variety of healthy and diseased systems.”

Since at least the 1970s, and pivotal work by Howard Berg and Ed Purcell, scientists have been trying to understand in detail how cells decide to take an action based on chemical cues.

Every cell in a body has the same genome but they can do different things and go in different directions because they measure different chemical signals in their environment. Those chemical signals are made up of molecules that randomly move around.

“Cells can sense not just the precise concentration of a chemical signal, but concentration differences,” Nemenman says. “That’s very important because in order to know which direction to move, a cell has to know in which direction the concentration of the chemical signal is higher. Cells sense this gradient and it gives them a reference for the direction in which to move and grow.”

Berg and Purcell understood the best possible margin of error — the detection limit — for such gradient sensing. During the subsequent 30 years, researchers have established that many different cells, in many different organisms, work at this detection limit. Living cells can sense chemicals better than any humanmade device.

It was not known, however, that cells can sense signals and make movement decisions collectively.

“Previous research has typically focused on cultured cells,” Nemenman says. “And when you culture cells, the first thing to go away is cell-to-cell interaction. The cells are no longer a functioning tissue, but a culture of individual cells, so it’s difficult to study many collective effects.”

The first PNAS paper drew from three-dimensional micro-fluidic techniques from the Yale University lab of Andre Levchenko, a biomedical engineer who studies how cells navigate; research on mouse mammary tissue at the Johns Hopkins lab of Andrew Ewald, a biologist focused on the cellular mechanisms of cancer; and the quantification methods of Nemenman, who studies the physics of biological systems, and Andrew Mugler, a former post-doctoral fellow in Nemenman’s lab at Emory who now has his own research group at Purdue.

The 3D micro fluidics allowed the researchers to experiment with functional organoids, or clumps of cells. The method does not disrupt the interaction of the cells.

The results showed that epidermal growth factor, or EGF, is the signal that these cells track, and that the cells were not making decisions about which way to move as individuals, but collectively.

“The clumps of cells, working collectively, could detect insanely small differences in concentration gradients — such as 498 molecules of EGF versus 502 molecules — on different sides of one cell,” Nemenman says. “That accuracy is way better than the best possible margin of error determined by Berg and Purcell of about plus or minus 20. Even at these small concentration gradients, the organoids start reshaping and moving toward the higher concentration. These cells are not just optimal gradient detectors. They seem super optimal, defying the laws of nature.”

Collective cell communication boosts their detection accuracy, turning a line of about four cells into a single, super-accurate measurement unit.

In the second PNAS paper, Nemenman, Mugler and Levchenko looked at the limits to the cells’ precision of collective gradient sensing not just spatially, but over time.

“We hypothesized that if the cells kept on communicating with one another over hours or days, and kept on accumulating information, that might expand the accuracy further than four cells across,” Nemenman says. “Surprisingly, however, this was not the case. We found that there is always a limit of how far information can travel without being garbled in these cellular systems.”

Together, the two papers offer a detailed model for collective cellular gradient sensing, verified by experiments in mouse mammary organoids. The collective model expands the classic Berg-Purcell results for the best accuracy of an individual cell, which stood for almost forty years. The new formula quantifies the additional advantages and limitations on the accuracy coming from the cells working collectively.

“Our findings are not just intellectually important. They provide new ways to study many normal and abnormal developmental processes,” Nemenman says.


Journal References:

  1. David Ellison, Andrew Mugler, Matthew D. Brennan, Sung Hoon Lee, Robert J. Huebner, Eliah R. Shamir, Laura A. Woo, Joseph Kim, Patrick Amar, Ilya Nemenman, Andrew J. Ewald, and Andre Levchenko. Cell–cell communication enhances the capacity of cell ensembles to sense shallow gradients during morphogenesisPNAS, January 2016 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1516503113
  2. Andrew Mugler, Andre Levchenko, and Ilya Nemenman. Limits to the precision of gradient sensing with spatial communication and temporal integrationPNAS, January 2016 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1509597112

Impact of human activity on local climate mapped (Science Daily)

Date: January 20, 2016

Source: Concordia University

Summary: A new study pinpoints the temperature increases caused by carbon dioxide emissions in different regions around the world.


This is a map of climate change. Credit: Nature Climate Change

Earth’s temperature has increased by 1°C over the past century, and most of this warming has been caused by carbon dioxide emissions. But what does that mean locally?

A new study published in Nature Climate Change pinpoints the temperature increases caused by CO2 emissions in different regions around the world.

Using simulation results from 12 global climate models, Damon Matthews, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, along with post-doctoral researcher Martin Leduc, produced a map that shows how the climate changes in response to cumulative carbon emissions around the world.

They found that temperature increases in most parts of the world respond linearly to cumulative emissions.

“This provides a simple and powerful link between total global emissions of carbon dioxide and local climate warming,” says Matthews. “This approach can be used to show how much human emissions are to blame for local changes.”

Leduc and Matthews, along with co-author Ramon de Elia from Ouranos, a Montreal-based consortium on regional climatology, analyzed the results of simulations in which CO2 emissions caused the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to increase by 1 per cent each year until it reached four times the levels recorded prior to the Industrial Revolution.

Globally, the researchers saw an average temperature increase of 1.7 ±0.4°C per trillion tonnes of carbon in CO2 emissions (TtC), which is consistent with reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But the scientists went beyond these globally averaged temperature rises, to calculate climate change at a local scale.

At a glance, here are the average increases per trillion tonnes of carbon that we emit, separated geographically:

  • Western North America 2.4 ± 0.6°C
  • Central North America 2.3 ± 0.4°C
  • Eastern North America 2.4 ± 0.5°C
  • Alaska 3.6 ± 1.4°C
  • Greenland and Northern Canada 3.1 ± 0.9°C
  • North Asia 3.1 ± 0.9°C
  • Southeast Asia 1.5 ± 0.3°C
  • Central America 1.8 ± 0.4°C
  • Eastern Africa 1.9 ± 0.4°C

“As these numbers show, equatorial regions warm the slowest, while the Arctic warms the fastest. Of course, this is what we’ve already seen happen — rapid changes in the Arctic are outpacing the rest of the planet,” says Matthews.

There are also marked differences between land and ocean, with the temperature increase for the oceans averaging 1.4 ± 0.3°C TtC, compared to 2.2 ± 0.5°C for land areas.

“To date, humans have emitted almost 600 billion tonnes of carbon,” says Matthews. “This means that land areas on average have already warmed by 1.3°C because of these emissions. At current emission rates, we will have emitted enough CO¬2 to warm land areas by 2°C within 3 decades.”


Journal Reference:

  1. Martin Leduc, H. Damon Matthews, Ramón de Elía. Regional estimates of the transient climate response to cumulative CO2 emissionsNature Climate Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2913

Social media technology, rather than anonymity, is the problem (Science Daily)

Date: January 20, 2016

Source: University of Kent

Summary: Problems of anti-social behavior, privacy, and free speech on social media are not caused by anonymity but instead result from the way technology changes our presence. That’s the startling conclusion of a new book by an expert on the information society and developing media.


Problems of anti-social behaviour, privacy, and free speech on social media are not caused by anonymity but instead result from the way technology changes our presence.

That’s the startling conclusion of a new book by Dr Vincent Miller, a sociologist at the University of Kent and an expert on the information society and developing media.

In contending that the cause of issues such as online anti-social behaviour is the design/software of social media itself, Dr Miller suggests that social media architecture needs to be managed and planned in the same way as physical architecture. In the book, entitled The Crisis of Presence in Contemporary Culture: Ethics, Privacy and Speech in Mediated Social Life, Dr Miller examines the relationship between the freedom provided by the contemporary online world and the control, surveillance and censorship that operate in this environment.

The book questions the origins and sincerity of moral panics about use — and abuse — in the contemporary online environment and offers an analysis of ethics, privacy and free speech in this setting.

Investigating the ethical challenges that confront our increasingly digital culture, Dr Miller suggests a number of revisions to our ethical, legal and technological regimes to meet these challenges.

These including changing what he describes as ‘dehumanizing’ social media software, expanding the notion of our ‘selves’ or ‘bodies’ to include our digital traces, and the re-introduction of ‘time’ into social media through the creation of ‘expiry dates’ on social media communications.

Dr Miller is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Cultural Studies within the University’s School of Social Research, Sociology and Social Policy. The Crisis of Presence in Contemporary Culture: Ethics, Privacy and Speech in Mediated Social Life, is published by Sage.

More information can be found at: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/the-crisis-of-presence-in-contemporary-culture/book244328

The world’s greatest literature reveals multi fractals and cascades of consciousness (Science Daily)

Date: January 21, 2016

Source: The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

Summary: James Joyce, Julio Cortazar, Marcel Proust, Henryk Sienkiewicz and Umberto Eco. Regardless of the language they were working in, some of the world’s greatest writers appear to be, in some respects, constructing fractals. Statistical analysis, however, revealed something even more intriguing. The composition of works from within a particular genre was characterized by the exceptional dynamics of a cascading (avalanche) narrative structure.


Sequences of sentence lengths (as measured by number of words) in four literary works representative of various degree of cascading character. Credit: Source: IFJ PAN 

James Joyce, Julio Cortazar, Marcel Proust, Henryk Sienkiewicz and Umberto Eco. Regardless of the language they were working in, some of the world’s greatest writers appear to be, in some respects, constructing fractals. Statistical analysis carried out at the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences, however, revealed something even more intriguing. The composition of works from within a particular genre was characterized by the exceptional dynamics of a cascading (avalanche) narrative structure. This type of narrative turns out to be multifractal. That is, fractals of fractals are created.

As far as many bookworms are concerned, advanced equations and graphs are the last things which would hold their interest, but there’s no escape from the math. Physicists from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ PAN) in Cracow, Poland, performed a detailed statistical analysis of more than one hundred famous works of world literature, written in several languages and representing various literary genres. The books, tested for revealing correlations in variations of sentence length, proved to be governed by the dynamics of a cascade. This means that the construction of these books is in fact a fractal. In the case of several works their mathematical complexity proved to be exceptional, comparable to the structure of complex mathematical objects considered to be multifractal. Interestingly, in the analyzed pool of all the works, one genre turned out to be exceptionally multifractal in nature.

Fractals are self-similar mathematical objects: when we begin to expand one fragment or another, what eventually emerges is a structure that resembles the original object. Typical fractals, especially those widely known as the Sierpinski triangle and the Mandelbrot set, are monofractals, meaning that the pace of enlargement in any place of a fractal is the same, linear: if they at some point were rescaled x number of times to reveal a structure similar to the original, the same increase in another place would also reveal a similar structure.

Multifractals are more highly advanced mathematical structures: fractals of fractals. They arise from fractals ‘interwoven’ with each other in an appropriate manner and in appropriate proportions. Multifractals are not simply the sum of fractals and cannot be divided to return back to their original components, because the way they weave is fractal in nature. The result is that in order to see a structure similar to the original, different portions of a multifractal need to expand at different rates. A multifractal is therefore non-linear in nature.

“Analyses on multiple scales, carried out using fractals, allow us to neatly grasp information on correlations among data at various levels of complexity of tested systems. As a result, they point to the hierarchical organization of phenomena and structures found in nature. So we can expect natural language, which represents a major evolutionary leap of the natural world, to show such correlations as well. Their existence in literary works, however, had not yet been convincingly documented. Meanwhile, it turned out that when you look at these works from the proper perspective, these correlations appear to be not only common, but in some works they take on a particularly sophisticated mathematical complexity,” says Prof. Stanislaw Drozdz (IFJ PAN, Cracow University of Technology).

The study involved 113 literary works written in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish by such famous figures as Honore de Balzac, Arthur Conan Doyle, Julio Cortazar, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alexandre Dumas, Umberto Eco, George Elliot, Victor Hugo, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, Wladyslaw Reymont, William Shakespeare, Henryk Sienkiewicz, JRR Tolkien, Leo Tolstoy and Virginia Woolf, among others. The selected works were no less than 5,000 sentences long, in order to ensure statistical reliability.

To convert the texts to numerical sequences, sentence length was measured by the number of words (an alternative method of counting characters in the sentence turned out to have no major impact on the conclusions). The dependences were then searched for in the data — beginning with the simplest, i.e. linear. This is the posited question: if a sentence of a given length is x times longer than the sentences of different lengths, is the same aspect ratio preserved when looking at sentences respectively longer or shorter?

“All of the examined works showed self-similarity in terms of organization of the lengths of sentences. Some were more expressive — here The Ambassadors by Henry James stood out — while others to far less of an extreme, as in the case of the French seventeenth-century romance Artamene ou le Grand Cyrus. However, correlations were evident, and therefore these texts were the construction of a fractal,” comments Dr. Pawel Oswiecimka (IFJ PAN), who also noted that fractality of a literary text will in practice never be as perfect as in the world of mathematics. It is possible to magnify mathematical fractals up to infinity, while the number of sentences in each book is finite, and at a certain stage of scaling there will always be a cut-off in the form of the end of the dataset.

Things took a particularly interesting turn when physicists from the IFJ PAN began tracking non-linear dependence, which in most of the studied works was present to a slight or moderate degree. However, more than a dozen works revealed a very clear multifractal structure, and almost all of these proved to be representative of one genre, that of stream of consciousness. The only exception was the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, which has so far never been associated with this literary genre.

“The absolute record in terms of multifractality turned out to be Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. The results of our analysis of this text are virtually indistinguishable from ideal, purely mathematical multifractals,” says Prof. Drozdz.

The most multifractal works also included A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, Rayuela by Julio Cortazar, The US Trilogy by John Dos Passos, The Waves by Virginia Woolf, 2666 by Roberto Bolano, and Joyce’s Ulysses. At the same time a lot of works usually regarded as stream of consciousness turned out to show little correlation to multifractality, as it was hardly noticeable in books such as Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust.

“It is not entirely clear whether stream of consciousness writing actually reveals the deeper qualities of our consciousness, or rather the imagination of the writers. It is hardly surprising that ascribing a work to a particular genre is, for whatever reason, sometimes subjective. We see, moreover, the possibility of an interesting application of our methodology: it may someday help in a more objective assignment of books to one genre or another,” notes Prof. Drozdz.

Multifractal analyses of literary texts carried out by the IFJ PAN have been published in Information Sciences, a journal of computer science. The publication has undergone rigorous verification: given the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, editors immediately appointed up to six reviewers.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stanisław Drożdż, Paweł Oświȩcimka, Andrzej Kulig, Jarosław Kwapień, Katarzyna Bazarnik, Iwona Grabska-Gradzińska, Jan Rybicki, Marek Stanuszek. Quantifying origin and character of long-range correlations in narrative textsInformation Sciences, 2016; 331: 32 DOI: 10.1016/j.ins.2015.10.023

Gangbusters: How the Upsurge in Anti-Gang Tactics Will Hurt Communities of Color (Truthout)

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 00:00 By Josmar Trujillo, Truthout | News Analysis 

Shanice Farrar wants to honor her son and stop violence in her neighborhood. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)Bronx activist Shanice Farrar wants to honor her son, who was killed by police, and stop violence in her neighborhood. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Dozens of alleged gang members were arrested in December when police raids swept through public housing developments in the Bronx, following similar raids in September and July of 2015. A December multipart Daily News special investigation, packaged behind a “Gangs of New York” front-page cover, reported on the prevalence of gangs throughout New York City, even publishing a map detailing alleged “ganglands.” New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton, in an op-ed published in the same edition, called the gang activity “violence for its own sake.”

As arrests and indictments pile up to form a media narrative of senseless violence and seemingly irredeemable youth, there are public housing and criminal justice reform advocates who want a different approach. They say that poverty is the underlying root cause of violence – one that cops and gang raids cannot solve.

Shanice Farrar, 42, is the mother of Shaaliver Douse, a teenager killed by cops in 2013 while, police say, he was chasing and shooting at another young man. Farrar is a single mother who has worked as a fire guard (someone who patrols areas lacking functioning fire protection systems) for almost eight years, at times working in the same Bronx public housing development, the Morris Houses, where she and her son lived. She always had dual concerns for Shaalie, as his friends called him: the neighborhood violence and the police who harassed him. She vividly remembers the night he didn’t come home. After calling and texting Shaalie’s phone all night, Farrar woke up on the morning of August 4, 2013, to the sounds of cops banging on her door. NYPD detectives told Farrar that her son had been killed in a shoot-out with police. They said Shaalie was shot in the face after ignoring orders to drop a gun.

Ray Kelly, the NYPD police commissioner at the time, said that Shaalie’s death was justified. Police said they had surveillance footage of him running with a gun. But footage released by the NYPD is incomplete. Images show a young man in a white shirt, purportedly Shaalie, chasing someone around a corner on 151st Street in the Melrose section of the Bronx. The confrontation with cops, where police claim he was told to drop the gun, isn’t seen. Farrar says she’s been denied access to other video angles, as well as the names of the rookie cops who shot her son.

Shaalie’s name and reputation were scrutinized immediately following his death. The newspapers’ presentation of his past arrests as an affirmation of his criminality weren’t fair to him or his family, Farrar says. The New York Daily News described Shaalie as a young man with a “growing rap sheet” and a follow-up story used unnamed sources to claim that Shaalie was, in fact, in a gang. Criminal charges her son was facing were bogus, Farrar insists. In 2012, Shaalie, then 13, was charged with attempted murder. Shaalie told his mom that he’d in fact been robbed at gunpoint by some boys from another housing complex. When cops showed up, everyone ran. Cops caught Shaalie, who didn’t want to cooperate. They told him that if he didn’t tell them whose gun it was, they’d pin the gun, which they found abandoned in some nearby grass, on him. Attempted murder charges were dropped to weapons possession charges when witnesses recanted. After several court dates, the judge in the case suggested that the whole case would soon be thrown out, Farrar says.

New York’s Turn Toward Gang Conspiracy Charges

Building criminal cases and indicting young men with gang conspiracy charges is quickly becoming a favored law enforcement approach in New York – one that’s getting more sophisticated. The NYPD and some of the city’s top prosecutors are targeting mostly young men, usually those living in public housing, with a blend of modern surveillance and conspiracy charges developed in the 1970s to take down the mafia. Raids are usually the final leg of the NYPD’s Operation Crew Cut, a police tactic that targets “crews” – a looser grouping of young people often compared to gangs – by building criminal cases often off of what is obtained from their online activity. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has been involved in gang raids in East Harlem, indicting 63 men in 2013, and West Harlem, indicting 103 in 2014 – the city’s largest raid ever. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson launched several smaller raids in the Bronx in 2015.

If attempts to get young people to turn away from violence can be described as either carrot or stick approaches, then Operation Ceasefire, a law enforcement initiative based largely on the work of John Jay College’s David Kennedy, is said to offer some carrots. With the help of Susan Herman, a former Pace University professor turned NYPD deputy commissioner, Kennedy’s ideas have gained traction at the police department under Bratton. Herman’s husband, John Jay College president Jeremy Travis, works with Kennedy and used to work for Bratton in the 1990s. With a nearly $5 million grant from the Department of Justice and early influence on the president’s national police reform agenda, Kennedy is one of the most in-demand criminal justice minds in the country.

Like Crew Cut, Ceasefire focuses on a small amount of alleged perpetrators, said to be responsible for a large portion of shootings and murders. This so-called “focused-deterrence” strategy also claims to offer pathways away from violence for suspected perpetrators as cops and community figures partner to dissuade young people from violence. A similar NYPD program focused on robberies, the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program (J-RIP), has, even by police accounts, shown no effect. The Ceasefire model, perhaps, can differ from city to city. In New York, the chief of department sat down with alleged gang members, mandated to attend through parole agreements, to eat pizza and inform them that they’re being watched. In other cases, cops simply keep close tabs on who they say are the city’s most likely killers, busting them for small infractions like jaywalking. In the 12 precincts where Ceasefire is being formally implemented, shootings are down, but murders are up.

While Ceasefire ostensibly offers a multilayer approach, described by Bratton as a mix between “intensive enforcement” and “genuine offers of assistance,” there is a clear emphasis on the enforcement side as police efforts “pretty much hang a sword over (gang members’) heads.”

“Look, if you or your gang is involved in violent activities then we’re all going to come after you. It’s not just going to be local authorities but the feds and we’ll try to get you every which way we can,” Bratton warned. “When we get them convicted, we get them shipped off to federal prisons so they’re not going to be able to hang out with all their buddies up in the state prisons.”

Criticisms of the Ceasefire Approach to Policing

Alex Vitale, an associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, says that some of the city’s efforts to fight violence seem “contradictory” and make little sense. “On the one hand, we’ve seen small increases in the amount of money being devoted to community-based violence reduction efforts in the form of peer violence interrupters and increased services for high-risk youth,” he told Truthout. “On the other hand, the city has invested heavily in new policing strategies that rely on intensive punitive enforcement measures targeting these same populations of young people.” Vitale believes that the law enforcement approach can “actually disrupt the efforts of community-based groups to encourage young people off the streets and into school and employment.”

Programs like Crew Cut and Ceasefire “rely on threats and punishment” and often “run counter to the efforts to reduce youth crime,” Vitale said. He thinks violence intervention work and community-based peer violence mediation offer much more promising alternatives without hinging on police raids or lengthy prison sentences. “Intensive policing undermines those efforts and destabilizes the relationships they are building with these young people,” he added. Wraparound social services, and not gang raids, should be the focus, Vitale says, because poor communities “need more access to real resources that can provide these young people real avenues out of poverty and despair.”

Shaaliver Douce was killed a few yards from his high school. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)Shaaliver Douce was killed a few yards from his high school. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Lessons From New Orleans

Ethan Brown is a licensed investigator in Louisiana. He works on the defense side of drug cases in New Orleans and moved there from New York in 2007. Brown is a critic of Ceasefire and of Kennedy, whom he describes as “this generation’s George Kelling” (a prominent criminologist who is credited with developing the “broken windows” theory of policing). Brown says New Orleans’ supposed success with its own Ceasefire-style efforts, which it launched in 2012, isn’t necessarily backed up by the numbers. Post-Katrina New Orleans has been the murder capital of the United States almost every year. It had the highest murder rate for a US city every year between 2000 and 2011, except for 2005. Brown says that despite dedicating tremendous police resources to fight violence, the city has only seen a modest reduction in the murder rate.

New Orleans offers an interesting test case, since the city has also employed a historically abusive police force – creating a barrier between police and the community with which they’re supposed to collaborate. In 2012, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) was placed under a federal consent decree after authorities described the police there as “lawless.” Federal investigations had gone back to the 1990s, but the monitoring program was an overt acknowledgement that the department could not reform itself.

The stories were the stuff of nightmares. Henry Glover was killed by cops in 2005, a few days after Hurricane Katrina struck. His body was found shot and burned inside a car, the fire used as a cover-up by police officers. The infamous Danziger Bridge incident, where NOPD cops shot six people, killing two, and lied that they had been shot at, invited national outrage. There was also the tale of Melvin “Flattop” Williams, the infamously aggressive Black cop ultimately convicted of killing an unarmed man in 2012, fracturing his ribs and rupturing his spleen.

In 2010, a new mayor, Democrat Mitch Landrieu, became the first white mayor of New Orleans since 1978, when Moon Landrieu, his father, ran the city. Landrieu’s administration brought with it promises of police reform and a new police chief, Ronal Serpas. While Serpas was expected to deal with the controversial misconduct and killings at the NOPD, he instead sought to tackle the murder rate. In 2012, he and Landrieu brought in Kennedy to help form “NOLA for Life,” an anti-violence initiative built largely on the Ceasefire model. Reductions in the murder rate seemed promising, falling in 2013 and 2014. However, the murder rate rose again in 2015. And, in fact, murders had already begun to fall from 2011 to 2012, before NOLA for Life. Other cities, like Los Angeles, have seen similarly mixed results. Boston, where Ceasefire originated, initially had big drops in murders, but saw those numbers climb again as the model proved unsustainable.

While NOLA for Life promotes an inspiring array of “carrots,” like job postings and mentoring, the law enforcement “stick” was more like a “bazooka” in New Orleans, according to Brown. “Since 2012, there’ve been an extraordinary number of gang indictments. The sentences that people face are immense, like ones you’d give to drug cartels,” he told Truthout. Brown also thinks that police and prosecutors are casting too wide a net when gangs are targeted.

“The notion of a ‘crew’ or ‘gang’ affiliation is spread so wide, the definition becomes completely elastic,” he said. In this regard, Brown sees business as usual. “[Ceasefire] is presented as some radically new law enforcement approach … but actually, particularly at the federal level, these things have been going on for decades,” he said. And the “carrot” side of the equation? “The cure is unspecified social services that no one has been able to figure out.”

More Sticks Than Carrots

A 2007 Justice Policy Institute report by Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis found not only that the Ceasefire model failed to deliver on some of its violence-reducing claims, but also that the “carrot” side of the model “always lagged behind the suppression side,” or the “stick.” Greene and Pranis criticized the broader gang enforcement tactics that operate on the suppression end as “ineffectual, if not counterproductive.” Specifically, the report points to efforts of police to intensely target gang “leaders” as problematic because destabilizing gangs, which can produce new leaders, can also risk more violence.

Resources spent on gang suppression include money spent on arrests, prosecutions and jail terms. Neighborhood costs include young people being carted off to jail for things they may or may not have done, or simply said they might do, and serving long sentences in prisons – where gangs thrive – only to come home in as bleak a situation as they went in. More importantly, however, is that the police-community partnership narrative that Ceasefire promotes hinges on a questionable equivalency of power between police and community, which can affect how resources are divvied up. Public and private funding made available for social services, or “carrots,” will likely go to groups with established, deferential relationships with law enforcement. In other words, law enforcement is always in control.

Benny, 31, grew up in the Morris Houses in the Bronx. He says the hunt for gangs is unfair to people who live in the community and grow up together, especially young men. “Black lives do matter. When you grow up in a neighborhood like this, they judge you. You see this group right here,” he said, pointing to a group of men and women hanging out on nearby benches. “They’ll consider this like gang activity, even though all we did was grow up together. Next thing you know they’ll be hitting you with conspiracy [charges].” On an unusually warm Friday afternoon in December, people are sitting around on park benches. People of all ages, from teenage boys to older women pushing shopping carts, stop to talk and laugh.

“They’re taking my friends and they’re not helping,” a young woman named Daisy said about police. Daisy, 19, was Shaalie’s friend. She mourned not only Shaalie’s death, but also that of Jujuan Carson, a 19-year-old friend of hers and Shaalie’s who was just killed in November 2015. “They still haven’t found the person who killed Jujuan, but yet they indicted his friends the day before his funeral,” she said angrily. Daisy says she doesn’t trust police. “Whatever comes out of their mouths are lies.”

Jumping to Conclusions About Gang Activity

The Morris Houses stretch down the east side of the Metro North railroad, which runs along Park Avenue, separating them from the Butler and Morris senior houses on the other side. The New York Daily News’ gang map lists “Washside” as an active gang based in the Morris Houses. Farrar objects to that label. “Washside” is the name some Morris kids identify with, but isn’t an actual gang, she says. While she doesn’t deny gun violence, she vividly remembers how her son was characterized as a gang member for all sorts of reasons. If he posted a picture of himself pointing to a new pair of sneakers or holding a new belt, people would say that those were gang hand signs. “Shaalie’s World,” the words on shirts and sweaters Farrar made after Shaalie’s death, is now rumored to be a gang.

Shaalie’s friends often make tributes to him in songs and on social media. Farrar worries that law enforcement may be deliberately conflating a song, tweet or Instagram post with a sign of gang activity. Amateur music videos that mention Shaalie or refer to “Washside” are probably being collected as cops and prosecutors build cases on more young men, she suspects. In 2015, a Brooklyn man was sentenced to 12 life sentences for a string of murders after prosecutors used rap lyrics of songs he posted on YouTube against him.

“I feel it’s like a cycle. That’s how I feel. It’s like this shit is designed for you to either end up dead or in jail,” Benny said as he tested out his new remote-controlled helicopter. “Right now, my little brother got 10 years for conspiracy,” he said. “It’s guilt by association, who you hang with.” Benny knows police are surveilling them, using all of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and NYPD cameras posted around the neighborhood. “I could be chillin’ with you, you makin’ money, but you been my man since we was kids, and now they taking pictures of us. Let me walk out here with a hoodie tonight and watch me get stopped five times.” Farrar quickly jumps in to recall how Shaalie started wearing hoodies after the death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida boy killed by a neighborhood vigilante. “They really killed him because he was wearing a hoodie, ma?” she recalled him asking.

The Morris Houses are the targets of national gang enforcement trend. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)The Morris Houses are the targets of a national gang enforcement trend. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Farrar, like many of her neighbors, is distrustful of the police and of these new efforts to target alleged gang members. Sitting at some park benches near her building on Washington Avenue, about a mile from where Shaalie died, she and her friends talk about the neighborhood and both the violence and poverty that plague it. For them, poverty is inextricable from the violence – which is something police can’t solve.

“The Kids Need Somewhere to Play”

While Farrar will be the first to agree that youth violence is a problem, the neighborhood’s antagonistic relationship with cops puts them between a rock and a hard place. It was the police, she says, who locked up the basketball courts for two months during the summer. She points at the fence, describing how people were forced to cut and crawl through openings just to play basketball. If cops locked up the courts to prevent violence, then they failed to do even that, some say. A man walks over and says closing the park “wasn’t the solution.” “Now you make it worse,” said the man, who didn’t want to be identified. “Now they got nothin’ to do. Now all they gon’ do is fight now.”

“The kids need somewhere to play,” said Dee, a 35-year-old trainer and boxer who used to train Shaalie. He wants the younger generation to come off of the street and stop fighting with each other, but he says they need resources. He recalls block parties when he was younger that have since become too few and far between. The city-funded health tables and community programming nowadays are directed at very young children and the elderly, not the teens and young adults most susceptible to violence. Worse yet is that programs are limited in scope and time: “They go from like 10 [am] to 12 [pm] and that’s it,” Dee said.

Ms. Betty is 58 and has raised three boys in the Morris Houses. “They’ve got nothing for them to do, that’s our problem. If they find something to do, maybe they’ll stop fighting each other,” she said. For her, the lack of fully functioning community centers contributes to the violence. “It doesn’t make sense. Families got to be crying over their kids and kids fighting for no reason.” While she feels that police are needed, she’s taken aback at the way cops crack down on many in the neighborhood just for hanging out around the buildings. “We just want to be out here like normal people,” she said. She recalls playgrounds inexplicably closed and benches removed from the front of buildings. Asked about the city’s efforts to lease some NYCHA property for private development, she says what the neighborhood needs is an expanded community center. “That don’t make no sense. And they know that.”

Once a basketball court, an empty lot sits in the Morris Houses development. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Once a basketball court, an empty lot sits in the Morris Houses development. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

“I gave my son a lot of attention. But my son was the child of a single parent who felt his mother, you know, was struggling too hard,” Farrar told Truthout. Asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, Farrar is supportive of marches and protests in response to police killings, but she’s also painfully aware of the fact that many may not jump to stand behind her son’s life because of the questions around his case. Shaalie’s funeral was attended by Constance Malcolm and Frank Graham, the parents of Ramarley Graham, a young man fatally shot by cops who chased him into his grandmother’s house. However, few others in the anti-police brutality movement have made her pain their pain. Asked about the future of the movement, Farrar wants the scope to extend beyond cops. “I’d like Black Lives Matter to help the community come together, do things for kids, help stop the beefing,” Farrar said.

During a march that Farrar and her friends put together a few years back in memory of Shaalie, some of his friends began to chant “Fuck the police, RIP Shaalie” to the cops walking alongside. These were Shaalie’s friends, all from the surrounding buildings. Farrar pulled out her camera phone and kept watch of the cops as the march continued to the spot Shaalie died. The group, too large for the sidewalk, formed a big circle. A police car pulled up and a cop insisted the event clear out because it was blocking the road. Farrar told them they wouldn’t be going anywhere until they were done. They released white balloons into the sky and promised never to forget Shaalie’s name.

Josmar Trujillo is an activist and organizer with New Yorkers Against Bratton. Follow him on Twitter: @Josmar_Trujillo.

Pesquisadoras mapeiam ocupação indígena no Sertão nordestino desde século 16 (Diário de Pernambuco)

Considerados nômades, índios que viviam mais ao oeste do Brasil são pouco estudados se comparados aqueles da região litorânea e da Zona da Mata

Por: Fellipe Torres – Diario de Pernambuco

Publicado em: 19/01/2016 17:53 Atualizado em: 19/01/2016 19:22

A obra revela como o Sertão era habitado pelos índios, considerados nômades pelo fato de precisarem de todo o espaço necessário para sobreviver à ocupação violenta dos colonizadores brancos. Crédito: Arquivo/DP
A obra revela como o Sertão era habitado pelos índios, considerados nômades pelo fato de precisarem de todo o espaço necessário para sobreviver à ocupação violenta dos colonizadores brancos. Crédito: Arquivo/DP

A escassez de informações sobre o passado histórico do Sertão nordestino abre espaço para a reprodução de preconceitos com séculos de existência. Um conhecido mapa criado no século 16 pelo cartógrafo espanhol Diego Gutiérrez, por exemplo, generaliza a população sertaneja da época a índios canibais, representados em ilustrações de esquartejamento e assado humano. Para dar contornos mais claros à história brasileira, em especial referente ao território pernambucano mais ao oeste do país, duas gerações se uniram em um vasto estudo, agora disponível em livro. Mãe e filha, as historiadoras Socorro Ferraz e Bartira Ferraz Barbosa lançam, nesta quarta-feira (20), às 19h, na Arte Plural Galeria (Rua da Moeda, 140, Bairro do Recife), Sertão – Fronteira do medo (Editora UFPE, 283 páginas, R$ 75).

Crédito: Editora UFPE/divulgação
Crédito: Editora UFPE/divulgação

Na publicação, o Sertão dos tempos coloniais é descrito como uma fronteira física e, ao mesmo tempo, imaginária para a população do litoral. Era, portanto, representada graficamente pelos colonizadores, interessados em conquistar terras e riquezas em um local com características peculiares. “Há muitos trabalhos sobre a ocupação indígena litorânea e da Zona da Mata, mas muito poucas a respeito do Sertão, uma região onde a sobrevivência é mais difícil e, portanto, as informações não são tão fáceis de serem obtidas. Foi uma grande surpresa encontrar nos cartórios pesquisados livros de batismo de índios, negros e escravos brancos, com dados sobre como se batizava na época, sobre relações de parentesco, posse das terras”, relata Socorro Ferraz, doutora em história econômica pela Universidade de São Paulo e professora da UFPE.

Segundo a pesquisadora, a obra revela como o Sertão era habitado pelos índios, considerados nômades pelo fato de precisarem de todo o espaço necessário para sobreviver à ocupação violenta dos brancos. Esses colonizadores, ela esclarece, impingiram o medo para que a população indígena cedesse em muitos aspectos. Boa parte dela cedeu, negociou, tentou sobreviver de toda forma possível. Grande parte, contudo, foi extinta. Nesse contexto de adaptação, alguns índios chegaram, inclusive, a ter presença ativa no sistema colonial. Alguns foram capitães de milícias, outros tiveram cargos políticos, militares, serviram de intermediários para a própria conquista.
Para Bartira Ferraz, desde o século 16 os portugueses impuseram uma nova ordem política baseada em mecanismo de ocupação e controle, do vigiar e punir. “Os colonizadores vão primeiro punir, taxando os indígenas de selvagens, canibais, instalando um caos, que dá origem a guerras coloniais. Ocorreu a implantação brutal do sistema político por meio de um controle feito pela cruz e pela espada, com apoio do missionário e de tropas que controlavam essas populações”.

The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter (Politico Magazine)

And it’s not gender, age, income, race or religion.

1/17/2016

 

If I asked you what most defines Donald Trump supporters, what would you say? They’re white? They’re poor? They’re uneducated?

You’d be wrong.

In fact, I’ve found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump—and it’s not race, income or education levels: It’s authoritarianism.

That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.

My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.

Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.

Not all authoritarians are Republicans by any means; in national surveys since 1992, many authoritarians have also self-identified as independents and Democrats. And in the 2008 Democratic primary, the political scientist Marc Hetherington found that authoritarianism mattered more than income, ideology, gender, age and education in predicting whether voters preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. But Hetherington has also found, based on 14 years of polling, that authoritarians have steadily moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party over time. He hypothesizes that the trend began decades ago, as Democrats embraced civil rights, gay rights, employment protections and other political positions valuing freedom and equality. In my poll results, authoritarianism was not a statistically significant factor in the Democratic primary race, at least not so far, but it does appear to be playing an important role on the Republican side. Indeed, 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters I surveyed score in the top quarter of the authoritarian scale—more than twice as many as Democratic voters.

Political pollsters have missed this key component of Trump’s support because they simply don’t include questions about authoritarianism in their polls. In addition to the typical battery of demographic, horse race, thermometer-scale and policy questions, my poll asked a set of four simple survey questions that political scientists have employed since 1992 to measure inclination toward authoritarianism. These questions pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

Based on these questions, Trump was the only candidate—Republican or Democrat—whose support among authoritarians was statistically significant.

So what does this mean for the election? It doesn’t just help us understand what motivates Trump’s backers—it suggests that his support isn’t capped. In a statistical analysis of the polling results, I found that Trump has already captured 43 percent of Republican primary voters who are strong authoritarians, and 37 percent of Republican authoritarians overall. A majority of Republican authoritarians in my poll also strongly supported Trump’s proposals to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, prohibit Muslims from entering the United States, shutter mosques and establish a nationwide database that track Muslims.

And in a general election, Trump’s strongman rhetoric will surely appeal to some of the 39 percent of independents in my poll who identify as authoritarians and the 17 percent of self-identified Democrats who are strong authoritarians.

What’s more, the number of Americans worried about the threat of terrorism is growing. In 2011, Hetherington published research finding that non-authoritarians respond to the perception of threat by behaving more like authoritarians. More fear and more threats—of the kind we’ve seen recently in the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks—mean more voters are susceptible to Trump’s message about protecting Americans. In my survey, 52 percent of those voters expressing the most fear that another terrorist attack will occur in the United States in the next 12 months were non-authoritarians—ripe targets for Trump’s message.

Take activated authoritarians from across the partisan spectrum and the growing cadre of threatened non-authoritarians, then add them to the base of Republican general election voters, and the potential electoral path to a Trump presidency becomes clearer.

So, those who say a Trump presidency “can’t happen here” should check their conventional wisdom at the door. The candidate has confounded conventional expectations this primary season because those expectations are based on an oversimplified caricature of the electorate in general and his supporters in particular. Conditions are ripe for an authoritarian leader to emerge. Trump is seizing the opportunity. And the institutions—from the Republican Party to the press—that are supposed to guard against what James Madison called “the infection of violent passions” among the people have either been cowed by Trump’s bluster or are asleep on the job.

It is time for those who would appeal to our better angels to take his insurgency seriously and stop dismissing his supporters as a small band of the dispossessed. Trump support is firmly rooted in American authoritarianism and, once awakened, it is a force to be reckoned with. That means it’s also time for political pollsters to take authoritarianism seriously and begin measuring it in their polls.

Matthew MacWilliams is founder of MacWilliams Sanders, a political communications firms, and a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he is writing his dissertation about authoritarianism.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-2016-authoritarian-213533#ixzz3xj06TM2n

The Big Search to Find Out Where Dogs Come From (New York Times)

An ancient canine skull at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Scientists are still debating exactly when and where the ancient human-canine bond originated. ANDREW TESTA FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

By JAMES GORMAN

OXFORD, England — Before humans milked cows, herded goats or raised hogs, before they invented agriculture, or written language, before they had permanent homes, and most certainly before they had cats, they had dogs.

Or dogs had them, depending on how you view the human-canine arrangement. But scientists are still debating exactly when and where the ancient bond originated. And a large new study being run out of the University of Oxford here, with collaborators around the world, may soon provide some answers.

Scientists have come up with a broad picture of the origins of dogs. First off, researchers agree that they evolved from ancient wolves. Scientists once thought that some visionary hunter-gatherer nabbed a wolf puppy from its den one day and started raising tamer and tamer wolves, taking the first steps on the long road to leashes and flea collars. This is oversimplified, of course, but the essence of the idea is that people actively bred wolves to become dogs just the way they now breed dogs to be tiny or large, or to herd sheep.

The prevailing scientific opinion now, however, is that this origin story does not pass muster. Wolves are hard to tame, even as puppies, and many researchers find it much more plausible that dogs, in effect, invented themselves.

Arden Hulme-Beaman cutting a piece from an ancient skull for DNA testing at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels. ANDREW TESTA FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

One reason for the conflicting theories, according to Greger Larson, a biologist in the archaeology department at the University of Oxford, is that dog genetics are a mess. In an interview at his office here in November, he noted that most dog breeds were invented in the 19th century during a period of dog obsession that he called “the giant whirlwind blender of the European crazy Victorian dog-breeding frenzy.”

That blender, as well as random breeding by dogs themselves, and interbreeding with wolves at different times over at least the last 15,000 years, created a “tomato soup” of dog genetics, for which the ingredients are very hard to identify, Dr. Larson said.

The way to find the recipe, Dr. Larson is convinced, is to create a large database of ancient DNA to add to the soup of modern canine genetics. And with a colleague, Keith Dobney at the University of Aberdeen, he has persuaded the Who’s Who of dog researchers to join a broad project, with about $2.5 million in funding from the Natural Environment Research Council in England and the European Research Council, to analyze ancient bones and their DNA.

Robert Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at U.C.L.A. who studies the origin of dogs and is part of the research, said, “There’s hardly a person working in canine genetics that’s not working on that project.”

A wolf on display at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. ANDREW TESTA FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

That is something of a triumph, given the many competing theories in this field. “Almost every group has a different origination hypothesis,” he said.

But Dr. Larson has sold them all on the simple notion that the more data they have, the more cooperative the effort is, the better the answers are going to be. His personality has been crucial to promoting the team effort, said Dr. Wayne, who described Dr. Larson as “very outgoing, gregarious.” Also, Dr. Wayne added, “He has managed not to alienate anyone.”

Scientists at museums and universities who are part of the project are opening up their collections. So to gather data, Dr. Larson and his team at Oxford have traveled the world, collecting tiny samples of bone and measurements of teeth, jaws and occasionally nearly complete skulls from old and recent dogs, wolves and canids that could fall into either category. The collection phase is almost done, said Dr. Larson, who expects to end up with DNA from about 1,500 samples, and photographs and detailed measurements of several thousand.

Scientific papers will start to emerge this year from the work, some originating in Oxford, and some from other institutions, all the work of many collaborators.

Dr. Larson is gambling that the project will be able to determine whether the domestication process occurred closer to 15,000 or 30,000 years ago, and in what region it took place. That’s not quite the date, GPS location and name of the ancient hunter that some dog lovers might hope for.

But it would be a major achievement in the world of canine science, and a landmark in the analysis of ancient DNA to show evolution, migrations and descent, much as studies of ancient hominid DNA have shown how ancient humans populated the globe and interbred with Neanderthals.

And why care about the domestication of dogs, beyond the obsessive interest so many people have in their pets? The emergence of dogs may have been a watershed.

“Maybe dog domestication on some level kicks off this whole change in the way that humans are involved and responding to and interacting with their environment,” he added. “I don’t think that’s outlandish.”

Shepherding the Research

Dr. Larson is no stranger to widely varying points of view. He is an American, but recently became a British citizen as well. His parents are American and he visited the United States often as a child, but he was born in Bahrain and grew up in Turkey and Japan, places where his parents were teaching in schools on American military bases.

He graduated from Claremont McKenna College in California and received his Ph.D. at Oxford. In between college and graduate studies, he spent a year searching for the bed of an ancient river in Turkmenistan, and another couple of years setting up an environmental consulting office in Azerbaijan. He had an interest in science as an undergraduate, and some background from a college major in environment, economics and politics, but no set career plans. Instead, his career grew out of intense curiosity, a knack for making friends and a willingness to jump at an opportunity, like the time he managed to tag along on an archaeological dig.

He was staying in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and a local man who had helped him rent an old Soviet truck to explore the desert told him some Westerners were arriving to go on a dig, so he wangled his way onto one of the trucks.

“I think everybody there thought I was with somebody else,” Dr. Larson said.

By the time the group stopped to rest and someone asked him who he was, it was too late to question whether he really belonged. “I was a complete stowaway,” he said.

But he could move dirt and speak Russian, and he had some recently acquired expertise — in college drinking games — that he said was in great demand at night. By luck, he said, the researchers on the dig turned out to be “the great and the good of British neolithic archaeology.” One of them was Chris Gosden, the chairman of European Archaeology at Oxford, who later invited him to do a one-year master’s degree in archaeology at Oxford. That eventually led to a Ph.D. program after he spent some time in graduate school in the United States.

The current project began when he became fed up with the lack of ancient DNA evidence in papers about the origin of dogs. He called Dr. Dobney, of the University of Aberdeen in 2011, and said, “We’re doing dogs.”

After receiving the grant from the council in England, he and Dr. Dobney organized a conference in Aberdeen, Scotland, to gather as many people involved in researching dog origins as they could. His pitch to the group was that despite their different points of view, everyone was interested in the best possible evidence, no matter where it led.

“If we have to eat crow, we eat crow,” he said. “It’s science.”

A 32,000-Year-Old Skull

Mietje Germonpré, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, is one of the many scientists participating in the dog project. She was one of a number of authors on a 2013 paper in Science that identified a skull about 32,000 years old from a Belgian cave in Goyet as an early dog. Dr. Wayne at U.C.L.A. was the senior author on the paper and Olaf Thalmann from the University of Turku in Finland was the first author.

It is typical of Dr. Larson’s dog project that although he disagreed with the findings of the paper, arguing that the evidence just wasn’t there to call the Goyet skull a dog, all of the authors of the paper are working on the larger project with him.

In November in Brussels, holding the priceless fossil, Dr. Germonpré pointed out the wide skull, crowded teeth and short snout of the ancient skull — all indicators to her that it was not a wolf.

“To me, it’s a dog,” she said. Studies of mitochondrial DNA, passed down from females only, also indicated the skull was not a wolf, according to the 2013 paper.

Dr. Germonpré said she thinks dogs were domesticated some time before this animal died, and she leans toward the idea that humans intentionally bred them from wolves.

She holds up another piece of evidence, a reconstruction of a 30,000-year-old canid skull found near Predmostí, in the Czech Republic, with a bone in its mouth. She reported in 2014 that this was a dog. And she says the bone is part of evidence the animal was buried with care. “We think it was deliberately put there,” she said.

But she recognizes these claims are controversial and is willing, like the rest of the world of canine science, to risk damage to the fossils themselves to get more information on not just the mitochondrial DNA but also the nuclear DNA.

To minimize that risk, she talked with Ardern Hulme-Beaman, a postdoctoral researcher with the Oxford team, about where to cut into it. He was nearing the end of months of traveling to Russia, Turkey, the United States and all over Europe to take samples of canid jaws and skulls.

He and Allowyn Evin, now with the National Center for Scientific Research in Montpelier, France, also took many photographs of each jaw and skull to do geometric morphometrics. Software processes detailed photographs from every angle into 3-D recreations that provide much more information on the shape of a bone than length and width measurements.

Dr. Germonpré and Dr. Hulme-Beaman agreed on a spot in the interior of the skull to cut. In the laboratory, he used a small electric drill with a cutting blade to remove a chunk the size of a bit of chopped walnut. An acrid, burning smell indicated that organic material was intact within the bone — a good sign for the potential retrieval of DNA.

Back in Oxford, researchers will attempt to use the most current techniques to get as much DNA as possible out of the sample. There is no stretch of code that says “wolf” or “dog,” any more than there is a single skull feature that defines a category. What geneticists try to establish is how different the DNA of one animal is from another. Adding ancient DNA gives many more points of reference over a long time span.

Dr. Larson hopes that he and his collaborators will be able to identify a section of DNA in some ancient wolves that was passed on to more doglike descendants and eventually to modern dogs. And he hopes they will be able to identify changes in the skulls or jaws of those wolves that show shifts to more doglike shapes, helping to narrow the origins of domestication.

The usual assumption about domestic animals is that the process of taming and breeding them happened once. But that’s not necessarily so. Dr. Larson and Dr. Dobney showed that pigs were domesticated twice, once in Anatolia and once in China. The same could be true of dogs.

Only the Beginning

Although the gathering of old bones is almost done, Dr. Larson is still negotiating with Chinese researchers for samples from that part of the world, which he says are necessary. But he hopes they will come.

If all goes well, said Dr. Larson, the project will publish a flagship paper from all of the participants describing their general findings. And over the next couple of years, researchers, all using the common data, will continue to publish separate findings.

Other large collaborative efforts are brewing, as well. Dr. Wayne, at U.C.L.A., said that a group in China was forming with the goal of sequencing 10,000 dog genomes. He and Dr. Larson are part of that group.

Last fall, Dr. Larson was becoming more excited with each new bit of data, but not yet ready to tip his hand about what conclusions the data may warrant, or how significant they will be.

But he is growing increasingly confident that they will find what they want, and come close to settling the thorny question of when and where the tearing power of a wolf jaw first gave way to the persuasive force of a nudge from a dog’s cold nose.

“I’m starting to drink my own Kool-Aid,” he said.

Profetas das chuvas e a ecologia (Diário do Nordeste)

00:00 · 17.01.2016

Participar do XX Encontro dos Profetas da Chuva foi uma experiência única. Foi uma manhã de grande aprendizado em Quixadá, pois tive uma verdadeira “aula magna” sobre a sabedoria popular camponesa e a cultura sertaneja. Grandes intelectuais da atualidade, como Edgard Morin (Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique de Paris), da corrente do pensamento complexo, ou Boaventura Santos (Universidade de Coimbra), defensor da ecologia dos saberes, apreciariam muito a experiência. Os relatos das previsões guardam uma riqueza e diversidade nos seus métodos.

A maioria dos profetas é idosa e, portanto, afirma que suas experiências têm, no mínimo, 40 anos de aplicação. Seus parâmetros de análise se baseiam nos astros, nas nuvens, na observação da fauna e da flora, com testes da pedra de sal em datas específicas e nos seus próprios sentidos. Alguns se autodenominam cientistas populares ou da natureza, pois suas previsões partem de uma rigorosa observação cotidiana da mesma. É importante destacar que a maioria, além do vínculo com a terra, é também poeta e há até alguns escritores.

Que lições os profetas da chuva podem dar aos cientistas?

Fazendo o diálogo com Morin, podemos adiantar que eles nos ajudam a pensar de forma complexa. A ciência moderna, a título de simplificar para captar o real, muitas vezes adota práticas de recortar tanto seu objeto de análise que acaba ficando com sua análise limitada.

Não é fácil controlar tantas variáveis como as envolvidas no clima, mas vejam como os profetas lidam com vários indicadores. É evidente que existem limitações em todas as abordagens, tanto a científica quanto a popular. Nesse momento é oportuna a prática da ecologia dos saberes. Ela não nega os avanços da ciência moderna, mas não trata o conhecimento popular como algo inferior ou folclórico.

Ambos cumprem papéis muito importantes na nossa sociedade e o desafio é fazer esses conhecimentos dialogarem em prol de um mundo melhor. Será que existe possibilidade de complementaridade nos prognósticos meteorológicos científicos com os dos Profetas da Chuva? Em vez de competição haverá espaço para um diálogo de saberes onde existe um respeito e uma relação horizontal, cujo objetivo maior é orientar os agricultores a encontrar o momento certo para plantar?

A Fiocruz decidiu priorizar, em seu âmbito nacional, o tema da relação água e saúde para ações de pesquisa, formação e cooperação. No Ceará, um de seus focos também será o de fomentar o desenvolvimento de tecnologias socioambientais de cuidados com a água voltado para o convívio com a seca. Está sendo elaborada uma proposta de mestrado profissional sobre saúde, saneamento e direitos humanos em rede com as universidades públicas do Nordeste e o desenvolvimento de linhas de pesquisa para a produção de conhecimento que promovam esse diálogo de saberes. Recebemos uma homenagem no encontro e assumimos a honraria como um símbolo de nosso compromisso com essa causa tão importante para o povo do sertão. Finalmente, tivemos uma manhã animada, regada de alegria e esperança de que este ano vai ser possível plantar e colher no sertão do Ceará. Para alguns até com fartura, pois estamos vivendo a pior seca dos timos 50 anos no Nordeste. A última profecia terminou com um canto de um profeta: e naquele momento, literalmente, começou a chover.

FERNANDO FERREIRA CARNEIRO

Biólogo e pós-doutor em sociologia

Pangolim aparece em Nkobe: pode anunciar chuvas na província de Maputo (TVM)

Domingo, 17 Janeiro 2016 14:27
Escrito por  Redacção

pangolimpt.jpg

Um Pangolim foi encontrado na manhã deste sábado no bairro Nkobe na Cidade da Matola Província de Maputo.

Segundo as autoridades tradicionais, o animal anuncia muita chuva e produtividade nos próximos tempos neste ponto do país.

O mamífero foi encontrado no bairro Nkobe na Província de Maputo, o mesmo foi transportado para a residência da Rainha, onde os régulos realizaram uma cerimónia tradicional com vista interpretação da mensagem que o animal trazia para a população da Cidade da Matola.

Realizada a cerimónia tradicional, a Rainha disse tratar-se de um animal cujo aparecimento tem explicação entre as quais se destaca a queda da chuva e cultivo de comida em abundância.

Dirigentes da Cidade da Matola estiveram no local para testemunhar o acto e estes consideram que o cenário da seca que se vive na Província de Maputo poderá ser ultrapassado.

Segundo as autoridades tradicionais esta é a segunda vez que um Pangolim é encontrado na urbe, o primeiro apareceu em dois mil e catorze.

Fundação Cacique Cobra Coral na China (Isto É)

Coluna Ricardo Boechat

Edição 2406 – 15 de janeiro de 2016

Esoterismo
Na China

A Fundação Cacique Cobra Coral — entidade que afirma controlar o clima e tem contrato com o Ministério de Minas e Energia, o Estado e Prefeitura do Rio para afastar tempestades ou fazer chover nos reservatórios da hidrelétricas — vai embora do Brasil. A médium Adelaide Scritori, que diz incorporar o cacique, estuda proposta de um grupo chinês para reduzir a poluição por lá através das chuvas. O contrato teria de ser exclusivo e foi considerado “irrecusável”. Inclui uma ajuda de custo de US$ 1 milhão por mês mais despesas fixas. A médium diz que vai “consultar o cacique” já que recusou no ano passado um convite semelhante da Austrália devido à crise hídrica que passava o Brasil.

‘Na África, indaguei rei da minha etnia por que nos venderam como escravos’ (BBC Brasil)

14 janeiro 2016

Zulu Araújo | Foto: Divulgação

Image captionA convite de produtora, arquiteto fez exame genético e foi até Camarões para conhecer seus ancestrais

“Somos o único grupo populacional no Brasil que não sabe de onde vem”, queixa-se o arquiteto baiano Zulu Araújo, de 63 anos, em referência à população negra descendente dos 4,8 milhões de africanos escravizados recebidos pelo país entre os séculos 16 e 19.

Araújo foi um dos 150 brasileiros convidados pela produtora Cine Group para fazer um exame de DNA e identificar suas origens africanas.

Ele descobriu ser descendente do povo tikar, de Camarões, e, como parte da série televisiva Brasil: DNA África, visitou o local para conhecer a terra de seus antepassados.

“A viagem me completou enquanto cidadão”, diz Araújo. Leia, abaixo, seu depoimento à BBC Brasil:

“Sempre tive a consciência de que um dos maiores crimes contra a população negra não foi nem a tortura, nem a violência: foi retirar a possibilidade de que conhecêssemos nossas origens. Somos o único grupo populacional no Brasil que não sabe de onde vem.

Meu sobrenome, Mendes de Araújo, é português. Carrego o nome da família que escravizou meus ancestrais, pois o ‘de’ indica posse. Também carrego o nome de um povo africano, Zulu.

 

Momento em que o Zulu confronta o rei tikar sobre a venda de seus antepassados

Ganhei o apelido porque meus amigos me acharam parecido com um rei zulu retratado num documentário. Virou meu nome.

Nasci no Solar do Unhão, uma colônia de pescadores no centro de Salvador, local de desembarque e leilão de escravos até o final do século 19. Comecei a trabalhar clandestinamente aos 9 anos numa gráfica da Igreja Católica. Trabalhava de forma profana para produzir livros sagrados.

Bom aluno, consegui passar no vestibular para arquitetura. Éramos dois negros numa turma de 600 estudantes – isso numa cidade onde 85% da população tem origem africana. Salvador é uma das cidades mais racistas que eu conheço no mundo.

Ao participar do projeto Brasil: DNA África e descobrir que era do grupo étnico tikar, fiquei surpreso. Na Bahia, todos nós especulamos que temos ou origem angolana ou iorubá. Eu imaginava que era iorubano. Mas os exames de DNA mostram que vieram ao Brasil muito mais etnias do que sabemos.

Zulu Araújo | Foto: Divulgação

“Era como se eu estivesse no meu bairro, na Bahia, e ao mesmo tempo tivesse voltado 500 anos no tempo”, diz Zulu sobre chegada a Camarões

Zulu Araújo | Foto: Divulgação

Pergunta sobre escravidão a rei camaronense foi tratada como “assunto delicado” e foi respondida apenas no dia seguinte

Quando cheguei ao centro do reino tikar, a eletricidade tinha caído, e o pessoal usava candeeiros e faróis dos carros para a iluminação. Mais de 2 mil pessoas me aguardavam. O que senti naquele momento não dá para descrever, de tão chocante e singular.

As pessoas gritavam. Eu não entendia uma palavra do que diziam, mas entendia tudo. Era como se eu estivesse no meu bairro, na Bahia, e ao mesmo tempo tivesse voltado 500 anos no tempo.

O povão me encarava como uma novidade: eu era o primeiro brasileiro de origem tikar a pisar ali. Mas também fiquei chocado com a pobreza. As pessoas me faziam inúmeros pedidos nas ruas, de camisetas de futebol a ajuda para gravar um disco. Não por acaso, ali perto o grupo fundamentalista Boko Haram (originário da vizinha Nigéria) tem uma de suas bases e conta com grande apoio popular.

De manhã, fui me encontrar com o rei, um homem alto e forte de 56 anos, casado com 20 mulheres e pai de mais de 40 filhos. Ele se vestia como um muçulmano do deserto, com uma túnica com estamparias e tecidos belíssimos.

Depois do café da manhã, tive uma audiência com ele numa das salas do palácio. Ele estava emocionado e curioso, pois sabia que muitos do povo Tikar haviam ido para as Américas, mas não para o Brasil.

Fiz uma pergunta que me angustiava: perguntei por que eles tinham permitido ou participado da venda dos meus ancestrais para o Brasil. O tradutor conferiu duas vezes se eu queria mesmo fazer aquela pergunta e disse que o assunto era muito sensível. Eu insisti.

Ficou um silêncio total na sala. Então o rei cochichou no ouvido de um conselheiro, que me disse que ele pedia desculpas, mas que o assunto era muito delicado e só poderia me responder no dia seguinte. O tema da escravidão é um tabu no continente africano, porque é evidente que houve um conluio da elite africana com a europeia para que o processo durasse tanto tempo e alcançasse tanta gente.

No dia seguinte, o rei finalmente me respondeu. Ele pediu desculpas e disse que foi melhor terem nos vendido, caso contrário todos teríamos sido mortos. E disse que, por termos sobrevivido, nós, da diáspora, agora poderíamos ajudá-los. Disse ainda que me adotaria como seu primeiro filho, o que me daria o direito a regalias e o acesso a bens materiais.

Foi uma resposta política, mas acho que foi sincera. Sei que eles não imaginavam que a escravidão ganharia a dimensão que ganhou, nem que a Europa a transformaria no maior negócio de todos os tempos. Houve um momento em que os africanos perderam o controle.

Zulu Araújo | Foto: Divulgação

“Se qualquer pessoa me perguntar de onde sou, agora já sei responder. Só quem é negro pode entender a dimensão que isso possui.”

Um intelectual senegalês me disse que, enquanto não superarmos a escravidão, não teremos paz – nem os escravizados, nem os escravizadores. É a pura verdade. Não dá para tratar uma questão de 500 anos com um sentimento de ódio ou vingança.

A viagem me completou enquanto cidadão. Se qualquer pessoa me perguntar de onde sou, agora já sei responder. Só quem é negro pode entender a dimensão que isso possui.

Acho que os exames de DNA deveriam ser reconhecidos pelo governo, pelas instituições acadêmicas brasileiras como um caminho para que possamos refazer e recontar a história dos 52% dos brasileiros que têm raízes africanas. Só conhecendo nossas origens poderemos entender quem somos de verdade.”

Ouvir o cacique (O Globo)

POR JORGE BASTOS MORENO

12/03/2010 10:14

LUIZ GARCIA

É muito simples entender o que é a Fundação Cacique Cobra Coral. Trata-se de organização que se declara beneficente — e não há qualquer prova em contrário — que se atribuiu a missão de “minimizar catástrofes” avisando as autoridades com antecedência. Claro, entender é uma coisa, acreditar é outra. Mas também não falta quem acredite, e, parece, com boas razões.

A fundação foi criada por um certo Angelo Scritori, que morreu em 2002, com alegados 104 anos. Ele recebia os avisos da iminência de desastres naturais do Padre Cícero. Pouco antes de morrer, avisou à praça que seria sucedido pela filha, Adelaide, cujo contato com o outro lado passaria a ser o Cacique Cobra Coral.

Este se comunica com ela falando com sotaque de caboclo brasileiro, embora seja um índio americano Ao avisar sobre a substituição, Padre Cícero informou que o cacique também teria sido, em outras encarnações (se essa é a palavra certa, tratando-se de um espírito), Abraham Lincoln e Galileu Galilei. O leitor não deve ver esse dado com estranheza — até mesmo porque, se é cidadão de pouca fé, francamente, não tem qualquer razão para continuar lendo este artigo.

Mas parece que gente de muita fé não falta. O governo de São Paulo, por exemplo, tem contrato — sem valor financeiro — com a fundação desde 2005. Recebe aviso sobre catástrofes naturais a caminho, com tempo de tomar providências. Se as toma, não se sabe, mas isso não é problema para d. Adelaide.

Ela é bem-sucedida corretora de imóveis, moradora na região próspera dos Jardins de São Paulo. Há algum tempo, definiu com clareza o seu próprio papel como anunciadora de catástrofes: “Funcionamos como uma espécie de air bag. Reduzimos os danos, mas as autoridades têm de fazer a parte delas. O cacique não pode servir de muleta para os homens.”

Talvez como prova disso, a fundação já teve convênio com a Prefeitura de São Paulo, mas o rompeu na gestão do prefeito Gilberto Kassab, porque ele acabara com uma verba destinada a combater causas de desastres climáticos.

Seja como for, o prestígio da Cobra Coral vai além de São Paulo. Em novembro de 2008, a Comissão de Ciência e Tecnologia do Senado aprovou um convite a Adelaide para ir até lá discutir o apagão em 18 estados. Não sei se chegou a ir, não me lembro de notícia disso, mas o convite existiu.

Aqui no Rio, a fundação está discutindo com a Prefeitura a renovação de um convênio — que não envolve qualquer pagamento — pelo qual a fundação profetiza tempestades e assim ajuda a diminuir os seus efeitos. Sendo de graça, por que não ouvir o cacique?

Texto publicado no Globo de hoje.

Pior seca dos últimos 50 anos no Nordeste mobiliza profetas do sertão (Globo/JN)

Edição do dia 09/01/2016

09/01/2016 20h56 – Atualizado em 09/01/2016 20h56

Açude do Cedro está com apenas 0,52% da capacidade.

Profetas se reuniram pra compartilhar as previsões.

Vídeo

A pior seca dos últimos 50 anos no Nordeste está mobilizando os profetas do sertão. Até esses brasileiros, que sabem como ninguém interpretar os sinais que vêm da terra, estão quebrando a cabeça pra prever o fim da estiagem.

A água chegava aos degraus. Mas, depois de quatro anos seguidos de seca, o Açude do Cedro, um dos mais antigos do Ceará, está com apenas 0,52% da capacidade.

Pra quem tem visto tanta seca, um dia nublado, pode até dar esperança. Mas quem realmente trabalha com a terra busca outros sinais pra ter certeza de que vai ter um bom período de chuva. E tudo tem uma lógica: se o passarinho faz o ninho um pouco mais alto na árvore, quer dizer que a terra vai encharcar, então vai ter boa chuva. Se o ninho estiver mais baixo é o contrário. É desse jeito que os profetas do sertão fazem sua previsão do tempo todos os anos.

Josimar analisou cada detalhe das árvores pra saber se o tempo de chuva, chamado de inverno na região e que costuma acontecer no começo do ano, está mesmo próximo.

“Essa florzinha está começando agora, aí se demorou, com certeza é sinal que o inverno também demora”, ensina.

Neste sábado (9) os profetas se reuniram pra compartilhar as previsões, cada um à sua maneira: ranhuras que apareceram no caule da Ibiratanha animaram Seu Renato.

“Ela está dando sinal que vai haver grande abundância de chuva”, diz.

Dona Lurdinha botou pedrinhas de sal num tabuleiro com os meses do ano.

“Quando o inverno vai ser bom, desmancha todas. Fiquei muito alegre porque as pedrinhas molharam quase todas”, diz ela.

Certeza mesmo é que, faça chuva ou faça sol, ninguém vai deixar a terra de onde se tira até a previsão do tempo.

“A gente faz que nem o finado Luiz Gonzaga: ‘enquanto minha vaquinha tiver o couro e o osso, e puder com o chocalho pendurado no pescoço, só deixo meu Cariri no último pau de arara’. Nós somos sertanejos, não pode desistir”, diz Josimar.

Previsão é de pouca chuva no Ceará de dezembro a fevereiro, diz Funceme (G1)

20/11/2015 19h09 – Atualizado em 20/11/2015 20h49

Segundo a Funceme, chances de chuva abaixo da média é de 69%. Ceará enfrenta períodos de chuva abaixo da média há quatro anos.

Do G1 CE

Chance de chuva abaixo da média é de 69%, diz Funceme (Foto: Funceme/Reprodução)

Chance de chuva abaixo da média é de 69%, diz Funceme (Foto: Funceme/Reprodução)

O Ceará deve ter pouca chuva em todas as suas regiões até fevereiro de 2016 devido à forte atuação do fenômeno El Niño, segundo previsão divulgada nesta sexta-feira (20) pela Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (Funceme). O Ceará escassez e estiagem desde 2011.

Para os meses de dezembro de 2015, janeiro e fevereiro de 2016, o prognóstico aponta 69% de probabilidade de chuvas abaixo da média no Ceará durante o período. As chances de haver precipitações em torno da média são de 23% e para chuvas acima da média, a probabilidade é de apenas 8%.

A categoria abaixo da média histórica para período de dezembro a fevereiro no estado corresponde a chuvas de 0 a 203 milímetros. Precipitações de 203 a 312 milímetros são consideradas em torno da média; caso chova 312 milímetros ou mais, a categoria é acima da média.

“É muito importante ressaltarmos que o trimestre em questão engloba dois meses de pré-estação chuvosa, dezembro e janeiro, quando os sistemas que normalmente atuam nessa época são de menor previsibilidade, como Vórtices Ciclônicos de Altos Níveis, Cavados e a influência de Sistemas Frontais”, explica o meteorologista Leandro Valente.

Ele destaca também, que, apesar da baixa previsibilidade, além do modelo atmosférico da Funceme, outros modelos de instituições nacionais e internacionais também apontam maior probabilidade de precipitações abaixo da média para o Ceará nos próximos três meses.

Dilma promete recursos
O governador do Ceará, Camilo Santana, apresentou nesta quinta-feira (19) o prognóstico de pouca chuva para o Ceará e o Nordeste brasileiro em 2016 e fez o pedido de recursos federais para amenizar os efeitos da estiagem na região, que enfrenta quatro anos seguidos de pouca chuva.

Segundo Camilo Santana, o Governo Federal anunciou que irá liberar novos financiamentos para obras na região, que serão utilizados para a instalação de dessalinizadores (equipamento para retirar excesso de sal da água e torná-la potável), construção de adutoras de montagem rápida e a perfuração de poços nas regiões mais afetadas pela estiagem, além do reforço na Operação Carro-Pipa nas zonas urbanas.

COMENTÁRIOS

Ademerval Magno A situação do Nordeste só vai melhorar quando fizerem um enorme canal que possa trazer alguma fração da água do rio Amazonas. Enquanto isso, sonharemos com a transposição do rio São Francisco para 20?? e o fim da corrupção. P.S. Quanto ao fim da corrupção só depende de nós mesmos, portanto, façamos nossa parte!

Francisco Araujo Não que eles estão errado em suas previsões, mas acredito em DEUS e e ele mudará e nos dará um bom inverno, tenho ver em ti senhor e sei que nos ajudará a vencer essa situação, mandaras muitas chuvas para o nosso nordeste…

Nazireu Pinheiro Essa situação não mudará enquanto nós nordestinos não tivermos a percepção de exigir dos nossos representantes uma solução definitiva para a seca, pois o que foi feito até agora são soluções paliativas, e a indústria da seca continua massacrando nosso povo humilde e trabalhador.

Profeta da chuva diz que ‘Nordeste terá um grande inverno’ em 2016 (G1)

09/01/2016 09h36 – Atualizado em 09/01/2016 13h25

Quicada, no sertão cearense, sedia encontro anual dos ‘profetas da chuva’. Previsão é baseada em observações de fenômenos da natureza. 

Elias Bruno

Do G1 CE

Erasmo Barreira observa galhos de plantas que podem indicar um bom invern (Foto: Elias Bruno / G1)

Erasmo Barreira observa galhos de plantas que podem indicar um bom inverno (Foto: Elias Bruno / G1)

“Não tenho medo em dizer que o Nordeste terá um grande inverno em 2016”, afirma o aposentado Erasmo Barreira, 69 anos, que participa pela 18ª vez do Encontro Anual dos Profetas da Chuva neste sábado (9) em Quixadá, a 158 quilômetros de Fortaleza. Na ocasião, sertanejos fazem previsões para a quadra chuvosa do Ceará e Nordeste com base em observações da natureza. Entre os aspectos analisados, estão a rotina de animais e o desenvolvimento de plantas da região.

As previsões de Erasmo representam uma tradição que ele traz dos avós. “É fácil, é só prestar atenção na floração de um ano para o outro”, explica. As observações do profeta para prever o inverno de 2016 são feitas desde julho do ano passado e se intensificam em dezembro, à véspera do encontro.

Profeta também observa o bagaço da formiga de roça para prevê um bom inverno (Foto: Elias Bruno / G1)

Profeta também observa o bagaço da formiga de roça para prever
um bom inverno (Foto: Elias Bruno / G1)

Fenômenos observados

Em entrevista ao G1, Erasmo apresentou duas representações de fatores naturais que aponta como determinantes para um bom inverno. “O galho de feijão brabo não perdeu nenhuma flor e está bem verdinho. Quando fica assim, é porque está esperando chuva para só depois amadurecer e aflorar. Se já tivesse perdido flores em dezembro, é o sinal que seria seco no próximo ano”, ressalta.

Outro fenômeno percebido pelo profeta sertanejo é a forma com que as formigas de roça tratam o bagaço. “Observei a quantidade de vagem que elas descarregam das casas delas. São folhas de capim e de pau que elas gostam de levar para lá. Elas botam fora agora no começo do inverno para fazer nova armazenagem. Quando elas vêm muita quantidade, aí é que vai chover mesmo. Lá no meu interior, tem uma quantidade suficiente para encher 50 sacolas como a que trouxe”, completa.

Funceme 
A previsão da chuva feita pelos “profetas” não tem respaldo científico de acordo com a Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (Funceme). O órgão estadual deve divulgar em 20 de janeiro prognóstico oficial das chuvas no Ceará no ano de 2016.

Em um prognóstico parcial divulgado pelo órgão em novembro de 2015, a Funceme apontou chuvas abaixo da média no estado nos meses de janeiro e fevereiro de 2016.