Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sleeping with more than 20 women protects men against prostate cancer, a study has suggested

Men who had slept with more than 20 women lowered their risk of developing cancer by almost one third, and were 19% less likely to develop the most aggressive form. In contrast, men who slept with 20 men doubled their risk of developing prostate cancer compared with men who have never had sex with another man. Researchers at the University of Montreal believe that intercourse protects men, and men who are more promiscuous have more sex than those in monogamous relationships. However, for homosexual men the benefit is lost because of the increased risk of picking up a sexually transmitted disease, and the damage to their bodies from intercourse. However gay men with just one partner are at no greater risk. "It is possible that having many female sexual partners results in a higher frequency of ejaculations, whose protective effect against prostate cancer has been previously observed in cohort studies," said lead researcher Dr Marie-Elise Parent. But when asked whether public health authorities should recommend men to sleep with many women in their lives Dr Parent added: "We're not there yet." The study looked at more than 3,200 men over a four year period between 2005 and 2009. Overall, men with prostate cancer were twice as likely to have a relative with cancer. However, the researchers were surprised to find that the number of sexual partners also affected the development of their cancer. Men who said that they had never had sexual intercourse were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who said that they had. When a man has slept with more than 20 women during his lifetime there was a 28% reduction in the risk of having prostate cancer, and a 19% reduction for aggressive types of cancer. On the other hand, those who have slept with more than 20 men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer of all types compared to those who have never slept with a man. And their risk of having a less aggressive prostate cancer increases by 500% compared to those who have had only one male partner. Dr Parent said that she could only formulate "highly speculative" hypotheses to explain the association. "It could come from greater exposure to STIs, or it could be that anal intercourse produces physical trauma to the prostate," she said. Previous studies have found that sexual intercourse may have a protective effect against prostate cancer because it reduces the concentration of carcinogenic crystal-like substances in the fluid of the prostate. The study is the first to find a link between the number of sexual partners and the risk of developing cancer. "We were fortunate to have participants from Montreal who were comfortable talking about their sexuality, no matter what sexual experiences they have had, and this openness would probably not have been the same 20 or 30 years ago," said lead researcher Dr Marie-Elise Parent. "Indeed, thanks to them, we now know that the number and type of partners must be taken into account to better understand the causes of prostate cancer."

Black men in Britain are 17 times more likely than white counterparts to be diagnosed with a psychotic illness

In Lambeth, with Britain’s largest black population, 26% of the population is black, but nearly 70% of the borough’s residents in secure psychiatric settings are of African or Caribbean heritage. Just one more reason - in addition to crime - to keep black immigrants out of Britain and any other predominantly white nation.

Israel's top legal officer has ordered Moshe Ya'alon, the country's defence minister, to explain a decision that effectively bans Palestinian workers from travelling to their West Bank homes on the same buses as Jewish settlers

The demand, from Yehuda Weinstein, the Attorney General, follows criticism that the move – officially justified on "security grounds" – amounted to racial segregation. Ya'alon's order will make it illegal from December 2014 for Palestinian laborers working in Tel Aviv and central Israel from boarding the Trans-Samaria bus, which travels through the occupied West Bank to the settlement of Ariel. Instead they will have to enter the West Bank through the Eyal checkpoint, far removed from many Palestinian populations centers, and then continue on separate buses. The defense minister's justification contradicts the stance of the Israeli army, which has said that it does not consider the Palestinian workers' presence on the buses a threat, since only those who have been given security clearance are allowed into Israel. Now the Attorney General's office has asked the defense ministry to list the facts and considerations – including legal advice – that prompted Ya'alon's decision, amid criticisms that he was motivated by a desire to curry favor with settlers' groups. The liberal Haaretz newspaper accused him of "kowtowing" to settler opinion while giving ammunition to those who characterize Israel as an apartheid state. "The minister's decision reeks of apartheid, typical of the Israeli occupation regime in the territories," the newspaper wrote in an editorial headlined Welcome Aboard Israel's Apartheid Bus. "One of the most blatant symbols of the regime of racial separation in South Africa was the separate bus lines for whites and blacks. Now, Ya'alon has implemented the same policy in the occupied territories." A source in Ya'alon's office defended the move as purely a security-related matter. "Its purpose is to supervise the entries and exits into Israeli territory, thereby reducing the chances of terror attacks inside Israeli territory," the source said. Israel's transport ministry came under fire in 2013 for introducing "Palestinian only" buses from Israel to the West Bank following complaints from settlers. The latest controversy came as Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, hit back at international criticism of a decision to proceed with plans to build 1,060 new settlers homes in East Jerusalem, which is claimed by the Palestinians as their future capital. The European Union and the United States both condemned the move – apparently agreed in an attempt to appease pro-settler ministers in Netanyahu's coalition – as harmful to prospects for peace. Netanyahu dismissed the criticisms as disconnected from reality. "The EU and the US are applying a double standard when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he said on a visit to the port city of Ashdod. "When Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority] incites murder of Jews in Jerusalem, the international community remains silent. And when we build in Jerusalem, they become indignant. I don't accept that. Just as the French build in Paris and the British build in London, Israelis build in Jerusalem."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The captain of South Africa's national soccer team was fatally shot when armed men broke into the house where he was staying

Goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was killed after two gunmen entered a house in Vosloorus township near Johannesburg while an accomplice waited outside, the national police force says. The three assailants then fled on foot. Police say that there were seven people in the house during the attack, and the shooting followed an "altercation." South African soccer club Orlando Pirates said in a statement that it "has learned with sadness about the untimely death of our number one goalkeeper and current captain." The death of the 27-year-old "is a sad loss whichever way you look at it — to Senzo's family, his extended family, Orlando Pirates, and to the nation," the team's chairman said. South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Scientists have identified two genes linked to extremely violent behavior

A genetic analysis of almost 900 offenders in Finland has revealed two genes associated with violent crime. Those with the genes were 13 times more likely to have a history of repeated violent behavior. The authors of the study said that at least 5% to 10% of all violent crime in Finland could be attributed to individuals with these genotypes. The study, which involved analysis of almost 900 criminals, is the first to have looked at the genetic make-up of so many violent criminals in this way. Each criminal was given a profile based on their offenses, categorizing them into violent or non-violent. The association between genes and previous behavior was strongest for the 78 who fitted the extremely violent offender profile. This group had committed a total of 1,154 murders, manslaughters, attempted homicides or batteries. A replication group of 114 criminals had all committed at least one murder. These all carried a low-activity version of the MAOA gene, which previous research has dubbed the "warrior gene" because of its link to aggressive behavior. A deficiency of the enzyme this controls could result in "dopamine hyperactivity" especially when an individual drinks alcohol or takes drugs such as amphetamines, said Prof Tiihonen. The majority of all individuals who commit severe violent crime in Finland do so under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For now, a person's genetic information should not have any influence on conviction outcomes in criminal courts, Prof Tiihonen added. Commenting on the latest study, Dr Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University in Florida said that it added to our understanding of the factors involved in violent crime. "Studies like this really document that a large percentage of our behavior in terms of violence or aggression is influenced by our biology - our genes - and our brain anatomy. It's important to conceptualize crime and violence, where it comes from, even if we would not want to radically change the criminal justice system." The two genes associated with violent repeat offenders were the MAOA gene and a variant of cadherin 13 (CDH13). The MAOA gene codes for the enzyme monoamine oxidase A, which is important for controlling the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. CDH13 has previously been associated with substance abuse and ADHD. Those classified as non-violent offenders did not have this genetic profile.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The genes of the innate immune system and ovarian longevity

Difficulty in conceiving a child is a major challenge for one in seven heterosexual couples in America, especially for those over the age of 35. Now a new discovery by researchers at Tel Aviv University and Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer could boost the chances of conception in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. Their new research reveals a linkage between the genes of the innate immune system - immunity with which human beings are born, rather than immunity they acquire during their lives - and ovarian longevity. The study constituted the doctoral work of Dr. Shiri Uri-Belapolsky of TAU's Sackler School of Medicine. The research was led by Prof. Ruth Shalgi, of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at TAU's Sackler School of Medicine, Dr. Yehuda Kamari and Prof. Dror Harats of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center, and Dr. Aviv Shaish of Sheba Medical Center. According to research conducted on laboratory mice, the genetic deletion of the protein Interleukin-1 (IL-1), a key player in the innate immune system, could improve the number of eggs available for fertilization as well as improve the ovarian response to hormonal stimulation involved in IVF procedures. This could prove especially effective in women who initially respond poorly to hormonal treatment. "We revealed a clear linkage between the genes of the innate immune system and female reproduction," said Dr. Uri-Belapolsky. "The results of our study, which point to neutralizing the effects of the IL-1 protein to slow down the natural processes that destroy the eggs, may set the basis for the development of new treatments, such as an IL-1 blockade that would raise the number of eggs recovered during an IVF cycle and reduce the amount of hormones injected into women undergoing the treatment." The connection between IL-1 and fertility was discovered by accident in the course of research performed by the scientists on the role of IL-1 in atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries. In a surprise result of the research, the fertility lifespan of IL-1-deficient mice was found to be 20% longer than that of control wild-type mice. Female mammals, including humans, are born with a finite number of eggs and are subject to a biological clock that dictates the end of the reproductive lifespan at around 50 years of age. Over the past decade, a trend of postponing childbearing into advanced age has led to a corresponding upward trend in the number of IVF treatments. Inflammation has been reported to affect both IVF outcomes and the ovarian reserve adversely. "Identifying a possible culprit, such as Interleukin-1, may offer new insight into the mechanisms responsible for egg loss as well as practical interventions," the study reports.

Were the ancient British genetically more similar to the modern Irish than they were to the modern English?

If you are interested in the genetic history of Britain you can find some fascinating reading on the Eurogenes blog.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Study: 6.4% of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2% of non-citizens voted in 2010

Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80% of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 sample), the researchers found that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65% of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1% of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.

An Iranian woman convicted of murder - in a killing that human rights groups called self-defense against a rapist - has been hanged

Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was sentenced to death for the 2007 killing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The United Nations has said that she never received a fair trial. The U.S. State Department also said that there were concerns about the trial. "There were serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We condemn this morning's execution in Iran of Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian woman convicted of killing a man she said she stabbed in self-defense during a sexual assault," Psaki said. Jabbari's execution was originally scheduled for September 30, 2014 but was postponed. Amnesty International said that the delay may have been in response to the public outcry against the execution. Jabbari was convicted of murder after "a flawed investigation and unfair trial," according to Amnesty International. The United Nations has said that Sarbandi hired Jabbari - then a 19-year-old interior designer - to work on his office. She stabbed him after he sexually assaulted her, it said. Jabbari was held in solitary confinement without access to her lawyer and family for two months, Amnesty International said in a statement. She was tortured during that time, the group said. "Amnesty International understands that, at the outset of the investigation, Reyhaneh Jabbari admitted to stabbing the man once in the back, but claimed she had done so after he had tried to sexually abuse her," the rights group said. "She also maintained that a third person in the house had been involved in the killing. These claims, if proven, could exonerate her but are believed never to have been properly investigated, raising many questions about the circumstances of the killing." Iranian Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi joined scores of Iranian artists and musicians calling for a halt to the execution. In an open letter, Farhadi asked the victim's family to pardon her, a possibility under Iranian law. Rights groups have criticized Iran for a surge in executions under Hassan Rouhani in his first year as president. British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said he was "very concerned and saddened" that Jabbari had been executed, especially given the questions concerning due process in the case. "The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, noted that her conviction was allegedly based on confessions made while under threat, and the court failed to take into account all evidence into its judgment," he said in a statement. "Actions like these do not help Iran build confidence or trust with the international community. I urge Iran to put a moratorium on all executions." According to the United Nations, Iran has executed at least 170 people in 2014. In 2013, it executed more people than any other country with the exception of China, the world's most populous nation.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a genetic variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today's northern populations

"Our work describes a case where the same variant has likely been selectively advantageous in the past [but] disadvantageous under current environmental conditions," says senior author Dr. Toomas Kivisild, of the University of Cambridge, in Britain. Dr. Kivisild and his colleagues analyzed the genomes of 25 individuals from Northern Siberia and compared their sequences with those from 25 people from Europe and 11 from East Asia. The team identified a variant that was unique to Northern Siberians and was located within CPT1A, a gene that encodes an enzyme involved in the digestion of long fatty acids, which are prevalent in meat-based diets. With agriculture being unsustainable in Arctic regions as a result of the extremely cold environment, coastal populations there have historically fed mostly on marine mammals. When the investigators looked at the global distribution of the CPT1A variant, they found that it was present in 68% of individuals in the Northern Siberian population yet absent in other publicly available genomes. The variant has previously been linked to high infant mortality and hypoglycemia in Canadian Inuits, and its high frequency in these populations has been described as a paradox. "The study's results illustrate the medical importance of having an evolutionary understanding of our past and suggest that evolutionary impacts on health might be more prevalent than currently appreciated," says lead author Dr. Florian Clemente, also of the University of Cambridge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Statistics showing that one in four black men in Britain will be diagnosed with prostate cancer – double the one in eight risk faced by all men

A study by YouGov on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK revealed that 90% of black men are unaware of their higher than average risk of developing the disease. On average, black men are diagnosed with prostate cancer five years younger than white men.

A study of the genetic history of bones dug up in central Europe shows that humans generally remained lactose intolerant until 3,000 years ago

Researchers suggest that ancient Europeans weren't relying on dairy enough to develop the trait. "These ancient Europeans would have had domesticated animals like cows, goats, and sheep, but they would not yet have genetically developed a tolerance for drinking large quantities of milk from mammals," says researcher Ron Pinhasi. Instead, they might have been making cheese and yogurt, the processes of which break down lactose. The study focused on the remains of 13 individuals found in the Great Hungarian Plain who lived between 5700 BC and 800 BC. Researchers unraveled their genetic secrets by examining the petrous bone, which happens to be the hardest bone in the body and is found inside the skull where it protects the inner ear. As Pinhasi explains, "The high-percentage DNA yield from the petrous bones exceeded those from other bones by up to 183-fold. This gave us anywhere between 12% and almost 90% human DNA in our samples." Teeth, fingers, and rib bones yield no more than 20%.

The male Y chromosome may have a role in prolonging men's lives and fighting cancer, scientists have said

Research into 1,153 elderly men at the University of Sweden found those who had lost part of their Y chromosome died on average 5.5 years earlier than those who had not. Women live on average 7.5 years longer than men in Europe and the reasons behind this are not fully known. Scientists assessed how many blood cells had age-related loss of the Y chromosome (LOY) through blood tests in the men, aged between 70 and 84. Men with a "significant amount" of loss died earlier, said researchers. LOY was associated with general risk of death in 637 out of the group of men and risk of death due to non-blood related cancer in 132 of the cases. The co author of the study, Jan Dumanski from Uppsala University in Sweden, said: "Many people think the Y chromosome only contains genes involved in sex determination and sperm production. In fact, these genes have other important functions, such as possibly playing a role in preventing tumors." The study said that Y chromosome genes were not expressed when LOY occurred, meaning its potential role in tumor prevention could be reduced. It said that LOY in blood cells was associated with many different cancers, including those outside the blood system. Researchers said that this could be because Y chromosome genes enabled blood cells to help with immuno-surveillance, where the immune system detected and killed tumor cells to prevent cancer. The finding means blood tests looking at the state of the Y chromosome could help predict a man's risk of cancer, say the authors.

According to the Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO), more Hispanics are turning towards Islam and interestingly, more than half of Miami’s 3,000 Hispanic Muslims are female

Of course, in the name of diversity, we must all pretend that this is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Research has revealed that people often make sweeping judgments of others based on the size and shape of their facial features

For instance, individuals with feminine-looking or naturally happy faces are consistently thought of as more trustworthy. While competence, dominance and friendliness are also associated with specific facial traits, including larger foreheads, prominent noses and strong chins. And now researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have warned that face-ism can lead people to make rash decisions, from voting for a particular politician to convicting someone of a crime. Other research suggests that urban life can influence the types of faces that we find attractive.

The Dallas Cowboys have released defensive end Michael Sam from the practice squad, another setback as the NFL's first ever openly gay player tries to make an active roster during the regular season for the first time

Sam spent seven weeks with the Cowboys after signing to their practice squad on September 3, 2014 four days after he was among the final cuts by the St. Louis Rams at the end of the preseason. The Rams drafted the former SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri late in the seventh round in May 2014. He was pick No. 249 out of 256. Sam had three sacks in the preseason with St. Louis playing mostly against second- and third-stringers. The Cowboys are among the league's worst in sacks but have been getting solid production with a rotation in the front four of a defense exceeding expectations.

Monday, October 20, 2014

According to a Justice Department study, 47% of murder victims between 1980 and 2008 were black, and 93% of black victims were killed by other blacks

And yet many blacks foolishly believe that white police officers are their biggest problem.

Black males who were bitter at losing a game of beer pong at a house party opened fire on partygoers, striking one, police have said

Decoris 'Red' Rucker Jr., 24, and Chris 'Crazy Chris' Hackett played the drinking game with three other men in the backyard of a home in Ames, Texas when an argument erupted. The men pulled out guns and started running through the home firing wildly at party-goers, witnesses told Liberty County Sheriff Deputy Stephanie Walden. "Several witnesses told Deputy Walden that five men from the Cleveland area... became upset about losing at a game," Captain Ken DeFoore of Liberty County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Vegetarians and vegans may be harming their chance of having children after a study found that men who do not eat meat have significantly reduced sperm counts

Although a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables can protect against many illnesses and can prolong life, it appears that it may also harm fertility. Researchers at Loma Linda University Medical School, in southern California, embarked on a four-year project to find out how diets affect sperm. The region has a high population of Seventh-Day Adventist Christians who believe that meat is impure and so are strict vegetarians. Seventh-day Adventists live an average of 10 years longer than the American life expectancy of about 79 years and the researchers wanted to find out if their astonishing longevity might be linked to sperm quality. However they found the opposite. Vegetarians and vegans had significantly lower sperm counts compared with meat eaters, 50 million sperm per ml compared with 70 million per ml. They also had lower average sperm motility – the number of sperm which are active. Only one third of sperm were active for vegetarians and vegans compared with nearly 60% for meat eaters. The team believes that vitamin deficiencies may be to blame but also believe that replacing meat with soy could be responsible. “We found that diet does significantly affect sperm quality. Vegetarian and vegan diets were associated with much lower sperm counts than omnivorous diets,” said Dr Eliza Orzylowska an obstetrician at Loma Linda University Medical Centre in California. “Although these people are not infertile, in is likely to play a factor in conception, particularly for couples who are trying to conceive naturally. The old fashioned way.” One factor could be diets rich in soy, the researchers hypothesis. Soy contains phyto-estrogens which have similar properties to the female hormone estrogen. “The theory that we have come up with is that vegetarians are replacing meat with soy, which contains phytoestrogens and could be affecting fertility,” added Dr Orzylowska. “For children who have grown up with those kind of diets, it may have impacted on sperm quality from puberty. It’s hard to tell people not to be vegetarians if they are trying to conceive, but I would caution against using soy, at least for 74 days beforehand, which is the time it takes for sperm to be replaced.” The researchers also think that vegetarians and vegans may be deficient in vitamin b12. The study compared 443 meat eaters with 26 vegetarians and five vegans. Separate research from Harvard University also found that a diet high in fruit and vegetables may impact fertility because men are consuming high quantities of pesticides.

Sitting in a Virginia jail, the black male suspect in Hannah Graham's disappearance is about to face three new counts — linked to another case dating back nine years

African-American Jesse Matthew, who has been charged with abduction with intent to defile in the Graham case, has been indicted by a grand jury on three counts in a 2005 rape: sexual penetration with an object, abduction, and capital murder. Authorities had already said that forensic evidence indicated Matthew's involvement in a third case, of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who was last seen hitchhiking outside Charlottesville after a Metallica concert in 2009. Harrington turned up dead on a farm in January 2010. Meanwhile, remains discovered in central Virginia haven't yet been identified as Graham's. The chief medical examiner's office in Richmond will likely take its time to make sure they get it right, a forensic psychologist says. A sheriff's search team found scattered bones, a skull, and a pair of black pants that looked like Graham's, on an abandoned property about 8 miles from where she was last spotted. "I do believe God wanted us to find what we found," a sheriff's sergeant says. He adds that the body was "not buried, and its location was not far from the road. There was not any crushing of any bones. As far as skull, everything looked to be in tact to me."

Black serial killer: Police investigating the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwest Indiana said that they believe it is the work of a serial killer, and that the suspect has indicated there could be more victims going back 20 years

The Lake County prosecutor's office have charged 43-year-old black male Darren Vann of Gary, Indiana, in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy. Her body was found at a Motel 6 in nearby Hammond. Gary officials were expected to charge Vann in the deaths of six more women, whose bodies were found recently. Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said at a news conference that Vann confessed to Hardy's slaying and gave police information that led to the other bodies in Gary, including three on the same block. Vann is a convicted sex offender in Texas, where he pleaded guilty in 2009 to raping a woman and was released from prison in July 2013.

Will Islam ever become peaceful and tolerant like Christianity? Probably not

Islam will likely always remain a violent religion because it was founded by a violent man.

An international research collaboration led by UC San Francisco researchers has identified a genetic variant common in Latinas that protects against breast cancer

The variant, a difference in just one of the three billion "letters" in the human genome known as a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), originates from indigenous Americans and confers significant protection from breast cancer, particularly the more aggressive estrogen receptor–negative forms of the disease, which generally have a worse prognosis. "The effect is quite significant," said Elad Ziv, MD, professor of medicine and senior author of the study. "If you have one copy of this variant, which is the case for approximately 20% (the range being 10% to 25%) of U.S. Latinas, you are about 40% less likely to have breast cancer. If you have two copies, which occurs in approximately 1% of the US Latina population, the reduction in risk is on the order of 80%." Epidemiological data have long demonstrated that Latinas are less susceptible to breast cancer than women of other ethnic backgrounds. According to National Cancer Institute data from 2007 to 2009, whites have about a 13% lifetime risk of breast cancer, blacks about 11%, and Hispanics less than 10%. The lifetime risk among Hispanics with indigenous American ancestry is even lower. For several years the researchers studied Latina populations in search of genetic and biological explanations for these differences. "After our earliest studies we thought there might be a genetic variant that led to increased risk in European populations," said Ziv. "But what this latest work shows is that instead there is a protective variant in Native American and Latina populations." The newly discovered SNP is on Chromosome 6, near a gene coding for an estrogen receptor known as ESR1. The scientists say that the biological basis of the association between the variant and reduced breast cancer risk is still not known, but their preliminary experiments indicate that the variant interferes with the action of transcription factors, proteins that regulate the expression of the ESR1 estrogen receptor.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mexico: Five mass graves have already been discovered in the hunt for 43 students who disappeared in September 2014 after clashing with the local police — and another half dozen secret burial sites are being tested to determine the origins of the remains inside

Even with hundreds of soldiers, federal officers, state personnel and local residents on the trail, the search has still not confirmed what happened to the missing students. Instead, it has turned up something just as chilling: a multitude of clandestine graves with unknown occupants right on the outskirts of town, barely concealing the extensive toll organized crime has taken on this nation. The students were reported missing after the local police, now accused of working with a local drug gang, shot to death six people on September 26, 2014. Prosecutors say they believe that officers abducted a large number of the students and then turned them over to the gang. The students have not been seen since. President Enrique Peña Nieto has declared that the search for the missing students is his administration’s top priority. But if anything, the hunt is confirming that the crisis of organized crime in Mexico, where tens of thousands are already known to have been killed in the drug war in recent years, may be worse than the authorities have acknowledged. The federal government has celebrated official statistics suggesting a decline in homicides in recent months. But the proliferation of graves here in the restive state of Guerrero — including at least 28 charred human bodies that turned out not to be the missing students — has cast new doubt over the government’s tally, potentially pointing to a large number of uncounted dead. Relatives of the students, who were training to be teachers and planning a protest against cuts to their college, agonize over the discovery of each mass grave. Some have given up searching on their own, convinced that a mafia of criminals and politicians knows where they are but are not saying. “Impunity is the main motivation for these numerous disappearances,” said Alejandro Hope, a former Mexican intelligence official. “We must remember that only one in every five murder cases is solved in Mexico, whereas in the U.S. it’s two out of three cases. This is due to impunity, weak institutions and a decentralized search and localization process.”

Native American ancestry is associated with a lower asthma risk, but African ancestry is associated with a higher risk, according to the largest-ever study of how genetic variation influences asthma risk in Latinos, in whom both African and Native American ancestry is common

Although differences in the environments in which people live often are suspected when asthma risks among populations differ, the new findings illustrate the importance of also considering genetic differences among ethnic groups in diagnosing and treating disease, said Esteban Burchard, MD, professor of bioengineering for the UCSF School of Pharmacy and the senior scientist for the study. "In this study we demonstrated that genetic ancestry influenced lung disease in 5,493 minority children," Burchard said. The children in the new study were Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Among children in the United States, asthma rates are highest in Puerto Ricans and lowest in Mexican Americans. On a population-wide level, Mexicans have more Native American ancestry, and Puerto Ricans have more African ancestry. European ancestry also is common among both Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. The researchers found that, on average, for the Puerto Rican children studied, every 20% increase in African ancestry was correlated with a 40% increase in asthma risk. However, among Mexicans and other Latinos, for every 20% increase in Native American ancestry, the odds of developing asthma lessened by 43%. The development of asthma may take different paths depending on the effects of a variety of specific genetic variants operating in different genetic backgrounds, according to Burchard. Ethnic groups differ in genetic makeup, and genetic variants present in one group may be rare or even absent in another. In the new study, Burchard's team also found that even in the absence of asthma, lung function on average was still lower among children with greater African ancestry. This difference in normal lung function is clinically important, Burchard said, because it indicates that new standard references must be developed to more accurately determine whether or not a child has asthma. Lung specialists typically diagnose asthma with the aid of tests to measure how much air a patient can inhale and exhale, and how quickly, both before and after use of an asthma inhaler. The physician compares results to a standard reference to make the diagnosis. "We need to develop a new reference standard to predict normal lung function in Puerto Ricans, who have the highest asthma risk," Burchard said. "The current method for predicting lung function in Puerto Ricans relies on reference equations derived from Mexicans or Whites." In his research career, Burchard has maintained a steady focus on asthma and asthma risk in diverse populations. He previously showed that in comparison to white children, a higher percentage of minority children are not helped by inhaled asthma rescue medicines, called beta-agonists, used to rapidly re-open airways during asthma episodes.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Latino gang member who converted to Judaism and became a Hasidic rabbi is accused of impersonating a police officer several times, including to pull over an NJ Transit bus after the driver cut him off

Roberto Eddy Santos changed his name to Avorham Gross and assumed the identity of a rabbi, after serving 10 years in Sing Sing for violent robberies. He was formerly a member of the Latin Kings in Brooklyn in the 1990s. Prosecutors say that Gross used a fake badge and other fake documents to pretend he was a member of a non-existent "child abuse prevention task force." Gross helped police arrest a woman he thought broke into his car. In a separate incident, he is accused of using lights and sirens in his own car to pull over a NJ Transit bus after the driver cut him off. Gross is facing charges for conspiracy and possession of a forged instrument. Police are investigating whether Gross' time spent as a rabbi was a scheme or a "genuine conversion," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said.

Jewish Senator Al Franken (D., Minn.) is hoping to saddle his Republican challenger with Mitt Romney-esque charges of “vulture corporatism,” but his own investment activities, and those of his son, could blunt those attacks with charges of hypocrisy

Franken’s campaign has scoured public records for evidence that his opponent, investment banker Mike McFadden, has closed business deals that resulted in layoffs. “‘The Democrats are going to try and nail McFadden as the incarnation of a Wall Street fat cat, as they did with Mitt Romney,” University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs said. The Franken campaign points to a 2012 deal in which McFadden’s firm, Lazard Middle Market, organized a merger that relocated the corporate headquarters of Jazz Pharmaceuticals to low-tax Ireland, a move commonly known as a tax inversion. McFadden says that he was not directly involved in striking the deal, but Franken’s campaign has seized on it. “He knew he was helping an American company dodge paying taxes and is just as culpable for this deal as anyone else,” Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff said in August 2014. Tax inversions have become a rallying cry for Democrats looking to penalize companies that seek to reduce their tax burdens and shore up their populist credentials. However, Franken’s attack is complicated by the fact that he himself was an investor in Lazard’s parent company. His stake in the company even came by way of a mutual fund billed as “socially responsible.” Franken says that his stake in the company was small, and that he did not have control over the mutual fund’s specific investment decisions. McFadden’s campaign insists that Franken is trying to demonize anyone’s business background that runs for public office. Franken says that he simply objects to McFadden’s chosen line of work. “Bad for workers, good for workers — no matter what, he got paid,” the comedian-turned-senator quipped. While that might be an effective election year line — it took its toll on Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee — an attack on investment banking might also ensnare Franken’s own son. “Mike McFadden knew what kind of buyer he would attract when he represented a company in a nation known for being an offshore tax haven,” Franken declared in one of his salvos against McFadden’s business career. Franken was referring to Ireland. However, a more notorious tax haven, the Cayman Islands, enjoy the business of private equity firm Cohesive Capital Partners. Joseph Franken, the senator’s son, is a senior associate at the firm, according to his LinkedIn profile. Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that Cohesive has two private equity funds that, while headquartered in New York City, are incorporated in the Cayman Islands. The Caymans are a favorite destination for private-equity managers to locate new partnerships, mostly because foreign investors can participate while avoiding some U.S. tax entanglements. One of Cohesive’s funds, Cohesive Capital Partners II (Offshore), L.P., was incorporated in 2014. The other was formed in 2010. With the Jews it is always a case of do as we say, not as we do.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Muslim superstition and sharia law: A court in Dubai has granted a divorce to a man who says that his wife is possessed by spirits and refuses to have sex with him

After persistently denying him sex, the woman finally told her husband to discuss the issue with her parents. They told the man that his wife was, in fact, possessed by a jinn, and that several religious scholars had unsuccessfully tried to exorcise the spirit. Upon hearing this, the husband lodged a divorce case with the Dubai Sharia Court. His lawyer told a hearing: "The woman and her family cheated my client. They should have been honest and clear about the fact that the wife was possessed by a jinn. He was only told about the jinn after the problem escalated. The woman does not deserve any allowance." In Arabic mythology, jinns - or genies - are spirits able to take human and animal forms and to exercise supernatural influence over humans. The court awarded the husband the divorce, but asked him to pay around 40,000 dirhams (almost 11,000 US dollars or 6,800 UK pounds) in maintenance to his ex-wife. The Dubai Appeal Court later upheld the divorce, but cancelled the alimony. It decided that the woman does not deserve it since she was not honest about the djinn issue.

Life in a Muslim country: A Pakistani court has upheld the death sentence of a Christian woman whose 2010 conviction for blasphemy led to the assassination of two politicians who supported her, a defense lawyer says

Asia Bibi, a 50-year-old mother of five, had appealed before the Lahore High Court against the ruling, in which she was found guilty of insulting Muhammad, says her lawyer, who plans to take the case to the country's Supreme Court. The case drew global criticism in 2011 when Pakistan's minister for religious minorities and the governor of Punjab province were assassinated for supporting her and opposing blasphemy laws. The lawyer says that Bibi was arrested after Muslim women told a village cleric that she had made "derogatory remarks" about the prophet during a heated exchange that began when the women objected to Bibi using their drinking glass because she was not a Muslim. "We have a strong case, and we will try our best to save her life," he says. An Amnesty International spokesman calls the ruling "a grave injustice" and says that there were serious concerns about the fairness of the trial. "Her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row," he says. "She should be released immediately and the conviction should be quashed."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

South Africa: A black preacher who made his congregation eat grass to make them closer to God before using them as a human carpet has now got them drinking gasoline

Pastor Lesego Daniel of the Rabboni Centre Ministry poured some of the liquid into a bucket before dropping a match into it and setting it alight to prove that it really was gasoline. Unveiling his latest "miracle" to the congregation, he then told them that the petrol had been turned into pineapple juice and persuaded people to line up to take a sip from a bottle of the liquid. The controversial black preacher made international headlines in January 2014 when he was photographed persuading followers to eat the grass at his ministry. He said that humans with faith can eat anything to feed their bodies and can survive on whatever they choose to eat, and persuading them to eat grass and drink gasoline was simply a way of proving the point. One woman claimed that eating grass stopped her having a sore throat, while another said that it healed her after a stroke.

Just days before black inmate Dwayne Wilson was to be released from prison he has been charged with 14 new counts of rape and kidnapping following cold-case DNA testing

The 54-year-old black male has now been ordered to remain in custody, after thousands of previously untested rape kits linked him to the rapes of four adults and one teenager over a three-year period. Wilson, who was indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury, was otherwise scheduled to be released after serving five years in jail for sexual assault. In the five newly discovered attacks, prosecutors say that Wilson pulled up to his victims in his vehicle before sexually assaulting them at either knife-point or gunpoint. The victims were aged 16 to 34. State Attorney General Mike DeWine said that Wilson's dark past was unearthed among 5,023 rape kits that have been tested since October 1, 2014.

A dog suffered severe burns after his owner dumped her black boyfriend who then poured hot water on the animal in a suspected revenge attack

The dog's owner, Mariah Facca, said that she was breaking up with 27-year old Alain Williams when he told her he poured hot water on her dog Moon at his home, according to police. The one-year-old dog was rushed to the vets with second-degree burns covering 30% to 40% of her body. The vets are concerned that her organs may fail as a result of the burns and if she does recover she will need extensive care. Police charged Williams with a count of torment, deprive, mutilate or kill an animal. Moon's medical costs are expected to exceed $10,000, which is an amount Facca can not afford. A court judge has set Williams' bond for $86,000. He also faces other charges for behavior during his arrest which included him being tasered. Williams also threatened to kill officers at the police station.

Steven Pratt, the black man accused of beating his mother to death less than two days after being released from prison for another murder, admitted to the crime at his arraignment in New Jersey

The 45-year-old black male wept, and despite the judge advising him not to speak without an attorney present, he said, "I don't want a trial. I'm guilty. ... I have failed. ... I have no lawyer. I have nobody." When his bail was set at $1 million, he said it "doesn't matter." Pratt's uncle, the brother of Pratt's mother, said that Gwendolyn Pratt was excited when her son was released and took him to IHOP after picking him up at Bayside State Prison. She also threw him a welcome-home party at her house in Atlantic City that night, but on the following Sunday morning, police were called to the house to find the 64-year-old dead. Pratt had served 30 years for shooting and killing a neighbor in 1984. A few months ago, Pratt passed on an offer to go to a halfway house where he could ready himself for his release.

Crime and the black athlete: Dallas Cowboys backup running back Joseph Randle has been arrested after he was caught shoplifting a bottle of cologne and a pack of underwear from the Dillard’s at Stonebriar Mall

Randle, 22, was booked into the Frisco City Jail on a Class B misdemeanor charge of theft. He was released after posting $350 bail, police said. Officers were called to the Dillard’s department store after the store’s loss prevention employees detained Randle at the mall, Frisco police spokesman Chad LaPrelle said. Police said that Randle attempted to steal a two-pack of Polo underwear worth $39.50 and a tester bottle of Gucci Guilty Black cologne valued at $84. “All right, y’all got me,” was his first thought after he was confronted, he told Frisco police, according to his arrest report. Randle said that he didn’t pay because he didn’t want to take the time to do it and told police that he “should have just kept walking to his car if he knew he would be arrested,” the report states. According to the police report, the theft was captured on surveillance video. It shows Randle walking to the underwear section and dropping a packet of underwear into a Dillard’s bag from a previous purchase, police say. A security officer — whom Randle referred to as “the old guy” — stopped Randle in the parking lot, and a store manager escorted him back to the store and recovered the items, which were valued at $123.50 before taxes. Randle has a base salary of $495,000 for this season. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys out of Oklahoma State in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Theft is listed as “conduct detrimental” under the NFL’s 2014 personal conduct policy, Randle is now subject to discipline. He could be fined and/or suspended. Also, according to the league’s personal conduct policy, anyone arrested and/or charged “generally will be required to undergo a formal clinical evaluation.” Based on the results of the evaluation, Randle “may be encouraged or required to participate in an education program, counseling or other treatment deemed appropriate by health professionals,” the policy states.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Orthodox rabbi who presides over a prominent Washington congregation has been arrested and charged with voyeurism

Rabbi Barry Freundel is accused of placing a hidden camera in a changing area used by women, as well as some men, to disrobe before they enter a ritual bath called a mikvah. The congregation’s mikvah is in a building next to the synagogue, Kesher Israel. The congregation’s board of directors said that it had notified law enforcement authorities of its concern about Rabbi Freundel’s behavior, and had suspended him without pay. Rabbi Freundel has been the spiritual leader at Kesher Israel since 1989; among the prominent people associated with the congregation have been Treasury Secretary Jack Lew; Joseph I. Lieberman, the former Democratic senator from Connecticut; and Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor at The New Republic. Rabbi Freundel has been an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University and an assistant professor of rabbinical literature and history at the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University. Rabbi Freundel serves on the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, an association of modern Orthodox rabbis, and for a few years was head of its conversion committee. Conversion to Judaism requires immersion in a ritual bath, and many Orthodox women visit a mikvah regularly for purity rites.

A young black thug who was angry at a cat for eating his dog's food filmed himself as he choked the feline and then threw the small animal across the street as retribution for its actions

The black teenager, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio, had originally posted the video to Facebook, but later took it down. Now, the Cleveland Animal Protective League is investigating the situation, and members of the public are hoping law enforcement officials will also launch an investigation. And while the young black thug has taken the video down, he continues to defend his actions on Facebook, even making light of the situation and again blaming the cat for what happened. In the video, the black teen grips the cat by the throat, showing it off to the camera as he says, "You think it's a mother******* game, huh? Keep on eating my dog food. You hear me? I'll choke the s*** out of your dumb a**." This goes on for 10 seconds before he then launches the cat across the street, and it quickly runs off.

Jews, Israel and cyber hate

Abe Foxman continues his campaign to criminalize free speech that he doesn't like.

Britain: Immigration officers at Heathrow have been shaking hands with passengers on the first day of the emergency screening measures for Ebola

Reports suggest that the screening is being carried out on an "haphazard and voluntary basis" in apparent contradiction of health advice about contact with potential carriers of the deadly virus. Travelers on connecting flights from West Africa - where the disease has killed over 4,000 people in Liberia and Sierra Leone - said that they were being given the option of being screened for symptoms of the virus rather than being obliged to undergo checks. Sorius Samura, 51, a documentary maker who had spent 10 days in Liberia making a film on the crisis, said that the British authorities did not appear to be taking the situation seriously enough. He said: "I've just come back from via Brussels and our flight was met by an airport official saying we might be screened. He even shook our hands. That's something nobody does now in Liberia and infected countries, you have to learn not to." Samura said that when passengers on his flight eventually got to the immigration desks they were given the option of filling in a questionnaire and being screened, or simply going through. He said: "Most of the people who had been on our flight from Liberia to Brussels didn't go into the screening room, they just seemed to go through to customs and presumably out of the airport. Samura opted to be screened and along with a number of other passengers was taken to one side and asked to fill in a questionnaire asking if they had any flu-like symptoms or a fever. Those who said that they did had their temperature taken. "I only filled in the questionnaire and went through the screening because I felt a sense of responsibility, having seen the effect of Ebola where I've been," he said. Clive Patterson, 32, who had been working with Samura in Liberia, was subjected to further screening in a side-room, but only because he volunteered the fact that he had been within two meters of Ebola victims. Yet even in his case the measures appeared far from strict. He said: "I was questioned a bit more than the others about my potential contact after I told them I had been working close to patients and corpses. I was told I would be monitored more over the coming days. But the thermometer I was supposed to use to do that hadn't arrived yet, so they sent me off without it and just gave me the number of a local health team to stay in touch with. It seemed a bit haphazard." Samura and Patterson said that checks were far stricter when they left Liberia and they had been expecting a similar standard of screening on arrival in Britain. "They're very on the ball there. You wash your hands all the time before you go into or exit a building and the staff at the airport are wearing masks. We should be taking this a lot more seriously than we are doing in Britain. To be honest it was a complete joke at Heathrow," said Samura.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Indian victims of horrific acid attacks are relying on the generosity of strangers to help them after failing to get any financial support from their government

Acid attacks are sadly common in India, often targeting women in public places as a form of revenge linked to family disputes, sexism or misogyny. One victim, Reshma Qureshi, 18, was disfigured and lost an eye after her brother-in-law and his friends pinned her down and doused her face with acid. Reshma's elder sister Gulshan, whose estranged husband carried out the attack in May 2014, witnessed the assault and suffered burns on her arms, but wishes she had been the main target. The family believe Reshma was singled out because of her beauty and popularity. The once pretty and out-going commerce student now describes her face as "so scary" as she has an empty eye socket and painful scars. She no longer socializes with friends but hides away in her family's cramped Mumbai home. She faces lifelong scars and the social stigma attached to being an acid attack victim. Reshma should have received swift state aid after India's top court ruled that victims were entitled to 100,000 rupees (£1015) within 15 days of an assault and a total of 300,000 rupees (£3046) in compensation. But, five months later, she is yet to receive a penny.

A Mexican car park attendant who posted shocking pictures on Facebook of him holding what appeared to be a real gun at the head of his two-year-old nephew has been forced to apologize after the images went viral

Luis Martin Perez Rocha, 26, took the two images of him with his nephew at home in Cuajimalpa de Morelos, a borough of Mexico City, and then decided it would be amusing to upload them when he got to work. But neither social media users nor his bosses were impressed when the photos went viral, causing a storm of protest and forcing the man to issue a YouTube video apologizing for the act a few days later. Previously, he had uploaded a similar photograph in which he was aiming the same apparent toy gun at a woman.

Islamic State militants claim that the capture, enslavement and sale of thousands of Yazidi women and children had been ordered by Allah in a magazine purportedly published by the Muslim terrorist group

The latest issue of Dabiq attempts to justify the militants' snaring of thousands of innocent Yazidis during an assault on the Iraqi city of Sinjar in August 2014. Explaining why Yazidis have been sold into sex slavery while those from other groups have not, the magazine claims that Islamic Sharia law allows the enslavement of innocent "polytheists and pagans" but not of those the militants regard as simply heretical. Tens of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee for their lives - many of them into the nearby Sinjar mountains and then into Kurdish-held regions of northern Iraq. However many were captured by the Muslim militants, resulting in the massacre of hundreds of men and the selling into slavery of women and children, after they were first divided up between ISIS fighters.

African-American wealth has fallen further under Barack Obama than under any other president since the Depression and yet they are the only group that still gives him high ratings

So meagre is Obama’s national approval rating that embattled Democrats have made him unwelcome in states that twice swept him to power. Those who have fared worst under Obama are the ones who love him the most. Since 2009, median non-white household income has dropped by almost a 10th to $33,000 a year, according to the US Federal Reserve’s survey of consumer finances. As a whole, median incomes fell by 5%. But by the more telling measure of net wealth – assets minus liabilities – the numbers offer a more troubling story. The median non-white family today has a net worth of just $18,100 – almost a fifth lower than it was when Obama took office. White median wealth, on the other hand, has inched up by 1% to $142,000. In 2009, white households were seven times richer than their black counterparts. That gap is now eightfold. Both in relative and absolute terms, blacks are doing worse under Obama.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

115: The average IQ of a Swedish CEO

They also tend to be slightly taller than average. Why aren't most CEO's geniuses? It may be that if their IQ's were too high they would not be able to understand their customers' needs. Too much IQ diversity may be just as bad as any other form of diversity.

From 1985 to 1997, the U.S. prison population more than doubled from 502,376 to 1,240,962 with non-whites accounting for 70% of this growth in state and federal prisons

The number of blacks and Hispanics behind bars grew 180% from 1985 to 1997 compared with only 102% for whites. Hispanics have a 3.7-times-higher rate of imprisonment than whites while blacks are imprisoned 9.1 times more than whites. Nationwide in 1997, whites comprised 34.8% of prisoners, African-Americans 46.9%, Hispanics 16% and others 2.3%. Overall, 2.6% of the African-American adult population was imprisoned in 1997, compared to 1.1% of Hispanics and 0.3% of whites. In Washington D.C., a black person is 56 times more likely than a white person to be in prison. The next-largest racial disparities were found in Minnesota (a 31-times higher rate of blacks being in prison) and Wisconsin (22 times higher), followed by New Jersey, Iowa, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Illinois.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Members of a group are more likely to lie after they inhale the "love hormone" oxytocin, a study has found

This hormone is known to be released during close bonding between groups, and mothers also release it during childbirth and breastfeeding. The results suggest that individuals in closely bonded groups are more likely to lie when it benefits the group than when it only benefits the individual. When partaking in a financially rewarding task, groups given oxytocin nose spray lied significantly more than those doing the task alone. Those not given the hormone still occasionally lied, but a lot less. Lead author Shaul Shalvi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, said that his team was interested in how far people would go for their loved ones. Dr Shalvi explained: "Do people do all they can to serve the group they belong to, even when it includes bending ethical rules such as lying? Our assumption is that our results support the functional approach to morality, where you decide what's right or wrong depending on the context of whether the act serves your loved ones, the group members. So participants inflated their outcomes in order to gain more money for their team." Some companies are now marketing oxytocin spray as an off-the-shelf "love hormone" but Dr Shalvi said that his results suggested people "may want to be careful about pursuing such a route", as his results show that the hormone can also make people more dishonest. But he added that the study once again highlights that lying is not necessarily always immoral. "Our results indicate that people feel justified to bend ethical rules when their dishonesty serves people they care about," Dr Shalvi said.

Four more mass graves have been found near the southern Mexican town of Iguala, where 43 students went missing in September 2014, officials say

The discovery came during a huge operation to find the students, who disappeared after clashing with police. They were last seen being bundled into vehicles. Recently 28 burnt bodies were found in six shallow graves, but have yet not been identified. Forensic tests are expected to take weeks. Federal Attorney General Jesus Murillo Kara said that the new graves also contained burnt bodies and are in the same area as the first set of graves. He said that the security operation in Iguala, in Guerrero state, had resulted in the arrest of 34 people - mostly local police. He said that a formal search had now been launched for the town Mayor, Jose Luis Abarca Velazquez, as well as his wife and head of security. They went on leave after the clashes and have not appeared. The students were holding a protest over hiring practices when they clashed with police on September 27, 2014. A number of theories about the reasons for their disappearance have been put forward. Some think that they may have angered a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos by refusing to pay extortion money.

Scientist says that he doesn't believe that all species are created equally

I wonder what he thinks of racial equality? Charles Darwin himself once wrote: “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

Murder and superstition in Africa: Tanzanian police have charged 23 people with murder after seven villagers were burned alive on suspicion of witchcraft

Five of those killed were aged over 60, the other two were over 40. A Tanzanian human rights group estimates that 500 suspected witches are killed in Tanzania annually. The suspects have been arraigned in court and accused of murder. They remain in custody. Of the detained, at least one is a local leader, according to Kigoma police commander Jafari Mohammed. Witnesses say that some of the victims were attacked with machetes and their homes burned. The son of one of the victims, Josephat John, said: "When I returned home in the evening, I found the body of my mother lying 10 meters away from our house, while the body of my father was burnt inside the house." Hamisi Richard, the leader of Murufiti village, said: "Men and women have run away from the village. Even children are not there... Everyone was scared of that event, and others feared police search." Belief in witchcraft is prevalent in many parts of Tanzania. Between 2005 and 2011, around 3,000 people were killed after being accused of being witches. Several of the victims were old women but witch doctors - village healers who are sometimes involved in the witch hunts - have also targeted young children and albinos, the latter because their body parts are thought to bring prosperity.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New research, led by King's College London finds that the high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behavior problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence

The study looked at 13,306 twins at age 16 who were part of the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded UK Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). The twins were assessed on a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures, and the researchers had access to their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) scores. In total, 83 scales were condensed into nine domains: intelligence, self-efficacy (confidence in one's own academic ability), personality, well-being, home environment, school environment, health, parent-reported behavior problems and child-reported behavior problems. Identical twins share 100% of their genes, and non-identical twins (just as any other siblings) share 50% of the genes that vary between people. Twin pairs share the same environment (family, schools, teachers etc). By comparing identical and non-identical twins, the researchers were able to estimate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors. So, if overall, identical twins are more similar on a particular trait than non-identical twins, the differences between the two groups are due to genetics, rather than environment. Eva Krapohl, joint first author of the study, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's, says: "Previous work has already established that educational achievement is heritable. In this study, we wanted to find out why that is. What our study shows is that the heritability of educational achievement is much more than just intelligence – it is the combination of many traits which are all heritable to different extents. It is important to point out that heritability does not mean that anything is set in stone. It simply means that children differ in how easy and enjoyable they find learning and that much of these differences are influenced by genetics." The researchers found that the heritability of GCSE scores was 62%. Individual traits were between 35% and 58% heritable, with intelligence being the most highly heritable. Together, the nine domains accounted for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores.

The incubation period for Ebola is up to 21 days, so a person could get on a plane the day he or she is exposed and spend three weeks in the United States or elsewhere before exhibiting symptoms

Then he or she could potentially infect any number of people here before the disease is properly diagnosed, and they are isolated or quarantined. Top U.S. government health officials have spoken strongly against creating a travel ban (though members of Congress increasingly disagree). They say that restricting flights will also restrict aid to affected countries and will increase the amount of ongoing unrest. But commercial airlines are not the only ways for the United States to send aid and aid workers. The United States has the most advanced military in the entire world; we can transport people and supplies without commercial carriers. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been compared to a war zone. The disease is now being viewed as a national security threat on par with nuclear weapons. The United States has committed nearly 4,000 troops to impacted countries. It’s time to take security precautions that align with the gravity of the threat. That means doing whatever it takes to keep infected people from coming here.

Employees who work with a mix of male and female coworkers tend to be more productive but less happy than those who work in more homogenous environments, according to a recently published study coauthored by an MIT economist

Having a broad range of viewpoints and experience provides more tools to complete a task, leading to a healthier bottom line, noted co-author Sara Ellison, a senior economics lecturer at MIT, and this diversity trumps happiness when it comes to heightened performance. Interestingly, employees who thought that their firm cared about gender diversity were more satisfied than employees who were actually in an office with a mix of men and women. “They liked the idea of diversity more than they liked actual diversity,” Ellison said. “We all think that we want to be in this pluralistic society in a diverse setting. But when push comes to shove, when our coworkers don’t think like we do, that can cause some friction.”

Monday, October 6, 2014

The largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) to date, involving more than 300 institutions and more than 250,000 subjects, roughly doubles the number of known gene regions influencing height to more than 400

The study, from the international Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) Consortium, provides a better glimpse at the biology of height and offers a model for investigating traits and diseases caused by many common gene changes acting together. "Height is almost completely determined by genetics, but our earlier studies were only able to explain about 10 percent of this genetic influence," says Joel Hirschhorn, MD, PhD, of Boston Children's Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, leader of the GIANT Consortium and co-senior investigator on the study. "Now, by doubling the number of people in our study, we have a much more complete picture of how common genetic variants affect height - how many of them there are and how much they contribute." The GIANT investigators, numbering in the hundreds, shared and analyzed data from the genomes of 253,288 people. They checked about two million common genetic variants (those that showed up in at least 5% of their subjects). From this pool, they pinned down 697 (in 424 gene regions) as being related to height, the largest number to date associated with any trait or disease. "We can now explain about 20% of the heritability of height, up from about 12% where we were before," says co-first author Tonu Esko, PhD, of Boston Children's Hospital, the Broad Institute and the University of Tartu (Estonia). "The study also narrows down the genomic regions that contain a substantial proportion of remaining variation - to be discovered with even larger sample sizes," adds co-senior investigator Peter Visscher, PhD, of the University of Queensland, Australia. Height is a model trait for understanding how human genetics works - especially for traits produced by not one gene, but many. Height is easy to measure, and an estimated 80% of variation in height is genetic. Previous large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have indicated that a large number of genes influence height, and suggested that the majority of heritability comes from common genetic variants, not rare ones. Because sample sizes have not been large enough to draw definitive conclusions, the GIANT team built the largest sample to date. "When you double the sample size and increase your statistical power, you can make new discoveries," says Hirschhorn. "Our results prioritize many genes and pathways as important in skeletal growth during childhood. Without a highly collaborative model, there's no way we could get this work done." The researchers believe that their results answer critics of population-scale GWAS, who have argued that increasing the sample size yields diminishing returns or results that become meaningless. "In 2007 we published the first paper that identified the first common height gene, and we have now identified nearly 700 genetic variants that are involved in determining height," says co-senior investigator Timothy Frayling, PhD, of the University of Exeter, U.K. "We believe that large genetic studies could yield similarly rich lists in a variety of other traits." Many of the 697 height-related genetic variants were located near genes known to be involved in growth, but there were also plenty of surprises. "There were some pathways that we knew were important, but had not come out in previous GWAS," says Hirschhorn, who is also an endocrinologist at Boston Children's. "Many of the genes we identified are likely to be important regulators of skeletal growth, but were not known to be involved until now. Some may also be responsible for unexplained syndromes of abnormal skeletal growth in children. As you increase the sample size, you get more biology." For example, the mTOR gene is well known to be involved in cellular growth, but had not previously been connected with human skeletal growth. Other genes confirmed as important include genes involved in metabolism of collagen (a component of bone) and chondroitin sulfate (a component of cartilage), as well as networks of genes active in growth plates, the area of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones. Still other genes point to biology whose relationship with height isn't yet known. Among GIANT's future goals is to look at variants that occur at lower than 5% frequency, and to look for variants in the non-protein-coding portions of genes.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A 22-year-old Colombian woman who went to the doctor with abdominal pains turned out to have a potato growing in her vagina — because she'd put it there as contraception

"My mom told me that if I didn’t want to get pregnant, I should put a potato up there, and I believed her," the woman said. The embarrassed patient, from the central Colombian town of Honda, says that she had inserted the potato about two weeks before the pain struck in her lower abdomen. Upon closer inspection, attending nurse Carolina Rojas found potato roots sticking out of the woman's vagina and even growing inside her. Luckily the potato was removed without surgery, and medical staff predicted no long-term physical effects, but Rojas blamed the mother for giving her daughter such bad advice.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a level three warning for US citizens to avoid traveling to West African countries experiencing an outbreak of Ebola

Immigrants from West African countries have entered the United States illegally, according to Chris Cabrera with the National Border Patrol Council. "Not too long ago we did catch some people, I believe, from Liberia," he said. During the 2013 fiscal year, statistics from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website show that Border Patrol agents apprehended 112 immigrants from Guinea, 231 from Liberia and 145 immigrants from Sierra Leone, which are the three countries currently experiencing the most cases of Ebola. "Our main concern like it’s always been is the health and safety of our agents," Cabrera said. He worries agents are not properly protected in the event they come across an immigrant with the Ebola virus. "Our agents are trained, however, they are not medical professionals," he said. If an immigrant with the virus does make it past agents, he worries that they could possibly pass the contagious virus to other immigrants while in a stash house like they saw recently during a scabies outbreak. "Some of our agents did contract scabies, and some of the other things that illegal aliens had. Luckily it's not something deadly like Ebola," Cabrera said. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirms agents are trained to recognize signs of illnesses, including Ebola, and are told to contact to the CDC immediately if they find someone they believe to be infected. The union worries immigrants with the disease may slip by because sometimes symptoms of the virus do not show up for 2-21 days. "We need to be more pro-active about trying to prevent it from coming in as opposed to trying to contain it once its hear," Cabrera said. CBP is working with the CDC to develop procedures to identify travelers and immigrants with contagious diseases.

Israel is already sending medical aid to Ebola hit countries, but has decided not to send medical crews or set up field hospitals, citing fear of infection

Israel has rejected a special request by the United States and United Nations to send IDF field hospitals to Ebola hit Liberia and Sierra Leone. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who rejected the request, cited the threat of infection to Israeli medical teams in explaining his decision. Say what you like about the Jews, they certainly aren't stupid. Of course, if the United States tried to do what Israel is doing, it would be condemned as racist.

Study: A perfect storm of factors that came together in Africa early in the 20th century led to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the human population and eventually a full-blown pandemic infecting more than 75 million people worldwide

A genetic analysis of thousands of individual viruses has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that HIV/AIDS first emerged in Kinshasa in about 1920 from where it spread via the railway network to other parts of central Africa. Scientists believe the findings have finally nailed the origin of the HIV/AIDS pandemic to a single source, Kinshasa, which had become the biggest urban center in Central Africa and a bustling focus for trade, including a market in wild “bush meat” captured from the nearby forests. The study, based on analysing the subtle genetic differences between various subtypes of HIV, found the human virus had evolved from a simian virus infecting chimps which were hunted for food by people who had probably carried HIV with them into Kinshasa. Rapid social changes, such as an increase in commercial sex workers and the re-use of dirty syringes, aided the transmission of the virus which was also carried to distant parts of the Congo by the millions of passengers who used the newly-built railway network, the scientists said. Kinshasa at that time was growing fast, it was the biggest city in central Africa and was very well connected to the rest of the Congo. Data from historical archives shows that by the end of the 1940s over one million people were travelling through Kinshasa on the railways each year. Further social changes brought about as a result of independence in 1960 helped the virus to “break out” from small groups of infected people into the wider population, including immigrant workers from Haiti who then carried their infection back home from where it would eventually be transmitted to visitors from the United States. By the 1960s, transport systems such as the railways that enabled the virus to spread vast distances were less active, but by that time the seeds of the pandemic were already sown across Africa and beyond. Ironically, it was a combination of European technology and African backwardness that led to HIV/AIDS becoming a generalised epidemic with unstoppable momentum that unrolled across sub-Saharan Africa.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Some common sense from a leftie

Bill Maher isn't afraid to point out that Islam is worse than other religions. Good for him:

Ebola and African immigration

Why does America accept immigrants from disease-ridden parts of the world?