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Countries With Most Twins Identified

Twins
© Felix Mizioznikov |Shutterstock
Some countries, such as Benin in central Africa, have high twinning rates compared with places such as Asia, new research is showing.

When it comes to having twins, not all regions are created equal. Central Africa snags the record for the highest twin birthrate, while Asia and Latin America have much lower rates of twinning, according to a new international study and global twins database.

The central African country of Benin has the highest national average of twinning, with a whopping 27.9 twins per 1,000 births, the researchers added.

The findings may help answer questions about the causes of twinning, which may range from a mother's age, height and diet to genetic factors that are passed down through the maternal line, as well as mortality differences between boys and girls in certain regions.

Tallying twins

Twins have long fascinated the world, even making their way into myth and religion, from Castor and Pollux, the brothers from Greek mythology and basis for the constellation Gemini, to the epic tales of the Hero Twins in the sacred ancient Mayan book known as "Popol Vuh." Identical twins have proven vital in science as well, in particular with questions about nature and nurture - since they are genetically identical, any differences seen between them can reveal the effects that environment might have on individuals.

Until now, scientists had a very incomplete picture of the number of twins around the world. Reliable national information on twinning was only available from highly developed countries with good birth registrations. Data from less developed regions were often weak or lacking all together.

Che Guevara

US: Protesters to target homes in 'Billionaire's March'

Image
© Unknown
Occupy Wall Street protesters are ditching their downtown digs - for an afternoon. Protesters are planning a so-called "Billionaire's Tour" for Tuesday afternoon that targets the homes of five wealthy New Yorkers: NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch, industrialist David Koch, hedge fund manager John Paulson, real estate developer Howard Milstein, and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Koch is the wealthiest of the group, with a net worth of $25 billion, according to Forbes' list of the richest people in America. Dimon, whose net worth has been estimated at $200 million, appears not to be a billionaire. He is, however, one of America's most powerful bankers.

A Facebook page created by "Beyond May 12" describes the tour: "Wanna 'see how the 1% lives'? Then join us on a walking tour of the homes of some of the bank and corporate executives that don't pay taxes, cut jobs, engaged in mortgage fraud, tanked our economy.....all while giving themselves record setting bonuses!"

Che Guevara

US: Police arrest 100 in Occupy Boston sweep

Defiant Occupy Boston protesters were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and being in a public park after hours in a massive, early morning crackdown at the protest group's second tent city on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

"It's important that we gain control and make sure the rules are followed, " said Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, who was on site during the police action.


The protesters tents and personal belongings were also tossed into the trash during the sweep that kicked off at about 1:30 a.m. and included about 100 arrests.

Smoking

Canada, British Columbia: Outdoor smoking ban coming to capital region, mayors say

Image
© timescolonist.com
Smoking in parks may been soon banned in the Greater Victoria area
The days of enjoying a leisurely smoke on a Greater Victoria park bench or at the beach could be numbered.

The capital region will undoubtedly follow other municipalities in considering a smoking ban in outdoor areas such as parks, playgrounds, beaches and trails, local politicians say.

"It's a big issue for parents," said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, adding residents are often as much concerned about smokers tossing cigarette butts as they are about second-hand smoke.

"I've had several people raise it as an issue for them. It's something we should take a look at."

The trend for smoke-free parks, playgrounds, beaches and trails is picking up steam.

Smoking

US, Washington: Vancouver City Council to consider banning smoking, drinking in public parks, recreation centers

anti-smoking
© unknown
Over the next months, Vancouver City Council members will consider a few new rules to add to the city code regarding parks. If adopted, that means no more booze and cigs in public parks.

The City of Vancouver Law Department and the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department on Monday proposed to completely ban smoking any form of tobacco in public parks, trails and recreation centers, citing scientific research on the dangers of second-hand smoke. City staff also recommended prohibiting the possession and use of liquors, except during special events permitted by the city and state.

Also proposed is keeping people out of parks for unruly and disruptive behavior. The draft ordinance includes rules on how long a person can be banned from a public park or recreation facility. This can be as short as seven days or as long as one year, depending on the nature of the misconduct and prior violations of park rules.

Bizarro Earth

NATO: Qaddafi loyalist resilience surprising

A general overseeing the air campaign says loyalists are taking advantage of urban settings that prevent heavy airstrikes
Image
© Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Smoke is seen after heavy artillery fired by anti-Gadhafi fighters during clashes in Sirte Oct. 10.

Washington - The commander of NATO's air campaign in Libya has said that hundreds of organized fighters loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi pose a "resilient and fierce" threat in the two remaining pro-Qaddafi strongholds, and are exploiting the urban settings to complicate the alliance's mission to protect civilians.

In the coastal city of Surt and the desert enclave of Bani Walid, pro-Qaddafi snipers on rooftops and loyalist gunmen in pickup trucks are terrorizing residents, killing some and intimidating many others, said the officer, Lt. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II of the United States Air Force.

General Jodice said a mix of African mercenaries and Qaddafi loyalist troops have successfully sustained command-and-control and supply lines in staunch defense of the cities, despite a NATO air campaign that is now in its seventh month and a multipronged ground assault in Surt by anti-Qaddafi fighters.

"It's really been quite interesting how resilient and fierce they've been," General Jodice said in a telephone interview on Sunday from his command center just north of Bologna, Italy. "We're all surprised by the tenacity of the pro-Qaddafi forces. At this point, they might not see a way out."

General Jodice's comments, coming on Sunday as former rebel fighters battled their way into the heart of Surt and then were driven back by sniper and mortar fire, tempered the boasts of anti-Qaddafi forces that Surt would soon be theirs and once again underscored the limitations that have confronted NATO throughout the air campaign.

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Attention

Thieves Steal Entire Bridge for Scrap, Forget to Check Steel Prices First

Stolen Bridge
© Minyanville

As commodity prices have soared, thefts of said commodities have, too.

Church roofs have gone missing as the price of lead hit all-time highs, used fryer grease has disappeared from behind fast food restaurants and resold for biofuel, and thieves have robbed beauty salons, making off with -- not cash -- but tens, sometimes hundreds, of thousands of dollars worth of hair extensions.

Now, an entire bridge has been stolen for scrap -- only the folks who stole it didn't time the market particularly well.

The 50-foot bridge, made of corrugated steel and formerly located in New Castle, Pennsylvania, was valued at "about $100,000," according to the Associated Press.

Info

Optimism Is a Brain Defect, According to Functional MRI Scans

Optimists
© cathyse97 via Flickr
Eternal Optimists - It'll definitely happen, Cubs fans. Someday.

Pervasive, persistent optimism is one of those uniquely human traits/flaws - we tend to believe things are better than they really are, or that negative consequences won't befall us, even if they befall others. It stands to reason that people would adjust their expectations when confronted with harsh reality, yet they don't. Our brains are to blame, according to a new study - we're wired to have a positive outlook.

Neuroscientists have been searching for the physiological underpinnings for this sanguineness, because there are actual harms that can come from an "it-can't-happen-to-me" or "it'll-get-better-this-year" attitude. People might make reckless decisions or have unrealistic expectations, in everything from personal health to finance. Researchers have thought this rose-colored outlook is mediated in the brain centers involved in error processing, so a team from England and Germany set about studying this using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

To study optimism, they examined how people under-estimated the impact or possibility of future negative events, because this "it-can't-happen-to-me" feeling has implications for how people protect themselves. The research team gave participants a list of 80 different negative life events, including getting Alzheimer's disease, being fired, being cheated on by a spouse, and so on. They were asked to rate how likely they were to experience these events, and then they were told their actual probability for experiencing the events. Then they were asked to estimate their own likelihoods of experience again. The scientists monitored brain activity during these tests.

Eye 1

US, Florida: Are Fingerprint Scanners Really Necessary On School Buses?

school
© unknown
The Washington County school system in Florida believes it has come up with the best way to take attendance. Ditching the typical roll call, the school system will use fingerprint scanners that log everyone as they step off the bus.

The school system already uses scanners inside the school, but their location makes its difficult to keep track of every student. Soon, the school will begin installing the scanners on select buses. If this initial trial goes as well as expected, the scanners will be installed on the school's entire fleet of vehicles. School officials hope this system will improve attendance.

But you have to wonder, are school officials opening a Pandora's box filed with privacy issues and money concerns? Each scanner is pricey, costing the school district a hefty $30 per student per year. The scanner also captures your fingerprint which is a unique, identifiable piece of information, stores it in a database, and links it to a name.

Yes, parents can opt-out and request their children be tallied the traditional way. But still, it seems kinda Orwellian that the school wants you to flash your fingerprint before you can learn your reading, writing and arithmetic.

Source: WJHG via PopSci

Family

US: Occupy Phoenix gets training in preparation for protest

There's a growing protest movement against corporate greed and government inaction. It's called Occupy Wall Street, and it's spreading to Western states, including Arizona.

There was an event Thursday in Flagstaff and there is another one Saturday in Tempe. An even bigger protest is planned next week in Phoenix.