Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Blacks with atrial fibrillation (AFib) have nearly double the risk than their white counterparts of stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease (CHD) and mortality from all causes, according to a study

The study, funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation and led by Jared Magnani, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and cardiologist at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, analyzed data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study to examine racial differences in adverse outcomes associated with AFib. AFib is the most common heart rhythm problem in the United States. It affects approximately 1% of the adult population and more than 5% of those 65 years old and older. It also is known to be strongly associated with increased risks of stroke, heart failure and mortality. "We knew blacks were likely to have an increased risk of stroke, but the findings for heart failure, CHD and mortality are novel and important," Dr. Magnani said. "This should put the focus on improving prevention efforts for adverse outcomes in blacks with atrial fibrillation, and drive further studies into the reasons behind why this is happening." The ARIC Study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, recruited 15,792 men and women, 45 to 64 years old, from four communities in the United States - Forsyth County, North Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Washington County, Maryland. The community-based cohort was designed to investigate causes of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, and included baseline examinations in 1986 and more than 20 years follow up. "ARIC provided an opportunity to examine racial differences in outcomes related to atrial fibrillation. In general, most large studies of individuals with atrial fibrillation are predominantly of white participants," Dr. Magnani said. "We know that atrial fibrillation is associated with adverse outcomes, but these data provided important insights into differences by race." After exclusions, 15,080 participants (8,290 women and 3,831 blacks) were included in the new analysis. Noteworthy racial differences at baseline examination included a body mass index of 27% for whites and 29.6% for blacks. Black participants also had a higher prevalence of hypertension and diabetes. During analysis of the 20-year follow-up, 2,348 cases of AFib were identified - 1,914 in whites with an incidence rate of 8.1 per 1,000 person-years, and 434 in blacks, with an incidence rate of 5.8 per 1,000 person-years. Researchers found that adverse outcomes in black participants were almost double that for whites. The incidence rate of strokes in black participants was 21.4 compared to 10.2 in their white counterparts. For heart failure and CHD, the rate difference was almost two-fold higher in blacks than whites. Blacks also had a rate difference of 106 for mortality compared to 55.9 in whites. Researchers also believe that the results are enough to warrant an addition to the current guidelines for the management of patients with AFib developed by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society to include the significant difference in adverse outcomes between blacks and whites with AFib.

A university degree is linked to a heightened risk of developing a brain tumor, suggests a large observational study

Gliomas, in particular, were more common among people who had studied at university for at least three years than they were among those who didn't go on to higher education, the data show. The researchers base their findings on more than 4.3 million Swedes, all of whom were born between 1911 and 1961 and living in Sweden in 1991. They were monitored between 1993 and 2010 to see if they developed a primary brain tumor, and information on educational attainment, disposable income, marital status, and occupation was obtained from national insurance, labor market,and national census data. During the monitoring period, 1.1 million people died and more than 48,000 emigrated, but 5735 of the men and 7101 of the women developed a brain tumor. Men with university level education, lasting at least three years, were 19% more likely to develop a glioma - a type of cancerous tumor arising in glial cells that surround and support neurons in the brain -than men whose educational attainment didn't extend beyond the period of compulsory schooling (9 years). Among women, the magnitude of risk was 23% higher for glioma, and 16% higher for meningioma - a type of mostly non-cancerous brain tumor arising in the layers of tissue (meninges) that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord - than it was for women who didn't go on to higher education. Taking account of potentially influential factors, such as marital status and disposable income, only marginally affected the size of the risk, and only among the men. High levels of disposable income were associated with a 14% heightened risk of glioma among men, but had no bearing on the risk of either meningioma or acoustic neuroma - a type of non-cancerous brain tumor that grows on the nerve used for hearing and balance. Nor was disposable income associated with heightened risk of any type of brain tumor among the women. Occupation also seemed to influence risk for men and women. Compared with men in manual roles, professional and managerial roles (intermediate and high non-manual jobs) were associated with a 20% heightened risk of glioma and a 50% heightened risk of acoustic neuroma. The risk of glioma was also 26% higher among women in professional and managerial roles than it was for women in manual roles, while the risk of meningioma was 14% higher. Single men also seemed to have a significantly lower risk of glioma than married/co-habiting men, but, on the other hand, they had a higher risk of meningioma. No such associations were evident among the women.

South Asian crime in Britain: 15 men have been jailed for a total of 160 years for the horrific sexual abuse of a vulnerable schoolgirl

The schoolgirl was preyed on by as many as 100 men, the majority of them of South Asian origin, during a two year period. Some took advantage because they saw her as vulnerable, others because word got round she was available. The prosecution described her as lonely, needy and seeking friendship and love, a teenager who for a long time did not understand that she was a victim of child abuse being groomed and exploited. Juries at four separate trials heard how the schoolgirl was 13 when her mother died after a long illness, by which time she had already got used to fending for herself, sometimes in a house with no electricity or food.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Gays in Africa: A Kenyan court has upheld the use of anal examinations to determine a suspect's sexual orientation, dismissing the argument that the procedure amounts to torture and degrading treatment

"I find no violation of human dignity, right to privacy, and right to freedom of the petitioners," Mombasa High Court Judge Mathew Emukule said. Two men had sought a court ruling to stop enforced anal examinations and HIV tests of men accused of being gay after they were subjected to the procedures. The two were arrested in a bar in February 2015 on suspicion of engaging in gay sex, which is a criminal offense in Kenya. They still face the charges and, if convicted, could face 14 years in jail. In their petition, the men said that the anal examinations and HIV and hepatitis B tests they were forced to have amounted to being subjected to torture and degrading treatment. The judge said that the petitioners should have used their lawyers to seek injunction orders to avoid undergoing the tests. "It's so painful when we are trying to encourage the gay community to go to court to affirm their rights; the courts are instead affirming violation of their rights," said Eric Gitari, the executive director of the Kenyan National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. The court judgment means that someone can be arrested on a rumor that they are gay and subjected to these tests, he said. "Do we want to use the nation's scarce resources on this?"

What are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death?

They are Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. It should come as no surprise that all these countries have large Muslim populations.

Genes and Education: Scientists say that up to 80% of students’ choices of A-level subjects is down to genetic influence with environmental factors such as home life, accounting for 23% of the choice at most

Scientists have found that 50-80% of subject choice is due to genetic influences. When the subjects were grouped into humanities and science, mathematics, engineering or technology (Stem) categories, the findings revealed that heritability was 50% and 60% respectively. By contrast, shared environmental factors such as family experiences had far less clout, accounting for 18% of subject choice for the humanities, and 23% of subject choice for Stem A-levels. The scientists also discovered that achievement was strongly influenced by genetics, with 59% of A-level performance found to be heritable, while shared environmental factors only explained 7% of the variation in performance. By contrast, the choice to study for A-levels at all was almost equally split between genetic and environmental factors at 44% and 47% respectively. While the specific genes linked to such influence have not been found, it is thought that thousands of tiny differences in an individual’s DNA each contribute to a very small degree.

The Taliban are using child sex slaves to mount crippling insider attacks on police in southern Afghanistan, exploiting the pervasive practice of “bacha bazi” — pedophilic boy play — to infiltrate security ranks

The ancient custom is prevalent across Afghanistan, but nowhere does it seem as entrenched as in the province of Uruzgan, where “bacha bereesh” — or boys without beards — widely become objects of lustful attraction for powerful police commanders. The Taliban over nearly two years have used them to mount a wave of Trojan Horse attacks — at least six between January and April 2016 alone — that have killed hundreds of policemen, according to security and judicial officials in the province. “The Taliban are sending boys — beautiful boys, handsome boys — to penetrate checkpoints and kill, drug and poison policemen,” said Ghulam Sakhi Rogh Lewanai, who was Uruzgan’s police chief until he was removed in a security reshuffle in April 2016 amid worsening violence. The insurgents are using boys as honey traps, said 21-year-old Matiullah, a policeman who was the only survivor from an insider attack in Dehrawud district in spring 2015. He said that the attacker was the checkpoint commander’s own sex slave, a teenager called Zabihullah. Late one night, he went on a shooting spree, killing seven policemen including the commander as they slept. “He brought the Taliban inside and poked all the bodies with rifle butts to see if anyone was alive. I pretended to be dead,” said Matiullah, who now works as a tailor, pointing out a gash on his forehead. Practically all of Uruzgan’s 370 local and national police checkpoints have bachas — some up to four — who are illegally recruited not just for sexual companionship but also to bear arms, multiple officials said. Some policemen, they said, demand bachas like a perk of the job, refusing to join outposts where they are not available. Horrifying abuse at checkpoints makes the boys, many unpaid and unregistered, hungry for revenge and easy prey for Taliban recruitment — often because there is no other escape from exploitative commanders. Boys have also spurred a deadly rivalry between policemen, with officials reporting incidents such as a public gunfight in 2016 between two commanders in Gezab district as one of them angrily accused the other of “stealing” his bacha. “To restore security in Uruzgan, we will first have to separate policemen from their bachas,” one of the judges said. “But if they are told to reform their ways, a common reply is: ‘If you force me to abandon my boy lover, I will also abandon the checkpoint’. The Taliban are not blind to notice that this addiction is worse than opium.” Bacha bazi, which the US State Department has called a “culturally sanctioned form of male rape”, peels away the masculine identity of boys in a society where the sexes are tightly segregated. In conservative Muslim areas women are mostly invisible in public — and often unattainable due to steep bride prices. Bachas supplant the role of women, adopting a feminine gait and sometimes wearing makeup and bells on their feet. Many in Uruzgan see bacha bazi neither as pedophilia nor homosexuality, which is forbidden in Islam. If social norms had a pecking order, violating boys would be seen as far more ethical than violating women. But the tactic appears more deep rooted in Uruzgan, where the boys are widely flaunted as a totem of affluence, with some officials openly displaying cellphone images of their “handsome bachas”. “Come see my beautiful bacha,” said Naqibullah, a police commander in Dehjawze village near Tarin Kot, boasting that he had been holding the teenager for two years. With a touch of kohl on his eyes, and bleached blond curly hair poking out of his embroidered hat, the boy sat in a corner of the checkpoint surrounded by opium farms, quietly refilling tea glasses for Naqibullah’s guests. “Commanders prowl neighborhoods for young boys. We are scared of dressing up our children or buying new clothes that will make them attractive,” said Nader Khan, a tribal elder in Dehrawud. Khan’s 13-year-old nephew was taken captive earlier in 2016 by Naqibullah, a local commander not related to the Dehjawze official, when his family sent him to deliver bread for policemen. He was released only after angry tribal elders besieged the governor’s office in Tarin Kot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Is Florida a jihadist playground?

Michelle Malkin looks at the rise of killer Muslims in Orlando and other parts of Florida.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016