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African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

African Capacity for Immediate
Response to Crises
Active 2013 – present
Country  Algeria
 South Africa
Allegiance African Union
Role Infantry
Size 5 battalions

The African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) is a temporary multinational African interventionist standby force set up in November 2013. It will be replaced by the African Standby Force when it becomes fully operational.[1][2][3]

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  • Stress, Portrait of a Killer - Robert Sapolsky
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[MUSIC] What am I thinking about? Mortgage, debt, money pouring out... And I felt a lump--I know cancer when I feel it. Where is she? What is she up to? Never calling, never saying a word... >> Stress. It is everyone's inferno, bedeviling our minds, igniting our nights, upending our equilibrium--but it hasn't always been so. [MUSIC] Once, its purpose was to save us. >> If you're a normal mammal, what stress is about is three minutes of screaming terror on the savanna, after which it's either over with or you're over with. >> But everything changed. What once helped us survive has now become the scourge of our lives. >> And I just burst into tears, and wept, and wept. >> Today, scientific discoveries, in the field... [PUFF SOUND]. >> Got him. Ooop. >> And in the lab, prove that stress is not a state of mind, but something measurable, and dangerous. >> This is not an abstract concept. It's not something that maybe someday you should do something about. You need to attend to it today. >> In some of the most unexpected places, scientists are revealing just how lethal stress can be. >> Chronic stress could do something as unsubtle and grotesque as kill some of your brain cells. >> The impact of stress can be found deep within us, shrinking our brains, adding fat to our bellies, even unraveling our chromosomes. >> This is real, this is not just somebody whining. [ANIMAL DISTRESS SOUND]. >> Stress--savior, tyrant, plague--its portrait revealed. [MUSIC] >> This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you. [MUSIC] >> All of us have a personal relationship with stress, but few of us know how it operates within us. Or understand how the onslaught of the modern world can stress us to the point of death. [MUSIC] Fewer still know what we can do about it. [MUSIC] But over the last three decades, Stanford University neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky has been advancing our understanding of stress--how it impacts our bodies, and how our social standing can make us more or less susceptible. >> Is the aggregate bad news and more... >> Most of the time, you can find him teaching and researching in the high-achieving, high-stressed world of brain science. >> The paper is this huge contrast between... >> But that's only part of his story. For a few weeks every year or so, Sapolsky shifts his lab to a place more than 9,000 miles away on the plains of the Masai Mara Reserve, in Kenya, East Africa. [MUSIC] Robert Sapolsky first came to Africa over 30 years ago on a hunch. He suspected he could find out more about human stress and disease by looking at non-humans, and he knew just the non-humans. [MUSIC] >> You live in a place like this, you're a baboon, and you only have to spend about three hours a day getting your calories. And if you only have to work three hours a day, you got nine hours of free time every day to devote to making somebody else just miserable. [SCREECH SOUNDS] They are not being stressed by lions chasing them all the time, they're being stressed by each other. They are being stressed by social and psychological tumult invented by their own species. They are a perfect model for Westernized stress-related disease. >> To determine just what toll stress was taking on their bodies, Sapolsky wanted to look inside these wild baboons at the cellular level for the very first time. To do this, he would have to take their blood in the most unassuming way. [MUSIC] >> Basically, what you're trying to do is anesthetize a baboon, without him knowing it's coming. Because you don't want to have any of this anticipatory stress, so you can't just, you know, get in your jeep and chase the baboon up and down the field for three hours, and, finally, when he's winded, dart him with an anesthetic. [MUSIC] Now, the big advantages of a blowgun are that it's pretty much silent, and hasn't a whole lot in a way of moving parts, but the big drawback is doesn't go very far. [MUSIC] So what you spend just a bizarre amount of time doing is trying to figure out how to look nonchalant around a baboon. [PUFF SOUND] Got him. Time? Okay, he is wobbling now. Whoop, there he goes. >> From each baboon blood sample, Robert measured levels of hormones central to the stress response. >> Well, to make sense of what's happening in your body, you've got these two hormones that are the workhorses, the whole stress response. One of them, we all know, adrenaline--American version, epinephrine. The other is a less known hormone called glucocorticoids, comes out of the adrenal gland along with adrenaline. And these are the two backbones of the stress response. [ZEBRA BARKS]. >> That stress response and those two hormones are critical to our survival. [HOOF SOUNDS]. >> Because what stress is about is somebody is very intent on eating you, or you are very intent on eating somebody, and there's an immediate crisis going on. >> When you run for your life, basics are all that matter. Lungs work overtime to pump mammoth quantities of oxygen into the bloodstream. The heart races to pump that oxygen throughout the body so muscles respond instantly. [SPLASHING SOUNDS]. >> You need your blood pressure up to deliver that energy. You need to turn off anything that's not essential--growth, reproduction, you know, you're running for your life, this is no time to ovulate, tissue repair, all that sort of thing--do it later, if there is a later. >> When the zebra escapes, its stress response shuts down. But human beings can't seem to find their off switch. >> We turn on the exact same stress response for purely psychological states---thinking about the ozone layer, the taxes coming up, mortality, 30-year mortgages--we turn on the same stress response. And the key difference there is, we're not doing it for a real physiological reason, and we're doing it nonstop. >> By not turning off the stress response when reacting to life's traffic jams, we wallow in a corrosive bath of hormones. Even though it's not life or death, we hyperventilate, our hearts pound, muscles tense. >> Ironically, after a while, the stress response is more damaging than the stressor itself, because the stressor is some psychological nonsense that you're falling for. No zebra on Earth, running for its life, would understand why...fear of speaking in public would cause you to secrete the same hormones that it's doing at that point to save its life. >> Stress is the body's way of rising to a challenge, whether the challenge is life-threatening, trivial, or fun. >> You get the right amount of stress, and we call it stimulation. The goal in life isn't to get rid of stress--the goal in life is to have the right type of stress, because when it's the right type, we love it. [ROARING SOUND] We jump out of our seats to experience it, we pay good money to get stressed that way. It tends to be a moderate stressor, where you've got a stressor that's transient--it's not for nothing roller coaster rides are not three weeks long. And most of all, what they're about is you relinquish a little bit of control in a setting that overall feels safe. >> 50 and 25. >> Anticipating the long reach of stress is a recent idea, for when Robert was Rachel's age, scientists believed stress was the cause of only one major problem. [THROBBING SOUND]. >> This is a picture of a major American personnel problem--an ugly sore that doctors call a peptic ulcer, eating away at the wall of a man's stomach. [MUSIC] >> Those stomach pains that you talk about, the gnawing, the burning, those are obvious symptoms of gastric ulcer. >> Thirty years ago, what's the disease that comes to everybody's mind when you mention stress--it's ulcers, stress and ulcers, stress and ulcers. And this was the first stress-related disease discovered, in fact, 70 years ago. >> What I want you to do is to work on your attitude. >> My attitude? >> That's right. Ulcers breed on the wrong kind of feeling. You've got to be honest with yourself about the way you feel about it. >> Finding a new doctor sound like a better answer to me. >> The connection between stress and ulcers was mainstream medical gospel until the early 1980s. Then, Australian researchers identified a bacteria as the major cause of ulcers. >> And this overthrew the entire field, this was, it's got nothing to do with stress, it's a bacterial disorder. And I'm willing to bet half the gastroenterologists on Earth, when they heard about this, went out and celebrated that night. This was, like, the greatest news--never again were they going to have to sit down their patients, and make eye contact, and ask them how is it going, so, anything stressful--it's got nothing to do with stress, it's a bacterial disorder. >> So no longer would the solution be stress management, now it could be something as simple as a pill. It was a major breakthrough--stress didn't cause ulcers. Case closed. [MUSIC] But a few years later, the research took a new twist. Scientists discovered that this ulcer-causing bacteria wasn't unique--in fact, as much as two thirds of the world's population has it. [MUSIC] So why do only a fraction of these people develop ulcers? Research revealed that when stressed, the body begins shutting down all non-essential systems, including the immune system. And it became clear that, if you shut down the immune system, stomach bacteria can run amuck. >> Because what the stress does, is wipe out the ability of your body to begin to repair your stomach walls when they start rotting away from his bacteria. [SOUND]. >> So stress can cause ulcers by disrupting our body's ability to heal itself. [MUSIC] If stress can undermine the immune system, what other havoc can it wreak? One answer comes from a colony of captive macaque monkeys near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. >> People think of stress as something that keeps them up at night, or something that makes them yell at their kids. But, you ask me, what is stress, I say, Look at it--it's this huge plaque in this artery, that's what stress is. >> For two decades, Dr. Carol Shively has been studying the arteries of macaques. [MUSIC] Like baboons and British Civil Servants, these primates organize themselves into distinctly hierarchical groups, and subject one another to social stress. [SCREECH SOUND] Stress hormones can trigger an intense negative cardiovascular response, a pounding heart and increased blood pressure. So, if stress follows rank, would the cardiovascular system of a high-ranking macaque, call him a primate CEO, be different from his subordinate? [MUSIC] When Shively looked at the arteries of a dominant monkey, one with little history of stress, its arteries were clean. But a subordinate monkey's arteries told a grim tale. >> A subordinate artery has lots more atherosclerosis built up inside it than a dominant artery does. >> Stress, and the resulting flood of hormones, had increased blood pressure, damaging artery walls, making them repositories for plaque. >> So now, when you feel threatened, your arteries don't expand, and your heart muscle doesn't get more blood, and that can lead to a heart attack. This is not an abstract concept, it's not something that maybe someday you should do something about, you need to attend to it today, because it's affecting the way your body functions. And a stress today will affect your health tomorrow and for years to come. >> Social and psychological stress, whether macaque, human, or baboon, can clog our arteries, restrict blood flow, jeopardize the health of our heart--and that's just the beginning of stress's deadly curse. Robert's early research demonstrated that stress can work on us in an even more frightening way. >> Well, back when I was starting in this business, what I wound up focusing on was what seemed an utterly implausible idea at the time, which was chronic stress and chronic exposure to glucocorticoids could do something as unsubtle and grotesque as kill some of your brain cells. >> As a PhD candidate at Rockefeller University in the early '80s, Sapolsky collaborated with his mentor, Dr. Bruce McEwen, to follow the path of stress into the brain. [MUSIC] They subjected lab rats to chronic stress, and then examined their brain cells. The team made an astonishing find. While the cells of normal rat brains have extensive branches, stressed rats brain cells were dramatically smaller. >> And, what was most interesting in many ways was the part of the brain where this was happening--hippocampus. You take Intro Neurobiology any time for the last 5,000 years, and what you learn is: hippocampus is learning and memory. >> Stress in these rats shrank the part of their brain responsible for memory. >> Stress affects memory in two ways. Chronic stress can actually change brain circuits, so that we lose the capacity to remember things as we need to. Very severe acute stress can have another effect, which is often we refer to as stress makes you stupid, which is making it impossible for you in, over short periods of time to remember things you know perfectly well. >> We all know that phenomenon, we all know that one from back when, when we stressed ourselves by not getting any sleep at all. And the next morning at 9 o'clock, we couldn't remember a single thing for that final exam. You take a human and stress them big time, long time, and you're going to have a hippocampus that pays the price as well. >> Dr. Blackburn is a leader in the field of telomere research. >> We have 46 chromosomes and they're capped off at each end by telomeres. Nobody knew in humans whether telomeres and their fraying down over life would be affected by chronic stress, and so, we decided we would look at this cohort of chronically stressed mothers. And we decided to ask what's happening to their telomeres and to the maintenance of their telomeres. What we found was the length of the telomeres directly relates to the amount of stress somebody is under, and the number of years that they've been under the stress. >> Such stressed mothers became the focus of a study by Dr. Blackburn's colleague, psychologist Elissa Epel. [MUSIC] >> Mothers of young children are a highly stressed group. They are often balancing competing demands like work and child rearing, and often don't have time to take care of themselves. So, if you add on top of that, the extra burden of caring for a child with special needs, it can be overwhelming. It can tax the very reserves that sustain people, and if they are stressed, if they report stress, they tend to die earlier. >> These women have shortened telomeres, decreased activity of this enzyme, and a very, very rough number, for every year you're taking care of a chronically ill child, you got roughly six years worth of aging. >> This is real, this is not just somebody whining--this is real, medically serious aging going on, and we can see that it's actually caused by the chronic stress. [WHOOSH SOUND]. >> But there is hope. Dr. Blackburn co-discovered an enzyme, telomerase, that can repair the damage. >> It's what I always call it the threat of hope. [LAUGHTER] [CROSSTALK]. >> That's good. That's good. >> Yeah. >> Preliminary data suggests that a meeting of minds, such as this, may actually have a health benefit, by stimulating the healing effects of telomerase. >> [CROSSTALK] And laugh. >> And laugh. If you don't, if you don't laugh, forget it, you can't handle it, it's... >> What I found is that the humor is something--there's a certain level of black humor that we have about our kids that only we appreciate, we are the only ones who get the jokes and, in a way, we're the only ones who are allowed to laugh at the jokes. >> Right. >> One of the questions in the stress field is, you know, what are the active ingredients that reduce stress and that promote longevity? And compassion and caring for others may be one of those most important ingredients. So, those may be the factors that promote longevity and increase telomerase, and keep ourselves rejuvenating and regenerating. [MUSIC] >> So, perhaps connecting with and helping others can help us to mend ourselves, and maybe even live longer, healthier lives. Twenty years ago, Robert got a shocking preview of this idea. The first troop he ever studied, the baboons he felt closest to and had written books about, suffered a calamity. It would have a profound effect on his research. >> The Keekorok troop is the one I started with 30 years ago, and they were your basic old baboon troop at the time--and which means males were aggressive, and society was highly stratified, and females took a lot a grief, and your basic off-the-rack baboon troop. And then about, by now almost 20 years ago, something horrific and scientifically very interesting happened to that troop. >> The Keekorok troop took to foraging for food in the garbage dump of a popular tourist lodge. It was a fatal move--the trash included meat tainted with tuberculosis. The result was that nearly half the males in the troop died. >> Not unreasonably, I got depressed as hell and pretty damn angry about what happened. You know, you're 30 years old, you can afford to expend a lot of emotion on a baboon troop, and there was a lot of emotion there. [MUSIC] >> For Robert, a decade of research appeared to have been lost. But then he made a curious observation about who had died and who had survived. >> It wasn't random who died. In that troop, if you were aggressive, and if you were not particularly socially connected, socially affiliative, you didn't spend your time grooming and hanging out, if you were that kind of male, you died. >> Every alpha male was gone. The Keekorok troop had been transformed. >> And, what you were left with was twice as many females as males. And the males who were remaining were, you know, just to use scientific jargon, they were good guys. They were not aggressive jerks, they were nice to the females, they were very socially affiliative---it completely transformed the atmosphere in the troop. [MUSIC] >> When male baboons reach adolescence, they typically leave their home troop and roam, eventually finding a new troop. >> And when new adolescent males would join the troop, they'd come in just as jerky as any adolescent males elsewhere on this planet, and it would take them about six months to learn...we're not like that in this troop. We don't do stuff like that. We're not that aggressive. We spend more time grooming each other. Males are calmer with each other. You do not dump on a female if you're in a bad mood. And it takes these new guys about six months, and they assimilate this style, and you have baboon culture in this particular troop has a culture of very low levels of aggression, and high levels of social affiliation, and they're doing that 20 years later. >> And so the tragedy had provided Robert with a fundamental lesson, not just about cells, but how the absence of stress could impact society. >> Do these guys have the same problems with high blood pressure? Nope. Do these guys have the same problems with brain chemistry related to anxiety, stress hormone levels? Not at all. It's not just your rank, it's what your rank means in your society. >> And the same is true for humans, with only a slight variation. >> We belong to multiple hierarchies. And you may have the worst job in your corporation, and no autonomy and control of predictability, but you're the captain of the company softball team that year. And you better bet you are going to have all sorts of psychological means to decide it's just a job, nine to five, that's not what the world is about--what the world's about is softball. I'm the head of my team, people look up to me. And you come out of that deciding you are on top of the hierarchy that matters to you. [CAGE SOUNDS] Well, that worked. damn, lot's of baboon poop... Which, under the right circumstances, with the right season's experiment is a gold mine. Unfortunately, this time around it's just a cage to have to clean now. [MUSIC] I'm studying stress for 30 years now, and I even tell people how they should live differently--so, presumably, I should have incorporated all of this. And the reality is, like, I'm unbelievably stressed, and type A, and poorly coping, and, like, why else would I study this stuff 80 hours a week? No doubt everything I advise is going to lose all its credibility if I keel over dead from a heart attack in my early 50s. Nah, I'm not good at dealing with stress. You know, one thing that works to my advantage is I love my work and I love every aspect of it, so that's good... Nonetheless, this is pretty clearly a different place than the savanna in East Africa. You know, you can do science here that's very different and more interesting in some ways. You can have hot showers on a more regular basis. It's a more interesting, varied world in lots of ways, but, you know, there's a lot out there that you sure miss. [MUSIC] It is a pretty miraculous place, where every meal tastes good, and you're ten times more aware of every sensation. [MUSIC] This is a hard place to come to year after year without getting, I think, a very different metabolism and temperament. I'm more extroverted here... I'm more, more happy... This is a hard place not to be happy. [MUSIC]


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