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Why hazing continues despite physical and mental health consequences

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It’s been called a rite of passage, a bonding ritual, a way to initiate novice members into a fraternity, elite sports team or military unit through physical and mental challenges — with the aim of individuals becoming cemented into the whole.

But hazing can have a sinister side involving physical or sexual abuse and emotional trauma that, for some, can leave deep psychological scars. It’s also led to hundreds of deaths when typically alcohol-fuelled indoctrinating pranks go unexpectedly and horribly wrong.

So how did the practice begin and why does it continue, despite a burgeoning number of anti-hazing policies put in place by universities and colleges, within the military and among sports organizations? And how can it be stopped?

Experts say hazing is as old as antiquity, reportedly practised in the time of Plato, referred to by St. Augustine in his Confessions, and promoted by Martin Luther as a means of preparing students for the vicissitudes of life.

“Hazing in many ways is not one behaviour, it’s a set of interrelated behaviours,” explained Michael Atkinson, a professor of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto, who trained as a sociologist.

Besides requiring newbies to prove their worth for group membership with feats of physical endurance, for instance, hazing rituals also have strong psychosocial components, he said.

“It’s psychological in the sense that it’s meant to intimidate, degrade people in some way, shame them, embarrass them in front of others. It’s social in the sense that it clearly establishes power in hierarchies in a group, and it establishes a place for people within the group.”

And the more esoteric the group — an elite junior hockey team, for instance, or a high-status Greek-letter fraternity or sorority — “the greater the risk of an extreme form of hazing that will result,” Atkinson said.

That appeared to be the case at St. Michael’s College School, a private boys school in Toronto, where six students were charged last month with assault, gang assault and sexual assault with a weapon. The charges followed an incident in which some members of the school’s football team allegedly sodomized another student with a broom handle.

Just over a week later, four 15-year-old Maryland high school students were charged as adults with first-degree rape in a locker room attack, and now face life in prison if convicted. A fifth teen was charged as a juvenile with second-degree rape. The charges relate to an October incident in which four 14-year-olds had their pants pulled down and were allegedly assaulted with a broom stick.

The parents of a freshman who died of alcohol poisoning last year after an alleged pledge-related fraternity hazing are suing Louisiana State University, the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and four students facing criminal charges in the 18-year-old’s death.

A 19-year-old Penn State fraternity pledge also died last year after consuming a dangerous amount of alcohol and falling during an acceptance-bid party at the now-closed Beta Theta Pi house.

In this May 5, 2017 file photo, Jim and Evelyn Piazza stand by as prosecutors discuss an investigation into the death of their son Timothy Piazza, seen in the photo at the right. He died after drinking heavily as part of a fraternity hazing ritual at Penn State University. (Abby Drey /Centre Daily Times/Associated Press)

Those deaths are just two among about 200 hazing-related fatalities in males that have occurred in North America alone since the first half of the 19th century, said Hank Nuwer, a professor of journalism at Franklin College, Ind., who has written extensively about the practice.

“If we count Canada, there’s been a death every year in either the U.S., Mexico or Canada from 1959 to 2018,” he said, noting that the first recorded hazing fatality within a U.S. fraternity took place at Cornell University in 1873.

“It’s all about status and power,” said Nuwer, whose latest book on the subject is entitled Hazing: Destroying Young Lives.

“A big part of it simply is imitation. It’s what they see in Hollywood movies, what they see on YouTube initiations, and it’s really consistently a bad practice.”

‘I jeopardize everything if I say no’

But why in the #MeToo era do those who are targets of hazing put up with being abused?

“It fits in with the idea of power, it’s what makes it so insidious,” said Atkinson.

“It’s the idea that ‘I jeopardize everything if I say no,”‘ he said, adding that acceptance on a sports team or into a post-secondary fraternity or sorority can provide lifelong benefits in the form of social and career connections.

“If I say no, I’m done. They’ll ostracize me. I might be included because the coach says I have to be included, but I will be a pariah on the team.”

And many of those who submit to hazing believe that no one in authority would do anything to stop the practice, he said.

That notion was borne out recently by former NHLer Daniel Carcillo, who experienced hazing with other rookie members of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting 15 years ago. He recalled a teammate being stripped naked and whipped with his own belt by two veteran players. The teen’s screams brought the coach out of his office, who gave the tied-down rookie a slap of his own.

“The mentality always is, especially in sport, that it’s only sport,” said Atkinson. “That’s how it’s reproduced over the course of time.”

For Carcillo and others who endured hazings, hearing reports about what occurred at St. Michael’s College School and elsewhere can reopen psychological wounds from the past, said Nuwer, who cited the case of a South Dakota man, whose high school sports team had forced him to parade around with a jockstrap over his head as part of his inauguration.

The man, who was now in his 70s, tracked down his prime abuser and shot him point-blank when he opened the door, he said.

“So there was a homicide.”

While some initiation rituals may be relatively mild, those that involve physical or sexual abuse take hazing to a entirely different level.

“They now have started looking at it for what it is — it’s a criminal act,” said Atkinson.

Stopping hazing — and the cultures that support it — means enacting zero-tolerance policies on campuses, within sports teams, the military and for any other group that views membership as a hard-won prize open only to a select few.

That means monitoring by parents, coaches, school administrators and those who oversee fraternities and sororities across campuses.

“If it means shutting down programs as examples, then so be it,” he said.

Bonding doesn’t have to mean reinforcing potentially dangerous hierarchies of power; close-knit camaraderie can ensue by creating conditions of similarity among group members, suggested Atkinson.

“You go on retreats, you do community-based activities,” he said. “There’s a million ways in which you could get a group of young men and young women together as a way of solidifying their collective identity.

“It doesn’t have to be ‘I’m going to force you to drink until you pass out and I’m going to dump you somewhere to see if you can get home.”‘

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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