FUTA says academics harassed

The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) says a group of academics who attended a conference overseas have been harassed after the military claimed that they had gone to attend an event in support of the LTTE.Recently the Chief of Defense Staff General Jagath Jayasuriya made a public statement claiming that some academics had attended a conference organised by the Transnational Government of Tamil Ealam. FUTA, as the representative union of academics of state universities in Sri Lanka, however says the academics had gone to attend the World Research Conference on Tamilological Studies 2013, an international conference at which Tamil scholars from around the world participate.“The President of the Conference is Emeritus Professor A. Sammugadas, University of Jaffna. Over one hundred papers have been selected for the conference on a range of subjects such as science and technology, religious and cultural memories, architecture and design, genealogy and kinship, race and ethnic relations, archaeology and historiography as well as many more areas,” FUTA said in a statement. FUTA is concerned as to the manner in which vague allegations have been made at these academics in question. The UGC Chairperson has called for reports from the relevant universities on this matter and has also stated that the respective Council should take necessary action against these academics. On their return, the academics concerned were questioned at the airport regarding the agenda of the conference by CID officials. Subsequently, the Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, Dr Sunil Jayantha Navaratne as well as the UGC Chairperson Prof Kshanika Hiriburegama had said that investigations are underway about the participation of several Sri Lankan academics at this conference. read more

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Ecstasy could be used safely to treat alcohol addiction and work better

The drug MDMA, better known as party drug Ecstasy, could be used successfullyto treat alcohol addiction, research suggests. Early findings from the trial – the first study to use the drug for such purposes – indicates that it could prove better than standard treatment. Psychiatrists are testing a programme which combines a few doses of MDMA in conjunction with psychotherapy, After nine months follow up, around half of those in the small study remained “completely dry” with just one suffering a full relapse. By comparison, eight in 10 of those given standard treatment to tackle alcohol addiction return to drinking within three years. The results also found the drug was safe to use as part of therapy, with no physical or psychological problems identified.Dr Ben Sessa, an addiction psychiatrist and senior research fellow at Imperial College London, who led the trial, said: “With the very best that medical science can work with, 80 per cent of people are drinking within three years post alcohol detox.”Eleven people have so far completed the safety and tolerability study, which involves nine months of follow-ups.“We’ve got one person who has completely relapsed, back to previous drinking levels, we have five people who are completely dry and we have four or five who have had one or two drinks but wouldn’t reach the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder,” he told The Guardian. A government spokesperson said: “We have a clear licensing regime, supported by legislation, which allows legitimate research to take place in a secure environment while ensuring that harmful drugs are not misused and do not get into the hands of criminals.” Addiction is often linked to previous trauma, often from childhood.Researchers said MDMA “selectively impairs the fear response,” allowing  recall of painful memories without being overwhelmed.The first stage of the new study was only designed to show the therapy is safe. Further trials will compare results with a randomised control group who receive a placebo instead of MDMA. Under the programme, participants are given an eight-week course of psychotherapy, including two doses of MDMA. After taking the drug they spend eight hours lying down, discussing the thoughts that come to mind with psychiatrists and psychologists. Dr Sessa said: “We let them lead the sessions as to where they want to go. What comes up comes up, so it’s not very guided by the clinicians,” Close monitoring in subsequent days found no evidence of drug withdrawal or comedown symptoms from the drug.”There is no black Monday, blue Tuesday, or whatever ravers call it. In my opinion, that is an artefact of raving. It’s not about MDMA,” said Dr Sessa. MDMA was used as a legal prescription drug to enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy in the US from the 1970s to 1985 and in Switzerland up until 1993.In recent years it has shown promise as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One study published earlier this year found more than 60 per cent of participants no longer suffered from PTSD, two months after treatment, with results sustained a year later.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

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