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Retinafunk, Flickr

Scientists have found that the drug ecstasy can cause people to be more trusting of others, reports New Scientist.

Why it matters: A key challenge in treating post-traumatic stress disorder with psychotherapy is fostering trust between patients and their therapists. The Medical University of South Carolina's Michael Mithoefer, who is investigating whether ecstasy can be used to relieve PTSD, cautioned there are still open questions about how the drug works but told New Scientist, "it may help people trust their therapist more and prevent them from being overwhelmed by their traumatic memories during therapy."

Researchers at King's College London gave 20 men ecstasy and scanned their brains while they played a classic social science game called the Prisoner's Dilemma. (According to the game, it is never wise to cooperate with your opponent yet people do.) Players cooperated twice as often after they took ecstasy compared to when they were given a placebo but only if their opponent (a computer) also cooperated, building the person's trust that they weren't going to be betrayed. If the computer did betray them, the players were less cooperative -- ecstasy or not.

The concern: The use of ecstasy is being limited to the first few sessions of therapy in trials but some psychologists worry even that could lead to unintended abuse. "It sends the message that this drug will help you solve your problems, when often it just creates problems," psychologist Andrew Parrott told the New York Times last fall. "This is a messy drug we know can do damage."

Go deeper

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these recommendations with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.