Thursday, March 23, 2017
Israeli police have arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers and other institutions in the United States, marking a potential breakthrough in the case after an international manhunt with the FBI
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld described the suspect as a hacker, but said that his motives were still unclear. Police banned publication of his name, but said that he was an American-Israeli dual citizen.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
A new study of hundreds of human genomes has revealed that groups in various regions of the world have evolved for diets with different amounts of meat and vegetables
People from Europe, particularly its southern regions, are optimized for a high-plant diet. But people from other areas, such as the Inuit of Greenland, have a biochemistry that is better able to process lots of meat fat. UC Berkeley integrative biology professor Rasmus Nielsen and his colleagues had access not only to hundreds of genome sequences from humans today, but also to sequences from 101 people who lived in Europe 5,000 years ago during the Bronze Age. By comparing these genomes, they found that two particular regions of DNA were under intense selection over the past several thousand years and changed rapidly in response to evolutionary pressures. These DNA regions contain two genes called "fatty acid desaturase 1 and 2," or FADS1 and 2 for short. The FADS genes regulate how the human body converts short-chain poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) into long-chain PUFAs for the health of many tissues, including muscles and the brain. In Europeans dating back to the Bronze Age, the FADS genes have undergone mutations to produce more long-chain PUFAs. This suggests a diet higher in vegetables and grains, which produce short-chain PUFAs. Meat produces long-chain PUFAs. The Inuit group's FADS genes are primed to produce fewer long-chain PUFAs, likely because the Inuit diet is so high in animal fats from ocean mammals. Nielsen and his colleagues believe that the European variant of the FADS genes likely are the result of agricultural lifestyles, leading to diets rich in wheat and vegetables. When people in Europe and the Middle East began to practice farming over 10,000 years ago, suddenly they were ingesting far more of those short-chain PUFAs. People who could convert short-chain PUFAs into long-chain PUFAs efficiently were more likely to survive, and so their FADS genes were passed on. It's also likely that the FADS genes have been changing rapidly for tens of thousands of years, as humans found new environmental niches across the planet. This puts them in stark contrast with genes that allow for lactose tolerance, which are clearly linked to a rise in dairy production on farms in the West. "The selection associated with lactase persistence (avoidance of lactose intolerance) seems to have been stronger in Northern Europe," Nielsen explained. "However, we don't see the same geographic patterns for the FADS genes. If anything, selection that would be driven by a more vegetarian diet might have been stronger in Southern Europe. Selection associated with the FADS genes might also be older than the selection affecting lactase." So there is little overlap between people with veggie-friendly FADS genes and people with genes for lactase persistence.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Poll: Nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States, and a similar number disapprove of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx
A significant minority, four out of 10 respondents, said that the border crossers could make Canada "less safe," underlining the potential political risk for Trudeau's Liberal government. The increasing flow of hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin from the United States in recent months has become a contentious issue in Canada. There has been broad bipartisan support for high levels of legal immigration for decades in Canada. But Trudeau has come under pressure over the flow of the illegal migrants. He is questioned about it every time he appears in parliament, from opponents on the left, who want more asylum-seekers to be allowed in, and critics on the right, who say that the migrants pose a potential security risk. Canadians appeared to be just as concerned about illegal immigration as their American neighbors. Some 48% of Canadians said that they supported “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.” When asked specifically about the recent border crossings from the United States, the same number - 48% - said that Canada should "send these migrants back to the U.S." In the United States, where President Donald Trump was elected partly on his promise to boost deportations, 50% of adults supported “increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants.”
Norway is the happiest place on Earth, according to a United Nations agency report - toppling neighbor Denmark from the number one position
The World Happiness Report measures subjective well-being - how happy the people are, and why. Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland round out the top five, while the Central African Republic came last. Western Europe and North America dominated the top of the table, with the United States and Britain at 14th and 19th, respectively. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those hit by conflict have predictably low scores. Syria placed 152 of 155 countries - Yemen and South Sudan, which are facing impending famine, came in at 146 and 147.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Election 2016: Married women were considerably more likely - by a margin of 9 points - to vote for Trump than were unmarried men
They were even marginally more likely to vote for him than were married men! While only 3% of unmarried black women voted for Trump, more than 1-in-4 married black men did. Married Hispanics were marginally more likely to vote for Trump than unmarried whites were. Marrieds were more likely to support Trump than singles in every category examined. Among those of family formation age, Trump wins by 6 points among those with children while losing among those without kids by 12 points.