Saturday, January 31, 2009

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe has signed legislation that disbands the country's elite anti-crime investigating unit

Presidential spokesman Thabo Masebe said that the unit - known as the Scorpions - will now be part of the standard police forces. The Scorpions had a much better track record than the police at solving crime. But they fell afoul of the ruling African National Congress party for their corruption investigation of ANC leader Jacob Zuma, who is expected to become the country's next president. So Parliament passed the legislation that Motlanthe just signed. Critics have said the move sends a message that South Africa's government is not serious about curbing crime in country where there are more than 50 murders a day.

Some of the secrets behind the emergence of new species have been uncovered in a genetic study

Almost all plant species are known to have cross-breeds that sometimes produce infertile offspring. Now for the first time the team, led by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, INRA-Versailles, has identified a simple genetic mechanism that may explain why this happens. The results have been published in the journal Science. Professor Malcolm Bennett, Biology Director for the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology and Head of Division of Plant and Crop Sciences at The University of Nottingham said: “As plants evolve, their genes may get copied, moved around the genome, and inactivated. This will reduce the possibilities for fertile cross-breeds and, over time, may result in the emergence of distinct species. We're delighted that this study demonstrates this process in action.” The study explains why the offspring of some cross-breeds are not viable and indicates a potential mechanism for the formation of sub-species in supposedly identical populations. The researchers, specialists in the genetics of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, first noted that offspring of the cross between two of the plant's natural strains, Columbia (Col) and Cape Verde Island (Cvi), did not fully obey Mendel's Laws of Inheritance. Researchers found that in specific genetic combinations of two parent genomes, some did not produce offspring at all. Further investigation showed that a gene called HPA is carried by chromosome 1 in the Cvi strain, but in the Col strain a second copy is also found on chromosome 5. As the Col strain evolved, the copy of HPA on chromosome 1 became inactive. As a result, the two strains of Arabidopsis now have their functional HPA genes on different chromosomes. The HPA gene is responsible for the production of histidine, an essential amino acid that is necessary for reproduction to take place. Embryos that inherit one inactive HPA gene from chromosome 1 of a Cvi parent and another from chromosome 5 of a Col parent cannot produce histidine and fail to develop. If the gene isn't present the two different strains become incompatible, making it impossible for parent plants to produce offspring. Researchers were able to confirm this after observing that plants watered with a histidine solution were able to produce embryos that developed normally.

The Kenyan half-brother of President Barack Obama has been arrested for alleged marijuana possession

George Obama was arrested in Nairobi with one joint of marijuana, police chief Joshua Omokulongolo said. The US president and George Obama share the same father, but are thought to have only met each other briefly.

Related:

Barack Obama's half-brother George arrested in Kenya over drugs

A new study shows that immigrants of Turkish origin in Germany lag behind other migrant groups when it comes to education and jobs

The study carried out by the Berlin-based Institute for Population and Development found that 30% of Turks and those of Turkish origin did not finish school and only 14% took the Abitur, or the final secondary school exam that is the required qualification for university. But more than 50 of those in other migrant groups manage to do the same, the report said. The study compared for the first time the successful integration of individual migrant groups including those who have been naturalized in Germany. It has compiled a ranking of federal states based on the level of integration of its immigrants. Immigrants of Turkish origin were also found to be the least successful in the labor market: they are often jobless, the percentage of housewives is high and many are dependent on welfare, the study said. The state of Saarland was found to have the worst record – 45% of its Turks had no educational qualification of any kind. Reiner Klingholz, director of the institute, said language remained the key to education and successes. “For too long we’ve been used to the fact that we have primary school classes in which 80% of the children don’t understand German,” he said.

Twins, genes and politics

James Q. Wilson explains how genes shape our beliefs, our values, and even our votes.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A taxi driver has been convicted of cruelty for encouraging his 10-year-old son to whip himself during a Shia Muslim ceremony

The boy took part in zanjeer matam, in which believers beat themselves with a wooden implement with chains and blades attached to it. His father, 47, who also took part in the ritual at a Birmingham mosque, said he acted out of "love" and "devotion". He was given a six-month suspended sentence at Huntingdon Crown Court. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied being cruel to a child. He is the second Muslim to be convicted of cruelty as a result of allowing a boy take part in the ceremony which commemorates the death and martyrdom of a 7th Century Muslim leader, prosecutors said.

A Muslim convert has been jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 18 years after launching a failed suicide bomb attack on a British restaurant

Nicky Reilly, 22, was the only person injured when he accidentally set off his home-made nail-bomb in a toilet of Exeter's Giraffe restaurant in May 2008. He later admitted attempted murder and preparing an act of terrorism. Police believe the Plymouth man, who has learning difficulties, was encouraged by extremists in Pakistan. Officers are in contact with authorities in the country via the British Embassy in a bid to trace those who contacted him, Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed. Sentencing him at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said it was "sheer luck or chance that [the bombing] did not succeed in its objectives". "The offence of attempted murder is aggravated by the fact that it was long-planned, that it had multiple intended victims and was intended to terrorize the population of this country," he added. Reilly had been preparing to detonate three bombs, created using glass bottles and containing about 500 nails, caustic soda and kerosene, when one exploded in his hands. Dozens of customers and staff fled the restaurant in panic, but no-one else was injured. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "This case demonstrates that the threat to the UK from violent extremists remains real and serious. We need to work together to prevent people, especially young people, getting drawn into illegal activities." Reilly - who converted to Islam between 2002 and 2003 - had admitted the charges in October 2008, but sentencing was delayed to allow doctors to assess his mental state. He has learning difficulties and Asperger's Syndrome, struggled to make friends and is thought to have a mental age of 10.

Ethnonationalism and the United States

Pat Buchanan asks are we really in a post-racial America, or is our multicultural multiethnic America, too, destined for Balkanization and break-up?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A survey by football's governing body FIFA has found that more than half of South African people are worried about the country's high crime rate impac

The World Cup, which goes to South Africa for the first time in 2010, is the beautiful game's showpiece event and is expected to attract global interest in the African nation. FIFA's survey showed 53% of people were worried that the nation's crime rate - which is one of the highest in the world - could affect the event, which is now less than 500 days away. Official statistics from the country show violent crime is a major issue, with more than 17,000 murders and almost 137,000 serious and violent assaults recorded in 2007.

Related:

S Africa defends drinking den ban

A 24-year-old woman axed her mother-in-law to death suspecting her of practising witchcraft in India

Yamunabai Mhase attacked her mother-in-law Radhabai (50) with an axe in Chuli village, police said. The police have arrested Yamunabai on charges of murder and are further investigating the case. In another case, a mentally-challenged person killed his mother and sister-in-law in a fit of rage in Golashi village in Nashik taluk, police said. Tulashirman Paradhe (40) had a quarrel with his mother Kashabai and sister-in-law Sulabai (50) following which he attacked both using a gardening tool, they said. Both died on their way to Nashik civil hospital, police said adding Tulshiram had been arrested.

Australia's Asian population is soaring as immigrants from across the region - particularly China and India - enter the country

Asia is fast becoming a rival to Europe as the dominant source of arrivals, analysis of the latest census showed. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said almost one-fifth of the new arrivals in Australia between 1996 and 2006 came from China and India. The data also showed that 4.4 million people in Australia were born overseas. This represented a 2% increase from the time of the last census in 1996. Until 1973 the former British colony had a "White Australia" policy, restricting immigration to Westerners. While migration from Europe has continued, the ABS report, entitled Portrait of a Nation, said the overseas-born population had "featured a major increase in Asian immigration". Britain was still the most common country of origin, with 24% of foreign-born residents (92,000) arriving from there between 1996 and 2006, census data suggested. However, six of the 10 most common birthplaces were now Asian countries with China accounting for 9.5% (62,000) of new arrivals and India with 8.4% (54,100). Other Asian countries where migrants were coming from included Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea. The report said that the Asian population has now eclipsed that of indigenous Australians.

Does an increase in the quality of education lead to an increase in the racial achievement gap?

Half Sigma points out that smaller class sizes may not fix the black/white educational gap.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A white professor and anti-racist activist has been savagely beaten by an African-American man on the streets of Washington, DC

62-year old JoAnne Silver Jones was mugged on Jan. 16 2009 while on her way to see her adopted daughter. Jones was beat on her head, arms and hands with a brick by her African-American male assailant during the attack, according to long-time friend Patricia Romney. “He beat her face so badly that she was unable to open her eyes, and one eye socket was torn by the blows,” she said. Jones is an associate professor in the School of Human Services at Springfield College and director of the social work program. She has co-authored a paper titled, “Feminist Strategies for Teaching About Oppression” and was involved with “cross-cultural issues” including a 1999 incident at Amherst Regional High School where Puerto Rican students protested the school’s production of “West Side Story”. Jones is still recovering at George Washington University Hospital after undergoing surgery on her skull and eye, but may be released soon, Romney said. “She can walk a little but is nauseous and headachy,” she said. “She’s a tough cookie, but this is totally traumatizing. It’s going to be a long way back.” Jones will need additional surgery on both hands, which are still bandaged from her elbows to her fingertips. Romney said she is struck by what she termed the “paradox of it all” - a white anti-racism activist being attacked by a mugger identified as African-American.

In the last election, blacks were more than 20 times as likely to vote for Obama as they were to vote for McCain

Another great post from Epigone.

Jews and free speech

Kevin MacDonald:

It is something of an axiom of Jewish life that “Is it good for the Jews?” remains the litmus test of Jewish communal activity — in other words, interest over principles. A good example is free speech. There can be little doubt that the organized Jewish community sees free speech as a problem because it may be used to criticize the behavior of Jewish organizations and especially Israel.

In Canada the response of the organized Jewish community to recent demonstrations against Israel was to attempt to invoke Canada’s restrictions on free speech in order to silence their critics. The Canadian Jewish Congress complained that protests against Israel’s incursion into Gaza contained images that were "uncivil, un-Canadian, that demonize Jews and Israelis." They are asking the police to investigate the matter for referral to the Canadian Human Rights Commission which is in charge of enforcing laws that infringe on free speech. Although the organized Jewish community in Canada has strongly supported the thought crime legislation (see below), Bernie Farber, the head of the CJC, stated “we are firm supporters and believers in the need to be able to demonstrate passionately in free and democratic societies.”

Because of the First Amendment, we are still a ways from the situation in Canada here in the US. Nevertheless, the ADL has been in the forefront of promoting hate-crime legislation in America, and there can be little doubt that they see the First Amendment as a barrier to their interests in suppressing thoughts and speech critical of Israel and other Jewish interests.

Lesbians and immigrant doctors

A same-sex couple has filed a human rights complaint against a south Winnipeg doctor, claiming she refused to take them as patients and told them she doesn't know how to treat lesbians. Andrea and Ginette Markowski, who recently moved to Winnipeg from Yellowknife, were stunned when a family doctor at Lakewood Medical Centre suggested the couple look for another physician since homosexuality violates her religious beliefs. The legally married couple also claim the doctor said she has no experience treating lesbians. Andrea Markowski said she and her partner of 18 years made an appointment with Dr. Kamelia Elias after they heard she was accepting new patients. She said Elias started to take the couple's medical history and asked how long the women had been together - at which point, the doctor told them she's never treated lesbians before. Markowski said she asked Elias whether treating a same-sex couple was a problem for her, and alleges Elias said yes. Elias told the Free Press she has no experience treating lesbians and gays who sometimes have "sexual problems" and other diseases. Elias practised medicine in Egypt before spending four years in Steinbach and said she's never treated gays or lesbians in her two decades as a physician. "They get a lot of diseases and infections," Elias said during a phone interview. "I didn't refuse to treat them, I said it's better to find someone who has experience and will take this type of patients. There (are) some doctors who can treat them." College registrar Bill Pope said the orientation process for international medical graduates has been recently extended from one week to four weeks, to ensure that foreign-trained doctors learn about Canadian culture and codes of conduct. In some cases, Pope said some physicians have never performed pelvic exams on women, since it's not allowed in certain cultures. He said an increasing number of physicians coming to Manitoba are from the Middle East and southeast Asia, where cultural barriers may hinder their understanding of Canadian norms. "It was becoming clear that we're getting people from cultures that are very different from (ours), and you can't blame someone when your culture teaches you one thing, you can't understand what the expectations are in Canada," Pope said.

Thanks goes to Vladimir for emailing me the link to this news story.

Y-chromosomes and HIV

The host genetic basis of differential outcomes in HIV infection, progression, viral load set point and highly active retroviral therapy (HAART) responses was examined for the common Y haplogroups in European Americans and African Americans. Accelerated progression to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and related death in European Americans among Y chromosome haplogroup I (Y-I) subjects was discovered. Additionally, Y-I haplogroup subjects on HAART took a longer time to HIV-1 viral suppression and were more likely to fail HAART. Both the accelerated progression and longer time to viral suppression results observed in haplogroup Y-I were significant after false-discovery-rate corrections. A higher frequency of AIDS-defining illnesses was also observed in haplogroup Y-I. These effects were independent of the previously identified autosomal AIDS restriction genes. When the Y-I haplogroup subjects were further subdivided into six I subhaplogroups, no one subhaplogroup accounted for the effects on HIV progression, viral load or HAART response. Adjustment of the analyses for population stratification found significant and concordant haplogroup Y-I results. The Y chromosome haplogroup analyses of HIV infection and progression in African Americans were not significant. Our results suggest that one or more loci on the Y chromosome found on haplogroup Y-I have an effect on AIDS progression and treatment responses in European Americans.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

South African politician says that Jews control America

On Jan. 14 2009, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatima Hajaig told a pro-Palestinian rally that Jews controlled America "no matter which government comes into power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush. The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money," she said. "If the Jewish money controls their country, then you cannot expect anything else." A local Muslim television station, Channel Islam International, aired Hajaig's comments as part of its rally coverage. The rally, held during Israel's three-week operation in Gaza, was organized by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, a partner of the ruling African National Congress party. Other sponsors included the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, the South Africa Communist Party -- also an ANC government partner -- and the South Africa Council of Churches. Hajaig, who is noted for her anti-Israel views, was appointed deputy minister of foreign affairs in November 2008 following the ouster of President Thabo Mbeki. Israel was harshly criticized again when Israeli ambassador Segev-Steinberg appeared earlier in January 2009 for more than three hours before the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. The Jewish state was accused of racist abuses against the Palestinians, of having forgotten the Holocaust and of conducting ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian population of Gaza. Committee chairman Joe Sithole of the ANC claimed these "abuses" made "apartheid look like a Sunday-school picnic." Sithole told Segev-Steinberg, "When Palestinians have to go through checkpoints like cattle though a dip, this is apartheid. When they cannot on drive on roads just because they are Palestinians, this is apartheid." Another ANC member of Parliament, Patrick Sibanda, accused Israel of ethnic cleansing. "When there is destruction, why is Israel always involved?" Sibanda asked. "I feel strongly that this is part of an ethnic-cleansing program, a seizing of power." Mewa Ramgobin, also of the ANC, demanded "Nuremberg-type trials for the commanders giving orders that ordinary Palestinians be killed. Have you forgotten what happened in Auschwitz? How many more?" The lawmakers brought up Israel's refusal to allow journalists into Gaza. Palestinian and NGO officials have said approximately half of the estimated 1,300 Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead were civilians.

Was Mormon founder Joseph Smith Irish?

The Joseph Smith DNA was unusual for Smiths -- even among Smiths in the United States. Without any success in the target area, Perego cast a wider net -- using both Joseph Smith's specific DNA Y chromosome profile and a haplogroup to look for matches. A haplogroup is a grouping of Y chromosome profiles that share similar characteristics. These haplogroups are usually very geographically specific. First, Perego put the Joseph Smith DNA profile into the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database of 23,403 Y chromosome DNA samples. He was looking for matches from about the time when Robert Smith came to America. He found close matches, many of which were Irish. From there, Perego identified a part of Joseph Smith's DNA that had a very rare marker called M222. With this "higher resolution" he found that the same marker was found in Northwest Ireland with a little bit in Lowland Scotland. Finally, Perego looked at a study published in 2006 that dealt with this same area of Ireland. A Y chromosome profile had been found that was attributed to the many descendants of "Niall of the Nine Hostages," a fifth-century Irish warlord who was the ancestor of the kings of Ireland up to the 10th century. Perego compared that Y chromosome with Joseph Smith's profile and found they matched very closely. This was another indication that Smith's ancestors along his paternal line were not just Irish, but probably related to Irish royalty. "Perhaps this indentured servant, this 12-year-old boy, was an Irish descendent, perhaps only one or two generations before they were living in Ireland ... and moved to England," Perego said. "Irish people were not viewed too well in England, perhaps there was a surname change. Perhaps Smith was not a Smith, was something else at some point." Perego speculated the Irish Smiths were likely not in England for many generations, otherwise he would have found a lot of genetic matches from the samples he collected from the English Smiths who live now in that area. "I hope that that doesn't change anybody's testimony here," he joked. "I feel OK about the Irish people."

A city ban on hiring ex-cons for hospital jobs is unfair to blacks and Hispanics, a city woman has claimed

Shanae Leath, who was convicted for her role in a mugging nine years ago, lost her shot at a clerical job at Bellevue Hospital when her record came to light. Leath, 28, said the city Health and Hospitals Corp. ban discriminates. Leath's attorney Justin Swartz says the Health and Hospitals Corp.'s "blanket ban" on hiring applicants with criminal convictions disproportionately affects Hispanics and African-Americans.

Hat tip, Bay Terrace Cafe!

New York: The average statewide four-year graduation rate was 71% in 2007

This number includes those who graduate in August after completing summer school classes. However, the rates for Hispanics and blacks were 47% and 51%, respectively. While both groups have increased about five percentage points from their 2005 levels, it is still considered too low. Scores on state math and English standardized tests have also been improving during the last few years but minorities are lagging behind. On the most recent results, released in June, only 53% of blacks and Hispanics had achieved proficiency in English compared with 79% of whites. In addition, at the end of 2007, about 3.1% of black males were in prison compared with 1.3% Hispanic and 0.5% white. Although teenage pregnancy rates have been declining the rate for black and Hispanics is still higher. The rate of pregnancy for teenagers age 15 to 19 for non-Hispanic whites was 47.1 per 1,000 people. For non-Hispanic blacks, it was 131.6, according to information from National Vital Statistics Reports.

New study says genes may influence whether or not you're popular

But DNA, or genetic material, shapes more than popularity, according to the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It may also play a role in the number of friends we have – and whether we're integral or insignificant members of a social group. Researchers from Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego found that genes may be responsible for 46% of the variation (or difference) in how popular we are versus other people. Genetics exerts a similar effect on people's varying degrees of connectivity (for example, one person might know many of their friends' pals, but another person may not know any of their friends' other buddies.) And DNA has a significant, but lesser influence, on the difference between where one or another of us is located in a social network. The scientists based their findings on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a study by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill of the influence of health on the social behavior of some 90,000 teens who researchers have been following since 1994. Using information on 552 pairs of twins in the study, the Harvard and UCSD researchers compared the lists of friends of identical twins and the social circles of same-sex fraternal twins. The networks described by the identical twins resembled one another more than those of the same-sex fraternal twins, suggesting a genetic influence on how people network socially. Twin study designs presume that if identical twins resemble each other more on some trait than fraternal twins do, then genes help explain that trait. "Your social position in a network is not purely of your own making," study co-author Nicholas Christakis, a professor of sociology at Harvard University, says. "In a very deep sense, our social life is predestined. It's predestined genetically. It's not the only explanation," he adds. "But there is a discernible and substantial role of genes in your social network position." The study didn’t sort out which genes are enhancing or ruining our social lives. Michigan State University research published in 2008 showed that a mutation in the serotonin receptor gene 5-HT2A was linked to variation in popularity. (Serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates mood, anxiety, depression, sleep and sexuality.) The new study examines the genetics of popularity with a wider lens, examining how much DNA may shape the way we socialize. There may be evolutionary reasons for the variations in our social connectedness, Christakis says. While it may be advantageous to be in the center of a group when rumors are circulating, he says, you're better off being on its fringes if a disease – not gossip – is spreading. But the study didn’t explore who might benefit from being popular — and who may be lucky to be on the outs. "We're a social species. We shouldn’t be surprised that some aspects of how we're social depends on genetics," Christakis says. "Just like other aspects of your personality of how assertive you are, how risk-averse you are, so does your predilection for having particular kinds of social network architectures" depend on genetics.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A human rights group in Israel has called for the military's chief rabbi to be dismissed for alleged incitement against Palestinians

The group, Yesh Din, said Rabbi Avichai Rontzki distributed a booklet to troops in the Gaza offensive, which advised them they were fighting "murderers". The booklet, citing an ultra-nationalist rabbi, told soldiers to show no mercy to a "cruel enemy". The Israeli military has not yet commented on the issue. Yesh Din, which says it is dedicated to defending human rights in the Occupied Territories, called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to dismiss the rabbi. It said the booklet's contents could be "interpreted as a call to act outside the confines of international laws of war".

As many as nine out of ten failed asylum seekers are being allowed to stay in Britain despite having no right to remain

The backlog of illegal immigrants awaiting deportation is growing fast as the UK Border Agency fails to keep pace with the number of rejected applicants. The number of unprocessed cases is also growing. And Government rules stating that all successful asylum seekers must have their cases reviewed after five years - to see if their country is now safe enough to return to - have descended into farce, because the Border Agency has no way of tracking those living in Britain and no plans for a review. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling called the report, from the National Audit Office, a 'shocking indictment of the shambles that is our immigration and asylum system'. Meanwhile, the Commons Public Accounts Committee, to which the NAO reports, claimed the Agency was 'struggling to cope.'

Are campaigns to protect native species racist?

There is no justification for conservationists to defend particular species because of their "ethnicity", Professor Christopher Smout writes in a new book, Exploring Environmental History. Campaigns against alien invaders – such as the cull of American ruddy ducks to prevent them from breeding with European duck species – have no basis in science, he argues. "Conservationists are up in arms because they fear the ducks will all get turned into some kind of mishmash," he said. "The conservationists would say: 'We're doing this because it's endangering the genetic integrity of the white-headed duck.' I don't think that's a scientifically valid point of view. The concern with genetic integrity seems almost quasi-racist. Our attitude to alien species is culturally determined and sometimes you end up with rather bizarre actions by scientists." Prof Smout, who is Scotland's Historiographer Royal and founder of the Institute for Environmental History at St Andrews University, said that conservationists should judge species based on whether or not they are pests, and ignore their origins. He claims that interbreeding between species could often bring evolutionary benefits, and dismissed fears that the genetic identity of red deer in Scotland is threatened by silka deer, which were brought to the UK from Asia in 1860. A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds described the "quasi-racism" charge as outrageous, and said that conservationists give their lives to give beleaguered native fauna a chance.

Warrior gene predicts aggressive behavior after provocation

Individuals with the so-called warrior gene display higher levels of aggression in response to provocation, according to new research co-authored by Rose McDermott, professor of political science at Brown University. In the experiment, which is the first to examine a behavioral measure of aggression in response to provocation, subjects were asked to cause physical pain to an opponent they believed had taken money from them by administering varying amounts of hot sauce. The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Monoamine oxidase A is an enzyme that breaks down important neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The enzyme is regulated by monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA). Humans have various forms of the gene, resulting in different levels of enzymatic activity. People with the low-activity form (MAOA-L) produce less of the enzyme, while the high-activity form (MAOA-H) produces more of the enzyme. Several studies have found a correlation between the low-activity form of MAOA and aggression in observational and survey-based studies. Only about a third of people in Western populations have the low-activity form of MAOA. By comparison, low-activity MAOA has been reported to be much more frequent (approaching two-thirds of people) in some populations that had a history of warfare. This led to a controversy over MAOA being dubbed the warrior gene. The results demonstrate that low-activity MAOA subjects displayed slightly higher levels of aggression overall than high-activity MAOA subjects. There was strong evidence for a gene-by-environment interaction, such that MAOA is less associated with the occurrence of aggression in the low-provocation condition (when the amount of money taken was low), but significantly predicted aggression in a high-provocation situation (when the amount of money taken was high). The results support previous research suggesting that MAOA influences aggressive behavior, with potentially important implications for interpersonal aggression, violence, political decision-making, and crime. The finding of genetic influences on aggression and punishment behavior also questions the recently proposed idea that humans are "altruistic" punishers, who willingly punish free-riders for the good of the group. These results support theories of cooperation that propose there are mixed strategies in the population. Some people may punish more than others, and there may be an underlying evolutionary logic for doing so.

Related:

MAOA, aggression and behavioral economics

Japan's recession and the low birth rate

Japan in the midst of an unprecedented recession, so corporations are being asked to work toward fixing another major problem: the country's low birthrate. At 1.34, the birthrate is well below the 2.0 needed to maintain Japan's population, according to the country's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Keidanren, Japan's largest business group, with 1,300 major international corporations as members, has issued a plea to its members to let workers go home early to spend time with their families and help Japan with its pressing social problem. One reason for the low birth rate is the 12-hour workday. But there are several other factors compounding the problem -- among them, the high cost of living, and social rigidity toward women and parenting. In addition, Japan's population is aging at a faster pace than any other country in the world. Analysts say the world's second-largest economy faces its greatest threat from its own social problems, rather than outside forces. And the country desperately needs to make some fixes to its current social and work structures, sociologists say.

The police in Papua New Guinea estimate that half of all murder cases in 2008 were sorcery related

Apparently, the number of sorcery related murders in the country is rising.

The academic achievement gap between black and white public school students in St. Louis and St. Louis County remains stubbornly wide

At 25 school districts, black students again scored lower than white students on 2008's state standardized tests, says the fourth-annual report from the St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable, which aims to eliminate the disparity between black and white student achievement. The gap generally widened among elementary and high school students from 2007 to 2008.

The death of neoconservatism?

Juan Cole writes that the recent Israeli offensive has put the final nail in the coffin of the Bush administration's Middle East fantasy.

Related:

Obama's Vietnam

France's new immigration minister is set to implement legislation that would allow DNA testing of new arrivals

Eric Besson has said the tests would establish which foreigners were claiming visas by making up fictitious family ties with those already settled in the country. The tests will be for applications for visas of more than three months when there are doubts about an immigrant's birth or marriage certificates. The move would allow officials to 'propose' to applicants that they take a test at their own expense to prove a biological link with other family members. A recent report said there was often doubt over the authenticity of papers in family applications for visas. It claimed that in African countries such as Senegal, Ivory Coast and Togo up to 80% of birth and marriage certificates were forged. Government statistics show there are 23,000 immigration cases a year where visa applications involve children, meaning DNA tests would become widespread.

Witchdoctors in Tanzania are defying a government ban intended to stop the killings of people with albinism for ritual medicine

A correspondent has seen at least 10 witchdoctors are working openly. It comes days after the latest murder of an albino man in Tanzania brought the national death toll to at least 40 since mid-2007. The killers reportedly sell albino body parts - including limbs, hair, skin and genitals - to witchdoctors. Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said the government was revoking the licences of all traditional healers with immediate effect. "These witchdoctors are big liars," he said at a rally in the northern Shinyanga region. But Vicky Ntetema said it was business as usual for the traditional healers she visited just outside the biggest city Dar es Salaam. A spokesman for a traditional healers' association has criticized the ban. In the most recent case an albino man - named as Jonas Maduka - was killed in Sogoso village in the north-western Mwanza region. He was reportedly eating dinner at home when some people called and asked for his help. When he went outside he was strangled, before his assailants chopped off his leg and made away with the limb. The Tanzanian authorities have arrested more than 90 people in recent months - including four police officers - on suspicion of killing albinos or of trading in their body parts.

Steve Sailer and affirmative action

Steve Sailer ruins an otherwise great article on affirmative action with this sentence:

Racial quotas might be necessary for some institutions, typically local monopolies such as utilities or police forces, that aren't disciplined by the market to maximize efficiency.

Does Sailer really believe that it would be more efficient to have more black and Hispanic police officers and fewer white ones?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Children leaving Zimbabwe for South Africa

With their nation in a prolonged sequence of crises, more unaccompanied children and women than ever are joining the rush of desperate Zimbabweans illegally crossing the frontier at the Limpopo River, according to the police, local officials and aid workers. What they are escaping is a broken country where half the people are going hungry, most schools and hospitals are closed or dysfunctional and a cholera epidemic has taken a toll in the thousands. Yet they are arriving in a place where they are unwelcome and are resented as rivals for jobs. In 2008, Zimbabweans were part of the quarry in a spate of mob attacks against foreigners. The South African government issues temporary asylum papers to about 250 of these refugees a day, entitling them to six months without worry of deportation. Unaccompanied minors are ineligible for this status, though, leaving them in an odd limbo, with no specified place in the bureaucratic shuffle. Georgina Matsaung runs a shelter for children at the Uniting Reformed Church. “You’ll sometimes find boys sleeping in ditches and under bridges, but you won’t find the girls,” she said with a regretful shake of her head. “The girls get quickly taken by men who turn them into women.” The Musina area has a population of about 57,000, with an additional 15,000 foreigners, overwhelmingly Zimbabweans, at any given time, according to Abram Luruli, the municipal manager. “Many children are scattered in the street,” he admitted, though it is plain enough for anyone to see. At night, they can be found sleeping beneath sheets of plastic along the roadside, a few of them with their minds meandering from ethers inhaled from a bottle of glue. While the stories of the refugee children are troubling — with penury in Zimbabwe being exchanged for penury here — many of the more horrifying stories in the city involve the rapes of helpless women. Leticia Shindi, a 39-year-old widow from the village of Madamombe, said she left Zimbabwe on Jan. 4, hoping to get piecework so she could send money back to her two daughters. She had never waded across a river before, and as she eyed the muddy flow, she seized up with fear. Two young men were preparing to lead others across, and she gratefully joined them. The guides used poles to judge the hidden depths while the rest cautiously held hands as they moved through the shoulder-deep water. Once across, the two men robbed them all. Because Ms. Shindi had insufficient money, payment was exacted otherwise. “Take off your underpants,” she recalled one gumaguma saying. “Today I am going to be your husband.”

Limbaugh and Obama

Rush Limbaugh responds to Barack Obama.

Criminals with suspected links to witch doctors murdered a six-year-old albino girl in Burundi and made away with her severed limbs

"A group of bandits armed with rifles attacked the home of a six-year-old albino called Cizanye in Bugongo," 220 kilometres east of the capital Bujumbura, said local official Remi Sengiyumva. "These criminals decapitated her and then chopped off her arms and legs, which they took with them," he said. At least two albinos were murdered and mutilated in September 2008 in Burundi. Police had said they suspected criminals of hunting albinos to sell their organs and limbs to witch doctors in Tanzania who use them for lucky charms. "This little girl is the third albino victim of such barbaric crimes in our province since September. . . . We are doing everything we can to find the killers," Ruyigi province prosecutor Nicodeme Gahimbare said. The recent attacks against the small central African country had prompted the local authorities to set up a shelter where the albinos in Ruyigi province were invited to gather. In neighboring Tanzania, at least 27 albinos, mostly women and children, have been killed in different parts of the country over the past year alone. Albinism is a congenital lack of the melanin pigment in the skin, eyes and hair which protects from the sun's ultraviolets. Albinos are vulnerable to medical complications and social discrimination in Africa.

Tanzania bans healers to curb albino murders

Tanzania has revoked the licences of all its traditional healers in a drive to stop killings of albinos by people who use their body parts for witchcraft. The move came just days after the latest murder of an albino man in the northwestern Mwanza region, a remote area bordering Lake Victoria where old superstitions run deep. That brought the national death toll to at least 40 since mid-2007. Police and albino rights groups say the killers sell body parts including limbs, hair, skin and genitals to witch doctors for use in rituals. "These witch doctors are big liars. If they were genuine healers many diseases would have been reduced," the Citizen newspaper quoted Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda as saying in Shinyanga, one of the worst hit areas. "Instead, the country has many diseases and worse, they are fanning albino killings." Albinos lack a pigment in their eyes, skin or hair which renders them especially vulnerable to skin cancer and burns, and makes life particularly difficult in sun-drenched east Africa. The Tanzanian authorities have arrested more than 90 people in recent months - including four police officers - who are suspected of killing albinos or of trading in their body parts. There are thought to be more than 200,000 albinos in the country, which has a total population of 40 million. The violence has also spread to neighboring states, with at least one albino murder each in Burundi and Kenya in 2008. Police in those countries say the killings were ordered by Tanzanians.

Irate villagers kill suspected 60-year-old witch in Africa

A suspected witch has been tortured to death by a mob. Unknown villagers in Karonga district stabbed to death a 60-year-old man for being suspected of practicing witchcraft.

Christian families are such a rarity in some inner-city communities that two Church of England schools now cater exclusively for Muslim pupils

In many church primary schools in English cities, more than half of the pupils are Muslim. In at least a dozen such schools, more than 80% are from Islamic homes. Five church schools, in Blackburn, Birmingham, Bradford, Oldham and London, have become 99% Muslim and in two – another school in Blackburn and one in Dewsbury – every pupil is Muslim. The Church is putting £750,000 towards the construction of a new primary school in Blackburn whose intake will be almost 100% Muslim. Some parishes in the town – where eight of the 24 church primary schools have a majority of Muslim pupils – have questioned the justification for the investment. It is also understood that at least one Church school no longer observes the requirement to have an act of daily collective worship that is consistently and recognisably Christian. A former school governor in Bradford has warned that some Christians in her city have chosen to send their children to secular schools, fearing they would be isolated at their local, Muslim-dominated church school.

Black Labor MP admits that her staff wrote Obama tribute

Dawn Butler has admitted that her staff wrote a tribute to her supposedly written by Barack Obama. Ms Butler, the MP for Brent South, confirmed that the poorly-punctuated tribute letter, which was posted on her website, had merely been signed by Mr Obama when the then-presumptive Democratic presidential candidate visited London in July 2008. The letter, which was printed on House of Commons headed paper, said: "Having met Dawn Butler MP I can see why she is one of only two black women in parliament. She is bright, intelligent and determined. I say to the people of Brent you should have the audacity of hope and when someone asks you can she do it, you respond yes we can." Ms Butler said that the wording of the letter had been agreed with Mr Obama's staff before his visit. He signed it when the pair met in 10 Downing Street with David Lammy, an education minister, she added.

Jewish actor says that the British are anti-Semitic

Steven Berkoff says that to be anti-Zionist is to be anti-Jewish.

A woman has been convicted of having two of her daughters genitally mutilated in Denmark's first such case to come before a court

The mother, who is of African origin, was also accused with her husband of planning a trip to Sudan to circumcise another daughter, aged five. She was given a two-year sentence but freed as she had already spent four months in jail. A 2003 law makes genital mutilation punishable by up to six years in jail. The father of the two girls, aged 10 and 12, said he did not know what was happening and was acquitted. Female circumcision is most common in Africa. It involves the surgical removal of a young girl's clitoris or other genital parts. Some 100 to 140 million girls and women around the world have undergone genital mutilation, including 6.5 million in Western countries, according to a 2007 study by the French National Institute for Demographic Research. Female circumcision can cause death through hemorrhaging and later complications during childbirth. It also carries risks of infection, urinary tract problems and mental trauma.

A man arrested by Mexican police says he disposed of 300 bodies for a drugs gang over the past decade by dissolving them in chemicals

Santiago Meza, called the stew maker, said he was paid $600 (£440) a week to dissolve the bodies of murdered rival gang members in caustic soda. He was presented to the media by the Mexican army after being arrested near the city of Tijuana. Over 700 people died in the US border city in 2008 in an ongoing drugs war. The Mexican army says it believes Mr Meza's claims are true. "They brought me the bodies and I just got rid of them," Mr Meza told journalists at a construction site where he disposed of the bodies over a 10-year period. "I didn't feel anything." The 300 corpses were said to belong to murdered rivals of Mexican drug kingpin Teodoro Garcia Simental, who is battling for control over drug trafficking routes through Tijuana, after defecting from the powerful Arellano Felix cartel. Mexico's drug violence has surged and grown more gruesome in recent years, particularly in the northern border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Recently, two human heads were found inside coolers near police stations in the central Guanajuato state, officials said. The heads were accompanied by a note threatening allies of the "La Familia" drug cartel. Drug-related violence claimed 5,700 lives across Mexico in 2008, more than double the number of victims in 2007.

Education and female fertility

In general, better educated women are less fertile.

British MP: Israel exploits guilt over Holocaust to murder Palestinians

Gerald Kaufman, a governing Labor Party British Member of Parliament, has declared that Israel was taking advantage of the guilt many non-Jews feel over the Holocaust to ruthlessly press ahead with its offensive in Gaza. Kaufman, a frequent critic of Israel who was raised as an Orthodox Jew, sharply criticized Israel in a House of Commons debate on Gaza, saying that "The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt from Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians." The MP also commented on the claim that large numbers of the Palestinian victims were militants, saying that "I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants," he said. Kaufman urged the British government to impose an arms embargo on Israel.

Obama and black student achievement

Apparently Obama's election is having miraculous effects on the test scores of black students.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Black squirrels are rapidly wiping out grey ones in parts of Britain

Black 'super squirrels' that are rapidly wiping out their grey cousins in parts of Britain descend from one individual released nearly 130 years ago, it has emerged. The testosterone-fuelled black squirrels are faster, fitter, fiercely territorial and more aggressive, beating greys to food and mates. It is a subgroup of the same species of squirrel as greys but in some areas has already become the dominant variety. It could provide an even bigger threat to our native species of red squirrel, which had already been almost wiped out by greys. Until now it was not known whether the black squirrel was brought to Britain or was a result of a genetic mutation. But research published in Cambridge proved that the British variety is directly descended from the American black. It was introduced by accident in the 1880s when an American black squirrel escaped from the menagerie of an as yet unidentified landowner in the East, most likely in Bedfordshire. Dr Alison Thomas, professor of life sciences at Anglia Ruskin University, said: 'It had been argued that the black squirrel was the result of a genetic mutation caused by two grey squirrels mating and producing a black offspring. Finally we have quashed this. Genetic tests revealed the British black is a direct descendant of the American black. It took just one cheeky squirrel to escape a zoo and mate with a grey. Now there are tens of thousands in the UK.' Dr Thomas said the first black squirrel was sighted on the outskirts of Letchworth, Hertfordshire in 1912. The latest estimates show there could be as many as 25,000 black squirrels in the East of England. This is the biggest change in squirrel demographics since the last indigenous red squirrels almost disappeared 50 years ago as a result of the population explosion of the bigger and more aggressive greys. Grey squirrels, native to the east of North America, were first recorded in Britain in the 1820s, but systematic introduction began in 1876 when a pair were liberated in Cheshire. The prolific greys gradually displaced the native red species. By 1958 all red squirrels had vanished from Cambridgeshire - a county now overrun with black squirrels.

Related:

Origins of British Black squirrel discovered

Chinese student decapitates another at Virginia Tech

A graduate student from China was decapitated with a kitchen knife in a campus cafe at Virginia Tech by another graduate student who knew her, police said. Xin Yang, 22, was killed after arriving at the campus from Beijing on Jan. 8 2009 to begin studying accounting, Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said. Her accused attacker, 25-year-old Haiyang Zhu of Ningbo, China, knew the victim but no motive for the slaying has been determined, Chief Flinchum said. School records showed that Mr. Haiyang was listed as one of Ms. Xin's emergency contacts. Mr. Haiyang was charged with first-degree murder and was being held without bond at the Montgomery County Jail. His lawyer, Stephanie Cox, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Mr. Haiyang and Ms. Xin had been having coffee in a cafe in the Graduate Life Center, where Ms. Xin was living. About seven other people who were in the coffee shop told police that the two hadn't been arguing before the attack. Police received two 911 calls, Chief Flinchum said, and were on the scene in a little more than a minute to take Mr. Haiyang into custody. Chief Flinchum said Mr. Haiyang was not known to the campus police or to the university team that deals with mentally disturbed students. University officials said Mr, Haiyang arrived on campus in the fall of 2008 and was a PhD student in agricultural and applied economics. The stabbing was the first killing on campus since a mass killing on campus in 2007, when a student gunman shot 32 people and then took his own life. University spokesman Larry Hincker said a campus alert system put in place after the mass shootings by Seung-Hui Cho in 2007 sent out messages to 30,000 subscribers by e-mail, text messages and telephone voice mails. Because a suspect was in custody, the messages were sent out as notifications rather than as emergency alerts, he said.

The Obama hysteria

Gerald Warner compares Barack Obama to Tony Blair.

Paleocons and foreign policy

Tom Piatak:

The refusal to criticize behavior that would be criticized if engaged in by any other country is just one sign that America has formed the type of “passionate attachment” to Israel that our first and greatest president warned against in his Farewell Address. Indeed, Fred Barnes recently wrote in the Weekly Standard that one of Bush’s greatest achievements was that he surpassed Ronald Reagan as being “Israel’s best friend in the White House.” I suspect millions of Americans who support Israel and view the Farewell Address as a dead letter would agree with Barnes about that. And, as Americans, they have every right to that belief. But Ilana Mercer should not expect paleoconservatives, who tend to take seriously the Founders’ prescriptions for foreign policy, and who are generally wary of foreign influence and foreign entanglements, to be among those praising American politicians for uncritical support of any foreign country, even Israel.

Dawn Butler and The One

Did Obama really endorse a black female British Labor MP?

An elderly woman was mercilessly beaten up by a group of villagers for allegedly practising witchcraft in the East Champaran district of India

Rampati Devi of Sirisiya village sustained serious head injuries and has been admitted to Motihari Sadar Hospital. According to sources, a group of villagers caught hold of her and beat her up with lathis and rods. Two family members, including a woman, were also injured when they tried to save her. An FIR has been lodged in this connection with Piparakothi police station by the victim against four persons.

Thailand says 126 asylum-seekers from the Burmese Rohingya minority who were detained by the military have been sent back out to sea

The UN Refugee Agency asked to see the detainees three days ago, but never received a response. In December 2008, almost 1,000 Rohingyas were detained and then towed out to sea by Thai security forces in boats with little food and no motors.

Obama won the election because of race

MIT researchers find that Barack Obama won the election by appealing more to blacks and Hispanics.

Police in Nigeria are holding a goat handed to them by a vigilante group, which said it was a car thief who had used witchcraft to change shape

A police spokesman in Kwara State has been quoted as saying that the "armed robbery suspect" would remain in custody until investigations were over. The belief in witchcraft and the power to change shapes is common in Nigeria. Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper has a picture of the goat and reports that police paraded it in front of journalists in the Kwara state capital Ilorin. Communities often rely on ill-educated and badly prepared vigilante squads to fill the gaps where the police will not patrol at night. Innocent Chukwuma of the justice reform group the Cleen Foundation said that many Nigerian police officers were poorly educated. "There are officers who don't even have a secondary school education, and the police have a big job to do in finding these people and getting rid of them." He said in the past political leaders had allowed the police to be filled with incompetent and in some cases criminal officers so they could be easily bought to protect their own criminal activities. Police have also been unable to stop vigilante squads from lynching suspects before they could investigate, he said.

Mexico police chief's head found in ice box

The head of a Mexican police chief was delivered to his colleagues in an ice box in the country's latest drug-related violence.

Ashkenazi Jews and their genomes

A genome-wide genetic signature of Jewish ancestry perfectly separates individuals with and without full Jewish ancestry in a large random sample of European Americans.

Related:

Genetics & History

Women with children work less

A recent survey of 160,000 Ph.D. recipients that found 70% of male tenured professors were married with children while only 44% of their female counterparts were.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Malaysia has banned the hiring of new foreign workers in factories, shops and other services

The government said the move was to protect its citizens from unemployment during the economic downturn. It has also told employers that if they want to cut back their workforce they must sack foreign staff first. Malaysia is a leading Asian importer of labor, with more than two million foreign workers - mostly from Indonesia and other South East Asian countries.

A Muslim cleric in Australia who said men have a right to force their wives to have sex has been told to apologize by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

The cleric, Samir Abu Hamza, reportedly questioned how rape can exist within marriage, and encouraged "light beating" of disobedient women. "I would call upon this Islamic cleric to publicly apologize and repudiate his remarks," Mr Rudd said. He told reporters that such views have no place in Australia. "Under no circumstances is sexual violence permissible or acceptable in Australia," he said. Samir Abu Hamza runs the Islamic Information and Services Network of Australasia and, according to local media, is a self-taught cleric, popular with young Muslims in Melbourne's northern suburbs.

Related:

Islamic cleric advises worshippers to rape and beat wives

A prominent member of South Africa's governing ANC has been killed

Mbongeleni Zondi died when his car was sprayed with bullets, police told the South African Press Association. The ANC said he was "brutally assassinated". The killing in Umlazi, south of Durban, was being investigated and police appealed for witnesses. Mr Zondi, 39, was close to ANC leader Jacob Zuma, who is campaigning for the country's presidency. Elections are expected to be held in April 2009. The dead man was great-grandson of Zulu chief Bambatha, known for leading a guerrilla campaign against British colonialists in 1906.

Obama and Mexico

What will Obama do about the Mexico problem?

Lincoln the hypocrite

Lincoln was not the great emancipator that everyone thinks he was.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Geography lessons sacrificed in favor of trendy causes in British schools

Traditional geography lessons have been sacrificed in favor of political causes such as multiculturalism, human rights, global warming and sustainability, according to a new study.

An illegal immigrant raped an 18-year-old woman in England because she was white

Black South African Amos Moobeng, 35, lured two women back to the Devon farm at which he was staying in 2007. After slapping one woman who rejected his sexual advances, Moobeng locked her friend in a room and raped her. Jailing him for nine years for rape, false imprisonment and assault, the judge said Moobeng targeted the two friends because they were white. Moobeng was told he would be deported after serving his sentence.

Related:

Dancer killer jailed for 27 years

Women are better at spotting a cute baby than men

Psychologists at St Andrews University discovered that women could determine a pretty baby instinctively by its chubby cheeks, big round eyes and button nose. They used computer image manipulation to discover how subtle variations in attractiveness were picked up differently by the sexes. The team suggests that cuteness sensitivity is affected by female reproductive hormones.

A Dutch court has ordered prosecutors to put a conservative politician on trial for making anti-Islamic statements

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders made a controversial film in 2008 equating Islam with violence and has likened the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. "In a democratic system, hate speech is considered so serious that it is in the general interest to... draw a clear line," the court in Amsterdam said. Mr Wilders said the judgement was an attack on the freedom of expression. "Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted," he said. Not only he, but all Dutch citizens opposed to the Islamization of their country would be on trial, Mr Wilders warned. "Who will stand up for our culture if I am silenced?" he added.

Subprime foreclosure rates by race

Steve Sailer says that, in Massachusetts, the Non-Asian Minority foreclosure rate on subprime mortgages was about twice the white rate.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hormones, wealth and female sexuality

High Hormone Level Causes Serial Monogamy In Women

Women Orgasm More For Wealthy Men

White decline and racial nationalism

Kevin MacDonald:

Whites may dream that they are entering the post-racial utopia imagined by their erstwhile intellectual superiors. But it is quite possible that they are entering into a racial dystopia of unimaginable cruelty in which whites will be systematically excluded in favor of the new elites recruited from the soon-to-be majority. It's happened before.

Sentences for Jamaican rapist and his accomplices are to be reviewed

The English Attorney General is considering whether three men who gang-raped a 16-year-old girl before dousing her in caustic soda received unduly lenient sentences, her office has said. The victim, who had a mental age of just eight, was disfigured for life in the attack in Tottenham, north London, in January 2008. Rogel McMorris, 18, Jason Brew, 19, and Hector Muaimba, 20, were each jailed for up to nine years at London's Wood Green Crown Court. Charities representing people with learning difficulties condemned the sentences as too short. Richard Curen, chief executive of Respond, said: "This was a horrific and cowardly attack that scarred and traumatised this young woman both physically and mentally. These sentences are another injury and I fear it will take even longer for her to recover." Attorney General Baroness Scotland's office has requested the papers in the case to consider whether the sentences should be referred to the Court of Appeal for review. The girl's attackers used their mobile phones to record her suffering, the trial heard. They hoped the caustic soda, a powerful corrosive, would destroy forensic evidence. As the victim writhed in agony, they poured water on her, intensifying the burning. The alarm was raised by a neighbour, who heard her frantic cries and found her covered with raw patches on her face and body. A year on from the attack, the girl still faces further surgery and continues to undergo counselling. Jamaican-born McMorris, of Antill Road, Tottenham, north London, was jailed for nine years after being convicted of two rape counts and one of causing grievous bodily harm. Co-defendants Brew, of High Cross Road, Haringey, north London, and Angolan immigrant Muaimba, of Guildford Road, Waltham Forest, east London, were both found guilty of one charge of rape. They were each jailed for six years for attacking the girl, although a further two years was added to Muaimba's sentence for a separate Old Bailey conviction for robbery.

Related:

Rape trio sentence to be reviewed

Men are more likely than women to be able to resist a plate full of tempting treats

In an experiment, a group of 23 volunteers were asked to try to suppress their hunger. The men seemed to do better and brain scans later revealed they had far less activity than the women in a part of the brain linked to desire for food. The researchers say this ability to "switch off" thoughts of food may explain lower rates of obesity in men. The complex mechanisms which control how much we eat are not fully understood. In the experiment, chronicled in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the volunteers did not eat for a day and were then asked to suppress all thoughts of food. When questioned further, the male participants reported fewer hunger pangs and fewer cravings for food. In Britain, rates of obesity are similar in men and women - but women are around three times more likely to be morbidly obese (a body mass index of above 40).

Two men near the South African city of Johannesburg have been electrocuted while trying to steal copper wire from power cables just after first light

"They tried to pull the cables using wires; they were standing on the ground," a Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesman said. Percy Morokane said that in 70% of reported cases of power cable theft, suspects are either killed or maimed. Stolen copper is often sold to scrap yards, which then export it. Mr Morokane said the two men, who were thought to be aged between 25 and 30, were trying to steal the copper from power lines running near a main road between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Copper-wire theft is a problem around Johannesburg, but was not an everyday occurrence, he said. In some South African provinces, people have been reported to use stepladders to reach the cables, but in this case the thieves were trying to pull them down from the ground.

Related:

Cabin crew held over drug haul

MYBPC3

Razib blogs about a genetic variant that seems to be unique to South Asians.

Neocons for Obama?

Gabriel Schoenfeld says the neoconservatives may return to the Democrats.

Blacks, robberies and the Census

Half Sigma finds evidence for a "stereotype".

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What does Obama’s attorney general–designate believe about cops and race?

Heather Mac Donald profiles Eric Holder.

Race row at top Scots private school after Muslim kids are asked about Jews

A top private school is at the center of a race row between its Jewish and Muslim pupils. In the wake of fighting in Gaza which has left nearly 1000 Palestinians dead, Muslim children at Glasgow's Hutchesons' Grammar School were asked if they hated Jews. The school admitted many put up their hands - only to be told they should hate the Israeli army instead. Muslim and Jewish pupils attend separate morning assemblies at the school, where fees are around £9000 a year. Muslim pupils make up around 7% of the school roll. Around 6% are Jewish.

Doubts cloud Nazi stabbing claims in Sweden

Investigators have found discrepancies in Passau police chief Alois Mannichl’s claim that he was stabbed by a neo-Nazi in mid-December 2008 and leads point to a domestic dispute instead. Mannichl was hospitalized until just before Christmas with critical injuries after he said he was stabbed on his front porch by a skinhead on December 13. The 52-year-old reported that the man said something along the lines of, “Greetings from the national resistance,” and said, "You leftist pig cop, you won't trample on the graves of our comrades anymore," before stabbing Mannichl in the stomach with a 12-centimeter knife. Police began immediately looking for right-wing extremist suspects, but "experienced investigators" said that "something doesn't fit" with the information Mannichl gave them. "That kind of setting points towards a relationship-related crime," one officer said. First, the police chief – the only witness to the crime – was able to provide only a vague description of his attacker who he said was about 6 feet tall with a round face with a shaved head. A neighborhood witness said she’d seen a man with a snake tattooed behind his ear and possibly a cross on his face. But investigators told the paper they can't find men to fit either description and that the witness' information may be unreliable. "When someone with a tattoo like that commits a crime, it’s as if a bank robber put an identification card on his chest and marches into a bank," one said. "You recognise people like this." Meanwhile, police in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic have combed through their records of documented neo-Nazis to no avail. Another questionable element to Mannichl’s account of the crime is that the knife came from his own home and had been used to cut cake at a neighbor’s party a few days before. But investigators have not yet found traces of cake, foreign DNA or evidence that the stabber was wearing gloves. Family members are usually investigated immediately in such cases, but Mannichl's family was not questioned until several days after the stabbing.

Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army is continuing to carry out attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says the UN refugee agency

Rebels attacked a village, killing four people, including a girl of four and abducting a boy of nine, locals told the UNHCR. A bishop in South Sudan says two men had their hand and legs chopped off and were beaten to death, as boys watched. The LRA now operates in at least four countries in the region.

Birth control pills and the demographic catastrophe

Chemist who helped create the birth control pill says that Europeans must have more children.

Black and Latino students are educated in U.S. schools that are increasingly segregated

Blacks and Hispanics are more separate from white students than at any time since the civil rights movement and many of the schools they attend are struggling, said the report by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California.

Related:

Lower Merion Approves Unpopular Redistricting Plan

Race and the importance of small genetic differences

An interesting piece from Guy White.

Obama and black crime

John Perazzo examines the issue of racial discrimination in the criminal-justice system.

Korean genetics

Y chromosomes and mtDNA of Koreans

Koreans are like the Hmong

Sons of billionaires and daughters of paupers

It is better for rich people to have sons and poor people to have daughters.

Latinos, blacks and ethnic cleansing

More Hispanic-on-black crime.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Diversity, soldiers and happiness

The Wall Street Journal has a review of a new book examining what caused Union soldiers in the Civil War to desert:

Factors like age, marital status, pro-Lincoln support back home and whether the army was on a winning streak also made a measurable difference, but the most important predictor of desertion was socioeconomic and demographic diversity.

Monkeys and serotonin

A genetic variation involving the brain chemical serotonin has been found to shape the social behavior of rhesus macaque monkeys, which could provide researchers with a new model for studying autism, social anxiety and schizophrenia. Humans and macaques are the only members of the primate family to have this particular genetic trait. "We have found very similar gene-based disruptions in social rewards shared by monkeys and by humans," said Michael Platt, Ph.D., associate professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center and an expert in neuroeconomics. Platt's research group at Duke studied behavior and social anxiety in two groups of monkeys with variations in the serotonin transporter gene, crucial to regulating emotion. Based on earlier observations in humans, the scientists knew that humans carry two versions of the gene, long and short. Some people have two long versions (L/L), but the people with one of each (S/L) are known to experience a higher incidence of social anxiety and other behaviors. In a series of experiments, the S version of the gene in monkeys was found to influence their risk-taking when faced with particular social stimuli. "Based on work in humans, we interpreted this to reflect an induction of a fearful emotional state, which often leads people to become risk averse," said Karli Watson, Ph.D., of the Duke Department of Neurobiology, lead author on the paper. In human populations of European ancestry, 48% are S/L and 36% are L/L. The rest are S/S. The S allele is more common in Asian populations, Watson noted. The authors conducted three experiments with male monkeys that had been genotyped for the S/L or L/L variants to learn how genetic variation might influence their responses to social rewards and punishments. They found that monkeys with one copy of the short gene spent less time gazing at images of the face and eyes of other monkeys, were less likely to engage in risk-taking behavior, and less likely to want to view a picture of a high-status male. "For both human and non-human primates, faces and eyes are a rich source of social information, and it's well established that both humans and macaques tend to direct visual attention to faces, especially the eye region," Platt said. "Rhesus monkeys live in highly despotic societies, and convey social rank information by making threats and showing dominant and submissive behaviors." In the eye imaging experiment, the monkeys were observed while being shown images of the faces or scrambled faces of familiar monkeys. In addition to spending less time looking at faces and eyes, the S/L monkeys also had larger pupil diameters when gazing at photos of high-status male macaques, indicating higher arousal. "Their brains set off alarms," Platt said. "In human studies, people with the short version of the gene often show hyperactive amygdalas, a part of the brain involved in detecting threats in the environment. In autism, too, people often don't look people directly in the eye, which may point to a new avenue of research." In a second experiment, the S/L monkeys were less willing to take risks after they were primed with the faces of high-status males. They more often chose a "safe" option of a fixed volume of juice, rather than the chance for a greater or lesser amount, the "risky" choice. Previous studies have found that inducing fear in human subjects makes them more risk-averse. "Our findings showed that faces of high-status males cause greater fear in the S/L monkey," Platt said. The final experiment was a pay-per-view set-up. The monkeys could have a juice reward paired with an image or a juice reward without any image. The images were of high-status male faces, low-status male faces, female genitals or a gray square. The S/L monkeys actually had to be paid juice to view the dominant males, while the L/L monkeys gave up juice for a look at these faces. "Heightened sensitivity to social threats may prove to be helpful in many ways, because success in a social group depends on seizing opportunities while avoiding any potential harmful, antagonistic interactions," Watson said. "Altogether, our data show that genetic variation in serotonin function does contribute to social reward and punishment in macaques, and thus shapes social behavior in both humans and rhesus macaques," Watson said. "This study confirms rhesus monkeys can serve as a model of what goes on in our brains, even in the case of social behavior."

Related:

New Study Reveals That Monkeys Can Do Simple Math

Californians are fleeing diversity

For many people in California, years of rising taxes, dead-end schools, unchecked illegal immigration and clogged traffic have robbed the Golden State of its allure.

Israel PM Olmert brags about ordering Bush around

Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister of Israel, is boasting to his fellow Israelis about how much control Israel has over the United States government.

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'More than 1,000 killed in Gaza'

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

European countries account for half of the top 20 economies considered free or mostly free

Hong Kong has been named the world's freest economy for the 15th year in a row, according to an annual report released by the conservative Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that warns against government intervention amid the global economic crisis. The Chinese territory, known for its low taxes and looser regulations, was followed by Singapore, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, according to the current Index of Economic Freedom. European countries again accounted for half of the top 20 economies considered free or mostly free, with Switzerland at No. 9 and the U.K. at No. 10. However, the U.S. slid one notch to sixth place, dinged for increased government spending and tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product, one of the survey's authors said. Ranking at the bottom was North Korea, followed by next-to-last Zimbabwe, Cuba, Myanmar and Eritrea. The southern African country, whose economy is in meltdown after years of state-endorsed violence and business controls, posted the biggest drop in the current report. The survey, which gauges 179 countries on 10 economic factors like trade barriers, property rights, taxes and market regulations, covers the year ending in June 2008, before the global meltdown led governments around the world to bailout financial institutions.

Muslim prison gangs on the rise as inmates seek safety in numbers

Prison staff in top security jails in Britain are confronting a growing gang culture with groups of Muslim inmates seeking to assert their authority on the wings. A prisons watchdog report recently published provides fresh evidence of the extent of gang activity among inmates jailed for the most serious crimes and of the growing proportion of Muslim inmates held in high-security conditions. 25% of the 430 population of Long Lartin top security jail in Worcestershire are now Muslim, according to an inspection report by Dame Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons. Prisoners told Dame Anne during her inspection that offenders at the jail are converting to Islam because they want the protection of belonging to a big Muslim group. One inmate quoted in the report said:"Yes, there is a gang culture here which is becoming an issue. A lot of people are becoming Muslim just because it a bigger group." Another inmate warned that all violence in the jail was gang related and that Long Lartin was in danger of turning into an American-style prison. He said: "If you are not in a gang, you’re in trouble. People are converting to Islam for protection." The comments reflect similar concerns at other top security jails such as Belmarsh in southeast London and Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire. The number of Muslim prisoners in jails doubled in the eleven years to 2007 to reach 8,864 - 11% of the total prison population. Muslim prisoners make up one third of the population of Whitemoor, 15% of Full Sutton top security prison in Yorkshire and 20% of Belmarsh jail.

African-Americans and sexually transmitted diseases

While representing 12% of the U.S. population, blacks had about 70% of reported gonorrhea cases and almost half of all chlamydia and syphilis cases (48% and 46%respectively) in 2007. STDs take an especially heavy toll on black women 15 to 19 years of age, who account for the highest rates of both chlamydia (9,646.7 per 100,000 population) and gonorrhea (2,955.7 per 100,000 population) of any group.

Israel bans Arab political parties from running in upcoming parliamentary elections

Knesset spokesman Giora Pordes said the election committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion, accusing the country's Arab parties of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel's right to exist.

Illegal immigrant from Mexico arrested for allegedly selling daughter on the Internet

Police said Marcelino de Jesus Martinez was arrested after he approached them because the 18-year-old he sold his daughter to as a wife was failing to pay up. Authorities in Greenfield, a small rural town in California’s central coast, said Martinez was not aware of US law prohibiting arranged marriages involving underage teenagers and children. He was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking. Police also arrested Margarito de Jesus Galindo, 18, the man Martinez allegedly struck the deal with, on suspicion of statutory rape. The agreement apparently included a payment of $16,000, 150 cases of beer, 50 cases of Gatorade, a sports drink, 100 cases of soda, six cases of meat and two cases of wine in exchange for marriage to Martinez’s daughter. “I just don’t think it occurred to him that he was breaking any laws,” Greenfield police chief Joe Grebmeier said. He added that cultural difference could possibly explain the transaction. “Different communities have different cultures... Some things are legal in Mexico and not legal here.” Police believe the 14-year-old girl, who is under California’s legal age of consent and cannot legally marry, went willingly with Galindo. But after the payments stopped, Martinez, 36, contacted the police to get his daughter back. He initially told police she had run away from home. Mr Grebmeier said Martinez and Galindo, who are both from Oaxaca, Mexico, could faced deportation as illegal immigrants. He added that he wanted to ensure members of the farming community, where rumors of arranged marriages are common, understood they were breaking California law. “From what I understand this doesn't violate Mexican law or their customs where they came from,” Mr Grebmeier said. “We want to send a strong message with regard to the law on sex with minors and the sale of minors into marriage – that it’s illegal.”

Related:

Police: Man sold teen daughter into marriage for cash, beer, meat

Jews and IQ tests

Guy White has a post showing the accuracy of IQ tests when dealing with different ethnic groups.

Bush, like Truman, has failed to understand what ruined his presidency

Patrick J. Buchanan reflects on George W. Bush's failed presidency.

Authorities in Papua New Guinea say they will toughen laws against murders blamed on sorcery, after a surge of them during the past year

The chairman of the Constitutional Review and Law Reform Commission said defendants were using accusations of witchcraft as an excuse to kill people. Police say at least 50 people were killed in 2008 across the country. In the latest suspected incident, a young woman accused of being a witch was burnt at the stake. Correspondents say deaths and mysterious illnesses are sometimes blamed on evil curses and suspected sorcerers are often blamed and then killed. Prosecuting those who kill these so-called magic makers within tight-knit communities is problematic, they add, and rural courts often acquit those who are made to stand trial. "It's the easy way out for someone to kill somebody else, and use sorcery as an excuse," the head of the law reform commission, Joe Mek Teine, said. "And you would find that the victim is totally innocent." Mr Mek Teine said that the new legislation would force rural courts to charge those accused of sorcery-related killings with premeditated murder. "It is a problem that has been existing in the country before the arrival of Western influence, and it's deeply rooted," he said. "The churches have done a lot to improve it but it's getting worse every time," he added.

Males, math and autism

Simon Baron-Cohen argues that there is a connection between autism and mathematical ability.

Related:

If we screen out autism we run the risk of losing genius, too

The length of a man's fingers may predict his success

Scientists at Cambridge University found that financial traders whose ring fingers are longer than their index fingers make the most money. The link could be down to testosterone exposure in the womb, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says. This exposure may improve rapid decision-making skills and has been linked with aggression. The same ring-to-index finger ratio, which is determined in the womb, has previously been associated with success in competitive sports. Researcher John Coates and his team reported in 2008 that testosterone seemed to boost short term success at finance after they found City traders with higher levels of the male hormone in the morning were more likely to make an unusually big profit that day. Their latest findings are based on a study of 44 men working as traders in London, some of whom earned more than £4 million a year. Over 20 months those traders with longer ring fingers made 11 times more money than those with the shortest ring fingers relative to their index fingers. This biological impact on success was about equal to years of experience at the job. The most experienced traders made about nine times more than the least experienced ones. When the researchers looked only at the experienced traders, those with longer ring fingers earned far more than those with shorter ring fingers - £838,000 compared to £154,000 on average, respectively. The scientists believe that exposure to the aggression hormone testosterone in the womb may have improved the traders' concentration and honed reflexes necessary to follow prices and make trades on extremely short notice. This suggests that success on the financial markets is influenced by biology as much as experience, the researchers told PNAS. Meanwhile, Belgian researchers have found men with longer ring fingers become less socially minded - less willing to give money to a fellow participant - after watching aggressive movies. The reverse was also true - those with shorter ring fingers gave away the most money. Lead researcher Kobe Millet said: "These results tell us that levels of testosterone people are exposed to before birth go on to affect their behavior throughout their lives." He said studies suggested similar associations with finger length are also seen in women.

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Testosterone miscellany

Academics find that finger of destiny points their way

Finger length predicts physically aggressive personalities, study shows

Osteoarthritis risk linked to finger length ratio

Finger length helps predict elementary exam results, study shows

UC Berkeley psychologist finds evdence that male hormones in the womb affect sexual orientation

Aggressive tendencies may be revealed by asymmetry in body parts, study finds

Monday, January 12, 2009

Britain's white working class

The British government has released a study of attitudes to immigration which found that white, working-class families have been left with feelings of resentment, unfairness and betrayal by the government's refusal to listen to their concerns.

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Hazel Blears states the obvious

We allowed a migrant free-for-all during Blair years, Cabinet minister Hazel Blears says

The great white backlash: Working class turns on Labour over immigration and housing

What's the Government Doing About the "Ignored Poor"?

Scientists have found a genetic risk factor for late onset Alzheimer's disease which is carried only by women

The discovery is the first evidence to suggest that genetics may partly explain why more women than men tend to develop the disease. The key variant was found in a gene on the X chromosome, of which females have two copies, but males only one. The study, by the US-based Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, features in the journal Nature Genetics. The Mayo team carried out a detailed genetic analysis of patients with Alzheimer's disease. They identified a particular variant of a gene called PCDH11X which appeared to be closely linked to a higher risk of the disease. However, further analysis showed that the association was almost entirely restricted to women. The raised risk of Alzheimer's was not statistically significant in men who carried one copy of the rogue gene variant, and only marginally so in women with just one copy. But the raised risk was much more significant in women who carried two copies - one inherited from each parent.

Israel and Bernie Madoff

Is it anti-Semitic to point out the truth about Israel?

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On Goldberg and Douthat

In contemporary American public life, debates are won by denouncing inconvenient facts as "stereotypes"

Steve Sailer has another excellent column on America's racial future.

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Steven Pinker gets his genome tested ...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Robert Lindsay on Afrocentrists

Robert Lindsay:

Africans were surely out of the Stone Age and they had the full array of agriculture, which advances them at least beyond most Amerindians. Let’s give credit where it’s due. But they’re no challengers to the Chinese, the Hittites, the Indians, the Greeks or the Romans. In many ways, they were bested even by Filipinos and Indonesians.

The founder of scandal-hit Indian software company Satyam is to be held in custody until 23 January 2009, after he admitted falsifying its accounts

Ramalinga Raju, who said the firm had exaggerated cash reserves by some $1 billion (£661m), and his brother Rama have been charged with criminal conspiracy. Police have also detained Vadlamani Srinivas, Satyam's chief financial officer, for questioning. The affair is India's biggest-ever corporate fraud. Raju, formerly chairman, and his brother, formerly managing director, have been charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery, criminal breach of trust and falsifying documents, S.K Kumudi, a senior police officer, said. They could face life in prison, he added. The company, which employs 53,000 people and brought in about $40 billion in 2008, is now fighting for its life. Its clients include Nestle, General Electric and Ford. The scandal comes at a tough time for Indian companies, already hit by the global slowdown and faltering growth in India, one of Asia's tiger economies.

The college diversity racket is immune to economic downturns

Heather Mac Donald shows that even in a recession Harvard University's devotion to political correctness continues.

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Harvard’s Diversity Grovel

Diversity Gobbledygook

Treating Men Like No Other Group

Guatemalan girl describes alleged enforced prostitution by fellow immigrants

When Sandra agreed to make the perilous trek from her native Guatemala to the United States in 2006, she said, she was lured by the prospect of a job as a housekeeper that would enable her to send money to her impoverished family back home. Her father had a hernia that prevented him from working, and money was so tight that she and her 12 siblings sometimes didn't have shoes or enough to eat, the young woman testified in federal court in Los Angeles. But not long after Sandra was delivered to L.A. by human-smuggling "coyotes," she learned that the job awaiting her had nothing to do with cleaning houses. Instead, she said, she was told that she would have to "lay with men." "Did you understand you were going to be working as a prostitute?" asked Assistant U.S. Atty. Cheryl Murphy. "I did not know what that word was," Sandra responded through a Spanish-language translator. "Now I do." Sandra's last name was not disclosed in court because she is the alleged victim of a sex crime and because prosecutors contend she is a minor. She went on to testify how she was held captive, beaten, raped and forced to have sex with as many as 10 men a day by a group of fellow immigrants. She was the first in a string of young women to testify in what is expected to be a weeks-long trial before U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. The defendants, most of them illegal immigrants from Guatemala, are accused of luring 10 unsuspecting young women - in some cases, girls - to the United States with the promise of legitimate jobs such as waitressing or working in jewelry or clothing stores.

Worker ants in colonies with a queen are physically attacked by their peers if they try to reproduce, a study says

In ant society, workers normally give up reproducing to care for the queen's offspring, who are also their brothers and sisters. The researchers found that chemicals produced by the sneaky ants gave away their fertility status. The findings by a US-German team of researchers are published in the journal Current Biology. To test the idea, scientists applied a synthetic compound typical of fertile individuals to non-reproductive worker ants belonging to the species Aphaenogaster cockerelli. In colonies where a queen was present, the workers with the hydrocarbon chemical applied to them were attacked by other ants. The researchers reported that deceitful ants were bitten, pulled and held by their peers. But this was not the case in colonies without a queen ant, where workers were free to reproduce. Co-author Jurgen Liebig of Arizona State University in Tempe, US, said the hydrocarbon chemicals produced by the cheating ants were an "inherently reliable signal". This "reproductive policing" plays an important role in maintaining harmony in the ant world, Dr Liebig explained. "The idea that social harmony is dependent on strict systems to prevent and punish cheating individuals seems to apply to most successful societies," he said. For cheating to be a successful strategy for some ants, the researchers say, two conditions would need to be satisfied. Firstly, worker ants would need to suppress the hydrocarbon signals on their bodies. Secondly, they would need to continue to express the signal on their eggs, so that their offspring could not be distinguished from those of the queen. Some ant species are known not only to attack cheating workers, but also to destroy their eggs.

Religion, genes and Lebanese Phoenicians

Dienekes shows how religion can act as a barrier to gene flow.