Friday, May 22, 2015

The wide-ranging influence of genetics

The Left long denied the influence of genetics but now simply ignore it.  The study below is therefore powerful evidence of just how wrong they are.  Hans Eysenck, a considerable student of genetics, once said to me, "It's ALL genetic".  He was of course making a conversational statement to a colleague rather than a precise scientific one but the present study does confirm one sense of what he said:  ALL traits have a substantial genetic component. And the writer below makes the correct and important point that the 50/50 split observed is only an average and that the genetic contribution varies from trait to trait.  So the findings do not overturn the usual finding that IQ is about two thirds genetic

It's a question that dogged scientists for close to a century and Queensland researchers say they have the answer.  When it comes to health, in the age-old battle of nature versus nurture… It's a draw.

University of Queensland research fellow Dr Beben Benyamin worked with scholars at the VU University of Amsterdam to review almost every twin study completed globally in the past 50 years.

After analysing studies of more than 14.5 million twin pairs across 17,804 traits from 2748 publications, they found variation for human traits and diseases was 49 per cent genetic (nature), and 51 per cent due to environmental factors (nurture).

The Queensland Brain Institute researcher said the draw was expected but he was pleased to be able to put a number on the variation and surprised by how similar an influence each aspect had.

"Most of the reviews have been for specific traits, like people are interested in studying one particular disease and review all the twin studies for one disease," he said.  "But this is I think is the first one to review everything about all disease and all twin studies that are available at the moment."

The influence of nature and nurture is actually a complex interplay rather than a simple either/or and is far from equal across all traits and diseases.

The risk for bipolar disorder was about 70 per cent due to genetics and 30 per cent due to environmental factors, Dr Benyamin found.



Denying Reality Itself: Progressivism's Last Gasp

Two seemingly unrelated stories need to be linked together in order to more fully explain the dogged determination of an American Left hell bent on fundamentally transforming the United States by any means necessary.

Let’s begin with the latest and completely unsurprising revelation regarding illegal immigration. According to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, the backlog in federal immigration courts has reached an all-time high of 445,706 cases, representing a 30 percent increase since Oct 1, 2013. The principal driver of that backlog? Last summer’s border “surge” that included “68,500 unaccompanied children and about as many family units crossing the southern border, most from Central America,” the LA Times reports.

As a result there is a four-year backlog with a number of cases scheduled to be heard in 2019.

And in a testament to the corruption that attends this reality, Obama administration officials are expecting another surge this summer. Actually it’s already begun, but not to worry: It’s just the second-biggest surge of all time with “only” 15,647 unaccompanied children jumping the border in the first six months of the fiscal year, compared to 28,579 that came across at this point in 2014. Ditto for “family units,” of which the 13,911 currently apprehended represents a 30 percent decrease compared to last year. “These statistics show that the surge of illegal arrivals from Central America was never really over,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, who added that Congress and the Obama administration have done nothing to end the “pull factors” that drive this rampant lawlessness.

It gets worse. “The Congressional Research Service told Congress in late March that 62 percent of the children failed to show up for their cases before immigration judges from July through February,” The Washington Times reports. “All of them were ordered deported, but the workload of officials made deportation unlikely in most cases.” In other words, we have a completely overloaded system, about to be further overloaded, resulting in thousands of additional illegals entering the nation and staying for as long as they please — because they will doubtlessly be deliberately dispersed throughout the entire country by the Obama administration, just as they were last year, making it virtually impossible to keep track of them.

In short, everything is going exactly as it was intended to go.

The rule of law? In February, Federal Judge Andrew S. Hanen ordered the administration to cease its amnesty efforts, insisting the president had overstepped his constitutional boundaries. At the time Justice Department lawyers assured Hanen that Obama's order would not be implemented until the outcome of Hanen’s stay was adjudicated.

Oops Number One was revealed in March, when the Obama administration admitted 108,000 immigrants had been granted three-year renewals of their previously deferred status instead of two years. “You said it’s not happening,” Hanen snapped at the time. “And like an idiot I believed that.”

Oops Number Two occurred just over two weeks ago when government lawyers admitted they had defied Hanen’s order and approved an additional 2,000 applications for three-year work permits. "The government sincerely regrets these circumstances and is taking immediate steps to remedy these erroneous three-year terms,“ administration lawyers said. What steps? The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) is asking those who received "erroneously issued" employment authorization documents (EAD) to return them. No doubt that will work just as well as the aforementioned demand that illegals show up for immigration hearings.

Hanen was considering whether to issue sanctions against the Obama administration — after the first revelation. Anyone else think a contempt of court finding and jail terms would be a better outcome following this latest outrage?

Yet as outrageous as this effort to deconstruct American culture is, it pales by comparison to the one being contemplated by Fairfax County Public Schools. They are planning to introduce a concept known as "gender fluidity” into their family life curriculum for grades 7 through 12. “Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender,” the district’s recommendations state. “Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination.”

The document continues: “Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime. Sexual orientation and gender identity terms will be discussed with focus on appreciation for individual differences.”

This latest insanity follows another agenda, approved by a vote of 10 to 1 with one abstention, to add “gender identity” to the curriculum’s non-discrimination policy. It allows boys who insist they are girls trapped in a boy’s body to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. Board member Ryan McElveen characterized the changes as the “the civil rights issue of our day,” even as he insisted the changes would initially be implemented on a case-by-case basis.

School Board spokesman John Torre insisted the latest changes have nothing to do with the previous vote and he insisted parents will be able to opt out of classes "including the sexual orientation and gender identity lessons.“

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council accurately describes the indoctrination that will be taking place. "The larger picture is this is really an attack on nature itself — the created order,” he insisted. “Human beings are created male and female. But the current transgender ideology goes way beyond that. They’re telling us you can be both genders, you can be no gender, you can be a gender that you make up for yourself. And we’re supposed to affirm all of it.”

Fox News' Todd Starnes gets to the real agenda. He asked the district to provide him with “the textbooks and scientific data they will be using to instruct the children that there are dozens and dozens of possible genders.” Torre’s response? "Lessons have not been developed for the proposed lesson objectives,“ he stated. "Because of the need to develop lessons, the proposed objectives would not be implemented until fall 2016.”

“In other words — they don’t have a clue,” Starnes rightly asserts.

Why should they? This isn’t about science, it’s about pure unadulterated indoctrination being imposed by radical leftist bullies who will invariably label anyone who disagrees with their agenda as a “bigot,” much like those who refuse to countenance the free-for-all at our southern border are labeled “xenophobes” or “nativists.”

Why are these stories related? Because they are both calculated efforts aimed at destroying long-held beliefs in concepts such as the rule of law, national sovereignty, traditional customs culture and religion, sexual identity, biological imperatives and, inevitably, reality itself. This is no accident. Every one of those concepts provides stability and clarity to a society. Their deconstruction elicits doubt, instability and confusion in that same society.

A society unceasingly marinated in the latter qualities is one being primed for tyranny. It is a tyranny where the only “evil” that will be universally recognized by these leftist jackboots is dissent, a reality already playing itself out on college campuses replete with “free speech zones,” “safe rooms,” and “micro-aggresson” warning labels that accompany any deviation from leftist ideology. A reality played out over and over again in popular culture where anyone who defies this ongoing assault is portrayed as unhip and out of touch at best, or a “bitter clinging” racist, homophobe, misogynist, etc. who must die off before true “enlightenment” can occur.

Yet it is exactly the Left’s intolerance of dissent that reveals its desperation. Most Americans intuitively understand there is no enlightenment that attends a nation of balkanized, ethnic subgroups purposefully played off against one another. They know a question as simple as “where do babies come from?” is utterly anathema to the Left’s efforts to deny biology reality that, with the rarest of exceptions, accrues to the vast majority of human beings. They know that every place leftist policies have been unchallenged for decades has yielded unprecedented levels of misery and despair, as the pathologies that beset cities like Detroit, Baltimore and a soon-to-be bankrupt Chicago indicate.

Denying reality itself is the last gasp. Because if there is no reality, then all things are possible.

Last week in Nigeria a restaurant was shut down for cooking human flesh and serving it to customers. A bag containing bloody, severed heads was found in the kitchen. Most people consider a story like this shocking. That is only possible in a world where good and evil still exist, and reality itself cannot be denied — all the leftist-imposed “fluidity” in the world notwithstanding.



US military intelligence documents predicted rise of Islamic State

SECRET documents obtained via freedom of information requests reveal the US military predicted the rise of IS well before the group began making headlines around the world.

Over a 100 pages of classified reports from the Department of Defence and the State Department obtained by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch paint a starkly different picture to what the Obama administration had previously portrayed to the public.

Among the documents is an August 2012 report containing military intel which predicted the rise of the Islamic State in the wake of regime change in Syria.

The document outlined the “dire consequences on the Iraqi situation,” and potential opportunity for the terrorist group, which grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Many of the “dire consequences” were redacted but the report highlights the known intent to establish a caliphate in the country.

“This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi,” the document states.

“ISI (Islamic State of Iraq) could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”

The intelligence is largely at odds with comments made by President Obama in a 60 Minutes interview in September last year in which he said the US intelligence underestimated IS.

“I think they (US intelligence operatives) had underestimated what had been going on in Syria,” he said while also suggesting his administration over-estimated the strength of Iraqi government forces.

His comments were slammed by Republican Senator John McCain at the time. “We predicted this and watched it,” said the man Obama defeated in the 2008 Presidential elections.

“It was like watching a train wreck and warning every step of the way that this was happening.”

The document is dated August 5, 2012. Seventeen months later, President Obama dismissed the terrorist group as a “JV team” — a high school sporting term used to imply something is second rate.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV (junior varsity) team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said in January 2014.

His comments came months before the 2012 Presidential election and were uncharacteristically dismissive for an administration which has been careful not to understate global security threats.

The release of the documents could also prove troubling for Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton.

Contained in the reports is the information that the US had identified al-Qaeda as the culprit of the 2012 attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi which killed two American diplomats.

Secretary of State at the time, Clinton had told the public the attack was a spontaneous one which grew out of a protest and was not an organised terror plot.

However a report obtained by Judicial Watch was sent to the office of Clinton on the morning after the attack and made no mention of any demonstrations taking place.

The handling and disinformation in the wake of the attack became a huge scandal in the US which culminated in Clinton’s fiery testimony to Congress over the issue.

An October 2012 report also reveals the Obama administration was aware of a shipment of weapons from the Port of Benghazi to rebel troops in Syria.

“Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles,” the document states.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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