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DARPA Claims Breakthrough in Treatment of Depression, Anxiety

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) claims a breakthrough that stands to radically improve the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Arlington, VA, United States (4E) – The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) claims a breakthrough that stands to radically improve the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Southern California (USC) working on the SUBNETS (Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies) program reported breakthroughs that might pave the way for better treatment of depression and other neuropsychiatric illness in patients.

They’re trying to develop responsive, closed-loop therapies that can help treat neuro-psychiatric illnesses. To develop such therapies, researchers need to record and analyse brain activity with near-real-time neural stimulation. Researchers reported their results in three separate studies.

In the first study, researchers from USC provided details of a new technology that can analyze and decode recorded neural signals to predict changes in mood in a person.

In the second study, the team reported identifying a specific sub-network of the brain that likely contributes to low mood, especially in individuals prone to anxiety. Researchers mapped those feelings in the amygdala and hippocampus regions of the brain. These regions are usually linked to negative emotions and memory, respectively.

In the latest study, UCSF researchers revealed how they used open-loop neural stimulation to successfully relieve the symptoms of moderate to severe depression in some patients.

Researchers said the unilateral neural stimulation delivered to the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) region in the brain modulated a sub-network found to contribute to depression. The stimulation produced acute, dose-dependent mood improvement in research participants suffering from moderate-to-severe baseline depression.

The study also revealed the OFC stimulation corrected mood only in subjects who suffered from depression. In these subjects, the stimulation did not trigger mania symptom such as grandiosity, hyperactivity or distractibility.

The research participants who did not suffer from depression remained unaffected by the OFC stimulation. These results sugges the lateral OFC stimulation is effective in normalizing pathological activity in circuits that mediate mood variation.

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Politics

North Korea Threatens to Cancel Denuclearization Talks over Latest Sanctions

North Korea angrily blasted the latest United States sanctions, saying this move by the Trump administration could “block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever.”

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Pyongyang, North Korea (4E) – North Korea angrily blasted the latest United States sanctions, saying this move by the Trump administration could “block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever.”

North Korea denounced the latest U.S. sanctions, which Washington imposed on three top Noorth Korean officials for serious human rights abuses and censorship. It expressed “shock and indignation” at the new U.S. sanctions while accusing Trump of being “bent on bringing… relations back to the status of last year which was marked by exchanges of fire.”

Pyongyang noted Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” will be his “greatest miscalculation.”It urged Trump to return to the confidence building that was hoped for following the summit in Singapore last June between Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Washington said it imposed the sanctions after a U.S. Department of State report revealed human rights abuses committed by the men. The U.S. Department of Treasury named those sanctioned as Ryong Hae Choe, an aide close to Kim, who leads the Workers’ Party of Korea Organization and Guidance Department. Also sanctioned was State Security Minister Kyong Thaek Jong sand Propaganda and Agitation Department head Kwang Ho Pak.

The sanctions freeze any assets the three North Koreans might have under U.S. jurisdiction. It also generally prevents them from making transactions with anyone in the United States. The sanctions were announced as the State Department released a report on North Korean human rights and other abuses.

The State Department report said human rights abuses in North Korea “remain among the worst in the world and include extrajudicial killings, forced labor, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence.

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Chris Matthews Predicts Trump Might Resign “in the Coming Weeks”

Liberal pundit Chris Matthews, who hosts the talk show, “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC, told his TV audience about his hunch Donald Trump might resign in the coming weeks as part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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New York, NY, United States (4E) – Liberal pundit Chris Matthews, who hosts the talk show, “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC, told his TV audience about his hunch Donald Trump might resign in the coming weeks as part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Matthews also said Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump could be the “next dominoes to fall” in the Mueller investigation. Trump’s children might face prosecution and possible prison time for their roles related to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.

“But what if the prosecutor were to offer the president an alternative,” asked Matthews. “What if he were to say he would let the children walk if the old man does the same? That would mean giving up the presidency in exchange for acquittals all around — not just for himself, but for all his kids.”

He said Trump might have to emulate former Vice President Spiro Agnew, who resigned in 1973 as part of a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison time in a tax evasion case.

“Leverage the office while you still have it,” said Matthews in a piece of advice to Trump.

“So let’s watch the probable events of the coming weeks bring all this to a breaking point,” he said. “It is going to be historic.”

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US Senate Passes Criminal Justice Reform

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation to decrease America’s substantial prison population by lowering some mandatory federal sentences, giving inmates added opportunities to earn reductions in jail time, and encouraging prisoners to better themselves so they are less likely to return to crime upon release.

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Washington, DC, United States (VOA) – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation to decrease America’s substantial prison population by lowering some mandatory federal sentences, giving inmates added opportunities to earn reductions in jail time, and encouraging prisoners to better themselves so they are less likely to return to crime upon release.

Passing 87-12, the First Step Act was hailed by proponents as a long-overdue retooling of the federal criminal justice system, an effort that drew resounding support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as President Donald Trump.

“Congratulations to the Senate on the bipartisan passing of a historic Criminal Justice Reform Bill,” Trump tweeted shortly after the vote. “I look forward to signing this into law!”

“The bill makes smart changes to our criminal justice system in ways that will make it fairer, more humane, and more just,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said.

“This legislation is proof that we can be tough on crime and more compassionate to those who deserve a second chance,” Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker said in a statement.

The bill retroactively ends the discrepancy in federal sentences for drug offenses involving crack and the powder form of cocaine, which would reduce jail time for thousands of prisoners convicted of crack offenses.

The legislation also reduces some mandatory sentences, gives federal judges more flexibility to make exceptions to mandatory prison terms, and allow inmates to earn greater sentence reductions through good behavior and vocational training.

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