Vitamin B3 Deficiency is Making French Hamsters Go Stark Raving Mad

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Monoculture in agriculture is really bad for biodiversity.

PARIS (AFP-Jiji) — A diet of corn is turning wild hamsters in northeastern France into deranged cannibals that devour their offspring, alarmed researchers have reported.

“There’s clearly an imbalance,” Gerard Baumgart, President of the Research Center for Environmental Protection in Alsace, and an expert on the European hamster, told AFP on Jan. 27.

“Our hamster habitat is collapsing.”

More common farther to the east, Cricetus cricetus is critically endangered in western Europe.

The findings, reported in the British Royal Society journal Proceedings B, finger industrial-scale monoculture as the culprit.

Once nourished by a variety of grains, roots and insects, the burrowing rodents live today in a semi-sterile and unbroken ocean of industrially grown maize, or corn.

The monotonous diet is leaving the animals starving, scientists discovered almost by accident.

The problem is a lack of vitamins. In fact, one in particular: B3, or niacin.

Researchers led by Mathilde Tissier at the University of Strasbourg had set out to determine whether hamster diet affects their ability to reproduce in the wild.

Baby hamsters eaten alive

Earlier work had looked at the impact of pesticides and mechanized plowing, which can destroy their underground homes, especially during hibernation in winter.

But the possible link with what they eat remained unexplored.

A first set of lab experiments with wild specimens compared wheat and corn-based diets, with side dishes of clover or worms.

There was virtually no difference in the number of pups born, or the basic nutritional value of the different menus.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan News]

But when it came to survival rates, the difference was dramatic.

About four-fifths of the pups born of mothers feasting on wheat-and-clover or wheat-and-worms were weaned.

Only five percent, however, of the baby hamsters whose mothers ate corn instead of wheat made it that far.

What was most disturbing is how they perished.

“Females stored their pups with their hoards of maize before eating them,” the scientists reported. “Pups were still alive at that time.” Read the rest of this entry »


Rise of the Robot Music Industry

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AI is transforming music streaming, talent spotting, promotion and even composition.

Robotic is not an adjective that many musicians would want applied to their songs but the industry has been fast to embrace data analytics and artificial intelligence to help tailor its services to the increasingly fickle listener.

Algorithms are seeping into the music business to help with talent spotting, promotion and even composition in an industry that has been historically resistant to change and was one of the first to feel the effects of “disruption” through piracy and music sharing.

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Streaming services have already ushered in an era of “hyper personalisation” for music lovers. Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist, launched in July 2015, had racked up 40m listeners around the world and 5bn track streams by May this year, according to a report from the BPI prepared by Music Ally. These playlists monitor what a person is listening to, and cross-references that data with other users with similar tastes to recommend new songs and artists.

Apple Music has opted to use human curators such as Zane Lowe, the radio DJ, for its playlists, but Spotify has doubled down on its robotic recommenders with new services such as Release Radar and the Daily Mix to tempt its subscribers down different paths.

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Yet discovery is only the equivalent of a debut album for streaming services, and can be a blunt tool. Users of Spotify Discover complain that it is hit and miss — often suggesting the same artists and songs repeatedly, and failing to adapt to the often random whims of the listener.

The industry is now hoping that the use of artificial intelligence will bring better analytics, and even predictive technology.

A listener’s location, mood and even the weather conditions are now being built into some recommendation engines. Google Play is, for example, working on such adaptive functions.

“A bot will be able to recognise guilty pleasures . . . see that I’ve been to the pub and serve me a Little Mix record when I’m on the way home,” says Luke Ferrar, head of digital at Polydor, pointing to the use of algorithms to understand how people listen to music. Read the rest of this entry »


Mark Krikorian: Why Refugee Resettlement Is Immoral

“Each refugee we bring to the United States means that eleven others are not being helped with that money.”

Mark Krikorian writes:

…Sure, welcoming refugees here makes us feel good. Newspapers run heart-warming stories of overcoming adversity; churches embrace the objects of their charity; politicians can wax nostalgic about their grandparents.

“it costs twelve times as much to resettle a refugee in the United States as it does to care for the same refugee in a neighboring country in the Middle East.”

But the goal of refugee assistance is not to make us feel good. It is to assist as many people as possible with the resources available. And resettling a relative handful of them here to help us bask in our own righteousness means we are sacrificing the much larger number who could have been helped with the same resources.

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“The five-year cost to American taxpayers of resettling a single Middle Eastern refugee in the United States is conservatively estimated to be more than $64,000, compared with U.N. figures that indicate it costs about $5,300 to provide for that same refugee for five years in his native region.”

[Read the full text here, at National Review Online]

The difference in cost is enormous. The Center for Immigration Studies, which I head, recently calculated that it costs twelve times as much to resettle a refugee in the United States as it does to care for the same refugee in a neighboring country in the Middle East.

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“The goal of refugee assistance is not to make us feel good. It is to assist as many people as possible with the resources available. And resettling a relative handful of them here to help us bask in our own righteousness means we are sacrificing the much larger number who could have been helped with the same resources.”

The five-year cost to American taxpayers of resettling a single Middle Eastern refugee in the United States is conservatively estimated to be more than $64,000, compared with U.N. figures that indicate it costs about $5,300 to provide for that same refugee for five years in his native region.

Obama-Not-Interested-America-Winning

[Obama On ISIS: I’m Not Interested In ‘America Winning’]

In other words, each refugee we bring to the United States means that eleven others are not being helped with that money. Read the rest of this entry »


By The Numbers: 276 ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Released 8,145 Illegal Offenders in Just 8 Months, for a Grand Total of 17,000

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The report, titled ‘Ignoring Detainers, Endangering Communities State/local agencies release criminals rather than obey law,’ provided to Secrets, is expected to fuel U.S. anger over sanctuary cities and the murder of Kathryn Steinle.

Paul Bedard reports: Some 276 “sanctuary cities,” nearly 50 percent more than previously revealed, released over 8,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records or facing charges free despite federal requests that they be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation, according to an explosive new report.

“The Obama administration has given sanctuaries free rein to ignore detainers by ending the successful Secure Communities program and replacing it with the Priority Enforcement Program. This new program explicitly allows local agencies to disregard ICE notifications of deportable aliens in their custody by replacing detainers with ‘requests for notification.’

— Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies

The Center for Immigration Studies, revealing new numbers it received under the Freedom of Information Act, said that those releases from cities that ignored federal demands came over just eight months and are just part of an even larger release of 17,000 illegals with criminal records..

Francisco Sanchez, right, is lead into the courtroom for his arraignment in the shooting death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool)

Francisco Sanchez, right, is lead into the courtroom for his arraignment in the shooting death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool)

“The only truly effective and lasting solution is for Congress to spell out in federal law that local law enforcement agencies must cooperate with ICE by complying with all detainers or face sanctions in the form of disqualification from certain kinds of federal funding.”

— Jessica M. Vaughan

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Kathryn Steinle (left), 32, was shot to death, apparently at random, by alleged shooter Francisco Sanchez (right) while walking with her father and a friend along a popular pedestrian pier on the San Francisco waterfront in broad daylight

Author Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy Studies for the center, also reported that many of those illegals have been rearrested after their release and charged with nearly 7,500 new charges, including child sex abuse.

[Read the full text here, at the Washington Examiner]

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[More – Map: Over 200 ‘sanctuary cities’ in 32 states and D.C.]

The report, titled “Ignoring Detainers, Endangering Communities State/local agencies release criminals rather than obey law,” provided to Secrets, is expected to fuel U.S. anger over sanctuary cities and the murder by one freed illegal of a San Francisco woman earlier this month. Read the rest of this entry »


Map: Over 200 ‘Sanctuary Cities’ in 32 States

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Paul Bedard writes: There are over 200 “sanctuary cities” in 32 states that give safe harbor to illegal immigrants, even violent ones with felony records like the man accused of killing a San Francisco woman last week, according to a new analysis.

The Center for Immigration Studies on Wednesday posted a map of the cities. On their website, they reported:

“More than 200 cities, counties and states across the United States are considered sanctuary cities. These state and local jurisdictions have policies, laws, executive orders, or regulations allowing them to avoid cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement authorities.
Read the rest of this entry »


Center for Immigration Studies Report: All Employment Growth Since 2000 Went to Immigrants

Thousands of immigrants marched on the US capital Washington to demand immigration reform on October 8, 2013. (Anadolu Agency/Getty)

Thousands of immigrants marched on the US capital Washington to demand immigration reform on October 8, 2013. (Anadolu Agency/Getty)

According to a major new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), net employment growth in the United States since 2000 has gone entirely to immigrants, legal and illegal. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CIS scholars Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler found that there were 127,000 fewer working-age natives holding a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job was 5.7 million above the 2000 level.

The Center for Immigration Studies is a non-profit research institute. Founded in 1985, the organization is regularly consulted by policymakers, the academic community, and the media on matters of immigration policy.

The rapidity with which immigrants recovered from the Great Recession, as well as the fact that they held a disproportionate share of jobs relative to their share of population growth before the recession, help to explain their findings, the authors report. In addition, native-born Americans and immigrants were affected differently by the recession.

Other significant findings include:

  • Because the native-born population grew significantly, but the number working actually fell, there were 17 million more working-age natives not working in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000.
  • The share of natives working or looking for work, referred to as labor force participation, shows the same decline as the employment rate. In fact, labor force participation has continued to decline for working-age natives even after the jobs recovery began in 2010.

Read the rest of this entry »