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Interview: “Big Men” Director Rachel Boynton on Oil, Ghana and Capitalism

By: Steve Horn Thursday April 17, 2014 4:17 pm

 

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The subtitle of the newly released documentary film Big Men is “everyone wants to be big” and to say the film covers a “big” topic is to put it mildly.

Poster for Big Men shows a giant suited man holding a oil derrick

“Everyone wants to be big …”

Executive produced by Brad Pitt and directed by Rachel Boynton, the film cuts to the heart of how the oil and gas industry works and pushes film-watchers to think about why that’s the case. Ghana’s burgeoning offshore fields — in particular, the Jubilee Field discovered in 2007 by Kosmos Energy — serve as the film’s case study.

Boynton worked on the film for more than half a decade, beginning the project in 2006 and completing it in 2013. During that time, the Canadian tar sands exploded, as did the U.S. hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom — meanwhile, halfway around the world, Ghana was having an offshore oil boom of its own.

Kosmos Energy (KOS), previously a privately held company, led the way. Adding intrigue to the film, Kosmos went public while Boynton was shooting. Kosmos didn’t do it alone, though: the start-up capital to develop the Jubilee Field came from private equity firm goliaths Blackstone Group and Warburg Pincus, a major part of the documentary.

What makes Big Men stand above the rest is the access Boynton got to tell the story. Allowed into Kosmos’ board room, the office of Blackstone Group, encampments of Nigerian militants and the office of the President of Ghana, the film has a surreal quality to it.

Now screening in Dallas, New York City and Portland, the film will soon open in theaters in Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.

After seeing the film at Madison’s Wisconsin Film Festival, I reached out to Boynton to talk to her about Big Men, what it had in common with her previous film (one of my favorites) Our Brand is Crisis and what other documentary projects she has on the go.

Steve Horn: I’ve seen your first film, Our Brand is Crisis, and there seems to be a continuity in a way between Our Brand and Big Men because Bolivian ex-president “Goni” (Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada) was chased out of Bolivia eventually because he attempted to privatize Bolivia’s gas and was basically in office to begin with because people from the outside came in and helped place him there (U.S. Democratic Party political consultants and electioneers) to begin with.

One could see a similarity between the PR efforts led by those electioneers, which serves as the premise of Our Brand, and a western oil company like Kosmos coming into Ghana to bring offshore oil and gas drilling to the country.

Did what eventually happened in Bolivia with their gas market — because these U.S. consultants came in and helped get “Goni” elected —move you to start thinking about energy (oil, gas, etc.) as a documentary film topic?

Rachel Boynton: No, not at all. In that sense they’re totally unrelated. The origin of both projects is completely unrelated.

I finished Our Brand is Crisis in 2005 and it had its theatrical run in 2006 and so back in 2005 I started thinking about what I wanted to do next and at the time, oil prices were going through the roof and everyone was freaking out about peak oil.

Ann Jones: Star-Spangled Baggage

By: Tom Engelhardt Thursday June 16, 2011 6:36 pm

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Two camouflaged soldiers in tall grass, wearing helmets & carrying rifles

War doesn’t stop after training or the battlefield.

In 2007, a new phenomenon reared its ugly head in Afghanistan.  With two attacks that year and two more the next, it was first dubbed “green-on-blue violence,” and later the simpler, blunter “insider attack.”  At one level, it couldn’t have been more straightforward.  Afghan soldiers or policemen (or in a small number of cases Taliban infiltrators) would suddenly turn their weapons on their American or NATO mentors or allies and gun them down.  Think of these “incidents” as early votes in the Afghan elections — not, as Lenin might once have had it, with their feet, but with their guns after spending time up close and personal with Americans or other Westerners.  It was a phenomenon that only intensified, reaching its height in 2012 with 46 attacks that killed 60 allied soldiers before slowly dying down as American combat troops began to leave the country and far stricter controls were put in place on relations between Afghan, U.S., and allied forces in the field.

It has not, however, died out.  Not quite.  Not yet.  In a uniquely grim version of an insider attack just two weeks ago, an Afghan police commander turned his gun on two western journalists, killing Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding AP reporter Kathy Gannon.  And even more recently, just after it was reported that a month had passed without an American death in a war zone for the first time since 2002, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three fellow soldiers in an insider attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

With its hint of blowback, this is not, of course, a comparison anyone in the mainstream American media is likely to make.  On the whole, we prefer not to think of our wars coming home.  In reality, however, Lopez’s eight-minute shooting rampage with a pistol purchased at a local gun shop fits the definition of an “insider attack” quite well, as did the earlier Fort Hood massacre by an Army psychiatrist. Think of it as an unhinged form of American war coming home, and as a kind of blowback unique to our moment.

After all, name me another wartime period when, for whatever reason, two U.S. soldiers shot up the same base at different times, killing and wounding dozens of their fellow troops. There was, of course, the “fragging” of officers in Vietnam, but this is a new phenomenon, undoubtedly reflective of the disturbing path the U.S. has cut in the world, post-9/11.  Thrown into the mix is a homegrown American culture of massacre and the lifting of barriers to the easy purchase of ever more effective weaponry. (If, in fact, you think about it for a moment, most of the mass killings in this country, generally by young men, whether in schools, movie theatersshipyards, or elsewhere, are themselves a civilian version of “insider attacks.”)

Ironically, in 2011, the Obama administration launched a massive Insider Threat Program to train millions of government employees and contractors to look for signs in fellow workers of the urge to launch insider attacks.  Unfortunately, the only kind of insider attacks administration officials could imagine were those attributed to whistleblowers and leakers.  (Think: Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.)  So, despite much official talk about dealing with the mental health of military men, women, and veterans, the military itself remains open to yet more insider attacks.  After almost 13 years of failed wars in distant lands, think of us as living in Ameraqafghanica.

Today, TomDispatch regular Ann Jones, whose odyssey of a book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars — The Untold Story, captures the truly painful cost of these wars for America’s soldiers like no other, points out just what every commentator in this country has avoided writing about and every government and military official up to the president has avoided talking about, despite the massive coverage of the Fort Hood killings. Tom

How America’s Wars Came Home With the Troops 
Up Close, Personal, and Bloody 
By Ann Jones

After an argument about a leave denied, Specialist Ivan Lopez pulled out a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and began a shooting spree at Fort Hood, America’s biggest stateside base, that left three soldiers dead and 16 wounded.  When he did so, he also pulled America’s fading wars out of the closet.  This time, a Fort Hood mass killing, the second in four and a half years, was committed by a man who was neither a religious nor a political “extremist.”  He seems to have been merely one of America’s injured and troubled veterans who now number in the hundreds of thousands.

Some 2.6 million men and women have been dispatched, often repeatedly, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and according to a recent survey of veterans of those wars conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one-third say that their mental health is worse than it was before they left, and nearly half say the same of their physical condition.  Almost half say they give way to sudden outbursts of anger.  Only 12% of the surveyed veterans claim they are now “better” mentally or physically than they were before they went to war.

A 21st-Century Soup Kitchen… on Long Island

By: GREYDOG

By Shari Foster and Sue Schumann, 99GetSmart

Inspired by the work of #OpSafeWinter-NYC, SouperSistas started serving soup on January 7.

As the country entered what the mainstream media termed the “Polar Vortex,” we entered into an emotional vortex of concern and dread. While running our errands, struggling with the frigid temperatures it struck us: What would we do if we couldn’t? What if the oil tanks in our homes were empty, what if we didn’t have access to transportation or use of a personal vehicle to purchase groceries? Volunteering with the local Food Not Bombs LI Chapter, we knew first hand that poverty and hunger are ever present in Long Island. The stereotypical version of what Eastern Long Island is – wealth and luxury, beachfront properties with driveways filled with fast and fancy cars – is far from accurate. As temperatures dipped we grew more alarmed, knowing that many houseless were facing the worst weather elements and survival would come at a high price.

Inspired by the work of #OpSafeWinter-NYC, we embarked on our two-woman journey. Since we recognized our limited finances we quickly became both frugal and inventive. SouperSistas started serving soup on January 7, 2014. We went to local grocery stores and scoured the reduced-produce racks for fresh produce and scoped out sales to prepare tasty and healthy food. We were aware of small houseless communities that gather cans and bottles that are redeemed for the five-cent deposit money. Once redeemed, resources are collectively shared in an effort to provide and care for each other. Every Tuesday and Thursday we choose to share our hot soup and fresh bread with these communities. We also served soup in the local Department of Social Services (DSS) parking, lot where we witnessed people with garbage bags and shopping carts filled with their belongings seeking emergency shelter. Recently we were escorted off of DSS property by two police cars that informed us we were on “private property.” We explained that our taxes pay for the parking lot; we decided to leave to avoid arrest. We are trying to decipher the bureaucratic process so we may return to DSS, but in the interim we continue to serve in areas that welcome us.

Marginalized populations face a bureaucratic system that is very complex, one that imposes too many requirements for people to fulfill. In the beginning we were often met with distrust, a certain “what’s in it for you?” reluctance, and deservedly so. When the system fails, contempt and distrust prevail. Over time we can honestly say that the barriers we faced initially have slowly dissipated. The newly formed friendships have been the ultimate gift that we continue to receive. Our respect for the community is overwhelming; the strength, the commitment to each other serve as a constant reminder to us that we must take care of each other. We can’t rely on a compassionless government who creates victims and then blames them for their circumstances. It’s such a simple, basic principle, one that we teach our children at a very young age: the importance of sharing. Sadly, certain cities in the US have made it illegal to share one’s food with homeless people. What kind of lessons are we teaching our young?

We are pleased that others, both on Long Island and in other states, have joined with SouperSistas and share food as well.

UN Panel: Renewables, Not Nukes, Can Solve Climate Crisis

By: solartopia
A rainbow reflected on rooftop solar panels atop a house

IPCC report calls for renewables to stop climate change.

The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has left zero doubt that we humans are wrecking our climate.

It also effectively says the problem can be solved, and that renewable energy is the way to do it, and that nuclear power is not.

The United Nations’ IPCC is the world’s most respected authority on climate.

This IPCC report was four years in the making.  It embraces several hundred climate scientists and more than a thousand computerized scenarios of what might be happening to global weather patterns.

The panel’s work has definitively discredited the corporate contention that human-made carbon emissions are not affecting climate change.  To avoid total catastrophe, says the IPCC, we must reduce the industrial spew of global warming gasses by 40-70 percent of 2010 levels.

Though the warning is dire, the report offers three pieces of good news.

First, we have about 15 years to slash these emissions.

Second, renewable technologies are available to do the job.

And third, the cost is manageable.

Though 2030 might seem a tight deadline for a definitive transition to Solartopia, green power technologies have become far simpler and quicker to install than their competitors, especially atomic reactors. They are also far cheaper, and we have the capital to do it.

The fossil fuel industry has long scorned the idea that its emissions are disrupting our Earth’s weather.

The oil companies and atomic reactor backers have dismissed the ability of renewables to provide humankind’s energy needs.

But the IPCC confirms that green technologies, including efficiency and conservation, can in fact handle the job—at a manageable price.

“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” says Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist who led the IPCC team.

The IPCC report cites nuclear power as a possible means of lowering industrial carbon emissions. But it also underscores considerable barriers involving finance and public opposition.  Joined with widespread concerns about ecological impacts, length of implementation, production uncertainties and unsolved waste issues, the report’s positive emphasis on renewables virtually guarantees nuclear’s irrelevance.

Some climate scientists have recently advocated atomic energy as a solution to global warming.  But their most prominent spokesman, Dr. James Hansen, also expresses serious doubts about the current generation of reactors, including Fukushima, which he calls “that old technology.”

Instead Hansen advocates a new generation of reactors.

But the designs are untested, with implementation schedules stretching out for decades.  Financing is a major obstacle as is waste disposal and widespread public opposition, now certain to escalate with the IPCC’s confirmation that renewables can provide the power so much cheaper and faster.

With its 15-year deadline for massive carbon reductions the IPCC has effectively timed out any chance a new generation of reactors could help.

And with its clear endorsement of green power as a tangible, doable, affordable solution for the climate crisis, the pro-nuke case has clearly suffered a multiple meltdown.

With green power, says IPCC co-chair Jim Skea, a British professor, a renewable solution is at hand. “It’s actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living.”

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth.

MENA Mashup: Al Aqsa, Egypt, and Yemen

By: CTuttle Sunday November 24, 2013 3:37 pm

Once again the IDF violently assaulted the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem…

Israeli forces clash with worshipers in Aqsa compound, dozens hurt

Dozens of worshipers were hurt Wednesday morning in fierce clashes with Israeli forces who stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound via the Moroccan and Chain gates.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers and police officers broke into the compound and deployed in the southern quarter firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at worshipers.

Director of al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Azam al-Kahtib told Ma’an that ‘about 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound.’ He highlighted that Israeli officers used live ammunition.

Special forces deployed at the main gates since dawn prayer, witnesses said, denying Palestinian worshipers entry to the compound.

Employees of the ministry of endowment and students who attend schools inside the compound were also denied entry. Only security guards were allowed in addition to men over 65 years old. Several people performed dawn prayer in the alleys near the gates.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that Palestinians threw ‘stones and firecrackers’ at police when they opened the walled compound’s gates.

Police responded with stun grenades, Rosenfeld said, and closed the complex to Jewish visitors after a small number had toured the site.

About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which they believe is the site of a former temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.

Mazel Tov, eh…? Meanwhile, in nearby Bethlehem, as Mondoweiss reported today…


Remote-control gun installed atop wall near Bethlehem — Ma’an

The above device, fixed lately to the top of the separation wall north of Bethlehem, is a remote-controlled machine gun, according to Palestinian sources. Ma’an News published a report on the device three days ago, saying it’s ‘unprecedented’ and is causing anxiety among Bethlehemites. A Facebook page called ‘Bethlahem Today‘ has the same report.

Staying with the I/P…

Israel’s new land grab is clearly illegal

The Defense Minister’s green light to appropriate land in the West Bank places him in the extreme right and shatters Israelis’ hopes for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.

With the stroke of a pen, Israel seized control of 984 dunams of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared the area ‘state land.’ The terrain would be more aptly defined as contested territory, since it surrounds private Palestinian lands, which will now become enclaves that are inaccessible to the owners.

The area also includes the illegal outpost Netiv Ha’avot, home to Ze’ev Hever, secretary of Amana, an organization that primarily builds illegal outposts in the West Bank. It’s likely that this outpost will be ‘laundered’ as well, and along with the settlements Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut, Netiv Ha’avot will see significant expansion.

Ya’alon’s outstretched arm did not stop in Gush Etzion. On the eve of Passover, he allowed Hebron settlers to inhabit the so-called ‘House of Contention,’ in the wake of the High Court of Justice’s rejection of the petition by the home’s former owners and ruling that the sale of the building to a Jewish investor was legal.

Although the defense minister is acting in accordance with his authority his powers are based on a warped legal system. That system was developed over decades as a means to chip away at international law and provide a cover of legality for illegal occupation policies. Otherwise, how could it be that expanding settlements or populating a West Bank Arab city with Jews could be legal, while settlement itself is illegal?

Now, If anybody really doubted that Abu Mazen was part of the problem, rather than the solution for the Palestinians…

Palestinian leader signals willingness to extend peace talks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday that it was still possible to revive moribund peace negotiations.

Abbas told five Israeli opposition legislators from the Labor and Meretz parties that he was willing to extend the negotiations past their April 29 deadline ‘if the Israeli side commits to the principles that can allow an extension,’ his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

The Palestinians first want Israel to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners as promised, and to announce a total settlement freeze. They also want Israel to accept a Palestinian territory based on boundaries that existed prior to the 1967 Middle East War.

‘If there is an agreement on these principles, we are ready,’ Abu Rudeineh said at a news conference after the meeting in Ramallah. ‘But if Israel does not accept them, the Palestinian leadership will meet again to take the proper decision.’

Here’s an interesting op-ed… Palestinians and Israelis: Negotiating in all the wrong places

And, for sh*ts and giggles, The Mustache of Fury, flaps his lips… BOLTON: A ‘three-state solution’ for Middle East peace Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan

Moving along…

East Ukraine: Regular folks hold off the warmongers!

By: fairleft

The mainstream media in the West, especially in Britain and the U.S., is unrelenting in its fantasy that the mass rebellion in eastern and southern Ukraine has been generated by an “outside agitator” named Vladimir Putin. But look at the photos! Hundreds of people in towns and thousands in bigger cities are out on the streets or dirt roads to confront and turn back the ‘invading’ soldiers of the unelected government. Regular folks, babushkas and skinny-armed teenagers, parents and their children, doing a good job of holding off war. All these folks are asking for is a referendum on federalization, and that ain’t no reason for either side to fight and kill.

This is absolutely beautiful:

When Ukrainian Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered downtown Kramatorsk as part of Kiev’s military operation against anti-government protesters in the east of the country, they were stopped in their tracks, surrounded by crowds of local residents.

One YouTube video of what happened next shows a woman coming to a soldier with the reproach: ‘You are the army, you must protect the people.’

We are not going to shoot, we weren’t even going to,’ is the soldier’s reply.

Similar conversations could be heard at each of several APCs which entered the city, with locals promising to defend their neighbors, in case the soldiers start a military operation.

Just like you and me, the townspeople’s only weapon is an ability to speak and persuade. And the facts are on their side: there is no reason to be killing each other. With words they have successfully persuaded most of the regime’s soldiers that they should not fire their weapons, that whatever the cause is that they are fighting for, it is not worth it.

That’s a beautiful thing to see a few days before Easter.

But are you allowed to see it in the West?

Look, I’m not a big fan of RT, it’s a government operation and Russia is at least as corrupt (in the usual ways) as the average capitalist country, but if you want to get a sense of hope this Easter season, you have to look at the photos of what is going on in east Ukraine. Look at these peaceful but passionate persuaders at work. Look at the tank stopped by some peacemakers.

Peace seems to be happening despite the best efforts of the warmongers in Washington, Kiev, London, Warsaw and in most of the newspaper and television boardrooms of the Western world. But they won’t stop, the media and the corporate-owned politicians won’t stop demonizing Russia and pushing the temporary leaders of Ukraine to fight and kill their country’s citizens. I advise all firebaggers to get out into the comment sections of the media to argue for peace and reconciliation. Here’s a sample if you want one, under some Putin is a demon tale by a guy named Angus at the now neoconservative Guardian:

Angus, no. Pull yourself out of the hallucinogenic ‘demon Putin’ narrative and look at the d#mn photos coming out of East Ukraine. The townspeople scold the young soldiers, remind them that there is no reason to fight, and the soldiers put down their arms! This is what is happening now in these days leading up to Easter. No Russians, no Pravy Sektor, no Princess Tymoshenko to muck up the truth. Look!

The real narrative is the need for a referendum on federalization, as you’ve recognized, and that is the message all in eastern and southern Ukraine agree on. that’s all the East is asking for. Instead of war. So instead of drawing red lines in the sand, for wars on Russia and east Ukraine that don’t have soldiers to fight them, what the West needs to do is pressure the coup regime to allow a reworking of the nation of Ukraine that will move it away from civil war and toward mutual trust.

Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Monday January 23, 2012 4:01 pm

Over Easy

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

The planet is increasingly hazardous to defend, as the interests against it gain market share and invidious tactics. Hundreds have died in their fight to save all of us, and the planet we are living on. Land rights are growing in fatal events in disputes, and indigenous populations very vulnerable.

‘There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in the killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment,’ said Oliver Courtney, a senior campaigner for Global Witness.

‘This rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it,’ Courtney said.

The report’s release followed a dire warning by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risk due to factors such as food and water insecurity. Global Witness said this puts environmental activists in more danger than ever before.

A controversial report has concluded that an immense waste of money on supplying Tamiflu to prevent and control flu outbreaks may have been all gained in our health efforts.

The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms.

The manufacturers Roche and other experts say the analysis is flawed.

Barry Clinch from Roche said Tamiflu had been approved by 100 regulators around the world.

The antiviral drug Tamiflu was stockpiled from 2006 in the UK when some agencies were predicting that a pandemic of bird flu could kill up to 750,000 people in Britain. Similar decisions were made in other countries.

The Kiev government launched an offense against military incursions the Russian government styles as local defense, the west describes as invasion, in the confusion of Eastern Ukrainian contests for control.  Ukrainian soldiers in the advance have been observed to remove firing pins to show nonviolent intent.

Andrey Parubiy, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, announced the first battalion of a National Guard ‘comprised of volunteers from Maidan self-defense troops,’ has left Kiev for the south-east.

Russia has warned that if Kiev uses force against anti-Maidan protests in eastern Ukraine, this would undermine the effort to convene a four-party conference on resolving the crisis in the country, which would include the US, the EU, Russia and Ukraine.

Turchinov also proposed conducting a joint operation with UN peacekeeping forces, a decision that was strongly condemned by Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at a Beijing press conference on Tuesday as ‘totally unacceptable.’

A bright spot in the Middle East, Tunisia continues to evolve out of its former autocratic model into a more popular front. Problems are churning, but positive efforts continue to dominate the entirety. The revolution has put into power diverse elements that are working together.  Sympathetic observation finds the Tunisian workers seeking to benefit from a better economy still under stress in the recovery.

Since 2011 there has been no deviation from course: integrating Tunisia into the international division of labour by offering foreign investors a skilled workforce and miserable wage levels. This model can only perpetuate the huge regional inequalities.

(snip)

On the repayment of the foreign debt incurred by Ben Ali and in part siphoned off by members of his clan, Caid Essebsi told me: ‘People talk about the debt, but it isn’t catastrophic, since it’s under 50%. Other countries such as France have a ratio of 85%’ (7). He added quickly that ‘a country with self-respect pays its debts, whoever’s in power. Since independence, Tunisia has never reneged on its debt.’ This is what Ghannouchi told me the day before: ‘Tunisia has a longstanding record of honouring its debts. We shall abide by it.’

Never.Give.Up.

Wednesday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Wednesday April 16, 2014 8:22 pm

 

Tonight’s music video is “Canadian Cowboy” from Arc Iris, on her self-titled album.

A hand holding a rainbow spiral image cut into squares -- a sheet of blotter acid (LSD)

“Hey man, can I bum a square?”

In the 1960s, research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs was commonplace. That era is slowly returning – Discover reports that the first LSD study in 40 years reveals the therapeutic potential of the drug.

The study, published in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, found evidence that LSD, when administered in a medically-based therapeutic environment, lowers the anxiety experienced by individuals facing life-threatening illnesses. Although the sample size—just 12 people—was small, the findings offer compelling rationale for further study of the illegal, often stigmatized drug.

‘This study is historic and marks a rebirth of investigation into LSD-assisted psychotherapy,’ said Rick Doblin in a news release, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which sponsored the study. ‘The positive results and evidence of safety clearly show why additional, larger studies are needed.’

That LSD—lysergic acid diethylamide—can be therapeutically beneficial has been known for decades. Studies of the chemical substance began back in 1949 as a way to simulate mental illness. But researchers soon discovered beneficial effects of the drug. By 1965, over 1,000 studies were published that heralded the therapeutic efficacy of LSD. The substance was used to treat alcoholism, and in several studies from the 60s, the drug was found to reduce anxiety, depression and pain—when used in conjunction with counseling—in cancer patients. Similar benefits were also discovered from other psychedelics such as hallucinogenic mushrooms.

[...]

The new study reaffirms many of the findings from 40 years ago. Researchers recruited 12 patients who were coping with anxiety associated with life-threatening illnesses. Eight patients were then randomly selected to receive drug-free psychotherapy sessions as well as two LSD-assisted sessions 2 to 3 weeks apart. Four participants were given a placebo during therapy and they served as the control. LSD helped stimulate a deep psychedelic state, allowing the participants to reach what they described as an emotionally intensified dream-like state.

‘My LSD experience brought back some lost emotions and ability to trust, lots of psychological insights, and a timeless moment when the universe didn’t seem like a trap, but like a revelation of utter beauty,’ said Peter, an Austrian subject who participated in the study.

You can download a .pdf of the study.

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