Thursday, 25 December 2008

Uncles Don't Listen To Those Anthropological Myths...

There's nothing wrong with cousins getting married, scientists say

Risk of babies having genetic defects 'has been overstated'

By Steve Connor, Science Editor Wednesday, 24 December 2008
The Independent

The risk of giving birth to babies with genetic defects as a result of marriages between first cousins is no greater than that run by women over 40 who become pregnant, according to two scientists who call for the taboo on first-cousin families to be lifted.

Women in their forties are not made to feel guilty about having babies and the same should apply to cousins who want to marry, said Professor Diane Paul of the University of Massachusetts in Boston and Professor Hamish Spencer of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Although first-cousin marriages are legal in Britain, there have been calls to ban the practice because of reports that it has resulted in a higher-than-average incidence of birth defects in certain immigrant communities where it is common and culturally acceptable.

However, Professors Paul and Spencer said that the risk of congenital defects is about 2 per cent higher than average for babies born to first-cousin marriages – with the infant mortality about 4.4 per cent higher – which is on a par with the risk to babies born to women over 40. "Women over the age of 40 have a similar risk of having children with birth defects and no one is suggesting they should be prevented from reproducing," said Professor Spencer, whose co-authored study is published in the online journal Public Library of Science.

First-cousin marriages were once quite common in Europe, especially among the elite – Charles Darwin married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood – but that changed in the late 19th-century as people, especially women, became more socially mobile and the risks became more evident. The stigma attached to first-cousin marriages was supported by early studies into human genetics suggesting that "recessive" versions of a gene (which are not expressed unless there are two of them, one from each parent) are more likely to be expressed in the children of genetically related parents, as well as more likely to be defective.

Most states in America have either outlawed or restricted the practice, as has China, Taiwan and both North and South Korea. Professor Spencer, an evolutionary zoologist, said these laws should be repealed, especially in America, where he said they were drafted in a way that discriminated against the rural poor and immigrants: "Neither the scientific nor social assumptions behind such legislation stand up to close scrutiny. Such legislation reflects outmoded prejudices about immigrants and the rural poor and relies on over-simplified views of heredity. There is no scientific grounding for it."

In the UK, the issue came to the fore when the MP Phil Woolas, now the Immigration minister, claimed earlier this year that first-cousin marriages within Asian communities in Britain resulted in an increasing number of children with health problems. "A lot of arranged marriages are with first cousins, and that produces lots of genetic problems in terms of disability [in children]," Mr Woolas said.

Peter Corry of St Luke's Hospital in Bradford estimates that among people of Pakistani descent in the city, 55 per cent of whom marry first cousins, the risk of recessive genetic disorders – the type due to related parents – is between 10 and 15 times higher than in the general population. A 2004 study found that 13 out of 1,000 Asian children born in the Bradford area had inherited recessive disorders, which can lead to disabilities.

A family affair: Cousins who tied the knot

Jerry Lee Lewis

The rock 'n 'roll star infamously married his 13-year-old first cousin once removed, 10 years his junior, in 1957. His popularity initially fell but recovered when he began performing country and western music.

Jesse James

The Missouri outlaw married his first cousin Zerelda "Zee" Mimms in 1874 at the height of the James-Younger gang's reign. They had two children and remained together until Jesse's death, aged 34, 12 years later.

H G Wells

The science fiction author of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds married his first cousin Isabel Mary Wells in 1891 but left her after three years to marry one of his students, with whom he had two children.

Edgar Allan Poe

The American gothic poet secretly married his 13-year-old first cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm, in 1834. She died of tuberculosis in 1847.

Johann Sebastian Bach

In 1707 Bach married his second cousin Maria Barbara Bach and had seven of his 20 children with her.

Khalid Mahmood

The Birmingham MP married his first cousin, Rifat, when he was in his twenties. They had a child – now a teenager – but separated in 1992.

Charles Darwin

The naturalist, whose work forms the basis for contemporary evolutionary theory, married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood in 1839. They had 10 children, to whom he was a devoted father.
Source: The Independent On line

Pak Djangan Dicurigain: Ini Bukan Revolusi Gender, Para Ibu Hanya Ingin Membantu Famili

Pontianak Selasa, 23 Desember 2008 , 08:58:00

Perempuan Jangan Takut Eksplorasi Diri

PONTIANAK—Hari Ibu 22 Desember 2008, harus dijadikan momen bersejarah bagi kaum perempuan, khususnya yang sudah menjadi ibu. Patut diacungkan jempol, saat ini kaum ibu sudah mampu membangun image sebagai perempuan kuat dan mampu menyerukan aspirasinya dalam bentuk keterlibatan membangun daerah, tanpa melupakan kodratnya sebagai seorang istri dan ibu.

“Ibu memiliki peranan ganda. Baik dalam kehidupan keluarga yang menjadi panutan dalam keluarganya, maupun jadi panutan dalam keterlibatnnya dalam lingkup pekerjaan,” papar Wakil Sekretaris KNPI Kota Pontianak, Wati Susilawati, kepada koran ini, kemarin.Mereka (kaum perempuan, red) sangat kuat dan mau berjuang untuk memajukan kelompoknya dalam kesetaraan gender. Kendati, persamaan gender itu sebernarnya masalah lama yang mulai dimunculkan kembali di era globalisasi ini. "Kenapa saya bilang gender itu masalah lama. Ini karena sejak zaman kemerdekaan sudah banyak kaum perempuan terlibat urusan gender,” ujar Wati sapan akrabnya.

Wati Susilawati yang juga wartawati salah satu harian ini memberi contoh, seperti dalam urusan bela negara dan mempertahankan NKRI (Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia) ini, sebut saja Cut Nyak Dien. “Jika sekarang muncul lagi masalah gender, saya tak akan terkejut. Pasalnya, di era ini sudah saatnya kaum perempuan unjuk gigi memperlihatkan kemampuannya yang sama di segala bidang, tanpa ada tekanan, intimidasi maupun keterpaksaan dari orang yang masih belum menerima persamaan gender itu sendiri," papar dia.

Namun, menurut mantan model ini, untuk mencapai pengakuan itu perlu kerja keras bagi kaum perempuan untuk dapat dianggap pantas sejajar. Untuk mengimbangi itu, perempuan dituntut memiliki kemampan. Artinya kemampuan untuk bisa diakui. "Jangan malu untuk belajar menjadi pintar, ekspolasi diri, lihat kemampuan yang ada dalam diri, kemudian kembangkan,” tegas dia seraya menambahkan, kaum perempuan jangan takut memulai sesuatu untuk kemajuan. “Karena kaum perempuan akan lebih kuat, jika berani tampil berani dalam setiap keputusannya. Dan jangan takut gagal.”(mzr)

Source: Pontianak Post Online

So Not Everything is OK in The Land of Kiasus: Singapore Flyer's Worst Glitch

Power disruption left 173 passengers stranded above ground in the Singapore Flyer – the world's biggest observation wheel - for about six hours yesterday. The stoppage – which occurred at about 5:00 pm – was caused by a small electrical fire. It was the Flyer’s fourth since it began operations early this year, but was by far the worst. Shocked passengers spoke of the ordeal of being stuck in stuffy capsules when the air-conditioning went off. Some among those trapped reportedly resorted to urinating in plastic bags while they were hanging in the air. Ten passengers were rescued using sling-like harnesses while the other 163 walked out when power was restored at about at about 11:11 pm. A spokesperson for the Flyer said investigations are ongoing, and the wheel would remain closed at least until Thursday.

Source:MSN News

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