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Ronen Bergman on Iran-Israel Relations
Ronen Bergman is one of Israel's leading investigative journalists. The senior security and intelligence correspondent and analyst for Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and an anchor on a leading Israeli television news program, he is the author of three bestselling books published in Israel. He was awarded a PhD by Cambridge University for his dissertation about the Israeli Mossad.
Question: When will Iran have a nuclear weapon?
Ronen Bergman: If you ask Israeli intelligence, who are naturally alarmists, they would tell you end of 2009, beginning of 2010. If you ask CIA, they would say 2011 to 2015. German intelligence state 2013.
So, the difference is not just because of different interpretations of intelligence but because of the lack of intelligence. The Iranians are masters of disinformation and field security.
So, it’s not very clear what is the situation, but it’s very clear that they are making great advancement. They are boasting with it publicly. And they are far, 3 to 5 years, from assembling the first nuclear device and another 2 years from the ability to adjust this device to the size of a warhead.
Question: Does the threat of mutually assured destruction not apply?
Ronen Bergman: I always tell my friends who are not Jewish and not Israelis that if they want to ever understand Israeli character, Israeli nature, if they want to estimate or forecast Israel's next move, they wouldn’t be able to do so if not getting a deeper understanding of the profound meaning of the Holocaust as a major phenomena in the collective identity of all Israelis, not just as a historical memory but as a living trauma.
I’m a second Holocaust to the generation. Both my parents are survivors. So, for someone like me, you would expect to have repercussion of this memory.
But even people in Israel who are fifth generation or don’t have any sort of connection, a family connection, to Holocaust victims, they bear this with them day after day.
There’s no day that I walk the streets of Tel Aviv and people who deem me as someone who possibly understands something about Iran, asking me not “if” but only “when,” when will President Ahmadinejad drop the bomb? They are completely, positively sure that he would do it once he has the chance.
I can understand this but, at the same time, I would estimate that the Iranians are not going to use any atomic weapon on Israel. They prove to be pragmatic and rational when it came to the main interest that they are defending, and this is the existence of the regime. They know that by using nuclear weaponry on Israel it means necessarily mutual destruction. They know that Israel can launch a counterstrike. They don’t want to be nuked.
Every pistachio being exported from Iran, the number two in the regime, Hashemi Rafsanjani, gets the commission. He is rich. He likes life. He doesn’t want to be nuked.
These people might be supportive of suicide terrorism, but they are not suicidal themselves. I say it is highly unlikely for them to use any sort of nuclear strike.
Now, the question arises, of course, why would they need a nuclear weapon? And the answer is they want to have the nuclear umbrella over their heads in order to defend themselves, to have an insurance policy, to be able to execute whatever foreign policy they deem right, of export of terrorism, subversion, to help insurgencies in Iraq or in Afghanistan, to have Hamas, to have Hezbollah. Meaning, to export their revolution to other places while not being afraid that the Americans would do to them what they did to Saddam Hussein. This is their insurance policy.
Now, you would say, probably, “So, you must be very relaxed if you believe that the Iranians are not going to use the bomb.” And I would say, no.
If I would be the Israeli Prime Minister, I would do whatever I can to prevent them. Why? A) Because I don’t want to live in a Middle East that is dependent on mutual nuclear deterrence. B) Because I don’t want to be hysterical to someone less pragmatic and less rational than the supreme leader [Ali Khamenei] takes over. C) I don’t want to be hysterical of the possibility of proliferation of a warhead to a terrorist organization.
And the most important is that Arab countries that not happily and not gladly accepting the fact that Israel holds a nuclear arsenal would never ever accept a Shiite country with this kind of weapon and immediately start a new nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, possibly Algeria, would immediately try to have their own bomb. This would put the Middle East into a decade of ongoing war and distant peace to an unknown date.
Question: In a military confrontation with Iran, would Israel be the aggressor?
Ronen Bergman: Well, it depends on how you define aggressors. If we’re talking about only on a direct strike, yes. I would assume, I would assess that Israel will be the first to strike.
But war can be launched in many other ways. To have Hezbollah as an Iranian division on Israel's northern body, attacking Israel for the last 24 years, this is another sort of war. Having Iranian trainers, revolutionary guards in the Gaza Strip, training Hamas to execute better suicide bombing, this is another source of launching war. And helping Iraqi insurgencies, making sure that they send as many American troops home in body bags, is a sort of declaring war against the US.
So, I think that this is an ongoing war without getting into a question on who started it. But this is an ongoing war, and the Israeli likely attack on the nuclear facilities of Iran, it’s just one step more in that ongoing war.
Recorded: Sep 19, 2008
Ronen Bergman on the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>