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Day: 3 November 2022

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Itaewon crush: The policeman who tried to stop Seoul’s Halloween disaster

Published4 NovemberSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingThis video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.By Nick MarshBBC News, SeoulKim Baek-gyeom is still visibly shaken by what he saw on Saturday night in Seoul's Itaewon district.An assistant inspector in the South Korean capital, he was on duty that night. "We had received a report of an altercation in the area, so I arrived at the scene between 10.10pm and 10.15pm," he tells the BBC at his police station in Itaewon, just a few metres away from where the tragedy occurred.He says he saw people lying on the ground, and heard screams. "I tried to do my duty, to help people. Unfortunately I wasn't able to," he says.But a video shared on social media, showing his desperate efforts to divert people away from the alleyway, has earned him praise from South Koreans, even as it highlights the inadequate police presence on the ground that night.In it, you see a lone young figure in uniform - deep worry on his face - frantically trying to stem the vast tide of bodies away from the narrow slope on which more than 150 people would ultimately lose their lives."People are dying!" he shouts desperately. "Everyone move this way - please co-operate!"Inspector Kim wasn't even supposed to be there. Despite being based in the heart of Itaewon, he hadn't been deployed to the streets that evening. Those streets would eventually be filled by more than 100,000 people, mostly young, who had come to enjoy a Halloween night out.Image source, BBC/ Jiro Akiba"I was at the station, waiting to be dispatched for any crimes which could occur in Itaewon that night," he says. There had been no mention of crowd control - either on the night or in the days leading up to Halloween."We received the report of the altercation near the alleyway, so I immediately went to the location."This was when Inspector Kim saw the crowds were dangerously packed. People were being crushed at the bottom of the sloped alleyway that connects a main road with bar-lined streets on a hill. To try to prevent more crushing at the bottom, he decided that he needed to stop people from entering at the top of the alleyway."As you can see in the video, I started shouting and asking people to move along to another place," he says.Screams and warnings in Itaewon emergency calls How the Seoul Halloween tragedy unfoldedTributes paid to South Korea Halloween crush deadFive friends went to Itaewon; only two came homeMost of the people around him complied and in fact many started to help him direct the crowds. Soon dozens would be giving CPR to victims as crowd control efforts quickly turned into a rescue operation. Inspector Kim says he did not see any other police officers on the scene, although he was later told others did take part in the rescue.Working alone - without a megaphone or any basic plan of action - he was faced with the impossible task of trying to prevent a disaster as it unfolded in front of him. Image source, Getty ImagesThe huge loss of life has left him with a heavy sense of guilt."I feel I didn't do my best. I didn't fulfil my duty as a Korean police officer and I'm very sorry," he says.On Thursday, the mother of a victim contacted Inspector Kim to convey her gratitude for his actions on the night."I was too sorry to say thank you to her," he says. "I couldn't do my job that night. If I can somehow meet the bereaved family members and express my apologies and talk to them, I would like to do that."Those families now want answers as anger towards the authorities grows in South Korea.On Wednesday, special investigators raided eight police stations across Seoul to gather evidence as part of a probe into how the crush was able to happen.Proof is mounting of the authorities' failures. First, to properly plan for Saturday night and then, to effectively respond to emergency calls warning of overcrowding, which started coming in hours before the disaster.In the days leading up to the tragedy, the local council, Yongsan-gu, held two meetings to discuss how to handle the Halloween festivities. According to its website, they discussed Covid-19, rubbish collection and illegal parking, among other things. No mention was made about crowd control, despite the district mayor acknowledging the day before that this would be the first Halloween in three years without social distancing.On Tuesday, South Korea's police chief admitted that his force's emergency response had been "inadequate" and that he felt "heavy responsibility" for the deaths.The efforts of Inspector Kim, though, have drawn admiration from the general public. But he wants the focus to remain on the victims' families."A lot of people have contacted me and asked if I was OK," he says. "But rather than worrying about me, think about the bereaved families who will be suffering the most. Please pray for them."More on this storyKorean police were called hours before deadly crush1 NovemberHow the Seoul Halloween tragedy unfolded2 NovemberIn pictures: The lost belongings of the Seoul crush1 NovemberFive friends went to Itaewon; only two came home1 November

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Billions being spent in metaverse land grab

Published4 NovemberSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, DecentralandBy Joe TidyCyber reporter Nearly $2bn (£1.75bn) has been spent on virtual land in the past 12 months, as people and companies race to get a foothold in the metaverse, research shows. But we are years away from the metaverse emerging as a single immersive space online where people can live, work and play in virtual reality. So is the land grab one big gamble?'Exhibiting my own work'With her giant dark red mohican and permanent cigarette, artist Angie Taylor's avatar does not look like a typical land mogul. But she is one of a growing breed of people staking a claim to new virtual worlds."I bought my first metaverse parcel in July 2020 and paid about £1,500. I bought it for exhibiting my own work, but also for running metaverse events that would promote my art and also other people's art," she says.Angie, from Brighton, built two galleries full of strange and beautiful digital artwork, which is being sold in cryptocurrency, on her land in the Voxels world.Image source, VoxelsAngie's plots are about the size of a small family house (if you compare them to the size of her avatar). The tallest stretches up over three floors and has a roof terrace with a white-and-black-striped road crossing, and a pink taxi permanently driving back and forth just for fun.But you get a real sense of the scale of this world from the air."Hold down the F key and you can fly up to take a look at my neighbourhood," Angie explains. Above her gallery you can see thousands of identical boxes of land stretching to the horizon.Voxels is one of dozens of virtual worlds that describe themselves as metaverses. It is confusing, because people often talk about "the metaverse" as if there was only one. But until one platform starts to dominate, or these disparate worlds join together, companies are selling land and experiences in their own versions.Image source, SandboxResearchers at metaverse analysts DappRadar say that $1.93bn worth of cryptocurrency has been spent buying virtual land in the past year alone, with $22m of that spent on about 3,000 parcels of land in Voxels. DappRadar can monitor this because Voxels is built on the Ethereum cryptocurrency system, in which, like all virtual currencies, every transaction is logged and published on a public blockchain.Zuckerberg's metaverse: Lessons from Second LifeMetaverse app allows kids into virtual strip clubsWatch: What is the metaverse?One of the most popular worlds is the cartoony Decentraland. Launched in 2020, parcels of land there are selling for thousands, sometimes millions of dollars. Samsung, UPS and Sotheby's are among those who have bought land and built shops and visitor centres there. Luxury fashion brand Philipp Plein also owns a plot about the size of four football pitches, which it hopes will eventually contain a metaverse store and gallery.However, owner Mr Plein says his mum is not convinced by his $1.5m purchase."My mother called me and said, 'what did you do? Why? Are you crazy, why do you spend so much money, what is this?'," he says.Mr Plein has been selling goods in 24 different cryptocurrencies online for more than a year. Earlier in 2022, he opened a new shop on London's Old Bond Street selling clothing and some non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in exchange for cryptocoins like Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as pounds.He says opening the shop helped him learn more about the metaverse and adds: "I made a bold step spending so much on a piece of land."But I was thinking that I've had over 24 years with my brand and what would I have to do if I was starting again?"However, with the general collapse in the value of cryptocurrencies, Dapp Radar says metaverse real estate values are near a one-year lowIn Sandbox, another of the crypto metaverses, Adidas, Atari, Ubisoft, Binance, Warner Music and Gucci are just some of the multinationals buying land, and building experiences to sell and promote their products and services.Gucci has also built in Roblox, which alongside other big gaming platforms like Minecraft and Fortnite, is seen as the most mainstream of the fledgling metaverses.Image source, GucciThese gaming corporations do not sell land and are run without the use of any blockchain technology. However, they already have some of the key ingredients that sci-fi writers say we need for a true metaverse:the ability to hang out and playtheir own in-world currenciesthe opportunity to make money on-platformhuge thriving communities Gucci Town has had more than 36 million visits in the year since it was launched, while Nike Land has recorded more than 25 million in 11 months. In Gucci Town, players can buy clothing for their avatars with real money. In Nike Land they can obtain T-shirts and shoes for avatars with points earned by playing games.Fashion seems to be the industry most keen to take the opportunities and risks associated with the metaverse.Digital-only fashion house The Fabricant, based in Amsterdam, only makes clothing for avatars, designing collections and bespoke garments for users of Decentraland, Sandbox and other crypto metaverses. This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser."When we started, everybody called us crazy, because they were like, 'why would you need this?'. But we very strongly believed in the idea that in the future, people would wear the digital items," says co-founder and lead designer Amber Jae Slooten.The Fabricant's record sale so far is a digital dress which fetched $19,000, though it was sold as an NFT - a digital art piece - and has not been worn by the owner's avatar.The company just raised $14m in funding from investors betting on the idea that many of us will soon be living part of our lives in the metaverse.But it is not certain if and when that will happen. The crypto metaverses are generally sparsely populated and only really used when events are held, and even then only thousands, and not millions, of people attend.Image source, MetaEven in the virtual world in which Meta, owners of Facebook and Instagram, is investing billions of dollars, leaked memos show people are not staying for long.But Ms Slooten is convinced that as these worlds develop, people will come."There will be for sure a mass market in this because if you think about the younger generation, they already play games. For them there's no distinction between virtual and real. But it still needs to be built." More on this storyMetaverse app allows kids into virtual strip clubs23 FebruaryZuckerberg's metaverse: Lessons from Second Life5 November 2021Apparently, it's the next big thing. What is the metaverse?18 October 2021

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The horror that demonised older women

The Bette Davis/Joan Crawford film led to a sub-genre of "Hagsploitation" horror featuring seasoned female stars as villains – but did this benefit or demean them, asks Thomas Hobbs."I wouldn’t give you one dime for those two washed-up old..." barked Warner Bros' president Jack Warner at the director sitting on the other side of his marble desk. But Robert Aldrich persisted, eventually charming the studio shark into coughing up a meagre budget so he could direct What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?.  More like this:-      The 'feral' women of film and TV–     The horror that still terrifies, 100 years on–     When Dracula met the hippies Aldrich's 1962 Hollywood adaptation of Henry Farrell's gothic novel would star Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, both then in their mid 50s, as quarrelling sisters, confined to the living tomb of a Los Angeles mansion that's filled with skeletons and a noxious resentment that lingers in the air. On paper it was an obvious risk for Warner, especially in an era where ageism and sexism led to most women in Hollywood being deemed fit for the scrapheap by the age of 45.Before it was released, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?'s tale of toxic sibling rivalry – starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford – was considered a risk (Credit: Alamy)However, 1950's Sunset Boulevard, and Gloria Swanson's starring performance as Norma Desmond, had proved the story of a scorned, delusional older woman could be powerful. And in the shadow of Alfred Hitchcock's enormously successful Psycho (1960), Warner knew that low-budget horrors centered around reclusive eccentrics, who carried baneful secrets, could still shake up audiences. If you believe 2017's Feud – Ryan Murphy's television drama that explored Davis and Crawford's love-hate relationship – Warner (played by Stanley Tucci in this limited series) was just excited by the prospect of being able to watch the dailies over a morning coffee, howling with laughter as the friction from his two leads burned on to the projector. Released on Halloween 60 years ago, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? defied all of Warner's low expectations. Although it didn't necessarily resonate with critics immediately ("This isn't a movie, it's a caricature!" wrote the Chicago Tribune in a scathing review), it notched up five Oscar nominations, and drew in diverse audiences who were deeply compelled by the film's depiction of a toxic sibling rivalry and two women desperately fighting to escape self-imposed cages. Made for $900,000, it took in $9m at the box office (which – adjusted with inflation – would amount to $90m today).  Davis plays former child star Baby Jane Hudson, who has gone from smugly tap dancing on sold-out stages and demanding ice cream as a screaming schoolgirl diva, to becoming a washed-up loner. Despite the passing of Father Time, Jane still garishly dresses like her nine-year-old self, complete with pigtails and a face full of white powder that struggles to hide the wrinkles. Davis perfectly tows the line between misplaced childhood innocence and scornful anarchy, her split personalities the result of a life that was once full of glamour, and is now desolate. Crawford plays the less imposing sister, Blanche, who escapes Jane's oppressive shadow to become a successful (and much more graceful) Hollywood star in her own right, before a mysterious car accident destroys a once promising future. As a shivery has-been in a wheelchair, Crawford grounds the film, setting off Davis's high theatrics and providing a constant target for her character's unhinged jealousy. Whenever Crawford and Davis are together on screen it's explosive, emotional, and impossible to look away. A lot of the enduring fascination with the film (which in 2021 was preserved by the US Library of Congress for being "historically significant") springs from the drama of these actresses' infamous off-screen rivalry. Reports at the time suggested that a scene where Jane viciously assaults Blanche with a series of devastating kicks wasn't really acting at all. Meanwhile according to Davis, Crawford, perhaps bitterly angry she had been overlooked for a best actress Oscar nomination in favour of her co-star for a film she had championed long before Davis was on board, allegedly used her Hollywood connections to ensure Davis lost out on the gong at the 1963 Oscars; that was a charge Crawford herself denied. "Joan did not want me to have that Oscar!" an elderly Davis exclaimed in an interview with Barbara Walters years after the dust had settled. The Baby Jane-a-likes that followed But beyond all this gossip and conjecture, the most significant legacy of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? can be found in the films it spawned. In the years following its release, Hollywood started producing a string of so-called "Hagsploitation" movies, which like Baby Jane, provided veteran actresses including Barbara Stanwyck, Tallulah Bankhead, Shelley Winters and Debbie Reynolds with villainous, yet deliriously camp roles within horror that ensured their careers could keep on rolling. (This sub-genre has gone by other names including "psycho-biddy horror", "hag horror", and "Grande Dame Guignol", all of which similarly revel in the idea of women developing a lunacy sparked by old age.)Tallulah Bankhead was among the stars who appeared in 'Hagsploitation' horror, starring as a sociopathic mother-in-law in Die! Die! My Darling! (Credit: Alamy)From the name onwards, it's a deeply troublesome sub-genre. "Hagsploitation is a misogynist and ageist term applied to fading female movie stars that were reinvented as these grotesque spectres" says Dr Christopher Pullen, a professor in media and inclusivity at Bournemouth University. "I appreciate these films were great opportunities [for older women] to find new roles, but in many ways, they were demeaning roles that conveyed problematic stereotypes about ageing female bodies and the life chances that may be proffered to older women." In many respects, it's hard to disagree. The Hagsploitation genre tended to be built around the dubious idea of ageing women whose inability to keep a man or properly raise a child left them in a dishevelled state, where committing murder or screaming into the ether were among the only things from which they could still derive pleasure. Take 1964's Dead Ringer, where Bette Davis plays twin sisters, Margaret and Edith Phillips. The latter is rich and glamorous, the former weathered and penniless, running a bar that's an obvious dive. Edith makes the decision to murder her twin, assuming her identity and riches in a Machiavellian chess move. The film peddles the harmful stereotype that an ageing woman unable to gain the security of marriage is practically worthless, and she will subsequently harbour an uncontrollable rage that will go on to define her life. Released the same year, Lady in a Cage pedals similar tropes, with its story focused on Olivia de Havilland's Mrs Hilyard, a soft-spoken single mother who has coddled the life out of her grown-up son, leading him to scarper and leave behind a letter that confirms he's feeling suicidal due to her domineering nature.When de Havilland's character, suffering from a broken hip, becomes dangerously trapped inside the home elevator she has had installed, various miscreants decide to take advantage and ransack her home, treating her with complete indifference. Mrs Hilyard's desperate screams of "I'm a human being, a thinking, feeling creature!" are laughed at, and she gradually loses her mind, something that tended to be a formality within the Hagsploitation genre. In this film's cold, survival-of-the-fittest vision of society, de Havilland's character is deemed completely value-less, an obvious metaphor for how the US saw menopausal or post-menopausal women. Another pivotal film that falls under the Hagsploitation umbrella is Hammer Horror's Die! Die! My Darling! from 1965. It stars Tallulah Bankhead as Mrs Trefoile, a joyless older woman incensed when her dead son's girlfriend dares to pay a visit. The snarling Mrs Trefoile describes red dresses as "satanic", and bans all condiments from the dinner table. She fully embodies some kind of misogynist idea that once a woman reaches a certain age, her existence must become dry and sexless, dedicated purely to God, motherhood, and reliving past glories. "The notion of the hag at its essence speaks to how, in many cultures at least, older women are figures of disgust," explains Deborah Jermyn, a film studies researcher at the University of Roehampton, of these movies. "In a society where women's capital is most overtly tied to beauty and fertility, and beauty and fertility are the province of youth, older women thus cease to have a demonstrable function, and their presence becomes troublesome, repugnant and irksome. This is why older women featured heavily among those historically accused of being witches; Hagsploitation cinema crystallises all these ideas." How the actors elevated the material Yet even if these films were imagined purely by Hollywood executives as a way for audiences to laugh at ageing screen sirens, these stars' layered performances stand on their own merits. Take What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, where even when Jane's actions are outright demonic (such as a scene where Jane tries to feed Blanche a dead pet parakeet for dinner), there's a sadness in Davis's eyes that bores through the screen. Davis elevates the source material, and forces you to feel something for Jane, something that was likely at odds with the out-and-out caricature Warner Bros envisioned.Bette Davis brought acting class to films such as Baby Jane and The Nanny (pictured), in which she played a murderous childcarer (Credit: Alamy)Davis does the same thing in 1965's The Nanny, about a murderous working-class childcarer, turning her character into an anti-hero who you just wish had been shown more love by the arrogant middle-class family she has long served. Meanwhile the astonishing pair of performances Shelley Winters gives in early queer filmmaker Curtis Harrington's criminally underrated 1972 Hagsploitation films, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? and What's The Matter With Helen?, are further proof that these roles could offer rich pickings. In the former film, Winters plays Rosie "Roo" Forest, a wealthy but isolated matriarch who loses her daughter under tragic circumstances.Every year Roo invites the children from a local orphanage over for a Christmas treat and to try to fill the black void inside her heart. At points, Winters toys with these children like a cat torturing a pack of vulnerable baby mice, with one intrepid youngster Christopher (Mark Lester), explicitly comparing Roo to the Hansel and Gretel archetype of the wicked witch who eats children. In a truly hair-raising scene, you see Roo delicately put her daughter's skeletal, mummified corpse  to bed in a cot. It's a moment that makes the viewer feel both fear and empathy, tapping into our collective fear of being left alone. Winters' depiction of grief, and suffering through cycles of trauma, remains deeply effective. Film critic Steph Green agrees that while the Hagsploitation genre has its fair share of misogyny and morally insensitive themes, it also has its virtues in providing "dementedly entertaining, out-there, complex characters for women who were no longer gifted with an interesting pick of roles". The reason these performances tend to get overlooked within cinematic history, according to Green, is because audiences have been trained to think of Hagsploitation films more as sensationalist thrill rides than human dramas. "I feel that [what people] fail to recognise, often, is the smarts and skill it takes to inhabit a caricature, and still extract empathy from the viewers who just spent the last two hours pitying you," she explains. "In the 1960s and 1970s, men were able to play genteel statesmen, heroes, detectives and lawyers way into their 70s; women had less of a choice." An enduring legacy Although the peak period for these films was the 1960s and early 70s, they continued to crop up throughout the decades that followed. Towards the end of the 1970s, Killer Nun contained a staggering performance by Anita Ekberg (previously the stunning beauty at the heart of Fellini's La Dolce Vita) as an ageing nun who injects heroin and abuses her patients. "In reviews she was dismissed by male reviewers as 'over-the-hill', exposing the kind of misogyny that ripens with such films," says Green, "But Killer Nun really bursts open the issues at the core of Hagsploitation: shades of internalised misogyny battling with what are often full-throatedly committed performances." In 1980, Friday the 13th also breathed fresh life into the genre by daring to make its lead killer an ageing mother desperate to punish the cannabis-smoking, scantily clad councillors at Camp Crystal Lake, the place where her son Jason had previously drowned in their incompetent care. Betsy Palmer's Pamela Vorhees was possessed by a terrifying rage, whispering "kill her, Mommy" in Jason's voice under her breath. A year later, and Mommie Dearest, a biopic of Crawford herself that depicted her as a narcissistic tyrant played by Faye Dunaway, carried echoes of Hagsploitation, with scenes where the actress tortures her stepdaughter for daring to put clothes on wire hangers. Such scenes are both traumatic and cartoonish, a tonal combination that was key to the sub-genre's power. The legacy of Hagsploitation was further consolidated with 1990's Misery, the adaptation of Stephen King's 1987 novel in which a famous novelist (James Caan) crashes his car in the snowy Colorado wilderness, only to be nursed back to health by his "number one fan" Annie Wilkes (a career-best performance by Kathy Bates). Annie is played as a frumpy, middle-aged, Midwestern Angel of Death, who crushes her beloved captive's ankles to stop him escaping even as she tweely admonishes him for being a "dirty birdy". Bates is the perfect blend of Davis as Baby Jane and Winters as Aunt Roo, with her subsequent Oscar win giving these types of performances a new lease of life. When it comes to more modern horror films, you could even make the argument that Ari Aster's 2018 horror Hereditary, with its central theme of rage-filled mothers struggling to influence their children, was indebted to Hagsploitation.Kathy Bates's Oscar-winning performance in Misery bears the influence of Baby Jane (Credit: Alamy)Looking to the future, academic Jermyn hopes audiences can start to look at Hagsploitation films, for all their problems, in a fresh light. Within them great Hollywood stars created iconic performances against the odds and fearlessly made ageing visible in a film industry mostly known for wanting to efface it. Among other things, Jermyn hopes we can start to look at their characters and performances's rage in a more sophisticated way.  "While often motivated by financial necessity, the women who accepted these roles embodied a memorable rejection of the social constraints placed on older women," she concludes. "In doing this, they actually turned a spotlight on those social constraints and their damning impact on women in the entertainment industry, exposing the shallowness and inequity of a society that ceases to value women as they age. In this respect, women stars playing furious "hags" in films about the film industry are arguably intriguingly self-referential and critical – they speak to a fury at the whole system." Love film and TV? Join BBC Culture Film and TV Club on Facebook, a community for cinephiles all over the world. If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter. And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday

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The Harms of Psychedelics Need to Be Put Into Context

In November 2021, when the psychedelics company Compass Pathways released the top-line results of its trial looking at psilocybin in patients with treatment-resistant depression, the stock of the company plunged almost 30 percent. The dive was reportedly prompted by the somewhat-middling results of the research—but also because of the scattering of serious adverse events that occurred during the trial.Amid the psychedelic renaissance, bringing up their potential harms has been somewhat of a taboo. The field, vilified for decades, has only just recently reentered the mainstream, after all. But as clinical trials get bigger—and the drugs are increasingly commercialized—more negative outcomes are likely to transpire. With the Compass trial results hinting at this, arguably now’s the time to open up the dialog about psychedelics’ potential adverse effects—even if it means tempering the hype that has built up.Those results, now published in full in the New England Journal of Medicine, represent the largest randomized, controlled, double-blind psilocybin therapy study ever done. The participants—233 of them, across 22 sites in 10 countries—were split into three roughly equal groups. One group received 1 milligram of COMP360, Compass’s synthetic psilocybin, a dose so low it served as the placebo. The next group received 10 mg and the last group 25 mg. Psychological support was also offered alongside the treatment. The results were promising, if not painting the picture of a miracle cure. In the 25 mg group, 29 percent of patients were in remission after three weeks compared to just 8 percent in the placebo group. After time, the positive effects waned: After 12 weeks only 20 percent of the high-dose patients were still responding—an improvement over the placebo group that wasn’t statistically significant.At the same time, 179 of the 233 patients in the trial reported at least one adverse event, like headaches, nausea, fatigue, or insomnia—uncomfortable, sure, but not a huge cause for concern. But 12 patients experienced serious adverse events. These were defined as displays of suicidal ideation, including self-harm. Five of the patients in the highest-dose group were reported to have displayed suicidal behavior, as well as six in the 10 mg group. This was compared to just one in the placebo group.“Is this expected in a trial like this? To some degree, yes,” says Natalie Gukasyan, assistant professor and medical director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research. When you’re working with a patient group as vulnerable as those with treatment-resistant depression, higher rates of suicidal ideation are to be expected. But it’s worth noting, she says, that there were higher rates of these events in the higher-dose groups, which brings up the question of whether the drug played a role. One thing she thinks would have been helpful to include in the study was the lifetime history of previous suicide attempts in the participants, which is an important predictor of future suicidal behavior. But given the general reticence to dwell on psychedelics’ downsides, the fact that Compass was upfront about the adverse events is a good thing, says Joost Breeksema, a PhD candidate who studies patient experiences of psychedelics at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. In August 2022, Breeksema published a review that looked at how adverse events in psychedelics research have been flagged, and found that they have been inconsistently and probably underreported. Many of the trials Breeksema looked at reported no adverse effects whatsoever—an unlikely reality. The Compass Pathways research “reported adverse effects more rigorously than many of the other trials in our systematic review,” he says.The explosion in excitement around psychedelics may have influenced the trial’s adverse events. The rising popularity of these drugs has changed people’s baseline perceptions of them, which in turn can raise expectations going into a trial. This has been dubbed the Pollan Effect by anthropologist Tehseen Noorani, in reference to the popular book on psychedelics How to Change Your Mind, by writer Michael Pollan. “Even while welcoming the impact of such hype in securing funding and recognition, researchers battle against the emerging expectations and imaginaries when preparing new participants for their psychedelic sessions,” Noorani writes. 

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TikTok Turned Lil Yachty’s ‘Poland’ Into a National Anthem

Lil Yachty’s “Poland” is 83 seconds long, jarringly repetitive, and purposefully obtuse. And yet, in the hands of TikTok, it’s become a smash, cracking the top half of the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the pride of its namesake country.Not that Yachty intended any of this. “The song was a joke,” he said in a reaction video with YouTuber ZIAS! “Like, I was just trolling.” The hook—“I took the Woooooock to Polaaaaand”—is something he improv’d one night after seeing someone sipping a Poland Spring bottle in the studio. So the Poland he’s singing about could technically be Poland, Maine. (“Wock,” if you’re wondering, is a nod to Wockhardt cough syrup.) As the song went viral, internet sleuths tried to find out when Yachty might’ve gone to the Central European country and mostly came up empty-handed. The 25-year-old Atlanta rapper didn’t even plan to release the track, but he ended up putting it on SoundCloud after it found its way online.The leak proved fortuitous. After “Poland” hit SoundCloud, TikTokkers transformed the song’s malleable chorus into gags about taking action stars overseas (“I took the Rock to Poland”) and staple items back to burrito chains (“I took the guac to Chipotle”). Someone even made a loaf of bread emblazoned with the lyrics. It inspired more than 20,000 creations in a week.No small number of those came from Poland itself. One video called Yachty’s name-drop a “top 10 moment in Polish history.” Rapper Pat wrote, “This is the proudest I’ve been as a Polish person since [soccer player Robert] Lewandowski scored five goals in 9 minutes.” Another user referred to it as Poland’s new national anthem.Nikodem Rachoń, a spokesperson for the Polish embassy in Washington, DC, says that he hopes the rapper will one day visit the country, and that the embassy would be glad to facilitate the trip. He even added a bit of music criticism: “I'm pretty sure that on such an occasion, he would have lots of opportunities to find some new inspiration for the next verses the song still apparently needs."Rapper Kinny Zimmer says that as soon as he heard the track, he was “sure it would become viral.” As someone who loves modern Polish culture, he hopes that Yachty’s song will root his home country in the minds of Americans and teach his countrymates “how beautiful our Polish aesthetics are.” Rapper Pezet confessed to preferring a “more old-school sound” than that on “Poland” but liked its “cool new vibe” and hoped it could inspire collaborations between Polish and US hip-hop artists. Others are embracing the song even more fully. Bedoes has dropped a “Poland” remix; in the video, he’s shirtless on a boat with an ax and a glow-in-the-dark shield. “Lil Yachty mentioning my country was a meme to me,” he says, “but it was also kind of surrealistic, because him being a top artist, known worldwide, rapping about my country was really special. I knew all the ways that it probably was a coincidence that he mentioned Poland, but still, that was really special.” He, too, hopes the strange hit leads to an increased appreciation of Polish culture. “Maybe pierogis with Wock?” he jokes. Unexpectedly for such a fun lark, there’s a thornier geopolitical angle involved with “Poland.” As Lil Yachty’s song spread, messages began circulating on Twitter that Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki had invited the rapper to visit his country. Local media soon debunked the rumor. Anyone fearing increased authoritarianism in Europe might be pleased to know that Yachty isn’t actually liaising with Morawiecki, who represents the ruling Law and Justice Party, which has been criticized for a crackdown on judicial independence and a general slide away from democratic principles. As of this writing, TikTok videos tagged #lilyachtypoland are hovering close to 6 million views, search results for the song top 1 billion. Yachty’s own “Poland” video has been viewed more than 14 million times. Ultimately, it's unclear if his song will have a lasting impact on appreciation for Polish culture worldwide, but in a message from the artist on that video's YouTube page, the rapper makes clear it's a song for regular folks: “You're welcome Polish people, you now have Wock.”  

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What went right this week: cool, ready-to-go climate solutions, plus more

The Brazilian election was hailed a win for the Amazon The outcome of last weekend’s Brazilian election marks a hopeful new chapter for preserving the Amazon rainforest, conservation groups said this week.  Incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro was voted out by a smaller margin than expected on Sunday. Deforestation rates have soared to a 15-year high on his watch after he diluted environmental protections, gutted conservation agencies and promoted development in the Amazon. Attacks on Indigenous groups have also risen.  His successor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a former president who is attributed with reducing deforestation by 68 per cent between 2003 and 2010. Lula da Silva ran for office again after his conviction for corruption was overturned. He pledged to unfreeze the Amazon Fund, which facilitates financial support for protecting the Amazon. It was frozen by Bolsonaro.  “If fulfilled, Lula’s promises could reduce deforestation of the Amazon by as much as 90 per cent and secure the protection of Indigenous peoples, who are instrumental in guarding the forest,” said Toerris Jaeger, executive director of Rainforest Foundation Norway, an NGO.  Image: Carmel Arquelau 

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Kei Komuro, Husband Of Former Japanese Princess Mako Finally Passes Bar Exam On 3rd Attempt

Home - Kei Komuro, Husband Of Former Japanese Princess Mako Finally Passes Bar Exam On 3rd Attempt On his third attempt, the former Princess Of Akishino’s husband has finally passed the New York Bar exam. The bar exam result held in July this year was published in the latter half of October, and Kei Komuro also had his name among the passed students. The pair were engaged in 2017 after former princess Mako decided to marry her commoner lover. After many hurdles, they were united in marriage in November 2021 and settled in New York.He had failed the two bar exams he had taken prior, and everyone was suspicious of his ability to care for the former princess. There were a lot of protests about their marriage, especially since some news about the financial situation of Komuro’s mother and her ex-husband came into the spotlight, which Komuro had resolved before their wedding. Kei Komuro and Princess Mako in a press conference before their marriage. On the outside, Japan looks futuristic with all the latest technologies and lifestyle innovations. Still, it values traditional ideals and has a lot of unconventional social norms. About 38% of the Japanese population is above 60 years old (Wikipedia), which also translates towards the general ideals of the country. Some completely unnecessary customs include being in the office until your seniors are done with their work, you are frowned upon if you eat in public while walking, and how you aren’t supposed to discuss salary and work environment in a job interview. When Mako, the current Emperor’s niece and daughter of the crown prince, decided to marry a commoner, there was an outrage in the country. Even after their marriage, many media outlets followed them around New York City to get a glimpse of her life outside the Imperial Family. Many criticized her informal attire as the Japanese were used to seeing her wearing grand ceremonial dress fitting of a member of the Royal Family. Although it was not the first time a member of the royal family had married a commoner, this pair initially received a lot of backlashes. They were previously criticizing how Komuro couldn’t pass the bar exam. Now, since he has passed, naysayers have already moved on to criticize that his salary couldn’t nearly be enough to provide for his wife. Previously there were also some rumors regarding Mako and how she now has got a job in a museum. Komuro is currently employed in a law company in New York. The bar exam he took has a staggering 66% pass percentage this year, with more than 6350 students out of 9609 passing. Now the couple is looking to move out of Clinton into a better neighborhood, and Komuro’s mother is supposed to join the pair soon. Former Princess Mako reached 31, the same age as her husband, on October 23, and they completed a year of their marriage on October 26. Former Japanese Princess Mako spotted with commoner husband Kei Komuro on a stroll in casual attire on New York. Japan’s current Emperor also married a commoner wife; however, she was reluctant at first cause she was a successful lady and thought her freedom would be taken away after marrying into the imperial family, but she finally agreed after the Emperor’s third proposal. But marrying into the royal family faces few backlashes rather than marrying out of the royal family. It will take getting some used to for our former Emperor in a country with entirely different norms than Japan. However, tons wish for her well-being and a continuous successful marriage. Also read about 10 Etiquette Tips You Need To Know Before Visiting Japan #wpdevar_comment_1 span,#wpdevar_comment_1 iframe{width:100% !important;} #wpdevar_comment_1 iframe{max-height: 100% !important;} Post Views: 1,335

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