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Thu, 22 Oct 2020
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Intelligence in Decline

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© unk
Back when Britain was brainy: applicants for the Mensa exam gather at the Russell Hotel in 1961
Average IQ is falling in Britain and beyond, explains Philip Hunter

Intelligence quotients (IQs) have risen in developed nations for almost a century. This phenomenon, named the "Flynn effect" after the New Zealand intelligence researcher James Flynn, was first identified in 1984 in the United States. It has been found to occur in all developed nations, and some others as well. The received wisdom became: IQs always go up. But this trend seems to be stopping and even reversing in some countries, research in Britain, Denmark and Norway has shown. It is discomfiting to find intelligence in decline. There is a strong association between a nation's IQ, its prosperity and health.

IQ testing is contentious and regarded by some as a crude indicator of ability or potential. When comparing nations, measured average IQ tends to be affected by class, nutrition, and cultural factors including education. There is also disagreement over the influences of nature and nurture.

Info

Snakes, Leopards, Dogs on the Menu in Zimbabwe

Animal Food
© Minyanville
Earlier this week, Coca-Cola announced plans to invest $4 billion in China over the next three years. The company also opened its 42nd bottling plant in the country last month, according to Forbes.

Well, while Coke works to break into China's home market, competition for Chinese consumers abroad has been heating up. In Zimbabwe, for example, Coke -- along with McDonald's, Burger King, and the rest -- has been facing increased competition from anteaters and stray dogs.

A recent article in the Global Post reports that Chinese workers in Zimbabwe have been doing a number on the local wildlife, eating up everything from pythons to tortoises and leopards to dogs. Apparently, many of these animals are "viewed as prestigious dishes" that "would be expensive to serve at banquets back in China."

China has made a number of substantial investments in Africa and this has led thousands of workers to move to the continent. Unfortunately, as the number of Chinese workers in Africa increases so does the trade in illegal animals.

Handcuffs

Psychopath in Action: 'Millionaire Matchmaker' Contestant Achieved Wealth Via Bank Fraud

Psychopath
© Minyanville
There is Earth-shattering news in the world of reality television this week. It seems that a contestant misrepresented himself in order to get on a show for his proverbial 15 minutes of fame. Tampa resident Michael Prozer, a self-proclaimed internet mogul worth $400 million, managed to pass through the ironclad vetting process of Millionaire Matchmaker.

As it turns out, Prozer doesn't own a mansion and a private jet -- as he'd claimed on a 2009 episode of the Bravo series. Appearing as the CEO of Xchangeagent Inc., an online payment service à la PayPal that operates in 36 countries, Prozer scammed producers into setting him up with one of the dating service's gold diggers-in-waiting.

But Prozer didn't just defraud producers of a reality show, he took his con all the way to the bank. With the help of Fedor Stanley Salinas, a financial specialist at Wachovia Bank, Prozer was able to fake deposits worth over $21 million in an account in order to procure a $3 million short-term business loan from Park Avenue Bank in Valdosta, Georgia. Prozer and Salinas set up meetings, both on the phone and in-person, between Park Avenue Bank and people posing as Wachovia employees, who verified his account status.

No such collateral existed, the loan was never repaid, and the Park Avenue Bank took the $3 million hit. Last year, it was forced out of business.

Crusader

Spain Nun on Trial Over Babies 'Stolen' Under Franco

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© Agence France-Presse
Sister Maria may have been part of a nationwide baby-snatching network
A Spanish nun has become the first person to appear in court in connection with the alleged theft of newborn babies, mostly in the Franco era.

Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena, 80, is accused of stealing a mother's newborn daughter at a Madrid hospital in 1982.

Appearing before a judge on Thursday, Sister Maria refused to testify.

Thousands of babies are thought to have been taken from parents in hospitals and given to other families during the Franco dictatorship and later.

The alleged thefts are thought to have started in the 1936-39 Civil War. Some cases are believed to happened as late as the 1990s.

The practice is believed to have been motivated by a desire to remove children from "undesirable" left-wing parents and give them to "approved" right-wing families.

The Spanish authorities have investigated hundreds of complaints related to the events. Many parents say they were told by hospital staff that their babies had died during or after childbirth.

Many cases have been dismissed for lack of evidence.

Info

Zimmerman Makes Court Appearance in Florida Shooting

George Zimmerman
© The Associated Press/Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Pool
George Zimmerman, center, is directed by a Seminole County Deputy and his attorney Mark O'Mara during a court hearing Thursday April 12, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
US: Stanford, Florida - Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman made his first court appearance Thursday on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, as a court document provided new details on the prosecution's case.

During the brief appearance, Zimmerman stood up straight, looked straight ahead and wore a gray prison jumpsuit. He spoke only to answer "Yes, sir," twice after he was asked basic questions about the charge against him and his attorney.

His hair was shaved down to stubble and he had a thin goatee, which appeared consistent with his booking photo from the day before. He had resurfaced Wednesday to turn himself in after weeks in hiding.

Judge Mark E. Herr said he found probable cause to move ahead with the case and that an arraignment would be held on May 29 before another judge.

A document prepared by prosecutors shed some light on why they chose to charge Zimmerman. The affidavit says Martin's mother identified screams heard in the background of a 911 call as her son's. There had been some question as to whether Martin or Zimmerman was the one calling for help.

Prosecutors also interviewed a friend of Martin's who was talking to him just before the shooting. The affidavit says Martin told the witness he was being followed and was scared.

Martin tried to run home, the affidavit says, but was followed by Zimmerman: "Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin."

The affidavit says that "Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher" who told him to stop, and "continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home."

Comment: Please read the Sott Focus: Hysterization Via Racism in the Trayvon Martin Case for a better understanding of the dynamics at play in the Trayvon Martin case.


Family

Texas Christian Values: School Fires Unwed Pregnant Teacher

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© American Broadcasting Company
A Christian school in Texas has fired an unmarried science teacher because it claimed she was not a good "Christian role model" - even after she offered to get married.

Cathy Samford, who is now 39 weeks pregnant, told ABC News that she was "totally shocked" when Heritage Christian Academy in Rockwall, Texas fired her from her job as a science teacher and volleyball coach after they discovered she was pregnant late last year.

"I'm not just some teacher that went out to a bar and got pregnant and went back to school saying it's okay," Samford explained. "I was in a committed relationship the whole time and probably would have been married if things had gone differently and this would be a non-situation."

"I didn't think I would lose my job," she said. "I was in shock and devastated and that's when I said, 'If this is the problem, I'm willing, and so is my fiancé, to go ahead and get married.' That wasn't the issue. We were going to get married regardless."

Bomb

Cindy Sheehan vs. The Empire

cindy Sheehan
© Unknown
Even if one only counts foreign military invasions, the United States of America has long been an Empire, but if we talk about our nation's First People, it has always been so.

This is a true story: A few months before I went to Crawford, Texas in August of 2005, to ask George Bush the infamous question, "What Noble Cause," I visited my Congressional Representative, George Miller (D). I begged him to do what he could to end the wars and hold the Bush crime syndicate accountable for killing my son, Casey.

Miller told me that he was sympathetic to my cause, but he couldn't do anything because the Democrats were at that time, a "minority." (We would all soon learn that the Democrats wouldn't do anything even when they were the majority, but that's another story.)

Anyway, I said, "George, I am only one person, but I will do whatever I can to hold Bush accountable. The Bush family has been murdering people for generations, but when they murdered by son, Casey, they murdered the wrong person."

Well, since that meeting, I have been doing everything I can to hold BushCo (etc) accountable, but in my quest for accountability, I learned my target was too narrow--George Bush was never the bullseye. The bullseye is the Robber Class that uses the Military Empire for profit and power.

Boat

Humanitarianism - How Nato Left Boat People to Die

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© AFM Air Wing
The 19 interviews by Goldsmiths researchers into the 'left-to-die-boat' ignored by Nato vessels in the Mediterranean in April 2011 has determined that 72 migrants were ignored by all Nato and non-military entities encountered in the two weeks drifting slowly in the sea, despite a clear distress call.

The migrants' vessel was established to have been within Nato's maritime surveillance area for 15 days, drifting in Libyan territorial waters, while Nato patrolled the area to prevent the flow of arms and mercenaries and prevent attacks.

The area was populated by at least 38 maritime assets as well as many additional aerial assets during the time of the event.

Nato maritime command in Naples and participating states were informed of the presence of a vessel in distress, and the military and naval assets had the detection capability to detect the migrants' vessel during its 14 days of drift back towards the coast of North Africa.

The independent research's geospatial report determined the movements of the boat, using a drift model to simulate the trajectory of the rubber vessel after the boat drifted in high waves for two weeks between 28 March and 10 April, when it landed in Ziltan.

Padlock

Charles Manson Denied Parole, With Next Parole Hearing Set for 2027

Charles Manson
© unknown
Charles Manson, shown in a June 2011 prison photo, has accumulated 108 serious disciplinary violations in prison since 1971.
US: Corcoran, California - Notorious killer Charles Manson, 77, was denied parole Wednesday after a California parole panel "could find nothing good as far as suitability" for his being paroled, a commissioner said.

Manson didn't show up for his parole hearing, which was held at a state prison in Corcoran, California, where he is serving a life sentence.

Manson's next parole hearing was scheduled for 15 years from now, meaning he could die in prison.

California Board of Parole Hearings Commissioner John Peck said that Manson has accumulated 108 serious disciplinary violations in prison since 1971 and that he has shown no indication of remorse for his nine murder convictions.

Manson hasn't participated in any self-help programs or vocational training, Peck said. Manson also hasn't shown any parole plans, he said.

Peck also cited Manson's statement to a psychologist in a prison interview on November 2, 2011, in which Manson stated:

"I am special. I am not like the average inmate. I have put five people in the grave. I've been in prison most of my life. I'm a very dangerous man," Manson told the psychologist, according to a report read aloud by Peck during the hearing.

Info

Parents Find Newborn Alive in Morgue 12 Hours After She Had Been Declared Dead

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© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Fabian and Analia Bouter, parents of a premature baby who had been declared dead and was found alive 12 hours later in the morgue.
Argentina, Buenos Aires - premature baby who had been declared dead was found alive 12 hours later in the morgue by her mother.

The Argentinian parents of the baby, who is now critically ill in hospital, were going to name her Luciana Abigail but changed their minds and are calling her Luz Milagros instead, her middle name the Spanish word for "miracles."

"Luz is a miracle," Analia Bouter, the baby's mother, told the local press. "If we had left it to go and see her another day, she may not have held on."

Luz was born three months premature at the Hospital Perrando, in the city of Resistencia, in Argentina's northern Chaco province. Doctors said she had no vital signs.

After the birth, the parents left the hospital but decided later they wanted to go and see their daughter's body, which was being stored in a drawer in the morgue.