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Daily Archives: February 22, 2022

Treasure House

Dr. Avitzur wrote . . . . . . . . .

When I was an intern, I treated a patient in the emergency department who’d had a stroke and was unable to speak. The patient’s family had shared with us his love of baseball, so one of my colleagues, also a fan, started singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to him. My patient joined right in and sang every word with so much gusto that I remember the incident to this day.

Such quirks of the brain have inspired many neurologists. Best-selling author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain in 2007, described the phenomenon in an interview for this publication the following year: “With music, there’s something very special because of its intense coherence. Every bar of a piece naturally follows a previous bar and leads to the next, and the music is held together by a sense of expectancy. So even if one doesn’t know a piece, one feels where it is going.

“I like to imagine a sort of storage box, a treasure house deep in the brain,” Sacks told us, “in the basal ganglia, the cerebellum—parts of the brain which are not usually affected by stroke or brain damage.”

Music can reengage people with a variety of brain disorders, including dementia, as depicted in the story about Tony Bennett, the legendary singer whose career has spanned more than 70 years. As you will read below, the performer transforms onstage; he understands what he is singing and totally connects with his audience. Bennett demonstrates that music is therapeutic and can be used strategically, according to our experts, who describe how music affects memory and how to take advantage of its power to calm and soothe.

Like many people dealing with neurologic conditions, the Bennett family initially kept Tony’s diagnosis private, deciding to share it publicly later to show people that Alzheimer’s disease does not mean life is over.


Source: Brain and Life


Read more:

Tony Bennett Demonstrates the Power of Music Against Alzheimer’s Disease . . . . .

Russia-Ukraine: What to Know About Europe’s Security Crisis

Mike Corder wrote . . . . . . . . .

From a hastily convened meeting of the United Nations Security Council to capitals around the world, leaders have condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of two pro-Russia regions in eastern Ukraine as independent and his order to send troops there.

They also warned of a global fallout from the crisis over Ukraine, which was evident Tuesday as oil prices rose, stock markets fell, and the U.K. slapped sanctions on Russian banks.

Here’s a glance at the top things to know Tuesday about the conflict over Ukraine and the security crisis in Eastern Europe:

HAS RUSSIA INVADED UKRAINE?

The White House is calling Russia’s troop deployments in eastern Ukraine “an invasion” after initially being hesitant to use the term. Around the world, leaders condemned Putin and prepared to hit his administration with sanctions.

“We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine,” said Jon Finer, principal deputy national security adviser. He said “latest” was important. “An invasion is an invasion and that is what is under way.”

The Biden administration resisted initially calling the deployment of troops an invasion because the White House wanted to see what Russia was actually going to do, but that changed after assessing Russian troop movements, said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

U.K. officials, including U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, noted that it’s not Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has previously operated in eastern Ukraine.

“Russia has already invaded Ukraine. They did it in 2014, occupied illegally Crimea and Donbas. This is a further invasion of their sovereign territory. No one recognizes the legitimacy of the occupation and annexation of Crimea. Not even the Chinese,” Wallace said.

The White House issued an executive order Monday to prohibit U.S. investment and trade in the separatist regions and Britain slapped sanctions Tuesday on Russian banks. Additional measures — likely sanctions — were to be announced later Tuesday by the U.S. and the European Union.

WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE GROUND IN EASTERN UKRAINE?

Convoys of armored vehicles were seen rolling across the Ukraine’s separatist-controlled territories late Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were Russian but NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that “we saw last night that further Russian troops moved into the Donbas into parts of Donetsk and Lugansk.”

A vaguely worded decree signed by Putin late Monday cast his order for troops in the separatist territories as an effort to “maintain peace.”

On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers Putin permission to use military force outside the country — a move that could presage a broader attack on Ukraine after the U.S. said an invasion was already underway there.

Russian officials haven’t yet acknowledged any troop deployments but Vladislav Brig, a member of the separatist local council in Donetsk, told reporters that Russian troops already had moved in, taking up positions in the region’s north and west.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told U.K. lawmakers that Russian tanks were already in eastern Ukraine.

“Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers” have been spotted in the eastern Ukraine regions recognized by Putin, Johnson said, adding that amounts to “a renewed invasion” of Ukraine.

WHAT IS UKRAINE”S RESPONSE?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought to project calm, telling the country in an address overnight: “We are not afraid of anyone or anything.”

Protesters, some draped in Ukrainian flags, gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Kyiv. One held up a sign that read: “We choose Europe not Russia.”

WHAT IS NATO SAYING ABOUT RUSSIAN MOVES?

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia is taking military action against Ukraine and he condemned Moscow’s decision to recognize separatist areas of southeast Ukraine as independent.

“Moscow has now moved from covert attempts to destabilize Ukraine to overt military action,” Stoltenberg told reporters Tuesday.

Asked whether Russia’s actions constitute an invasion, he said: “Russia has already invaded Ukraine, they invaded Ukraine back in 2014,” when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula. He added that “what we see now is that a country that is already invaded is suffering further invasion.”

Stoltenberg said NATO allies have more than 100 jet planes on high alert and more than 120 warships ready at sea from the high north to the Mediterranean Sea.

He said the NATO response force remains on high readiness but is not yet being deployed, although some allies are moving troops, ships and planes into the Baltic states and near the Black Sea to defend NATO allies.

GERMANY MOVES TO HALT GAS PIPELINE CERTIFICATION

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany has taken steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, as he slammed Putin’s actions on Ukraine as a “serious break of international law.”

The decision is a significant move for the German government, which had long resisted pulling the plug on the project despite pressure from the United States and some European countries to do so.

Scholz told reporters in Berlin it was necessary to “send a clear signal to Moscow that such actions won’t remain without consequences.” He said it is now “up to the international community to react to this one-sided, incomprehensible and unjustified action by the Russian president.

Washington has for years argued that building another pipeline bringing natural gas from Russia to Germany increases Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.

WHAT ARE THE U.K. AND THE EUROPEAN UNION DOING?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says his government is slapping sanctions on five Russian banks and three wealthy individuals over Russia’s latest military moves on Ukraine.

Johnson told lawmakers that sanctions would hit Rossiya Bank, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank.

He said three Russian oligarchs with interests in energy and infrastructure — Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg — will have their assets frozen and be banned from traveling to the U.K.

Johnson accused Putin of “establishing the pretext for a full-scale offensive” against Ukraine and said “further powerful sanctions” would follow, if that happened.

Top European Union officials said the bloc is set to impose sanctions on several Russian officials and banks financing the Russian armed forces as part of moves to limit Moscow’s access to EU capital and financial markets.

The actions, to be taken in the wake of Russia’s decision to recognize the independence of two separatist regions in southeast Ukraine and to deploy troops there, would “target those who were involved in the illegal decision,” an EU statement said.

The EU sanctions would also target trade from the two breakaway regions.

EU foreign ministers are meeting later Tuesday in Paris to discuss the measures.

IS THERE STILL ROOM FOR DIPLOMACY?

With an estimated 150,000 Russian troops massed on three sides of Ukraine, the U.S. warned last week that Putin had already decided to invade its neighbor. Still, President Joe Biden and Putin tentatively agreed to a meeting brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron in a last-ditch effort to avoid war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, though, said “it’s premature to talk about specific plans for a summit.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was in Washington on Tuesday to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Ukraine’s United Nations ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said during a Monday night Security Council meeting: “We are committed to a political diplomatic settlement and do not succumb to provocations.”

BRITAIN CALLS FOR SOCCER FINAL TO BE MOVED FROM RUSSIA

The British government is leading the calls for the Champions League soccer final to be taken away from Russia by Europe’s soccer governing body to punish its deepening intervention in Ukraine.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson highlighted concerns about the showpiece men’s game being played in St. Petersburg on May 28 as he urged Putin not to conduct a full invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s absolutely vital in this critical moment that President Putin understands that what he is doing is going to be a disaster for Russia,” Johnson told the House of Commons.

“He is going to end up with … a Russia that is more isolated, a Russia that has pariah status, no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries.”

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL?

UNITED NATIONS — Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador demanded that Russia cancel its recognition of the independence of the separatist regions in the east, immediately withdraw its “occupation troops” and return to negotiations.

Sergiy Kyslytsya said during Monday emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council that Ukraine called the rare evening session to protest and condemn Putin’s “illegal and illegitimate” decision to recognize the separatist-controlled regions.

Kyslytsya said Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders “have been and will remain unchangeable regardless of any statements and actions by the Russian Federation.”

He said Putin’s moves “may be considered” as Russia’s unilateral withdrawal from the Minsk Agreements, which were aimed at restoring peace to eastern Ukraine.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, dismissed “as nonsense” Putin’s assertion that Russian troops would be in eastern Ukraine as peacekeepers, saying their presence is “clearly the basis for Russia’s attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.”

Thomas-Greenfield said the Russian president has presented the world with a choice and it “must not look away” because “history tells us that looking the other way in the face of such hostility will be a far more costly path.”


Source : AP

When Boring People Turn Dangerous: Taibbi On Canada’s Insane Power Grab

Matt Taibbi wrote . . . . . . . . .

On Christmas Eve, 2018, New York Times writer Andrew Ross Sorkin published, “How Banks Unwittingly Finance Mass Shootings.” Chronicling the credit card history of the man who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida Sorkin noted Omar Mateen had not merely spent $26,532 on weapons and ammo in the eight months before the 2016 attack, but had wondered if his doing so had raised red flags:

Two days before Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, he went on Google and typed “Credit card unusual spending…” His web browsing history chronicled his anxiety: “Credit card reports all three bureaus,” “FBI,” and “Why banks stop your purchases.”

He needn’t have worried. None of the banks, credit-card network operators or payment processors alerted law enforcement officials about the purchases he thought were so suspicious.

Sorkin’s piece ended up being an argument in favor of credit-card companies, payment processors, banks, and others working together to bring about a Minority Report-style panacea in which society’s dangerous folk could be cyber-identified and stopped before they commit horrific acts.

At one point he quoted George Brauchler, the District Attorney who prosecuted the Century 16 movie shooter in Aurora Colorado, James Holmes:

“Do I wish someone from law enforcement had been able to go to his door and knock on his door and figure out a way to talk their way into it or to freak him out?” he said of Mr. Holmes. “Yeah, absolutely.”

I’ve never owned a gun and have been sympathetic to gun control ideas for as long as I can remember. Sorkin, however, was not talking about gun control. He was theorizing a quasi-privatized vision of social control that would bypass laws by merging surveillance capitalism and law enforcement.

In a rhetorical trick that’s since become common, he described how the failure of companies like Visa to block Mateen’s purchases made them “enablers of carnage.” Clearly, someone made the mistake of letting Sorkin see Sam Raimi’s Spiderman, and Cliff Robertson now whispers from the beyond to him too. If those with power to act don’t stop wrongdoing, aren’t they just shirking their great responsibility?

By the way, this same Sorkin once suggested he wouldn’t stop at arresting Edward Snowden, but go after the reporter who broke his story, too. “I would arrest him and now I’d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, the journalist… he wants to help him get to Ecuador,” he said, on CNBC’s Squawk Box. It’s amazing how selective one can be in one’s authoritarian leanings. After Goldman, Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein appeared to commit perjury in 2011 when he told the Senate, “We didn’t bet against our clients,” Sorkin rushed an apologia into print saying “Mr. Blankfein wasn’t lying,” failing to remind audiences that his Dealbook blog at the Times was sponsored by… Goldman, Sachs.

Sorkin’s Visa piece is suddenly relevant again, after fellow former finance reporter Chrystia Freeland — someone I’ve known since we were both expat journalists in Russia in the nineties — announced last week that her native Canada would be making Sorkin’s vision a reality. Freeland arouses strong feelings among old Russia hands. Before the Yeltsin era collapsed, she had consistent, remarkable access to gangster-oligarchs like Boris Berezovsky, who appeared in her Financial Times articles described as aw-shucks humans just doing their best to make sure “big capital” maintained its “necessary role” in Russia’s political life. “Berezovsky was one of several financiers who came together in a last-ditch attempt to keep the Communists out of the Kremlin” was typical Freeland fare in, say, 1998.

Then the Yeltsin era collapsed in corrupt ignominy and Freeland immediately wrote a book called Sale of the Century that identified Yeltsin’s embrace of her former top sources as the “original sin” of Russian capitalism, a “Faustian bargain” that crippled Russia’s chance at true progress. This is Freeland on Yeltsin’s successor in 2000. Note the “Yes, Putin has a reputation for beating the press, but his economic rep is solid!” passage at the end:


It looks as if we’re about to fall in love with Russia all over again…

Compared to the ailing, drink-addled figure Boris Yeltsin cut in his later years, his successor, Vladimir Putin, in the eyes of many western observers, seems refreshingly direct, decisive and energetic… Tony Blair, who has already paid Putin the compliment of a visit to Russia and received the newly installed president in Downing Street in return, has praised him as a strong leader with a reformist vision. Bill Clinton, who recently hot-footed it to Russia, offered the equally sunny appraisal that “when we look at Russia today . . . we see an economy that is growing . . . we see a Russia that has just completed a democratic transfer of power for the first time in a thousand years.”

To be sure, some critics have lamented Putin’s support for the bloody second war in Chechnya, accused him of eroding freedom of the press… and worried aloud that his KGB background and unrepenting loyalty to the honor of that institution could jeopardize Russia’s fragile democratic institutions. But many of even Putin’s fiercest prosecutors seem inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the economy…


Years later, she is somehow Canada’s Finance Minister, and what another friend from our Russia days laughingly describes as “the Nurse Ratched of the New World Order.” At the end of last week, Minister Freeland explained that in expanding its Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) program, her government was “directing Canadian financial institutions to review their relationships with anyone involved in the illegal blockades.”

She went on to describe the invocation of Canada’s Emergencies Act in the dripping-fake tones of someone trying to put a smile on an insurance claim rejection, with even phrases packed with bad news steered upward in the form of cheery hypotheticals. As in, The names of both individuals and entities as well as crypto wallets? Have been shared? By the RCMP with financial institutions? And accounts have been frozen? As she confirmed this monstrous news about freezing bank accounts, Freeland burst into nervous laughter, looking like Tony Perkins sharing a cheery memory with “mother”:


Source : TK NEws

Charts: Canada’s Headline Inflation Rate Accelerated in January, 2022

Highest since September 1991

Source : Trading Economics

Chart: Increases in U.S. Home Prices Rose in December 2021

Source : Bloomberg