Does the Kremlin really believe in these wars? Are they merely a convenient cover? Or are they a case of projection? In Soviet times, the Kremlin ran an extensive operation to subvert the West through what were known as active measures. An estimated 15,000 KGB employees worked, in the words of former KGB General Oleg Kalugin, to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America. Putin, as a former KGB officer, is, of course, well aware of this history. Whatever its motivations, paranoia has become Russias foreign policy, with the Kremlin setting up its own fake NGOs and international propaganda-outlets; buying up political actors and supporting extremist groups; enabling hackers, troll farms, rent-a-mobs and corrupt businesspeople to destabilize democracies and eat away at Western alliances. One noticeable aspect of the Kremlins approach is support for European far-right parties which then support the Kremlins foreign policies. The National Front in France, for example, has received funding from Kremlin-connected sources. Another is the use of disinformation to obscure Russian responsibility for such mistakes as bringing down Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over Donbass or for bombing a United Nations aid convoy in Syria. Disinformation (dezinformatsiya) was also an important part of Soviet active measures, but the media environment within which it spread has changed.
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Credit: ave_mario / Fotolia Close A ‘living bandage’ made from stem cells, which could revolutionise the treatment and prognosis of a common sporting knee injury, has been trialled in humans for the first time by scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol. Meniscal tears are suffered by over one million people a year in the US and Europe alone and are particularly common in contact sports like football and rugby. 90% or more of tears occur in the white zone of meniscus which lacks a blood supply, making them difficult to repair. Many professional sports players opt to have the torn tissue removed altogether, risking osteoarthritis in later life. The Cell Bandage has been developed by spin-out company Azellon, and is designed to enable the meniscal tear to repair itself by encouraging cell growth in the affected tissue. A prototype version of the Cell Bandage Web Site was trialled in five patients, aged between 18 and 45, with white-zone meniscal tears. The trial received funding support from Innovate UK and the promising results have been published today in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine. The procedure involved taking stem cells, harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow, which were then grown for two weeks before being seeded onto a membrane scaffold that helps to deliver the cells into the injured site. The manufactured Cell Bandage was then surgically implanted into the middle of the tear and the cartilage was sewn up around the bandage to keep it in place. All five patients had an intact meniscus 12 months post implantation.
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