Friday, June 22, 2018

A recent study by the Brazilian government spelled out the high cost of crime in the South American giant, placing a few of the country’s states on par with some of the world’s most murderous nations, including Honduras

In financial terms, record homicide levels have cost Brazil 450 billion reals ($120 billion) in lost productivity over two decades — a sum almost equal to the Marshall Plan, the U.S. World War II aid package for Europe. The report from Brazil’s presidency noted that the overall economic cost of crime between 1996 and 2015 jumped an equivalent of 4.4% of gross domestic product annually — about three times that of some European countries. “Violent crime has not eased in the interim: If anything, it worsened. It is very likely that the overall economic burden of criminal violence steadily increased,” says Robert Muggah, research director at the Igarapé Institute, a security think tank in Rio de Janeiro that contributed to the report. “Brazil is confronting a full-blown public security crisis, but spending on crime control has been both ineffective and inefficient.” The report was released days after government think tank IPEA and the Brazilian Forum on Public Security (FBSP) revealed in a study that the country’s homicide rate exceeded 30 per 100,000 in 2016, with 62,500 murders, the highest ever recorded, and about 30 times more than in Europe. Between 2006 and 2016, 553,000 people were killed in Brazil, said the IPEA/FBSP study, more than in the seven-year Syrian civil war, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A recent study on the costs of crime by the Inter-American Development Bank revealed that the regional average in Latin America was 3.55% of GDP in 2014, compared with 3.78% in Brazil in the same year; 2.75% in the United States; 2.55% in Britain; 1.87% in France; and 1.34% in Germany.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A new poll by Lord Ashcroft has revealed growing support for a unified Ireland with many citing Brexit as a motive for quitting the UK

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, a referendum on uniting Ireland could be held if it appears likely that it would have a chance of passing in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. And support for reunification has ballooned since Brexit, which saw Northern Ireland vote 57% in favor of remaining in the European Union. Ironically, for the ultra-unionist DUP, who were the only major Northern Irish party to campaign for leave, it appears that their support for Brexit has actually contributed to a rise in support of their Doomsday Scenario: the reunification of Ireland. The poll has revealed that 44% of Northern Irish residents would vote in favor of quitting the UK and joining the Republic if a referendum was held tomorrow. Forty-nine percent of respondents said that they would vote to stay in the UK while 7% said that they did not know how they would vote. Pollsters, who interviewed 1,666 Northern Irish adults between May 24 and 28, 2018 revealed even those who opposed a united Ireland believed a referendum would eventually be held. Lord Ashcroft Polls said in the full report: “More than half of DUP voters said there should never be a referendum but fewer than one in five of them thought there never would be. More than eight in 10 Nationalists and three in 10 Unionists thought there would be a ‘border poll’ within the next decade.” The poll also spoke to voters in England, Scotland and Wales, who said leaving the European Union was more important than keeping Northern Ireland in the union. The poll report said: “If it were not possible both to leave the EU and to keep England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales together in the UK, 63 percent of Leave voters in Great Britain (including 73 percent of Conservatives) said they would choose to leave the EU. 27 percent said they would choose to keep the UK together, and one in ten say they didn’t know.” The new poll announcement backs up another released earlier in June 2018. The Lucid Talk poll, which was commissioned by the BBC, revealed that 42.1% of those surveyed would vote to join the Republic in a unified Ireland, just three points - the margin of error - behind those who want to remain in the UK. The remainder were undecided.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

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

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

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

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 7, 2018

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

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