Is violence in our genes? team of scientists finds out!

Are we innately violent, as Englishman Thomas Hobbes postulated in the 1650s, or is our behaviour influenced more by the environment we grow up in, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau theorised a century later?

On Tuesday, a team of scientists who looked at the question from a new angle — that of evolutionary biology — concluded that our violent nature was at least partly inherited from an ancient ancestor, and shared with other primates.

Lethal violence appears to be “deeply rooted” in the lineage of monkeys, apes and Homo sapiens, the researchers wrote in the science journal Nature.


Are we innately violent, as Englishman Thomas Hobbes postulated in the 1650s?

This, in turn, suggests that “a certain level of lethal violence in humans arises from the occupation of a position within a particularly violent mammalian clade.”

A clade is the biological term for a group of organisms descending from a common evolutionary ancestor.

The Spanish researchers gathered data on more than four million deaths in 1,024 present-day mammal species, as well as 600-plus human populations from the late Stone Age some 50,000-10,000 years ago until today.

The animals sampled represent some 80 percent of mammal families.

The researchers looked specifically at the proportion of deaths caused by lethal violence perpetrated by a member of the same species — in humans this was war, homicide, infanticide, execution and other intentional killings.

They also searched for similarities between species with common ancestors, which they used to infer how violent those predecessors would have been, and to reconstruct a history of ancestral killing rates.

Overall, the researchers found, intraspecies killing was the cause of about 0.3 percent of mammal deaths.

– Turning it off  –

But for the ancestor of all primates, rodents and hares, killings caused about 1.1 percent of deaths, rising to 2.3 percent for the next, more recent, common ancestor of primates and tree shrews.

By the time the common human ancestor first appeared around 200,000-160,000 years ago, the rate was about two percent — similar to that for other primates, the team found.

“This means that humans have phylogenetically inherited their propensity for violence,” they wrote.

Phylogenetics is the study of the genetic relationship between species over time, giving us the so-called evolutionary tree, with a primordial ancestor at its base from which all organisms developed.

Study co-author Jose Maria Gomez Reyes told AFP the new data showed there was “an evolutionary component to human violence, not that this is the only component.”


This evolutionary component are not only genetic, and “most likely” influenced by environmental pressures on survival.

“In fact, social behaviour and territoriality, two behavioural traits shared with relatives of (Homo) sapiens, seem to have also contributed to the level of lethal violence… inherited in humans,” said the study.

Commenting on the study, Mark Pagel of the University of Reading said it provided “good grounds for believing that we are intrinsically more violent than the average mammal.”

But it also showed that humans are able to curtail such tendencies.

“Rates of homicide in modern societies that have police forces, legal systems, prisons and strong cultural attitudes that reject violence are, at less than one in 10,000 deaths (or 0.01 percent) about 200 times lower than the authors’ predictions for our state of nature,” he wrote.

“Hobbes has landed a serious blow on Rousseau, but not quite knocked him out.”


Source: Ary News

Sweden to reintroduce mandatory military service

The Scandinavian nation, which has not seen armed conflict on its territory in two centuries, ended conscription in 2010 after it was deemed an unsatisfactory way of meeting the needs of a modern army.

“I hope that we are going to find a path to a more stable, robust and functional means of recruitment,” Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told a news conference.

The new policy will affect Swedes born after 1999, according to a report by a former member of parliament for the defence ministry.

The measure is expected to be adopted by parliament, subject to agreement between the leftist government and the centre right opposition.

Around 4,000 young Swedes, 18-year-olds of both sexes, are expected to be called up each year.

The move was “an intelligent proposal given that we have seen for a number of years now that volunteers are not sufficient to supply either the quality or quantity of soldiers” needed, Johan Osterberg, a researcher from the School for Advanced Defence Studies, told news agency TT.

Sweden is not a NATO member but has signed the body’s Partnership for Peace programme launched in 1994 to develop military cooperation between NATO and non-member countries.


Source: Ary News

Spain’s Catalonia leader promises 2017 independence referendum 

Secessionist parties in the wealthy, northeastern region approved a plan to achieve independence by next year after winning a clear majority in 2015 regional elections, but ideological differences have hindered progress.

“We will look for an agreement (with the central government) until the very end, we will at every moment work with the will to hold a referendum in agreement with the state,” Carles Puigdemont told regional lawmakers.

“But if we reach the end of our term in office and there has been no positive response, we will be ready to… call a referendum for the second half of September of next year.”

Puigdemont was speaking ahead of a vote of confidence in his government that takes place Thursday.

He was forced to call the vote after his pro-independence coalition that rules Catalonia broke down in June when its most radical component — the far-left CUP party — refused to back the government budget for 2016.

The CUP had since said it would help bring the coalition back together again and vote for Puigdemont, but only in exchange for a Scotland-style referendum next year.

As such, Puigdemont had widely been expected to announce such a vote and lay out plans for his region’s secession from Spain in his Wednesday speech.

“At the end of June next year, parliament will approve the necessary laws for Catalonia to be able to function as an independent state,” he said. After that, he added, citizens would be called to the ballot box for the referendum.


Scottish example

Catalan separatists have for years tried — in vain — to win approval from Spain’s central government to hold an independence referendum like Britain’s Scottish referendum in 2014 which resulted in a “no” vote.

Puigdemont’s predecessor Artur Mas had already tried to hold such a vote. But when it was banned by Spain’s Constitutional Court, he held a symbolic independence vote in November 2014.

Over 80 percent cast their ballot in favour of independence then — although just 2.3 million people out of a total of 6.3 million eligible voters took part.

Unlike British former counterpart David Cameron with Scotland, which did get a vote in 2014, acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has always categorically refused a referendum.

But as Spain remains mired in nine months of political stalemate after two inconclusive elections, it is not certain that Rajoy will still be in power next year.

Rajoy’s traditional Socialist rivals however also refuse to back any referendum, so would not be any more flexible if they came to power.

The only party on the national scene that has said it would allow one is far-left, anti-austerity Podemos, but it does not have enough parliamentary seats to govern alone.

Catalans have nurtured a separate identity for centuries, but an independence movement surged recently as many became disillusioned with limitations on the autonomy they gained since the late 1970s after the Francisco Franco dictatorship, which had suppressed Catalan nationalism.


Source: Ary News

Uber launches global assault on food delivery market

In a measure of rising ambition beyond its taxi business, Uber will begin delivering meals in Amsterdam on Thursday just as Dutch market leader, begins trading on the city’s stock market.

And according to current job listings on Uber and other recruiting sites – for about 150 roles ranging from general managers and sales staff to bike couriers – UberEats is planning to enter at least 22 new countries across the world in the near future. That is on top of the six countries where it already operates.

As recently as May, Uber executives were signaling that UberEats’ international ambitions were a modest extension of its core business of transporting people. But its job hiring efforts over the last three months suggest something more ambitious is taking shape.


“UberEats is one (business) we feel incredibly confident is resonating across the world and resonating across the footprint of the cities in which Uber operates the transport business,” Jambu Palaniappan, recently named head of UberEats for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

He named eight cities including Dubai and Johannesburg that UberEats plans to enter by the end of the year, but declined to spell out later targets.

Europe is home base to many of the most active international players in the online food takeaway business. They are counting on their local ties, established customer bases and sprawling restaurant networks to insulate them from U.S. tech giants.

The biggest international players – Britain’s Just Eat, Germany’s Delivery Hero and – focus on advertising local takeaways and booking orders for nearby users, while leaving deliveries to the restaurants themselves.

They have been raising fresh capital or swapping assets to bulk up in the expectation that Uber would ratchet up its challenge.

Meanwhile, smaller players – Belgium’s Take Eat Easy, delivering in 20 European cities, and London-based Pronto, which cooked meals as well as delivered them – have shut down in recent months, as the rush of funding that created dozens of start-ups modeled on Uber in recent years has dwindled.



Investors have poured nearly $10 billion (8.9 billion euros) into 421 food delivery deals since the start of 2014, but funding dropped by more than half in the first six months of 2016, according to research from CBInsights.

Overall, the global restaurant takeaway market is projected to grow by 10 percent between 2015 and 2020 to reach $93.4 billion, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

Adding to pressures on existing food delivery players, Amazon launched its international expansion of Amazon Restaurants by entering the London market earlier this month, building on its existing 11-city base in the United States.

“The problem for many of the remaining players is that they are sub-scale: They can’t compete without superior logistics,” said Neil Campling, head of global research for the tech industry at fund manager Northern Trust Capital Markets.

To date, UberEats has launched in 33 cities in six countries, 27 of which are in the United States, where it first began testing food delivery two years ago.

Since launching in London in June, Uber has promised to cut delivery times to within a 30-minute window, with no minimum order size or extra delivery fees. You can order a cupcake made in Kensington and have it driven across town to Whitechapel for the price of the cupcake in the shop.

“When we launch in a city, one of the things we try to do very quickly is to get customer wait times down as low as possible,” said Palaniappan, a Silicon Valley native who had run Uber’s core business in the EMEA region and oversaw its move into India.

By contrast, many rivals promise orders will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, while requiring minimum orders and charging customer delivery fees. UberEats also benefits by being promoted through Uber’s existing, very popular car hire app.



Later this week, Takeaway plans to raise 350 million euros ($390 million) in an initial public offering that would give it a market value around 1 billion euros.

Some newer entrants like Deliveroo of Britain and Foodora, a unit of Delivery Hero, have their own drivers – but few can rival Uber or Amazon’s deep pockets and vast customer bases around the globe.

To bolster their respective local and regional positions, Takeaway and Just Eat traded assets in August, with Takeaway exiting Just Eat’s British stronghold in exchange for Just Eat’s Benelux properties.

London-listed Just Eat expects its revenue to rise around 50 percent this year and says its 66,000 restaurant partnerships can ensure its growth for years to come.

Delivery Hero co-founder and CEO Niklas Oestberg says his firm has built a market-leading position in 28 countries around the world, signing up close to 300,000 restaurants – from Asia to Europe to Latin America – by acquiring local rivals, swapping assets and exiting tougher markets such as China and Russia.


Dominance is not assured for Amazon and Uber, for whom meal delivery – a highly localized business that must be won city by city from local players – is but one of several big initiatives.

A swing factor could prove to be how willing restaurants, such as pizza chains, are willing to allow big digital players to come between them and their customers – an issue Amazon has faced with brand-name retailers and Uber with taxi associations.

Alexander Frolov, a London-based partner in venture capital firm Target Global, an investor in Delivery Hero and other food-themed start-ups, says Uber is a formidable challenger but local food delivery is far from a winner-take-all market.

“It’s not like Facebook. If all my friends are on UberEats, I don’t really care; there will be other options,” Frolov said in an interview. “That makes it more difficult for Uber to displace strong local players.”

Source: Ary News

China flies army planes over strait near Japan

BEIJING:China has sent fighter planes for the first time over a strait near Japan, the two governments said Monday, after Tokyo announced it may patrol alongside the US in the disputed South China Sea.

More than 40 Chinese military aircraft on Sunday traversed the Miyako Strait between Japan’s Miyako and Okinawa Islands, to carry out training in the West Pacific, according to a statement on China’s defence ministry website.

The Sukhoi Su-30 fighters, bombers and refuelling aircraft did not violate Japanese airspace.

Japan’s defence ministry said it was the first time Chinese fighters had passed over the strait.

The drill is aimed at “testing far sea combat capabilities”, the Chinese statement said. It follows China’s first military flight, carried out by spy planes, over the Miyako Strait last year.

The move comes after Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said earlier this month that Tokyo would increase its engagement in the South China Sea through joint training cruises with the US Navy, exercises with regional navies and capacity-building assistance to coastal nations.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, dismissing rival partial claims from its Southeast Asian neighbours. It rejects any intervention by Japan in the waterway.

In recent months Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has criticised China for rejecting a July ruling by an international tribunal, which said Beijing’s extensive claims to the waters had no legal basis.

Tokyo, a key US ally, is also strengthening defence ties with other countries in the disputed region. Japan and China are already at loggerheads over a longstanding territorial row in the East China Sea.

That dispute relates to uninhabited islets controlled by Japan known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyus in Chinese.

Abe said on Monday Japan would “never tolerate attempts to unilaterally change the status quo” in the disputed waters, or “wherever else in the world”, in an apparent response to the Chinese move.

“We pledge to protect Japan’s territory, and in the sea and air,” he said in a speech to open a new parliamentary session.

Japan and China “share a mutual understanding that we’re significantly responsible for regional peace and prosperity”, he added.

In its statement the Chinese defence ministry said it had also mobilised an unspecified number of bombers and fighters to patrol the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

Beijing sparked alarm after it unilaterally established the ADIZ in 2013. It demanded all aircraft submit flight plans when traversing the zone, which covers the islands disputed with Tokyo and also claimed by Taipei.

“Normalising far sea drills out in the West Pacific and patrols in the East China Sea ADIZ is based on the need for China’s Air Force to protect national sovereignty and security and ensure peaceful development,” air force spokesperson Shen Jinke said in the statement.

The Chinese military has been monitoring and identifying foreign military planes that entered the ADIZ and “took measures according to different air threats” since it was set up three years ago, the statement added.

Source: Geo News

Colombia to sign peace with Marxist rebels, ending 52-year war

CARTAGENA: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Marxist rebel leader Timochenko will sign a deal on Monday ending a half-century war that killed a quarter of a million people, stymied the economy and made Colombia a byword for violence.

After four years of negotiations in Havana, Santos, 65, and Timochenko, a nom de guerre for the 57-year-old revolutionary, will shake hands for the first time on Colombian soil in front of world leaders.

Their deal to end Latin America’s longest-running conflict will turn the FARC guerrilla group into a political party fighting at the ballot box instead of the battlefield it has occupied since 1964.

Some 2,500 foreign and local dignitaries will attend the ceremony in the colonial city of Cartagena, where huge billboards call on Colombians to accept the peace plan.

“I can’t believe this day has finally come, peace is coming to Colombia,” said Juan Gamarra, 43, who sells jewelry in the walled city.

Guests include U.N. head Ban Ki-moon, Cuban President Raul Castro, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and victims of the conflict.

Though there is widespread relief at an end to the bloodshed and kidnappings of past decades, the deal has caused divisions in Latin America’s fourth-biggest economy.

Some, including influential former president Alvaro Uribe, are angered the accord allows rebels to enter congress without serving any jail time.

The agreement must be ratified during an Oct. 2 plebiscite, but polls show it will pass easily.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – which began as a peasant revolt, became big players in the cocaine trade and had as many as 20,000 fighters at their strongest – will hand over weapons to the United Nations within 180 days.

“It’s such an important day – now we can fight politically, without blood, without war,” said Duvier, a 25-year-old rebel attending a FARC congress last week in the southern Yari Plains.

Colombians are nervous over how the remaining 7,000 rebels will integrate into society, but most are optimistic peace will bring more positives than problems.

Colombia’s economy has performed well relative to neighbors in recent years, and peace should reduce security costs and open new areas for mining and oil companies. But crime gangs could try to fill the void and landmines hinder development.

With peace behind him, Santos, the scion of a wealthy Bogota family, will hope to use the political capital to push his economic agenda, especially tax reforms to compensate for a drop in oil income caused by a fall in oil prices.

Source: Geo News

Germany's 'James Bond' goes on trial over tax evasion

BUCHAM: Germany’s former top spy, Werner Mauss, went on trial Monday accused of hiding millions of euros from authorities. 

The 76-year-old dubbed “the German James Bond” had often been sent on classified operations abroad, but his secret financial dealings are now under scrutiny.

He risks up to 10 years in jail if found guilty of shortchanging the state out of a total of 14.45 million euros ($16 million) in taxes from 2002 to 2013.

Prosecutors are accusing Mauss of placing large sums of undeclared funds in offshore accounts, including in the Bahamas, national news agency DPA said.

Investigators first got on his trail after one of his aliases was found among names of UBS account holders found on a CD which the state of North-Rhine Westphalia had purchased from a whistleblower, according to business daily Handelsblatt and Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Mauss had allegedly failed to declare an account that he holds with the Luxembourg subsidiary of UBS.

His name subsequently also emerged in relation to several shell companies listed in the so-called Panama Papers — leaked documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that exposed the murky offshore financial dealings of the rich and famous.

Mauss has rejected any inkling of wrongdoing, saying the mailbox business fronts were set up to channel funds used in relation to hostage freeing operations.

During the trial, the court will seek to clear up if the account is linked to such “humanitarian action” or if it was simply an account created to hold illicit income.

Source: Geo News

Troubled lawyer shoots nine in Houston before being killed by police

WASHINGTON: A troubled lawyer opened fire on morning commuters in Houston on Monday, injuring at least nine people before being fatally shot by police, authorities said.

Six victims were taken to hospitals and three were treated at the scene after being shot at while inside their vehicles in the wealthy neighborhood of West University Place, acting Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo told reporters.

One of the victims was in critical condition and another was in serious condition.

Montalvo declined to identify the suspect but said he was a lawyer. She said the FBI was assisting with the investigation and did not mention terrorism as a motive.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, in Cuba on a trip to develop trade relations, told reporters, “The motivation appears to be a lawyer whose relationship with his law firm went bad.”

The police bomb squad was securing the suspect’s car, a black Porsche, which had numerous weapons in it. Police were planning to search his house.

Broken glass from shattered car windows littered a parking lot in an upscale shopping center near where the suspect fired 20 to 30 shots.

An unidentified woman, standing next to a car with two bullet holes in the windshield, told a local television station she heard “the bullets literally whiz by my window.”

Live video streams showed numerous police cars and ambulances in the area. There were also a few vehicles seen with bullet holes.

The official twitter account for the Houston Police Department had posted regarding the shooting, confirming that a suspect had been shot by officers following a shooting on Weslayan near Bissonnet.

A few minutes later it posted that several people had been shot by the shooter and were being transported to the area hospitals. However, earlier it did not confirm the number of people injured. 





Source: Geo News

India media poll shows 70% want independence in Occupied Kashmir

Despite intense clashes and protests by Kashmiris against the occupying forces and its oppression, the Indian government continues to call Kashmir its integral part — a sheer violation of the United Nation’s resolution on the disputed territory.

Coerced by its government and security establishment, even the Indian media is busy in propagating Indian propaganda.

But, the truth cannot be kept hidden for long. Watch how one Indian channel showed the truth as it announced the results of a poll it conducted in which over 70% Kashmiris said they want independence (Azadi) from Indian occupying forces in Kashmir.

Source: Geo News

India dismisses UN's Kashmir resolution, repeats anti-Pakistan rhetoric in UNGA

NEW YORK: Dismissing the United Nations’ resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj continued her country’s anti-Pakistan tirade in the UN General Assembly on Monday, calling on the international community to isolate Pakistan.

In her speech, Swaraj also ripped apart the United Nation’s resolution declaring Jammu and Kashmir a disputed territory.

“My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so,” Swaraj said, in violation of the UN’s resolution on the Himalayan region being a disputed territory.

While keeping mum on India’s human rights abuses in Occupied Kashmir, the Indian foreign minister hinted at the Pakistani prime minister’s speech and claimed Nawaz Sharif had hurled baseless accusations at India.

Swaraj tried to divert attention from atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir by speaking about Balochistan.

She said that those nations who give cover to terrorism and nurture it should be isolated, adding that terrorism is the biggest enemy of humanity.

“But what did we get in return, Pathankot, Uri and Bahadur Ali,” she said referring to the attacks on the Indian security forces’ base.

In her speech, the Indian Foreign Minister said that India is not bound to have negotiations with Pakistan.

She claimed Modi had extended goodwill gestures to Pakistan by inviting PM Sharif to his oath ceremony in 2014.

She harped her on old stance saying that Kashmir is an integral part of India, adding that Pakistan should stop dreaming about Kashmir.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his UNGA speech had highlighted Indian human rights abuses in Indian Occupied Kashmir and said that peace between India and Pakistan cannot be achieved without a resolution to the Kashmir dispute.

He had said that a new generation of Kashmiris has risen spontaneously against India’s illegal occupation, demanding freedom from occupation.

Nawaz Sharif had said that Pakistan will not allow externally sponsored terrorism and threats of destabilisation to cause turbulence in the country.

The Pakistani prime minister had said that Pakistan is not interested in an arms race with India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also threatened Pakistan of “isolating it in the entire world.”

In the wake of the escalation of conflict in Indian Occupied Kashmir following hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani’s killing in July and the attack on army base in Uri that left 18 Indian soldiers dead, the ties between the two neighbours worsened further.

Earlier, Burhan’s father Muzaffar Wani said that he appreciated Nawaz Sharif’s speech in the United Nations.

Source: Geo News