Saturday, October 25, 2014

Study: 6.4% of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2% of non-citizens voted in 2010

Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80% of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 sample), the researchers found that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65% of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1% of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.

An Iranian woman convicted of murder - in a killing that human rights groups called self-defense against a rapist - has been hanged

Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was sentenced to death for the 2007 killing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The United Nations has said that she never received a fair trial. The U.S. State Department also said that there were concerns about the trial. "There were serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We condemn this morning's execution in Iran of Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian woman convicted of killing a man she said she stabbed in self-defense during a sexual assault," Psaki said. Jabbari's execution was originally scheduled for September 30, 2014 but was postponed. Amnesty International said that the delay may have been in response to the public outcry against the execution. Jabbari was convicted of murder after "a flawed investigation and unfair trial," according to Amnesty International. The United Nations has said that Sarbandi hired Jabbari - then a 19-year-old interior designer - to work on his office. She stabbed him after he sexually assaulted her, it said. Jabbari was held in solitary confinement without access to her lawyer and family for two months, Amnesty International said in a statement. She was tortured during that time, the group said. "Amnesty International understands that, at the outset of the investigation, Reyhaneh Jabbari admitted to stabbing the man once in the back, but claimed she had done so after he had tried to sexually abuse her," the rights group said. "She also maintained that a third person in the house had been involved in the killing. These claims, if proven, could exonerate her but are believed never to have been properly investigated, raising many questions about the circumstances of the killing." Iranian Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi joined scores of Iranian artists and musicians calling for a halt to the execution. In an open letter, Farhadi asked the victim's family to pardon her, a possibility under Iranian law. Rights groups have criticized Iran for a surge in executions under Hassan Rouhani in his first year as president. British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said he was "very concerned and saddened" that Jabbari had been executed, especially given the questions concerning due process in the case. "The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, noted that her conviction was allegedly based on confessions made while under threat, and the court failed to take into account all evidence into its judgment," he said in a statement. "Actions like these do not help Iran build confidence or trust with the international community. I urge Iran to put a moratorium on all executions." According to the United Nations, Iran has executed at least 170 people in 2014. In 2013, it executed more people than any other country with the exception of China, the world's most populous nation.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a genetic variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today's northern populations

"Our work describes a case where the same variant has likely been selectively advantageous in the past [but] disadvantageous under current environmental conditions," says senior author Dr. Toomas Kivisild, of the University of Cambridge, in Britain. Dr. Kivisild and his colleagues analyzed the genomes of 25 individuals from Northern Siberia and compared their sequences with those from 25 people from Europe and 11 from East Asia. The team identified a variant that was unique to Northern Siberians and was located within CPT1A, a gene that encodes an enzyme involved in the digestion of long fatty acids, which are prevalent in meat-based diets. With agriculture being unsustainable in Arctic regions as a result of the extremely cold environment, coastal populations there have historically fed mostly on marine mammals. When the investigators looked at the global distribution of the CPT1A variant, they found that it was present in 68% of individuals in the Northern Siberian population yet absent in other publicly available genomes. The variant has previously been linked to high infant mortality and hypoglycemia in Canadian Inuits, and its high frequency in these populations has been described as a paradox. "The study's results illustrate the medical importance of having an evolutionary understanding of our past and suggest that evolutionary impacts on health might be more prevalent than currently appreciated," says lead author Dr. Florian Clemente, also of the University of Cambridge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Statistics showing that one in four black men in Britain will be diagnosed with prostate cancer – double the one in eight risk faced by all men

A study by YouGov on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK revealed that 90% of black men are unaware of their higher than average risk of developing the disease. On average, black men are diagnosed with prostate cancer five years younger than white men.

A study of the genetic history of bones dug up in central Europe shows that humans generally remained lactose intolerant until 3,000 years ago

Researchers suggest that ancient Europeans weren't relying on dairy enough to develop the trait. "These ancient Europeans would have had domesticated animals like cows, goats, and sheep, but they would not yet have genetically developed a tolerance for drinking large quantities of milk from mammals," says researcher Ron Pinhasi. Instead, they might have been making cheese and yogurt, the processes of which break down lactose. The study focused on the remains of 13 individuals found in the Great Hungarian Plain who lived between 5700 BC and 800 BC. Researchers unraveled their genetic secrets by examining the petrous bone, which happens to be the hardest bone in the body and is found inside the skull where it protects the inner ear. As Pinhasi explains, "The high-percentage DNA yield from the petrous bones exceeded those from other bones by up to 183-fold. This gave us anywhere between 12% and almost 90% human DNA in our samples." Teeth, fingers, and rib bones yield no more than 20%.

The male Y chromosome may have a role in prolonging men's lives and fighting cancer, scientists have said

Research into 1,153 elderly men at the University of Sweden found those who had lost part of their Y chromosome died on average 5.5 years earlier than those who had not. Women live on average 7.5 years longer than men in Europe and the reasons behind this are not fully known. Scientists assessed how many blood cells had age-related loss of the Y chromosome (LOY) through blood tests in the men, aged between 70 and 84. Men with a "significant amount" of loss died earlier, said researchers. LOY was associated with general risk of death in 637 out of the group of men and risk of death due to non-blood related cancer in 132 of the cases. The co author of the study, Jan Dumanski from Uppsala University in Sweden, said: "Many people think the Y chromosome only contains genes involved in sex determination and sperm production. In fact, these genes have other important functions, such as possibly playing a role in preventing tumors." The study said that Y chromosome genes were not expressed when LOY occurred, meaning its potential role in tumor prevention could be reduced. It said that LOY in blood cells was associated with many different cancers, including those outside the blood system. Researchers said that this could be because Y chromosome genes enabled blood cells to help with immuno-surveillance, where the immune system detected and killed tumor cells to prevent cancer. The finding means blood tests looking at the state of the Y chromosome could help predict a man's risk of cancer, say the authors.

According to the Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO), more Hispanics are turning towards Islam and interestingly, more than half of Miami’s 3,000 Hispanic Muslims are female

Of course, in the name of diversity, we must all pretend that this is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Research has revealed that people often make sweeping judgments of others based on the size and shape of their facial features

For instance, individuals with feminine-looking or naturally happy faces are consistently thought of as more trustworthy. While competence, dominance and friendliness are also associated with specific facial traits, including larger foreheads, prominent noses and strong chins. And now researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have warned that face-ism can lead people to make rash decisions, from voting for a particular politician to convicting someone of a crime. Other research suggests that urban life can influence the types of faces that we find attractive.

The Dallas Cowboys have released defensive end Michael Sam from the practice squad, another setback as the NFL's first ever openly gay player tries to make an active roster during the regular season for the first time

Sam spent seven weeks with the Cowboys after signing to their practice squad on September 3, 2014 four days after he was among the final cuts by the St. Louis Rams at the end of the preseason. The Rams drafted the former SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri late in the seventh round in May 2014. He was pick No. 249 out of 256. Sam had three sacks in the preseason with St. Louis playing mostly against second- and third-stringers. The Cowboys are among the league's worst in sacks but have been getting solid production with a rotation in the front four of a defense exceeding expectations.