biological basis for risky behavior

Inside the Teenage Brain: New Studies Explain Risky Behavior


August 27, 2014

Source: Science Daily

Florida State University

Young man (stock image). “Psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, neuroscientists, criminal justice professionals and parents are engaged in a daily struggle to understand and solve the enigma of teenage risky behaviors,” Bhide said. “Such behaviors impact not only the teenagers who obviously put themselves at serious and lasting risk but also families and societies in general.

Credit: © iko / Fotolia

It’s common knowledge that teenage boys seem predisposed to risky behaviors. Now, a series of new studies is shedding light on specific brain mechanisms that help to explain what might be going on inside juvenile male brains.

Florida State University College of Medicine Neuroscientist Pradeep Bhide brought together some of the world’s foremost researchers in a quest to explain why teenagers — boys, in particular — often behave erratically.

The result is a series of 19 studies that approached the question from multiple scientific domains, including psychology, neurochemistry, brain imaging, clinical neuroscience and neurobiology. The studies are published in a special volume of Developmental Neuroscience, “Teenage Brains: Think Different?”

“Psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, neuroscientists, criminal justice professionals and parents are engaged in a daily struggle to understand and solve the enigma of teenage risky behaviors,” Bhide said. “Such behaviors impact not only the teenagers who obviously put themselves at serious and lasting risk but also families and societies in general.

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No winners in Gaza war

What Hamas destroyed

The high price of a pointless war

Palestinians’ hatred of Israel runs so deep that they cheer Hamas for insisting on the destruction of the Jewish state rather than negotiating a two-state peace.

by Editorials


Thursday, August 28, 2014,

So much anguish, so much bloodshed, and we’re back to a basic truth: Hamas is an utterly nihilistic force that values its maddened hatred of the Jewish state far more than it does the lives of the Gazan people.

And in its anti-Semitic fervor, the terrorist organization has a depressingly deep well of support from the very people whose lives it toys with.

From day one of the conflict that began in June, Israel would have preferred calm.

But Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket attacks that terrorized innocent Israelis, as well as the kidnapping and murder of three boys, forced Israel to respond, to stop the rockets and dismantle Hamas’ terror tunnels.

More than 2,000 Palestinians, along with 70 Israelis, ultimately paid with their lives — with most of the Gazan casualties coming after Hamas rejected an Egyptian ceasefire proposal 35 days ago.

The Palestinian people gained nothing between that fateful decision and what appears to be the final ceasefire agreed to on Tuesday. The terms are essentially the same. Only the unnecessary body count is higher.

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Anti-semitism and intolerance returns to Europe

Europe’s Slow Surrender to Intolerance

The line separating anti-Zionism — the belief that Jews have no right to an independent state in at least part of their ancestral homeland — and anti-Judaism, already reed-thin, has pretty much vanished.

Aug 22, 2014 , Bloomberg View

By Jeffrey Goldberg

On the one hand, it is completely unsurprising that Europe has become a swamp of anti-Jewish hostility. It is, after all, Europe. Anti-Jewish hostility has been its metier for centuries. (Yes, the locus of much anti-Jewish activity today is within Europe’s large Muslim-immigrant population; but the young men who threaten their Jewish neighbors draw on the language and traditions of European anti-Semitism as much as they do on Muslim modes of anti-Semitic thought.)

On the other hand, the intensity, and velocity, of anti-Jewish invective — and actual anti-Jewish thuggery — has surprised even Eurocynics such as myself. “Jews to the gas,” a chant heard at rallies in Germany, still has the capacity to shock. So do images of besieged synagogues and looted stores. And testimony from harassed rabbis and frightened Jewish children.

But I find myself most bothered by what seems to have been, on the surface, a relatively minor incident. The episode took place last weekend at a Sainsbury’s supermarket in central London. Protesters assembled outside the store to call for a boycott of Israeli-made goods. Quickly, the manager ordered employees to empty the kosher food section. One account suggests that a staff member, when asked about the empty shelves, said “We support Free Gaza.” Other reports suggest that the manager believed that demonstrators might invade the store and trash it. (There is precedent to justify his worry.)

After a good deal of publicity following the incident, Sainsbury’s apologized to its Jewish customers. “This will not happen again,” its corporate affairs director, Trevor Datsun, said, according to the Jewish Chronicle. “Managers will be told not to move kosher food because of some perceived threat.”

Why do I find this incident to be more disturbing than, say, reported attacks on kippah-wearing Jews, or the scrawling of swastikas on Jewish shops?

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New clue for autism treatment

Children with autism have extra synapses in brain: May be possible to prune synapses with drug after diagnosis

Reprinted from Science Daily


August 21, 2014


Columbia University Medical Center

In a study of brains from children with autism, researchers found that autistic brains did not undergo normal pruning during childhood and adolescence. The images show representative neurons from autistic (left) and control (right) brains; the spines on the neurons indicate the location of synapses.

Credit: Guomei Tang, PhD and Mark S. Sonders, PhD/Columbia University Medical Center

Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is due to a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Because synapses are the points where neurons connect and communicate with each other, the excessive synapses may have profound effects on how the brain functions. The study was published in the August 21 online issue of the journal Neuron.

A drug that restores normal synaptic pruning can improve autistic-like behaviors in mice, the researchers found, even when the drug is given after the behaviors have appeared.

“This is an important finding that could lead to a novel and much-needed therapeutic strategy for autism,” said Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at CUMC and director of New York State Psychiatric Institute, who was not involved in the study.

Although the drug, rapamycin, has side effects that may preclude its use in people with autism, “the fact that we can see changes in behavior suggests that autism may still be treatable after a child is diagnosed, if we can find a better drug,” said the study’s senior investigator, David Sulzer, PhD, professor of neurobiology in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pharmacology at CUMC.

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Media violated professional standards

International media failed professionally and ethically in Gaza

According to civilian death toll measure, Nazi Germany – which had one million dead civilians in World War II – was a victim of the aggressive US, which lost ‘only’ 12,000 civilians. The New York Times and the BBC, which emphasized the “victim competition,” are now admitting that the reported number of civilian deaths contradicts statistical tests. This is a professional failure.

Eytan Gilboa , August, 13, 2014, YNet News

The media coverage of wars affects the global public opinion, leaders and decision making. Its trends can determine the results just as much as what it achieved in the battlefield.

The main problem presented in the media during all of Israel’s wars and operations in the past decade is proportionality and the number of civilian casualties. The media is the main source of information on the extent, type and source of losses.

Media Bias

The international media’s hypocrisy – the Hamas case / Yossi Levy

Op-ed: Most of the international media have decided for you in advance that Israel is the bad guy in the story. It focuses on every Gaza casualty while ignoring civilian deaths in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya and Kenya.

Full op-ed

The coverage of Operation Protective Edge and the civilian casualties in the global media, mainly in the West, was characterized by an anti-Israel bias and serious professional and ethical failures. They appeared in all components of the journalistic coverage: Pictures, headlines, reports, editorials and cartoons.

The images from Gaza showed only what Hamas permitted the media to broadcast and describe. Hamas terrorized and censored journalists. It only allowed them to broadcast images of destruction and killing of civilians, particularly women and children, and staged situations on the ground.

There were no images of rockets launched from populated areas and from within UNRWA schools, mosques and hospitals. There were only images of civilians’ bodies and funerals and very few images of Hamas fighters, if any.

Media outlets around the world failed to mention the restricting conditions they had operated under in Gaza, which unavoidably led to false and misleading reports.

Only after they left Gaza, few journalists like the Italian Gabriele Barbati and the French Gallagher Fenwick dared to expose the way Hamas terrorized journalists, its use of civilians as human shields and its failed launches which resulted in the killing of children, like at the Shati refugee camp on July 28. This is an ethical failure.

The media have turned the civilian death toll into the only measure of the justness of the Israeli warfare. The New York Times and Haaretz, for instance, published the Gaza death toll on their front pages every day. The message is clear: The higher the number of civilian casualties, the more “war crimes” Israel is committing.

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World still loves to blame Jews

Dear World

World, it seems like whatever Jewish people do, whatever contributions we make to the societies in which we live, however much we keep our heads down and try to contribute only positives without making a fuss, it is never enough to stem the hatred, it is never enough for you.

Blake Ezra

Blake Ezra , August 9, 2014

Blake Ezra is a London based writer on Middle Eastern Politics and the Jewish World.


Dear world, I’m writing to you from a place of despair and confusion. When I say ‘world’, I don’t simply mean the planet upon which we all live but I address personally whoever is reading this. As a Jewish person, I have a question for you. It’s a genuine question to which I can’t find a suitable answer through my own thoughts… What do you want from us?

I’m writing from London, where only yesterday a black Islamic flag was flown from an estate in Tower Hamlets, and a passer-by was shouted at by a group of Muslim youths, “Fuck off Jew, you’re not welcome here.” In the past month, in the supposedly liberated and forward thinking capital of England, a Swastika has been daubed onto a Jewish home, protestors have carried placards with slogans such as ‘Hitler Was Right’, and an independent arts venue has imposed sanctions upon an apolitical Jewish Film Festival.

In Scotland, a property sales consultant called Richard Ladd, a professional suit-wearing gentleman who deals with the public each day, tweeted “Shut up you ugly Jewish c***. If only Hitler was still around to sort you out” to a Jewish footballer. In France, rioters have looted and burned Jewish shops, and attacked synagogues. In Germany, two Jewish people were attacked only for being Jewish, and an Imam in Berlin told his congregants, “Count the Jews and kill them to the very last one.” In Belgium, a café has displayed a sign banning Jews from entering, and four people were indiscriminately murdered on the street outside the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, both of whom call for death to Jews, have been flown in cities including Sydney and Vancouver. The cover of Newsweek Magazine recently featured the headline ‘Why Europe’s Jews Are Fleeing Once Again’. World, shockingly I really could go on for much longer, but hopefully you get the picture…

I don’t feel safe as a Jewish person in my own city at this moment in time, and this is a sentiment shared by many of my co-religionists, regardless of their levels of religious observance or political affiliations – it is solely due to the religion into which they were born. It is truly difficult to believe I’m writing such a post, condemning the most vicious forms of racism with masses of people in numerous countries genuinely calling for death to Jews, whilst using a military situation in the Middle East as their excuse to make these ferocious desires appear somewhat justifiable. Perhaps Lord Rabbi Sacks, a respected thinker and former Chief Rabbi of the UK, summed it up better than I could in the British House of Lords last week: “My Lords forgive me, if I say that I did not expect 120 years after the Dreyfus Case and 70 year after the Holocaust, that the cry of ‘Death to the Jews’ would be heard again in the streets of France and Germany.”

World, what do you want from us? I’m not asking in order to be prosaic, in order to write for writing’s sake. I’m asking because I genuinely don’t know. Trust me, as I sit here fearing for what my city may become in the next five or ten years, I’m really trying to answer the question, but I can’t. There is a passage in the Passover service read by Jewish people every year; it lists the gifts that God has given to us. After each one we say “Dayenu”, which in modern vernacular means, “This would have been enough for us.” World, it seems like whatever Jewish people do, whatever contributions we make to the societies in which we live, however much we keep our heads down and try to contribute only positives without making a fuss, it is never enough to stem the hatred, it is never enough for you.

The Jewish people have never constituted a large proportion of the population of this planet, yet have given humanity so much. Jewish people who have helped shape our world include Gabriel Lippmann, Nobel Prize Winner for Physics in 1908 for inventing colour photography, Albert Einstein with his theory of relativity, and Jonas Salk who invented the first vaccine for polio. What about Levi Strauss, who’s probably creditable for the trousers you’re wearing right now, Ephraim Hertzano who invented the game of Rummikub, or Nat Rothschild and Moses Montefiore who helped Britain become ‘Great’. What about any of the 193 Jewish Nobel Prize winners across the fields of Medicine, Economics, Literature and Peace?

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Media seeks to condemn Israel

The international media’s hypocrisy – the Hamas case

Most of the international media have decided for you in advance that Israel is the bad guy in the story. It focuses on every Gaza casualty while ignoring civilian deaths in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya and Kenya.

Yossi Levy, August 9, 2014

Reprinted from YNet News

In the summer of 1999 more than 2,000 civilians were killed by NATO air forces which bombed cities and villages in what was the former Yugoslavia. As Ambassador to Belgrade, I still feel the pain and the agony of that horrible summer. It wasn’t only Serbian military bases that were bombed but also, albeit unintentionally, hospitals, schools, libraries, and even a train over a bridge. Serbia, as you all know, had not launched even a single missile towards any NATO capital city.

The media in the countries that were involved in the military operation did not, however, start their daily broadcasting with updates on the number of civilian dead; they didn’t mention the death toll every 30 minutes and, actually, did not even send camera crews to show their shocked viewers in London and Hamburg the horrors and bloodshed of demolished streets and hospitals.

Losing Hasbara

‘Smashing a peanut with a hammer’: Foreign journalists on int’l coverage of Gaza fighting  / Polina Garaev

Since Gaza op started, IDF released scores of videos of pilots calling off strikes and Israel urging Gazans to evacuate, but foreign reporters tell Ynet that in Europe a photo of dead Palestinians is worth more than a thousand Israeli words.

Full story

As far as Western media were concerned, the Serbian civilian victims had no names and no faces. It is the same today with regards to the women and children killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have been killed in massive numbers over the past decade or more, who were the tragic victims of Western air forces bombing terrorist targets in both countries.

Does anyone know how many innocents have been victims of Western pilots in the last decade? Nobody bothers to count them because the European media knows full well that war has its own cruel rules – that in war, yes, innocent people do unfortunately die.

With one exception. The war between Israel and Hamas with its Jihadi Islamic terror. When it comes to this war, European media has different standards. The tragic innocent victims who have been killed by the Israeli Defence Forces dominate practically every news outlet and their deaths have been reported in the most dramatic way time and time again. Meanwhile, as we speak, innocents are dying in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya, and Kenya, usually on a vaster scale than in Gaza, but the media is uninterested in people who die in those countries who have had an extra piece of bad luck – Israel didn’t kill them, so the world doesn’t care.

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World is obsessed with hating Jews

Obsessive Gaza coverage is fanning antisemitism

The media must beware of fuelling an anti-Jewish backlash with over-the-top comparisons to the Holocaust or likening Gaza to a concentration camp



israel boycott

A protest against the Israeli offensive in Frankfurt. ‘In Germany, chants of ‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!’ have been heard.’ Photograph: Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

It is no longer possible to deny that Europe still has a “Jewish problem”. In France, synagogues have been firebombed. In Germany, chants of “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!” have been heard. The British Jewish community, too, is reporting a spike in antisemitic incidents – most thankfully non-violent – in a nasty spillover of anger over Gaza. “Free Gaza” was spray-painted onto a Brighton synagogue; a “child murderers” sign affixed to a synagogue in Surrey. This nastiness permeates polite society too: in sympathising with David Ward MP’s pro-Hamas comments, former Lib Dem MEP Edward McMillan-Scott derided the Board of Deputies of British Jews as “a frightful bag of disputatious Jews”.

Perhaps no wonder that Newsweek’s cover story last week had the chilling headline: “Exodus: why Europe’s Jews are fleeing once again”.

Critics of Israeli policy might say that only Zionists, not all Jews, should be facing reproach for the operation in Gaza. But the anti-Jewish backlash – aimed at Jewish, not specifically Zionist, targets – has, ironically, reminded many Jews precisely why they need a safe and secure Jewish homeland in the first place – the essence of Zionism.

Why has the conflict in Gaza caused such a frightening reaction on the streets of Europe? One answer is that the media attention has been excessive, exaggerated beyond all reasonable proportions, and it is this which encourages outbursts of anger by appealing to the public’s emotions. Tiny Israel ranks fifth in the list of foreign countries most reported on by the Guardian. Gaza is an important news story – but the wall-to-wall coverage leaves many scratching their heads. Nobody seems to recall similar attention devoted to the far greater civilian casualties of the UK’s operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why the disproportionate coverage of Israel? “Jews are news” many say, with a shrug. But this obsession with Israel’s conduct tacitly encourages the easy slide into hostility towards Jews.

First, the reporting gives the false impression that the situation in Gaza, though tragic, is uniquely horrific. Compare it to the silence surrounding Isis’s frightening rampage through Iraq: Mosul has been emptied of its ancient Christian community; hundreds of thousands of Yezidis have been cleansed from Nineveh province. Compare it also to coverage of the plight of Palestinians in Syria, where thousands of Palestinians have been killed and the Yarmouk refugee camp remains under siege. How many newspaper front pages have been devoted to these events?

The problem is not helped by hyperbole: one report on Sky News even compared the Gaza operation to the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Moreover, the flood of heartbreaking images of dead children addles the brain: Israel’s protestations that it does more than any other army to avoid civilian casualties are simply laughed off. Israel is painted as irredeemably evil; its friends, accomplices in crime. I cannot count the number of times I have been told that if I am a Zionist – which means no more than believing that Israel has a right to exist – that means I must support the murder of children.

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