Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Black bears that live around urban areas weigh more, get pregnant at a younger age, and are more likely to die violent deaths

The study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), published in the Fall 2008 issue of the journal Human-Wildlife Conflicts, tracked 12 bears over a 10-year period living in urban areas around Lake Tahoe, Nevada and compared them to 10 "wildland" bears that lived in outlying wild areas. The authors found that bears in urbanized areas weighed an average of 30% more than bears in wild areas due to a diet heavily supplemented by garbage. The authors believe that because the bears weigh more they are giving birth at an earlier age – on average when they are between 4-5 years old, as compared to 7-8 years for bears in wild areas. Some urban bears even reproduced as early as 2-3 years of age around Lake Tahoe. Urban bears also tend to die much younger due mostly to collisions with vehicles, according to the study. All 12 urban bears tracked by the researcher were dead by age 10 due to vehicle collisions, while six of the wildland bears still survived. Bear cubs in urban areas also had dramatically higher mortality rates due mainly to vehicle collisions. "Urban areas are becoming the ultimate bear traps," said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Jon Beckmann, the study's lead author.

Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour and Barack Obama

One notable black racist who, like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is also connected to Obama, is an orthodox Muslim named Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour, whose efforts to facilitate Obama’s 1988 admission to Harvard Law School have recently come to light. An attorney by profession, al-Mansour is a black nationalist and an outspoken hater of the United States, Israel, and white people generally. In recent years he has accused the U.S. of plotting a “genocide” designed “to remove 15 million black people, considered disposable, of no relevance, value or benefit to the American society.” He has told fellow blacks that “whatever you do to [white people], they deserve it, God wants you to do it and that’s when you cut out the nose, cut out the ears, take flesh out of their body, don’t worry because God wants you to do it.” Formerly named Donald Warden, al-Mansour in the 1960s was a mentor to Black Panther Party founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. When Warden became a Muslim and took his new name, he seamlessly adapted the sadistic hatred that had animated his activities with the Panthers, to the religious bigotry for which his newfound Islamic extremism called. Given the vital role that Saudi Arabia plays in orchestrating jihadi activities in North America, al-Mansour’s Saudi connections merit close scrutiny. In the 1980s al-Mansour served as an advisor helping a pair of Saudi billionaires secretly acquire a major stake in some valuable California oceanfront property, through what the Los Angeles Times described as “an elaborate network of corporate shells in California, the Caribbean and Europe.” Moreover, al-Mansour was an investment advisor to the multi-billionaire Saudi Prince, Alwaleed bin Talal, the man whose $10 million donation to help rebuild downtown Manhattan after 9/11 was rejected by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani when the Prince suggested that America’s flawed foreign policies had helped foment the rage that manifested itself in the attacks.

Black men living in England have a three times higher risk of prostate cancer than white men

They also tend to be diagnosed five years younger, a study of all cases in London and Bristol found. The results cannot be explained by access to diagnostic tests, awareness of the condition or screening, the British Journal of Cancer reported. Researchers at the University of Bristol said the United States had already reported a higher rate of prostate cancer in black men. On why black men could be being diagnosed earlier, the researchers said prostate cancer at a younger age was more likely to be due to greater biological susceptibility to the disease. Study leader Dr Chris Metcalfe said this was the first evidence from Britain on differences between black and white men in rates of prostate cancer. "One of the possibilities based on anecdote was that black men may delay presentation - so the cancer gets to a later stage. If anything the evidence showed black men were presenting sooner." He added: "There's very few known risk factors for prostate cancer but it's starting to look like being of black race is a risk factor." Dr Joanna Peak, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said prostate cancer was the most common cancer in British men. "The study indicates that there is a true biological difference between ethnic groups."

Monday, September 29, 2008

It is estimated that up to 20% of South Africa’s whites have emigrated since the end of apartheid in 1994

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Jacob Zuma’s rise, coupled with nationwide power cuts and a continuing crime wave, has led to a further massive brain drain. Polls show that 63% of South Africans have seriously considered emigration. “Among my age group the chorus is absolutely insistent,” said Geoff Landsman, 25, a civil engineer. “You must go abroad. If at all possible equip yourself with a foreign passport. I have a Dutch one. I’ll leave by Christmas. I’m not saying I’ll never come back but I want to see if I can cut it abroad.” Anna Davids, 62, an ophthalmologist, lamented: “There’s a whole generation missing. Look around. Where are the young white couples aged 25-45? At least two-thirds of them are gone.” She said that affirmative action plans discouraged young whites from staying. “Everything’s loaded against young whites, no matter how well qualified they are.” Crime is still alarmingly high. In 2007, the country saw 18,487 murders, 36,190 rapes, 14,481 home invasions, 14,201 carjackings and 118,312 aggravated robberies. Zuma has sought to calm fears, but seems oblivious to the fact that appearing at celebrations as a Zulu warrior, replete with leopard skins and assegai (a type of spear), and singing “Mshini Wam” (Bring Me My Machine-gun) at party rallies does little to inspire confidence.

In Britain, children as young as nine are being forced into marriage by their families

The disclosure comes as official figures show that nearly 60 children aged 15 or under have been rescued by the Government's Forced Marriage Unit in the past four years. The cases are feared to be the tip of the iceberg. They will fuel concerns that large numbers of children are disappearing from British schools to be forced into wedlock overseas. A charity which runs a national helpline on forced marriage and honor-based crimes, Karma Nirvana, revealed that in one incident a nine-year-old girl from a Pakistani family in the east Midlands was taken into council care after her parents told her she was to wed. Jasvinder Sanghera, director of Karma Nirvana, said that on average four children a month aged under 16 have contacted its helpline since it launched in April 2008. "The youngest child we have dealt with was nine years old," she said. "The girl told her teacher she was going to be forced to marry someone and initially she was not believed. Ultimately, with the help of the Forced Marriage Unit, she was dealt with through child protection procedures. She was assessed and, thankfully, taken into foster care." Sanghera called on ministers to make sure primary school children are taught about forced marriage and given advice on how to avoid becoming a victim. The Forced Marriage Unit has helped rescue 58 underage children since it was set up in January 2005, including 11 under-16s so far in 2008. The youngest victim this year was 13, one was 14 and nine were 15. The unit deals with 5,000 inquiries and 300 cases of forced marriage a year. A third of inquiries come from under 18s. The youngest victim repatriated by the unit, which is jointly funded by the Home Office and the Foreign Office, was an 11-year-old girl who was flown back to Britain from Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2007 after her parents had agreed to marry her to a local man. Sanghera, who herself fled home after being threatened with forced marriage at the age of 15, said: "I currently have cases involving four children aged 11 to 14 who were forced to marry or were at risk, and have now been made wards of court. You don't just get forced into a marriage at 16 or 17; this is happening to very young children. We certainly have had cases of minors being sexually abused. If you are forced into marriage as a minor you will be multiple-raped, because as a child you are legally unable to give consent. But we have no idea how many children under 16 are at risk, and this is compounded by a reluctance of schools to engage with the issue. Many schools shy away due to supposed cultural sensitivities." She went on: "There will be children sitting in our classrooms this week who have already had identified for them a husband or a wife. These marriages can be prevented by identifying the signs in school or teachers believing pupils when they raise it." The problem is particularly prevalent in Pakistani communities, where betrothing offspring to their first cousins is common practice, said Sanghera.

Young people think a steady stream of immigrants is eroding Britain's national identity and threatening jobs, a survey shows

Almost two-thirds (60%) of the young people surveyed in the poll by the British Council thought the presence of foreign immigrants was diluting their sense of national identity. A quarter said immigrants posed a threat to British workers' jobs and 12% said they thought the influx of people from abroad was a risk to security and public order. Two thousand people aged between 18 and 35 were asked about their attitude towards immigration and their sense of national identity.

The leaders of Austria's two far-right parties have hailed the results of snap general elections, which saw their support doubling since the 2006 poll

The Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria took nearly 29% of the vote, preliminary results show. The Social Democrats won the polls with 30%. But they, and the conservative People's Party, with 26%, suffered their worst results since 1945. The shape of a possible coalition will now be hard to predict, experts say. A total of 183 parliamentary seats were up for grabs in the election. The early polls were called after the grand coalition between the Social Democrats and the People's Party collapsed amid internal fights and personal feuds.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Polygyny and the X chromosome

Women have been more successful on average in passing their genes on to the next generation. "This is because a few males have fathered children with multiple females, which occurs at the expense of other less successful males", says Dr. Michael Hammer, ARL Division of Biotechnology at the University of Arizona. The group has found DNA evidence that polygyny, the practice among males of siring children with multiple female partners at the same time or successively, has led to an excess of genetic diversity on the X chromosome relative to the autosomes. Details are published September 26, 2008 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics. The X chromosome is present in two copies in females and a single copy in males. The autosomes, which are inherited equally by both sexes from each parent, are expected to have more genetic diversity than the X chromosome in a population with an equal number of breeding males and females. The article examines potential demographic and evolutionary forces that have led to higher than expected genetic variation on the X chromosome. The research team measured levels of neutral polymorphism at 40 independent loci on the X chromosome and autosomes in ninety humans representing six populations, including: Biaka (Central African Republic), Mandenka (Senegal), San (Namibia), French Basque, Han Chinese and Melanesians (Papua New Guinea). The group contrasted alternative explanations for the higher observed levels of X-linked (versus autosomal) diversity. Background selection, changes in population size and sex-specific migration were all discounted as contributors to the observed patterns of genetic variability. Only the process of polygyny could by itself account for the sex ratio skew and resulting patterns of genomic variation. By this process, fewer unique male genes are being passed into the next generation. The group's research highlights how unseen, sex-biased forces have shaped genomic patterns of variability. Over the long-term, the findings may provide lessons on the dynamics of beneficial mutations on different chromosomes as they sweep through the population.

Violent crime and political turmoil are adding to South Africa’s brain drain

A decade-and-a-half after the end of apartheid, violent crime is pushing more and more whites out of South Africa. Exactly how many are leaving is impossible to say. Few admit that they are quitting for good, and the government does not collect the necessary statistics. But large white South African diasporas, both English- and Afrikaans-speaking, have sprouted in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and many cities of North America. The South African Institute of Race Relations, a think-tank, guesses that 800,000 or more whites have emigrated since 1995, out of the 4 million-plus who were there when apartheid formally ended the year before. Robert Crawford, a research fellow at King’s College in London, reckons that around 550,000 South Africans live in Britain alone. Not all of South Africa’s émigrés are white: skilled blacks from South Africa can be found in jobs and places as various as banking in New York and nursing in the Persian Gulf. But most are white and the remaining whites, though only about 9% of the population, are still South Africa’s richest and best-trained people. Talk about “white flight” does not go down well. Officials are quick to claim that there is nothing white about it. A recent survey by FutureFact, a polling organisation, found that the desire to emigrate is pretty even across races: last year, 42% of Coloured (mixed-race) South Africans, 38% of blacks and 30% of those of Indian descent were thinking of leaving, compared with 41% of whites. This is a big leap from 2000, when the numbers were 12%, 18%, 26% and 22% respectively. But it is the whites, by and large, who have the money, skills, contacts and sometimes passports they need to start a life outside—and who leave the bigger skills and tax gap behind.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Black women and breast cancer

There may be a protective factor against breast cancer in black women. Another example of race being biologically significant.

Many children will be left behind in California

Nearly all elementary schools in California will fail to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements for proficiency by 2014, the year when all students in the nation need to be proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, per the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001" (NCLB).

WaMu and diversity

Failed bank ranks in the top ten of Hispanic Business’ Diversity Elite.

53% of Los Angeles's adult population — 3.8 million people — are functionally illiterate.

Under Clinton, the entire federal government put massive pressure on banks to grant more mortgages to the poor and minorities. Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, investigated Fannie Mae for racial discrimination and proposed that 50 percent of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s portfolio be made up of loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers by the year 2001.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The traditional Zulu reed dance is sexist and outdated, South Africa's Young Communist League (YCL) says

YCL spokesman Castro Ngobese said the cultural practice in honour of the Zulu King Shaka makes women "chained prisoners of backwards traditions". The YCL dedicated 2008's Heritage Day events to a young girl who was raped during reed dance celebrations in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The South African press reported that a 14-year-old Zulu maiden who had been participating in the ceremony at King Goodwill Zwelithini's palace was dragged outside and gang-raped.

A Canadian convert to Islam has been found guilty of participating in a terrorist group that planned to storm parliament and behead the prime minister

The 20-year-old was arrested in 2006 along with 17 others in a massive anti-terrorism operation in Toronto. Delivering the verdict, the judge said there was overwhelming evidence that a terrorist group existed and that the accused knew what it was about. The trials of 10 others, including the alleged ringleaders, are still pending. The man, a convert to Islam, cannot be identified under Canadian law as he was a minor at the time his arrest in 2006.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Illegal immigration and the mortgage mess

Michelle Malkin explains how the banking industry, ethnic lobbyists and the Bush administration have caused the current financial crisis.

Immigration and the New Zealand health system

The case of the tourist with highly infectious tuberculosis is just one of hundreds of cases of patients from overseas who arrive here and cause a financial strain on the New Zealand health system. District health boards are also understood to be frustrated that immigration officials grant residency to certain foreigners despite the huge cost to the health system. The Auckland District Health Board spent $16.2 million on "non-eligible patients" in 2007 - up from $12m three years ago - and has $2.1m in unpaid debt. Similarly, Counties Manukau DHB has spent $3.4m in 2007, up from $1.8m in 2006, and is owed about $1.1m while the Waitemata board is owed more than $900,000. Chief executives from these DHBs declined to comment on the burden foreign patients place on hospital finances. But an Auckland Hospital insider said that many of the patients in her waiting room are from overseas. Many of them are older with chronic health problems and are often admitted shortly after arriving in the country. "Once any immigrants are granted residency, they are entitled to everything and anything, just like any other New Zealand taxpayer. It's a real burden on the health system. We all mutter about it but we have a job to do. We have to take care of them. But it makes you wonder how the hell these sick people were allowed in?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Residents in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, have called for government action against a school asking for fees in livestock or fuel coupons

Those who do not have coupons have been asked to deliver 700 liters of fuel. One teacher at Petra High School said it was cash-strapped parents who originally wanted to pay in kind. Though politicians in Zimbabwe signed a power-sharing deal, the country is still suffering from an acute economic crisis. The last official figure given for annual inflation was 11,000,000%. Recently the central bank struck 10 zeros from the currency, making 10bn Zimbabwe dollars equal to one new dollar. Banks only allow people to withdraw a maximum of 1,000 new Zimbabwe dollars a day. "If you are paying school fees of 100,000 dollars, that means I will be going to the bank for the next five months to withdraw 1,000 dollars until I reach the requirement amount for fees," said one parent, Babongile Simanga. Petra High School was not available for comment but two teachers confirmed that if parents failed to raise enough cash, they could pay in whatever they have, including livestock. It is not clear how many parents have handed over animals, but the practice is said to have been going on for some time. "It's not only Petra High school that is doing that," said Dumisa Tshabalala of Magwegwe township, who has two children at Embakwe High School in the neighbouring province of Matabeleland South. "Many schools these days are doing it and we should blame the government not schools." Cows are the usual method of payment because of their higher value, though poor people in rural areas have also used goats.

Iraq has been ranked by Transparency International(TI) as one of the world's most corrupt countries, just above Somalia as the "least clean" state

The index is based on perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories. The high levels of corruption amount to a humanitarian disaster said Huguette Labelle, chair of the watchdog. At the bottom of the transparency table, along with Somalia and Iraq, are Burma, Haiti, Afghanistan and Sudan. While Iraq remains in the same bottom-three position in the table as 2007, the level of perceived corruption in the country collated by the Berlin-based organisation has increased. The score is based on perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts.

Corporate India is in shock after a mob of sacked workers bludgeoned to death the CEO who had dismissed them from a factory in a suburb of Delhi

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, an Italian-headquartered manufacturer of car parts, died of severe head wounds after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police said. The incident, in Greater Noida, just outside the Indian capital, followed a long-running dispute between the factory's management and workers who had demanded better pay and permanent contracts. It is understood that Choudhary, who was married with one son, had called a meeting with more than 100 former employees - who had been dismissed following an earlier outbreak of violence at the plant - to discuss a possible reinstatement deal. A police spokesman said: "Only a few people were called inside. About 150 people were waiting outside when they heard someone from inside shout for help. They rushed in and the two sides clashed. The company staff were heavily outnumbered." Other executives said they were lucky to escape with their lives. "I just locked my room's door from inside and prayed they would not break in. See, my hands are trembling even three hours later," an Italian consultant, Forettii Gatii, told a local newspaper. More than 60 people were arrested and more than 20 were in hospital. A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said: "Such a heinous act is bound to sully India's image among overseas investors." The murder has stoked fears that outbreaks of mob rule risk jeopardising the subcontinent's economic rise. In the most high-profile incident so far, thousands of violent protestors recently forced Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns Land Rover and Jaguar, to halt work on the plant being built to produce the world's cheapest car - the £1,250 Nano. The move could result in nearly £200 million in investment written off. Tata halted work claiming it could not guarantee its workers safety at the factory in the state of West Bengal. In a rare show of support for a competitor, the billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani, one of India's most powerful businessmen, said that the Nano crisis showed how protestors were creating a "a fear-psychosis to slow-down certain projects of national importance." Other companies, including Vedenta, the London-listed mining company, have encountered similar problems in India. In a statement issued from Rivoli in Italy, Graziano said that some of Choudhary's attackers had no connection to the company. It added that the chief executive was killed by "serious head injuries caused by the intruders."

Monday, September 22, 2008

A couple in South Africa who were having sex on a railway track in Mpumalanga Province have been killed by a goods train

Police spokesman Abie Khoabane said the victims were yet to be identified. He told local newspapers that the couple ignored the driver's shouts as he moved the train into the disused station in Kinross town. "They continued with their business," he told the Sowetan paper. According to South Africa's Beeld newspaper, the area was deserted with no cars or houses nearby. The man died at the scene and the woman died later at hospital, the Sowetan reports. The police have appealed for those with missing relatives to come forward to help with their investigation.

Men who grow up thinking women should stay at home may be labelled "old-fashioned" - but could end up well ahead in the salary stakes

A study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, suggests that they will consistently out-earn more "modern-thinking" men. On average, this meant an extra $8,500 a year. One British psychologist said men inclined to wield power in their relationships might also do this at work. The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Florida, was conducted on a large scale, with 12,686 men and women interviewed in 1979, when they were aged between 14 and 22, and three times in the following two decades, the last time in 2005. The researchers asked them whether they believed a woman's place was in the home, or whether the employment of women was likely to lead to higher rates of juvenile delinquency. Predictably, more men tended to hold these views than women, although the gap has narrowed significantly over time. However, when the men were asked about their salaries, another gap emerged, with those holding "traditional" views earning significantly more.

Poll: Barack Obama could lose six percentage points on election day for being black

Six percentage points is the price Barack Obama could pay on election day for being black. That disturbing calculation was found in a groundbreaking new Associated Press-Yahoo News poll conducted with Stanford University which probes the effect of the Democratic presidential candidate's race on his historic campaign for the White House. "There's a penalty for prejudice, and it's not trivial," Stanford University political scientist Paul Sniderman said. In a close contest, racism "might be enough to tip the election," Sniderman said. The perception that voters in their 20s and 30s might go for Obama because they're less racially biased than their parents might be wrong. The survey found no meaningful differences in the way younger and older whites viewed black people. But older whites were more likely to say when they really think of blacks than the younger generations.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sarah Palin and racial rape threats

Jewish comedienne says that Sarah Palin would be raped by blacks in Manhattan.

Europe and Islam

Diana West says that Europe is falling under Islamic rule.

Black New Yorkers are 13 times more likely to be murdered - or arrested for murder - than whites, an NYPD crime analysis shows

Blacks and Hispanics dominated tallies of both suspects and victims, according to an NYPD racial breakdown of crimes requested by the Daily News. Of the 244 murders between Jan. 1 and June 30 this year, 64.8% of the victims were black, records showed. Hispanics accounted for 23.4% of the victims, whites 7.4% and Asians 4.5%. Using NYPD stats, the homicide rate per 1 million in population was 81.1 for blacks and 6.3 for whites. Among murder arrests, blacks accounted for 64.9%, Hispanics 27.2%, whites 7.3% and Asians less than 1%. In all, 153 New Yorkers were charged with homicide through June 30 - the ethnicity was detailed in 151 of the cases. The arrest rate for homicide per 1 million population: 50.8 black, 3.8 white. Police officers said black and Hispanic victims tend to be attacked by black and Hispanic criminals. The racial tallies bear little resemblance to the ethnic makeup of New York City: 34.8% white, 27.6% Hispanic and 23.7% black, 2006 Census data shows.

One-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks

Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks—many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles. The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004—about 2.5 percentage points. Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He's an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation's oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40% of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents. More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.

Obama's economic policies

Rupert Murdoch doesn't think much of them.

Presidential intelligence

Was Jimmy Carter both the smartest and worst President of the last 50 years?

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Democrats

Who caused the collapse?

Ethnic cleansing by rival Shiites may have been largely responsible for the decrease in violence in Baghdad

By tracking the amount of light emitted by Baghdad neighborhoods at night, a team of UCLA geographers has uncovered fresh evidence that 2007's U.S. troop surge in Iraq may not have been as effective at improving security as some U.S. officials have maintained. Night light in neighborhoods populated primarily by embattled Sunni residents declined dramatically just before the February 2007 surge and never returned, suggesting that ethnic cleansing by rival Shiites may have been largely responsible for the decrease in violence for which the U.S. military has claimed credit, the team reports in a new study based on publicly available satellite imagery. "Essentially, our interpretation is that violence has declined in Baghdad because of intercommunal violence that reached a climax as the surge was beginning," said lead author John Agnew, a UCLA professor of geography and authority on ethnic conflict. "By the launch of the surge, many of the targets of conflict had either been killed or fled the country, and they turned off the lights when they left." The team reports its findings in the October 2008 issue of Environment and Planning A, a leading peer-reviewed academic journal that specializes in urban and environmental planning issues. The night-light signature in four other large Iraqi cities — Kirkuk, Mosul, Tikrit and Karbala — held steady or increased between the spring of 2006 and the winter of 2007, the UCLA team found. None of these cities were targets of the surge. Baghdad's decreases were centered in the southwestern Sunni strongholds of East and West Rashid, where the light signature dropped 57% and 80%, respectively, during the same period. By contrast, the night-light signature in the notoriously impoverished, Shiite-dominated Sadr City remained constant, as it did in the American-dominated Green Zone. Light actually increased in Shiite-dominated New Baghdad, the researchers found. Until just before the surge, the night-light signature of Baghdad had been steadily increasing overall, they report in "Baghdad Nights: Evaluating the U.S. Military 'Surge' Using Night Light Signatures." "If the surge had truly 'worked,' we would expect to see a steady increase in night-light output over time, as electrical infrastructure continued to be repaired and restored, with little discrimination across neighborhoods," said co-author Thomas Gillespie, an associate professor of geography at UCLA. "Instead, we found that the night-light signature diminished in only in certain neighborhoods, and the pattern appears to be associated with ethno-sectarian violence and neighborhood ethnic cleansing."

Hat tip, Randall Parker!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Black patients are approximately twice as likely as their white counterparts to die following major liver surgery

Exactly why this is the case is unclear, but it does not seem to relate to clinical factors, hospital factors, or insurance status, according to the report in the Journal of the American College of Surgery. "Our study shows a racial divide in regards to in-hospital mortality after major hepatectomy," senior author Dr. Timothy Pawlik, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a statement. "This finding is of special note because of the magnitude of the observed gap in outcomes." Pawlik's team analyzed hospital discharge data for 3,552 patients who were entered in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample and underwent major hepatectomy from 1998 to 2005. Of the subjects, 59% were white, 6% African-American, 5% Hispanic, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 24% other or unknown. After adjusting for potential confounders, in-hospital mortality was 2.15-times higher among African Americans compared with Caucasians. Moreover, as mentioned, a racial gap was still apparent after further analyses were performed based on patient factors, such as other insurance status and hospital caseload. "There has previously not been any research on racial disparities in the outcomes of liver resection," lead author Dr. Hari Nathan, also from Johns Hopkins, said in a statement, but this issue is important to examine because the rates of liver resection, or surgery, have increased dramatically in the U.S.

The youngest person in Britain to have been convicted under the Terrorism Act has been sentenced to two years in a young offenders' institution

Hammaad Munshi, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was 16 when he was arrested in 2006. Police found a guide to making napalm on his computer. Now 18, he was convicted of making a record of information likely to be used for terrorist purposes. The Old Bailey judge said he had been influenced by "fanatical extremists". Judge Timothy Pontius said: "There is no doubt that you knew what you were doing." During his trial at Blackfriars Crown Court, the jury heard that Munshi had spent many hours viewing jihadist websites and had downloaded guides to making napalm, detonators and explosives. Munshi was convicted alongside two other men, Aabid Khan and Sultan Muhammad.

Ugandan officials have expressed shock after a mob killed a man who refused to stop smoking in a public bar

Customers at the village bar in eastern Uganda attacked the man after he repeatedly refused to respect a smoking ban, according to witnesses. It is the first known incident of its kind since Uganda introduced a public smoking ban four years ago. An official in the eastern district of Tororo, where the killing took place, called it a "very sad moment". "I'm really not happy with it," John Okeya said. "He had broken the law, but they should have taken it to the police for the law to take its course."

More than 500 soldiers belonging to an elite paramilitary force in India are infected with HIV, the chief of the force has said

Seventy troops of the 173-year-old Assam Rifles have died of the infection in the past 10 years, according to Lieutenant General Karan Singh Yadava. Many of the Assam Rifles troops are posted in north-eastern India and are engaged in fighting local insurgencies. India has one of the highest numbers of people with HIV in the world. Lt Gen Yadava said the force is organising sex education lessons for troops. "We have asked our men to curb the menace (of HIV infections) with full strength," he said. The Assam Rifles are recruited and deployed in the north-east of India - where they help maintain security or quell insurgencies in states such Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. They are posted in areas close to the Burmese border which have some of the highest rates of HIV infection in India.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mickey Mouse is a corrupting influence and must die, a Muslim cleric has declared

Sheikh Muhammad Munajid claimed the mouse is "one of Satan's soldiers" and makes everything it touches impure. But he warned that depictions of the creature in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, and Disney's Mickey Mouse, had taught children that it was in fact loveable. The cleric, a former diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, said that under Sharia, both household mice and their cartoon counterparts must be killed. Munajid was asked to give Islam's teaching on mice during a religious affairs program broadcast on al-Majd TV, an Arab television network. According to a translation prepared by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an American press monitoring service, he said: "The mouse is one of Satan's soldiers and is steered by him. If a mouse falls into a pot of food – if the food is solid, you should chuck out the mouse and the food touching it, and if it is liquid – you should chuck out the whole thing, because the mouse is impure. According to Islamic law, the mouse is a repulsive, corrupting creature. How do you think children view mice today – after Tom and Jerry? Even creatures that are repulsive by nature, by logic, and according to Islamic law have become wonderful and are loved by children. Even mice. Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases." Last month Munajid condemned the Beijing Olympics as the "bikini Olympics", claiming that nothing made Satan happier than seeing females athletes dressed in skimpy outfits.

Uganda's ethics and integrity minister says miniskirts should be banned - because women wearing them distract drivers and cause traffic accidents

Nsaba Buturo told journalists in Kampala that wearing a miniskirt was like walking naked in the streets. "What's wrong with a miniskirt? You can cause an accident because some of our people are weak mentally," he said. Wearing a miniskirt should be regarded as "indecent", which would be punishable under Ugandan law, Buturo said. And he railed against the dangers facing those inadvertently distracted by short skirts. "If you find a naked person you begin to concentrate on the make-up of that person and yet you are driving," he said. "These days you hardly know who is a mother from a daughter, they are all naked." According to the minister, indecent dressing is just one of many vices facing Ugandan society. "Theft and embezzlement of public funds, sub-standard service delivery, greed, infidelity, prostitution, homosexuality [and] sectarianism..." he said.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Muslims and the Northern League

The Northern League, allies of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, want to limit the growth of Islam in Italy by blocking the construction of mosques through strict new regulations.

While African-American children comprise only 9% of Erie County, Pennsylvania's child population, 41% of the children in foster care are black

Statewide, black children make up 15.8% of the population, and 47.2% of the children in foster care are African-American.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Islamic sharia courts in Britain are now legally binding

Islamic sharia law courts in Britain are exploiting a little-known legal clause to make their verdicts officially binding under British law in cases including divorce, financial disputes and even domestic violence. A new network of courts in five major cities is hearing cases where Muslims involved agree to be bound by traditional sharia law, and under the 1996 Arbitration Act the court's decisions can then be enforced by the county courts or the High Court. Officials behind the new system claim to have dealt with more than 100 cases since the summer of 2007, including six involving domestic violence which is a criminal rather than civil offence, and said they hoped to take over growing numbers of 'smaller' criminal cases in future.

Education and multiculturalism

Heather Mac Donald explains how multiculturalism hurts Hispanics academically.

Palin and the neocons

Pat Buchanan writes about how the neocons are trying to get their hooks into Sarah Palin.

Immigration levels have pushed population density in England to a higher level than any other major country in Europe

The figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, indicate there is an average of 395 people in every square kilometer in England. This is an increase of five per sq km since 2006. The increase has pushed England's population density above the previous highest figure set by the Netherlands. Within the European Union, only the island of Malta has a higher population density than England. Its population, though, is just 400,000.

A Nigerian man with 86 wives, Mohammadu Bello Abubakar, has been arrested by an Islamic court for refusing to divorce all but four of them

He was picked up in a pre-dawn raid on his house in Bida, Niger state and charged with insulting religious creed and unlawful marriages. A Sharia court judge denied him bail until another hearing on October 6, 2008. Bello Abubakar, an Islamic preacher, has more than 170 children.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Almost two-thirds of adults in the Irish Republic believe immigration policy should be made more restrictive given the worsening economic outlook

The survey by Amárach Research for a national integration debate due to be held in Dublin found generally positive attitudes towards recent immigration, with 54% saying it had on balance been good for Ireland. Some 33% felt immigration had been bad for the country and 13% believed it had made little difference. When asked about future policy, however, given the economic outlook, 66% felt immigration policy should be made more restrictive. 7% said it should be made less restrictive and 27% felt the policy should be left as it is. Women, the over-55s, middle-income earners and those from Munster were more likely to favor tighter restrictions. The poll was conducted among a sample of 1,000 adults in the Irish Republic. Some of the respondents were themselves foreign nationals, but they represented too small a subsample to be separated for analysis. Gerard O'Neill, chairman of Amárach Research, said respondents had distinguished between their views of recent immigration - which were very positive - and their concerns about future levels. "People are now saying we couldn't continue as we have been given the new economic realities that we're facing. It's saying there isn't a problem now, but there's a concern that were things to continue at a pace similar to the past 10 years, then it may well give rise to a problem," he added.

11 people were killed in a stadium riot in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a soccer player tried to use witchcraft to win a local match

Nyuki club was losing to local rivals Socozaki when Nyuki's goalkeeper advanced up the pitch and tried to use "fetishist" spells to turn the tide of the match. When a police commander tried to break up an ensuing brawl between rival players, members of the crowd pelted him with rocks. Police fired teargas in response, causing a stampede to the exits in which 11 people were killed and several injured. As elsewhere in Africa, many Congolese hold traditional animist beliefs and use spells, fetishes and charms to practise witchcraft. The riot happened in Butembo, in North Kivu province, where fighting between the army and rebels has raged on despite the official end of a 1998-2003 war that has killed an estimated 5.4 million people through violence, hunger and disease.

A senior Saudi cleric has said purveyors of horoscopes on Arab television should face the death penalty

"Sorcerers who appear on satellite channels who are proven to be sorcerers have committed a great crime ... and the Muslim consensus is that the apostate's punishment is death by the sword," Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan told al-Madina daily. "Those who call in to these shows should not be accorded Muslim rites when they die," the prominent cleric added. Many of the hundreds of Arab satellite channels have sprung up in recent years specialize in horoscopes and other advice to callers on solving problems that is seen as "sorcery". In their capacity as judges, clerics of Saudi Arabia's austere form of Islam often sentence "sorcerers" to death. Fozan, a member of the Higher Council of Clerics, was responding to a controversy ignited by a Council colleague, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, who said that owners of Arab TV shows should be tried and face death over some shows. Lohaidan, who is the head of Saudi Arabia's Islamic sharia courts, told Saudi radio: "I want to advise the owners of these channels that broadcast programs with indecency and vulgarity and warn them of the consequences ... They can be put to death through the judicial process." He was referring to comedy shows and soap operas airing in Ramadan, a month of fasting when Muslims are supposed to focus on God. Critics say Ramadan has become an orgy of food and television consumption once the fast ends at sunset. Fozan said entertainment channel owners should be "banished" but stopped short of advocating the death penalty for them. "The position of Muslims and their rulers about these channels is that they should be talked to and if they continue airing depravity and shamelessness they should be banished from this place and others brought in their place." Turkish soap operas that became hugely popular in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries provoked a storm of anger among Saudi conservatives who fear the spread of secular culture in the key U.S. ally. The government's official advisor on religious affairs, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh, said in July 2008 it was not Islamically permissible to watch the Turkish serials.

Jewish academic says that he would not be able to tolerate living next door to Jamaican neighbors

George Steiner, 79, said he believed racism was inherent in everyone and that racial tolerance was merely skin deep. "It's very easy to sit here, in this room, and say 'racism is horrible'," he said from his house in Cambridge, where he has been Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College since 1969. "But ask me the same thing if a Jamaican family moved next door with six children and they play reggae and rock music all day. Or if an estate agent comes to my house and tells me that because a Jamaican family has moved next door the value of my property has fallen through the floor. Ask me then!" Steiner, whose Jewish family fled to America from Paris before the Nazi invasion of 1940, adds: "In all of us, in our children, and to maintain our comfort, our survival, if you scratch beneath the surface, many dark areas appear. Don't forget it."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Iraqi refugees in the Netherlands

Dutch Deputy Justice Minister Nebahat Albayrak says Iraqi refugees will no longer be granted automatic refugee status because the security situation in their country is improving.

A former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that uncontrolled immigration could lead to violence on Britain's streets

Lord Carey, who was head of the Anglican Communion between 1991 and 2002, said there was "deep distress" among members of the public about the large numbers of people moving to the country. He claimed this could turn to anger and even violence if the problems are not addressed, and added that the unprecedented scale of people arriving from different faiths and cultures could change what it means to be British. Lord Carey is part of a new cross-party group on immigration, which is calling for a "one in, one out" policy to balance the number of people arriving in the country with those leaving and reduce pressure on public services. He wrote in a newspaper article: "For years it has been impossible to question the wisdom of large-scale immigration without being branded a racist'.

Has mass immigration and political correctness turned Britain into a haven for Islamic fanatics?

British historian A N Wilson examines the negative effects of Islamic immigration on Britain.

Scientists say that the genetic variance related to height, weight and body fat of humans is wider in Caucasians than in Asians

This suggests that people of different ethnic backgrounds should be treated differently for medical conditions like growth disorders and obesity, Chonnam University's Hur Yoon-mi said. Huh led a team of researchers who studied the data of 3,735 pairs of Caucasian twins from countries such as the United States, Australia, Finland and the Netherlands born between 1975 and 1993 and compared them with the details of 1,584 twins from South Korea, Japan and China born between 1968 and 1994. In both males and females, Caucasian twins in general were taller, weighted more and showed a higher percentage of body fat than their East Asian peers. However, the variability in the measures of height, weight and body mass index (BMI) was also consistently larger among Caucasians. The study also suggested that genetic factors make most of the difference in determining physical features. The researchers found genetic influences greater than environmental factors, such as physical activities and dietary habits, in 91% of the variances in height. Genetic differences were also associated with 86% of the differences in weight. "This is one of the first studies about genetic and environmental factors effect on the differences in height, weight and BMI between Caucasians and Asians," said Huh. "This also shows that the prevention or treatment of growth-related disorders and obesity must differ between Caucasians and Asians," she said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Philadelphia: 1 in 10 white students is classified as mentally gifted; just 3 in 100 black students are

Philadelphia School District officials have known they had an achievement gap on their hands for years. Recently, they saw the raw data, and were collectively horrified. One in 10 white students is classified as mentally gifted; just 3 in 100 black students are. Black and Latino students make up 79% of the district's 167,000 students, but make up just 54% of students in the district's prestigious magnet schools. Those groups make up 90% of all children labeled emotionally disturbed, and most of the students at the district's lowest-performing schools.

The population of sub-Saharan Africa will not have access to adequate sanitation until the 22nd century

Charities have also claimed that such little progress has been made on poverty targets that the population will also lack adequate access to safe water until 2035. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Tearfund and WaterAid made the claims in a report entitled Sanitation and Water - Why We Need a Global Framework for Action. They follow the publication of the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report, which shows what progress has been made on poverty targets set out at the organisation’s Millennium Summit eight years ago. The report is expected to show the international community is falling behind in its efforts to relieve global poverty, with inadequate progress made on targets such as promoting gender equality and combating HIV/AIDS by 2015. The figures reveal some goals are close to being met. For example, the large population’s of China and India are achieving greater access to food, therefore helping to fulfil the MDG to eradicate hunger. But sub-Sahara African countries are falling behind, it says, with millions of the world's poorest people moving deeper into poverty.

Blacks and Hispanics continue to be disproportionately affected by increasing rates of HIV infection

Blacks and Hispanics continue to be disproportionately affected by increasing rates of HIV infection, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported, with minority women and men who have sex with men at particularly high risk. Previously, the CDC reported that at 56,300 new cases in 2006, the rate of new HIV infections was roughly 40% higher than earlier estimates had indicated. At that time, they found that 75% of new infections that year were among men. In the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC reports more detailed analysis of data from the HIV Incidence Surveillance System. Dr. Kevin Fenton and Dr. Richard Wolitski, at the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, discussed the findings in a telebriefing. "For the first time we're able to provide new HIV incidence estimates for specific subpopulations, with further breakdowns of new infections among various races, transmission categories, age groups, and gender," Fenton said. "These data will allow us to target HIV prevention efforts and evaluate their impact with much more precision than ever before." According to Fenton, the data show a "strikingly high incidence of new HIV infections among young (ages 13 to 29) black males who are gay or bisexual; the heavy impact among white men who have sex with men in their 30s and 40s; and that, compared with other women, black women bear the heaviest burden of HIV." Dr. Wolitski pointed out that "individual differences in rates of risk behavior and substance use do not account for the disparity in infection rates in young black men who have sex with men, which means that factors outside the individual are increasing the risk associated with any risky sexual encounter." Such factors include higher background prevalence of HIV among African Americans, he said, the risk is increased because the infection rate among African Americans is already higher than in other groups. Another factor is the "different patterns of age mixing, in which younger black men who have sex with men may be more likely to have slightly older partners compared with other races or ethnicities." Fenton said that the HIV prevalence (overall number of individuals already infected) is driving the disproportionate disease incidence (the rate of new infections) among black women, as well as "patterns of sexual mixing in which they are having intercourse with men who are themselves at high risk, such as bisexual men or men who inject drugs or who were exposed while in prison." Also at issue among black women, he added, are "power imbalances with men in sexual relationships that limit their ability to protect themselves."

A Nigerian woman who produced human fingers in court in a bid to explain her involvement in a £925,000 tax credit fraud has been jailed for 5 years

Remi Fakorede, 46, from Hackney, east London, told Snaresbrook Crown Court, she had been forced into crime by a voodoo curse on her and her family. Fakorede claimed the same voodoo curse caused the fingers belonging to one of her six children to fall off. She was convicted of one count of fraud between 1 August 2002 and 26 June 2007. Her daughter, Denise Shofolawe-Cokerenise, 21, also from Hackney, was jailed for 12 months at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Thursday after being found guilty of laundering £70,000 of the stolen money. Judge Jacqueline Beech said the 46-year-old Nigerian-born defendant's behavior was utterly disgraceful and a cynical attempt to manipulate the jury. DNA test results have since been ordered to determine who the body parts belonged to, although it is understood the defendant's three-year-old daughter had lost part of her hand after suffering renal problems and developing gangrene. Social Services and the Child Protection Agency were also contacted following the incident in court. Passing sentence the judge, who said the fingers incident was the most horrific she had experienced, told Fakorede she had been responsible for a wholesale assault on the benefit system.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

African immigrants have rioted in Spain after a Senegalese man was stabbed to death in the street of a southern town

Police said the rampage led to houses and cars being set on fire. After the 28-year-old man was killed in a fight in Roquetas de Mar, an angry gathering degenerated into violence and public disorder. Police said they did not know what led to the attack, but they were looking for a local man. A witness said the man was killed as he tried to intervene in a dispute between Senegalese and Roma (Gypsy) families in the area. Rioters set fire to two homes of relatives of the man suspected of the killing, police said. They also said rioters attacked firefighters with stones, and clashed with police. There are a high proportion of immigrants in Roquetas de Mar, in the province of Almeria, many of whom work in the agricultural sector.

A minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered a Kinshasa jail to release a dozen goats, which he said were being held there illegally

Deputy Justice Minister Claude Nyamugabo said he found the goats just in time during a routine jail visit. The beasts were due to appear in court, charged with being sold illegally by the roadside. The minister said many police had serious gaps in their knowledge and they would be sent for retraining. Nyamugabo was conducting a routine visit to the prison when, he said, he was astonished to discover not only humans, but a herd of goats crammed into a prison cell in the capital. He has blamed the police for the incident. It is not clear what will happen to the owners of the goats, who have also been imprisoned. There was no word on what the goats' punishment would have been, had they been found guilty.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Is school segregation the answer to black crime in London?

The increasingly unruly nature of elements of black Londoners has led to black politicians such as Lee Jasper - former aide to former Mayor Livingstone - calling for support to have black only schools. In Toronto,Canada the Toronto District School Board approved for the establishment of "Afrocentric or black-focused schools" in 2009 which aims to address the high level dropout of black children estimated to be at 40% per cent in the city. In London the dropout rate is around 20-30% in certain areas of London, with crime figures indicating that murders amongst young people show blacks to be the victims and perpetrators in 80% of cases. The black school in Toronto has been a very emotive issue with emotions raised during the debates evaluating the merits of the school.

Three Jewish teens were attacked by a gang of Muslim African immigrants in Paris

The Jewish teens, ages 17 and 18, who have been identified as Dan Nebet, Kevin Bitan and David Boaziz, are leaders of the Bnei Akiva youth group in Paris' 19th District. Thiery Nebet, Dan's father, said that according to his son, as they were walking down the street, "Four or five Arabs of African origin started to throw walnuts at Kevin. When he went up to them to ask them why they did it, they surrounded him and knocked him down. Dan and David moved in and very quickly more Arabs joined in and started to beat the three with their fists and with chains." The Jewish teens were hospitalized, one with a broken nose and jaw and all three with bruises, and filed a police report after their release. Police opened an investigation and are looking for the Muslim teenagers allegedly responsible for the attacks. According to the chairman of the Jewish Students Union in France, Raphael Haddad, barrages of stones were thrown at the three teens during the attack. Haddad also said the incident occurred on Petit Street in the 19th District, not far from where a 17-year-old Jewish youth was attacked and seriously injured by immigrants on June 21, 2008. The attack is one of a long series of racial attacks in Europe in general and in France in particular. France has Western Europe's largest population of both Jews and Muslims.

University of California: Officials are perverting the law in a desperate attempt to increase black enrollment

Ever since California voters banned the use of racial preferences in government and education in 1996, the University of California has tried to engineer admissions systems that would replicate the effect of explicit racial quotas while appearing color-blind. To some observers, the legality of those efforts has long been suspect, but proof of wrongdoing has been hard to come by. Now a professor who sat on UCLA's committee on undergraduate admissions is charging that the school is deliberately taking race into account when deciding which students to admit. The university has refused to give him access to the data to test his claim, prompting the professor - political science faculty member Tim Groseclose - to resign from the school's admissions oversight committee in protest. UCLA's stonewalling is misguided and futile. Though the University of California has always jealously guarded information on its students' qualifications and its admissions procedures, enough details have come out over the last 10 years to suggest that race remains a factor in many parts of the system. More important, hard evidence is accumulating that enrolling students in a college for which they are academically unprepared does them a disservice. The story begins with the passage of Proposition 209, the 1996 anti-quota ballot initiative, which reduced the number of African Americans admitted to campuses across the state and sent UC officials into crisis mode. They began implementing a series of admissions changes intended to bring underqualified blacks and Latinos back to the system's most demanding campuses. They tried a preference scheme for low-income students, but it backfired when it boosted the number of Eastern European and Vietnamese admissions -- not the sort of "diversity" the university had in mind. Administrators cut the low-income preferences in half and went back to the drawing board. The subsequent admissions gambits, which continue to be rolled out to this day, are intended to increase "diversity" without running afoul of the law. Whether they have succeeded in substituting other factors for race in a permissible manner, or whether they are illegally seeking to pervert the requirements of the law, will probably be decided, in the end, in court.

Australia has been singled out as a target for forest jihad by a group of Islamic extremists

US intelligence channels have identified a website calling on Muslims in Australia, the US, Europe and Russia to start forest fires, claiming "scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels' forests when they do the same to our lands". The website, posted by a group called the Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network, argues in Arabic that lighting fires is an effective form of terrorism justified in Islamic law under the "eye for an eye" doctrine. The posting — which instructs jihadis to remember "forest jihad" in summer months — says fires cause economic damage and pollution, tie up security agencies and can take months to extinguish so that "this terror will haunt them for an extended period of time". "Imagine if, after all the losses caused by such an event, a jihadist organisation were to claim responsibility for the forest fires," the website says. "You can hardly begin to imagine the level of fear that would take hold of people in the United States, in Europe, in Russia and in Australia."

Hat tip, Brenda Walker!

Obama, the community organizer

Steve Sailer blogs about the role of the "community organizer".

The enduring power of ethnic nationalism

In short, ethnonationalism has played a more profound and lasting role in modern history than is commonly understood, and the processes that led to the dominance of the ethnonational state and the separation of ethnic groups in Europe are likely to reoccur elsewhere. Increased urbanization, literacy, and political mobilization; differences in the fertility rates and economic performance of various ethnic groups; and immigration will challenge the internal structure of states as well as their borders. Whether politically correct or not, ethnonationalism will continue to shape the world in the twenty-first century.

The ability to sweat may do more than keep the body cool - it may mean a lower chance of exercise-related asthma, say scientists

University of Michigan researchers say those who make less sweat, tears and saliva when exercising may have more breathing problems. It is possible there is also too little fluid in their airways, they suggest. While the symptoms of "exercise-induced asthma" are similar to those of chronic asthma, people with the condition only develop attacks after several minutes of intense exercise. It is a common condition among trained athletes but the reasons are poorly understood. The team looked at 56 volunteers suspected of having the condition, measuring their responses to a drug called pilocarpine, which induces sweat and saliva production, and another which constricts the airways in people with exercise-induced asthma. Those who had the greatest response to the airway drug tended to have the lowest response to the sweating drug and vice versa. Even without the help of the drug they also found a correlation in their volunteers between the amount they sweated and the amount of saliva and tear secretion. While this did not prove that the mechanism behind lack of sweat was responsible, Dr Warren Lockette, who led the study, speculated that low sweating might also mean less fluid in the airways. He said: "It now appears that how much fluid your airways secrete could be a key determinant in protecting you from exercise-induced asthma. So, if athletes sweat, drool, or cry, at least they won't gasp."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A novel about Aisha, the 6-year-old wife of Mohammed, was deemed too controversial to print in America

The Jewel of Medina was due to be published by Random House in the US, but was cancelled, because of fears of offending Muslim sensibilities. Helle Merete Brix described the book as well written, but is worried about how some might react to the content. 'The novel describes the prophet getting a glimpse of the naked wife of his adopted son, and as a result sets his sights on marrying her. I don't really know how well that story will be received.' The book was published recently in Serbia, but strong reactions from the religious community forced the publishers to pull all copies from the bookstores.

Pakistani girl who had been forced into marriage with a 45-year-old man at the age of 9 has been killed by her parents

Despair among human rights workers in Pakistan over a rash of so-called "honor killings" intensified when it was disclosed that a girl forced into marriage with a 45-year-old man at the age of nine had been killed by her parents because she asked for an annulment. The girl, Saira Nusrat Bibi, 17, who had been fighting a lonely but successful legal battle, was coming out of court in the Punjabi city of Sahiwal after being granted the annulment by a judge when she was surrounded by a group of men and shot in view of police.

EU clears Berlusconi over Roma gypsies

The center-Right Government of Silvio Berlusconi has declared that it had been fully vindicated after the European Commission said the fingerprinting of Roma gypsies in Italian camps did not amount to ethnic discrimination and was in line with EU law. Roberto Maroni, the Interior Minister, said the statement by Jacques Barrot, the European Justice Commissioner, showed that "the accusations and insults we have received were unjustified. Justice has been done".

Spain's government has defended a plan to fight soaring unemployment by shutting the door on foreign workers

The Socialist government has been under fire from unions, immigrant advocacy groups and opposition parties since the labor minister announced that the number of work visas granted abroad to people eager to take low-skill jobs in Spain "will get close to zero". The minister, Celestino Corbacho, said on that it did not make sense to keep recruiting workers in other countries when Spain has 2.5 million people unemployed, 500,000 more than in August 2007, largely as a result of a collapse in the construction industry. Spain's population of 45 million is now about 10% immigrant - compared to an insignificant proportion a decade ago - largely from Latin America, North Africa and eastern Europe. Spain's economy has all but stagnated in less than a year, and gone from being one of the EU's top job-creators to having its highest jobless rate - 10.7%, according to Eurostat, the bloc's statistical agency.

Vietnamese Americans who came to the United States as political refugees are suffering from higher rates of mental health problems than whites

In the first analysis of its kind for Vietnamese Americans in California, researchers found that Vietnamese Americans over 55 were twice as likely as whites to report needing mental health care, but were less likely to discuss such issues with their doctors. "The message I want to bring across is that the medical community needs to realize that Vietnamese Americans are a high-risk group," said Dr. Quyen Ngo-Metzger, who led the survey.

Genetic code once written off as meaningless played a potential role in the evolution of the human ability to hold tools and walk upright

The study is the latest in a long line of evidence to show that the genetics textbooks will have to be rewritten. It underlines how, even though the human genetic code was read letter by letter for the first time in 2000, geneticists are still struggling to figure out what it means almost a decade later. When scientists refer to genes, they mean stretches of DNA code that contain the instructions to make the proteins that build and operate the body. When the genome was first unveiled, it was thought all human genes resided in only around 1.5 per cent of the cell's DNA, prompting some scientists so dismiss the other 98.5 per cent as "junk". Now, in the journal Science, Dr James Noonan of Yale University and colleagues report that one of these supposed non coding "junk" regions may have played a starring role in the evolutionary changes in human limbs that enabled us to manipulate tools and to walk upright. The comparison of the human, chimpanzee, rhesus macaque and other genetic codes provided evidence that changes in junk areas of the genome helped to separate us from our ape ancestors, notably by "humanising" our hands and feet. Working with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, the Genome Institute of Singapore, and the Medical Research Council's Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, Dr Noonan searched vast regions of the human genome for DNA sequences whose function may have changed during the evolution of humans from our ape-like ancestors. The most rapidly evolving sequence they identified, termed HACNS1, is highly conserved among vertebrate species - that is, it hardly varies - but has accumulated variations in 16 letters since the divergence of humans and chimpanzees from a common ancestor six million years ago. This was especially surprising, as the human and chimpanzee genomes are extremely similar overall, Dr Noonan said. The importance of the changes in HACNS1 was confirmed bystudies that showed the same stretch of code could turn on a "reporter gene" in developing mouse limbs, in contrast to the equivalent chimpanzee and rhesus sequences. Most intriguing for human evolution, the human sequence influenced the use of genes at the base of the primordial thumb in the forelimb and the great toe in the hind limb. The results provided tantalizing, but researchers say preliminary, evidence that the functional changes in HACNS1 may have contributed to adaptations in the human ankle, foot, thumb and wrist-- critical advantages that underlie the evolutionary success of our species. Remarkably, some five per cent of the genome - including DNA in addition to that found in genes - is similar in a range of mammals, from dog to human, suggesting it plays a crucial enough role for evolution to preserve it while species have evolved. In the last several years, scientists have also discovered that non-coding regions of the genome contain thousands of regulatory elements that act as genetic "switches" to turn genes on or off. An exhaustive analysis of one per cent of the genome, some 30 million letters of DNA, published by an international team called the ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements (Encode) Consortium, along with 28 companion papers published in the journal Genome Research, revealed that much of the "junk" DNA seems to be the cell's "operating system" that runs genes.

Scientists uncover genetic variant which makes some males prone to infidelity

Men who inherit a genetic variant that affects an important attachment hormone are more likely than usual to have weaker relationships and marital problems, and less likely to be married, according to the research. Their wives and girlfriends are also more likely to be less satisfied with them as partners. While the study did not look directly at infidelity, the findings suggest that male monogamy might also be influenced by variations in a single gene. The study's authors cautioned that any effect would apply only on average, and that it was impossible to predict whether any individual would be unfaithful or a bad partner on the basis of his genes. The gene in question affects the receptor for a hormone called vasopressin, which plays an important role in social behaviour, pair-bonding and sexual attachment. Its effects were first characterised by studies of different species of voles. Although the meadow and prairie voles are close cousins, their sexual behaviour is dramatically different. Like most mammals, male meadow voles are highly promiscuous, but male prairie voles are monogamous. When boy prairie vole meets girl, the two indulge in 24 to 36 hours of nearly continuous mating, which cements a bond that invariably lasts for life. When one partner dies, the survivor usually opts to remain celibate rather than find another mate. Male prairie vole brains contain much higher levels of vasopressin than those of meadow voles. There also genetic differences in the receptor for vasopressin in the two species. The role of the hormone in promoting attachment was proved in 2004, after scientists enhanced the gene for the vasopressin receptor in male meadow voles. This turned them from promiscuous lotharios into loyal and attentive spouses. Vasopressin is also active in the human brain, and scientists have long wondered whether it might play a similar role in human relationships. Humans are among the less than 5 per cent of mammals that form at least partially monogamous bonds, even if our standards of fidelity are lax in comparison to prairie voles. Scientists investigated three genetic variations in the human vasopressin receptor, and tested a database of 2,186 twins and their partners to determine which types they had inherited. The team, led by Hasse Walum, of the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, then gave each couple a standard test to assess the strength of their relationship, and asked them whether they had experienced a marital crisis or threat of divorce or separation in the past year. They found that one of the genetic variants, known as 334, had a moderately significant effect, but in men only. Men with two copies of this variant were twice as likely to have had a marital crisis, and they scored lower on the pair-bond quality index. They were less likely to be married to their partners, and their wives and girlfriends were more likely to be dissatisfied with their relationship. All the men used in the study had been in a relationship for at least five years. The results, which are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that genetic variations in vasopressin uptake may influence how men behave in their relationships. The scientists suggest tentatively that the association would be even stronger in a population that also comprised subjects who were not involved in long-term romantic relationships, and are planning to conduct further research into this.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Intelligence is 25% environmental and 75% genetic

Studies of identical twins show the importance of nature over nurture when it comes to human intelligence.

Hat tip, Half Sigma!

HIV-positive couples are being paired up for marriage by a northern Nigerian state in an attempt to reduce the spread of the disease

But international AIDS experts have voiced concern at the plan. Warren Naamara from UNAIDS said the two people could have different strains of the virus, which could interact. He said the couples should use condoms. Around 70 couples have been matched up in the last few weeks, according to Bauchi state authorities. Authorities in the state say they are trying to stop HIV spreading and battle the "isolation and stigma" of the disease. Some 3% of Nigeria's adult population - 2.4 million people - is estimated to be HIV-positive. Bauchi State operates under Sharia, or Islamic laws, and the use of condoms is not encouraged.

Five Pakistani women were buried alive by their tribe in a mass honor killing prompted by their wish to choose their own husbands

The victims, who included three teenagers, were abducted at gunpoint, beaten and shot before being thrown into a ditch. They were still breathing as their bodies were covered with rocks and mud, according to media reports and human rights activists. The incident occurred in Baba Kot, a remote village in Jafferabad district, after the women decided to defy tribal elders and arrange marriages in a civil court, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission. They were said to have been abducted at gunpoint by six men, forced into a vehicle and taken to a remote field, where they were beaten, shot and then buried alive, it said, accusing local authorities of trying to hush up the killings. A Pakistani lawmaker provoked outrage by defending men from the Baluch tribe who had carried out the killings. Israr Ullah Zehri told stunned members of Pakistan's parliament: 'These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them. Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.' He claimed the tribal traditions helped stop obscenity - and then asked fellow lawmakers not to make a big fuss about it.

Women tend to choose husbands who look like their fathers, a study shows

The latest work from the University of Pécs in Hungary provides yet more evidence for the phenomenon, known as sexual imprinting. Others have shown women use dads as a template for picking a mate even if they are adopted, suggesting imprinting is led by experience not simply genes. This notion is backed by other work showing the imprinting link is lost on women who did not have good relationships with their fathers. The Hungarian team measured the facial proportions of the members of 52 families. They found significant correlations between the young men and their fathers-in-law, especially on facial proportions belonging to the central area of face - nose and eyes. Women also showed resemblance to their mothers-in-law in the facial characteristics of their lower face - lips and jaw. Lead researcher Tamas Bereczkei said: "Our results support the sexual imprinting hypothesis which states that children shape a mental template of their opposite-sex parents and search for a partner who resembles that perceptual schema." Familiarity alone does not appear to account for choosing a partner because the participants did not adopt templates for their same-sex parents, they said. They say males and females choose different facial areas of parents to be models in accordance with their general sexual preferences for facial traits. Experts say there may be an advantage to selecting a mate somewhat similar to themselves genetically. Dr Lynda Boothroyd from the University of Durham, a psychologist who has carried out similar research, said: "There is an argument that a certain degree of similarity makes people more fertile and genetically compatible."

Gang warfare on the streets of London as South Asian and black youths battle

Armed with spades, screwdrivers, bars and sticks, two gangs clashed and sent locals fleeing into shops for safety. This running battle between black and South Asian youths - a sickening example of brutal Britain today - was captured by a photographer who had been waiting in the street to take a photo of the actress Julie Christie, who lives nearby. In one picture, youths wielding sticks and spades attack each other and in another, a youth wearing a hoodie and a baseball cap uses a screwdriver in a stabbing motion. Some of the gang members wore masks as they charged down the street waving sticks and other assorted weapons - one even brandishing a Wellington boot as a makeshift weapon. The confrontation happened around Columbia Road, East London, which is home to a popular Sunday morning flower market. The fracas lasted around 20 minutes and involved at least ten gang members. It is understood to have flared after an Asian man accused several black youths of vandalising his property.