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Turkey Lowers Age of Consent to 12?

Turkey Lowers Age of Consent to 12? Aug 18th, 2016 - Snopes

An international kerfuffle after Turkey's failed 2016 coup led to reports that the age of consent in that country had been lowered to age 12. Turkish officials deny the claim.

In August 2016, numerous social media posts and news articles reported that after a failed military coup in Turkey, the age of consent in that country has been lowered from 18 to 12. For example, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, published a tweet affirmatively stating the age of consent in Turkey had been lowered precipitously.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister angrily denied Wallström’s statement on Twitter as well, terming the claim “stupid”.

A British tabloid detailed the origins of the claim, noting that a recent court decision had struck down a law defining sex acts with children under the age of 15 as “sexual abuse”:

The decision by the country’s constitutional court removes a legal provision that all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 are “sexual abuse”. Children aged 12, 13 and 14 will no longer receive automatic protection as a minor, according to the ruling, but will be expected to offer or decline consent in sexual activity. Experts say this is a green light for sex with “consenting” minors as young as 12. The Guardian provided a more nuanced take on the developments that led to the rumor, reporting that “Turkey has summoned Sweden’s envoy in an escalating row after Stockholm accused Ankara of legalising sex with children” and stating that the age of consent in Turkey had not been affected by an unrelated July 2016 ruling pertaining to the adjudication of child abuse cases:

“It is a scandal for a foreign minister to post such a tweet based on false news or speculation,” the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said in televised comments, adding the Swedish ambassador to Ankara had been summoned to his ministry. However, the Swedish foreign ministry said it was the chargé d’affaires who was summoned by Ankara, as the ambassador was still on vacation. Çavuşoğlu blasted the “unacceptable” tweet, saying Wallström should have acted responsibly.

“A foreign minister should not tell lies and should not adopt an approach accusing Turkey,” he said. “Yes to criticism but this is a slander, a lie.” Turkey’s constitutional court in July annulled a criminal code provision punishing as “sexual abuse” all sexual acts involving children under the age of 15, responding to a petition brought by a lower court. The court has given a six-month period for parliament to draw up a new law based on its ruling. The Guardian affirmed the age of consent in Turkey remained at 18 and was unaffected by the court ruling in question:

The lower court that brought the petition was worried there was no distinction between cases of sexual acts involving a young teenager or a toddler. The legal age of consent in Turkey remains 18 and was not affected by the ruling. But it drew a furious response from activists worried it would open the way for unpunished child sexual abuse. In a lengthy statement, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs blamed a “falsified headline” published by a “discredited newspaper” and displayed on a prominent news ticker in Vienna for the rumors:

A falsified headline, claiming that abuse of children under the age of 15 is allowed in Turkey, was displayed on an electronic news ticker of “Kronen Zeitung” newspaper at the passenger lounge of the Vienna International Airport on 13 August 2016. This headline does not reflect the truth at all. Another headline reading that “Through vacation in Turkey you only support Erdoğan” was intentionally displayed on the same ticker in the near past. We deplore and strongly condemn that an international airport, which is located in the centre of Europe and intensely used by passengers from different countries, is abused by a discredited newspaper to spread its irresponsible, distorted and falsified messages in order to defame a friendly country and its nation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the necessary steps through the Austrian Embassy in Ankara and the Turkish Embassy in Vienna also conveyed its reaction about the matter on the same day.

Turkey is a state that always aims at protecting and improving the universal human rights and is committed itself to the international conventions in the field of child rights and their additional protocols both verbally and spiritually, as an esteemed member of the international community. Turkey is aware of its responsibilities and duties in this field.

A country in a position of the rising centre of racism and xenophobia ever increasing in Europe should focus on healing these diseases through its politicians, media and society. Instead, some irresponsible media may falsify and reflect even judicial decisions in another country to feed their hateful and hostile discourses against a society and we consider it as a manifestation of these diseases.

Unfortunately, the statements of some Austrian politicians and officials against Turkey and EU membership of Turkey encourage such defamatory news.

This tendency damages social harmony and peace in Austria where more than 300 thousand people of Turkish origin live. Although a copy of the ruling pertaining to the sexual abuse law is not readily available, officials in Turkey have maintained that the rumor is a misinterpretation of that judicial decision and that the age of consent remains at 18 in Turkey, not 12.

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95 percent of the victims of violence are men. Because women feel flattered when men fight each other and kill each other to prove that they are real men.

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First Successful Brain Transplant

Recently, scientists at the University of Southern North Dakota – Baltimore performed the first successful human brain transplant. Said the chief neurosurgeon, Dr. Cranial Head, MD, “This is a breakthrough of unprecedented magnitude. I’m ecstatic that all our research and hard work finally paid off. We couldn’t be more pleased with how things turned out.”

The patient, who only agreed to be called Jose Ivanovich O’Malley, III for anonymity reasons, suffered a massive anterior communicating arterial stroke that left him severely incapacitated. He was a veterinarian at a local clinic before his stroke. His family heard about the research Dr. Head’s team was doing with rats and contacted him about the possibility of being his first human subject. Dr. Head agreed immediately, “I saw this as the perfect opportunity to advance our research out of animals and into humans. We’ve had great success – recently – with brain transplants in rats so it was only logical to start human trials.”

“This new brain transplant surgery is quite remarkable,” said Dr. Head. “My colleague, Dr. Inis Wu, and I first came up with the idea 40 years ago while we were competing in a triathlon. It came out of the blue, really, neither of us are quite sure why we thought of it but here we are.”

What’s remarkable about the surgery is that it is done all under local anesthetic and the patient is kept talking throughout the procedure, except for the time when the brains are switched (during this time the patient is placed on life support). In this case, the transplanted brain came from a local high school physics teacher who suffered a sudden and unexpected heart attack. He was not only young but also in good health. His family has chosen to also remain anonymous. The transplanted brain is removed from the original body and cooled to halt neuronal death. The end of the severed spinal column is treated with a new nanoglue that automatically splices individual axons to the new spinal cord when the transplant brain is placed on top.

“It’s incredible,” said Dr. Head, “surprisingly we don’t have much work to do because with this new nanoglue the process of reconnecting nerve fibers is automatic. It only takes 4 minutes. We just inspect the brain and spinal cord to make sure everything is lined up correctly. The nanoglue is also applied to areas like the optic nerves, that need to be spliced into the new brain.”

After the surgery, Jose made a speedy recovery. Within 24 hours he was moving his limbs and within a week he was walking and talking. His wife said, “It’s a miracle. We thought that Jose was gone forever but Dr. Head saved him. He doesn’t know who any of us are, of course, and calls himself Stephen but we are all willing to work with the new Jose and learn to love him and hope he will learn to love us.” The medical team, however, remains baffled why Jose insists his name is Stephen. When asked if he planned on returning to work at his veterinary clinic, Jose stated that he couldn’t wait to return to teaching physics: “I’ve always had a love of physics. There’s something about gravity research that really attracts me.” Jose doesn’t remember any of his past self or his work as a veterinarian.

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Are we ready for the first human head transplant?

In a 1978 essay titled "Where Am I?" the philosopher Daniel Dennett suggested that the brain was the only organ of which it’s better to be a transplant donor than recipient.

Now Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero wants to turn philosophical thought experiments into reality by transplanting the head of Valery Spiridonov, who suffers from a debilitating muscle wasting disease, onto the healthy body of a dead donor.

Beside posing questions about personal identity, there are more prosaic challenges that must first be overcome. The brain would have to be kept alive during surgery by cooling it to 10-15°C, and the immune system would need to be powerfully suppressed to prevent transplant rejection.

But the greatest hurdle may be how to restore connections to the spinal cord. Without this connection the brain would have no control of its new body.

In 1970, Robert White at Case Western Reserve University performed a head transplant using monkeys. Without spinal connections the animal was paralyzed from the neck down for the brief time it could be kept alive.

Canavero believes the time is right to revisit this controversial procedure, due to recent advances in surgical techniques and scientific understanding. He hopes that his “GEMINI” protocol—combining polyethylene glycol to fuse nerves with electrical stimulation of spinal circuits—will allow his patient to move and even walk following the procedure.

Breakthrough or spin?

Canavero has been criticized for publicizing his ideas in the media before releasing peer-reviewed research papers. Only time will tell whether promised experimental results are forthcoming. But, on the basis of current neuroscientific understanding, does the proposal stack up?

Unlike many tissues in our body, the nerves of the spinal cord don’t spontaneously repair themselves after damage. And despite regular media reports hailing new breakthroughs, currently there is no effective cure for the millions of people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries each year.

Polyethylene glycol is among a growing list of treatments (including drugs, stem cells and gene therapies) showing promise in pre-clinical studies, but the path to real-world applications is notoriously tricky.

Experiments in animals such as rats and mice are essential to developing new therapies, but important differences must be borne in mind when extrapolating to human treatment. Given sufficient retraining, rodents—even with completely severed spinal cords—can learn to walk again, because much of their circuitry for locomotion is located below the injury.

In contrast, the brains of primates such as monkeys and humans are more directly involved in guiding movements. As a result, the recovery experienced by people with complete spinal injuries is much more limited.

For those who live with spinal cord injuries, there are some reasons for cautious optimism. A U.S. trial of epidural stimulation is reporting impressive results using a small pacemaker-like device to send electrical signals into the spinal cord. Participants in the trial have been able to move their legs and even support their own weight while standing.

The mechanisms underlying these improvements are not well understood, but stimulation seems to reawaken the spinal cord and may allow it to respond to residual connections from the brain that have survived injury. More speculatively, it may in future be possible to control stimulation directly from electrical signals recorded from the brain using brain-computer interface technology.

Although epidural stimulation is a promising line of research, it is being trialed in a select group of patients and is still far from a magic cure. So, if we can’t yet mend an injured spinal cord, what hope do we have for joining the brain to an entirely new body?

The capacity for rewiring is not limitless

While most spinal injuries are caused by traumas that bruise or tear the nerves, a transplant surgeon could sever the cord cleanly with a scalpel blade. But weighed against this small advantage is the staggering complexity of joining two separate neural circuits that have neither developed nor functioned together before.

Even if the spinal cord could be reconnected, would the patient ever learn to control the new body? The brain has a remarkable capacity for rewiring itself, especially as we develop during childhood. But the “plasticity” of the adult brain has limitations.

Many amputees experience vivid and often agonizingly painful “phantom” sensations from where a lost limb used to be, even years after amputation. This suggests that our mental representation of ourselves—our body schema—may not easily adjust to changes in our own bodies, let alone get used to someone else’s entirely.

Perhaps transplant tests with monkeys may in future provide convincing support for applying this surgery in patients, although such experiments would certainly not be allowed by the strict regulations that govern animal research in the U.K. Nor should they be at present, given the severity of the procedure and slim chance of success.

The media love stories about maverick scientists fighting the establishment. But science most often progresses in careful, incremental steps that are published and scrutiniZed in peer-reviewed journals. The philosophers can speculate whether it is better to be the donor or recipient of a brain transplant.

But as a neuroscientist, until we have the technology to reconnect the spinal cord, neither is an appealing prospect in reality.

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