When Incest Is Best: Kissing Cousins Have More Kin!

Study analyzing more than 200 years of data finds that couples consisting of third cousins have the highest reproductive success

It is not quite incest. And though it will increase your chances of birthing a healthy baby, it is a bit unorthodox, to say the least. Still, scientists at Icelandic biotechnology company deCODE genetics say that when third and fourth cousins procreate, they generally have scads of kids and grandkids (relative to everyone else).

It has long been wondered exactly how kinship influences reproductive success. Previous studies have uncovered positive correlations, but the biological data has been clouded by socioeconomic factors (such as average marrying age and family size) in those populations in which consanguineous marriage is commonplace, such as in India, Pakistan and the Middle East. The new study, however, was able to shed light on the biological reason for the earlier findings.

Scientists came to their conclusions after studying the records of more than 160,000 Icelandic couples with members born between 1800 and 1965. “The advantage of using the Icelandic data set lies in this population being small and one of the most socioeconomically and culturally homogenous societies in the world,” the researchers report in Science, “with little variation in family size [and] use of contraceptives and marriage practices, in contrast with most previously studied populations.”

The results of the exhaustive study are constant throughout the generations analyzed. Women born between 1800 and 1824 who mated with a third cousin had significantly more children and grandchildren (4.04 and 9.17, respectively) than women who hooked up with someone no closer than an eighth cousin (3.34 and 7.31). Those proportions held up among women born more than a century later when couples were, on average, having fewer children.

Despite the general pattern for reproductive success favoring close kinship, couples that were second cousins or more closely related did not have as many children. The most likely reason, scientists say: offspring of such close relatives were likely to have much shorter life spans, because of the chance of inheriting harmful genetic mutations.

“With close inbreeding—between first cousins—there is a significant increase in the probability that both partners will share one or more detrimental recessive genes, leading to a 25 percent chance that these genes will be expressed in each pregnancy,” says Alan Bittles, director of the Center for Human Genetics at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, Australia, who was not involved in the study.

Interestingly, one evolutionary argument for mating with a relative is that it might reduce a woman’s chance of having a miscarriage caused by immunological incompatibility between a mother and her child. Some individuals have an antigen (a protein that can launch an immune response) on the surface of their red blood cells called a rhesus factor—commonly abbreviated “Rh.” In some cases—typically during a second pregnancy—when a woman gets pregnant, she and her fetus may have incompatible blood cells, which could trigger the mother’s immune system to treat the fetus as a foreign intruder, causing a miscarriage. This occurrence is less probable if the parents are closely related, because their blood makeup is more likely to match.

“It may well be that the enhanced reproductive success observed in the Iceland study at the level of third [and] fourth cousins, who on average would be expected to have inherited 0.8 percent to 0.2 percent of their genes from a common ancestor,” Bittles says, “represents this point of balance between the competing advantages and disadvantages of inbreeding and outbreeding.”

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He said he punched a woman for calling him Nigger. A jury called it murder.

Robert Coleman, 27, was found guilty of second-degree murder Monday in Alexandria Circuit Court. (Alexandria Detention Center)

 

“We of course remain disappointed that they didn’t see it as manslaughter,” Coleman’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, said after the jury returned. He said Coleman and his family were “grateful” for the jury’s recommended sentence, given that second-degree murder can carry a punishment of up to 40 years. It reflected, Jenkins said, “that this was not something that he wanted to happen, that he did not intend to take someone’s life.”

A judge will formally sentence Coleman on May 24, but deviations from jury recommendations are rare. He is being held at the Alexandria Detention Center.

“In an all-too-often repeated theme, a tragedy unfolded because of a defendant’s inability to tolerate a perceived slight,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said in a statement. “Verbal arguments should never devolve into physical altercations because physical altercations often bring devastating consequences.”

[Woman assaulted outside a convenience store in Alexandria dies]

Coleman and Montiel-Benitez were strangers. Coleman was buying cigarettes. Montiel-Benitez was buying alcohol at the convenience store near the Mark Center on Seminary Road.

The source of the animosity between them remains a mystery. Surveillance video shows they engaged in a brief conversation, but there is no audio. Coleman’s girlfriend, Nikki Howard, testified she could not hear the entire conversation but broke the two up. In the video, Montiel-Benitez is seen walking to Coleman says that is when she called him the n-word; Howard remembered her cursing. In the video Coleman can be seen chasing Montiel-Benitez outside.

 

Through the leaves of a tree, another camera captures the punch that put Montiel-Benitez in a coma from which she did not recover.

Coleman fled the scene and was picked up the next day when a detective recognized him in the surveillance video. He at first denied involvement in what he thought was simply an assault. When he was told Montiel-Benitez was in critical condition, he admitted hitting her, but said he had not meant to cause serious harm.

He also thought the heavyset woman with short hair was a man, he told detectives.

Lord argued the focus on Montiel-Benitez’s appearance at trial, as well as the high level of alcohol in her system, was disrespectful to the dead.the door and then turning.

“She deserves to be treated with more humanity,” he told the jury.

He said Coleman was “a bully who was looking for a fight” and picked on Montiel-Benitez, who was just trying to get away.

Jenkins told jurors Montiel-Benitez’s .351 blood alcohol level and size might help explain why Coleman believed “this was going to be mutual combat, and he struck first.”

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‘Devil’s breath’ aka scopolamine: can it really zombify you?

The substance has been blamed for thousands of crimes in South America. Now there are reports of the incapacitating drug being used in street robberies in Paris. From use by Nazis to obstetricians, it certainly has a colourful history

One of the most enduring hoaxes you might hear in a backpacker hostel is that of the drug-soaked business card: someone hands you their card, and the drug is instantly absorbed by your skin. You fall into a zombie-like state, where you will do anything for your attacker, from empty out your bank account to pull a trigger on someone.

The drug is burandanga, or scopolamine, derived from nightshade plants, and there are countless stories about how criminals in Colombia and Ecuador use the drug, which is said to remove a person’s free will, to assault victims or rob them. It is also known as “devil’s breath” and has been described as “the most dangerous drug in the world”. It’s hard to know which are urban myths and which are genuine. The US’s Overseas Security Advisory Council warns travellers in Quito about the dangers of falling victim to a scopolamine attack, and refers to “unofficial estimates” – it doesn’t say where this figure is from – of 50,000 scopolamine incidents there every year.

Now, according to reports, the drug has been used on “dozens” of victims in Paris, and three people have been arrested. The Daily Telegraph suggests that two women had encouraged their victims to breathe in the drug, then got the victims to take them home where they stole money and jewellery.

“You get these scare stories and they have no toxicology, so nobody knows what it is,” says Val Curran, professor of pharmacology at UCL’s Clinical Pharmacology Unit. “The idea that it is scopolamine is a bit far-fetched, because it could be anything.”

Dr Les King, chemist and former forensic scientist, agrees. The idea that someone could become zombified after someone blows powder into their face “seems pretty unlikely for a start”. There is no evidence it is being used in Europe, he says. “The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has never had any mention of scopolamine being used in this way.”

It would be hard to get hold of. “I think if you tried to order some scopolamine from a chemical company, they’d be reluctant to sell it to you,” says King. “It’s not a drug you can buy [on the street] in the way you might buy some other new psychoactive substance, some legal high, or whatever. It’s not available in that sense because it’s not a drug you would want to take for any pleasurable purpose.”

It is “horrible stuff”, says Curran. “When I used to give it to people [in experiments], they hated it – it makes your mouth really dry, it makes your pupils constrict. Certainly high doses would be completely incapacitating.” And does it remove free will? “It would completely zonk you out,” says Curran, “ but I don’t know about removing free will. It incapacitates you because you’d feel so drowsy, you wouldn’t remember what was going on. But you would do after huge doses of alcohol, or lots of other drugs like Valium or other benzodiazepine drugs.”

Scopolamine has marked amnesic effects, and is used in Alzheimer’s research. Mostly though, it is used at very low doses to treat motion sickness, usually though a transdermal patch.

It is one of those drugs with a rich backstory. It is said to be one of the first “truth serums”. In the early 20th century, it was administered by some doctors as a pain-relief drug – or rather a drug that led to the forgetting of pain – in childbirth until one obstetrician noticed how women who had been given it answered candidly to questions; he later wondered if it could be used when questioning people charged with crimes. It was used as evidence in some trials, but dubiously.

Then there are stories of it being used in Nazi Germany as an interrogation tool, and also in the middle ages by witches. “The degree to which any of this stuff is true is unknown,” says Curran. “There’s a lot of myth.”

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Study: A Voodoo Doll Of The Boss Will Make Your Employees Happier!?

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Allowing disgruntled staff to stab voodoo dolls of their boss could help them feel less resentful and improve the quality of their work, a new study has suggested.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, more than 12 million Britons are forced to take time off work each year because of stress and anxiety, often caused by pressure from overbearing or abusive managers.

But rather than allowing staff to brood over their mistreatment, which can be detrimental to work, business experts have suggested they should be allowed to take out their anger on voodoo dolls.

A study of 229 workers in the US and Canada found that engaging in ‘symbolic retaliation’ lowered feelings of injustice by one third.

Although revenge is often viewed negatively, the researchers say the findings highlight ‘the largely overlooked benefit of retaliation from the victim’s perspective.’

Assistant Professor Dr Lindie Liang, of Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario Canada said voodoo dolls could help staff

“As weird as it sounds, yes,” she said  “We found a simple and harmless symbolic act of retaliation can make people feel like they’re getting even and restoring their sense of fairness.

“It may not have to be a voodoo doll per se: theoretically anything that serves as a symbolic act of retaliation, like throwing darts at a picture of your boss, might work.

Symbolically retaliating against an abusive boss can benefit employees psychologically by allowing them to restore their sense of justice in the workplace.”

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The participants in the study used an online voodoo doll programme created by Dumb.com, which allows users to name the effigy after their boss, and sticking it with pins, burn it with a candle, and pinch it with pliers.

Although voodoo dolls are often linked to Africa and the Americas in popular fiction, early records suggest they have their origins in the British medieval period, when people would make rag dolls or sculptures of witches – called poppetts – and pierce them with pins to inflict harm or break an enchantment.

The dolls were later mistakenly linked with Afro-Caribbean Voodoo or Vodou.

The report authors decided to embark on the study because previous research suggested that people who feel they have been treated unfairly will lash out at their abuser, but it can spark a spiral of retaliation and counter-retaliation which is detrimental in the long term.

“We wanted to see, rather than actually retaliating against the abusive boss, whether mistreated employees could benefit from harmless acts of symbolic retaliation,” added Dr Liang.

For the study, the participants were asked to recall and visualise a workplace interaction which had involved abuse from a supervisor. Some were then asked to retaliate using a voodoo doll, before all completed a task to fill in the blanks to complete words.

Those who had been allowed to stick pins in their virtual boss were far less likely to still feel bitter, and were also better at completing the word exercise.

In a paper in the journal The Leadership Quarterly, the authors conclude: “These findings suggest that retaliation not only benefits individual victims, but may also benefit the organization as a whole, given that justice perceptions is important for employee performance and well-being.”

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Chicago violence: 7 killed in one neighborhood in 12 hours!

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CHICAGO — Seven people, including four men killed in a gang-retaliation attack at a fast-food restaurant and a pregnant woman found with a gunshot wound to the head, were gunned down Thursday in three separate incidents within blocks of each other, police said.

The latest convulsion of violence, which occurred over a 12-hour period in the city’s South Shore neighborhood, comes as Chicago tallied nearly 900 murders in the past 15 months.

Two people — a 27-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman — were fatally shot as they drove near the South Shore Cultural Center, a popular recreational spot operated by the city’s park district, around 11 p.m. Thursday.

Police said a black Jeep drove alongside the victim’s van and opened fire, causing the van to strike a pole. The woman, who was sitting in the front passenger’s seat, suffered a gunshot wound to the head, and the man —who was a documented gang member — was shot in the side, according to police. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

In the quadruple homicide about seven hours earlier, four male victims were found in or around the Nadia Fish and Chicken restaurant, according to police.

Police said a male suspect approached the restaurant and fired shots. When officers arrived at the scene, they found two of the victims — 28-year-old Emmanuel Stokes and 32 year-old Edwin Davis — inside the restaurant. Dillon Jackson, 20, was found dead outside the restaurant. His brother, Raheem Jackson, 19, was found in a nearby yard. The Jackson brothers’ mother worked in the restaurant where they were shot.

Shortly after noon, police responded to an incident at an apartment about a mile from the restaurant in which Patrice Calvin, 26, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. She was four months pregnant, according to police.

“She was a beautiful person,” said her mother, Patricia Pulliam, who spoke briefly to USA TODAY as she left Calvin’s apartment on Friday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the killings “evil.”

“There is a level of evil and depravity about an individual [who] would shoot a pregnant woman,” Emanuel told reporters. “There is a level of evil and depravity of an individual who would walk into a restaurant and, in front of a mother, shoot her sons.

The seven killings in South Shore followed another gang-related fatal shooting in the neighborhood late Wednesday, in which police said four men exited a vehicle and opened fire on a 37-year-old man as he was walking on a sidewalk. The man, who was wounded on the side of his body, transported himself to an area hospital, but later died from his injuries.

No suspects are in custody in any of the incidents. Police declined to comment on whether the shootings are connected.

Police Superintend Eddie Johnson said investigators believe the shooting at the restaurant as well as the double homicide near the cultural center were gang-related, but declined to provide more specific details because of the ongoing investigation.

“We know for certain that these incidents were targeted and are related to gang conflicts in the area,” Johnson said. “While that doesn’t lessen the weight of what happened, we know these aren’t random acts of violence.”

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A team of detectives canvassed the area Thursday evening, looking for private security video from businesses that may have captured portions of the incident, Guglielmi said. The department also beefed up patrols in the neighborhood following the spate of shootings.

With more than 760 murders last year, Chicago tallied more killings than New York City and Los Angeles combined. It was the highest murder toll for the city in nearly two decades.

In the first three months of 2017, murders have slightly decreased with the city recording 123 murders through Sunday, compared to 136 at the same time last year, according to police department data.

The bulk of the murders have occurred in a few predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides. Police department brass say the vast majority of the killings are tied to the gang-fueled drug trade in those areas.

On the campaign trail and during his first two months in the White House, President Trump has repeatedly criticized Mayor Emanuel and the city leadership for not doing enough to stem the violence. Trump has also made vague threats to order federal intervention.

Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson have called on Trump to help fight the gun violence by sending the city more ATF agents and federal prosecutors. They’ve also asked Trump to boost funding for job and mentorship programs.

In recent months, the police department has built a series of data-driven support centers in some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods that use hyper-local video and data to help officers more quickly respond to shootings and help police predict where the next incident may occur.

While the data suggests a modest reduction in violence compared to last year, some residents in the city’s hardest hit neighborhoods say it’s hard to feel the progress that police and politicians are touting.

“The politicians, or the police, they’re not doing their job,” said Natasha Dunn, a South Shore resident. “The police, most of them mean well, but for the most part there is this lax way of dealing with crime in our community because there is this perception that we are all criminals. We are being ignored.”

Tio Hardiman, who heads Violence Interrupters, a Chicago organization that works to mediate gang conflicts before they turn violent, said federal, state and city leaders deserve criticism for the handling of the situation in Chicago.

“President Trump, Governor Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, if they cannot find a bonafide solution that actually stops violence in Chicago, then they should start providing the young men on the South and West sides of Chicago with bulletproof vests and helmets,” Hardiman said.

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NYPD cops fatally shoot bipolar black man holding metal pipe police mistake for gun on Brooklyn street!

 

Police said they were responding to three 911 calls that came in around 4:40 p.m. about a black man wearing a brown jacket waving what people thought was a silver gun on the corner of Utica Ave. and Montgomery St., NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said at a press conference.

When the officers got to the street corner, Vassell turned to face them, aiming the object at them, Monahan said.

 

A bipolar Brooklyn man waving a metal object at passersby was fatally shot by police Wednesday when cops responding to 911 calls for a man with a gun said he “took a two-handed shooting stance” and pointed at them.

The man, identified by family members as Saheed Vassell, 34, was a Jamaica-born welder and the father of a teenage boy.

Police said they were responding to three 911 calls that came in around 4:40 p.m. about a black man wearing a brown jacket waving what people thought was a silver gun on the corner of Utica Ave. and Montgomery St., NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said at a press conference.

When the officers got to the street corner, Vassell turned to face them, aiming the object at them, Monahan said.

“The suspect then took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers,” the chief said, holding up a surveillance photo of a blurry figure standing next to a bodega ice machine with his arms outstretched.

Four officers — one in uniform, three in plainclothes — fired 10 shots, striking Vassell multiple times at about 4:45 p.m., Monahan said.

Police can be heard on emergency radio saying they were on scene at about 4:42 p.m. and 27 seconds later, officers were calling for an ambulance. The NYPD did not give an explanation when asked about that timeline.

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Saheed Vassell, 34, was shot dead by NYPD cops after he “took a two-handed shooting stance” and aimed a metal pipe at cops in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on April 4, 2018.

No firearm was found at the scene — and police said Vassell had been holding a metal pipe with a knob on the end.

Jaccbot Hinds, 40, who witnessed the shooting said officers jumped out of their unmarked police car and fired without warning.

“They just hopped out of the car. It’s almost like they did a hit. They didn’t say please. They didn’t say put your hands up, nothing,” Hinds said.

The NYPD refused to say if the responding officers warned Vassell before firing.

Vassell was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died.

None of the officers wore body cameras, Monahan said.

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The victim was holding a metal pipe and aimed it at the officers in a “two-handed shooting stance.”

Bereft family members fought with security at Kings County Hospital after hospital staff refused to let them see Vassell’s body.

His 15-year-old son, Tyshawn, described him as a caring father who looked after him.

“He’s always been there for me no matter what,” Tyshawn said. “He’d always come check up on me, ask me if I’m good.”

He struggled to find the reason for the confrontation with police.

“He cared for everybody. If you saw him, he’d always be in a laughing mood. You would never catch him down,” Tyshawn said.

The shattered teen said he was still trying to process the news.

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Saheed Vassell’s father, Eric, said his son struggled with bipolar disorder and refused treatment.

 

“This is what our society has come to,” he said.

Eric Vassell, 63, the slain man’s father, said that his son, who went to Wingate High School, struggled with bipolar disorder, but refused treatment.

“He hasn’t taken his medication for years,” the father said.

The elder Vassell said he used to fret about Saheed.

“We were always worried for him. We would say should anything happen to him, we just have to do what we can do,” he said.

He, too, struggled for answers Wednesday night.

“Why shoot to kill?” he said. “Are you so afraid that you have to take his life.”

Witnesses said the gunfire threw the afternoon into chaos.

“I heard all these shots, I thought it was firecrackers at first. I turned around and you just see the cops standing over the guy,” witness Chris J. said. “First it was one, then it was nonstop after that.”

The witness, who was sitting in a salon across the street, said a plainclothes officer handcuffed Vassell as he lay motionless on the sidewalk.

“Blood was everywhere,” Chris said. “They put him on his back and they tried to compress his chest but he was gone.”

One bullet shattered a window at Chucky Fresh Market at 414 Utica Ave.

“There were gunshots, and I just ducked,” said a clerk who declined to identify himself. “A minute later, cops were everywhere.”

After the shooting, an angry crowd formed at the edge of the police tape shouting at police and pointing out the officers they believed to be responsible.

“The whole community came outside,” he added. “People were going crazy. It was a nightmare out there.”

Vassell was known as a quirky neighborhood character with some mental health issues. His family said that he struggled with alcohol, but the community knew he meant no harm.

Andre Wilson, 38, who’s known Vassell for 20 years, said he was odd but harmless.

“All he did was just walk around the neighborhood,” Wilson said. “He speaks to himself, usually he has an orange Bible or a rosary in his hand. He never had a problem with anyone.”

Wilson said he was shocked that it would come to this.

“The officers from the neighborhood, they know him. He has no issue with violence … This shouldn’t have happened at all.”

Vassell’s ex-partner, Sherlan Smith, 36, mother to Tyshawn, said she parted with Vassell on good terms.

“He was a good father. He wasn’t a bad person. No matter how they want to spin it, he wasn’t a bad person,” Smith said. “Too many black people are dying at hands of police officers and it’s about time something be done.”

On the fence outside Vassell’s building a sign read, “Without Consequences Police Murders Will Continue”, on the back it said “Black Lives Matter.”

She also noted the bleak symbolism of Vassell getting shot on April 4.

“On the anniversary of the man who stood up for black people … you’re going take a black man down with nine bullets,” Smith said.

The shooting comes as the nation paused to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King.

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Man convicted in killing over child support payments in Prince George’s!

Daron Maurice Boswell-Johnson, center, shown following his 2016 arrest. (Prince George’s County Police Department)

A father accused of executing his 2-year-old daughter and her mother over child support payments has been convicted of first-degree murder.

A Prince George’s County jury returned the verdict Tuesday evening in the trial of Daron Maurice Boswell-Johnson after hearing testimony for more than a week.

Boswell-Johnson was charged in the February 2016 slaying of NeShante Alesha Davis, 26, and their daughter, Chloe Nichole Davis-Green, 2.

Davis was leaving her home for work and to take her daughter to day care before they were gunned down outside of her residence in Fort Washington, police said.

In a recorded statement with police that aired at trial, Boswell-Johnson said he went to Davis’s home to confront her about the $600-a-month child support the court had ordered him to pay, according to prosecutors.

Boswell-Johnson’s attorney argued that the confession from his client was coerced by police over an interrogation session that lasted more than 24 hours.

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