New Rochelle, NY, July 13, 2020–The anti-inflammatory and other beneficial effects of meditation and yoga practices make them potential adjunctive treatments of COVID-19, according to the peer-reviewed journal JACM, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Click here to read the article.
Deepak Chopra, University of California, San Diego and William Bushell of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-authors from Harvard University and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health describe the anti-inflammatory effects associated with meditation and yoga.
The “brief overview of key subjects” found “there is evidence of stress and inflammation modulation, and also preliminary evidence for possible forms of immune system enhancement, accompanying the practice of certain forms of meditation, yoga, and pranayama, along with potential implications for counteracting some forms of infectious challenges.” The authors also “readily acknowledge that in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the ideas put forth in this article must be put to further rigorous scientific investigation.”
JACM Editor-in-Chief John Weeks, johnweeks-integrator.com, Seattle, WA, states: “The paper is another in a series in JACM and in other integrative medicine journals suggesting that research agencies in the United States and Europe would serve their citizens by upping their exploration of the potential contributions of natural health practices, especially amidst the present dearth of conventional treatments.”
About the Journal
About the Journal JACM, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine is a monthly peer-reviewed journal published online with open access options and in print that is dedicated to research on paradigm, practice, and policy advancing integrative health. Led by John Weeks (johnweeks-integrator.com), the co-founder and past Executive Director of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health, JACM publishes human clinical trials, observational studies, systematic reviews and commentary intended to help healthcare professionals, delivery organization leaders, policy-makers and scientists evaluate and integrate therapies into patient care protocols, payment strategies and appropriate protocols. Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed on the JACM website.
About the Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research. A complete list of the firm’s 90 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.
On the other hand, when you do a deal to get hostages released, you’re only encouraging more hostage-taking. So you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. As a result, every government, including the United States, says, “We never deal with hostage-takers.” But of course, they all do – and they have to.
I think it’s one of the hardest parts of being in the national security business. You want to free the people – but you’re also going to get criticized. Every time President Biden has gotten somebody out of Russia, people have said, “Oh, he’s paid too high a price” or “He’s rewarded hostage-taking,” and to some extent, that’s true. You are basically rewarding the hostage-takers. But we still have to deal with them. We want to get our people out. And at some some point – as the Israelis have shown – they’re prepared to pay almost any price to get them back.
Israel released more than 1,000 prisoners in 2011 in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whom Hamas captured and held for five years. This is more than 200 times the number of hostages, so how do you even think about that?
At least in my professional experience, this is without precedent. The closest parallel would be the 1976 Entebbe hijacking and hostage-taking by two Germans and two Palestinians on a flight from Tel Aviv to Paris. Hijackers held 103 Israeli hostages, once they released the 148 non-Israeli hostages. Hamas holds twice the number of hostages, and in very, very different circumstances. In Entebbe, the Israeli government knew where they were, they were in a single place – the airplane – which had been forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda, after taking off from Tel Aviv. And that’s where Israeli commandos were able to rescue the hostages.
In Gaza, we don’t know where they are. We know for sure they’re scattered throughout the tunnels, likely in lots of different small groups. Hamas will presumably then use them as shields if fighting begins on the ground. They might think that that would encourage the Israelis not to make a major attack – to keep Hamas from killing all the hostages. We know that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t keen on a major ground assault, and this really puts the onus on the Israelis for how the hostage situation ends.
When you think about the history of hostage negotiations, do you see something that has any relevance to what’s going on now?
It seems to me it’s a really different category. Even Entebbe was hostage-taking for some political aim – the hijackers wanted Israel to release a large number of prisoners who were Palestinian. A colleague of mine used to say that the point of terrorism was to do the least amount of violence with the most people watching it. But Entebbe was political theater, basically, and this is not political theater. This is basically an adjunct of warfare, and that makes it very different. It’s not the usual kind of tit for tat, with “How much am I willing to pay?” or “Can I take a hostage to get somebody else out?”
What does Israel’s heavy bombing of Gaza and the beginning of a ground invasion tell you about the government’s approach to the hostage situation?
It suggests either that they have a pretty good fix on where the hostages are located, which seems unlikely given the network of Hamas tunnels, or that they have decided they must proceed in any case and will try their best to safeguard and free hostages as they go. Given the Hamas practice of using civilians as human shields, the outcome is likely to be very ugly.
Where do you see this going?
I see no happy ending. I don’t think there’s a deal that Israel could conceivably make, given its own politics. Or that Hamas would accept. So it does seem to me that at some point there is going to be that ground attack and the hostages are going to be caught in the middle of it. I see almost no alternative, given what Israel has pledged – to destroy Hamas. The Biden administration maintains that Israel doesn’t really have a strategy. They have a desire, which is to destroy Hamas. But that’s not a strategy for dealing with the hostages or for Gaza after the attack.
Gregory F. Treverton does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Hamas Delegation Arrives In Moscow As Russia Blames US For Escalation
In a somewhat unexpected development, a delegation of Hamas leaders have arrived in Moscow for talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed Thursday evening (local time). "I can confirm that representatives of the [Hamas] Palestinian movement are visiting Moscow,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a press briefing, vowing to provide relevant details as the talks unfold.
The visit had not been previously announced by either side, and the Hamas delegation is being led by a senior member of the group, Moussa Abu Marzouk. Hamas is a designated terror organization in the US, European Union, and some other countries; but it has official relations with countries like Iran, Turkey, Syria, and now apparently Russia.
Russia, however, has said it remains willing to talk to all sides of the conflict in hopes of achieving ceasefire and peace. After the US exit from Afghanistan, Moscow had similarly hosted a Taliban delegation.
It's as yet unclear whether Russia's top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, will meet with the Hamas representatives, given he's said to currently be in Minsk.
RIA Novosti has reported that Hamas has during opening meetings with Russian officials "commended Putin’s position and the efforts of Russia’s diplomacy."
The Kremlin has said it is engaged in crisis diplomacy talks with both the Hamas and Israeli sides, at a moment that over 220 hostages are still being held in Gaza. Four have been released thus far, including two Americans, due in large part to the mediation of Qatar. Will Russia press the delegation to release more captives? Likely this is high on the agenda for Moscow.
Just days ago Russia blamed the United States for stoking escalation by positioning Navy warships in the Mediterranean near Israel. FM Lavrov said Monday during a meeting in Tehran that "the more a state takes this kind of proactive measures, the greater the risk and the danger of an escalation of the conflict".
He called out Washington as "already among the countries intervening the most" since the October 7 Hamas terror attack. The Biden administration as of course rejected the charge, and blamed Iran for ultimately being behind Hamas and regional terror.
At the UN in New York, Russia and China have also just vetoed US drafted UN Security Council resolution on Gaza. The dueling sides have rejected the proposals of the other given Washington's pro-Israel stance, and the willingness of Moscow and Beijing to heap criticism on Tel Aviv for the humanitarian crisis and soaring death toll among Palestinians.
Turkey has also been a foremost critic of Israel's assault on Gaza, as the death toll surpasses 7,000 - with President Erdogan blasting the West's double standard on the crisis.
He said in his most recent speech at a Thursday conference, "Is it possible not to react while seeing what happens in Gaza? Nothing justifies such savagery. Unfortunately, so-called 'civilized' countries watch it. We heard that the EU is still hesitating to call for a cease-fire. How many children should die before you decide on a call? Let us know when the cease-fire should be declared. I have been in politics for 40 years, but I never sat idly in the face of such savagery,” Erdoğan said.
There was some worrying news for Volodymyr Zelensky this week when the US House of Representatives finally elected a new speaker. Mike Johnson, a Republican congressman from Louisiana, has consistently opposed US funding for the Ukrainian war effort. Now he’s the second most powerful man in US politics behind the president, Joe Biden.
As Thomas Gift, the director of the Centre on US Politics at UCL spells out, Johnson’s cooperation will be vital if Biden is to get his latest US$105 billion (£86.5 billion) national security aid package through Congress. More than$60 billion of that is earmarked for Ukraine and if it doesn’t come through, Kyiv will struggle.
Of course, Washington has other fish to fry. Whether you can call the Israel-Hamas war a “bigger fish” remains unclear. Only $14 billion has been earmarked to go to Israel so far. But for most people in the US events in Israel and Gaza are seen as being of the highest importance. Israel has replaced Ukraine as the lead story on most news channels and knocked the European war off the front pages. With Donald Trump relentlessly demanding a moratorium on aid to Ukraine, Kyiv has clear grounds for concern as its counteroffensive grinds on in the south with still no end to the killing in sight.
Russia meanwhile is struggling with its own offensive in the east. According to a recent report published by the UK’s Ministry of Defence, the Russian push around the town of Avdiivka in the Donetsk Oblast has run into heavily fortified Ukrainian defensive positions (similar to what Ukrainian forces in the south are experiencing with entrenched Russian troops).
Since Vladimir Putin sent his war machine into Ukraine on February 24 2022, The Conversation has called upon some of the leading experts in international security, geopolitics and military tactics to help our readers understand the big issues. You can also subscribe to our fortnightly recap of expert analysis of the conflict in Ukraine.
The MoD update, dated October 17, says that heavy casualties have forced Russia from the offensive into what it calls “active-defence”. Death tolls vary widely and should be taken with a grain of salt, but Newsweek claimed in a report on October 20 that Russia’s death toll was approaching 300,000 men, including 1,300 killed in a single day.
But plenty of men still appear to be joining up – at least, according to Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president, deputy national security minister and outspoken Putin mouthpiece, who said 385,000 men had enlisted so far this year. So the burning question is whether and when the Russian public will get tired of the bodybags and the news from friends or relatives that a loved one has been killed or maimed at the front.
Ben Soodavar, of the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, believes that military loss is deeply embedded in the Russian psyche. Most Russians are brought up with tales of self-sacrifice in the second world war – the heroes of the Red Army who made the world safe from fascism. “For Russia, every dead soldier in Ukraine constitutes a step towards victory and reclaiming the great power image of the country’s Soviet past,” he writes.
It helps, of course, that the head of the Russian Orthodox church is as good as promising soldiers the keys to the kingdom of heaven if they are killed in the line of duty.
If the war on land continues to grind on, with every metre of land bitterly contested, the sea war took an interesting turn recently when it was revealed that Russia has relocated many of the vessels in its Black Sea fleet from its base in Sevastopol in Crimea to safer bases in Novorossiysk and Feodosia, on either sides of the Kerch strait connecting eastern Crimea with the Russian mainland. There are even reports of plans to build naval facilities in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia.
Zelensky claimed on October 24 that: “The Russian fleet is no longer able to operate in the western part of the Black Sea and is gradually fleeing from Crimea. And this is a historic achievement.”
Basil Germond, a researcher in maritime strategy at the University of Portsmouth, believes this is a significant moment, marking Russia’s inability to properly enforce any blockade of Ukraine’s grain shipments. It also makes Russia look weak in Crimea itself, which, as Germond points out, “is a big problem, given the central role that Crimea plays in Putin’s imperialist narrative”.
Another theatre of war not much discussed thus far is cyberspace. Russia has long been thought of as a master of cyberwarfare, spreading disinformation, launching attacks against western systems and disrupting communications. But now Kyiv has formed its own “IT army”, launching disruptive cyber-attacks and data thefts against the Russian government and other high-profile targets such as energy giant Gazprom.
Launched in February by the deputy prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, it is thought to be the first time that a state official has openly called on hackers from around the globe to join a nation’s military defensive efforts against an invading force. Vasileios Karagiannopoulos, who researches cybercrime and security at the University of Portsmouth, says the army has pulled off a number of coups, including hacking into Russian state TV channels to broadcast a message that: “the hour of reckoning has come.”
Karagiannopoulos believes this is the tip of the cyberwar iceberg and that a great deal of work is needed to incorporate activities in cyberspace into the rules of war.
Putin may not have been able to travel to South Africa for the Brics summit earlier this year for fear he might be and face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court. But when China celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Beijing last week, Putin was there, front and centre, taking every opportunity to bask in the reflected glory of his apparently “no-limits friendship” with Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Stefan Wolff, an international relations expert at the University of Birmingham, noted the asymmetry of this friendship. While Xi travelled to Moscow in March for a one-on-one with the Russian leader, Putin had to content himself with being one of many leaders in Beijing, and while he made the most of it for the Russian press, the occasion was all about Xi and his Belt and Road project.
Writing after the summit, Natasha Kuhrt, a senior lecturer in international peace & security at King’s College London and Marcin Kaczmarski, who lectures in security studies at the University of Glasgow, observed what they described as “Putin’s explicit acknowledgement of the different roles played by Moscow and Beijing in international politics”.
They note that despite the presence of a number of high level representatives of Russian business, no contracts of note were announced, perhaps a sign of China’s wariness of openly deriding the west’s sanctions regime. And, for all Putin’s boasts of the volume of trade between the two countries, the bulk of this trade consists of export of Russian hydrocarbons and other raw materials to China. In the 1990s, Russia feared becoming a “raw materials appendage” to China. As Kuhrt and Kaczmarski note, this appears to be becoming a reality.
Meanwhile, more than 600 days since Putin sent his war machine into Ukraine and Russia was hit by increasingly stringent western sanctions, more than 1,400 international companies are still operating in Russia, many of them unwillingly.
Simon Evenett, a professor of international trade and economic development at the University of St Gallen, and Niccolò Pisani, a professor of strategy and international business at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), have explored why some multinationals have been trapped in Russia, finding it very difficult, if not impossible, to exit the country. They explore four push and pull factors that have help explain why this is.