Friday, December 29, 2006

Police said a man who carjacked an SUV in Boca Raton drove all the way to Palm Springs before becoming lost and calling 911 on himself


According to police reports, Claude King, 31, approached Caroline Funkey's black GMC Envoy while it was stopped at a red light on the Glades Road exit off Interstate 95 in Boca Raton. Upon stepping up to the car, King smashed the driver's side window and pulled the driver out of the vehicle. Once inside, police said King began to punch the other four passengers.

One of Funkey's friends, Kellina Beach, 18, struck her head on the pavement as she fell from the SUV and had to receive stitches at Boca Raton Community Hospital.

According to the report, once King removed the passengers from the SUV, he began to drive wildly around the area, finally heading southbound down I-95.

Police said that, while heading southbound, King struck a white Chevrolet pickup and decided to turn around and head north. According to the report, he then struck another vehicle along the way and decided to pull over in Palm Springs.

A few minutes after the carjacking, police said they received a 911 call from a pay phone at Second and Congress Avenues in Palm Springs. It was King.

"Um, I committed a crime," he told the dispatcher. "I stole a vehicle."

When the dispatcher asked for his name, King told them, "I'd rather do this: Could you just send the police over here?"

The dispatcher then asked where the stolen car was located, to which King replied, "I couldn't even tell you. I don't even know where I'm at."

Palm Springs police Officer Lt. Mark Hall said they found King sitting on the curb near the stolen SUV.

According to the police report, Boca Raton police arrested King and took him to the hospital for a swollen right hand. King was then booked into the Palm Beach County Jail, where he was being held without bail Wednesday night.

Sometimes crime is funny.

The South African education system and the economy are failing the pupils of the country


The union said this following the release of the 2006 matric results.

"The education system does not yet prepare learners for the world of work, as the recent policy reforms are not established enough to deliver tangible results in practice," said union general secretary Dennis George.

He said Fedusa was also concerned about "the lagging standards in South African schools".

"This two-fold problem has been acknowledged by the department of education... on the one hand we find a syllabus that has arguably diminished over the past years, while on the other we find numerous problems relating to capacity."

George noted capacity problems as the unavailability of suitably qualified teachers in priority subjects such as maths and science, and provision of standardised study material and physical learning environments.

South Africa: System is Still Failing Our Kids, Say SA Unions

Concern about drop in university passes

‘Madiba’s children’ fail SA’s classroom challenge

The Forum of Jewish Organizations in Antwerp has filed suit against participants in a recent Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran


The Belgian lawsuit includes anyone who gave a speech questioning the Holocaust at the conference sponsored this month by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Holocaust denial is illegal in Belgium and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to cause legal problems for attendees who might want to visit Belgium, according to a Forum source.

The rabbinate in Antwerp issued a declaration against conference participants and urged that the few Jewish attendees of the conference — mostly members of the fringe Neturei Karta group — be banned from Antwerp synagogues.

There are 15,000 Jews in Antwerp; according to some estimates, at least half of whom are Orthodox.

'Holocaust Denial' Laws are Disgraceful

The victim of a stalker from Zimbabwe has been told he will not be deported even though the Home Office ordered that he be thrown out of the country

Portsmouth Today:

Home Office officials slapped a deportation order on Ottis Bere earlier this year to send him back to his native Zimbabwe.

Bere had been thrown in prison after breaching a restraining order that ordered him to stay away from Lisa Moore.

And his sentence was increased when he sent a 10-page letter from his prison cell warning he would come and find her when he was out.

Miss Moore, who owns bra company Boobytrap! in Waterlooville, was relieved to hear that Bere was to be deported upon release.

However he has successfully appealed and Miss Moore is horrified that the Home Office has decided to take the matter no further.

Miss Moore, 40, said: 'He is a foreigner who has committed a crime here. I thought British citizens were supposed to be protected but now I am terrified for my life.'

Bere, 31, first came to the UK when he joined the British Army as a resident of a former Commonwealth country.

He started a relationship with Miss Moore but it soured and she reported Bere to police last summer when the harassment started. But he continued to send her hundreds of vile text messages, including threats to kill, and tried to call her dozens of times.

After repeatedly breaking a two-year restraining order he was jailed for 51 weeks. Just before he was due to be released he then sent her a 10-page letter warning that he would come and find her when he was out. He was then jailed for another six months.

As he had served more than 12 months in prison he was automatically considered for deportation by the Home Office.

Shortly before he was due to leave prison they ordered he should be sent back to Zimbabwe but he appealed and won at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in Cardiff on December 7.

Miss Moore was desperate for the Home Office to appeal against the tribunal's decision but she has now been told the Home Office has no grounds to appeal.

Bere is due to be released in the new year. He will be sent to a secret location where he will be strictly monitored and follow rigorous curfews.

Miss Moore said: 'I fail to comprehend how he can come here, do crimes serious enough to have him deemed a risk to the public and get to stay. It's terrifying and I just can't live a normal life.'

A Home Office spokesman refused to discuss Bere's case but added: 'Early removal of foreign national prisoners who meet our criteria for deportation remains our priority.'

Jailed Zim man saved from deportation


The provisional results of Nigeria's first census in 15 years show that Africa's most populous nation has a population of more than 140 million

BBC News:

The National Population Commission said this was an increase of 63% since 1991.

The headcount is sensitive, as funding and political representation for Nigeria's states depend on the results.

Previous results have been mired in controversy and allegations of fraud, but March's census left out questions on religion and ethnicity.

The government was concerned that such information would trigger ethnic riots.

The National Population Commission (NPC) chairman said this time he felt there would be no problems.

"I don't expect any controversy because we have done a transparent and credible census. We have done it as honestly as we can, using the most scientific methods of census taking," Sumaila Makama told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

The BBC's Mannir Dan Ali in the capital, Abuja, says the big surprise in the results so far is that Nigeria has three million more men than women.

The last census put Nigeria's population at about 88.5m.

Nigeria gives census result, avoids risky details

High birth rates in Africa contribute to poor health and poverty

High Birthrate may trap African in poverty

Immigrant children and state tests

Joseph Berger:

School officials in this working-class village tucked between the wealthy towns of Rye, N.Y., and Greenwich, Conn., would rather that neither Dayana nor Israel, both of whom were born in the United States, take the English test when it is given statewide on Jan. 8. They say they do not want such children to be embarrassed by their scores. But they also do not want those scores to embarrass the village. Theirs is a district where 90 percent of fourth graders score well enough to be regarded as proficient readers. That statistic helps the district attract well-heeled transplants from New York City.

But that statistic is also not a true reflection of the district because so many students from immigrant homes have been exempted from taking the test, even if they were born in this country. The district’s policy, which state law allows, has been to spare children from immigrant families from taking the test if they have been in the school system less than five years. That excludes about 15 percent of Port Chester’s elementary school students and 10 percent of middle-school students. And so those students have been taking easier substitute tests.

Then last June, the United States Department of Education, enforcing the No Child Left Behind law, deemed New York’s substitutes inadequate and required all students in school for more than a year to take regular tests. Tests in 21 other states face have similarly been challenged.

That was bad news for Port Chester. Officials here now predict that when the January scores are published, the proportion of proficient students will drop into the 70s. They worry that their schools will be branded in need of improvement and suffer penalties. They worry that prospective homebuyers may opt for other towns. And they worry about the students’ self-confidence.

A major problem is that the immigrant parents are often ignorant of English as well:

THERE are few issues in education more complicated and politically charged than the education of immigrant children — whether they should be immersed in English or placed in more gradual bilingual classes, and whether they should be tested in the same way as their non-immigrant peers.

There are strong arguments to be made that five years may be too long to exempt immigrant students from taking mainstream tests but that one year may be too short. Perhaps someone like Dayana, whose parents speak no English and cannot help with schoolwork, should be exempted. But perhaps Israel, who has older siblings fluent in English, should be encouraged to dip into the mainstream, not just on tests but also in the classes to which he is assigned.

Forcing every immigrant to take a grade-level English test after one year in this country can be callous. Perhaps a 6- or 7-year-old can slip into a new language in a year’s time, but experts say older children may take years to feel secure.

Catherine Snow, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who specializes in language development, points out that tests given to immigrant children who enter American schools late, say in middle school, put them at a particular disadvantage because they do not have the same cultural references as their classmates.

This is just more evidence that many immigrant groups and their children are going to be a long-term liability for the United States.

Samuel P. Huntington Comes Out Against Immigration From Mexico

Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth

Women facing a stressful event experienced less anxiety when they held their husbands' hands

Christopher Lee:

In the study, 16 married women underwent a series of trials in which they were shown an image of a red X, indicating a 20 percent chance of a mild electric shock to an ankle, or a blue O, indicating no chance of a shock. Each woman variously held the hand of her husband, a stranger or no hand at all.

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to assess how the women's brains responded. Holding any hand helped relax the women, they found, but holding the spouse's hand had an especially powerful effect.

"Holding any hand at all calms regions of the brain that are responsible for the body's physical stress response," said neuroscientist James A. Coan of the University of Virginia, the study's lead author. "But only the spousal hand affected regions of the brain that are responsible for worrying. ... This is the region which is thought to be associated with your experience of pain."

The findings are in line with other research showing that social ties have beneficial effects on health. Married people are, on average, healthier and happier than unmarried people, researchers have found. And those in the happiest marriages tend to have lower risks of infection and faster recovery from injury than people in less blissful unions. Similarly, although all of the couples in the experiment rated themselves as happily married, women in the most satisfying marriages experienced the most potent calming effect of holding their husbands' hands.

"We discovered that spouses may be acting as a kind of analgesic in the high-quality relationships," Coan said.

This proves that feminists are wrong when they say that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

High-Quality Marriages Help To Calm Nerves

Feeling stressed? Try holding your husband's hand

A British council has been fiercely criticized for holding ethnic-minority only swimming sessions

This is London:

Wolverhampton City Council employs special life-guards and instructors for the sessions, which are open to the city's black and Asian residents only.

It claims the weekly periods are for women and children with "religious or cultural issues which would otherwise prevent them from taking part."

But furious pool-users say they amount to racial segregation and claim they are being prevented from using the pool - simply because they may be white.

The hour-long, Thursday evening sessions at Wolverhampton's Central Baths replace an aqua-aerobics session that was previously open to all.

They are financially supported by Kellogg's Swim Active programme, which has funded the installation of special blinds around the pool, designed to protect swimmers' privacy.

The special sessions started in November and run every Thursday evening. It is not known exactly how many people take part.

Yesterday, swimmer Leslie Waugh, from Walsall, said: "It's wrong. The council bangs on about integration but then does something like this. The women even have their own instructor and lifeguard brought in for the sessions and the regular workers have to leave."

Local councillor Malcolm Gwinnett said: "It's one thing to have an all-women session, that's fine. But it should be all women of whatever religion, not just one religion, which leaves everyone else out in the cold."

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said: "This seems to be exactly the sort of thing that creates division and resentment rather than bringing people together.

"I'd like to know what the logic behind this is. It sounds like a pretty bad idea to me and just the sort of thing that councils should not be doing."

A Wolverhampton City Council spokesman said complaints about the scheme had been received by reception staff at the baths.

She said: "It is one of the most ambitious schemes in the country and aims to tackle childhood obesity, engage the city's ethnic minority communities and work with children who fear water.

"An initial trial of eight weeks is providing an opportunity for women and children from ethnic minorities, who may not otherwise participate for cultural and religious reasons."

The Wolverhampton ethnic-minority swim sessions come after leisure centre in Croydon, South London, opened its pool to Muslims only for two hours every week.

Thornton Heath Leisure Centre insist that men wear shorts which hide the navel and extend below the knee. Women wear a swimming costume that covers their body from the neck down to the ankle. There are separate sessions for men and women.

In common with the Wolverhampton plan, the sessions were condemned by local people for encouraging segregation.

Fury over minorities sessions

Apartheid in the UK

Too many kids are fat by preschool, and Hispanic youngsters are most at risk

Associated Press:

The study couldn't explain the disparity: White, black and Hispanic youngsters alike watched a lot of TV, and researchers spotted no other huge differences between the families.

But one important predictor of a pudgy preschooler was whether the child was still using a bottle at the stunning age of 3, concluded the study being published online Thursday by the American Journal of Public Health.

"These children are already disadvantaged because their families are poor, and by age 3 they are on track for a lifetime of health problems related to obesity," said lead researcher Rachel Kimbro of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Some 17 percent of U.S. youngsters are obese, and millions more are overweight. Obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, sleep problems and other disorders -- and the problem starts early. Overweight preschoolers have a five times higher risk of being fat at age 12 than do lean preschoolers, scientists reported last fall.

Kimbro focused on the poor, culling data on more than 2,000 3-year-olds from a study that tracks from birth children born to low-income families in 20 large U.S. cities.

Thirty-two percent of the white and black tots were either overweight or obese, vs. 44 percent of the Hispanics.

Why were the Hispanics at higher risk? Kimbro checked a long list of factors, from children's TV habits to whether mothers had easy access to grocery stores. Nothing could fully explain the difference. "We were surprised," she said.

Children were particularly at risk if their mothers were obese. So were those who still took a bottle to bed at age 3, as did 14 percent of the Hispanic youngsters, 6 percent of the whites and 4 percent of the blacks.

That finding supports other research that "one of the most common causes of overweight in children is overfeeding," said Dr. Philip Nader, a pediatrician and professor emeritus at the University of California at San Diego.

Pediatricians say even babies should never take a bottle to bed, and that children should start drinking from a cup around age 1.

Kimbo now wonders what cultural differences -- such as whether Hispanic mothers think chubby children are healthier -- might also play a role, something the current study couldn't address.

Genetics is likely to be an important factor in Hispanic obesity rates.

Hispanic waistlines growing in land of plenty

Poor and overweight

Poorer tots more likely to be obese

Women who exercise by doing the housework can reduce their risk of breast cancer

BBC News:

The research on more than 200,000 women from nine European countries found doing household chores was far more cancer protective than playing sport.

Dusting, mopping and vacuuming was also better than having a physical job.

The women in the Cancer Research UK-funded study spent an average of 16 to 17 hours a week cooking, cleaning and doing the washing.

Experts have long known that physical exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer, probably through hormonal and metabolic changes.

But it has been less clear how much and what types of exercise are necessary for this risk reduction.

And much of past work has examined the link between exercise and breast cancer in post-menopausal women only.

The latest study looked at both pre- and post-menopausal women and a range of activities, including work, leisure and housework.

All forms of physical activity combined reduced the breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women, but had no obvious effect in pre-menopausal women.

Out of all of the activities, only housework significantly reduced the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal women getting the disease.

Housework cut breast cancer risk by 30% among the pre-menopausal women and 20% among the post-menopausal women.

The women were studied over an average of 6.4 years, during which time there were 3,423 cases of breast cancer.

The international authors said their results suggested that moderate forms of physical activity, such as housework, may be more important than less frequent but more intense recreational physical activity in reducing breast cancer risk.

Can you hear the feminists' heads exploding?

Cooking, Cleaning And Washing Helps You Ward Off Breast Cancer

Regular Vigorous Housework Can Reduce Some Types Of Bowel Cancer Risk

Housework wards off breast cancer

Housework can help you to beat breast cancer, women are told


Housework cuts breast cancer risk

Health: No Sweat Diet Plan

Could a dose of housework cut the risk of breast cancer

Women: Walk Away From Cancer

Do housework and reduce your chances of getting endometrial cancer

Housework 'could keep cancer at bay'

Some Muslims are undermining the battle to rid Britain’s hospitals of killer infections by refusing to wash their hands when visiting sick relatives

John Troup:

Dispensers containing anti-bacterial gel have been placed outside wards at hospitals all over Britain in a bid to get rid of superbugs like MRSA and PVL.

It prevents people bringing in more infections. But some Muslims refuse to use the hand cleansers on religious grounds because they contain alcohol.

Health watchdogs are so concerned they intend to meet with NHS bosses in the New Year to try and hammer out a solution.

NHS care assistant Theresa Poupa, 46, became aware of the situation while visiting a sick cousin at the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green.

She said: “I could not believe it - the signs are large enough and clear enough but they just took no notice and walked straight onto the ward.

“I was there almost every day for three weeks and I saw it repeated dozens and dozens of times. When I raised the matter with the nursing staff they just shrugged and said that Muslims were refusing to use the gel because it contained alcohol.

“They said they couldn’t force visitors to use the gel and I understand that — but I was astonished that anyone who didn’t wash their hands was allowed onto a ward.

“I know the dangers that bugs like MRSA can cause. They kill hundreds of patients a year.”

Michael Summers, chairman of the Patients’ Association, said: “I have been made aware of this situation during discussions with nurses and it is a very serious state of affairs.”

Sun doctor Dr Carol Cooper, who practises in West London and works shifts in accident and emergency, said: “I practise in an area where the patients are largely Bangladeshi and some of them do object to washing their hands because of the alcohol. But it’s fantastically important.”

Clean hands for Muslims too

More cases at MRSA hospital

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Cousin marriages in Iraq

Anne Bobroff-Hajal:

One central element of the Iraqi social fabric that most Americans know little about is its astonishing rate of cousin marriage. Indeed, half of all marriages in Iraq are between first or second cousins. Among countries with recorded figures, only Pakistan and Nigeria rate as high. For an eye-opening perspective about rates of consanguinity (roughly equivalent to cousin marriage) around the world, click on the "Global Prevalence" map at

But who cares who marries whom in a country we invade? Why talk to anthropologists who study that arcane subject? Only those who live in modern, individualistic societies could be so oblivious. Cousin marriage, especially the unique form practiced in the Middle East, creates clans of fierce internal cohesiveness and loyalty. So in addition to sectarian violence in Iraq, the US may also be facing a greater intensity of inter-clan violence than it saw in Vietnam or the ferocious Lebanese civil war.

The US can't deal with a problem it doesn't recognize, let alone understand.

Anthropologist Stanley Kurtz has described Middle East clans as "governments in miniature" that provide the services and social aid that Americans routinely receive from their national, state, and local governments. No one in a region without stable, fair government can survive outside a strong, unified, respected clan.

But still, what does this have to do with marrying cousins? Cousin marriage occurs because a woman who marries into another clan potentially threatens its unity. If a husband's bond to his wife trumped his solidarity with his brothers, the couple might take their property and leave the larger group, weakening the clan. This potential threat is avoided by cousin marriage: instead of marrying a woman from another lineage, a man marries the daughter of his father's brother - his cousin. In this scenario, his wife is not an alien, but a trusted member of his own kin group.

Wives are also bound tightly to their clan because their in-laws are not strangers but aunts and uncles who have a strong interest in supporting their marriages. (The risk that cousins' offspring will suffer genetic anomalies is somewhat mitigated by genetic benefits too complex to discuss here.)

Thus, to many Iraqis, nepotism in government and business isn't a bad thing - it's a moral imperative. The flip side of favoring relatives is that, as Steven Sailer observed in The American Conservative in 2003, it leaves fewer resources "with which to be fair toward non-kin. So nepotistic corruption is rampant in countries such as Iraq."

The corrupt dictatorships that rule much of the Muslim Middle East often function more like self-interested clans than as national governments. That, in turn, motivates people not to trust the state, but to instead remain loyal to the proven support of kin and tribe.

Failure To Understand Cousin Marriage Blinds Policy Makers On Iraq

Cousin marriage - an obstacle to democracy in Iraq

Nine months after the Duke rape hoax broke, hardly anyone is willing to defend the prosecutor Mike Nifong

Associated Press:

Defense attorneys, legal experts and even longtime colleagues are raising serious questions about District Attorney Mike Nifong's judgment and integrity. The central question: Why is he pressing on with a case that looks pitifully weak and is getting weaker all the time?

"I think they're going to be found not guilty - if they go to trial," said Bob Brown, an attorney in private practice who once worked with Nifong in the prosecutor's office and faced him as a public defender. "The trial will be a bloodbath."

Stan Goldman, who teaches criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said if Nifong takes the three lacrosse players to trial with the evidence he appears to have now, "this guy would be the poster child in public defenders' offices around the country as the quintessential bad DA."

Nifong has been under fire from the start over weaknesses in the case, which include a lack of DNA evidence and the accuser's shaky credibility. But even some of those who were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt were alarmed last week, when he dropped the rape charges after the stripper who accused the athletes wavered in her story. The men still face kidnapping and sexual offense charges.

Among other questions raised in recent weeks: Why didn't Nifong give the defense all the DNA evidence as soon as he got it? Why did it take months for anyone from his office to interview the accuser? And why did he suggest that police conduct an apparently faulty photo lineup?

"I don't see how any member of the public can have confidence in this case. I think it's making a mockery of our criminal justice system to permit this guy to keep fumbling along," said Duke University law professor James Coleman, one of Nifong's leading critics. "It's either total incompetence or it's misconduct on a scale that is extraordinary."

Nifong did not return repeated requests for comment for this story but told The Associated Press in an October interview he feels a responsibility to prosecute the case. The case is not expected to go to trial until at least the spring.

Legal observers generally agree Nifong will almost surely need more evidence than has been made public so far to convict Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, who have maintained their innocence and called the charges "fantastic lies."

"Prosecutors are not supposed to be bringing and continuing cases unless they have a good chance of winning," said John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School. "He has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless he's got about 10 aces up his (sleeve), in my judgment there's no way he could satisfy that criteria."

But Woody Vann, who represented the accuser several years ago and is one of the many members of the Durham bar who staunchly defended Nifong's professionalism when the story first broke, said if the prosecutor had a witness to corroborate the woman's story, it would have come out by now.

One of the biggest problems with the case is the lack of any DNA evidence connecting any member of Duke's lacrosse team to the accuser, a 28-year-old student at North Carolina Central University hired to perform as a stripper at a March 13 team party.

Nifong has said he doesn't need DNA to win the case. But the DNA evidence that does exist suggests she had sex with several other men close to the day of the party. The defense has said she claimed she did not have intercourse for at least a week before the party.

The defense has further said that in the hours after the party, the woman told wildly different versions of what happened. She variously estimated the number of attackers at three to 20 and said at one point that she was not raped at all.

Victims' rights advocates say rape victims are often unable to focus on the details immediately afterward. But the accuser told Nifong's investigator last week - nine months after the party - that she was no longer certain she was penetrated vaginally with a penis, as she had claimed several times before. That led Nifong to drop the rape charges.

Norm Early, a former district attorney in Denver who now works with the National District Attorneys Association, said he could not understand why Nifong didn't dump the rest of the case, too.

"It's such an incredible reliability problem that you wonder how the prosecution could rehabilitate her on the other charges," Early said.

And Vann said: "If the case rises or falls on her testimony, he's got issues. It would be difficult having this be a successful prosecution."

Among other weaknesses in the case: The accuser's credibility was damaged, at least in the court of public opinion, when it was learned that she claimed a decade ago that she was gang-raped. That case never led to an arrest.

Duke students are being Nifonged

A Dirty Game

Indians are genetically distinct

Jon Weiner:

In a study published online in the journal PLoS Genetics, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), Patel and colleagues analyzed 1,200 genome-wide polymorphisms collected from 432 individuals representing 15 different Indian populations.

This study represents the largest study of Indian genetic variation performed to date, in terms of the total number of sites in the human genome that were surveyed.

The researchers found that populations from India, and more generally, South Asia, make up one of the major human ancestry groups, with relatively little genetic differentiation among the Indian populations. Although the study used participants that may not reflect a random sample from India, these results still suggest that the frequencies of many genetic variants are distinctive in India compared to other parts of the world.

"We were struck both by the low level of diversity amongst people spanning such a large geographical region, and by the fact that people of the Indian sub-continent constituted a distinct group when compared to populations from other parts of the world," says Patel.

Her group is using this study as a foundation for future studies on the genetic basis of various common diseases in Asian Indians-such as heart disease, which is highly prevalent in this population.

Low Levels of Genetic Divergence across Geographically and Linguistically Diverse Populations from India

Islamist terrorism threat greater than IRA ever posed, says British police chief

Tania Branigan:

Britain faces a threat of "unparalleled nature" from Islamist terrorism which is greater than the dangers ever posed by the IRA, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said yesterday.

There was no specific evidence of any immediate threat, he said, playing down a recent suggestion from the home secretary, John Reid, that an attack was highly likely before Christmas.

But officers and the intelligence services lacked the resources to follow all plots and had yet to penetrate terrorist networks effectively. He also warned that the government needed to establish greater control of its borders.

"The level of threat is of an unparalleled nature and growing," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "In terms of civilians - you would have to go back to probably either the second world war or cold war for that threat.

"The IRA, with very few exceptions, did not want to carry out mass atrocities, they didn't want to die, they gave warnings and they were heavily penetrated by the intelligence services. None of those apply with al-Qaida and its affiliates."


Foreign immigrants are arriving in Britain at the rate of one every minute

Matthew Hickley:

At the same time the number of UK citizens emigrating to live abroad equates to one every five minutes.

The figures emerged less than a week before Romania and Bulgaria are due join the European Union on January 1 - giving 30 million more people the right to enter and work in Britain.

The latest EU expansion is expected to unleash another huge wave of immigration similar to that seen in 2004 when eight former communist states joined the Union.

The analysis of official Government immigration statistics by the MigrationWatch think tank found that 1,500 foreigners arrived in Britain each day in 2005, intending to settle for at least a year - just over one for every minute of the day.

Today's report claims those figures are probably a dramatic under-estimate, as counting methods focus on three main airports, largely ignoring coach services and budget flights to regional airports favoured by eastern Europeans.

Officially only 65,000 eastern Europeans were classified as immigrants but the study suggests the real figure could be twice as high.

The net outflow of British citizens leaving to live abroad rose to 107,000 last year - equivalent to one Briton quitting the country every five minutes, or almost 300 per day.

The UK also experienced a net inflow of 800 foreign immigrants each day - the total of newcomers arriving to settle here, minus the number of foreigners leaving Britain after living here for a period.

Taken together those figures provide a striking illustration of the pace of change imposed on British society by population movements, with net immigration trebling in scale over the past ten years.

Despite the focus on the numbers of immigrants arriving from eastern Europe in recent years, the MigrationWatch study shows that this inflow accounts for only a fifth of total immigration, most of which comes from Africa and Asia.

The largest group of migrants were people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, who accounted for two-thirds of net immigration.

According to the Office for National Statistics Britain's population rose by 500 people per day last year, or 185,000 over the year.

That figure is slightly down on the previous year's figure of more than 220,000, but was still the second highest in Britain's history.

MigrationWatch called for tougher measures to reduce immigration from outside the EU to 'manageable and realistic levels', and to impose tougher controls on countries hoping to join the EU in future.

Four in five immigrants are from Africa and Asia

'One immigrant a minute enters UK'

Jewellers in the western Indian city of Pune have said they will not serve women who wear veils covering their faces following a spate of thefts

Monica Chadha:

The Jewellers Association in Pune - about 170km from Mumbai - said three recent cases of theft involved women dressed in burkas.

The police were unable to identify the thieves because the women's faces were covered, they said.

Groups representing Muslims have had a mixed response to the move.

Chairman of Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, Naseem Siddiqui says the decision hurts religious sentiments and should not be accepted by the government.

"The burqa is an integral part of Muslim religion and asking women to not wear it while shopping for jewellery will not be acceptable to the community," he said.

"Tomorrow they will say Sikhs wearing turbans cannot enter the store because they could be hiding a weapon in it."

A spokesman for the All India Ulama Council, a group of Muslim scholars and clerics, Maulana Sayed Athar Ali said he would advise all burqa-wearing women not to shop in such stores.

Jewelers see veiled threat

Want Bling in India? Leave Your Burqa at Home

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says his government must do more to combat discrimination against lower castes and minorities

Sanjoy Majumder:

He told an international conference in Delhi the steps were necessary for the disadvantaged to benefit from the country's economic growth.

A move by the government to extend affirmative action policies has sharply divided the country.

Many argue that it could hurt India's rapid economic rise.

Nearly 60 years after India's independence, the prime minister said that those at the lowest rung of Indian society continued to face widespread discrimination.

That was why his government was committed to removing inequities so that everyone could enjoy the fruit of India's economic growth, he said.

Mr Singh was speaking at an international conference of minorities and Dalits - formerly known as untouchables who are at the bottom of India's complex caste system.

The government has recently pushed a bill through parliament in which places at some of the country's best-known professional colleges are set aside for students from lower caste and disadvantaged communities.

And it is considering asking the private sector to institute some kind of affirmative action and also extend the benefit to the country's Muslim minority.

A recent study suggested that India's Muslims were economically and socially worse off than Dalits.

But the move is being opposed by many who feel that it will lower standards and endanger India's economic growth.

Quota for upper caste, says Mayawati

PM on a Muslim rhetoric once more

Indian leader likens caste system to apartheid regime

Two leading anti-corruption campaigners in Congo-Brazzaville have been found guilty of forgery and breach of trust

BBC News:

Both say the trial is an attempt to intimidate them.

Christian Mounzéo and Brice Mackosso were given two month suspended prison sentences and fines of $600 each by the court in the second city, Pointe-Noire.

The few hundred people packed into the small courtroom to hear the short judgment being read out expressed shock and surprise at the verdict.

Friends said they were astonished the men could have been found guilty of breach of trust and forgery when the international organisations who had given the money in question had vouched in court for the men's innocence.

Christian Mounzéo said afterwards the verdict had been expected.

"We know that the government has used justice as an instrument to prosecute human rights defenders so we are not surprised about this judgement," he told the BBC.

The public prosecutor had earlier asked the judge not to send the men to jail because he said the arrests had already damaged Congo's reputation.

Both men have always denied the charges which relate to a donation of around $4,000 and a computer.

Their arrest in April was condemned by human rights groups and the World Bank.

The men say they will appeal this morning's decision, which they say is designed to stop them acting as independent experts on two new anti-corruption committees.

Congo is sub-Saharan Africa's sixth largest oil producer but has been told by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that it must be more open about its use of oil revenues if it wants to qualify for debt relief.

Congo anti-graft campaigners fined for embezzlement

Nelson Mandela has spoken of his youthful exploits as a pig thief

BBC News:

The former South African president made the revelations during a visit from the director and stars of the film Tsotsi, which won a Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Tsotsi is about a young gangster, and Mr Mandela said he identified with the main character.

Mr Mandela told how as a teenager in South Africa's rural Transkei region, he and friends would use the dregs of traditional beer to lure pigs.

"We'd go to the direction of the wind, so that the wind would blow from us to the village where the pigs are.

"And then we leave a little bit of the remains of the beer, and then the pigs come out... then we go further and put the stuff further away."

The future president and his friends would then stab the pig to death.

"The owners will not hear its shouts, and then we roast it and eat it."

I was a teenage pig thief, admits Mandela

Mandela recalls misspent youth eating stolen pigs

Gang attacks on buses and police stations in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro have left at least 18 people dead

BBC News:

In one incident, seven passengers were burnt to death when gunmen attacked their bus and torched it.

The wave of violence across the city started on Wednesday night and continued into Thursday morning.

Officials said the co-ordinated attacks had probably been planned from jail by imprisoned gang leaders.

The gangs were trying to put pressure on the authorities ahead of the swearing-in of a new state governor on 1 January, Rio state Security Secretary Roberto Precioso told reporters.

"It is very difficult to prevent these types of attacks that were practically kamikaze. Police action prevented the situation from getting much worse," he said.

One local media report has spoken of an atmosphere of war in the city, which is preparing for a huge New Year's Eve beach party.

At least 12 police stations and posts in different parts of Rio were attacked with grenades and automatic fire.

Four buses were set on fire, and gunmen are reported to have stopped emergency workers from getting close to the scene.

"I don't know how, but I gathered my strength, got myself into the aisle of the bus and jumped through the window. I felt like I was being toasted," a woman who escaped one of the burning buses said.

As military police and gunmen exchanged fire on some of Rio's streets, motorists fled their cars to seek shelter.

Two police officers were among the dead, as well as seven gang members, Mr Precioso said.

He said three suspects had been arrested and added police had occupied 10 shantytowns, or favelas, which were controlled by drug gangs.

Rio is reputed to be one of the most violent cities in the world.

Its favelas, are frequently the scene of shoot-outs between officers and gang members, as are poor neighbourhoods in other Brazilian cities.

In May, more than 120 people died in Sao Paulo after a wave of gang attacks. These triggered a heavy police backlash, which was blamed for many of the deaths.

Wave of gang attacks in Rio kills 18 people

Five Rio de Janeiro cops arrested for ATM heists

Tonga's royal family is preparing to end 100 days of mourning for the late king by releasing 40 royal undertakers from a three-month captivity

BBC News:

The undertakers, known as nima tapu, meaning sacred hands, are forbidden from using their hands after preparing King Tupou IV's body for burial.

The nima tapu have spent the last three months confined in a special house where they are fed by other people.

After an end-of-mourning ceremony, the undertakers are allowed to return home.

Having touched the late king's body during the funeral preparations, the royal undertakers are strictly forbidden from using their hands for any other purpose until the period of mourning is over.

The current generation of nima tapu are more fortunate than their predecessors.

Until 300 years ago they would have been strangled or had their hands cut off following the king's funeral.

Riots delay king's coronation


A group of academics is demanding the right to be controversial in a new campaign for freedom of speech

BBC News:

Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF) says that in today's political climate it is "harder than ever" for scholars to defend open debate.

AFAF says they must be allowed to question received wisdom, and managers should not be able to discipline academics for voicing unpopular views.

The group is calling on all university lecturers to sign its online petition.

"Restrictive legislation, and the bureaucratic rules and regulations of government quangos and of universities themselves, have undermined academic freedom," the groups says.

"Many academics are fearful of upsetting managers and politicians by expressing controversial opinions.

"Afraid to challenge mainstream thought, many pursue self-censorship."

A Leeds University lecturer, Frank Ellis, took early retirement this year before a disciplinary hearing over his comments that there was evidence to suggest white people had higher IQ levels than black people.

The statement of academic freedom which lecturers are being asked to sign says two principles are the foundation of academic freedom:

"That academics, both inside and outside the classroom, have unrestricted liberty to question and test received wisdom and to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions, whether or not these are deemed offensive.

"That academic institutions have no right to curb the exercise of this freedom by members of their staff, or to use it as grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal."

Writing on the AFAF website, Professor Roy Harris from the University of Oxford said: "Getting university authorities to agree to these principles is an essential step towards safeguarding academic freedom for the future."

Professor Mary Evans from the University of Kent said: "Universities need to be able to maintain, and even extend their ability to think the unthinkable.

"They should not accept a role as mere instruments of state agendas."

Simon Davies, co-director of the policy engagement research group at the London School of Economics, added: "I'm deeply worried about the number of academics who flee in terror at the slightest wisp of controversy.

"Rather than engage the world in a spirit of challenge, too many academics have been sedated by an oppressive environment of political correctness and risk aversion."

Academics call for unfettered free speech

Academics For Academic Freedom

British Academics seek right to offend

The future looks grim

Scholars demand right to be offensive

Masculine features can be threatening

Sharon Jayson:

That well-defined brow and strong chin are manly, yes, but new research published Wednesday shows that such features could be a turnoff because of subconscious decisions about personality based on looks.

The research in the academic journal Personal Relationships is based on online experiments in which 854 undergraduates saw digitally altered composite pictures of men's faces, with some adjusted to look more "masculine" and others to look more "feminine."

A more masculine face would have exaggerated brow ridges, a strong chin or slightly thinner lips. A more feminine face would have a smaller chin, smaller brow ridges, larger lips and possibly larger eyes, says Daniel Kruger, a University of Michigan social psychologist.

"People can make snap judgments of other people based on something that's superficial — just by the way someone's face looks," he says.

His work found that highly masculine faces were judged more likely to get into fights or cheat on their partners. The less masculine versions were thought to be better husbands and good with children. Both men and women chose less masculine faces as dates for their 25-year-old hypothetical daughters. And men selected the less masculine faces to accompany their girlfriends out of town.

Kruger says other studies have suggested a relationship between higher testosterone levels and increased risk of infidelity, violence and divorce in relationships. Testosterone measurement was not part of his study.

Related research published earlier this year used pictures of real men and measured testosterone levels via saliva samples. James Roney of the University of California-Santa Barbara and others at the University of Chicago found that women were able to gauge hormone levels and decide a male's suitability as a date or a mate by the photos.

Documentary, studies renew debate about skin color's impact

Chickification Nation: Study Confirms Younger Americans Believe Anti-Male Propaganda

Jane Elliott and her Blue-Eyed Devil Children by Carl F. Horowitz

About 6,000 African migrants have died or gone missing on the sea journey to the Canary Islands in 2006, Spanish immigration officials say

BBC News:

They say more than 31,000 migrants reached the islands in the Atlantic - more than six times as many as in 2005.

The coastguard intercepted fewer than 5,000 of them in small wooden - and often overcrowded - boats.

The Canaries is one of the most popular destinations for Africans trying to reach Europe to escape poverty.

"We're talking about a dramatic number of dead," Froilan Rodriguez, the Canary Islands' deputy director of immigration, told Spain's Cadena Ser radio station.

Mr Rodriguez said that about 600 bodies had been picked up on the shores of the Canaries and the African mainland in the past 12 months, but the total of migrants killed had been about 10 times higher.

Jose Segura, Spain's interior ministry official in the Canaries, said that almost as many Africans had reached the islands in 2006 as in the previous four years combined.

He described the increase in the numbers of the arrivals as "spectacular".

Spain has repeatedly called for more European Union help to deal with the problem, the BBC's Danny Wood in Madrid says.

In a bid to stop this migration, boats, planes and helicopters from the European Union's border control agency are now patrolling the shores of Senegal and Mauritania, our correspondent says.

Spain Says 31,000 Migrants Reached Canary Islands in 2006

One in six migrants dies trying to reach Canaries

Twenty-two die in kayak on way to Canary Islands

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Australian police fear the emergence of militant street gangs of young African refugees

Richard Kerbaj:

A growing gangster mentality among young African men is worrying community leaders, who blame boredom, unemployment and drugs for turning young immigrants living in Melbourne's inner north towards violence and crime.

Police sources have told The Australian that while gang-related activity had not reached epidemic proportions, "it is a serious concern".

Young African leader Ahmed Dini said some Somali, Sudanese and Eritrean men, predominantly aged between 16 and 25, felt disconnected from mainstream society and were either forming or joining ethnic groups for protection and also for a sense of belonging.

He said they mainly lived in housing commission estates in the city's inner north - Flemington, Ascotvale and north Melbourne - and some had trained with heavy-duty military weapons while they were serving in militias overseas.

"Some of them have used rocket launchers and grenades," said Mr Dini, who is chairman of the community-based youth network Saygo.

He said the migrants were haunted by childhood images of killings, torture and rape, and were constantly on edge.

"Violence is not something new for these young people," he said. "And sometimes memories trigger them to do stupid things.

"Sometimes they do some bad things ... like probably pick on other people, other groups, pick fights (with other ethnic groups).

"They pick fights with Turkish, Lebanese, even with the African communities.

"You have the Somalians from Flemington usually pick on Somalians from Carlton, so it's like a territorial kind of thing."

Mr Dini said some of the young men wielded baseball bats during the brawls.

"They do have bats and stuff like that, and when they do hear there's a fight they turn up with their bats."

He said while he was not aware of any structured African community gangs in the city's inner north, he was aware young Sudanese men from the western suburbs were becoming more established and organised in their gang activities.

But a police source told The Australian the street gangs were not usually structured or organised. "There isn't necessarily a leader and so on."

The source said the hierarchy and leadership often comes into play when the gang is faced with some kind of adversity such as a territorial brawl.

Mr Dini, who set up Saygo with 12 other young African leaders in September to tackle unemployment, education and criminal issues being faced by his community, said the state and local governments were largely responsible for the street gangs.

This was because they had for years ignored the problems of unemployment and the lack of facilities, failing to devote enough resources and initiatives towards alternative activities.

"There's no service-providers that help out the young people in the area," he said.

"And the population of the youth is growing. And the more boys you have doing nothing, just hanging out, the more likely you're going to have problems that are going to arise."

Mr Dini warned that gang and crime-related problems within the African communities would eventually lead to "race riots" similar to those in France if governments continued to ignore the problem.

"It could lead to deaths," he said.

Refugees 'turning to crime for kicks'

Haitian kills father and attacks mother over voodoo

Marlene Naanes:

Joseph Barnard

A Fort Lauderdale family of seven siblings spent Christmas Day visiting their comatose mother in the hospital, planning a funeral for their devoutly Baptist father and coming to grips with their brother's murder arrest.

Barnard Joseph, 23, is accused of killing his father, Elois Joseph, 70, and critically injuring his mother, Marie Joseph, 60, on Christmas Eve, police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa said Monday. Police arrested Joseph late on Sunday night. He was being held without bail Monday in Broward County jail on premeditated murder and attempted murder charges.

Edwin Joseph said he visited his younger brother during police questioning. He said Barnard Joseph blamed his mother for recent fights with his parents. In the past few months, he had been arguing with them because he believed his mother was putting Vodou (or Voodoo, as it often is spelled) spells on him, Edwin Joseph said.

"He was screaming and yelling a bunch of things that don't make any sense," Edwin Joseph said. "My mother is a church woman."

Marie Joseph remained at Broward General Medical Center on Monday night, still unconscious after family members believe she was severely beaten about the head. Relatives do not know how her husband died and police aren't saying, but Edwin Joseph said his brother was found -- bloodied and shirtless -- holed up in the family's 13th Court home.

"Detectives are being hush-hush," Sousa said.

Investigators scoured the Josephs' house a second day Monday and didn't release any more information. They've lived together in the home for 20 years since emigrating from Haiti.

Edwin Joseph said he fended off his brother in November, getting bitten and punched in the process, when the youngest of the couple's eight children slapped his father and tried to attack his mother.

"His tongue was hanging out and his eyes were popping out," Edwin Joseph said. "He looked like the devil got him."

The couple's neighbors called police then, but Joseph was not arrested, his brother said. State records show Joseph was convicted in 2005 for carrying a concealed weapon and using a false identity.

His mother later found a rum bottle with leaves in it. Edwin Joseph said his family does not know what the leaves were and believes the young man may have gotten drunk or high before coming to the home last month.

But Barnard Joseph's girlfriend Aja Cox said Joseph had been drinking the concoction off and on for weeks and got it from a friend to help him calm down after his many arguments with his mother.

She said his mother did not like her and was upset that she and Joseph had a baby together last month. His mother constantly tried to convince him to come home, including the night before the attack, Cox said.

African children 'at risk of ritual abuse'

Haitian refugee was released from detention but will remain under supervision after three failed attempts to deport him over a drug crime

Jacqueline Charles:

A Haitian refugee, who became the first naturalized American in 44 years ordered deported after losing his U.S. citizenship over a drug conviction, was released late Thursday from the Krome detention center after three nations refused to take him.

Lionel Jean-Baptiste, who turned 59 while behind bars, returned to his wife Raymonde and five children, three born in Haiti, two in the United States, ranging in age from 11 to 38 years old.

"God is good," Jean-Baptiste said in Creole from the living room of his North Miami home. "I feel like a lottery winner."

Jean-Baptiste survived a tragic sea voyage from Haiti, became a successful Miami restaurant owner and, in April 1996, a naturalized U.S. citizen.

But six months later he was indicted on charges of conspiracy to possess crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. He pleaded not guilty, but a Miami federal jury convicted him in 1997. He was sentenced to more than eight years in prison, but was released, with good-behavior credits, in January 2004.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement moved to revoke his citizenship in 2000, not because of the conviction but because the conviction occurred while he was awaiting citizenship, when he was required to be a person of "good moral character."

After losing several lengthy appellate court battles, Jean-Baptiste was sent to Krome in June.

The case marked the first time since 1962 that a denaturalized citizen was ordered deported after a drug conviction. In that case, an Italian-American was stripped of citizenship and deported.

On Sept. 12, Immigration judge Kenneth S. Hurewitz ordered Jean-Baptiste deported to his native Haiti.

But the Haitian government refused to take him back, saying that Jean-Baptiste renounced his Haitian citizenship when he swore allegiance to the United States in 1996.

Immigration authorities tried to send him to France and the Dominican Republic, with similar results.

By mid-December, his release appeared imminent. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that foreign nationals who cannot be deported must not be held indefinitely unless they are deemed a danger to the community or in other "special circumstance" cases.

"We don't know why they chose to release him [today]," immigration attorney Andre Pierre said of ICE officials. "They just do it."

Great! Haiti has no trouble in sending us their criminals but they won't take them back.

Los Angeles police detectives have arrested a Latino suspect in the killing of a 14-year-old African American girl in what police say was a hate crime

Jill Leovy:

The girl, Cheryl Greene, was among four people struck in a shooting the afternoon of Dec. 15 in the 20600 block of South Harvard Boulevard. Two young Latino men approached the group, and one pulled a gun and fired several times before the pair fled. Two women and a man were wounded in the attack.

Los Angeles police have said graffiti in the area bearing the letters "NK" suggested that a local Latino gang with a reputation for racism had targeted blacks. Because of this, police have classified the case as a hate crime, although the circumstances are under investigation, said LAPD spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon.

Murder, hate crime charged in killing of teenage LA girl

Murder, hate crime charged in killing of teenage LA girl

Man Charged With Murder, Hate Crime In Harbor Gateway Area

A 15-year-old Sikh boy who claimed he had his hair cut off by racist thugs has admitted he made the attack up

BBC News:

The boy from Edinburgh reported the alleged racist attack in November and the case was widely publicised.

The cutting of his hair was an act which was seen as deeply insulting to the Sikh faith.

Lothian and Borders Police confirmed the attack had not taken place and said the boy had expressed remorse. They said no further action would be taken.

More than 200 Sikhs from around the UK gathered in Edinburgh to hold a two-hour prayer vigil following the boy's claims.

The boy had originally said he had been subjected to racial abuse in the park before being kicked to the ground by four white youths.

However it emerged later that the teenager had in fact punched himself in the face and cut off his own hair.

Hair is a religious symbol for Sikhs and it is strictly against their faith to have it shorn.

Lothian and Borders Police mounted a large-scale investigation into the youngster's claims, setting up a dedicated text service and email address for people to contact them and also visiting local high schools.

But it is understood that when officers spoke to the boy again, he told them he had done it himself.

The teenager is believed to have had personal problems and was also having cultural identity issues brought about by differences between his Sikh upbringing and Western society.

A police spokeswoman said: "The boy has expressed deep regret for what he has done."

Police officers sent a report on the incident to the procurator fiscal but it is understood the teenager will not face charges for wasting police time because a prosecution is not felt to be in the public interest.

MSP says 'Do not think the worst' after fictitious racial attack on Sikh

Sikh boy admits his attack lie


Scotland's Tawana Brawley

A search warrant has been issued for a potentially vital clue to a violent crime - a bullet lodged in a teenager's head

BBC News:

Mr Bush's lawyers say removal would infringe civil rights

Texan prosecutors want the bullet, embedded under the skin in 17-year-old Joshua Bush's forehead, to be removed.

They say it could help convict Mr Bush of the attempted murder of a used-car salesman in a row following a robbery.

The case has raised privacy concerns, with Mr Bush's lawyers fighting to have the bullet remain in his head.

Prosecutors say the 9mm bullet became lodged in the soft fatty tissue in Mr Bush's forehead in a shootout with the car salesman.

Police say Alan Olive returned fire after Mr Bush tried to shoot him.

They say Mr Bush was part of a gang that had tried to take cars from the forecourt.

Identified to police by other gang members, Mr Bush was interviewed.

Mr Olive, a competitive pistol shooter, said a man returned after the police had investigated, threatening to kill him if he gave evidence. The shootout followed.

"I just can't believe I missed him at that distance," Mr Olive says in court papers.

Prosecutor Ramon Rodriguez told Associated Press news agency that Mr Bush "looked like hell. He had a big old knot on his forehead".

Teen Fights Removal of Bullet in Head

They know where the evidence is, but …

A gene variation that helps people live to a ripe old age also appears to preserve memory and thinking power

BBC News:

The "longevity" gene alters the size of fatty cholesterol particles in the blood, making them bigger than normal.

This stops them causing the fatty build up in blood vessels that is linked with brain impairment, and deadly strokes and heart attacks, Neurology reports.

The study involved nearly 300 Ashkenazi Jews in their 70s, 80s and 90s.

The nonagenarians who possessed the longevity gene were twice as likely to have good brain function than those who did not have the gene variant.

Their performance on tests of memory and concentration was far superior.

Also, those who had reached a century were three times more likely to have the longevity gene variation than their 70-year-old counterparts.

Lead researcher Nir Barzilia, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said the same gene variation might also protect against Alzheimer's dementia.

How to live to a ripe old age without losing your marbles

Longevity gene also protects memory, cognitive function

Why did Bush let the neoconservatives fool him on Iraq?

Jonathan Chait:

"All [the neoconservatives] care about is ideology," complained MSNBC's Chris Matthews a few months ago. "The president bought it hook, line and sinker."

There's a lot of truth to that. Neoconservatives had been gung-ho for years on the idea of invading Iraq, establishing a democracy and watching the transformative power of liberty work its magic. It is indeed curious how and why Bush let the neocons sucker him.

But fewer people seemed to have noticed that the reverse is also true: Bush suckered the neocons.

On the surface, to be sure, they appear to be getting their way once again. News reports are suggesting that Bush plans to send more troops to Iraq. Neoconservatives have been urging this very course of action for a long time. Indeed, they've been advocating more troops in general for years — even before the war started. And that's not surprising. If you believe in expanding the worldwide application of American power, you need a military to do it. If you read old issues of the Weekly Standard, which is the bulletin board of neoconservatism, you can find calls for a bigger military going back to the Clinton administration

It's probably too late to make a difference in Iraq. Bush may have come to believe in the neoconservative mission for the nation's military. But he never accepted the corollary about increasing the military. So he ended up pursuing Dick Cheney's foreign policy with Bill Clinton's army.

In hindsight, we can see that the neocons made two huge blunders. The first was to go along with Bush's enormous tax cuts. When Bush took office in 2001, any halfway honest budget analyst would tell you that he was making a lot of promises that didn't add up. The neocons calculated that, if they supported the tax cuts like good party soldiers, Bush would grant them their defense budget increases later on.

So the Standard enthusiastically boosted the tax cuts. Neoconservative defense hawk Frank Gaffney concurred in a fawning open letter to Bush. "Those of us who look forward to helping you succeed in your efforts to rebuild our defense posture appreciate that your success in reducing taxes is a first and highly synergistic step toward that goal," he wrote. "Consequently, you can count on us in the national security community to support you in both of these important endeavors."

Whoops. It turned out there wasn't any money left over for a big troop increase, an eventuality nobody could have foreseen unless they knew how to add and subtract. Enraged at the lack of a defense hike, the Standard published an editorial calling on then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to resign in protest of "the impending evisceration of the military."

The Standard lamented its own gullibility. "Those of us who expressed concern about the Bush administration's shorting of the military were told not to worry," the editors wrote. "Bush had to pass his tax cut first. Then the damage would be repaired in the [fiscal year] 2002 and FY 2003 budgets. But that's not the way things have turned out."

Let me translate this passage: We thought Bush was just lying to the American public, but now we discover he was lying to us also!

Let me quote one more passage from that editorial, because it's really incredible. The Standard warned that Bush's budget would make an invasion of Iraq all but impossible: "In practice, assembling a heavy armored force of even four divisions to defeat Saddam's army and then occupy Iraq would require every heavy unit based in Korea, Europe and the United States." Yet, just a few months later, the neocons demanded the very war that they said would be impossible, to be waged by that same eviscerated military.

But if they had only withdrawn their support earlier, before the big tax cut and before Bush invaded with too small of an army to win, the United States would be in much better shape today — and so would the neocons.

Broken Army, Broken Empire

The huge lie that is the "short term surge"

Neo-Cons Wanted Israel To Attack Syria

Neocons: Fighting To Prevent Our Exit From Iraq

Dogs, color and personality

Jennifer Viegas:

A dog's colour reflects a pooch's personality, scientists say, at least in one breed, the English cocker spaniel.

The latest study, recently published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, shows that golden/red English cocker spaniels exhibit the most dominant and aggressive behaviour.

Black dogs in this breed are the second most aggressive, while particolour (white with patches of colour) are more mild-mannered.

Earlier research suggests that hair colour is also linked to behaviour in labrador retrievers.

For this breed, the most aggressive are the yellow ones, the next most aggressive are the black dogs and the least aggressive are the chocolate coloured ones.

The behaviour-hair colour connection is likely due to related genetic coding that takes place during the pup's earliest life stages, according to lead author Dr Joaquín Pérez-Guisado.

"Maybe the link [to coat colour] is due to the fact that the ectoderm [one of the three primary germ cell layers] is where the skin and central nervous system originate in the embryo," he says.

Pérez-Guisado, a Spanish researcher in the Department of Medicine and Animal Surgery at the University of Cordoba, and his colleagues measured levels of dominance and aggression in 51 seven-week-old English cocker spaniel puppies that were either full siblings or half siblings.

The tests looked at how quickly a person could capture a puppy's attention, how well puppies followed the individual, how the dogs behaved while restrained, how they exerted their social dominance and what they did when they were lifted off the floor.

In many cases, the golden-coloured dogs resisted human contact and even tried to bite the tester, while the particolour pups often wagged their tails and seemed to enjoy the attention.

Hair type also seems to affect temperament:

Pérez-Guisado and his colleagues next plan to study the English springer spaniel and English cocker spaniel genomes to pinpoint common genes associated with so-called dog rage and colouration.

Earlier research has also found that hair type may indicate a dog's temperament.

In a study, wiry-haired mini dachshunds were often more feisty than their mellower, long-haired cousins.

Fur Color Linked to Dog Personality

Does Your Dog’s Coat Color Tell You About His Personality?

How nice is that doggie in the window?

Gangs and the disintegration of the Hispanic family

George Putnam:

It is this reporter's opinion that 50 years ago, as a much younger reporter, I became involved in covering youth gang activities. It was all so simple then in comparison to the international gangs of today.

With the present day technology and communication, modern gangs are involved in robbery, fraud, rape, and murder more than ever.

Many of the police and youth workers blame the increase in gang appeal on the disintegration of the Hispanic family unit . . . and it's worsening by the day — especially for U.S.-born Hispanics.

Fifty years ago, 70 percent of the children of U.S.-born Hispanic parents lived in an intact family. By 1999 that number had dropped to 56 percent. The percentage of Hispanic children living with a single mother rose from 18 percent to 35 percent.

Single parent households constituted 25 percent of all Hispanic households with minor children in the 1970s. By 2005 the proportion had jumped to 37 percent.

Teen parenthood — the marker of underclass behavior — has affected the crime and gang rate. In 2002 there were 83.4 births per 1,000 Hispanic females between ages 15 and 19. Today the figures are out of sight.

Hispanic mothers have higher birth rates, and here in California, most newborns are of Hispanic origin.

Parenthood is all but forgotten with teen youngsters giving birth while they are little more than children. Many of these teenage Hispanic girls are having four, five, and even six babies by their mid-20s. Many of the fathers simply disappear. And 80 percent of teen births to Latinas in 1999 were to unmarried girls.

The crime rates are soaring and these young Spanish offspring drop out of school and resort to gang activities. And, tragically, many of these young Hispanics are unable to communicate in either Spanish or the English language. Impoverished youth become lethargic and obese with little or no drive and end up on the streets, and the easy way out for them is criminality.

Much to our dismay, with teen pregnancies out of control and the crime and gang rate running rampant, we have developed a complete third world underclass America — a ghettoized Hispanic subgroup in terms of welfare use and out-of-wedlock child-rearing.

With the resident population of the U.S. topping 300 million and our population growing by one person every 14 seconds, the 300 millionth is sure to be a Mexican Latino right here in Los Angeles County.

At what point will the Hispanic family instill pride, responsibility and discipline in their children? At what point will the Hispanic household return to true, nurturing parenting? With the disintegration of the Hispanic family, the crime and gang rate will sooner or later overwhelm America and God help us all!

And lawmakers in Congress seem to want to make the Hispanic gang problem even worse:

News to Save for Christmas Day when Nobody Reads the Paper

Congress Wants Big Illegal Amnesty

State representative to call for Mike Nifong's resignation on Fox News

Bob Shiles:

State Rep. Stephen LaRoque is expected to appear tonight on Fox News channel’s “On the Record,” with Greta Van Susteren.

This is LaRoque’s second appearance on the show within a week to discuss Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong and his handling of the Duke lacrosse rape case. He contends that Nifong should be investigated for possible prosecutorial misconduct, and that North Carolina law should be changed so that the state — not the N.C. State Bar Association or a superior court judge — is responsible for investigating charges of malfeasance by county district attorneys.

“I’m going to ask that Mike Nifong resign his position as district attorney, not just for the good of Durham County, but for the good of all North Carolina,” LaRoque said. “This has become a universal issue and has put North Carolina in a bad light.”

LaRoque, who represents the 10th House District, is calling for state legislators to enact a law allowing the state attorney general to investigate and criminally prosecute any district attorney who willingly commits prosecutorial misconduct. In Nifong’s case, LaRoque said, he allegedly withheld results of DNA laboratory tests that would have showed the innocence of three lacrosse players accused of raping an exotic dancer last spring at an off campus party.

“What he did was clearly for political gain and unconscionable,” LaRoque said. “What he did will have an effect on these young men for the rest of their lives.”

Nifong was running for the Durham County Democratic Party’s nomination for district attorney during the early stages of the rape investigation. The alleged victim’s accusations of rape by thee lacrosse players during the off-campus party brought national attention to Nifong and his department. He won his nomination, and went on to eventually win the November general election.

LaRoque noted that since his Dec. 20 appearance on Fox News he has received e-mails from as far away as California and Australia.

“This is not just a state issue, but an issue that is important nationally and internationally,” he said.

Although he lost his re-election bid in November and will not be going back to Raleigh when the General Assembly convenes next month, LaRoque says he is currently lobbying legislators to pass a tough law that will make district attorneys think twice before willingly committing prosecutorial misconduct.

“There are 170 legislators that have been silent on this issue,’ LaRoque said. “It’s time for someone to stand up and say there’s something wrong here. Something needs to be done to ensure the integrity of our judicial system.”

Nifong’s Folly

Dropping charges at Duke

Defense Seeks 'Federal Intervention' in Duke Case

Duke case not worthy of being a cause for black folk to rally around

Duke rape case unravels

As Duke rape case unravels, D.A.'s judgment questioned

Experts ask what's left in Duke lacrosse case

Hard Lessons From The Duke Rape Case

Duke: The Lies Continue

British council gives awards to black students, but not to white ones

Brian Flynn:

PARENTS blasted a council yesterday for holding an awards ceremony for black kids who pass exams — while successful white classmates are IGNORED.

Nearly 300 Afro-Caribbean children aged from seven to 16 will celebrate with mums, dads, teachers and councillors at London’s Alexandra Palace.

But white classmates who do just as well will have to stay in lessons.

Parents say the ceremony funded by Haringey council and community groups is divisive.

One mum, whose daughter goes to St Gilda’s Primary School in Crouch End, said: “It is driving a huge wedge between black children and the white kids.

“These children are as young as seven. Why are we teaching the black children they are different at such an early age?

“That is not what integration is about.”

Another mum, who asked not to be named, added: “My daughter did very well in her SATS but will receive no recognition. Why are the black children worthy of awards, when the white children are not?

“It seems as if officials are almost trying to cause a racial divide.

“If it happened the other way around it would be unthinkable.”

More politically correct stupidity from Haringey council:

'Sing about Jesus and you'll lose your grant'

Haringey: Christian a no-no, Muslim a go-go

Why is it so difficult to deport illegal alien criminals from Britain?

Philip Johnston:

The killers: Diamond Babamuboni, Timy Babamuboni and Jude Odigie

The argument over immigration controls deepened last night after a gang of teenage robbers who were in the country illegally was convicted of killing a woman as she held a six-month-old baby at a christening party.

It was the second time this week that immigrants who had been allowed to remain in Britain despite committing a string of offences were found guilty of a brutal killing.

On Tuesday, a court heard how two Somali men involved in the shooting of Pc Sharon Beshenivksy had been spared deportation because their homeland was judged too dangerous for them.

At the Old Bailey yesterday, Diamond Babamuboni, 17, his brother Timy, 15, and Jude Odigie, 16, all from Nigeria, were convicted of the manslaughter of Zainab Kalokoh, 31, a married mother of two children from war-ravaged Sierra Leone.

A fourth, who cannot be named, was found guilty of her murder at the party in Peckam, south London, in August last year. The Babamuboni brothers — whose mother had been refused leave to remain in the country — were in Britain illegally. Odigie had also been told he could not stay.

Yet despite this, they carried on a life of crime with apparent impunity other than occasional court appearances. They were meant to attend courses run by local youth offender teams but shunned any interventions.

The brothers had been in trouble since before their teenage years, with convictions for robbery, assault and theft. Odigie had convictions for disorderly behaviour.

Last night, a Home Office spokesman said: "Foreign nationals must obey the laws of this country in the same way as everybody else and those who have committed criminal offences here are therefore subject to the same legal processes as anyone else in the UK, and can expect prosecution and, where appropriate, a custodial sentence and deportation.

"The vast majority of people who come to the UK abide by this country's laws, but we want to make clear that we will not accommodate those that abuse our hospitality and sanctuary by becoming involved in crime."

But David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: "This is a consequence of serial government failure. How much longer must the public suffer the, all too often lethal, threat to their safety of this Government's absolute failure to either deport or incarcerate those people who should not be in our communities?"

Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch, said the Government was either not deporting those it could or was unable to remove them because of human rights laws.

"The time is rapidly approaching when we must fundamentally review our inability to deport foreign nationals with a string of criminal convictions."

Dental check sought for killers

ASBO kid was ringleader of christening murder gang

Immigration fury over killer gangs

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Irving calls for a boycott of all Austrian and German historians until laws which make Holocaust denial illegal in those countries are overturned

Associated Press:

British writer David Irving returned to England the day after he was released early from an Austrian prison -- vowing to repeat views denying the Holocaust that led to his conviction.

Irving said Thursday he felt "no need any longer to show remorse" for his views on the Holocaust, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison. Vienna's highest court granted Irving's appeal and converted two-thirds of his sentence into probation on Wednesday.

Upon arriving at London's Heathrow airport, he also called for a boycott of all Austrian and German historians until laws which make Holocaust denial illegal in those countries are overturned.

Willfried Kovarnik, head of Vienna's immigration police, said Irving had been indefinitely banned from Austria and that he had spent Wednesday night in an Austrian detention center. Irving said he intended to appeal that decision.

In February, Irving was convicted under a 1992 law that applies to anyone in Austria who denies, plays down, approves or tries to excuse the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity. The law calls for a prison term of up to 10 years.

During his one-day trial earlier this year, Irving pleaded guilty to the charge of denying the Holocaust.

Both the defense and the prosecution appealed the sentence. In September, Austria's Supreme Court upheld Irving's conviction.

He said he spent his time in prison writing his memoirs.

During his imprisonment, he said that he and his seriously ill wife, Bente Hogh, lost their Central London home. He said he would return to temporary accommodation in Central London and begin to rebuild his life.

He said he had been targeted by a "secret society of judges" in Britain.

"They haven't succeeded," he said. "My enemies are deeply shocked that I'm out. They thought I would die in prison."

Irving had been in custody since his November 2005 arrest on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 for which he was accused of denying the Nazis' extermination of 6 million Jews.

He has contended that most of those who died at concentration camps like Auschwitz succumbed to diseases such as typhus rather than execution.

Holocaust denier back in Britain

Irving attacks Austria after ban

Judge who freed Holocaust denier Irving has close ties to far-rightist Haider

Education may lead to an increase in racial segregation

Pam Sheridan:

A study, co-authored by Rice sociologist Michael Emerson, shows that increased education of whites, in particular, may not only have little effect on eliminating prejudice, but it also may be one reason behind the rise of racial segregation in U.S. schools. Furthermore, higher-educated whites, regardless of their income, are more likely than less-educated whites to judge a school’s quality and base their school choice on its racial composition.

Black–white racial segregation has been on the rise in primary and secondary schools over the past decade. While whites, especially those who are highly educated, may express an interest in having their children attend integrated schools, in reality, they seek out schools that are racially segregated. In the study, researchers found, on average, that the greater the education of white parents, the more likely they will remove their children from public schools as the percentage of black students increases.

All you have to do is look at the racial differences in crime rates to understand why whites don't want to send their children to the same schools as blacks.

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