Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Jersey: A black elementary school teacher who retained his job despite being late to work 111 times in two years said that the most important meal of the day was to blame for his tardiness

"I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning, and I lost track of time," 15-year veteran teacher Arnold Anderson said. In a decision filed August 19, 2015 an arbitrator in New Jersey rejected an attempt by the Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick to fire Anderson from his $90,000-a-year job. The arbitrator did criticize Anderson's claim that the quality of his teaching outweighed his tardiness, but still ruled that he was entitled to progressive discipline. Anderson was late 46 times in the most recent school year through March 20, 2015 and 65 times in the previous school year, the arbitrator said. The arbitrator wrote Anderson relied on the "micro-quibbles of a few unpersuasive explanations, with a macro-default position that even when he is late he nevertheless delivers a superb educational experience to his grateful students". Anderson said that he was one to two minutes late to school "at the most" but was prepared and was never late for class. "I have to cut out eating breakfast at home," he said. Anderson remains suspended without pay until January 1, 2016. The arbitrator found that the district failed to provide Anderson with due process by not providing him with a formal notice of inefficiency. The district also failed to giver the veteran teacher 90 days to correct his failings before terminating his employment. Republican Governor Chris Christie referenced the case in a tweet. Christie wrote: "Think I'm too tough on the teachers union? This is what we're dealing with in NJ."

The 2013 federal National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for 12th graders in reading: Blacks who are the children of college graduates average 274, which is the same as whites who are the children of high school dropouts

The poor academic performance of blacks is generally blamed on poverty but even blacks who don't grow up in poverty are generally under-performers when it comes to education.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

In the years since Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), there have been many well-intentioned but unsuccessful efforts to close America’s racial and ethnic gaps in academic achievement

At the time of Brown, 75% to 85% of the nation’s black students (and 75% of Latinos) scored below the median for whites on standardized academic tests. That has been the case ever since. Despite extensive government intervention and numerous educational reforms, the disparities remain. This persistent achievement gap has become one of the most comprehensively documented facts in American educational history.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Black gay journalist murders white co-workers

And, of course, he blames racism.

A performance gap on the ACT college entrance exam persisted in 2015 between California's Latino and white high school students, according to new test results

The gap between Latino and white students has remained since at least 2011. In 2011, 25% of Latino students met three or more ACT targets, compared to 69% of white students. In 2015, 28% of Latino students met three or more, compared to 70% of whites — representing a continuous gap of more than 40 percentage points. The ethnic breakdown of test takers is not precisely the same as the state's: nearly 28% of test takers were white, and about 38% were Latino. According to census data, California's population between the ages of 18 and 24 is 31% white and 47% Latino. In all four subject areas, English, reading, math and science, the difference between the percentage of white and Latino students meeting ACT benchmarks ranged from 37 to 39 percentage points.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

For every illegal migrant household that leaves the United States, Americans would recoup nearly three-quarters of a million dollars ($719,350), according to 2010 data collected by Heritage scholar Robert Rector

The lifetime savings accrued from one deported illegal household would provide funds for 125 low-income inner city students to receive the maximum Pell Grant award in 2015-2016 ($5,775); it could cover the cost of pre-kindergarten for 90 at-risk children (around $8,000 per child); or it could cover the one year cost of Medicaid for 124 enrollees ($5,790 based on FY2011 data). In reality, “a modest increase in enforcement (such as E-verify or visa tracking) would cause significant attrition in the illegal population – sending millions of illegals home on their own at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer.” said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the non-partisan Center for Immigration Studies. There’s good evidence for Vaughan’s argument. “Arizona’s population of unauthorized immigrants of working age fell by about 17%” in the course of a single year, after the state began to enforce E-verify, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Illegal migrants cost U.S. taxpayers a net total of nearly $100 billion annually, concluded a 2010 investigation by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The 2010 report calculated the total contributions (mainly taxes) generated by the illegal migrants, and then subtracted the cost of taxpayer aid to those migrants. The aid includes education, subsidized housing, food stamps, tax credits, medical expenses. Overall, the report found illegal migrants cost taxpayers a total of $113 billion a year. The report then “accounts for taxes paid by illegal aliens [which is] about $13 billion a year, resulting in a net cost to taxpayers of about $100 billion.”

According to Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) legal policy analyst Jon Feere, who testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security in April 2015, between 350,000 and 400,000 children are born annually to an illegal-alien mother residing in the United States — as many as one in ten births nationwide

As of 2010, four out of five children of illegal aliens residing in the United States were born here — some 4 million kids. Reporting that finding, the Pew Research Center noted that, while illegal immigrants make up about 4% of the adult population, “because they have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (8%) and the child population (7%) in this country.” According to CIS, 71% of illegal-alien headed households with children received some sort of welfare in 2009, compared with 39% of native-headed houses with children. Illegal immigrants generally access welfare programs through their U.S.-born children, to whom government assistance is guaranteed. Additionally, U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are entitled to American public schools, health care, and more, even though illegal-alien households rarely pay taxes. The short-term cost of “anchor babies” was revealed a decade ago in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. “‘Anchor babies’ born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income,” wrote medical attorney Madeleine Pelner Cosman. In 2003 in Stockton, California, 70% of the 2,300 babies born in San Joaquin General Hospital’s maternity ward were anchor babies, and 45% of Stockton children under age six are Latino (up from 30% in 1993). In 1994, 74,987 anchor babies in California hospital maternity units cost $215 million and constituted 36% of all Medi-Cal [California’s Medicaid program] births. By 2005, they accounted for substantially more than half. Measures such as the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires hospital emergency departments to treat all patients with an “emergency” (an infinitely malleable term), regardless of documentation or ability to pay, have facilitated the abuse of American health care by illegal aliens. U.S.-born children of illegal aliens can sponsor the immigration of family members once they come of age. At 18, an “anchor baby” can sponsor an overseas spouse and unmarried children of his own; at 21, he can sponsor parents and siblings. There may be a long waiting period before that legal benefit is of use. But it’s a fact that illegal aliens with American-born children are much less likely to be deported, and that policy has been effectively enshrined in law with Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) policy, which would effectively grant amnesty to some 5 million illegal aliens, on top of the 2 to 3 million granted amnesty under his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. (DAPA is currently under scrutiny in the courts.) But “anchor babies” are a largely preventable phenomenon, mainly by simply enforcing current immigration laws. Stopping illegal immigration at the border, and instituting an actually effective visa-tracking system to crack down on overstays, would do much to discourage efforts to take advantage of American largesse.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jewish pervert, Jared Fogle, had something for minors, but it wasn't money: Turns out his foundation to help battle childhood obesity did little but raise the Subway pitchman's profile

According to tax records, the Jared Fogle Healthy Lifestyle Nationwide School Grant Program spent an average of just $73,000 annually between 2009 and 2013 and never issued a grant. This despite Fogle's promise to give schools and community organizations $2 million to battle the condition that plagued him for years. "My goal is to help children avoid the physical and emotional hardships I went through living with obesity," he said at the time. Seems 60% of the non-profit's budget went to executive director Russell Taylor, 43 (now jailed on child pornography charges), and 26% went who knows where. What's more, records show that his organization hadn't paid a $5 yearly registration fee to the State of Indiana since 2008, when the non-profit was slated to begin operations. In fact, Indiana dissolved the Jared Fogle Healthy Lifestyle Nationwide School Grant Program three years ago, although it's still recognized by the IRS. "As with a lot of celebrities, the charity appears to be more about image-enhancement than charitable deeds," says a charity analyst. Fogle, who has pleaded guilty to child porn charges, was outed by an ex-journalist who secretly recorded him for years.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A new study clearly establishes a partial genetic basis underlying racial differences in slow-wave sleep

Using a panel of 1,698 ancestry informative genetic markers, the study found that greater African genetic ancestry was associated with lower amounts of slow-wave sleep in African-American adults. African ancestry explained 11% of the variation in slow-wave sleep after adjustment for potential confounders. "Our data are the first to show that race differences in slow-wave sleep may have an independent and significant genetic basis," said senior author Martica Hall, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. Led by Hall and lead author Indrani Halder, the research team analyzed data from a community-based sample of 70 African-American adults and 101 European Americans with a mean age of about 60 years. Objective sleep data were gathered by polysomnography. Blood samples for genotyping were collected, and DNA was isolated following standard protocols. African-Americans have varying proportions of genetic admixture and exhibit a wide range of African genetic ancestry. Among African-American study participants, percentage of African ancestry ranged between 10% and 88%, with a mean of 67%.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

According to Human Freedom Index, produced annually by the Cato Institute and Canada’s Fraser Institute, the freest nations in the world are, in order: Hong Kong, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Sweden

Northern Europe is now the most free region of the world, edging out North America.

Endometrial cancer is becoming more common in the United States and black women appear more likely to get the most aggressive types of tumors and die from the disease, a new study suggests

Researchers analyzed cancer registry data from 2000 to 2011 and found incidence rates for endometrial tumors increased among all racial and ethnic groups. But for white women, the increase was less than one percent overall, compared with 1.8% for Hispanic women and 2.5% for black and Asian women. Survival odds were also bleaker for black women. Researchers compared them to white women similar in age, tumor type and stage of cancer at diagnosis. After five years, the black women were 6% less likely to survive low-grade tumors and 59% less likely to survive more aggressive malignancies. There may be differences in tumor biology that make the disease more aggressive in black women. At least some of the increase in these tumors may be due to rising rates of obesity, the researchers note. Excess fat tissue produces more hormones such as insulin and estrogen, which may help cancer cells grow. Black women were more prone to aggressive tumors, the study found. When researchers looked at some of the more fast-growing and serious types of endometrial cancers, black women were 1.9 times to 2.5 times more likely to get these malignancies than white women. Hispanic and Asian women, in contrast, were less likely than white women to have aggressive subtypes of endometrial cancer.

Jewish sex criminals: Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesman, has pleaded guilty to charges of distributing and receiving pornography, and having sex with minors

As part of his plea deal, Fogle, who is Jewish, will serve between five and 12-and-a-half years in federal prison. He will also pay 14 victims $100,000 each as part of the agreement. Fogle traveled to New York and had sex with at least two minors, ages 16 and 17, between 2010 and 2013. He also solicited acquaintances — from child victims to adult prostitutes — to put him in contact with other minors so he could have sex with them. In addition, he received child pornography from Russell Taylor, who served as executive director of his charity, The Jared Foundation. Taylor was arrested in April 2015 on preliminary child pornography charges, and Fogle’s home was searched by police in July 2015. Subway suspended its relationship with Fogle following the search. Fogle became Subway’s spokesperson in 2000, after dropping nearly 250 pounds on a regimen of eating two Subway sandwiches a day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Nelson Mandela’s grandson has appeared in court charged with raping a 15-year-old girl at a bar, in the latest scandal to hit the family of the anti-apartheid leader

Mbuso Mandela, 24, remains in police custody and will appear at the Johannesburg magistrates court for a bail hearing. Police insist that he will not be treated differently from any other suspect. The girl was followed to a toilet where she was raped in a cubicle on the night of August 7, 2015. Mbuso was arrested after the victim, who is receiving counselling, opened a case against him. Mandela died in December 2013 at the age of 95, leaving behind a dynasty – including 17 grandchildren – that has had more than its share of emotional scars, infighting and controversy. Mandla Mandela, the eldest of the grandsons, was convicted earlier in 2015 of assaulting a 40-year-old motorist during a road-rage incident. In 2013 Mandla lost a court battle against other family members over the final resting place of his grandfather’s three children, which saw their bones dug up and reburied. Zoleka Mandela, a granddaughter, has told how she suffered sexual abuse as a child, became addicted to alcohol, drugs and sex, tried to kill herself, lost a daughter and son, and was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2013 two of Mandela’s daughters went to court to dispute control of the millions contained in one of his family trusts, but eventually dropped the action. Mbuso is descended from the first of Mandela’s three wives, Evelyn Mase, and received $300,000 in his grandfather’s will.

College-educated blacks and Hispanics have seen their wealth and income shrivel over the past 20 years

What's more, these folks have not only fared worse than white and Asian graduates, but also blacks and Hispanics without four-year college degrees, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The median income of blacks and Hispanics who finished college declined between 1992 and 2013, while for whites and Asians, median income grew by double-digit percentages, respectively. For example, black graduates earned $52,150 in 2013, a drop from $59,300 in 1992. Many high-paying fields, such as technology, are dominated by whites and Asians. Also, many white and Asians obtain advanced degrees, which allow them to command even higher salaries. Surprisingly, blacks and Hispanics without degrees saw their incomes climb 17.3% and 15.6%, respectively, while degree holders suffered. When it comes to median wealth, which includes the value of assets like homes and savings, degree-holding blacks and Hispanics also suffered losses, while whites and Asians saw big gains over the past two decades.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Attending a church may be better for one's mental health than engaging in sports, furthering one's education, or volunteering

So say researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus MC, who studied the effects of these four types of activities on the mental health of 9,000 Europeans aged 50 and older. They also found that some activities, like joining a community organization like a political group, appear to result in less happiness in the long run. "The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life," says epidemiologist Dr Mauricio Avendano, who notes religious activities were the only type to contribute to sustained happiness.

A new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) finds that the number of black males who are applying to medical school has not increased since 1978

In 1978, 1,410 black males applied to U.S. medical schools. In 2014, the figure was 1,337. In 1978, 542 black men matriculated at U.S. medical schools, compared to 515 in 2014. In 2014, women were 62.2% of all African Americans who applied to medical school. In every other major racial or ethnic group, men were a majority of all applicants. Nearly 42% of all black male medical school graduates have debt greater than $200,000. A 2006 report from the AAMC found that only 26% of practicing black male physicians said that their personal finances were in excellent or very good shape. This compares to 33% of black women physicians and more than half of all white physicians.

A disgraced rabbi forced to step down from a string of posts after he was caught intimidating and vilifying victims of child sexual abuse is now teaching Jewish Studies at an orthodox ladies college

Meir Shlomo Kluwgant was forced to resign as Australia’s top rabbi amid a humiliating scandal in the wake of the child abuse royal commission’s probe into Yeshivah College. But in a move that has outraged victims of abuse Rabbi Kluwgant is now teaching religious studies at Beth Rivkah Ladies College — operated by the Yeshivah Center who has backed the move. He has been teaching at the school for several months on a volunteer basis, but is remunerated by the Yeshivah Center for performing other duties. The move has outraged victims of child sexual abuse who say that it is evidence the center is not serious about tackling the scourge of abuse.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The wife of a Safed rabbi charged with sex crimes said that she knew about his sex acts with two women

Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg’s wife told Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, that she knew her husband had sex with two women. Sheinberg, 46, has been charged in Nazareth District Court, on 13 counts of rape, indecent assault, sexual harassment, fraud and obstructing an investigation. His wife said that her husband only told her about two women; 13 have come forward to accuse him. The women had come to the rabbi with religious questions.

A new analysis of monthly Census Bureau data by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that the nation's immigrant population (legal and illegal) hit a record high of 42.1 million in the second quarter of 2015 — an increase of 1.7 million since the same quarter of 2014

Growth in the immigrant population in the last year was led by a 740,000 increase in the number of Mexican immigrants. The nation's immigrant (foreign-born) population, which includes legal and illegal immigrants, grew by 4.1 million from the second quarter of 2011 to the second quarter of 2015. Immigrants are 13.3% of the nation's total population — the largest share in 105 years. Growth in the last year was led by a rebound in the number of Mexican immigrants, which increased by 740,000 from 2014 to 2015 — accounting for 44% of the increase in the total immigrant population in the last year. The total Mexican immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached 12.1 million in the second quarter of 2015 — the highest quarterly total ever. In addition to Mexico, growth in the immigrant population was led by a 449,000 increase in the last year from countries in Latin America other than Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security and other researchers have estimated that eight in 10 illegal immigrants are from Mexico and Latin America, so the increase in immigrants from these countries is an indication that illegal immigration has begun growing again.

The total number of whites younger than 20 declined in 46 of the 50 states between 2000 and 2014

Nineteen states saw their white youth population decline from 2000-2014 by at least 100,000 (led by California, New York and Pennsylvania). Among the 50 states, only Utah (at 66,909) saw a significant increase in its population of young whites over that period; the other states that recorded gains (Idaho, South Carolina, and North Carolina) posted minimal advances of 10,791 or less. In sharp contrast, the number of kids of color increased in 48 of the 50 states from 2000 to 2014. Twenty-three states added at least 100,000 minority kids over that period (led by Texas, California and Florida). Only Mississippi and Louisiana, the states most battered by Hurricane Katrina, saw a decline in their population of people of color younger than 20. In all, the number of kids of color added in 30 states exceeded the number of white kids added in any state (Utah). In individual states, the two trend lines often rocketed in opposite directions. Over this period, Texas lost 236,736 whites younger than 20 - and added 1,553,182 non-whites in that age group. Florida lost 269,319 young whites, and added 740,675 young people of color. In California the replacement was nearly one-to-one: the state lost 929,927 whites younger than 20 and added 914,502 non-whites. Even in the Rustbelt, Pennsylvania lost 456,798 young whites and added 244,902 young non-whites. Overall, from 2000 to 2014, the nation added 8.2 million non-white kids younger than 20 - and lost nearly 6.6 million whites in that age group.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Immigration helps explain Sweden's educational problems

Sweden’s education performance has faltered in the past decades, with scores tumbling in the OECD’s international Pisa survey since the early 2000s. It turns out that the change in pupil demographics due to immigration explains almost a third of the average decline between 2000 and 2012: 19% in mathematical literacy, 28% in reading literacy, and 41% in scientific literacy. The effect is especially pronounced in recent years, coinciding with accelerating refugee immigration. Indeed, between 2009 and 2012, 43% of the average Pisa score decline is explained by altered demographics: a full 29% in mathematical literacy, 45% in reading literacy, and 62% in scientific literacy. About 11% of the overall decline can be attributed directly to the decreasing share of pupils with a Swedish background, while 18% can be attributed to the fact that results among pupils with an immigrant background have fallen more significantly. While scores among pupils with a Swedish background have declined by 22 points between 2000 and 2012, scores among pupils with an immigrant background have fallen by 39 points – and the performance gap between the two groups has grown from 36 points to 53 points.

African immigrant violence in Sweden: Police have revealed that the two suspects accused of killing a mother and a son at an Ikea store in Västerås, north west of Stockholm, came from Eritrea

Police have confirmed that they had arrested two people over the violence and said that both were from Eritrea. Officers said that the youngest suspect, 23, had already been questioned but added that a second 35-year-old man linked to the attacks remained in hospital with life-threatening injuries. The suspects knew one another and were living at the same accommodation complex for asylum seekers, they added. Meanwhile police said that the shoppers who were stabbed to death at the Ikea store in the central Swedish town of Västerås were a mother and son, aged 55 and 28.

The world's population will increase from today's 7.3 billion people to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion at century's end, experts in demographic forecasting have predicted

The UN projection suggests there will not be an end to world population growth this century unless there are unprecedented fertility declines in those parts of sub-Saharan Africa that are still experiencing rapid population growth. The UN estimated the probability that world population growth will end within this century to be 23%. The primary driver of global population growth is a projected increase in the population of Africa. The continent's current population of 1.2 billion people is expected to rise to between 3.4 billion and 5.6 billion people by the end of this century. The continent's population growth is due to persistent high levels of fertility and the recent slowdown in the rate of fertility decline. The total fertility rate (TFR) has been declining in Africa over the past decade, but has been doing so at roughly one-quarter of the rate at which it declined in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1970s. In some African countries, the TFR decline appears to have stalled. For instance, in Nigeria - the continent's most-populous country - the high fertility rate would result in a more than fourfold projected increase in total population by 2100 - from 182 million to 752 million people. Although there is considerable uncertainty about these future trends, there is a 90% chance that Nigeria's population will exceed 439 million people in 2100, which is nearly 2.5 times its current size.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A federal judge has ruled that a new licensing exam for teachers given by New York State did not discriminate against minorities, saying that even though they tended to score poorly, the test evaluated skills necessary to do the job

The ruling is a departure from earlier decisions by the same judge, Kimba M. Wood of Federal District Court in Manhattan, in which she threw out past certification exams. It also symbolizes a significant moment in a long-running tug of war between two policy goals in education: making tests for new teachers more rigorous, and increasing the diversity of the nation’s teaching force. The exam, the Academic Literacy Skills Test, often called the ALST, was first given in the 2013-14 school year, and is meant to assess a potential teacher’s reading and evidence-based writing skills, and ability to master the Common Core standards for English. In New York, the exam is one of four tests new teachers must take to become certified. Ken Wagner, a former New York State deputy commissioner of education who is now Rhode Island’s education commissioner, said in a court brief that the new tests were developed “with the need to address the achievement gap in mind and in recognition of the state’s responsibility to ensure that each newly certified teacher entered the classroom with certain minimum knowledge, skills and abilities.” But some schools of education in New York complained that the literacy skills test was not a true measure of what makes a good teacher, and that many of their black and Hispanic students were failing it. An analysis found that 46% of Hispanic candidates and 41% of black candidates passed the test on the first try, while 64% of white candidates did so. Students may retake the exams. More than 80% of the country’s public schoolteachers are white, according to the federal Education Department, and there has been a longstanding push to try to increase diversity among teachers, as minorities now account for more than half of the public school student population. If an employment test has a disparate racial impact, courts have ruled that officials must prove that it measures skills crucial to the job at hand. Judge Wood had ruled that two earlier exams, both called the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, had not met that standard. About 4,000 people who at some point were denied full teaching jobs in New York City because they had not passed those tests have filed claims seeking compensation as a result of those rulings. But this time, Judge Wood ruled that the state and Pearson, the testing company that helped devise the exam, had done a proper job of making sure that the “content of the ALST is representative of the content of a New York State public-school teacher’s job.” In a statement, Dennis Tompkins, a spokesman for the State Education Department, said: “Judge Wood’s decision reflects the efforts made by the department to demonstrate the validity of the ALST. Our students need and deserve the best qualified teachers possible, and the ALST helps make sure they get those teachers.” Even so, following complaints from schools of education, the state granted teacher candidates a reprieve, saying that until June 30, 2016, they could get their licenses without passing the exam if they could demonstrate literacy skills through course work.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pakistani officials have initiated an investigation into allegations that a gang of men sexually abused more than 200 children and sold videos of the abuse

The accusations have rocked the country, drawing the attention and condemnation of human rights activists and politicians in a case that involved subjects long considered taboo here. At least 280 children under the age of 14 from three villages in eastern Punjab Province were said to have been subjected to sexual abuse by a gang of 15 men, who made videos to extort money from the children and their parents. Seven of the accused have been arrested, police officials said. The accusations of abuse started trickling out as victims began to report it to the police, and recently, hundreds of residents staged a protest, accusing the police and local politicians of protecting the gang members and ignoring the accusations. Some of the protesters clashed with the police, and dozens of people were injured, including several police officers. The gang members had drugged and intoxicated their victims, some as young as 6, and had recorded hundreds of videos. Some of the children stole jewelry and money from their parents to pay the men to stop them from making the videos public. Many of the videos were sold to buyers and pornographic websites overseas. The coverage prompted an outpouring of outrage on social media, especially on Twitter. Pedophilia remains a taboo subject in Pakistani society. Human rights activists say that child abuse is rampant in the country and that homeless children, as many as 1.5 million according to some estimates, are particularly vulnerable. Most of the victims and gang members are from Hussain Khan Wala, a dusty farming village in the Kasur District of Punjab Province, near the border with India and about an hour’s drive from Lahore, the provincial capital.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Assailants believed to be Islamist militants entered an apartment building posing as potential tenants and killed a secular blogger in Bangladesh's capital, in the fourth such deadly attack in 2015, police said

Police official Mustafizur Rahman said that 40-year-old Niloy Chowdhury was hacked to death in his apartment. The motive was not immediately clear and no one claimed responsibility for the death. Chowdhury's friends said that he was a secular blogger and had a Facebook account with the name "Niloy Neel" in which he criticized radical Islamists at home and abroad. The killing is the fourth of a secular blogger since February 2015, when a Bangladeshi-American man who was also critical of Islam, Avijit Roy, was hacked to death on the Dhaka University campus while walking with his wife. Two others were attacked and killed in March and May 2015, one in Dhaka and another in the northeastern city of Sylhet. Detectives say that radical groups were behind the previous attacks and have made some arrests, but have failed to make any major headway into the killings.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Genetic adaptation keeps Ethiopians heart-healthy despite high altitudes

Ethiopians have lived at high altitudes for thousands of years, providing a natural experiment for studying human adaptations to low oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. One factor that may enable Ethiopians to tolerate high altitudes and hypoxia is the endothelin receptor type B (EDNRB) gene. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine now find that mice with lower-than-normal levels of EDNRB protein are remarkably tolerant to hypoxia. The study provides a mechanism for the gene's role in adaptation to life at high altitudes and suggests that EDNRB could be targeted to treat sea level diseases that stem from lack of oxygen. "This is the first demonstration that a gene involved in high altitude adaptation is critical in protecting cardiac function in moderate to severe hypoxia at sea level," said senior author Gabriel Haddad, MD, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and physician-in-chief and chief scientific officer at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. "In addition to improving the health of the more than 140 million people living above 8,000 feet, information on how Ethiopians have adapted to high altitude life might help us develop new and better therapies for low oxygen-related diseases at sea level - heart attack and stroke, for example." Whole-genome sequencing previously identified EDNRB as a candidate gene for high altitude tolerance in Ethiopians. To investigate further, Haddad and his team turned to a mouse model that produces low levels of the protein. The researchers found that even under extremely hypoxic conditions - 5% oxygen, even lower than you'd find atop Mount Everest - low-EDNRB mice performed much better than normal mice. Under these conditions, normal mice experienced a 40%-50% drop in cardiac output, which meant they were unable to maintain their blood pressure and none of them survived to finish the minimum exposure time. In contrast, mice with low EDNRB maintained normal heart rhythm and blood pressure in severe hypoxia. Low-EDNRB mice in hypoxia were also better able to maintain oxygen delivery to vital organs and keep blood lactate levels low. "Lowering EDNRB does wonders for mice when environmental oxygen levels are low, leading us to conclude that the EDNRB gene plays a key role in human adaptation to low oxygen and high altitude," said Haddad, who is also a pediatric pulmonologist at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego.

Monday, August 3, 2015

People often mimic each other's facial expressions or postures without even knowing it, but new research shows that they also mimic the size of each other's pupils, which can lead to increased trust

The findings reveal that participants who mimicked the dilated pupils of a partner were more likely to trust that partner in an investment game, but only when the partner was part of the same ethnic group. According to the researchers, these findings suggest that group membership plays an important role in how we interpret pupil signals. In this study, participants were more likely to trust partners with dilated pupils when they belonged to the same group (in this case Western European descent) than when they didn't belong to the same group (for example Asian descent). "The results of the current study further confirm the important role for the human eye in what people love and fear," the researchers write. "More specifically, pupil mimicry is useful in social interactions in which extending trust and detecting untrustworthiness in others go hand in hand, and it benefits in-group interactions, survival, and prosperity."