Jerusalem News (23 February, 2015, 4 Adar, 5775)

1. Scientists show cannabis TRIPLES psychosis risk by Stephen Adams
2. Suraqiland and the shifting paradigms in the Middle East  by OFRA BENGIO
3. Jerusalem Mayor Barkat Subdues Terrorist After Stabbing Attack in City (VIDEO)
1. Scientists show cannabis TRIPLES psychosis risk
by Stephen Adams for The Mail on Sunday


Published: 23:05 GMT, 14 February 2015

Super-strength strains of cannabis are responsible for up to a quarter of new cases of psychotic mental illness, scientists will warn this week.

The potent form of the drug, known as 'skunk', is so powerful that users are three times more likely to suffer a psychotic episode than those who have never tried it.

The study, leaked to The Mail on Sunday ahead of its publication, is set to reignite the debate around Britain's drug laws, and will add weight to calls for a tougher stance towards those caught dealing or in possession of cannabis.

According to Crime Survey figures for England and Wales, over a million youngsters aged 16 to 24 smoke cannabis. Regular users are most at risk, prompting experts to warn that youngsters need to be aware of the dangers of skunk, which has been specially cultivated to be four times as strong as the cannabis smoked by previous generations.

The researchers, led by a team at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London, conclude there is an 'urgent need' to inform young people about the risks of high-potency cannabis' amid a worldwide trend towards relaxing drug laws.

They will reveal there is a key difference between potent skunk strains and 'hash'. Those who used these 'weaker' forms did not seem to suffer the same increase in risks.

Psychosis is defined as a form of mental illness where people experience delusions, hallucinations, or both at the same time. Associated with conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, some people are so badly affected that they end up committing suicide or seriously harming others because they believe they are being ordered to do so by voices in their heads.

The findings will add substance to a 2012 report by the Schizophrenia Commission, which recommended the need for 'warnings about the risks of cannabis' to mental health.

That report was chaired by schizophrenia expert Professor Sir Robin Murray, who also played a key part in the new study. It looked at cannabis use in two groups, each containing about 400 people, from 2005 to 2011. Those in the first group had all suffered 'first-episode psychosis', a diagnosed first occurrence of the disorder.

The research appears to show a striking difference between the effects of skunk and the weaker form of cannabis, hash resin, revealing that hash seemed not to add to a person's risk of psychosis, even if smoked daily

The second group were volunteers who agreed to answer questions about themselves, including on cannabis use and mental health history, for a study. Some had suffered psychosis, others not. They were not told the nature of the project.

The academics found those in the first group were more likely to smoke cannabis daily, and to smoke skunk, than those in the second. The researchers say: 'Skunk use alone was responsible for 24 per cent of adults presenting with first-episode psychosis to the psychiatric services in South London.'

This was almost double the previous highest estimate of psychiatric cases linked to the drug, 13 per cent, from a 2002 Dutch study.

The latest research, to be published in The Lancet, concludes: 'People who used cannabis or skunk every day were roughly three times more likely to have a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder than were those who never used cannabis.'

But the research appears to show a striking difference between the effects of skunk and the weaker form of cannabis, hash resin.

It will reveal that hash seemed not to add to a person's risk of psychosis, even if smoked daily.

Skunk is shorthand for around 100 strains of cannabis that contain a high proportion of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the drug's primary psychoactive compound. But the levels of another compound, cannabidiol, which may have anti-psychotic effects, are the reverse, high in hash and virtually zero in skunk.

The researchers speculate this could be due to the differing chemical make-up of the two forms: 'The presence of cannabidiol [in hash] might explain our results, which showed that hash users do not have any increase in risk of psychotic disorders compared with non-users.'

Michael Ellis, a Tory member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: 'This powerful new study illustrates that those in government and the police must be careful to send out the right message. Cannabis isn't a harmless drug: it can ruin lives.'

2. Suraqiland and the shifting paradigms in the Middle East
By OFRA BENGIO,  02/18/2015
Concerning the future map of the region, in the coming decades we are likely to see the emergence of two new states: The Islamic, Sunni state in Suraqiland and Kurdistan in Iraq.


The 21st century witnessed paradigmatic shifts in the Middle East in various ideological, social, political, geostrategic and military areas. The most recent and impressive was the establishment of what one may call Suraqiland, namely the Islamic Caliphate, in parts of Syria and Iraq. This sudden development is, in fact, the apex of deeper and long-standing changes which have only recently surfaced.

Politically speaking, while for the greater part of the 20th century much of the Middle East was controlled by various authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, by the beginning of the 21st century people started to revolt against these oppressive regimes. The forces of revolution included ethnic groups such as the Kurds; marginalized religious groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State (IS); and finally the popular masses that managed to topple regimes in the Arab Spring uprisings. The result of these transformations was that authoritarian nation-states such as Iraq, Syria and Libya were metamorphosed little by little into failed states, which are now on the verge of disintegration.
... Presently the Middle East is witnessing two opposite but simultaneous phenomena: the disintegration of existing states and the emergence of new forces which aim to establish new states upon the debris. The two most important actors in this regard, which have reached the point of collision, are Islamist groups on the one hand and Kurdish national groups on the other.

With regard to Iraq, the state has disintegrated into three new states-in-the-making: Kurdistan, Shi'istan and the Islamic Caliphate or Suraqiland. Comparatively speaking, Kurdistan is the oldest and the most stable of the three; Shi'istan, which was erected on the debris of old Iraq, is a newer phenomenon where Shi'ites for the first time in hundreds of years are trying to build a new Iraq and to lead it; and Suraqiland which is the newest and which purports to revive ancient Arab glories. This configuration of forces, which are motivated by totally different ideologies and have distinct political directions, makes it very difficult for them to coexist. Hence the struggle between them might last for long time with no decisive results.

With regard to the Kurds the common wisdom in the 20th century was that the possibility of the emergence of a Kurdish entity could be a major destabilizing force for the region. However, the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq and the three Kurdish cantons in Syria defy this wisdom.

These entities have proved to be more stable, democratic and secular than the surrounding areas.

More importantly they have become the main barrier against the onslaught of various radical Islamist forces which endanger the Middle East in general and individual states in particular.

There was another paradigmatic change that impacted the Kurds and their role in the region. While in the 20th century the four states sharing Kurdistan managed in different periods to form various alliances against the Kurds with a view to containing them, this formula was no valid any longer in the 21st century.

The most glaring example is the alliance which Turkey forged with the KRG against the central government in Baghdad.

Linked to this is the blurring of geographical borders between states that was triggered by the rise of nonstate actors and which helped the Kurds in bolstering trans-border nationalism. The two most important examples are the fight for Sinjar and Kobane in which Kurds from different parts of Kurdistan and even from the diaspora came to the rescue of these beleaguered regions.

Concerning the wider panorama there were big shifts in the Middle East as a whole. Thus, while in the 20th century the Arab-Israeli conflict was the main focus of interest of this region, by the turn of the 21st century other conflicts relegated it to secondary importance. These are the deepening Sunni-Shi'ite conflicts which started with the 1980 Iraq-Iran war; the Sunni-Sunni conflicts such as between the more moderate Arab states and the radical Islamic states or forces; and the intra-state conflicts which came to the open in the events of the Arab Spring.

Part and parcel of this shift is that while in the 20th century the Palestinian issue monopolized world attention thus overshadowing Kurdish nationalism altogether, by the turn of the century there developed a kind of hidden competition between the Palestinian and Kurdish issues. And while the Kurds, who represent the largest ethnic group in the world with no state of their own, were all but ignored in the 20th century, they have become now a main focus of interest for the media, researchers and politicians alike.

The map of alliances has also changed drastically.

Old alliances such as that between Turkey and Israel or between Turkey and Syria have collapsed. Instead quiet and informal alliances are being formed to try to combat the extremist forces in the region including Iran and the Islamic caliphate. Such alliances include for example Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf countries and Israel.

Finally, even though colonialism is something of the past, outside powers from the region and the international arena do play an important role in attempting to perpetuate their influence in the Middle East or reshape it. Thus one can talk about reincarnation of the Cold War in the Middle East.

Concerning the future map of the region, in the coming decades we are likely to see the emergence of two new states: The Islamic or for that matter the Sunni state in Suraqiland and Kurdistan in Iraq.

The Sunni state is likely to have staying power for the following reasons: It is a revisionist, highly motivated and dynamic force. It is also a belated reaction to the Shi'ite Islamic revolution in Iran which may increase its appeal in some quarters in the Sunni world. Furthermore, the Islamic state has built itself on frustrated but highly motivated youth whose numbers is on the rise due to demographic factors and for whom the economic crisis in many of these states does not leave other outlets.

Another important factor on the socio-cultural level is that the new Islamic state bases itself on a history- oriented society, namely one which yearns for a glorious Arab-Muslim past. The model then is a queer combination of a revival of old traditions and modern media outlets and modern weapons. Kurdistan, too, is likely to emerge as full-fledged state.

Of the four parts of Kurdistan the most likely candidate is the Kurdistan Regional Government which together with 19 other entities in the world shares the status of an unrecognized state. Even though the rise of the IS seemed to have derailed it from this path, in the longer run the KRG stands to gain important dividends from this setback. First of all it has positioned itself as the main barrier against the Islamic avalanche. Secondly, it is likely to get military equipment for confronting IS which will also bolster its independent ambitions.

Lastly, it has managed to put itself on the international map as a positive player thus changing completely the image of the Kurds as a whole.
3. Jerusalem Mayor Barkat Subdues Terrorist After Stabbing Attack in City (VIDEO)  by David Daoud
February 22, 2015 1:10 pm 2 comments

A 27-year-old Haredi youth was stabbed on Sunday by an Arab assailant in IDF Square in Jerusalem, near City Hall. Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat, happened to be passing by, and along with his security detail, succeeded in subduing the terrorist and preventing a more serious attack, Israel's NRG news website reported.

Mayor Barkat said that, 'I was driving near IDF Square, and suddenly my security detail saw the terrorist near us with a knife. I immediately jumped out of the car with my body guard. He drew his weapon on the attacker, and we both caught the terrorist, holding him until the police arrived. We then immediately took care of the injured young man, and fortunately his injury wasn't too serious.'

In an interview with Channel 2, Barkat, who had served as a company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade, added, 'We were on our way to a meeting to be held in the municipality. When we arrived at IDF Square, my security detail noticed what was going on, and my body guard and I got out of the car. We saw a young man holding a knife. My bodyguard drew his weapon on the terrorist, who then threw away the knife. We didn't think twice, we jumped on him and brought him to the ground. If he hadn't dropped the knife, he wouldn't have remained alive. When he was finally neutralized, we attended to the young man who was stabbed in his stomach. We waited for the police to arrive, and to my relief and joy, the whole incident ended fairly quickly.'

Murad Salman, a Magen David Adom Paramedic who arrived at the scene, said, 'when we arrived, we saw a young man of about 27 years lying on the pavement in the Square, near the railroad tracks close to City Hall. He was bleeding from  a stab wound to his upper body. He was fully conscious and said that he had felt that someone had suddenly stabbed him. And when the stabber tried to stab him again, he fought with him with the aid of a wedding gift that he was holding in his hand, preventing additional injuries. We gave him medical treatment, which included stopping the bleeding, and gave him fluids. We then evacuated him to a hospital.'

The  youth was taken to Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem. Salman added that his condition was defined as moderately serious.

Police are investigating the incident, and so far have determined that nationalistic motives were behind it. The attacker was an 18-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank, who was in the area of the Jerusalem Municipality without authorization.

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