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Articles about Space Exploration – latimes

Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

SCIENCE

July 18, 2013 | By Louis Sahagun

More than a hundred explorers, scientists and government officials will gather at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific on Friday to draft a blueprint to solve a deep blue problem: About 95% of the world’s oceans remains unexplored. The invitation-only forum , hosted by the aquarium and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aims to identify priorities, technologies and collaborative strategies that could advance understanding of the uncharted mega-wilderness that humans rely on for oxygen, food, medicines, commerce and recreation.

SCIENCE

June 12, 2013 | By Brad Balukjian

Dancer , rapper , and, oh yeah, Man on the Moon Buzz Aldrin is talking, but are the right people listening? One of the original moonwalkers (Michael Jackson always did it backwards! Aldrin complained) challenged the United States to pick up the space slack Tuesday evening, mere hours after China sent three astronauts into orbit. Speaking in front of a friendly crowd of 880 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, Aldrin criticized the U.S. for not adequately leading the international community in space exploration, and suggested that we bump up our federal investment in space while still encouraging the private sector’s efforts.

ENTERTAINMENT

February 2, 2013 | By Holly Myers

It will come as news to many, no doubt, that there is a Warhol on the moon. And a Rauschenberg and an Oldenburg – a whole “Moon Museum,” in fact, containing the work of six artists in all, in the form of drawings inscribed on the surface of a ceramic chip roughly the size of a thumbprint. Conceived by the artist Forrest Myers in 1969, the chip was fabricated in collaboration with scientists at Bell Laboratories and illicitly slipped by a willing engineer between some sheets of insulation on the Apollo 12 lander module.

WORLD

January 29, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Ramin Mostaghim, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

BEIRUT – U.S. officials are not exactly welcoming Iran’s revelation this week that the Islamic Republic has sent a monkey into space and brought the creature back to Earth safely. The report by Iranian media recalled for many the early days of space flight, when both the United States and the Soviet Union launched animal-bearing spacecraft as a prelude to human space travel. But State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington on Monday that the reported mission raises concerns about possible Iranian violations of a United Nations ban on development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

CALIFORNIA | LOCAL

December 22, 2012 | By Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times

WATERTON CANYON, Colo. – The concrete-floored room looks, at first glance, like little more than a garage. There is a red tool chest, its drawers labeled: “Hacksaws. ” “Allen wrenches. ” There are stepladders and vise grips. There is also, at one end of the room, a half-built spaceship, and everyone is wearing toe-to-fingertip protective suits. “Don’t. Touch. Anything. ” Bruce Jakosky says the words politely but tautly, like a protective father – which, effectively, he is. Jakosky is the principal investigator behind NASA’s next mission to Mars, putting him in the vanguard of an arcane niche of science: planetary protection – the science of exploring space without messing it up. PHOTOS: Stunning images of Earth at night As NASA pursues the search for life in the solar system, the cleanliness of robotic explorers is crucial to avoid contaminating other worlds.

SCIENCE

December 6, 2012 | By Amina Khan and Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times

Years of trying to do too many things with too little money have put NASA at risk of ceding leadership in space exploration to other nations, according to a new report that calls on the space agency to make wrenching decisions about its long-term strategy and future scope. As other countries – including some potential adversaries – are investing heavily in space, federal funding for NASA is essentially flat and under constant threat of being cut. Without a clear vision, that fiscal uncertainty makes it all the more difficult for the agency to make progress on ambitious goals like sending astronauts to an asteroid or Mars while executing big-ticket science missions, such as the $8.8-billion James Webb Space Telescope, says the analysis released Wednesday by the National Research Council.

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Singularity – RationalWiki

Posted: July 18, 2016 at 3:37 pm

There is not the slightest reason to believe in a coming singularity. The fact that you can visualize a future in your imagination is not evidence that it is likely or even possible. Look at domed cities, jet-pack commuting, underwater cities, mile-high buildings, and nuclear-powered automobiles–all staples of futuristic fantasies when I was a child that have never arrived. Sheer processing power is not a pixie dust that magically solves all your problems.

A singularity is a sign that your model doesn’t apply past a certain point, not infinity arriving in real life

A singularity, as most commonly used, is a point at which expected rules break down. The term comes from mathematics, where a point on a curve that has a sudden break in slope is considered to have a slope of undefined or infinite value; such a point is known as a singularity.

The term has extended into other fields; the most notable use is in astrophysics, where a singularity is a point (usually, but perhaps not exclusively, at the center a of black hole) where curvature of spacetime approaches infinity.

This article, however, is not about the mathematical or physics uses of the term, but rather the borrowing of it by various futurists. They define a technological singularity as the point beyond which we can know nothing about the world. So, of course, they then write at length on the world after that time.

It’s intelligent design for the IQ 140 people. This proposition that we’re heading to this point at which everything is going to be just unimaginably different – it’s fundamentally, in my view, driven by a religious impulse. And all of the frantic arm-waving can’t obscure that fact for me, no matter what numbers he marshals in favor of it. He’s very good at having a lot of curves that point up to the right.

In transhumanist belief, the “technological singularity” refers to a hypothetical point beyond which human technology and civilization is no longer comprehensible to the current human mind. The theory of technological singularity states that at some point in time humans will invent a machine that through the use of artificial intelligence will be smarter than any human could ever be. This machine in turn will be capable of inventing new technologies that are even smarter. This event will trigger an exponential explosion of technological advances of which the outcome and effect on humankind is heavily debated by transhumanists and singularists.

Many proponents of the theory believe that the machines eventually will see no use for humans on Earth and simply wipe us out their intelligence being far superior to humans, there would be probably nothing we could do about it. They also fear that the use of extremely intelligent machines to solve complex mathematical problems may lead to our extinction. The machine may theoretically respond to our question by turning all matter in our solar system or our galaxy into a giant calculator, thus destroying all of humankind.

Critics, however, believe that humans will never be able to invent a machine that will match human intelligence, let alone exceed it. They also attack the methodology that is used to “prove” the theory by suggesting that Moore’s Law may be subject to the law of diminishing returns, or that other metrics used by proponents to measure progress are totally subjective and meaningless. Theorists like Theodore Modis argue that progress measured in metrics such as CPU clock speeds is decreasing, refuting Moore’s Law[3]. (As of 2015, not only Moore’s Law is beginning to stall, Dennard scaling is also long dead, returns in raw compute power from transistors is subjected to diminishing returns as we use more and more of them, there is also Amdahl’s Law and Wirth’s law to take into account, and also that raw computing power simply doesn’t scale up linearly at providing real marginal utility. Then even after all those things, we still haven’t taken into account of the fundamental limitations of conventional computing architecture. Moore’s law suddenly doesn’t look to be the panacea to our problems now, does it?)

Transhumanist thinkers see a chance of the technological singularity arriving on Earth within the twenty first century, a concept that most[Who?]rationalists either consider a little too messianic in nature or ignore outright. Some of the wishful thinking may simply be the expression of a desire to avoid death, since the singularity is supposed to bring the technology to reverse human aging, or to upload human minds into computers. However, recent research, supported by singularitarian organizations including MIRI and the Future of Humanity Institute, does not support the hypothesis that near-term predictions of the singularity are motivated by a desire to avoid death, but instead provides some evidence that many optimistic predications about the timing of a singularity are motivated by a desire to “gain credit for working on something that will be of relevance, but without any possibility that their prediction could be shown to be false within their current career”.[4][5]

Don’t bother quoting Ray Kurzweil to anyone who knows a damn thing about human cognition or, indeed, biology. He’s a computer science genius who has difficulty in perceiving when he’s well out of his area of expertise.[6]

Eliezer Yudkowsky identifies three major schools of thinking when it comes to the singularity.[7] While all share common ground in advancing intelligence and rapidly developing technology, they differ in how the singularity will occur and the evidence to support the position.

Under this school of thought, it is assumed that change and development of technology and human (or AI assisted) intelligence will accelerate at an exponential rate. So change a decade ago was much faster than change a century ago, which was faster than a millennium ago. While thinking in exponential terms can lead to predictions about the future and the developments that will occur, it does mean that past events are an unreliable source of evidence for making these predictions.

The “event horizon” school posits that the post-singularity world would be unpredictable. Here, the creation of a super-human artificial intelligence will change the world so dramatically that it would bear no resemblance to the current world, or even the wildest science fiction. This school of thought sees the singularity most like a single point event rather than a process indeed, it is this thesis that spawned the term “singularity.” However, this view of the singularity does treat transhuman intelligence as some kind of magic.

This posits that the singularity is driven by a feedback cycle between intelligence enhancing technology and intelligence itself. As Yudkowsky (who endorses this view) “What would humans with brain-computer interfaces do with their augmented intelligence? One good bet is that theyd design the next generation of brain-computer interfaces.” When this feedback loop of technology and intelligence begins to increase rapidly, the singularity is upon us.

There is also a fourth singularity school which is much more popular than the other three: It’s all a load of baloney![8] This position is not popular with high-tech billionaires.[9]

This is largely dependent on your definition of “singularity”.

The intelligence explosion singularity is by far the most unlikely. According to present calculations, a hypothetical future supercomputer may well not be able to replicate a human brain in real time. We presently don’t even understand how intelligence works, and there is no evidence that intelligence is self-iterative in this manner – indeed, it is not unlikely that improvements on intelligence are actually more difficult the smarter you become, meaning that each improvement on intelligence is increasingly difficult to execute. Indeed, how much smarter it is possible for something to even be than a human being is an open question. Energy requirements are another issue; humans can run off of Doritos and Mountain Dew Dr. Pepper, while supercomputers require vast amounts of energy to function. Unless such an intelligence can solve problems better than groups of humans, its greater intelligence may well not matter, as it may not be as efficient as groups of humans working together to solve problems.

Another major issue arises from the nature of intellectual development; if an artificial intelligence needs to be raised and trained, it may well take twenty years or more between generations of artificial intelligences to get further improvements. More intelligent animals seem to generally require longer to mature, which may put another limitation on any such “explosion”.

Accelerating change is questionable; in real life, the rate of patents per capita actually peaked in the 20th century, with a minor decline since then, despite the fact that human beings have gotten more intelligent and gotten superior tools. As noted above, Moore’s Law has been in decline, and outside of the realm of computers, the rate of increase in other things has not been exponential – airplanes and cars continue to improve, but they do not improve at the ridiculous rate of computers. It is likely that once computers hit physical limits of transistor density, their rate of improvement will fall off dramatically, and already even today, computers which are “good enough” continue to operate for many years, something which was unheard of in the 1990s, where old computers were rapidly and obviously obsoleted by new ones.

According to this point of view, the Singularity is a past event, and we live in a post-Singularity world.

The rate of advancement has actually been in decline in recent times, as patents per-capita has gone down, and the rate of increase of technology has declined rather than risen, though the basal rate is higher than it was in centuries past. According to this point of view, the intelligence explosion and increasing rate of change already happened with computers, and now that everyone has handheld computing devices, the rate of increase is going to decline as we hit natural barriers in how much additional benefit we gain out of additional computing power. The densification of transistors on microchips has slowed by about a third, and the absolute limit to transistors is approaching – a true, physical barrier which cannot be bypassed or broken, and which would require an entirely different means of computing to create a denser still microchip.

From the point of view of travel, humans have gone from walking to sailing to railroads to highways to airplanes, but communication has now reached the point where a lot of travel is obsolete – the Internet is omnipresent and allows us to effectively communicate with people on any corner of the planet without travelling at all. From this point of view, there is no further point of advancement, because we’re already at the point where we can be anywhere on the planet instantly for many purposes, and with improvements in automation, the amount of physical travel necessary for the average human being has declined over recent years. Instant global communication and the ability to communicate and do calculations from anywhere are a natural physical barrier, beyond which further advancement is less meaningful, as it is mostly just making things more convenient – the cost is already extremely low.

The prevalence of computers and communications devices has completely changed the world, as has the presence of cheap, high-speed transportation technology. The world of the 21st century is almost unrecognizable to people from the founding of the United States in the latter half of the 18th century, or even to people from the height of the industrial era at the turn of the 20th century.

Extraterrestrial technological singularities might become evident from acts of stellar/cosmic engineering. One such possibility for example would be the construction of Dyson Spheres that would result in the altering of a star’s electromagnetic spectrum in a way detectable from Earth. Both SETI and Fermilab have incorporated that possibility into their searches for alien life. [10][11]

A different view of the concept of singularity is explored in the science fiction book Dragon’s Egg by Robert Lull Forward, in which an alien civilization on the surface of a neutron star, being observed by human space explorers, goes from Stone Age to technological singularity in the space of about an hour in human time, leaving behind a large quantity of encrypted data for the human explorers that are expected to take over a million years (for humanity) to even develop the technology to decrypt.

No signs of extraterrestrial civilizations have been found as of 2016.

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Minn. police shooting reignites debate over Second Amendment …

Posted: July 12, 2016 at 6:19 am

President Obama responded to the recent police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota by recognizing the need to root out bias in law enforcement and encouraging communities to trust their local police department.

A memorial left for Philando Castile following the police shooting death of the black man on July 7, 2016, in St. Paul, Minn. 8(Photo: Stephen Maturen, Getty Images)

A black Minnesota man fatally shot by police Wednesday during a stop for a broken tail light was a licensed gun owner, prompting some observers to suggest that the debate over gun control and the Second Amendment has racial undertones.

When police in Falcon Heights, Minn.,stopped the car in which Philando Castile, 37, was riding on Wednesday night, Castile attempted to give them his license and registration, as requested. He also told them he was a licensed weapon owner, according to the Facebook Live video posted by Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, who identified herself as Castile’s fiance.

As Castile put his hands up, police fired into his arm four times, according to the video. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.

“I’m waiting to hear the human outcry from Second Amendment defenders over (this incident),” NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks told USA TODAY Thursday.

Brookswas preparing to travel to Minnesota to get up to speed on the Castile case after a trip to Baton Rouge, La., to get details on the police-involved shooting of another black man earlier this week.

“When it comes to an African American with a license to carry a firearm, it appears that his pigmentation, his degree of pigmentation, is more important than the permit or license to carry a firearm,” Brooks said. “One would hope and pray that’s not true.”

Tweeted author and TV commentator Keith Boykin: “Does the Second Amendment only apply to White People?”

Amanda Zantal-Wiener, tweeted aboutthe National Rifle Association, perhaps the most powerful of the national organizations supporting the Second Amendment, saying: “Hey, NRA, I’m sure you’re just moments away from defending Philando Castile’s second amendment rights. Right? Any minute now, right?”

The NRA did not immediatelyrespond to a request for an interview. The organization has been publicly silent regarding the Minnesota shooting.

But at least two organizations, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, both based in Bellevue, Wash., expressed concern over the case and called for an investigation by state-level entities, perhaps even from a state outside of Minnesota.

“Wednesday nights shooting of Philando Castile is very troubling, especially to the firearms community, because he was a legally-armed private citizen who may have done nothing more than reach for his identification and carry permit,” Allan Gottleib, founder and executive vice president of the foundation, and chair of the Citizens Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

“We are cognizant of the racial overtones arising from Mr. Castiles death,”Gottlieb said. “The concerns of our members, and honest gun owners everywhere, go even deeper. Exercising our right to bear arms should not translate to a death sentence over something so trivial as a traffic stop for a broken tail light, and we are going to watch this case with a magnifying glass.”

Survey data show that white Americans and black Americans appear to have two different and distinct relationships with firearms.

Data released in 2014 by the Pew Research Center showed that blacks are less likely than whites to have a firearm at home.According to the study, 41% of whites said they had a gun at home compared to 19% of blacks.

But there has been much research to show that black Americans are more likely than white Americans to be gun homicide victims.

In 2010, blacks were 55% of shooting homicide victims but 13% of the U.S. population, according to a Pew review of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By contrast, in the same year, whites were 25% of gun homicide victims but 65% of the population, according to the same data.

In the early days of the Second Amendment, blacks were prohibited from possessing firearms, according to the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia. The measure was intended to protect Americans’ right to bear arms, and designated states as the entities who would manage this.

Gerald Horne, an historian at the University of Houston, said during a recent interview with the Real News Network that there was a race and class bias inherent in the amendment’s provisions.

“The Second Amendment certainly did not apply to enslaved Africans,” Horne said. “All measures were taken to keep arms out of their hands. The Second Amendment did not apply to indigenous people because the European settlers were at war with the indigenous people to take their land. And providing arms to them was considered somewhat akin to a capital offense. So the Second Amendment was mostly applicable to the settler class.”

Horne says that many of the battles during reconstruction were about keeping arms out of the hands of black Americans hesays one of the key reasons the Ku Klux Klan was formed in the post-Civil War era was to keep arms out of the hands of blacks.

Said Brooks, “I would just simply note that in a state like Texas, where we have thousands upon thousands of people with concealed weapons permits, a permit is sufficient proof to vote while a college ID is not. Think about that.”

Follow Melanie Eversley on Twitter:@MelanieEversley

USA TODAY

Obama, angered by police shootings, calls for elimination of racial bias

USA TODAY

Minn. governor: Castile would be alive if he had been white

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Liberal, Kansas – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: July 3, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Early settler S. S. Rogers built the first house in what would become Liberal in 1872. Rogers became famous in the region for giving water to weary travelers. Reportedly, Liberal gained its name from the common response to his acts of kindness, “That’s very liberal of you.”[8] In 1885 Rogers built a general store, and with it came an official U.S. Post Office. Rogers named the post office ‘Liberal’. After the railroad was built close by, a plan for the town site was created in 1888. A year later the population was around 800.[8]

Drought caused some farmers to give up and look for more fertile territory; however, when the nearby Indian Territory was opened, more settlers headed to the cheap land that would become Oklahoma.[8]

Natural gas was discovered west of town, in what would become part of the massive Panhandle-Hugoton Gas Field, in 1920. Oil was discovered southwest of town in 1951. In 1963 the largest helium plant in the world, National Helium, was opened.[8]

Liberal is located at 37236N 1005541W / 37.04333N 100.92806W / 37.04333; -100.92806 (37.043418, 100.928133) at an elevation of 2,835 feet (864 m).[9] Located in southwestern Kansas at the intersection of U.S. Route 83 and U.S. Route 54, Liberal is 140 miles (225km) north-northeast of Amarillo, Texas, 202mi (325km) west-southwest of Wichita, and 288mi (463km) southeast of Denver, Colorado.[10][11]

The city lies approximately 10 miles (16km) southwest of the Cimarron River in the High Plains region of the Great Plains.[10]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.75 square miles (30.43km2), of which 11.61 square miles (30.07km2) is land and 0.14 square miles (0.36km2) is water.[1]

Liberal has a semi-arid steppe climate (Kppen BSk) characterized by hot, dry summers, cool, dry winters, and large diurnal temperature variation year-round; relative humidity averages 63%.[12][13] On average, January is the coldest month, July is the hottest month, and June is the wettest month.[14]

The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 34.1F (1.2C) in January to 79.3F (26.3C) in July. The high temperature reaches or exceeds 90F (32C) an average of 80 days a year and 100F (38C) an average of 18 days. The minimum temperature falls to or below 0F (18C) on an average 5.3 days a year. The highest temperature recorded in Liberal was 114F (46C) as recently as June 10, 1981; the coldest temperature recorded was 20F (29C) on February 27, 1930.[15]

On average, Liberal receives 20.15 inches (512mm) of precipitation annually, a majority of which occurs from May to August, and records 58 days of measurable precipitation.[15] Measurable snowfall occurs an average of 8.9 days per year with 6.1 days receiving at least 1.0 inch (2.5cm). Snow depth of at least one inch occurs an average of 9.5 days a year. Typically, the average window for freezing temperatures is October 21 through April 14.[15] Liberal is located in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7.[16]

As of the 2010 census, there were 20,525 people, 6,623 households, and 4,838 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,832.6 people per square mile (707.6/km). There were 7,118 housing units at an average density of 641.3 per square mile (248.9/km). The racial makeup of the city was 68.6% White, 3.7% African American, 2.9% Asian, 0.8% American Indian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 20.6% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 58.7% of the population.[7]

There were 6,623 households of which 42.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.7% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a male householder with no wife present, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.0% were non-families. 21.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.03, and the average family size was 3.54.[7]

The median age was 28.4 years. 32.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.8% were from 25 to 44; 19.4% were from 45 to 64; and 8.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city population was 51.4% male and 48.6% female.[7]

The median income for a household in the city was $40,247, and the median income for a family was $44,167. Males had a median income of $31,435 versus $25,208 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,668. About 15.3% of families and 17.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.6% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.[7]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 19,666 people, 6,498 households, and 4,756 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,778.4 people per square mile (686.5/km). There were 7,014 housing units at an average density of 634.3 per square mile (244.9/km). The racial makeup of the city was 63.56% White, 4.21% African American, 0.72% Native American, 3.25% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 23.93% from other races, and 3.27% from two or more races. 43.30% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,498 households out of which 42.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.0% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.8% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.96 and the average family size was 3.46.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.7% under the age of 18, 12.1% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 9.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 104.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,482, and the median income for a family was $41,134. Males had a median income of $29,315 versus $22,017 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,108. About 14.3% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.8% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.[4]

Energy and agriculture are the main economic drivers of the area. Natural resources include oil, natural gas, water, gravel and sand. The beef industry (ranches, feed lots and packing plants) is Liberal’s largest source of employment. Hard winter wheat, corn, milo, alfalfa and cotton are common crops. Trucking is a major industry. Dairies and pork processors are a growing business.

As of 2012[update], 70.2% of the population over the age of 16 was in the labor force. 0.0% was in the armed forces, and 70.2% was in the civilian labor force with 63.4% being employed and 6.9% unemployed. The composition, by occupation, of the employed civilian labor force was: 28.5% in production, transportation, and material moving; 20.0% in natural resources, construction, and maintenance; 19.9% in sales and office occupations; 18.9% in management, business, science, and arts; and 12.6% in service occupations. The three indus
tries employing the largest percentages of the working civilian labor force were: manufacturing (24.4%); educational services, health care, and social assistance (19.4%); and retail trade (10.5%).[7]

The cost of living in Liberal is relatively low; compared to a U.S. average of 100, the cost of living index for the city is 80.8.[18] As of 2012[update], the median home value in the city was $85,600, the median selected monthly owner cost was $961 for housing units with a mortgage and $383 for those without, and the median gross rent was $648.[7]

Liberal has a commission-manager government with a city commission consisting of five members elected at-large. Elections occur every two years in the odd numbered year, and commissioners serve two-year or four-year terms depending on the number of votes they receive. Each year, the commission appoints a member to serve as mayor and another to serve as vice-mayor.[19] The city manager heads the city administration.[20]

Liberal Public Schools (Unified School District 480) operates twelve public schools in the city:[21]

There is also a Christian school in Liberal: Fellowship Baptist School (K-12).[22]

Four newspapers are published in Liberal. The Leader & Times is the city’s main daily newspaper, published six days a week.[27] It is the result of the merger between the city’s two previous dailies, the High Plains Daily Leader and the Southwest Daily Times.[28] The publisher of the Leader & Times also prints a weekly Spanish language paper, El Lider.[29]Seward County Community College publishes a bi-weekly student newspaper, the Crusader.[30] The fourth paper is the Liberal Light, published weekly.[31]

Liberal is a center of broadcast media for southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle. Two AM and seven FM radio stations are licensed to and broadcast from the city.[32][33] Liberal is in the Wichita-Hutchinson, Kansas television market,[34] and one television station broadcasts from the city: KSWE-LD, a sister station of KDGL-LD in Sublette, Kansas.[35]

On cable, viewers can receive stations from the Wichita/Hutchinson market (via semi-satellite stations in Garden City/Ensign), PBS’ Tulsa affiliate, KOED, as well as Amarillo, Texas’s CBS affiliate, KFDA-TV.

Liberal is famous for its annual Pancake Day race that is held in competition with the town of Olney, England for the fastest time between both cities.

Liberal has a water park known as Adventure Bay.

The fifth largest collection of civilian and military aircraft in the United States is located at the Mid-America Air Museum. Started with a gift of fifty planes by General Tom (Thomas) Welch, Jr., the museum has more than one hundred aircraft.[36]

The Coronado Museum has items from the Native Americans that lived in the area, as well as items from Francisco Vsquez de Coronado’s expedition to the area in 1541, and the history of farming and ranching in the county in more recent times.[37]

Liberal is home to “The Land of Oz” exhibit from The Wizard of Oz, a recreation of Dorothy Gale’s house and the famed Yellow Brick Road, featuring donated bricks bearing the names of such luminaries as former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Liza Minnelli (Judy Garland’s daughter). This exhibit was originally designed and displayed for Topeka in 1981, but relocated here eleven years later by its creator Linda Windler.[38]

Liberal Memorial Library is located on North Kansas Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets in Cooper Park. The Book Front entrance was completed in April 1955 and designed by the building’s architect George L. Pitcher. Wheeler Williams, a sculptor from New York, signed an agreement in October 1960 to mold the “Pioneer Mother of Kansas.” This six foot statue, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. D. K. Baty, was to be erected in Cooper Park on Memorial Day, May 30, 1961. It was placed opposite of the “Statue of Liberty,” which was donated and placed in Cooper Park by the Boy Scouts of America.

The Liberal Bee Jays, a semi-professional baseball team, have won five national championships and 13 state championships. The Bee Jays have been coached by three major league managers and have sent 165 players to the major leagues.

Composer Mark So wrote his LIBERAL PLAIN SONG (for Joseph Kudirka) while stopped at a gas station in Liberal in 2005. [2]

In the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation, Clark W. Griswold mentions departing the route of travel to Liberal to see the world’s largest house of mud. The idea is rejected by his wife, Ellen, in favor of getting to her cousin Eddie’s home.[39]

Notable individuals who were born in and/or have lived in Liberal include:

The Pioneer Mother of Kansas statue (2010)

First Baptist Church of Liberal (2010)

Seward County Courthouse (2010)

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The Zeitgeist Movement – Skeptic Project

Posted: June 29, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Author: Edward L Winston Added: June 13, 2010 Discuss: Discuss this article.

Over the last couple of months, mainly since Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) members began trekking to our forums, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from TZM members asking me various questions. This post is to outline the topics covered in my correspondence with said members.

I’ll likely update this page as I get feedback from people.

Primarily the issues discussed are why I believe TZM will fail and why I think it’s impossible to find common ground with TZM. I want to be clear that, given a different set of circumstances which I will discuss, maybe TZM could be successful and we could find common ground, but if things don’t change, neither will my stance.

The leader of TZM, Peter Joseph, is far more damaging to his own movement than I imagine many of the hardcore members want to believe:

More could be said about Peter Joseph, and is said in later sections, but our forums are full of former TZM members who shed even more light on the emerging cult of personality around him.

The most important issue here is that Peter Joseph is the leader of TZM and his word is law, despite claiming that he doesn’t consider himself the leader, he acts unilaterally to forbid members for talking to outsiders, for example banning members who post on our forums that aren’t glorifying him.

Something that I never stop hearing is the phrase the movies aren’t the movement. This referring to the fact that the movies promote conspiracy theories, but TZM is something else entirely, and exists separately from the movement. I would believe that if not for the following issues:

A lot of people don’t like that I use foul language, but I needed to display the utter lack of compassion for other human beings TZM leadership seems to have, as well as some hardcore members. The situation in Haiti, again, is a great example of this — reading many posts on the forums from members, it’s quite clear that unless The Venus Project (TVP) is going to be the solution to the problems in Haiti, there’s no use in helping them after the earthquake there.

I get asked “well, what are YOU doing to improve the world?” by TZM members a lot. I constantly bring up that I volunteer pretty much every weekend and I donate 10% of my income to charity, and a lot of time I will donate more than that. Most come back with the fact “charity doesn’t fix the problem.” While they’re right that charity doesn’t fix the problem permanently, sitting on a forum doesn’t either — though some members have the audacity to claim that TZM is a charity, despite never lifting a finger for anyone else.

The example I use when talking to TZM members about this is:

If you saw a starving/dying man in the street, would you do something to help him, or would you say “once our movement gets to 50 million members, I’ll be able to help you, but until then, see you later!”?

That’s essentially the logic behind the leadership of TZM and what many members parrot to me, just in a much nicer way. They love talking about how many children are starving to death today, but they refuse to help them today, and instead speak of some far off future that they can’t figure out how to get to.

I know and understand that not all TZM members are like this. I’ve seen some wonderful generosity and so forth coming from members, but more often than not, these members also don’t follow Peter Joseph blindly, because the ones that do refuse to help anyone else.

Here’s a list of problems that I believe TZM has:

There could be more added here later.

I don’t really see a future for TZM outside of degrading to hardcore members. Peter Joseph talks about a new movie coming out in October of 2010 that’s going to get “millions” of new members, so essentially nearly 2 years of doing nothing but waiting for yet another film are what TZM has to show for.

I think it’s all a shame, however, because getting all of those people together could have done something, could have lead to actual success in some way, but it’s not even close to that. This hasn’t stopped members from discussing the transition to the Resource Based Economy, despite the fact they’re discussing step 10,000 when they haven’t even reached step 1 and don’t seem to want to.

At this point is essentially a way to stroke Peter Joseph’s ego rather than accomplish any goals.

Sometimes I’m asked what I’d change about TZM, in order to make it more acceptable. Well, while I don’t think most of these changes are possible due to the way TZM is run, I usually humor those who ask:

So, essentially my “5 point plan” is completely incompatible with a movement where Peter Joseph is the overlord.

Would you like to know more?

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The Zeitgeist Movement – Skeptic Project

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Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future

Posted: June 25, 2016 at 10:52 am

Abstract

Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. It is a member of Asteraceae/Compositae family and represented by two common varieties viz. German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). The dried flowers of chamomile contain many terpenoids and flavonoids contributing to its medicinal properties. Chamomile preparations are commonly used for many human ailments such as hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids. Essential oils of chamomile are used extensively in cosmetics and aromatherapy. Many different preparations of chamomile have been developed, the most popular of which is in the form of herbal tea consumed more than one million cups per day. In this review we describe the use of chamomile in traditional medicine with regard to evaluating its curative and preventive properties, highlight recent findings for its development as a therapeutic agent promoting human health.

Keywords: chamomile, dietary agents, flavonoids, polyphenols, human health

The interplay of plants and human health has been documented for thousands of years (13). Herbs have been integral to both traditional and non-traditional forms of medicine dating back at least 5000 years (2, 46). The enduring popularity of herbal medicines may be explained by the tendency of herbs to work slowly, usually with minimal toxic side effects. One of the most common herbs used for medicinal purposes is chamomile whose standardized tea and herbal extracts are prepared from dried flowers of Matricaria species. Chamomile is one of the oldest, most widely used and well documented medicinal plants in the world and has been recommended for a variety of healing applications (7). Chamomile is a native of the old World and is a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae or Compositae). The hollow, bright gold cones of the flowers are packed with disc or tubular florets and are ringed with about fifteen white ray or ligulate florets, widely represented by two known varieties viz. German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) (8) . In this review we will discuss the use and possible merits of chamomile, examining its historical use and recent scientific and clinical evaluations of its potential use in the management of various human ailments.

Different classes of bioactive constituents are present in chamomile, which have been isolated and used as medicinal preparations and cosmetics (9). The plant contains 0.24%1.9% volatile oil, composed of a variety of separate oils. When exposed to steam distillation, the oil ranges in color from brilliant blue to deep green when fresh but turns to dark yellow after storage. Despite fading, the oil does not lose its potency. Approximately 120 secondary metabolites have been identified in chamomile, including 28 terpenoids and 36 flavonoids (10, 11). The principal components of the essential oil extracted from the German chamomile flowers are the terpenoids -bisabolol and its oxide azulenes including chamazulene and acetylene derivatives. Chamazulene and bisabolol are very unstable and are best preserved in an alcoholic tincture. The essential oil of Roman chamomile contains less chamazulene and is mainly constituted from esters of angelic acid and tiglic acid. It also contains farnesene and -pinene. Roman chamomile contains up to 0.6% of sesquiterpene lactones of the germacranolide type, mainly nobilin and 3-epinobilin. Both -bisabolol, bisabolol oxides A and B and chamazulene or azulenesse, farnesene and spiro-ether quiterpene lactones, glycosides, hydroxycoumarins, flavanoids (apigenin, luteolin, patuletin, and quercetin), coumarins (herniarin and umbelliferone), terpenoids, and mucilage are considered to be the major bio-active ingredients (12, 13). Other major constituents of the flowers include several phenolic compounds, primarily the flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, patuletin as glucosides and various acetylated derivatives. Among flavonoids, apigenin is the most promising compound. It is present in very small quantities as free apigenin, but predominantly exists in the form of various glycosides (1418).

Chamomile is known to be used in various forms of its preparations. Dry powder of chamomile flower is recommended and used by many people for traditionally established health problems. Medicinal ingredients are normally extracted from the dry flowers of chamomile by using water, ethanol or methanol as solvents and corresponding extracts are known as aqueous, ethanolic (alcoholic) and/or methanolic extracts. Optimum chamomile extracts contain about 50 percent alcohol. Normally standardized extracts contain 1.2% of apigenin which is one of the most effective bioactive agents. Aqueous extracts, such as in the form of tea, contain quite low concentrations of free apigenin but include high levels of apigenin-7-O-glucoside. Oral infusion of chamomile is recommended by the German Commission E (19, 20).Chamomile tea is one of the worlds most popular herbal teas and about a million cups are consumed every day. Tea bags of chamomile are also available in the market, containing chamomile flower powder, either pure or blended with other popular medicinal herbs. Chamomile tincture may also be prepared as one part chamomile flower in four parts of water having 12% grain alcohol, which is used to correct summer diarrhea in children and also used with purgatives to prevent cramping. Chamomile flowers are extensively used alone, or combined with crushed poppy-heads, as a poultice or hot foment for inflammatory pain or congestive neuralgia, and in cases of external swelling, such as facial swelling associated with underlying infection or abscess. Chamomile whole plant is used for making herb beers, and also for a lotion, for external application in toothache, earache, neuralgia and in cases of external swelling (20). It is also known to be used as bath additive, recommended for soothing ano-genital inflammation (21). The tea infusion is used as a wash or gargle for inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat (22, 23). Inhalation of the vaporized essential oils derived from chamomile flowers is recommended to relieve anxiety, general depression. Chamomile oil is a popular ingredient of aromatherapy and hair care (24, 25). Roman chamomile is widely used in cosmetic preparations and in soothing and softening effect on the skin (26, 27).

Traditionally, chamomile has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, mild astringent and healing medicine (28). As a traditional medicine, it is used to treat wounds, ulcers, eczema, gout, skin irritations, bruises, burns, canker sores, neuralgia, sciatica, rheumatic pain, hemorrhoids, mastitis and other ailments (29, 30). Externally, chamomile has been used to treat diaper rash, cracked nipples, chicken pox, ear and eye infections, disorders of the eyes including blocked tear ducts, conjunctivitis, nasal inflammation and poison ivy (31, 32). Chamomile is widely used to treat inflammations of the skin and mucous membranes, and for various bacterial infections of the skin, oral cavity and gums, and respiratory tract. Chamomile in the form of an aqueous extract has been frequently used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety, to treat hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and other sleep problems (33). Chamomile has been valued as a digestive relaxant and has been used to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances including flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting (34, 35). Chamomile has also been used to treat colic, croup, and fevers in children (36). It has been used as an emmenagogue and a uterine tonic in women. It is also effective in arthritis, back pain, bedsores and stomach cramps.

The flowers of chamomile contain 12% volatile oils including alpha-bisabolol, alpha-bisabolol oxides A & B, and matricin (usually converted to chamazulene and other flavonoids which possess anti-inflammatory and antiphlogistic properties (12, 19, 35, 36). A study in human volunteers demonstrated that chamomile flavonoids and essential oils penetrate below the skin surface into the deeper skin layers (37). This is important for their use as topical antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory) agents. One of chamomiles anti-inflammatory activities involve the inhibition of LPS-induced prostaglandin E(2) release and attenuation of cyclooxygenase (COX-2) enzyme activity without affecting the constitutive form, COX-1 (38).

Most evaluations of tumor growth inhibition by chamomile involve studies with apigenin which is one of the bioactive constituents of chamomile. Studies on preclinical models of skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer have shown promising growth inhibitory effects (3943). In a recently conducted study, chamomile extracts were shown to cause minimal growth inhibitory effects on normal cells, but showed significant reductions in cell viability in various human cancer cell lines. Chamomile exposure induced apoptosis in cancer cells but not in normal cells at similar doses (18). The efficacy of the novel agent TBS-101, a mixture of seven standardized botanical extracts including chamomile has been recently tested. The results confirm it to have a good safety profile with significant anticancer activities against androgen-refractory human prostrate cancer PC-3 cells, both in vitro and in vivo situation (44).

Common cold (acute viral nasopharyngitis) is the most common human disease. It is a mild viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system. Typically common cold is not life-threatening, although its complications (such as pneumonia) can lead to death, if not properly treated. Studies indicate that inhaling steam with chamomile extract has been helpful in common cold symptoms (45); however, further research is needed to confirm these findings.

It has been suggested that regular use of flavonoids consumed in food may reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease in elderly men (46). A study assessed the flavonoid intake of 805 men aged 6584 years who were followed up for 5 years. Flavonoid intake (analyzed in tertiles) was significantly inversely associated with mortality from coronary heart disease and showed an inverse relation with incidence of myocardial infarction. In another study (47), on twelve patients with cardiac disease who underwent cardiac catheterization, hemodynamic measurements obtained prior to and 30 minutes after the oral ingestion of chamomile tea exhibited a small but significant increase in the mean brachial artery pressure. No other significant hemodynamic changes were observed after chamomile consumption. Ten of the twelve patients fell into a deep sleep shortly after drinking the beverage. A large, well-designed randomized controlled trial is needed to assess the potential value of chamomile in improving cardiac health.

An apple pectin-chamomile extract may help shorten the course of diarrhea in children as well as relieve symptoms associated with the condition (47). Two clinical trials have evaluated the efficacy of chamomile for the treatment of colic in children. Chamomile tea was combined with other herbs (German chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, balm mint) for administration. In a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 68 healthy term infants who had colic (2 to 8 weeks old) received either herbal tea or placebo (glucose, flavoring). Each infant was offered treatment with every bout of colic, up to 150 mL/dose, no more than three times a day. After 7 days of treatment, parents reported that the tea eliminated the colic in 57% of the infants, whereas placebo was helpful in only 26% (P

Topical applications of chamomile have been shown to be moderately effective in the treatment of atopic eczema (50). It was found to be about 60% as effective as 0.25% hydrocortisone cream (51). Roman chamomile of the Manzana type (Kamillosan (R)) may ease discomfort associated with eczema when applied as a cream containing chamomile extract. The Manzana type of chamomile is rich in active ingredients and does not exhibit chamomile-related allergenic potential. In a partially double-blind, randomized study carried out as a half-side comparison, Kamillosan(R) cream was compared with 0.5% hydrocortisone cream and a placebo consisting only of vehicle cream in patients suffering from medium-degree atopic eczema (52). After 2 weeks of treatment, Kamillosan(R) cream showed a slight superiority over 0.5% hydrocortisone and a marginal difference as compared to placebo. Further research is needed to evaluate the usefulness of topical chamomile in managing eczema.

Chamomile is used traditionally for numerous gastrointestinal conditions, including digestive disorders, “spasm” or colic, upset stomach, flatulence (gas), ulcers, and gastrointestinal irritation (53). Chamomile is especially helpful in dispelling gas, soothing the stomach, and relaxing the muscles that move food through the intestines. The protective effect of a commercial preparation (STW5, Iberogast), containing the extracts of bitter candy tuft, lemon balm leaf, chamomile flower, caraway fruit, peppermint leaf, liquorice root, Angelica root, milk thistle fruit and greater celandine herb, against the development of gastric ulcers has been previously reported (54). STW5 extracts produced a dose dependent anti-ulcerogenic effect associated with a reduced acid output, an increased mucin secretion, an increase in prostaglandin E (2) release and a decrease in leukotrienes. The results obtained demonstrated that STW5 not only lowered gastric acidity as effectively as a commercial antacid, but was more effective in inhibiting secondary hyperacidity (54).

Studies suggest that chamomile ointment may improve hemorrhoids. Tinctures of chamomile can also be used in a sitz bath format. Tincture of Roman chamomile may reduce inflammation associated with hemorrhoids (55, 56).

It has been claimed that consumption of chamomile tea boosts the immune system and helps fight infections associated with colds. The health promoting benefits of chamomile was assessed in a study which involved fourteen volunteers who each drank five cups of the herbal tea daily for two consecutive weeks. Daily urine samples were taken and tested throughout the study, both before and after drinking chamomile tea. Drinking chamomile was associated with a significant increase in urinary levels of hippurate and glycine, which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity (57). In another study, chamomile relieved hypertensive symptoms and decreased the systolic blood pressure significantly, increasing urinary output (58). Additional studies are needed before a more definitive link between chamomile and its alleged health benefits can be established.

Inflammation is associated with many gastrointestinal disorders complaints, such as esophageal reflux, diverticular disease, and inflammatory disease (5961). Studies in preclinical models suggest that chamomile inhibits Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that can contribute to stomach ulcers (60). Chamomile is believed to be helpful in reducing smooth muscle spasms associated with various gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders. Chamomile is often used to treat mild skin irritations, including sunburn, rashes, sores and even eye inflammations (6265) but its value in treating these conditions has not been shown with evidence-based research.

Mouth ulcers are a common condition with a variety of etiologies (66). Stomatitis is a major dose-limiting toxicity from bolus 5-fluorouracil-based (5-FU) chemotherapy regimens. A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial including 164 patients was conducted (22). Patients were entered into the study at the time of their first cycle of 5-FU-based chemotherapy and were randomized to receive a chamomile or placebo mouthwash thrice daily for 14 days. There was no suggestion of any stomatitis difference between patients randomized to either protocol arm. There was also no suggestion of toxicity. Similar results were obtained with another prospective trial on chamomile in this situation. Data obtained from these clinical trials did not support the pre study hypothesis that chamomile could decrease 5-FU-induced stomatitis. The results remain unclear if chamomile is helpful in this situation.

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease resulting from low bone mass (osteopenia) due to excessive bone resorption. Sufferers are prone to bone fractures from relatively minor trauma. Agents which include selective estrogen receptor modulators or SERMs, biphosphonates, calcitonin are frequently used to prevent bone loss. To prevent bone loss that occurs with increasing age, chamomile extract was evaluated for its ability to stimulate the differentiation and mineralization of osteoblastic cells. Chamomile extract was shown to stimulate osteoblastic cell differentiation and to exhibit an anti-estrogenic effect, suggesting an estrogen receptor-related mechanism (67). However, further studies are needed before it can be considered for clinical use.

Traditionally, chamomile preparations such as tea and essential oil aromatherapy have been used to treat insomnia and to induce sedation (calming effects). Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquillizer and sleep-inducer. Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain (68). Studies in preclinical models have shown anticonvulsant and CNS depressant effects respectively. Clinical trials are notable for their absence, although ten cardiac patients are reported to have immediately fallen into a deep sleep lasting for 90 minutes after drinking chamomile tea (47). Chamomile extracts exhibit benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity (69). In another study, inhalation of the vapor of chamomile oil reduced a stress-induced increase in plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels. Diazepam, co-administered with the chamomile oil vapor, further reduced ACTH levels, while flumazenile, a BDZ antagonist blocked the effect of chamomile oil vapor on ACTH. According to Paladini et al. (70), the separation index (ratio between the maximal anxiolytic dose and the minimal sedative dose) for diazepam is 3 while for apigenin it is 10. Compounds, other than apigenin, present in extracts of chamomile can also bind BDZ and GABA receptors in the brain and might be responsible for some sedative effect; however, many of these compounds are as yet unidentified.

Chamomile has been reported in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). But the reports seem contradictory as an earlier report suggests that German chamomile showed significant inhibition of GAD activity (71). The recent results from the controlled clinical trial on chamomile extract for GAD suggests that it may have modest anxiolytic activity in patients with mild to moderate GAD (72). Extracts of chamomile (M. recutita) possess suitable effects on seizure induced by picrotoxin (73). Furthermore, apigenin has been shown to reduce the latency in the onset of picrotoxin-induced convulsions and reduction in locomotor activity but did not demonstrate any anxiolytic, myorelaxant, or anticonvulsant activities (16).

Studies suggest that chamomile ameliorates hyperglycemia and diabetic complications by suppressing blood sugar levels, increasing liver glycogen storage and inhibition of sorbitol in the human erythrocytes (74). The pharmacological activity of chamomile extract has shown to be independent of insulin secretion (75), and studies further reveal its protective effect on pancreatic beta cells in diminishing hyperglycemia-related oxidative stress (76). Additional studies are required to evaluate the usefulness of chamomile in managing diabetes.

The efficacy of lubrication of the endo-tracheal tube cuff with chamomile before intubation on postoperative sore throat and hoarseness was determined in a randomized double-blind study. 161 patients whose American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status was I or II, and undergoing elective surgical, orthopedic, gynecological or urological surgeries were divided in two groups. The study group received 10 puffs of chamomile extract (Kamillosan M spray, total 370 mg of Chamomile extract) at the site of the cuff of the endotracheal tube for lubrication, while the control group did not receive any lubrication before intubations. Standard general anesthesia with tracheal intubations was given in both groups. 41 out of 81 patients (50.6%) in the chamomile group reported no postoperative sore throat in the post-anesthesia care unit compared with 45 out of 80 patients (56.3%) in the control group. Postoperative sore throat and hoarseness both in the post-anesthesia care unit and at 24 h post-operation were not statistically different. Lubrication of endo-tracheal tube cuff with chamomile extract spray before intubations can not prevent post operative sore throat and hoarseness (77). Similar results were obtained in another double blind study (78).

Vaginal inflammation is common in women of all ages. Vaginitis is associated with itching, vaginal discharge, or pain with urination. Atrophic vaginitis most commonly occurs in menopausal and postmenopausal women, and its occurrence is often associated with reduced levels of estrogen. Chamomile douche may improve symptoms of vaginitis with few side effects (79). There is insufficient research data to allow conclusions concerning possible potential benefits of chamomile for this condition.

The efficacy of topical use of chamomile to enhance wound healing was evaluated in a double-blind trial on 14 patients who underwent dermabrasion of tattoos. The effects on drying and epithelialization were observed, and chamomile was judged to be statistically efficacious in producing wound drying and in speeding epithelialization (80). Antimicrobial activity of the extract against various microorganisms was also assessed. The test group, on day 15, exhibited a greater reduction in the wound area when compared with the controls (61 % versus 48%), faster epithelialization and a significantly higher wound-breaking strength. In addition, wet and dry granulation tissue weight and hydroxyproline content were significantly higher. The increased rate of wound contraction, together with the increased wound-breaking strength, hydroxyproline content and histological observations, support the use of M. recutita in wound management (81). Recent studies suggest that chamomile caused complete wound healing faster than corticosteroids (82). However, further studies are needed before it can be considered for clinical use.

Essential oils obtained from Roman chamomile are the basic ingredients of aromatherapy. Clinical trials of aromatherapy in cancer patients have shown no statistically significant differences between treated and untreated patients (83). Another pilot study investigated the effects of aromatherapy massage on the anxiety and self-esteem experience in Korean elderly women. A quasi-experimental, control group, pretest-posttest design used 36 elderly females: 16 in the experimental group and 20 in the control group. Aromatherapy massage using lavender, chamomile, rosemary, and lemon was given to the experimental group only. Each massage session lasted 20 min, and was performed 3 times per week for two 3-week periods with an intervening 1-week break. The intervention produced significant differences in the anxiety and self-esteem. These results suggest that aromatherapy massage exerts positive effects on anxiety and self-esteem (8486). However, more objective, clinical measures should be applied in a future study with a randomized placebo-controlled design.

A relatively low percentage of people are sensitive to chamomile and develop allergic reactions (87). People sensitive to ragweed and chrysanthemums or other members of the Compositae family are more prone to develop contact allergies to chamomile, especially if they take other drugs that help to trigger the sensitization. A large-scale clinical trial was conducted in Hamburg, Germany, between 1985 and 1991 to study the development of contact dermatitis secondary to exposure to a mixture of components derived from the Compositae family. Twelve species of the Compositae family, including German chamomile, were selected and tested individually when the mixture induced allergic reactions. During the study, 3,851 individuals were tested using a patch with the plant extract (88). Of these patients, 118 (3.1%) experienced an allergic reaction. Further tests revealed that feverfew elicited the most allergic reactions (70.1% of patients) followed by chrysanthemums (63.6%) and tansy (60.8%). Chamomile fell in the middle range (56.5%). A study involving 686 subjects exposed either to a sesquiterpene lactone mixture or a mixture of Compositae extracts led to allergic reactions in 4.5% of subjects (89). In another study it was shown that eye washing with chamomile tea in hay fever patients who have conjunctivitis exacerbates the eye inflammation, whereas no worsening of eye inflammation was noted when chamomile tea was ingested orally (90). Chamomile is listed on the FDA’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list. It is possible that some reports of allergic reactions to chamomile may be due to contamination of chamomile by “dog chamomile,” a highly allergenic and bad-tasting plant of similar appearance. Evidence of cross-reactivity of chamomile with other drugs is not well documented, and further study of this issue is needed prior to reaching conclusions. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with liver or kidney disease has not been established, although there have not been any credible reports of toxicity caused by this common beverage tea.

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10. Mann C, Staba EJ. In herbs, spices and medicinal plants: recent advances in botany. In: Craker LE, Simon JE, editors. Horticulture and Pharmacology. Phoenix, Arizona: Oryx Press; 1986. pp. 235280.

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Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future

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Our MPs | Liberal Party of Canada

Posted: June 24, 2016 at 7:34 am

Justin Trudeau is the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Justin was first elected to Parliament in the Montreal riding of Papineau in 2008, defying political insiders who believed that a federalist candidate would have little chance against an incumbent member of the Bloc Qubcois. For Justin, the people of Papineau 50 percent of whom speak neither French nor English as their mother tongue exemplify Canadas rich diversity, evolving identity, and the struggle for equality of opportunity. He has served the hard working middle class families and small businesses of his constituency, who, in recent years, have faced economic challenges. He has worked alongside local community organisations by bringing together different cultures and religions, and establishing local initiatives on social issues, the environment, and the arts.

As a Member of Parliament, Justin has had many responsibilities including the Liberal Party Critic for Youth, Post-Secondary Education, Amateur Sports, Multiculturalism, and Citizenship and Immigration. Furthermore, he previously sat on the Parliamentary Committees on Environment and Sustainable Development and Citizenship and Immigration.

As a Parliamentarian, and prior to that, Justin travelled the country and met with Canadians in every region, consistently speaking about shared values, the importance of youth empowerment, protecting our wilderness, and living up to our place in the world. Some of Justins proudest accomplishments include his advocacy for victims of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, his activism to protect the Nahanni river in the Northwest Territories in 2005 and holding the post of chair of Katimavik, Canadas national youth service program, from 2002 to 2006.

At the heart of Justins professional achievements whether as a math and French teacher in British Columbia, or his leadership role in Katimavik, or even his strong defense of Quebec as a Member of Parliament is a deep respect for Canadians from coast to coast to coast and his desire to serve them.

On April 14, 2013, Justin was elected Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in the most open and accessible leadership election in Canadian history, in which tens of thousands of Canadians participated.

Justin has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University, and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia. He was born on December 25, 1971, the eldest son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Margaret Sinclair Trudeau Kemper. Justin is married to Sophie Grgoire. The couple welcomed their first child, Xavier James Trudeau on October 18, 2007 and added to their family with the arrival of Ella-Grace Trudeau on February 5, 2009, and Hadrien Trudeau on February 28, 2014.

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Our MPs | Liberal Party of Canada

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Urban Dictionary: liberal

Posted: June 19, 2016 at 3:49 am

A liberal, in the American sense, is one who falls to the left in the political spectrum; In other parts of the world, however, liberalism is the belief in laissez-faire capitalism and free-market systems – hence the recently coined term, neoliberalism.

Although I do not like to generalize, for the purposes of a (somewhat) concise dictionary definition, here is the very basic liberal (American sense) ideology:

Politics: The federal government exists to protect and serve the people, and therefore, should be given sufficient power to fulfill its role successfully. Ways in which this can be accomplished include giving the federal government more power than local governments and having the government provide programs designed to protect the interests of the people (these include welfare, Medicare, and social security). Overall, these programs have helped extensively in aiding the poor and unfortunate, as well as the elderly and middle class. To make sure that the interests of the people are served, it was liberals (or so they were considered in their time) that devised the idea of a direct democracy, a republic, and modern democracy. This way, it is ensured that the federal government represents the interests of the people, and the extensive power that it is given is not used to further unpopular goals. Liberals do not concentrate on military power (though that is not to say they ignore it), but rather focus on funding towards education, improving wages, protecting the environment, etc. Many propose the dismantling of heavy-cost programs such as the Star Wars program (no, not the film series), in order to use the money to fund more practical needs.

Social Ideology: As one travels further left on the political spectrum, it is noticed that tolerance, acceptance, and general compassion for all people steadily increases (in theory at least). Liberals are typically concerned with the rights of the oppressed and unfortunate this, of course, does not mean that they ignore the rights of others (liberals represent the best interests of the middle-class in America). This has led many liberals to lobby for the rights of homosexuals, women, minorities, single-mothers, etc. Many fundamentalists see this is immoral; however, it is, in reality, the most mature, and progressive way in which to deal with social differences. Liberals are identified with fighting for equal rights, such as those who wanted to abolish slavery and those who fought hard for a woman’s reproductive right (see Abortion). Liberals have also often fought for ecological integrity, protecting the environment, diversity of species, as well as indigenous populations rights. Almost all social betterment programs are funded by liberal institutions, and government funded social programs on education improvement, childrens rights, womens rights, etc. are all supported by liberals. Basically, social liberalism is the mature, understanding way in which to embrace individual differences, not according to ancient dogma or religious prejudice, but according to the ideals of humanity that have been cultivated by our experiences throughout history, summed up in that famous American maxim: with liberty and justice for all.

Economics: Using the term liberal when speaking of economics is very confusing, as liberal in America is completely opposite to the rest of the world. Therefore, here, as I have been doing, I will concentrate on the American definition of liberal concerning economics. Liberals believe that the rights of the people, of the majority, are to be valued much more sincerely than those of corporations, and therefore have frequently proposed the weakening of corporate power through heavier taxation (of corporations), environmental regulations, and the formation of unions. Liberals often propose the heavier taxation of WEALTHY individuals, while alleviating taxes on the middle class, and especially the poor. Liberals (American sense) do not support laissez-faire economics because, to put it simply, multinational corporations take advantage of developing countries and encourage exploitation and child labor (multinational corporations are spawned from laissez-faire policies). Instead, many propose the nationalization of several industries, which would make sure that wealth and power is not concentrated in a few hands, but is in the hands of the people (represented by elected officials in government). I am not going to go into the extreme intricacies of the economic implications of privatization of resources, etc., but will say that privatization and globalization have greatly damaged the economies of Latin America, namely Argentina and Mexico (see NAFTA).

This summation of the leftist ideology may not be 100% correct in all situations, as there are many variations on several issues and I may have depicted the current definition of liberal as too far to the left than it is generally accepted. On that note, many leftists are critical of the political situation in America, claiming that the left is now in the center, as the general populace has been conditioned by institutions such as Fox News to consider everything left of Hitler (as one clever person put it) as radical liberalism. I, myself, have observed that, in America, there are two basic types of liberals: those who concern themselves only with liberal policies on the domestic front, and either ignore international affairs or remain patriotic and dedicated to the American way (Al Franken, Bill Clinton, etc.) And then there are those, despite the criticism they face from many fellow liberals (classified under the former definition), who are highly critical of US foreign policy, addressing such issues as Iran-Contra, the Sandanistas, Pinochet, Vietnam, NATOs intervention in Kosovo, our trade embargo on Cuba, etc, etc. (such as Noam Chomsky, William Blumm, etc.) Unfortunately, it seems that adolescent rage has run rampant on this particular word, and most definitions are either incoherent jumbles of insults and generalizations or deliberate spewing of misinformation (see the definition that describes the situation in Iraq, without addressing our suppression of popular revolts in Iraq, our pre-war sanctions on Iraq that have caused the death of some 5 million children, and our support for Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, and even our post-war sale of biological elements usable in weapons to Saddams regime).

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The Abolition of Work – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: at 3:36 am

“The Abolition of Work” is an essay written by Bob Black in 1985. It was part of Black’s first book, an anthology of essays entitled The Abolition of Work and Other Essays published by Loompanics Unlimited.[1] It is an exposition of Black’s “type 3 anarchism” a blend of post-Situationist theory and individualist anarchism focusing on a critique of the work ethic.[2] Black draws upon certain ideas of Marshall Sahlins, Richard Borshay Lee, Charles Fourier, William Morris, and Paul Goodman.

Although “The Abolition of Work” has most often been reprinted by anarchist publishers and Black is well known as an anarchist, the essay’s argument is not explicitly anarchist. Black argues that the abolition of work is as important as the abolition of the state. The essay, which is based on a 1981 speech at the Gorilla Grotto in San Francisco, is informal and without academic references, but Black mentions some sources such as the utopian socialist Charles Fourier, the unconventional Marxists Paul Lafargue and William Morris, anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin and Paul Goodman, and anthropologists such as Marshall Sahlins and Richard Borshay Lee.

In the essay Black argues for the abolition of the producer- and consumer-based society, where, Black contends, all of life is devoted to the production and consumption of commodities. Attacking Marxist state socialism as much as Liberal capitalism, Black argues that the only way for humans to be free is to reclaim their time from jobs and employment, instead turning necessary subsistence tasks into free play done voluntarily an approach referred to as “ludic”. The essay argues that “no-one should ever work”, because work – defined as compulsory productive activity enforced by economic or political means is the source of most of the misery in the world. Black denounces work for its compulsion, and for the forms it takes as subordination to a boss, as a “job” which turns a potentially enjoyable task into a meaningless chore, for the degradation imposed by systems of work-discipline, and for the large number of work-related deaths and injuries which Black characterizes as homicide.

He views the subordination enacted in workplaces as “a mockery of freedom”, and denounces as hypocrites the various theorists who support freedom while supporting work. Subordination in work, Black alleges, makes people stupid and creates fear of freedom. Because of work, people become accustomed to rigidity and regularity, and do not have the time for friendship or meaningful activity. Many workers, he contends, are dissatisfied with work (as evidenced by absenteeism, goldbricking, embezzlement and sabotage), so that what he says should be uncontroversial; however, it is controversial only because people are too close to the work-system to see its flaws.

Play, in contrast, is not necessarily rule-governed, and, more important, it is performed voluntarily, in complete freedom, for the satisfaction of engaging in the activity itself. But since intrinsically satisfying activity is not necessarily unproductive, “productive play” is possible, and, if generalized, might give rise to a gift economy. Black points out that hunter-gatherer societies are typified by play (in the sense of “productive play”), a view he backs up with the work of anthropologist Marshall Sahlins in his essay “The Original Affluent Society,” reprinted in his book “Stone Age Economics” (1971). Black has reiterated this interpretation of the ethnographic record, this time with citations and references, in “Primitive Affluence,” reprinted in his book “Friendly Fire” (Autonomedia 1994), and in “Nightmares of Reason” (a critique of Murray Bookchin posted at TheAnarchistLibrary.org).

Black responds to the criticism (argued, for instance, by libertarian David Ramsey-Steele) that “work,” if not simply effort or energy, is necessary to get important but unpleasant tasks done, by contending that much work now currently done is unnecessary, because it only serves the purposes of social control and economic exploitation. Black has responded (in “Smokestack Lightning,” reprinted in “Friendly Fire”) that of all,[clarification needed] most important tasks can be rendered ludic, or “salvaged” by being turned into game-like and craft-like activities, and secondly that the vast majority of work does not need doing at all. The latter tasks are unnecessary because they only serve functions of commerce and social control that exist only to maintain the work-system as a whole. As for what is left, he advocates Charles Fourier’s approach of arranging activities so that people will want to do them. He is also sceptical but open-minded about the possibility of eliminating work through labor-saving technologies, which, in his opinion, have so far never reduced work, and often deskilled and debased workers. As he sees it, the political left has, for the most part, failed to acknowledge as revolutionary the critique of work, limiting itself to the critique of wage-labor. The left, he contends, by glorifying the dignity of labor, has endorsed work itself, and also the work ethic.

Black has often criticized leftism, especially Marxism, but he does not consider anarchism, which he espouses, as always advocating an understanding of work which is consistent with his critique of work. Black looks favorably, if critically, on a text such as “The Right to Be Greedy”, by the Situationist-influenced collective For Ourselves (he wrote a Preface for the Loompanics Unlimited reprint edition), which attempts to synthesize the post-moral individualism of Max Stirner (“The Ego and Its Own”) with what appears to be an egalitarian anarcho-communism. What has been called “zero-work” remains controversial on the left and among anarchists.

“The Abolition of Work” has been reprinted, as the first essay of “Instead of Work,” published by LBC Books in 2015. Eight more essays follow, including an otherwise unpublished, lengthy essay, “Afterthoughts on the Abolition of Work.” The introduction is by Bruce Sterling.

“The Abolition of Work” was a significant influence on futurist and design critic Bruce Sterling, who at the time was a leading cyberpunk science fiction author and called it “one of the seminal underground documents of the 1980s”.[3] The essay’s critique of work formed the basis for the antilabour faction in Sterling’s celebrated 1988 novel Islands in the Net.[3] In the September/October 1995 issue of Mother Jones, Maya Sinha praised the essay’s provocative contention, paying particular note to Black’s observation that much of what is termed “free time” is consumed by efforts related to facilitating or recovering from work itself.[4] “The Abolition of Work” has been widely reprinted. It has been translated into French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese (both continental Portuguese and Luso-Brazilian), Swedish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, and probably other languages.

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Socio-Economic Collapse | Prometheism.net

Posted: June 17, 2016 at 5:04 am

In archaeology, the classic Maya collapse refers to the decline of Maya civilization and abandonment of Maya cities in the southern Maya lowlands of Mesoamerica between the 8th and 9thcenturies, at the end of the Classic Mayan Period. Preclassic Maya experienced a similar collapse in the 2nd century.

The Classic Period of Mesoamerican chronology is generally defined as the period from 250 to 900, the last century of which is referred to as the Terminal Classic.[1] The classic Maya collapse is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in archaeology. Urban centers of the southern lowlands, among them Palenque, Copn, Tikal, Calakmul, went into decline during the 8th and 9thcenturies and were abandoned shortly thereafter. Archaeologically, this decline is indicated by the cessation of monumental inscriptions and the reduction of large-scale architectural construction at the primary urban centers of the classic period.

Although termed a collapse, it did not mark the end of the Maya civilization; Northern Yucatn in particular prospered afterwards, although with very different artistic and architectural styles, and with much less use of monumental hieroglyphic writing. In the post-classic period following the collapse, the state of Chichn Itz built an empire that briefly united much of the Maya region,[citation needed] and centers such as Mayapn and Uxmal flourished, as did the Highland states of the Kiche and Kaqchikel Maya. Independent Maya civilization continued until 1697 when the Spanish conquered Nojpetn, the last independent city-state. Millions of Maya people still inhabit the Yucatn peninsula today.

Because parts of Maya civilization unambiguously continued, a number of scholars strongly dislike the term collapse.[2] Regarding the proposed collapse, E. W. Andrews IV went as far as to say, in my belief no such thing happened.[3]

The Maya often recorded dates on monuments they built. Few dated monuments were being built circa 500 around ten per year in 514, for example. The number steadily increased to make this number twenty per year by 672 and forty by around 750. After this, the number of dated monuments begins to falter relatively quickly, collapsing back to ten by 800 and to zero by 900. Likewise, recorded lists of kings complement this analysis. Altar Q shows a reign of kings from 426 to 763. One last king not recorded on Altar Q was Ukit Took, Patron of Flint, who was probably a usurper. The dynasty is believed to have collapsed entirely shortly thereafter. In Quirigua, twenty miles north of Copn, the last king Jade Sky began his rule between 895 and 900, and throughout the Maya area all kingdoms similarly fell around that time.[4]

A third piece of evidence of the progression of Maya decline, gathered by Ann Corinne Freter, Nancy Gonlin, and David Webster, uses a technique called obsidian hydration. The technique allowed them to map the spread and growth of settlements in the Copn Valley and estimate their populations. Between 400 and 450, the population was estimated at a peak of twenty-eight thousand between 750 and 800 larger than London at the time. Population then began to steadily decline. By 900 the population had fallen to fifteen thousand, and by 1200 the population was again less than 1000.

Some 88 different theories or variations of theories attempting to explain the Classic Maya Collapse have been identified.[5] From climate change to deforestation to lack of action by Mayan kings, there is no universally accepted collapse theory, although drought is gaining momentum as the leading explanation.[6]

The archaeological evidence of the Toltec intrusion into Seibal, Peten, suggests to some the theory of foreign invasion. The latest hypothesis states that the southern lowlands were invaded by a non-Maya group whose homelands were probably in the gulf coast lowlands. This invasion began in the 9thcentury and set off, within 100years, a group of events that destroyed the Classic Maya. It is believed that this invasion was somehow influenced by the Toltec people of central Mexico. However, most Mayanists do not believe that foreign invasion was the main cause of the Classic Maya Collapse; they postulate that no military defeat can explain or be the cause of the protracted and complex Classic Collapse process. Teotihuacan influence across the Maya region may have involved some form of military invasion; however, it is generally noted that significant Teotihuacan-Maya interactions date from at least the Early Classic period, well before the episodes of Late Classic collapse.[7]

The foreign invasion theory does not answer the question of where the inhabitants went. David Webster believed that the population should have increased because of the lack of elite power. Further, it is not understood why the governmental institutions were not remade following the revolts, which actually happened under similar circumstances in places like China. A study by anthropologist Elliot M. Abrams came to the conclusion that buildings, specifically in Copan, did not actually require an extensive amount of time and workers to construct.[8] However, this theory was developed during a time period when the archaeological evidence showed that there were fewer Maya people than there are now known to have been.[9] Revolutions, peasant revolts, and social turmoil change circumstances, and are often followed by foreign wars, but they run their course. There are no documented revolutions that caused wholesale abandonment of entire regions.

It has been hypothesized that the decline of the Maya is related to the collapse of their intricate trade systems, especially those connected to the central Mexican city of Teotihuacn. Preceding improved knowledge of the chronology of Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan was believed to have fallen during 700750, forcing the restructuring of economic relations throughout highland Mesoamerica and the Gulf Coast.[10] This remaking of relationships between civilizations would have then given the collapse of the Classic Maya a slightly later date. However, after knowing more about the events and the time periods that they occurred, it is now believed that the strongest Teotihuacan influence was during the 4th and 5thcenturies. In addition, the civilization of Teotihuacan started to lose its power, and maybe even abandoned the city, during 600650. This differs greatly from the previous belief that Teotihuacano power decreased during 700750.[11] But since the new decline date of 600650 has been accepted, the Maya civilizations are now thought to have lived on and prospered for another century and more[12] than what was previously believed. Rather than the decline of Teotihuacan directly preceding the collapse of the Maya, their decline is now seen as contributing to the 6thcentury hiatus.[12]

The disease theory is also a contender as a factor in the Classic Maya Collapse. Widespread disease could explain some rapid depopulation, both directly through the spread of infection itself and indirectly as an inhibition to recovery over the long run. According to Dunn (1968) and Shimkin (1973), infectious diseases spread by parasites are common in tropical rainforest regions, such as the Maya lowlands. Shimkin specifically suggests that the Maya may have encountered endemic infections related to American trypanosomiasis, Ascaris, and some enteropathogens that cause acute diarrheal illness. Furthermore, some experts believe that, through development of their civilization (that is, development of agriculture and settlements), the Maya could have created a disturbed environment, in which parasitic and pathogen-carrying insects often th
rive.[13] Among the pathogens listed above, it is thought that those that cause the acute diarrheal illnesses would have been the most devastating to the Maya population. This is because such illness would have struck a victim at an early age, thereby hampering nutritional health and the natural growth and development of a child. This would have made them more susceptible to other diseases later in life. Such ideas as this could explain the role of disease as at least a possible partial reason for the Classic Maya Collapse.[14]

Mega-droughts hit the Yucatn Peninsula and Petn Basin areas with particular ferocity, as thin tropical soils decline in fertility and become unworkable when deprived of forest cover,[15] and due to regular seasonal drought drying up surface water.[16] Colonial Spanish officials accurately documented cycles of drought, famine, disease, and war, providing a reliable historical record of the basic drought pattern in the Maya region.[17]

Climatic factors were first implicated in the Collapse as early as 1931 by Mayanists Thomas Gann and J.E.S. Thompson.[18] In The Great Maya Droughts, Richardson Gill gathers and analyzes an array of climatic, historical, hydrologic, tree ring, volcanic, geologic, lake bed, and archeological research, and demonstrates that a prolonged series of droughts probably caused the Classic Maya Collapse.[19] The drought theory provides a comprehensive explanation, because non-environmental and cultural factors (excessive warfare, foreign invasion, peasant revolt, less trade, etc.) can all be explained by the effects of prolonged drought on Classic Maya civilization.[20]

Climatic changes are, with increasing frequency, found to be major drivers in the rise and fall of civilizations all over the world.[21] Professors Harvey Weiss of Yale University and Raymond S. Bradley of the University of Massachusetts have written, Many lines of evidence now point to climate forcing as the primary agent in repeated social collapse.[22] In a separate publication, Weiss illustrates an emerging understanding of scientists:

Within the past five years new tools and new data for archaeologists, climatologists, and historians have brought us to the edge of a new era in the study of global and hemispheric climate change and its cultural impacts. The climate of the Holocene, previously assumed static, now displays a surprising dynamism, which has affected the agricultural bases of pre-industrial societies. The list of Holocene climate alterations and their socio-economic effects has rapidly become too complex for brief summary.[23]

The drought theory holds that rapid climate change in the form of severe drought brought about the Classic Maya collapse. According to the particular version put forward by Gill in The Great Maya Droughts,

[Studies of] Yucatecan lake sediment cores provide unambiguous evidence for a severe 200-year drought from AD800 to 1000 the most severe in the last 7,000years precisely at the time of the Maya Collapse.[24]

Climatic modeling, tree ring data, and historical climate data show that cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere is associated with drought in Mesoamerica.[25] Northern Europe suffered extremely low temperatures around the same time as the Maya droughts. The same connection between drought in the Maya areas and extreme cold in northern Europe was found again at the beginning of the 20thcentury. Volcanic activity, within and outside Mesoamerica, is also correlated with colder weather and resulting drought, as the effects of the Tambora volcano eruption in 1815 indicate.[26]

Mesoamerican civilization provides a remarkable exception: civilization prospering in the tropical swampland. The Maya are often perceived as having lived in a rainforest, but technically, they lived in a seasonal desert without access to stable sources of drinking water.[27] The exceptional accomplishments of the Maya are even more remarkable because of their engineered response to the fundamental environmental difficulty of relying upon rainwater rather than permanent sources of water. The Maya succeeded in creating a civilization in a seasonal desert by creating a system of water storage and management which was totally dependent on consistent rainfall.[28] The constant need for water kept the Maya on the edge of survival. Given this precarious balance of wet and dry conditions, even a slight shift in the distribution of annual precipitation can have serious consequences.[16] Water and civilization were vitally connected in ancient Mesoamerica. Archaeologist and specialist in pre-industrial land and water usage practices, Vernon Scarborough, believes water management and access were critical to the development of Maya civilization.[29]

Critics of the drought theory wonder why the southern and central lowland cities were abandoned and the northern cities like Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Coba continued to thrive.[30] One critic argued that Chichen Itza revamped its political, military, religious, and economic institutions away from powerful lords or kings.[31] Inhabitants of the northern Yucatn also had access to seafood, which might have explained the survival of Chichen Itza and Mayapan, cities away from the coast but within reach of coastal food supplies.[32] Critics of the drought theory also point to current weather patterns: much heavier rainfall in the southern lowlands compared to the lighter amount of rain in the northern Yucatn. Drought theory supporters state that the entire regional climate changed, including the amount of rainfall, so that modern rainfall patterns are not indicative of rainfall from 800 to 900. LSU archaeologist Heather McKillop found a significant rise in sea level along the coast nearest the southern Maya lowlands, coinciding with the end of the Classic period, and indicating climate change.[33]

David Webster, a critic of the megadrought theory says that much of the evidence provided by Gill comes from the northern Yucatn and not the Southern part of the peninsula, where Classic Maya civilization flourished. He also states that if water sources were to have dried up, then several city-states would have moved to other water sources. The fact that Gill suggests that all water in the region would have dried up and destroyed Maya civilization is a stretch, according to Webster.[34]

A study published in Science in 2012 found that modest rainfall reductions, amounting to only 25 to 40 percent of annual rainfall, may have been the tipping point to the Mayan collapse. Based on samples of lake and cave sediments in the areas surrounding major Mayan cities, the researchers were able to determine the amount of annual rainfall in the region. The mild droughts that took place between 800-950 would therefore be enough to rapidly deplete seasonal water supplies in the Yucatn lowlands, where there are no rivers.[35][36][37]

Some ecological theories of Maya decline focus on the worsening agricultural and resource conditions in the late Classic period. It was originally thought that the majority of Maya agriculture was dependent on a simple slash-and-burn system. Based on this method, the hypothesis of soil exhaustion was advanced by Orator F. Cook in 1921. Similar soil exhaustion assumptions are associated with erosion, intensive agricultural, and savanna grass competition.

More recent investigations have shown a complicated variety of intensive agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya, explaining the high population of the Classic Maya polities. Modern archaeologists now comprehend the sophisticated intensive and productive agricultural techniques of the ancient Maya, and several of t
he Maya agricultural methods have not yet been reproduced. Intensive agricultural methods were developed and utilized by all the Mesoamerican cultures to boost their food production and give them a competitive advantage over less skillful peoples.[38] These intensive agricultural methods included canals, terracing, raised fields, ridged fields, chinampas, the use of human feces as fertilizer, seasonal swamps or bajos, using muck from the bajos to create fertile fields, dikes, dams, irrigation, water reservoirs, several types of water storage systems, hydraulic systems, swamp reclamation, swidden systems, and other agricultural techniques that have not yet been fully understood.[39] Systemic ecological collapse is said to be evidenced by deforestation, siltation, and the decline of biological diversity.

In addition to mountainous terrain, Mesoamericans successfully exploited the very problematic tropical rainforest for 1,500years.[40] The agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya were entirely dependent upon ample supplies of water. The Maya thrived in territory that would be uninhabitable to most peoples. Their success over two millennia in this environment was amazing.[41]

Anthropologist Joseph Tainter wrote extensively about the collapse of the Southern Lowland Maya in his 1988 study, The Collapse of Complex Societies. His theory about Mayan collapse encompasses some of the above explanations, but focuses specifically on the development of and the declining marginal returns from the increasing social complexity of the competing Mayan city-states.[42] Psychologist Julian Jaynes suggested that the collapse was due to a failure in the social control systems of religion and political authority, due to increasing socioeconomic complexity that overwhelmed the power of traditional rituals and the kings authority to compel obedience.[43]

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Classic Maya collapse Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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