Saturday, November 30, 2013
Researchers have found an aggressive new strain of HIV in West Africa that develops into AIDS much faster than other strains
The strain is a "recombinant" virus, or a combination of two different viruses that join together in the body to create a completely new virus. This particular strain combines the two most common HIV strains in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. And it's pretty strong: Scientists say that the new strain can develop into AIDS in just five years. That's up to two-and-a-half years faster than either of its parent strains. So far, the strain has only been seen in Guinea-Bissau, but researchers warn that it could spread quickly.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Police digging up mass graves in western Mexico have now found human remains from at least 54 victims there
The grim figure released by Mexico's Attorney General's Office was the latest since authorities made the startling find recently of dozens of hidden graves during an investigation into the disappearance of two federal agents. So far, authorities haven't said whether the missing agents' bodies have turned up in the hidden graves found in La Barca, a town near the border of Mexico's Jalisco and Michoacan states. Prosecutors say that they haven't identified the bodies they've found. Some of the victims showed signs of being bound, gagged and tortured, investigators said. Authorities believe that municipal police officers were tied to the federal agents' disappearances, Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said. "We detained them, and from that investigation, we found a place where the federal agents might have been buried," he said. For years, authorities have described police corruption in Mexico as one of their top concerns as they combat drug cartels. Federal officials have said that the lower salaries of local police officers make them more susceptible to corruption. Recently, 13 police officers in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco were arrested and accused of running a kidnapping gang. The discovery of the hidden graves comes amid high tensions in the region, where cartels are battling for turf and government forces are cracking down on emerging citizen self-defense groups.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have found that a genetic variation that is linked to increased levels of triglycerides - fats in the blood associated with disorders such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and stroke - is far more common than previously believed and disproportionally affects people of African ancestry
The finding offers a clue as to why Africans and people of African descent have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes compared to many other populations, says the study's senior author, Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell. African Americans with the variant had, on average, 52% higher triglyceride levels compared with blacks in the study who did not have the variant. "The prevalence of the ApoE mutation may put large numbers of Africans and African descendants worldwide at risk for a triglyceride-linked disorder," Dr. Crystal says. The number of Africans and African descendants who may have this gene variant is significant, Dr. Crystal says. "Based on our findings, we estimate that there could be 1.7 million African-Americans in the United States and 36 million sub-Saharan Africans worldwide with the variant, which increases risk of the lipid disorder and, to some unknown extent, the diseases associated with it," he says. The gene variant the scientists studied is a single point mutation - a replacement of one of DNA segment with another - in the ApoE gene, which carries fats and other molecules through the blood. Scientists have believed that more than 95% of the world's population has one of three common ApoE variants - 2, 3, or 4. The rest have one of 38 rare ApoE mutations, among them the R145C variant studied in this research. In the three decades since the variant's discovery, only 32 instances of it have been reported in the scientific literature, Dr. Crystal says. "This ApoE variant was believed to be so extremely rare that no one paid much attention to it," he says. Weill Cornell researchers in Qatar decided to investigate the mutation in their work evaluating the genetics of Qatari natives - people who have lived in the country for three generations or more. That population is made up of three genetic sub-populations: Arab, Persian, and sub-Saharan African. The researchers were able to look at the genomes of 228 Qatari participants. To their surprise, investigators found that 17% of the African-derived genetic subgroup had the rare ApoE variant. None of the Arab or Persian participants had the mutation. The team then expanded their study. They looked at participants in the worldwide 1000 Genomes Project (1000G), and found that while the R145C variant is rare to non-existent in populations that are not African or of African descent, it is common (occurring 5% to 12% of the time) among African-derived populations, especially those from sub-Sahara. Weill Cornell Medical College researchers then looked for the variant in New York-area participants taking part in a study on smoking-related lung health. They found that R145C was rare (occurring 0.1% of the time) in the 1,012 whites that they studied, but common in the 1,266 African-American participants, 4% of whom carried the variant. "This research is a good example of how studying a small population can give you insights that are very relevant to the rest of the world," Dr. Crystal says.
The CDC reports a big increase in the number of men having unprotected anal sex — from 48% of gay and bisexual males in 2005 to 57% in 2012
About a third of the men surveyed hadn't been tested for HIV within the past year. It's not that concerns about contracting HIV have vanished, it's that more gay men are using a strategy known as "sero-sorting," says CDC chief Thomas Frieden. The strategy — playing off the phrase "HIV seronegative" on lab reports — refers to an uninfected man who has sex only with other uninfected men, or at least men who think they are. “The problem with sero-sorting is that it’s really easy to get it wrong," says Frieden. The number of new HIV infections in the United States per year has held steady at about 50,000 in recent years, the study's lead researcher said. But considering that 65% of new infections are the result of men having sex with other men, "we are concerned about the increase," she says.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
In Britain, when whites leave urban areas to have children they tended to settle in overwhelmingly white areas in the countryside. At the same time, members of ethnic minorities tend to move to areas that are largely populated by other ethnic minority groups. A study, by Demos and Birkbeck, University of London, surveyed the movements of different groups around the country between the censuses in 2001 and 2011. It found that 100,000 ethnic minority people left London for other parts of England and Wales, but tended to avoid the 80% of the country that is overwhelmingly white. Instead they mainly moved to mixed areas where there are already other established minority groups. White Britons, by contrast, tended to move into mixed areas in London in their 20s, and move out when they start a family. Some 600,000 whites left London for other parts of England and Wales over the same period, with many opting for homogeneous areas that are more than 90% white.
About 55% of black children and 31% of Hispanic children live with one parent, compared to 20% of white children and 13% of Asian children
Children raised in single-parent households in the United States are far more likely to live in poverty than children with both parents present, according to Census figures. As a result, far more black and Hispanic children are raised in poverty than white kids.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Researchers have identified a genomic variant strongly associated with sensitivity to the sun, brown hair, blue eyes and freckles
In the study of Icelanders the researchers uncovered an intricate pathway involving the interspersed DNA sequence, or non-coding region, of a gene that is among a few dozen that are associated with human pigmentation traits. It is more common to find people with ancestors from geographic locations farther from the equator, such as Iceland, who have less pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. People with reduced pigment are more sensitive to the sun, but can more easily draw upon sunlight to generate vitamin D3, a nutrient essential for healthy bones. The researchers, including scientists from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), a part of NIH, analyzed data from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 2,230 Icelanders. A GWAS compares hundreds of thousands of common differences across individuals' DNA to see if any of those variants are associated with a known trait. "Genes involved in skin pigmentation also have important roles in human health and disease," said NHGRI Scientific Director Dan Kastner, M.D., Ph.D. "This study explains a complex molecular pathway that may also contribute insights into skin diseases, such as melanoma, which is caused by the interaction of genetic susceptibility with environmental factors." The GWAS led the researchers to focus on the interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) gene, previously associated with immunity. IRF4 makes a protein that spurs production of interferons, proteins that fight off viruses or harmful bacteria. The researchers noted from genomic databases that the IRF4 gene is expressed at high levels only in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell important in the immune system, and in melanocytes, specialized skin cells that make the pigment melanin. The new study established an association between the IRF4 gene and the pigmentation trait. "Genome-wide association studies are uncovering many genomic variants that are associated with human traits and most of them are found in non-protein-coding regions of the genome," said William Pavan, Ph.D., co-author and senior investigator, Genetic Disease Research Branch, NHGRI. "Exploring the biological pathways and molecular mechanisms that involve variants in these under-explored portions of the genome is a challenging part of our work. This is one of a few cases where scientists have been able to associate a variant in a non-coding genomic region with a functional mechanism." The Icelandic GWAS yielded millions of variants among individuals in the study. The researchers narrowed their study to 16,280 variants located in the region around the IRF4 gene. Next, they used an automated fine-mapping process to explore the set of variants in IRF4 in 95,085 people from Iceland. A silicon chip used in the automated process enables a large number of variants to be included in the analysis. The data revealed that a variant in a non-coding, enhancer region that regulates the IRF4 gene is associated with the combined trait of sunlight sensitivity, brown hair, blue eyes and freckles. The finding places IRF4 among more than 30 genes now associated with pigmentation, including a gene variant previously found in people with freckles and red hair. Part of the research team, including the NHGRI co-authors, studied the IRF4's role in the pigment-related regulatory pathway. They demonstrated through cell-culture studies and tests in mice and zebrafish that two transcription factors - proteins that turn genes on or off - interact in the gene pathway with IRF4, ultimately activating expression of an enzyme called tyrosinase. One of the pathway transcription factors, MITF, is known as the melanocyte master regulator. It activates expression of IRF4, but only in the presence of the TFAP2A transcription factor. A greater expression of tyrosinase yields a higher production of the pigment melanin in melanocytes. "This non-coding sequence harboring the variant displayed many hallmarks of having a function and being involved in gene regulation within melanocyte populations," said Andy McCallion, Ph.D., a co-author at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and collaborator with the NHGRI group. The newly discovered variant acts like a dimmer switch. When the switch in the IRF4 enhancer is in the on position, ample pigment is made. Melanin pigment gets transferred from melanocytes to keratinocytes, a type of skin cell near the surface of the skin, and protects the skin from UV radiation in sunlight. If the switch is turned down, as is the case when it contains the discovered variant, the pathway is less effective, resulting in reduced expression of tyrosinase and melanin production. The exact mechanism that generates freckling is not yet known, but Dr. Pavan suggests that epigenetic variation - a layer of instructions in addition to sequence variation - may play a role in the freckling trait.
A research group discovered a novel receptor, which allows the immune system of modern humans to recognize dangerous invaders, and subsequently elicits an immune response
The blueprint for this advantageous structure was in addition identified in the genome of Neanderthals, hinting at its origin. The receptor provided these early humans with immunity against local diseases. The presence of this receptor in Europeans but its absence in early men suggests that it was inherited from Neanderthals. This receptor, which is abbreviated as “HLA-DRaDPb”, consists of the combination of subunits of already known receptors. Scientists compared the gene sequence, which encodes the discovered receptor, with data bases and determined that an estimated two-thirds of Europeans carry this important structure. Scientists also found that the gene sequence required for this receptor is rare in people in southern Africa, the region known as the cradle of mankind.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
That can lead to weak bones. So many doctors prescribe supplement pills to bring their levels up. But the problem is with the test, not the patients, according to a new study. The vast majority of African-Americans have plenty of the form of vitamin D that counts — the type their cells can readily use. The research resolves a long-standing paradox. "The population in the United States with the best bone health happens to be the African-American population," says Dr. Ravi Thadhani, a professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study. "But almost 80% of these individuals are defined as having vitamin D deficiency. This was perplexing." The origin of this paradox is a fascinating tale of genes interacting with geography. To unravel the mystery, Thadhani and his colleagues looked closely at various forms of vitamin D in the blood of 2,085 Baltimore residents, black and white. They focused on a form of the vitamin called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which makes up most of the vitamin circulating in the blood. It's the form that the standard test measures. The 25-hydroxy form is tightly bound to a protein, and as a result, bone cells, immune cells and other tissues that need vitamin D can't take it up. It has to be converted by the kidneys into a form called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. For whites, blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are a pretty good proxy for how much of the bioavailable vitamin they have. But not for blacks. That's because blacks have only a quarter to a third as much of the binding protein. So the blood test for the 25-hydroxy form is misleading. His study finds that because of those lower levels of the protein, blacks still have enough of the bioavailable vitamin, which explains why their bones look strong even though the usual blood tests say that they shouldn't. "The conclusion from this study is that just because your total levels are low, it doesn't mean we need to replace vitamin D" using supplements, Thadhani says. The reason people of African descent have far less protein-bound vitamin D is probably related to the geographic origins of the human race. Our earliest ancestors lived near the equator in Africa, where sunlight was plentiful and intense year-round. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin when sunlight strikes it. When sunlight is deficient, the vitamin has to come from dietary sources such as eggs and fish oil. Humans living in sunny climates make plenty of vitamin D on their own. In fact, one reason for the high degree of skin pigmentation in people of African descent is to prevent the synthesis of too much vitamin D, which can be toxic. Early humans didn't need to store up reserves of vitamin D, so they didn't need as much of the binding protein, whose function is to squirrel the vitamin away in a form where it can be used later. "Everyone who came out of Africa had the ancestral genotype associated with lower vitamin D-binding proteins," Thadhani says. "When humans moved to areas with less sunlight, a different genotype evolved. The further north they went, the more people needed reserves of vitamin D. So D-binding protein levels went up." And that genetic difference in vitamin D-binding proteins is what researchers have finally figured out.
Online dating app shows that most men preferred Asian women (with the exception of Asian men) while all women (except black women) were most drawn to white men
Research examining the preferences of Facebook dating app, Are You Interested (AYI) found that black men and women receive fewer responses to their messages. Asian women seem to favor advances from white men, as they responded to "yes" messages almost 8% of the time – more than any other race. Men are least likely to respond to "likes" from black women and did so 7.5% of the time, which is less often than for Asian, Latino and white women.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
London: The two suspects in a major slavery case are from India and Tanzania and came to Britain in the 1960s
Two of the three female victims, who were held against their will for over 30 years, met the male suspect in London "through a shared political ideology and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call 'a collective,'" said Commander Steve Rodhouse. Police are investigating "the nature of that collective and how it operated," he said, without providing details about the collective or its ideology. The two suspects, a male and a female, both aged 67, have been released on bail. Rodhouse said that police are beginning house-to-house inquiries seeking information from neighbors who live near the house where the women were held in the Lambeth area of south London. The disclosure that a 69-year-old Malaysian, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old Briton were freed after apparently spending three decades in captivity prompted a flurry of speculation and questions about how it went unnoticed for so long. The arrests were made after the Irish woman phoned a charity to say that she was being held against her will along with two others. The charity engaged in a series of secretive conversations with the women and contacted police. Two of the women eventually left the house, and police rescued the third. The three women are receiving extensive counseling after their decades-long ordeal.
Denmark: By 2050, less than one fifth of the population will have IQs in the 90 to 104 range, whereas over half will have IQs in the 70 to 85 range
Primary schools in Denmark will mainly have low IQ children of sub-Saharan, Middle Eastern, North African, Latin American, and Caribbean backgrounds. By 2072, ethnic Danes will have fallen to 60% of the population and 33% of all births. They will become a minority around 2085.
Israel says that it is not obliged to issue documentation and wants to stop foreigners using birth certificates to stay in country. Israel is to stop issuing birth certificates to babies born to foreigners – a move targeted at migrants but will also encompass diplomats and other international workers. The absence of official documentation is likely to cause major problems when applying for passports and other identity papers. The plan was disclosed in state papers filed to the high court in response to a challenge to an existing policy of refusing to include the father's name in foreigners' birth certificates. As part of this policy, Israel also insists that only the mother's family name may be documented as the baby's last name. The Israeli government says that it has no legal obligation to issue official birth certificates to foreigners, and intends to stop doing so to prevent foreigners using such documentation to claim the right to stay in the country. Instead, foreigners will be given hospital-issued birth notices, which are currently hand-written in Hebrew. It is interesting that Jews tend to be pro-immigration in the United States and Europe but not in Israel.
The 14-year-old black student who raped, robbed and murdered his white high school math teacher used a tree branch to sexually assault her and left a hate note next to her body
Philip Chism left a folded piece of paper with the words "I hate you all" next to the corpse of Colleen Ritzer after he slit her throat in a bathroom. He raped her, slit her throat with the box cutter, wheeled her body outside in a large recycling bin and dumped it in the woods behind the school.Her body was found naked from the waist down with the three foot branch still inside her corpse, which was covered in leaves. Chism was seen on CCTV emerging from the bathroom after killing Miss Ritzer, leaving the building and using a service elevator to return with a recycling bin in which he stuffed her body. Chism has been indicted in a Massachusetts court on charges of murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery.
The Affordable Care Act can be construed as a transfer of benefits from Medicare, which serves an overwhelmingly white population of the elderly – 77% of recipients are white — to Obamacare, which will serve a population that is 54.7% minority
Over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act cuts $455 billion from the Medicare budget in order to help pay for Obamacare. So basically, Obamacare is about shifting tax dollars and other resources away from whites towards blacks and Hispanics.
A black man has been arrested for attacking his pregnant sister after she complained that he ate her chicken nuggets, police said
Kareem Gordon, 28, attacked his 25-year-old sister, who was four months pregnant, after he spotted her eating the fast food treat in their mother's Orlando home, according to a police report. “I will punch you down,” Gordon barked at the woman before grabbing her neck and tossing her into a nightstand, the report said. Gordon — who has a prior arrest for domestic violence against his wife — was charged with aggravated battery.
At least 33 mutilated corpses have been found buried in an area of western Mexico where drug cartels are battling each other, officials have said, the latest in a series of grisly finds amid a scourge of gang-related violence
The bodies, which showed signs of torture, were found in 19 ditches in La Barca, on the border between the states of Michoacan and Jalisco, where a clutch of rival cartels operate. Experts began searching the area based on comments from 25 municipal police who were detained, accused of links to criminal organizations. Some of them had said that corpses of people killed by rival gangs were dumped in the area. Mexico has suffered from a wave of drug-related violence, with about 1,000 people a month dying in gangland killings. About 80,000 people have died since 2007 in cartel violence.
Mangum stabbed boyfriend Reginald Daye with a kitchen knife during an argument in April 2011. Daye died at the hospital 10 days later from complications related to the stabbing. The jury had to choose between first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty. At the sentencing hearing, Daye's family asked Judge Paul Ridgeway for the maximum sentence, saying that he was loved and didn't deserve what happened to him. Ridgeway immediately sentenced Mangum to serve a minimum of 14 years in prison. Mangum previously made national headlines in 2006 when she accused a group of Duke University lacrosse players of sexually assaulting her while she worked as a stripper at a party. The accusations were later found to be false and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed all charges filed against the students.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
If you're black, you are almost 25 times more likely to be shot in New York City than a white person — and you are also more likely to be arrested for pulling a trigger, alarming new NYPD statistics show
Data collected during the first six months of 2013 reveal that 74% of the city’s 567 shooting victims were black. An additional 21.5% were Hispanic. Less than 3% of shooting victims were white, according to the report. Blacks also accounted for the majority — about 70% — of the 222 people arrested for shooting someone during the first half of 2013, according to the NYPD’s Crime and Enforcement Activity report. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has used similar statistics to defend stop-and-frisk, pointing out that police stop more people in minority communities not because of their racial makeup, but because more crimes happen there. “Last year, 97% of all shooting victims were black or Hispanic and reside in low-income neighborhoods,” Kelly recently said as he lashed out against Judge Shira Scheindlin’s decision that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional and appointed a monitor to oversee the program — a reform put on hold after the city appealed. “There were more stops with suspicious activity in neighborhoods with higher crime because that’s where the crime is.” The six-month report shows that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be the victims of murder, rape, robbery, and assault — and to be arrested for committing those violent felonies — than whites. Blacks compose 25.5% of the city’s residents, according to the 2010 census. Non-Hispanic whites make up 33.3%, while Hispanics and Latinos make up 28.6% and Asians 12.7%. The only crimes that saw more whites victimized were larcenies, both grand and petty, which include pickpocketing, credit card fraud and theft of more than $1,000 in property, according to the report. Yet about 50% of the people arrested for grand larceny and 45.8% of those charged with petty larceny were black, the report shows. Blacks also account for more than 55% of those who police stopped and frisked, the report said. Hispanics constituted 29% of those stopped and frisked.
A pair of Iraqi bomb-making experts who boasted about killing American soldiers made it into the United States as refugees because of bungles with background checks — and authorities fear that there could be dozens of similar cases
Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi were allowed to settle in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2009 despite having been detained by Iraqi authorities during the war. After a tip-off, investigators discovered Alwan's fingerprints on a phone used to detonate IEDs in Iraq several years earlier — possibly including one that killed four American troops. Both men were arrested after an FBI sting operation caught them trying to ship weapons and cash to al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the two Iraqis bragged to undercover agents about having killed American troops. The pair are now serving lengthy prison sentences. Some 73,000 Iraqis were admitted to the United States for resettlement between 2006 and 2012.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
An ultra-Orthodox rabbi from Israel is being held in New York without bail for hiding his monstrous sex crime record in order to get a US visa and come to New York
Yakov Yitzchak Roth — a “rebbe” in the Hasidic group Shomrei Emunim — has been arrested in Borough Park by police with the NYPD Special Victim’s Squad. He had flown to New York from Tel Aviv in late August 2013 after swearing in a visa application that he had never been arrested or convicted, according to the federal complaint against him. In reality, just six months earlier he had finished serving a 16-year sentence on his 1997 conviction in the District Court of Tel Aviv for raping, sodomizing and sexually assaulting a child relative, the complaint said.
The genome of a young boy buried at Mal’ta near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia some 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises for anthropologists
The first is that the boy’s DNA matches that of Western Europeans, showing that during the last Ice Age people from Europe had reached farther east across Eurasia than previously supposed. Though none of the Mal’ta boy’s skin or hair survives, his genes suggest that he would have had brown hair, brown eyes and freckled skin. The second surprise is that his DNA also matches a large proportion — about 25% — of the DNA of living Native Americans. The first people to arrive in the Americas have long been assumed to have descended from Siberian populations related to East Asians. It now seems that they may be a mixture between the Western Europeans who had reached Siberia and an East Asian population. The other surprise from the Mal’ta boy’s genome was that it matched to both Europeans and Native Americans but not to East Asians. The scientists' interpretation was that the ancestors of Native Americans had already separated from the East Asian population when they interbred with the people of the Mal’ta culture, and that this admixed population then crossed over the Beringian land bridge that then lay between Siberia and Alaska to become a founding population of Native Americans. The scientists estimate that 14% to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population. A European contribution to Native American ancestry could explain two longstanding puzzles about the people’s origins. One is that many ancient Native American skulls, including that of the well-known Kennewick man, look very different from those of the present day population. Another is that one of the five mitochondrial DNA lineages found in Native Americans, the lineage known as X, also occurs in Europeans.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Researchers have found that the more diverse or integrated a neighborhood is, the less socially cohesive it becomes, while the more homogenous or segregated it is, the more socially cohesive.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Yona Metzger faces accusations of bribery, money laundering and income tax violations. Police said that the crimes were committed while Metzger served as Chief Rabbi. Metzger was Chief Rabbi for Israel’s Ashkenazi, or European-descended, Jews. Along with a second Chief Rabbi from the Sephardic, or Middle Eastern lineage of Jews, Metzger led the country’s supreme body for overseeing Jewish religious services.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Every year, the Orthodox population has been adding 5,000 Jews while the non-Orthodox population has been losing 10,000 Jews. Much of the growth appears to have come from the ultra-Orthodox including the Hasidic sectors. The Orthodox birthrate in the United States is far higher than that of most other religious groups. Orthodox Jews average 4.1 children per adult, while America’s general public averages 2.2 children. The Orthodox Jewish number is higher than the average for Protestants (2.2) and Catholics (2.4). Hispanic Catholics (3.1) come close, but still fall short. Orthodox Jewish communities rely on government aid programs to subsidize their child-heavy lifestyle. In Rockland County, New York, the Hasidic village of New Square receives Section 8 housing subsidies at a higher rate than anywhere else in the region. In New Jersey, schools in the Orthodox Jewish city of Lakewood get more federally backed E-Rate telecom subsidies than schools in any other municipality. Half of the people living in the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, in Orange County, New York, are on food stamps; a third are on Medicaid.
Radical anti-government fighters in Syria mistakenly beheaded a wounded fellow rebel soldier after assuming he was a supporter of President Bashar al-Assad, according to an online statement from the radical fighters' group
A separate online video showed a gruesome display of radical fighters holding what appeared to be the victim's head. After the beheading, the victim was determined to be Mohammed Fares, an anti-government fighter wounded in clashes against the Syrian Army earlier, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. An online statement from a spokesman for the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), whose fighters apparently carried out the beheading of Fares, called for forgiveness for the killers and asked for "restraint and piety" from anti-government supporters. "We call on God to accept Mohammed Fares into his Kingdom and to forgive his brothers that sought to rid us of the enemies of God and our enemies," Omar Al-Qahatani said in Arabic in the ISIS statement. Fares apparently shouted the names of two revered figures in Shiite Islam when he arrived wounded in a makeshift hospital, prompting the overwhelmingly Sunni opposition to assume he was a government fighter, Al-Qahatani added in the statement. In the separate online video, two fighters from ISIS are seen displaying what appears to be the decapitated head of a bearded man to a crowd in Syria's commercial capital of Aleppo. "He is an Iraqi Shiite volunteer fighter in Bashar al-Assad's army," a young man brandishing a knife in one hand and holding the decapitated head in another says in Arabic to a group of men all dressed in black. "If they (al-Assad's army) enter they will not distinguish between supporters and opponents. I swear they will rape the men before the woman," another jihadi fighter continues in the amateur video. The incident comes as deadly clashes and infighting continues between extremist opposition factions and more secular rebel brigades, potentially weakening the armed movement against al-Assad and further threatening the safety of civilians caught in the conflict. Human rights groups and some members of the Syrian opposition have condemned barbaric actions by ISIS including the execution of wounded government soldiers, the shooting of a 15-year-old boy for blasphemy, and public flogging of women for behavior deemed to violate Sharia law.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Australia: A former leader at a Melbourne Jewish youth organization has been charged with child sex offenses
Aaron Kestecher, also known as Ezzy, faced Melbourne Magistrates Court over allegations that he abused two boys, including one who was under his care. Kestecher, 28, is believed to have been a leader of the Chabad Youth group and worked as a substitute teacher at Yeshivah College in East St Kilda. The offenses, including sexual penetration of a child under 16 and other indecent acts, are alleged to have taken place between June 2009 and March 2010.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Two specific genetic variations in people of African descent are responsible for persistent atopic dermatitis (AD), an itchy, inflammatory form of the skin disorder eczema
A new report by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that loss-of-function mutations to Filaggrin-2 (FLG2), a gene that creates a protein responsible for retaining moisture and protecting the skin from environmental irritants, were associated with atopic dermatitis in African American children. The study is the first report to deduce the mechanism responsible for the persistent form of the condition in African American children. Nearly half of people with atopic dermatitis in the United States are African-American children. The team evaluated DNA from 299 African American children, none of whom had experienced skin free of symptoms of AD while not on medication in the previous 6 months. Within the group, researchers discovered that children with either one of two FLG2 mutations - rs12568784 or rs16833974 - were more than 50% more likely to have persistent AD than those without the mutations.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
New data on graduation rates from the U.S. Department of Education shows that at the nation’s largest universities that participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I, the black student graduation rate (for all students, not jut athletes) in 2013 was 44%
For whites the graduation rate is 22 points higher at 66%. This roughly 20-percentage-point racial gap in college graduation rates has persisted for more than the past two decades. When the figures are broken down by gender, black men have a college graduation rate of 39%, whereas the rate for black women is 48%. Since 2009, there has been a slight reduction in the gender gap in black student graduation rates from 12 percentage points to nine percentage points. The rate for black women has declined while the rate for black men has increased slightly. For men the racial gap between blacks and whites is 25 percentage points. For women, the racial gap is 20 percentage points.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Three members of two popular Iranian indie bands who were living and working in the United States were shot and killed in Brooklyn by a fellow rocker who then turned the gun on himself
The dead included Soroush Farazmand, 27, whose rock band the Yellow Dogs was featured in a 2009 CNN report about Iran's burgeoning underground rock scene. Police found the guitarist dead from a shot to the chest in a second-floor bedroom of the East Williamsburg building where band members lived and practiced. Farazmand's brother, Arash, 28, a drummer with the band the Free Keys, was also shot and killed at the same location as was a third Iranian musician, Ali Eskandarian, 35. An Iranian street artist was shot in the arm, police said. The shooter, who took his own life on the rooftop of the building, was identified as Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, 29, police said.
Corey Dunton, the black teen who opened fire at a crowded Manhattan ice-skating rink, injuring two, posted on social media that he was heading to the rink with an "amp" - which is slang for a gun
The black 16-year-old is charged as an adult with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with Saturday night's shooting in Bryant Park. Dunton opened fire at the park's ice skating rink after he demanded that a 20-year-old man give up his $600 coat. When the man refused, Dunton left the skating rink, returned with a gun and fired several shots into the crowd. The intended target was shot once in the arm. A 14-year-old bystander, identified as Adonis Mera, was shot in the back and family members said that it's possible he may never walk again.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
A high-risk genetic variant confers a significantly increased risk of progressive kidney disease in African Americans, at least partly explaining a racial disparity in end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
Analysis of black and white patients in another trial - half with diabetes - showed kidney function declined almost three times as fast in blacks with the high-risk APOL1 profile as compared with whites. "These variants explain, in part, the markedly increased risk of ESRD among black patients, as compared with white patients, regardless of diabetes status," Lawrence J. Appel, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues reported. "These results also highlight the need to identify other risk factors that can account for residual disparities in ESRD between black patients and white patients. In the context of previous studies, our results suggest that APOL1 high-risk variants increase the risk of progression of chronic kidney disease among black patients, regardless of the cause," they said. Blacks in the United States have almost double the risk of ESRD compared with whites, even after accounting for differences in socioeconomic and clinical factors.
Spanish police arrested a gang of 25 Nigerians who were engaged in human trafficking, Internet fraud and money laundering
Five women victims of sex slavery were released during the crackdown on the underground operation in Spain. The gang was using Spain as a springboard to send Nigerian women to be exploited in other countries and it laundered profits by buying luxury products that were shipped to Lagos, Nigeria, in vans with darkened windows and welded doors. The crackdown seized 94 vans near Madrid and 26 loaded ones at Valencia port containing goods — such as expensive television sets and cases of premium liquor — with an estimated value of $6.7 million. The gang, originally formed around 1990 at Nigerian universities, was behind Nigerian letters that tried to fraudulently extract money from recipients. The gang captured women in Nigeria, flew them with false identity papers to Mexico and Brazil, then sent them to Paris, from where they were driven to Spain. Eight of the 25 suspects were illegal immigrants and the arrests occurred in several Spanish cities.
Obama's America: From January 2009 to October 2013, foreign-born employment increased by 2.132 million, or by 9.85%
During that same period, native-born American employment declined by 785,000. From October 2012 to October 2013, immigrants gained 486,000 jobs while native-born American workers lost 381,000 positions. The foreign-born working age population continues to grow faster than the comparable native-born American population. This imbalance has been bringing increasing pressure on American workers for decades. It will continue as long as our elected leaders continue to ignore the consequences of current immigration policy and will likely intensify if more pro-immigration bills are passed into law.
It seems that fragments circulating in the blood, known as platelets, can form blood clots more easily in African Americans. Clotting is a classic element of heart disease and heart attack. "Unexpectedly, we found that platelets from black donors clotted faster and to a greater extent in response to the naturally occurring clotting agent, thrombin," says Paul Bray of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "This provides a new understanding of the effects of race on heart disease and other blood-clot related illnesses." Bray and his colleagues took blood samples from 70 black and 84 white healthy volunteers and found that a protein known as PC-TP, short for phosphatidylcholine transfer protein, is one of the main culprits. PC-TP activates a clotting factor called PAR4. The gene that produces the protein is four times more active in the platelets of black Americans than it is in white Americans. The underlying explanation could be more complex, though. A cellular substance that can prevent excessive build up of PC-TP was present at much higher quantities in the white volunteers than it was in the black. Called miR-376c, this suppressing fragment of microRNA may be the key to the puzzle, says Bray. "Compared with white patients, black people have a twofold increased incidence of heart disease and a lower long-term survival," he says. "The reasons for this disparity are complex, but even when socioeconomic and environmental factors are considered, the survival of black heart attack patients is two-and-a-half times lower than in white patients." An important implication, says Bray, is that we need to develop a wider array of treatments to make sure that there are drugs that work for everyone. "Black people are very poorly represented in most clinical studies on heart disease," he says. "Our findings suggest doctors cannot therefore assume that heart disease treatment studies on whites will hold true for everyone."
Saturday, November 9, 2013
The surprise winner of a Texas election has been criticized for misleading the mainly black constituents into believing that he was African American
Dave Wilson, a white Republican and anti-gay activist, beat Houston's 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin in what has been described as a "racially tinged campaign". Wilson won with a margin of 26 after he campaigned using flyers featuring African Americans and the message "Vote for our neighbor Dave Wilson".
Interestingly, Jews in Europe are less afraid of right-wingers.
Friday, November 8, 2013
The gene, which is responsible for 27% of skin color variation in Asian Indians, was positively selected for in North, but not South Indian populations. When something is "selected for," that means it provides some advantage and so gets passed down to offspring, becoming more prevalent in a population over time. The Indian subcontinent has an enormous variation in skin color. "We have dark brown [tones], yellow tones and whitish-pinkish tones," said Chandana Basu Mallick, a biologist at the University of Tartu in Estonia. "We have quite a range and diversity in the biological spectrum of skin color." But because South Asian gene studies are relatively rare, it wasn't clear which genes contributed to this variation. Past research has found at least 126 genes that code for pigmentation in general, Basu Mallick said. To find out, Basu Mallick and her colleagues took skin color measurements for about 1,228 individuals in Southern India. The researchers then conducted a genetic analysis and found that about 27% of the skin color variation was due to a variation in a skin pigmentation gene. Called SLC24A5, this gene codes for lighter skin and is present in almost 100% of Europeans. The team also examined the gene in 95 people around the subcontinent and found that both South Asian and European populations inherited this particular variant from a common ancestor who lived sometime between 22,000 and 28,000 years ago. The team then looked for the gene in more than 2,000 people from 54 ethnic groups around the subcontinent. Some groups, such as populations in Tibet and Burma, didn't have the gene variant at all, whereas the Northwestern tip of the subcontinent had a nearly 90% prevalence of the gene. Lighter skin has less dark melanin, a pigment that blocks the sun's UV rays; the body uses these rays to make vitamin D. The SLC24A5 gene is linked to less dark melanin production, so the gene may have become more common in Europe because it allowed people's skin to make more vitamin D in the continent's low-light conditions. But in India, the prevalence of the gene in different populations didn't correlate with latitude, but instead seemed strongly linked to language, geography and demographic history. The study also showed that the gene was positively selected for in North, but not South India (though both light- and dark-skinned people live in both regions). It's not clear exactly what caused the gene to be favored in certain regions, but it probably wasn't the production of vitamin D alone.
There's a significant risk that the now-rare disease could spread from Syria to Europe, as refugees seek asylum there, a group of German scientists have warned. The danger is that many people may not know they're carrying the disease; only about 1 in 200 people infected develop symptoms. The vaccine commonly known in Europe exacerbates this, because it's good at preventing symptoms but only partially effective at preventing infection. It could take almost a year of silent transmission before the outbreak is detected, although hundreds of individuals would carry the infection. Simply vaccinating Syrian refugees is insufficient. This is one reason why you want to keep refugees out of your country.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Asian and black women who have IVF are less likely to become pregnant than white women using similar fertility treatment, British research suggests
The Nottingham University team say that they are unsure why this is, but genetic factors could play a role. They looked at IVF success rates for 1,517 women treated in their clinic. Live birth rates for ethnic minority women were significantly lower. Overall, 35% of ethnic minority women successfully conceived and gave birth after IVF compared with 44% of white women treated at the clinic between 2006 and 2011. This was despite all the women appearing to have favorable chances of having a baby, based on factors such as the quality of their egg reserves. The birth rate also differed between three ethnic sub-groups - 21.4% for Middle East Asian women, 23.3% for African-Caribbean women and 38% for South East Asian women - although this finding was not statistically significant. Lead researcher Dr Walid Maalouf said that the reasons behind the findings were unclear. "Further research into genetic background as a potential determinant of IVF outcome, as well as the influencing effects of lifestyle and cultural factors on reproductive outcomes is needed," he said.
When a person is deemed trustworthy, we perceive that person's face to be more similar to our own, according to a new study
A team of scientists from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway University, found that feelings of similarity towards others extend beyond social closeness and into physical characteristics, using trust as the basis in this experiment. Researchers showed volunteers images in which varying percentages of the volunteer's face were morphed with that of one of two other people, and asked them to decide whether each photo contained more of their face or more of the others. The volunteers then took part in bargaining games with both of the other people - one in which trust was reciprocated, and in the other in which it was betrayed. After the game, the volunteers carried out the photo morph task again and it was found that participants judged the trustworthy player to be more physically similar to them than the untrustworthy one. "Recent studies show that when a person looks similar to ourselves, we automatically believe they are trustworthy. Here we show for the first time that the reverse is also true. When a person is shown to be more trustworthy, it can lead us to perceive that person as looking more similar to ourselves," said researcher Harry Farmer. The team also believes that their results could hold important implications for social relationships. "It may be that our experience of facial similarity tracks information about genetic relatedness. If so, our results suggest that evidence of trust in others also serves as a cue to kinship," said researcher Ryan McKay.
Not coincidentally, Puerto Rico’s population shrank 4% in the past decade, as many of its people left for the U.S. mainland.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Former hospital chief, prosecutor and political pit bull Mike Duggan, who campaigned as the candidate most capable of leading Detroit back from the brink, has defeated Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in the election for Detroit mayor.
Two men and a woman have been killed in Western Norway after an African wielding a knife hijacked the express bus that they were travelling on
The African in his 30s, from South Sudan, has been arrested and was flown to hospital in Bergen where he was being treated for injuries sustained during the hijack. Trine Erdal, a spokesperson for Norwegian police said that she could not yet give details on the hijacker's state of mind or his likely motive. Police said that there were only three people on the bus at the time of the attack – the 50-year old driver, a Swedish citizen also in his 50s and a 19 year old Norwegian girl – and that the hijacker killed all of them. The 31-year-old killer is from southern Sudan but is currently living in Årdal, the small Norwegian town where the hijack took place. The attack marks the second time that the express bus between the towns of Aardal and Tyin has been hijacked by an African. In 2003, a mentally disturbed 26-year-old Ethiopian man seized the bus and stabbed the driver to death.
A sociologist has found that members of dating sites are most likely to contact individuals who share their own racial background on dating websites. Professor Kevin Lewis studied the interaction patterns of 126,134 users of dating website OkCupid.com in the United States over a two-and-a-half month period. The sociologist, from the University of California, San Diego, found the tendency to initiate contact with someone from a shared race, is strongest among East and South Asians and weakest among whites, the study said.
The biggest donor to Republican Party political groups has said that the United States should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran to spur the country to end its own nuclear program
Sheldon Anderson, the Jewish billionaire, said this while on a panel at Yeshiva University in New York City.
Researchers found that African American girls first show signs of breast development at eight years and 10 months, on average. Hispanic girls first show signs of breast development at nine years and four months on average, and white and Asian girls at nine years and eight months. For white girls, the researchers found that puberty is now hitting about four months earlier than in a 1997 study that also measured breast development. They also discovered that heavier girls tend to start developing breasts at a younger age.
A 2009 mutiny of disgruntled border guards seeking higher wages in Bangladesh resulted in 74 deaths; now far more than that are set to die
After a mass civilian trial that began in 2011 and involved 846 defendants, 152 border guards have been sentenced to execution. Some 161 others are getting life in prison, while 256 have been sentenced to three to 10 years. Another 277 were acquitted, though many of them were convicted in military tribunals and are unlikely to go free. Human Rights Watch criticized the proceedings, noting that 47 suspects died in custody. "Trying hundreds of people en masse in one giant courtroom, where the accused have little or no access to lawyers, is an affront to international legal standards." The defense plans an appeal. The mutiny lasted 30 hours and saw 57 officers killed, with bodies tossed in sewers. "The atrocities were so heinous that even the dead bodies were not given their rights," said the judge as he read the verdicts, a process that took hours. But he did point out that the soldiers should have indeed been awarded better pay. In earlier military tribunals, some 4,000 people were found guilty and received sentences lasting up to seven years.
Half of India's children are undernourished and half of all Indian families have no access to sanitation.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Australia: Sydney detectives have charged a businessman with child sexual abuse offences at Bondi's Jewish Yeshiva center during the 1980s
A 49-year-old man has been charged with two counts of gross indecency against 14 and 16 year old males at the Jewish Center in 1985 and 1986. He has been refused bail and detectives want people with further information about the 1980s offenses to come forward. The arrested man is Daniel Hayman, who has been residing in Los Angeles in recent years. The arrest and charging of Hayman is likely to put some of Australia's most senior rabbinical figures under scrutiny over their failures to act on complaints from victims. Despite complaints, Hayman was never reported to police and left Australia to live in the Los Angles Jewish community, where leaders again acted to shield him. Corporate records show that Hayman was a director of a major Australian Jewish educational arm for several years after his sexual abuse of boys. Hayman recently told one of his victims that Yeshiva spiritual leader Rabbi Pinchus Feldman had admonished him about 25 years ago over his relationship with a boy. The leader of the Organization of Rabbis of Australasia, Moshe Gutnick, in March 2013 revealed that he failed to alert police to an anonymous complaint about Hayman in the 1980s. Rabbi Gutnick said in hindsight that he was wrong not to alert police. Rabbi Feldman said that he had no recollection of any confession of child sex abuse 25 years ago. There is an audio recording of another senior Australian rabbi discussing Hayman's interaction with boys or adolescents. In the tape recording, Rabbi Baruch Lesches said that some of Hayman's victims may have consented. Rabbi Lesches, who was at Bondi Yeshiva at the time of the incidents and now is a major New York Jewish leader, also cautioned against reporting Hayman to police. He later apologised for his private remarks after the audio of his discussion about Hayman was released. Two recent convictions of men associated with Melbourne's Yeshiva college in St Kilda for historic child sex offenses have put the spotlight on the attitudes of Australia's senior orthodox Jewish leaders to handling abuse claims. Victorian detectives are investigating how senior St Kilda Yeshiva figures handled complaints against David Kramer and David Cyprus, who were both employed by the school. Strike Force Bungo was formed in 2012 to investigate child sexual abuse in the Jewish community in Sydney's east. Hayman abused the boys while a volunteer supervisor at a camp run by the Yeshiva center.
And African-American kids from different classes are named differently. Black kids born to lower-income parents are given unique names more often. Or, as Steve Sailer puts it, high achieving blacks don't have goofy names quite as often as blacks in the police blotter.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Mitt Romney won the white Protestant vote by a crushing 69% to 30% margin, and he won the white Catholic vote by a substantial 59% to 40% margin
In 1980, these numbers would have translated into an enormous landslide. But Romney lost among every other racial and religious group, except Mormons. Romney lost in part because the insatiable greed of GOP donors and fat cats - such as Sheldon Adelson - for cheap labor has prevented the party from embracing an immigration moratorium.