Thursday, June 30, 2016
In the past half century, the United States and Europe have experienced a massive surge of migration, both legal and illegal
The foreign-born share of the US population has soared from 4.8% in 1970 to an estimated 13.9% in 2015, and in Britain the share of foreign-born surged from 5.8% in 1971 to 13.1% in 2015.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Sweden is considered the most reputable, according to the Reputation Institute, which has produced a top 10 ranking based on how "welcoming, safe, and beautiful" a country is. The full list includes Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Blacks with atrial fibrillation (AFib) have nearly double the risk than their white counterparts of stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease (CHD) and mortality from all causes, according to a study
The study, funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation and led by Jared Magnani, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and cardiologist at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, analyzed data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study to examine racial differences in adverse outcomes associated with AFib. AFib is the most common heart rhythm problem in the United States. It affects approximately 1% of the adult population and more than 5% of those 65 years old and older. It also is known to be strongly associated with increased risks of stroke, heart failure and mortality. "We knew blacks were likely to have an increased risk of stroke, but the findings for heart failure, CHD and mortality are novel and important," Dr. Magnani said. "This should put the focus on improving prevention efforts for adverse outcomes in blacks with atrial fibrillation, and drive further studies into the reasons behind why this is happening." The ARIC Study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, recruited 15,792 men and women, 45 to 64 years old, from four communities in the United States - Forsyth County, North Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Washington County, Maryland. The community-based cohort was designed to investigate causes of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, and included baseline examinations in 1986 and more than 20 years follow up. "ARIC provided an opportunity to examine racial differences in outcomes related to atrial fibrillation. In general, most large studies of individuals with atrial fibrillation are predominantly of white participants," Dr. Magnani said. "We know that atrial fibrillation is associated with adverse outcomes, but these data provided important insights into differences by race." After exclusions, 15,080 participants (8,290 women and 3,831 blacks) were included in the new analysis. Noteworthy racial differences at baseline examination included a body mass index of 27% for whites and 29.6% for blacks. Black participants also had a higher prevalence of hypertension and diabetes. During analysis of the 20-year follow-up, 2,348 cases of AFib were identified - 1,914 in whites with an incidence rate of 8.1 per 1,000 person-years, and 434 in blacks, with an incidence rate of 5.8 per 1,000 person-years. Researchers found that adverse outcomes in black participants were almost double that for whites. The incidence rate of strokes in black participants was 21.4 compared to 10.2 in their white counterparts. For heart failure and CHD, the rate difference was almost two-fold higher in blacks than whites. Blacks also had a rate difference of 106 for mortality compared to 55.9 in whites. Researchers also believe that the results are enough to warrant an addition to the current guidelines for the management of patients with AFib developed by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society to include the significant difference in adverse outcomes between blacks and whites with AFib.
A university degree is linked to a heightened risk of developing a brain tumor, suggests a large observational study
Gliomas, in particular, were more common among people who had studied at university for at least three years than they were among those who didn't go on to higher education, the data show. The researchers base their findings on more than 4.3 million Swedes, all of whom were born between 1911 and 1961 and living in Sweden in 1991. They were monitored between 1993 and 2010 to see if they developed a primary brain tumor, and information on educational attainment, disposable income, marital status, and occupation was obtained from national insurance, labor market,and national census data. During the monitoring period, 1.1 million people died and more than 48,000 emigrated, but 5735 of the men and 7101 of the women developed a brain tumor. Men with university level education, lasting at least three years, were 19% more likely to develop a glioma - a type of cancerous tumor arising in glial cells that surround and support neurons in the brain -than men whose educational attainment didn't extend beyond the period of compulsory schooling (9 years). Among women, the magnitude of risk was 23% higher for glioma, and 16% higher for meningioma - a type of mostly non-cancerous brain tumor arising in the layers of tissue (meninges) that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord - than it was for women who didn't go on to higher education. Taking account of potentially influential factors, such as marital status and disposable income, only marginally affected the size of the risk, and only among the men. High levels of disposable income were associated with a 14% heightened risk of glioma among men, but had no bearing on the risk of either meningioma or acoustic neuroma - a type of non-cancerous brain tumor that grows on the nerve used for hearing and balance. Nor was disposable income associated with heightened risk of any type of brain tumor among the women. Occupation also seemed to influence risk for men and women. Compared with men in manual roles, professional and managerial roles (intermediate and high non-manual jobs) were associated with a 20% heightened risk of glioma and a 50% heightened risk of acoustic neuroma. The risk of glioma was also 26% higher among women in professional and managerial roles than it was for women in manual roles, while the risk of meningioma was 14% higher. Single men also seemed to have a significantly lower risk of glioma than married/co-habiting men, but, on the other hand, they had a higher risk of meningioma. No such associations were evident among the women.
South Asian crime in Britain: 15 men have been jailed for a total of 160 years for the horrific sexual abuse of a vulnerable schoolgirl
The schoolgirl was preyed on by as many as 100 men, the majority of them of South Asian origin, during a two year period. Some took advantage because they saw her as vulnerable, others because word got round she was available. The prosecution described her as lonely, needy and seeking friendship and love, a teenager who for a long time did not understand that she was a victim of child abuse being groomed and exploited. Juries at four separate trials heard how the schoolgirl was 13 when her mother died after a long illness, by which time she had already got used to fending for herself, sometimes in a house with no electricity or food.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Gays in Africa: A Kenyan court has upheld the use of anal examinations to determine a suspect's sexual orientation, dismissing the argument that the procedure amounts to torture and degrading treatment
"I find no violation of human dignity, right to privacy, and right to freedom of the petitioners," Mombasa High Court Judge Mathew Emukule said. Two men had sought a court ruling to stop enforced anal examinations and HIV tests of men accused of being gay after they were subjected to the procedures. The two were arrested in a bar in February 2015 on suspicion of engaging in gay sex, which is a criminal offense in Kenya. They still face the charges and, if convicted, could face 14 years in jail. In their petition, the men said that the anal examinations and HIV and hepatitis B tests they were forced to have amounted to being subjected to torture and degrading treatment. The judge said that the petitioners should have used their lawyers to seek injunction orders to avoid undergoing the tests. "It's so painful when we are trying to encourage the gay community to go to court to affirm their rights; the courts are instead affirming violation of their rights," said Eric Gitari, the executive director of the Kenyan National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. The court judgment means that someone can be arrested on a rumor that they are gay and subjected to these tests, he said. "Do we want to use the nation's scarce resources on this?"
They are Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. It should come as no surprise that all these countries have large Muslim populations.
Genes and Education: Scientists say that up to 80% of students’ choices of A-level subjects is down to genetic influence with environmental factors such as home life, accounting for 23% of the choice at most
Scientists have found that 50-80% of subject choice is due to genetic influences. When the subjects were grouped into humanities and science, mathematics, engineering or technology (Stem) categories, the findings revealed that heritability was 50% and 60% respectively. By contrast, shared environmental factors such as family experiences had far less clout, accounting for 18% of subject choice for the humanities, and 23% of subject choice for Stem A-levels. The scientists also discovered that achievement was strongly influenced by genetics, with 59% of A-level performance found to be heritable, while shared environmental factors only explained 7% of the variation in performance. By contrast, the choice to study for A-levels at all was almost equally split between genetic and environmental factors at 44% and 47% respectively. While the specific genes linked to such influence have not been found, it is thought that thousands of tiny differences in an individual’s DNA each contribute to a very small degree.
The Taliban are using child sex slaves to mount crippling insider attacks on police in southern Afghanistan, exploiting the pervasive practice of “bacha bazi” — pedophilic boy play — to infiltrate security ranks
The ancient custom is prevalent across Afghanistan, but nowhere does it seem as entrenched as in the province of Uruzgan, where “bacha bereesh” — or boys without beards — widely become objects of lustful attraction for powerful police commanders. The Taliban over nearly two years have used them to mount a wave of Trojan Horse attacks — at least six between January and April 2016 alone — that have killed hundreds of policemen, according to security and judicial officials in the province. “The Taliban are sending boys — beautiful boys, handsome boys — to penetrate checkpoints and kill, drug and poison policemen,” said Ghulam Sakhi Rogh Lewanai, who was Uruzgan’s police chief until he was removed in a security reshuffle in April 2016 amid worsening violence. The insurgents are using boys as honey traps, said 21-year-old Matiullah, a policeman who was the only survivor from an insider attack in Dehrawud district in spring 2015. He said that the attacker was the checkpoint commander’s own sex slave, a teenager called Zabihullah. Late one night, he went on a shooting spree, killing seven policemen including the commander as they slept. “He brought the Taliban inside and poked all the bodies with rifle butts to see if anyone was alive. I pretended to be dead,” said Matiullah, who now works as a tailor, pointing out a gash on his forehead. Practically all of Uruzgan’s 370 local and national police checkpoints have bachas — some up to four — who are illegally recruited not just for sexual companionship but also to bear arms, multiple officials said. Some policemen, they said, demand bachas like a perk of the job, refusing to join outposts where they are not available. Horrifying abuse at checkpoints makes the boys, many unpaid and unregistered, hungry for revenge and easy prey for Taliban recruitment — often because there is no other escape from exploitative commanders. Boys have also spurred a deadly rivalry between policemen, with officials reporting incidents such as a public gunfight in 2016 between two commanders in Gezab district as one of them angrily accused the other of “stealing” his bacha. “To restore security in Uruzgan, we will first have to separate policemen from their bachas,” one of the judges said. “But if they are told to reform their ways, a common reply is: ‘If you force me to abandon my boy lover, I will also abandon the checkpoint’. The Taliban are not blind to notice that this addiction is worse than opium.” Bacha bazi, which the US State Department has called a “culturally sanctioned form of male rape”, peels away the masculine identity of boys in a society where the sexes are tightly segregated. In conservative Muslim areas women are mostly invisible in public — and often unattainable due to steep bride prices. Bachas supplant the role of women, adopting a feminine gait and sometimes wearing makeup and bells on their feet. Many in Uruzgan see bacha bazi neither as pedophilia nor homosexuality, which is forbidden in Islam. If social norms had a pecking order, violating boys would be seen as far more ethical than violating women. But the tactic appears more deep rooted in Uruzgan, where the boys are widely flaunted as a totem of affluence, with some officials openly displaying cellphone images of their “handsome bachas”. “Come see my beautiful bacha,” said Naqibullah, a police commander in Dehjawze village near Tarin Kot, boasting that he had been holding the teenager for two years. With a touch of kohl on his eyes, and bleached blond curly hair poking out of his embroidered hat, the boy sat in a corner of the checkpoint surrounded by opium farms, quietly refilling tea glasses for Naqibullah’s guests. “Commanders prowl neighborhoods for young boys. We are scared of dressing up our children or buying new clothes that will make them attractive,” said Nader Khan, a tribal elder in Dehrawud. Khan’s 13-year-old nephew was taken captive earlier in 2016 by Naqibullah, a local commander not related to the Dehjawze official, when his family sent him to deliver bread for policemen. He was released only after angry tribal elders besieged the governor’s office in Tarin Kot.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Pat Buchanan looks at the negative effects that Muslim immigrants have on the western world.
Monday, June 13, 2016
Qatar's Article 281 makes clear that any man who has extramarital sex "with a female over sixteen without compulsion, duress, or ruse shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to seven years." The next part of that code raises eyebrows: "The same penalty shall also be imposed on the female for her consent." And it's what has dealt a conviction to a Dutch woman trapped in the Arab country since she reported her own rape three months ago. The 22-year-old woman, IDed only as Laura, was given a one-year suspended sentence and $850 fine, Daphne Kerremans, a Dutch Foreign Ministry rep, said. Laura was accused of adultery after her drink was drugged at a Doha hotel in mid-March 2016 and she woke up in a stranger's apartment to find she had been sexually assaulted; when she notified police, she was arrested. Laura's lawyer says that she was on vacation at a hotel that permitted the sale of alcohol (liquor is mostly illegal in Qatar). A former Qatar justice minister said that defense lawyers would had to have proved "no voluntary actions" existed between the woman and the man, IDed as Syrian national Omar Abdullah Al-Hassan. He claims that the sex was consensual but that they argued after, prompting Laura to file her report; he received a sentence of 140 lashes — 100 for the extramarital sex, 40 for drinking booze, none for rape. The burden in Qatar of proving sexual assault is so strong that a man and woman walking together could be enough to convince officials that the woman gave the OK to sex later. Laura will be deported after paying her fine. "The ambassador is with her now and is making sure that she can go home as soon as possible," Kerremans said. "It was quite overwhelming for her."
Friday, June 10, 2016
A major Jewish philanthropist has been arrested and charged with paying kickbacks to the president of New York City’s corrections officers’ union
Federal agents arrested 55-year-old Murray Huberfeld, a financier who has donated millions of dollars to Jewish charities, in Manhattan. Huberfeld has been charged with fraud for a kickback he paid to labor union president Norman Seabrook, who was also arrested and charged. According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Huberfeld in 2014 paid Seabrook $60,000 in cash in exchange for Seabrook investing $20 million from his union’s pension fund in Huberfeld’s hedge fund, Centurion Credit Management. “As alleged, Norman Seabrook and Murray Huberfeld engaged in a straightforward and explicit bribery scheme,” Bharara said. For a Ferragamo bag stuffed with $60,000 in cash, Seabrook sold himself and his duty to safeguard the retirement funds of his fellow correction officers. Huberfeld — who has homes in Manhattan and Long Island — is through his family foundation a major donor to Chabad synagogues around the world and to haredi Orthodox yeshivas and other organizations in the New York area and Israel. He also serves on the board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a California-based group that opposes anti-Semitism. Huberfeld was convicted of fraud in 1993 for having someone else take a broker license exam while posing as him and settled a civil complaint brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1998. Huberfeld’s private foundation gives over a million dollars a year to Jewish organizations, including $1.476 million in 2014, according to tax forms.
A court in the Indian capital Delhi has sentenced five men to life imprisonment for the 2014 gang rape of a Danish woman in the city
The 52-year-old tourist was robbed and raped at knife point in January 2014. Nine people, including three minors, were arrested for the crime. One of the accused died, while the minors are being tried in a juvenile court. Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus. The five men have the right to appeal against the sentence in a higher court. The tourist had lost her way to her hotel in Delhi's Paharganj area when she approached the men to ask for directions. She gave police a detailed statement about what happened to her in the presence of the Danish ambassador before leaving the country soon after the assault. The 2012 gang rape led to protests and new anti-rape laws in India. However, brutal sexual attacks against women and children continue to be reported across the country.
According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, they are Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Portugal, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and Slovenia. The ranking is based on 23 factors including involvement in conflicts at home and abroad, crime, terrorist activity, political stability, levels of militarization, and relations with other countries in general. Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Syria are the least peaceful.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
In Malawi, a violent sidebar to this phenomenon has emerged over the past year and a half. People there with the hereditary condition — marked by a reduction or faulty distribution of melanin, which lends pigment to one's eyes, skin, and hair — have been raped, harassed, and slain, with at least 18 albinos murdered during that timeline (four, including a baby, were killed in April 2016 alone) and five albinos still missing. And, in a gruesome twist, the body parts culled from these murders are often sold to witch doctors and others to feed superstitious beliefs, fetching as much as $75,000 for a "complete set" (including all four limbs, ears, nose, tongue, and the genitals), per the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This macabre practise and treatment of albinos overall arises from the rampant superstition surrounding the condition: A dangerous belief that having sex with an albino woman can cure HIV has led to rapes, while another myth centers on albino bones containing gold, magical traits, or medicinal properties. And what is local law enforcement doing to protect the albino population in Malawi? Not much, per Amnesty International, which claims in a new report that the government and police are doing almost nothing to educate citizens or keep the albino population safe from "albino hunters." The problem is getting so bad, that one albinism expert says that she fears the worst: albino extinction in certain areas of southern Africa, a possibility even put forth by the UN. Meanwhile, albinos continue to live in daily fear. "Why should people hunt me like they're hunting for animals to eat?" a board member of an albinism advocacy group in Malawi says. (Tanzania has suffered from the same issue.)
If we go back to 1920, 80% of the industrial output of the entire island of Ireland came from the three counties centered on Belfast. This was where all Irish industry was. It was industrial and innovative; northern entrepreneurs and inventors were at the forefront of industrial innovation. By 1911, Belfast was the biggest city in Ireland, with a population of close to 400,000, which was growing rapidly. It was by far the richest part of the island. Fast-forward to 2016 and the collapse of the once-dynamic Northern economy versus that of the Republic of Ireland is shocking. Having been a fraction of the North's at independence, the Republic's industrial output is now 10 times greater than that of Northern Ireland. Exports from the Republic are €89bn while from the North, exports are a paltry €6bn. This obviously reflects the presence of multinationals, but it also underscores just how far ahead the Republic's industrial base is. The total size of the Republic's economy is now four times that of the North, even though the labor force is not even two and a half times bigger. In terms of income per head, the Republic is now almost twice as rich per person as the North. The average income per head in the Republic is €39,873, while it languishes at €23,700 up North. The differing fortunes of North and South can be easily seen in the fact that, having been smaller than Belfast at the time of partition, the population of the greater Dublin area is now almost three times bigger than the greater Belfast metropolitan region.
Friday, June 3, 2016
Sweden beat out 162 other nations to win the overall top spot in the "Good Country Index," a ranking of the world's countries. The list is based on 35 various indicators from sources such as the World Bank and the UN, separated into the categories of culture, science and tech, prosperity and equality, world order, international peace and security, planet and climate, and health and well-being. The United States just missed making the top 20, coming in at No. 21. And in last place — Libya. "A good country is one that successfully contributes to the good of humanity," British policy adviser Simon Anholt, who established the Good Country Index, said. "Of course, it must serve the interests of its own people, but never at the expense of other populations or their natural resources: This is the new law of human survival." The other countries in the top 10 are Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Canada, France, Austria and New Zealand.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Among black men, those with more genetic variants descended from West Africa may have a relatively lower risk of being overweight, obese and diabetic, according to a new study out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Arizona. Obesity affects women and men of every ethnic group in the United States with strong gender and racial disparities. "We know that many factors, environmental, cultural and biological, can affect one's level of fatness," said David Allison, Ph.D., director of UAB's Nutrition Obesity Research Center and co-author of the study. "Researchers and pundits alike often consider one factor at a time, yet such explanations do not seem to account for the complex patterns of obesity risk we see — such as the fact that black women have a much greater risk of obesity than do white women, yet black men and white men have rather similar rates of obesity." Although socioeconomic factors, access to health care, healthy food and safe places to exercise have been associated with obesity and other racial disparities in health, black and white men do not have significantly different rates of obesity, according to the CDC. Investigators from UAB and the University of Arizona analyzed genetic data from 4,425 healthy black men and women between the ages of 45 and 85. The data originated from two cohort studies sponsored by the National Heart Lung Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Genetic ancestry, or the proportion of one's ancestors who hailed from one part of the world versus another, for each participant was estimated by looking at 3,000 variants or markers in the genome, which differ between people from West Africa and Europe. The fraction of one's ancestry from West Africa varies considerably among African-Americans due to genetic admixture from other ancestral populations, such as Europeans or Native Americans. Black men with a high degree of West African genetic ancestry tended to have a lower waist circumference and waist-hip ratio, indicating they have less central adiposity or abdominal fat than did black men with a lower degree of West African genetic ancestry. In contrast, such associations were generally not observed among black women. "The African-American gene pool may contain one or more gene variants, originally inherited from West African ancestors, that may give men partial protection against central adiposity," said Allison, Quetelet Endowed Professor of Public Health. "As we move forward in prevention and treatment of central obesity, it may be helpful to identify these gene variants and the mechanisms through which they operate."
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
The African immigrant population in the United States has grown from 80,000 in 1970 to 1.8 million in 2013
Between 1965 and 2000, the highest number of immigrants (4.3 million) to the United States came from Mexico, in addition to some 1.4 million from the Philippines. Korea, the Dominican Republic, India, Cuba and Vietnam were also leading sources of immigrants, each sending between 700,000 and 800,000 over this period. The immigrant population from Middle Eastern countries grew from 235,000 in 1980 to 1.02 million in 2013 according to the census.