Tuesday, July 29, 2014
A writer is facing legal action from Madrid's Jewish community after writing an opinion piece in a leading Spanish daily in which he justified the expulsion of Jews throughout history on the basis that they aren't made to coexist
Antonio Gala, a Spanish playwright and author, has angered Spain’s Jewish community with a piece titled 'The chosen ones?' published in El Mundo. The award-winning 83-year-old starts off by arguing that the Jewish people "could have done a lot of good for humanity: for their prudence, endurance, apparent religious fidelity and proven administration of money". He then says that what has always happened is that they end up troubling those they live with, "as if they weren't made to coexist". "No matter what (the Jews) call their civil or military leaders" they always end up creating problems, he argues. Gala then makes the only mention of the current Gaza conflict in his short op-ed piece, stating that "now it’s Gaza’s turn to suffer their abuses" thanks to the "pressure from a power situated elsewhere in the world and an invisible community of blood". David Hatchwell, business mogul and president of Madrid’s Jewish community, plans to use a clause in Spain’s legal code which prohibits "anti-Semitic" discourse to justify his organization’s lawsuit.
An ancient form of circumcision called metzitzah b'peh, which is sometimes performed by Orthodox Jews on newborn boys, appears to be behind the spread of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) to two newborns in New York
Both boys were born to mothers who carried full-term and had normal deliveries. During the ritual, however, the person doing the circumcision uses direct oral suction in an attempt to cleanse the wound, sucking and spitting aside the blood, and the saliva contact can transmit the infection. More than half of American adults have HSV-1, according to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the most common symptom being oral lesions. Newborns, however, can run high fevers, have seizures, and even die if infected. Since 2000, 16 cases of herpes likely following this type of circumcision have been reported, three in 2014 alone, and there have been two deaths and two instances of brain damage. In a 2012 report, the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that circumcision is safe and provides health benefits, but that direct oral suction should be avoided due to risk of infection.
Hundreds of women may have been secretly videotaped from cameras found hidden in bathrooms at the University of Delaware, according to state officials. After cameras were found in women’s restrooms on the campus in Newark, Delaware, authorities arrested a university graduate student, 38-year-old Javier Mendiola-Soto, a former doctoral student from Mexico. The suspect has been charged with 21 counts of felony violation of privacy and was being held in Wilmington on a $42,000 secured bond; federal immigration authorities added a detainer that would keep him behind bars even if he could make the cash bond, according to Skip Homiak, the university’s director of campus and public safety. Mendiola-Soto told campus police that he downloaded 1,500 separate videos of women using miniature cameras he hid in sanitary napkin dispensers in bathroom stalls on and around campus, according to Homiak. Once the case is adjudicated and any sentence served, he said, the “likely outcome” for Mendiola-Soto is deportation back to his home country of Mexico. Mendiola-Soto has been expelled from the university, Homiak added.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Testicular cancer rates are increasing more than 3% per year among young Hispanic men, at a time when rates among non-Hispanic white men are remaining steady, according to a new study
Testicular tumors are already among the most common cancers for men between 15 and 39 years old. But they are also among the most curable, with more than 90% of men living at least 10 years after diagnosis. The number of new testicular cancers diagnosed each year ranges from 1.4 for every 100,000 black men to 6.6 per 100,000 white men, with rates for Hispanic men falling in between, at about 4.7 cases per 100,000 men per year. Dr. Rebecca H. Johnson and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle used a large database from the National Cancer Institute to examine trends in testicular cancer rates in Hispanic and non-Hispanic adolescents and young adults over the past two decades. What they found surprised them: while testicular cancer rates increased by about 3.8% per year among Hispanic men over the most recent 10 years, rates didn’t change at all among non-Hispanic white men. These rates increased in all age groups and across all stages of cancer among Hispanic men up to age 39. But only the group of non-Hispanic white men in their 20s and early 30s showed a significant but much smaller increase. This does not just reflect a general increase in cancer rates among Hispanic adolescents and young adults: the overall cancer rate neither increased nor decreased between 1992 and 2010. Researchers say that they don’t know why testicular cancer rates are increasing among Hispanic adolescents and young adults, but they are concerned that the rate of testicular germ cell tumors among Hispanics may overtake that among non-Hispanic whites if the observed trends persist.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Black Americans are biologically three years older than their white counterparts — a health gap that only grows worse over the years, according to a new study conducted at USC
Researchers analyzed 7,644 Americans aged 30 and older, 11% of whom were black and the rest white, who had filled out lifestyle surveys and undergone physical exams about 20 years ago. The study considered ten biomarkers (including total cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and systolic blood pressure) to figure their "biological age," which came to an average of 53.16 years for blacks and 49.84 years for whites. The age gap grew closer — to 52.72 for blacks and 49.89 for whites — when socioeconomic position and health behaviors were considered, but that's still a 3-year difference.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq's dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul
The statement was issued by the Islamic State, the al Qaeda offshoot which led the recent lightning assault to capture swathes of north Iraq. It said that Christians who wanted to remain in the "caliphate" that the Islamic State declared recently in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a "dhimma" contract - a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as "jizya". "We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword," the announcement was issued in the name of the Islamic State in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh and has been distributed and read out in mosques. It said that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which the group has now named Caliph Ibrahim, had set a deadline for Christians who did not want to stay and live under those terms to "leave the borders of the Islamic Caliphate". "After this date, there is nothing between us and them but the sword," it said. The Nineveh decree echoes one that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the former name for the Islamic State, issued in the Syrian city of Raqqa in February 2014, demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection. The concept of dhimma, governing non-Muslims living under Islamic rule, dates back to the early Islamic era in the seventh century.
A new report offers good and bad news about the AIDS epidemic in the United States: The annual diagnosis rate of HIV, the virus that causes the disease, has dropped by one-third in the general population but has climbed among young gay and bisexual males
Significantly fewer heterosexuals, drug users and women were diagnosed each year with HIV, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the annual diagnosis rate more than doubled for young gay and bisexual males. The diagnosis rate jumped among males aged 13 to 24, suggesting that many gay and bisexual young men aren't using condoms during sex. The number of newly diagnosed cases in that age group rose from about 3,000 to about 7,000.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Economists at the University's Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) have looked at why certain countries top the world happiness rankings and have found that the closer a nation is to the genetic makeup of Denmark, the happier that country is
The research could help solve the puzzle of why a country like Denmark so regularly tops the world happiness rankings. Dr Eugenio Proto and Professor Andrew Oswald found three forms of evidence for a link between genetic makeup and a nation's happiness. Firstly they used data on 131 countries from a number of international surveys including the Gallup World Poll, World Value Survey and the European Quality of Life Surveys. The researchers linked cross-national data on genetic distance and well-being. Dr Proto said: "The results were surprising, we found that the greater a nation's genetic distance from Denmark, the lower the reported well-being of that nation. Our research adjusts for many other influences including Gross Domestic Product, culture, religion and the strength of the welfare state and geography. The second form of evidence looked at existing research suggesting an association between mental well-being and a mutation of the gene that influences the reuptake of serotonin, which is believed to be linked to human mood." Dr Proto added: "We looked at existing research which suggested that the long and short variants of this gene are correlated with different probabilities of clinical depression, although this link is still highly debated. The short version has been associated with higher scores on neuroticism and lower life satisfaction. Intriguingly, among the 30 nations included in the study, it is Denmark and the Netherlands that appear to have the lowest percentage of people with this short version." The final form of evidence looked at whether the link between genetics and happiness also held true across generations, continents and the Atlantic Ocean. Professor Oswald said: "We used data on the reported well-being of Americans and then looked at which part of the world their ancestors had come from. The evidence revealed that there is an unexplained positive correlation between the happiness today of some nations and the observed happiness of Americans whose ancestors came from these nations, even after controlling for personal income and religion." He added: "This study has used three kinds of evidence and, contrary to our own assumptions when we began the project, it seems there are reasons to believe that genetic patterns may help researchers to understand international well-being levels. More research in this area is now needed and economists and social scientists may need to pay greater heed to the role of genetic variation across national populations."
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Less than 3% of the U.S. population are gay, lesbian or bisexual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported in the first large-scale government survey measuring Americans’ sexual orientation
The National Health Interview Survey, which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors, found that 1.6% of adults are gay or lesbian, and 0.7% are bisexual. The overwhelming majority of adults, 96.6%, are straight in the 2013 survey. Echoing other studies, the survey found that, compared with straight people, gays were more likely to smoke and to have consumed five or more drinks in one day at least once in the past year. Straight women were more likely to consider themselves in excellent or very good health than were lesbians.
A 6-year-old girl was raped by a gym teacher and security guard on staff at a school in Bangalore, India, according to police
The incident was discovered and reported recently, after the girl’s parents say that she complained of pain in her stomach and was examined at a hospital. Hordes of incensed parents have been protesting at the school, breaking down gates, smashing glass inside an office, and calling for the school to take a stronger stance to protect their children. No arrests have been made yet, but police say they have detained three people. The attack and resulting protests take place against a backdrop of outrage over sexual harassment and assaults against women and children in India. Parents’ anger over the latest case has been fueled by a form that some local schools are asking parents to sign absolving the schools of any responsibility for their children’s safety. “We collectively refuse to sign such a form," one parents says. "My child spends six to seven hours in school. I am at work. If the school doesn't protect her, then how can I send her?”
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
While the Mediterranean diet may have broad health benefits, its impact on cognitive decline differs among race-specific populations, according to a new study
The team of researchers analyzed an NIH/NIA prospective cohort study conducted over eight years in the United States to measure the effects of adherence to a Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean-style diet has fewer meat products and more plant-based foods and monounsaturated fatty acids from olive and canola oil than a typical American diet. To assess the association between the diet and brain function, the researchers used data of several Modified Mini-Mental State Examinations (3MS) on 2,326 participating older adults (70-79). The 3MS is an extensively used and validated instrument designed to measure several cognitive domains to screen for cognitive impairment and commonly used to screen for dementia. "In a population of initially well-functioning older adults, we found a significant correlation between strong adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a slower rate of cognitive decline among African American, but not white, older adults. Our study is the first to show a possible race-specific association between the Mediterranean diet and cognitive decline."
Monday, July 14, 2014
A study from the University of California, San Diego, and Yale University finds that friends who are not biologically related still resemble each other genetically
The study is coauthored by James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at UC San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis, professor of sociology, evolutionary biology, and medicine at Yale. "Looking across the whole genome," Fowler said, "we find that, on average, we are genetically similar to our friends. We have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population." The study is a genome-wide analysis of nearly 1.5 million markers of gene variation, and relies on data from the Framingham Heart Study. The Framingham dataset is the largest the authors are aware of that contains both that level of genetic detail and information on who is friends with whom. The researchers focused on 1,932 unique subjects and compared pairs of unrelated friends against pairs of unrelated strangers. The same people, who were neither kin nor spouses, were used in both types of samples. The only thing that differed between them was their social relationship. The findings are not, the researchers say, an artifact of people's tendency to befriend those of similar ethnic backgrounds. The Framingham data is dominated by people of European extraction. While this is a drawback for some research, it may be advantageous to the study here: because all the subjects, friends and not, were drawn from the same population. The researchers also controlled for ancestry, they say, by using the most conservative techniques currently available. The observed genetic go beyond what you would expect to find among people of shared heritage - these results are "net of ancestry," Fowler said. How similar are friends? On average, Fowler and Christakis find, friends are as "related" as fourth cousins or people who share great-great-great grandparents. That translates to about 1% of our genes. "One percent may not sound like much to the layperson," Christakis said, "but to geneticists it is a significant number. And how remarkable: Most people don't even know who their fourth cousins are! Yet we are somehow, among a myriad of possibilities, managing to select as friends the people who resemble our kin." In the study, Fowler and Christakis also develop what they call a "friendship score," which they can use to predict who will be friends at about the same level of confidence that scientists currently have for predicting, on the basis of genes, a person's chances of obesity or schizophrenia. Shared attributes among friends or "functional kinship" can confer a variety of evolutionary advantages. In the simplest terms: If your friend feels cold when you do and builds a fire, you both benefit. It is also the case that some traits only work if your friend also has them, Fowler said: "The first mutant to speak needed someone else to speak to. The ability is useless if there's no one who shares it. These types of traits in people are a kind of social network effect." Beyond the average similarities across the whole genome, Fowler and Christakis looked in the study at focused sets of genes. They find that friends are most similar in genes affecting the sense of smell. The opposite holds for genes controlling immunity. That is, friends are relatively more dissimilar in their genetic protection against various diseases. The immunity finding supports what others have recently found in regards to spouses. And there is a fairly straightforward evolutionary advantage to this, Fowler and Christakis say: Having connections to people who are able to withstand different pathogens reduces interpersonal spread. But how it is that we select people for this benefit of immunity? The mechanism still remains unclear. Also open to debate and also needing further research is why we might be most similar in our olfactory genes. It could be, Fowler said, that our sense of smell draws us to similar environments. It is not hard to imagine that people who like the scent of coffee, for example, hang out at cafes more and so meet and befriend each other. But the researchers suspect there is more to the story than that. They note, too, that most likely there are several mechanisms, operating both in concert and in parallel, driving us to choose genetically similar friends. Perhaps the most intriguing result in the study is that genes that were more similar between friends seem to be evolving faster than other genes. Fowler and Christakis say that this may help to explain why human evolution appears to have speeded up over the last 30,000 years, and they suggest that the social environment itself is an evolutionary force. "The paper also lends support to the view of human beings as 'metagenomic,'" Christakis said, "not only with respect to the microbes within us but also to the people who surround us. It seems that our fitness depends not only on our own genetic constitutions, but also on the genetic constitutions of our friends."
Scientists are investigating what may be the oldest identified race war 13,000 years after it raged on the fringes of the Sahara
French scientists working in collaboration with the British Museum have been examining dozens of skeletons, a majority of whom appear to have been killed by archers using flint-tipped arrows. The bones – from Jebel Sahaba on the east bank of the Nile in northern Sudan – are from victims of the world’s oldest known relatively large-scale human armed conflict. Anthropologists from Bordeaux University have discovered literally dozens of previously undetected arrow impact marks and flint arrow head fragments on and around the bones of the victims. This is in addition to many arrowheads and impact marks already found embedded in some of the bones during an earlier examination of the skeletons back in the 1960s. The remains – the contents of an entire early cemetery – were found in 1964 by the prominent American archaeologist, Fred Wendorf, but, until the current investigations, had never been examined using more modern, 21st century, technology. Some of the skeletal material has just gone on permanent display as part of the British Museum’s new Early Egypt gallery. The bones – from Jebel Sahaba on the east bank of the River Nile in northern Sudan – are from victims of the world’s oldest known relatively large-scale human armed conflict. Now British Museum scientists are planning to learn more about the victims themselves – everything from gender to disease and from diet to age at death. The discovery of dozens of previously undetected arrow impact marks and flint arrow fragments suggests that the majority of the individuals – men, women and children – in the Jebel Sahaba cemetery were killed by enemy archers, and then buried by their own people. What’s more, the new research demonstrates that the attacks – in effect a prolonged low-level war – took place over many months or years. Parallel research over recent years has also been shedding new light as to who, in ethnic and racial terms, these victims were. Work carried out at Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Alaska and New Orleans’ Tulane University indicates that they were part of the general sub-Saharan originating population – the ancestors of modern black Africans. The identity of their killers is however less easy to determine. But it is conceivable that they were people from a totally different racial and ethnic group - part of a North African/Levantine/European people - who lived around much of the Mediterranean Basin. The two groups – although both part of our species, Homo sapiens – would have looked quite different from each other and were also almost certainly different culturally and linguistically. The sub-Saharan originating group had long limbs, relatively short torsos and projecting upper and lower jaws along with rounded foreheads and broad noses, while the North African/Levantine/European originating group had shorter limbs, longer torsos and flatter faces. Both groups were very muscular and strongly built. Certainly the northern Sudan area was a major ethnic interface between these two different groups at around this period. Indeed the remains of the North African/Levantine/European originating population group has even been found 200 miles south of Jebel Sahaba, thus suggesting that the arrow victims were slaughtered in an area where both populations operated.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
In fact, the infection rates are so bad that the organization — for the first time — strongly recommends that men who have sex with men consider taking antiretroviral medicines as an additional method of preventing HIV infection. Despite the attention drawn to HIV infections among gay men in the 1980s, WHO's HIV head says that the younger generation is less focused on the disease when, in fact, gay men are 19 times more likely to contract HIV than the general population. WHO notes that taking pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP — typically, two antiretrovirals combined into one daily pill — in addition to the use of condoms is estimated to cut HIV incidence among gay men by up to 25% or prevent "up to one million new infections among this group over 10 years."
A girl has been raped in northern India after a village council ordered the crime as payback for her brother's actions, according to police and her family
The teen's brother stands accused of trying to sexually assault the wife of Birju Pasi, with the Jharkhand police chief saying that the wife was "the victim of misbehavior on the part of the girl's brother." He says that the girl, 14, was raped by Pasi "out of retaliation" and that "the head of the village was instrumental in provoking this rape on the victim." Both men have been arrested, as has the girl's brother. The girl's mother says that, "We begged with folded hands but [the village council] would not listen. They dragged her away to the forest." A police rep says that her father later took her to a police station, her clothes "smeared with blood." Unelected village councils, like the one in question, are common in India, though they are illegal. The case is just the latest in a string of disturbing rapes in India. Police announced recently that they will exhume the bodies of two teenage girls who were gang-raped and hanged in May 2014 in order to perform autopsies.
During that same time period, less than 50% of Catholics, Protestants and Mormons have approved of his job performance.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Crime and the black politician: Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor - including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005
Nagin was convicted on February 12, 2014 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business. The 58-year-old black Democrat had defiantly denied any wrongdoing after his 2013 indictment and during his February trial. Moments before sentencing, a subdued Nagin made a brief statement, thanking the judge for her professionalism. He made no apologies. "I trust that God's going to work all this out," he said. After the sentencing, Nagin smiled and hugged supporters as he walked out of the courtroom with his wife, Seletha, and other family members and friends. Nagin is to report to the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, in September 2014. U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan noted the serious nature of the crimes, but cited several other factors in her decision to depart from sentencing guidelines that could have put Nagin in prison for as many as 20 years. She said that Nagin should not be cast as the leader of the scheme in which participants got millions of dollars in city work. "Mr. Nagin claimed a much, much smaller share of the profits in this conspiracy," Berrigan. Nagin received roughly $500,000. Nagin was a political newcomer when he won election as New Orleans' mayor, succeeding Marc Morial in 2002. He cast himself as a reformer and announced crackdowns on corruption in the city's automobile-inspection and taxi-permit programs. But federal prosecutors point out that his own corrupt acts began during his first term, continued through the Katrina catastrophe and flourished in his second term. Until his indictment in 2013, he was perhaps best known for a widely heard radio interview in which he angrily and profanely asked for stepped-up federal response in the days after levee breaches flooded most of the city during Katrina. He also drew notoriety for impolitic remarks, such as the racially charged "New Orleans will be chocolate again" and his comment that a growing violent crime problem "keeps the New Orleans brand out there." Elected in 2002 with strong support from the business community and white voters, Nagin won re-election in 2006 with a campaign that sometimes played on fears among black voters that they were being left out of the city's spotty recovery. He was limited by law to two consecutive terms, but a third term would have been unlikely, giving plunging approval ratings and the stricken city's continued recovery struggles. He was succeeded in 2010 by Mitch Landrieu. Most government pre-sentence reports and recommendations were not made public, but a filing ahead of the sentencing hearing indicated that prosecutors were pushing for a sentence of 20 years or more under federal sentencing guidelines.
Around half of the genes that influence how well a child can read also play a role in their mathematics ability, say scientists from UCL, the University of Oxford and King's College London who led a study into the genetic basis of cognitive traits
While mathematics and reading ability are known to run in families, the complex system of genes affecting these traits is largely unknown. The finding deepens scientists' understanding of how nature and nurture interact, highlighting the important role that a child's learning environment may have on the development of reading and mathematics skills, and the complex, shared genetic basis of these cognitive traits. The collaborative study used data from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) to analyse the influence of genetics on the reading and mathematics performance of 12-year-old children from nearly 2,800 British families. Twins and unrelated children were tested for reading comprehension and fluency, and answered mathematics questions based on the British national curriculum. The information collected from these tests was combined with DNA data, showing a substantial overlap in the genetic variants that influence mathematics and reading. First author Dr Oliver Davis (UCL Genetics), said: "We looked at this question in two ways, by comparing the similarity of thousands of twins, and by measuring millions of tiny differences in their DNA. Both analyses show that similar collections of subtle DNA differences are important for reading and maths. However, it's also clear just how important our life experience is in making us better at one or the other. It's this complex interplay of nature and nurture as we grow up that shapes who we are." Professor Robert Plomin (King's College London), who leads the TEDS study, and one of the senior authors, said: "This is the first time we estimate genetic influence on learning ability using DNA alone. The study does not point to specific genes linked to literacy or numeracy, but rather suggests that genetic influence on complex traits, like learning abilities, and common disorders, like learning disabilities, is caused by many genes of very small effect size. The study also confirms findings from previous twin studies that genetic differences among children account for most of the differences between children in how easily they learn to read and to do maths. Children differ genetically in how easy or difficult they find learning, and we need to recognize, and respect, these individual differences. Finding such strong genetic influence does not mean that there is nothing we can do if a child finds learning difficult - heritability does not imply that anything is set in stone - it just means it may take more effort from parents, schools and teachers to bring the child up to speed." Dr Chris Spencer (Oxford University), lead author said: "We're moving into a world where analyzing millions of DNA changes, in thousands of individuals, is a routine tool in helping scientists to understand aspects of human biology. This study used the technique to help investigate the overlap in the genetic component of reading and maths ability in children. Interestingly, the same method can be applied to pretty much any human trait, for example to identify new links between diseases and disorders, or the way in which people respond to treatments."
Some chimpanzees are smarter than others, and about half of that variation in intelligence depends on the genes that individuals carry and pass on from one generation to the next
The findings show that those genetic differences will be key to understanding the cognitive abilities of primates and their evolution over time. "As is the case in humans, genes matter when it comes to cognitive abilities in chimpanzees," says William Hopkins of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. "It doesn't mean that they are the only factor determining cognitive abilities, but they cannot be ignored." The new study found no effect of either sex or rearing history on the cognitive skills of chimpanzees. That is, chimpanzees raised by human caretakers performed no better on cognitive tests delivered to them by humans than did individuals raised by their chimpanzee mothers. The role of genetics in intelligence has long been debated in scientific circles, the researchers say. It is now clear from previous studies that humans' performances on IQ tests do depend to a large extent on genetics, even if it can be modified by environmental factors. But the role that genes play in animal intelligence had received considerably less attention. The new study included data on the cognitive abilities of 99 chimpanzees in all, from age 9 to 54. The researchers' analysis found that about 50% of the variation in the chimps' performance on a series of standardized cognitive tests could be attributed to genetic factors. Studies of chimpanzees could add significantly to scientists' understanding of intelligence, the researchers say. That's in part because, unlike humans, chimpanzee performance on cognitive tests isn't complicated by factors related to school systems or other sociocultural complexities. The findings suggest that differences in cognition may have arisen in the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees about 5 million years ago. The findings may also lead to the discovery of particular intelligence-related genes. "What specific genes underlie the observed individual differences in cognition is not clear, but pursuing this question may lead to candidate genes that changed in human evolution and allowed for the emergence of some human-specific specializations in cognition," Hopkins says. "It is also intriguing to consider what changes in cortical organization might be associated with individual differences in cognition and whether common genes might explain their common variance."
Monday, July 7, 2014
There are so many Jews at the top of Britain’s Conservative party, Prime Minister David Cameron once quipped, that it should be known as the Torah party rather than the Tory party.
Britain: Six Muslim thugs have been jailed for 36 years after battering two men almost to death because they were black and non-Muslim
Ringleader Abu Bakr Mansha - who was previously jailed under the Terrorism Act for plotting to kill or harm a decorated soldier - was with a teenage boy when the pair began the unprovoked attack at a busy Tesco store in Bow, east London. He assaulted the two victims before following them home to discover where they lived - then called four other thugs to help. Armed with baseball bats, they beat the two men in a vicious attack which left both victims needing hospital treatment for serious injuries. One of the victims, who were 40 and 49 at the time, suffered two broken wrists and a fractured skull. Ringleader Mansha, of Newham, north London, was jailed for 10 years. Of the others involved in the 2012 attack, the teenage boy - who cannot be named because he is currently 17 years old - was sentenced to an 18-month detention and training order. Salim Jada, 32, and Javed Patel, 29, both also of Newham, were jailed for eight years each. Ibrahim Mohammed, 32, from Newham, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years' jail, while 30-year-old Zuber Kara, of Bow, east London, received a two-year jail sentence. I wonder if they would have gotten lighter sentences if their victims had been white.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Neoconservatism is as much a reflection of Jewish immigrant social resentments and status anxiety as a legitimate movement of ideas
Some neocons are starting to align themselves with Hillary Clinton which shows just how loyal they are to the GOP. Why are they starting to look favorably upon Hillary? Well, one reason is that she wholeheartedly backs Israel.
Kevin MacDonald writes about how Russian scientists such as Vladimir Avdeyev have resurrected the science of the hereditary traits of peoples and races. In the West, racial science had been successfully eradicated by Jews pursuing an anti-white gentile agenda.
Friday, July 4, 2014
The black teen who stabbed a white teenage girl to death stuffed her body in a playpen bag and brazenly carried it past her mother
Ricki D. Williams IV, 18, of Youngstown, was called evil by the prosecutor after a court hearing in the death of 16-year-old Gina Burger. Williams confessed to killing the girl and dumping her body in a Pennsylvania landfill. Williams smirked as he was led out of court following the short hearing, after which the prosecutor said: "There is evil in the world and he’s one of those evil people." Burger was stabbed inside an apartment at a complex in Austintown, where she lived with her mother. Another woman helped Williams dispose of the body under threat of death. The black teen has been charged with aggravated murder and kidnapping. Authorities will seek the death penalty.
"We say no to whites owning our land and they should go," the country's president told farmers in a small town. Whites, he said, "can own companies and apartments … but not the soil. It is ours, and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States." Calling for "indigenization," Mugabe and his allies drove out thousands of white farmers more than a decade ago. Whites "were living like kings and queens on our land and we chucked them out. Now we want all of it," he says. A farmer's union director says that about 100 to 150 white farmers remain in the country. "We'd like to move forward and work with the government of the day," he notes. The country is near bankruptcy and Mugabe's call may be an effort to distract people from the economic difficulties.
The black foster child who became a media darling and received 10,000 offers for a new home is back in foster care after a family kicked him out
In fact, efforts with four families went sour, and 16-year-old Davion Only has shut down lines of communication — no media events, no Facebook messages, no meetings with his adviser. "I'm extremely worried about him," his adviser said. "We had a short conversation a couple of weeks ago, but it was very unsettling." So what happened? Things seemed positive in March 2014 when a minister and his wife flew Davion up to Ohio, signed him up for football, and took him to church. "I got baptized!" Davion wrote on Facebook. But during the 90-day trial period, "there was an incident in Ohio," said Lorita Shirley, director of his foster care agency. Davion apparently had a physical altercation with the father and another child in the house, and the family wanted him gone. This was after three other placements failed to gel, including one with a foster family where Davion said he "had a blowout."
France: A school teacher has been stabbed to death by a Morrocan mother in front of a classroom full of her horrified five and six-year-old students
Fabienne Calmes, a 34-year-old mother of two little girls, died after being stabbed in the abdomen on the last day of term at the Edouard Herriot school in the town of Albi in south west France. The 47-year-old North African attacker burst into the classroom and screamed "I'm not a thief" before stabbing the teacher in the abdomen. The Moroccan woman, who holds Spanish nationality, has a police record for child neglect and not reporting a runaway child.
The unemployment rate for black Americans is more than double that of white Americans, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
For June 2014, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for black Americans age 16 and over was 10.7%, reported the BLS. The unemployment rate for white Americans in the same age group and time-frame was 5.3%, said the BLS.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Less than a quarter of white Americans believe that hard work will get them ahead in life and two in three think that the United States is going in the wrong direction, new polls have revealed
But blacks and Hispanics have a drastically more optimistic view about their future in the United States, with four in 10 Latinos expecting to be their own boss within a decade. Around three in 10 black Americans expect to be their own boss within 10 years. Three quarters of whites believe that America will no longer be considered the land of opportunity in 2024.
Hundreds of West Africans could be carrying the deadly Ebola virus and not know it, potentially infecting hundreds more, as cash-strapped governments and overwhelmed aid agencies struggle to contain the virus's spread
At least 1,500 people have not yet been traced who are known to have come into contact with others confirmed or suspected to be infected with the hemorrhagic fever, Medecins Sans Frontieres said. Many more could be moving freely in the three countries battling the virus, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but fear of the illness and mistrust of Western medicine means that they refuse to come forward to speak to doctors. The current outbreak is the worst ever. So far 467 people have died and health staff have identified at least 292 other suspected or confirmed cases. Ebola is transmitted by coming into contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. It has no cure and as many as 90% of its victims die, often from uncontrollable internal and external bleeding. The outbreak was now out of control in the three affected countries and could quickly spread across West Africa, according to MSF, which is leading efforts to deal with cases.
A gene that allows present-day people to cope with life at high altitude was inherited from an extinct species of human
The variant of the EPAS-1 gene, which affects blood oxygen, is common in Tibetans - many of whom live at altitudes of 4,000m all year round. But the DNA sequence matches one found in the extinct Denisovan people. Many of us carry DNA from extinct humans who interbred with our ancestors as the latter expanded out of Africa. Both the Neanderthals - who emerged around 400,000 years ago and lived in Europe and western Asia until 35,000 years ago - and the enigmatic Denisovans contributed DNA to present-day people. The Denisovans are known only from DNA extracted from the finger bone of a girl unearthed at a cave in central Siberia. This 40,000-50,000-year-old bone fragment, as well as a rather large tooth from another individual, are all that is known of this species. The tiny "pinky" bone yielded an entire genome sequence, allowing scientists to compare it to the DNA of modern people in order to better understand the legacy of ancient interbreeding. Now, researchers have linked an unusual variant of the EPAS1 gene, which is involved in regulating the body's production of hemoglobin - the molecule that carries oxygen in the blood - to the Denisovans. When the body is exposed to the low oxygen levels encountered at high elevations, EPAS1 tells other genes in the body to become active, stimulating a response that includes the production of extra red blood cells. The unusual variant common among Tibetans probably spread through natural selection after their ancestors moved onto the high-altitude plateau in Asia several thousand years ago. "We have very clear evidence that this version of the gene came from Denisovans," said Rasmus Nielsen, from the University of California, Berkeley. He said: "If you and I go up to high altitude, we'll immediately have various negative physiological effects. We'll be out of breath, we might suffer from altitude sickness. After a little while, we'll try to compensate for this by producing more red blood cells. But because we're not adapted to the high altitude environment, our response would be maladaptive - we would produce too many red blood cells. The blood becomes too thick and raises our blood pressure, placing us at risk of stroke and pre-eclampsia (in pregnant women)." But Tibetans are protected against these risks by producing fewer red blood cells at high altitude. This keeps their blood from thickening. The Tibetan variant of EPAS1 was discovered by Prof Nielsen's team in 2010. But the researchers couldn't explain why it was so different from the DNA sequences found in all other humans today, so they looked to more ancient genome sequences for an answer. "We compared it to Neanderthals, but we couldn't find a match. Then we compared it to Denisovans and to our surprise there was an almost exact match," he explained. He says the interbreeding event with Denisovans probably happened very long ago. "After the Denisovan DNA came into modern humans, it lingered in different Asian populations at low frequencies for a long time," Prof Nielsen said. "Then, when the ancestors of Tibetans moved to high altitudes, it favored this genetic variant which then spread to the point where most Tibetans carry it today." He says that it remains unclear whether the Denisovans were also adapted to life at high altitudes. Denisova Cave lies at an elevation of 760m - not particularly high. But it is close to the Altai Mountains which rise above 3,000m. Prof Nielsen said that it was a clear and direct example of humans adapting to new environments through genes acquired via interbreeding with other human species. Previous research has shown that ancient humans introduced genes that may help us cope with viruses outside Africa. And a study of Eurasian populations showed that Neanderthal DNA is over-represented in parts of the genome involved in making skin, hair and nails - hinting, perhaps, at something advantageous that allowed Homo sapiens to adapt to conditions in Eurasia.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Black Dog Syndrome is the name shelter workers have given to the tendency of dark-furred pups to languish in kennels while their lighter-furred brethren get adopted. “The effect is very real,” says Mirah Horowitz, executive director and founder of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “We recently had a litter of five very cute, very fluffy puppies, two yellow and three black. And the yellow ones all went immediately, but for the black ones it took weeks.” Black dogs get euthanized at higher rates. They linger at pounds and adoption agencies for longer than light-colored dogs, and they are less likely to find a home. Marika Bell, director of behavior and rehoming for the Humane Society of Washington, D.C., says that the organization has been tracking animals that have stayed at their shelters the longest since March 2013. They found that three characteristics put a pet at risk of becoming one of these so-called “hidden gems”: medium size, an age of 2-3 years, and an ebony coat. A 2013 study by Penn State psychologists revealed that people find images of black dogs scarier than photos of yellow or brown dogs — respondents rated the dark-furred animals less adoptable, less friendly, and more intimidating.
The popular idea that Northern Europeans developed light skin to absorb more UV light so they could make more vitamin D – vital for healthy bones and immune function – is questioned by UC San Francisco researchers in a new study
Ramping up the skin’s capacity to capture UV light to make vitamin D is indeed important, according to a team led by Peter Elias, MD, a UCSF professor of dermatology. However, Elias and colleagues concluded in their study that changes in the skin’s function as a barrier to the elements made a greater contribution than alterations in skin pigment in the ability of Northern Europeans to make vitamin D. Elias’ team concluded that genetic mutations compromising the skin’s ability to serve as a barrier allowed fair-skinned Northern Europeans to populate latitudes where too little ultraviolet B (UVB) light for vitamin D production penetrates the atmosphere. Among scientists studying human evolution, it has been almost universally assumed that the need to make more vitamin D at Northern latitudes drove genetic mutations that reduce production of the pigment melanin, the main determinant of skin tone, according to Elias. “At the higher latitudes of Great Britain, Scandinavia and the Baltic States, as well as Northern Germany and France, very little UVB light reaches the Earth, and it’s the key wavelength required by the skin for vitamin D generation,” Elias said. “While is seems logical that the loss of the pigment melanin would serve as a compensatory mechanism, allowing for more irradiation of the skin surface and therefore more vitamin D production, this hypothesis is flawed for many reasons,” he continued. “For example, recent studies show that dark-skinned humans make vitamin D after sun exposure as efficiently as lightly-pigmented humans, and osteoporosis – which can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency – is less common, rather than more common, in darkly-pigmented humans.” Furthermore, evidence for a south to north gradient in the prevalence of melanin mutations is weaker than for this alternative explanation explored by Elias and colleagues. In earlier research, Elias began studying the role of skin as a barrier to water loss. He recently has focused on a specific skin-barrier protein called filaggrin, which is broken down into a molecule called urocanic acid – the most potent absorber of UVB light in the skin, according to Elias. “It’s certainly more important than melanin in lightly-pigmented skin,” he said. In their new study, the researchers identified a strikingly higher prevalence of inborn mutations in the filaggrin gene among Northern European populations. Up to 10% of normal individuals carried mutations in the filaggrin gene in these northern nations, in contrast to much lower mutation rates in southern European, Asian and African populations. Moreover, higher filaggrin mutation rates, which result in a loss of urocanic acid, correlated with higher vitamin D levels in the blood. Latitude-dependent variations in melanin genes are not similarly associated with vitamin D levels, according to Elias. This evidence suggests that changes in the skin barrier played a role in Northern European’s evolutionary adaptation to Northern latitudes, the study concluded. Yet, there was an evolutionary tradeoff for these barrier-weakening filaggrin mutations, Elias said. Mutation bearers have a tendency for very dry skin, and are vulnerable to atopic dermatitis, asthma and food allergies. But these diseases have appeared only recently, and did not become a problem until humans began to live in densely populated urban environments, Elias said. The Elias lab has shown that pigmented skin provides a better skin barrier, which he says was critically important for protection against dehydration and infections among ancestral humans living in sub-Saharan Africa. But the need for pigment to provide this extra protection waned as modern human populations migrated northward over the past 60,000 years or so, Elias said, while the need to absorb UVB light became greater, particularly for those humans who migrated to the far North behind retreating glaciers less than 10,000 years ago. The data from the new study do not explain why Northern Europeans lost melanin. If the need to make more vitamin D did not drive pigment loss, what did? Elias speculates that, “Once human populations migrated northward, away from the tropical onslaught of UVB, pigment was gradually lost in service of metabolic conservation. The body will not waste precious energy and proteins to make proteins that it no longer needs.”