Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Russian politician has told Nigeria soccer fans that they cannot take live chickens to 2018 FIFA World Cup matches

The chickens are seen by Nigerians as lucky mascots but the Russian government has slapped a ban on taking them into games ahead of Nigeria’s opening World Cup match against Croatia. Andrei Ermak, minister of culture in Kaliningrad, said that “fans from Nigeria asked if it’s possible to go to the stadium with a chicken, it’s their symbol, [and they take] them to matches. We told them it is impossible.” Nigeria supporters may be allowed to take their chickens to areas away from the Kaliningrad Stadium, providing they do not try to take them into the ground. “We will, of course, advise them where the chicken can be [taken],” Ermak said. “We are ready to satisfy the most eccentric inquiries.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Mexican politician has been shot dead while posing for a selfie

As Fernando Purón, a Mexican congressional candidate, left an election debate, a woman asked him to stop for a selfie. As the pair posed, a man walked up behind them and shot Purón in the head in a horrifying scene caught on surveillance video. His murder highlights the risks to lawmakers as violence in the country increases; since September 2017, 111 other politicians have been murdered in Mexico, and more violence is expected in the run-up to the country's July 2018 elections. It's not clear why Purón was targeted, but drug cartels are suspected in many political murders and he was said to have been on the wrong side of the Zetas crime group when he was mayor of Piedras Negras. During the debate, he had promised to fight back against organized crime.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Researchers have identified a genetic difference between people with African and European ancestry that affects how the immune system triggers inflammation

The scientists suspect that these differences are rooted in how the immune system evolved and the evolutionary pressure exerted by malaria on ancestors who lived in Africa. For thousands of years, the human immune system evolved to fight off constant assaults from a variety of infections, tailoring its response to defend against local threats. Thanks to modern hygiene, the immune system now faces far fewer attacks, but ancestral differences still remain, as demonstrated by differing disease rates between populations. To gain a better understanding of how different populations' immune systems respond to current lifestyles, researchers combined genetic, molecular and epidemiological data from in 914 people with African ancestry and 855 people with European ancestry from the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium. They analyzed blood samples to detect 14 different chemical messengers involved in inflammation and identified significant differences between the populations in seven of those chemicals. Lifestyle factors such as age, education level, obesity, smoking and alcohol use could account for many of the differences, but the researchers also identified a genetic variant that occurred primarily in people with African ancestry. The variant controlled the levels of two key chemical messengers involved in recruiting white blood cells to sites of inflammation, and previous studies suggest that it evolved to protect African individuals from contracting malaria. The immune differences between people with European and African ancestry may have important implications for health that deserve further study. Inflammation has evolved as a response to injury and infection but is also implicated in several types of cancer and chronic disease. Ancestral "footprints" in the genome, such as the one identified in the study, may be exacerbating the health disparities observed between these two groups. The researchers conducted this research based upon the hypothesis that adaptation over millennia to protect from infectious diseases in Africa, resulting in more robust immune response, could be related to more aggressive breast cancer in a modern environment. When they compared levels of certain inflammatory markers between women of African and European descent, they noted many differences. After they ruled out the effects of lifestyle factors, they found that much of these differences could be tied to the Duffy antigen receptor, whereby African Americans have a genotype that helps to protect from malaria. These findings indicate that evolutionary adaptation many thousands of years ago shaped our immune systems, and may still have considerable influences on immune function today. The next research question the researchers are pursuing is whether those evolutionary marks play any significant role in affecting breast cancer health disparities.

Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq have detained a 20-year-old Iraqi man on suspicion of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Jewish girl in Germany, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has said

Seehofer said that the Kurdish security forces had taken him into custody at the request of the German police, who identified him as Ali Bashar. He had been living in Germany as a refugee since 2015. The case has galvanized Germany at a time when its decision to take in large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers during Europe's 2015 migrant crisis is already stirring a political backlash. Many politicians are calling for new rules to make it easier to deport immigrants thought to be violent. The victim, Susanna Feldman, was Jewish. The teenager, from the city of Mainz near Frankfurt, was reported missing on May 22, 2018. She was found dead in a wooded area near train tracks in Wiesbaden on the opposite bank of the Rhine, near a refugee center where the suspected attacker had lived, police said. An autopsy showed that she had been the victim of a sexual and violent attack. Police said that Bashar had likely fled with his family to Erbil, Iraq, recently. They said that they had set up a special call center for tips from the public, and had issued releases in Arabic and Turkish. The Iraqi suspect was already under investigation for a suspected robbery. He was appealing a December 2016 decision by German authorities to reject his asylum application. Germany does not have a general extradition agreement with Iraq but must negotiate such moves on an individual basis, said foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

African-Americans are still much more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white Americans

For male and female populations in 2016, blacks were 8.4 times more likely than whites to be diagnosed with HIV, whereas in 2005 they were 7.9 times more likely. Specifically, the number of black males diagnosed with the disease in 2005 was 9,969 and increased by 29% to 12,890 in 2016. Black male-to-male sexual contact was the most common form of transmission of HIV and the number of men that have sex with men who were diagnosed with HIV increased 154% from 4,020 in 2005 to 10,233 in 2016. If this trend continues, one in two black men who engage in sexual contact with men will receive an HIV diagnosis in their lifetimes. The number of African-American females diagnosed with HIV through heterosexual contact increased by 75% from 2,392 in 2005 to 4,189 in 2016, and there was also a 76% increase in HIV diagnoses among heterosexual black men in the same time period.