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Europeans appear to be more closely related than previously thought

Europeans had common ancestors 1,000 years ago

By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press, BERLIN

Scientists who compared DNA samples from people in different parts of the continent found that most had common ancestors living just 1,000 years ago.

The results confirm decade-old mathematical models, but will nevertheless come as a surprise to Europeans accustomed to thinking of ancient nations composed of distinct ethnic groups like "Germans," "Irish" or "Serbs."

"What's remarkable about this is how closely everyone is related to each other," said Graham Coop of the University of California, Davis, who co-wrote the study published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Biology.

Coop and his fellow author Peter Ralph of the University of Southern California used a database containing more than 2,250 genetic samples to look for shared DNA segments that would point to distant shared relatives. 

While the number of common genetic ancestors is greater the closer people are to each other, even individuals living 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) apart had identical sections of DNA that can be traced back roughly to the Middle Ages.

The findings indicate that there was a steady flow of genetic material between countries as far apart as Turkey and Britain, or Poland and Portugal, even after the great population movements of the first millennium A.D. such as the Saxon and Viking invasions of Britain, and the westward drive of the Huns and Slavic peoples.

The study did find subtle regional variations. For reasons still unclear, Italians and Spaniards appear to be less closely related than most Europeans to people elsewhere on the continent.

"The analysis is pretty convincing. It comes partly from the enormous number of ancestors each one of us have," said Mark A. Jobling, a professor of genetics at the University of Leicester, England, who wasn't involved in the study.

Since the number of ancestors each person has roughly doubles with each generation, "we don't have to go too far back to find someone who features in all of our family trees," he said.

Jobling cited a scientific paper published in 2004 that went so far as to predict that every person on the planet shares ancestors who lived just 4,000 years ago. . .

"Although, as the authors note, the approach is inherently 'noisy' (i.e. error-prone), it still does give results for European populations that are in reasonable agreement with historical expectations," said Mark Stoneking, a professor evolutionary anthropology at the University of Leipzig, Germany, who also wasn't involved in the study. "It would be interesting to see this applied in situations where we don't have such good historical information."

Coop and Ralph said the findings might change the way Europeans think about their neighbors on a continent that has had its fair share of struggle and strife.

"The basic idea that we're all related much more recently than one might think has been around for a while, but it is not widely appreciated, and still quite surprising to many people, even scientists working in population genetics, including ourselves," they said in an email to The Associated Press. "The fact that we share all our ancestors from a time period where we recognize various ethnic identities also points at how we are like a family - we have our differences, but are all closely related."

Just don't expect news of closer family ties to prompt a surge of brotherly love in Europe or elsewhere.

"There have been many studies that we've been involved in showing that groups which are fighting each other furiously all the time are actually extremely closely genetically related. But that's never had any impact on whether they continue to fight each other," Jobling said.

"So for example Jewish and non-Jewish populations in the Middle East are extremely similar genetically, but to tell them they are genetic close relatives isn't going to change their ways."

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/07/5402230/europeans-had-common-ancestors.html

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/07/5402230/europeans-had-common-ancestors.html#storylink=cpy

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In The News

Previous Issue

ObamaCare Tax Increases: Onward and Forever Upward

Tax Prof Blog: ObamaCare Tax Increases Are Double Original Estimate

The Joint Committee on Taxation recently released a 96 page report on the tax provisions associated with Affordable Care Act. The report describes the 21 tax increases included in Obamacare, totaling $1.058 trillion – a steep increase from initial assessment, according to the Tax Prof Blog. The summer 2012 estimate is nearly twice the $569 billion estimate produced at the time of the passage of the law in March 2010. 

Provision 

2010 Estimate, 2010-2019, $billion

2012

Estimate

2013-2022, $billion

0.9% payroll tax on wages and self-employment income and 3.8% t tax on dividends, capital gains, and other investment income for taxpayers earning over $200,000 (singles) / $250,000 (married)

210.2

317.7

“Cadillac tax” on high-cost plans *

32

111

Employer mandate *

52

106

Annual tax on health insurance providers *

60.1

101.7

Individual mandate *

17

55

Annual tax on drug manufacturers/importers *

27

34.2

2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers/importers* 

20

29.1

Limit FSAs in cafeteria plans *

13

24

Raise 7.5% AGI floor on medical expense deduction to 10% *

15.2

18.7

Deny eligibility of “black liquor” for cellulosic biofuel producer credit 

23.6

15.5

Codify economic substance doctrine

4.5

5.3

Increase penalty for nonqualified HSA distributions *

1.4

4.5

Impose limitations on the use of HSAs, FSAs, HRAs, and Archer MSAs to purchase over-the-counter medicines *

5.0 

4

Impose fee on insured and self-insured health plans; patient-centered outcomes research trust fund *

2.6

3.8

Eliminate deduction for expenses allocable to Medicare Part D subsidy

4.5

3.1

Impose 10% tax on tanning services *

2.7

1.5

Limit deduction for compensation to officers, employees, directors, and service providers of certain health insurance providers

0.6 

0.8

Modify section 833 treatment of certain health organizations

0.4

0.4

Other Revenue Effects

60.3

222**

Additional requirements for section 501(c)(3) hospitals

Negligible

Negligible

Employer W-2 reporting of value of health benefits

Negligible

Negligible

Total Gross Tax Increase:

569.2

1,058.3

* Provision targets households earning less than $250,000.

** Includes CBO’s $216.0 billion estimate for “Associated Effects of Coverage Provisions on Tax Revenues” and $6.0 billion within CBO’s “Other Revenue Provisions” category that is not otherwise accounted for in the CBO or JCT estimates.

Source: Joint Committee on Taxation Estimates, prepared by Ways and Means Committee Staff

Donna Andrews March 13, 2013 at 9:28 AM

And who, exactly, did NOT see this coming?

Reply

  1. Bud Mathis March 13, 2013 at 9:58 AM

2.       Who???? Me for one. I thought it would be much more than double

  1. Paul March 13, 2013 at 12:33 PM

4.       It will Bud, just wait a little longer.

  1. Donna Andrews March 13, 2013 at 11:11 AM

6.       Anyone who ever thought that Obamacare was about health care is an idiot. This was never about your healthcare....NEVER. From its very conception, this was about nothing more than control and money. Obama and Company couldn't care less about your health. They just want to control how you live. I challenge anyone to name for me one thing, just ONE thing, that the government cannot force you to do in the name of "healthcare". Just one little thing!   It's time for Atlas to shrug.

Onward and Forever Upward!

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In The News

Past Issue

The Real Star War

Asteroid defense

Something useful for America’s underemployed space agency to do

The Economist | From the print edition | Feb 23rd 2013

GEOGRAPHY matters. In 1908 a rock the size of a city block hit the Earth’s atmosphere at 15km (9 miles) a second. The explosion flattened an area the size of London. But the land in question was in Siberia, so few people noticed and those who did had little influence. Suppose, though, it had devastated a city in Europe or North America. The history of the 20th century would have been different, as the best scientific and engineering brains were brought to bear on the question of how to stop it happening again. 

Well, it has happened again, albeit less spectacularly. By chance, Siberia bore the brunt once more, when a meteor crashed in the Urals on February 15th, injuring more than 1,000 people. It could just as easily have hit Germany or Guangdong. Moreover, on the same day another, larger rock called 2012 DA14 passed within 27,000km of Earth. By astronomical standards, that is a hair’s breadth. It is time to think seriously about stopping such incidents by building a system that can detect space rocks with sufficient warning, and then either blast them or push them out of the way. It would be costly, of course, and would require the development of new technology. But, as luck would have it, there is a tool lying around that has both the money and the nous to do it, and which is currently underemployed and in need of a new mission.

Zap!

NASA, America’s space agency, has become a curious hybrid. Part of it is one of the world’s leading scientific research organisations. This NASA sends robot probes to the planets, runs space telescopes and has already sponsored projects devoted to looking for large asteroids—the ones that would blow humanity to kingdom come if their orbits ever intersected that of the Earth. If such a large, “planet-killing” asteroid were discovered, though, the chances are that earthlings would have decades, or centuries, to act; a small nudge, judiciously applied by rocket motor or nuclear explosion (see article), would be enough to send it off course.

The real problem is “city-killers”—things too small for existing surveys to see, but large enough to do serious damage. And it is here that the other NASA might be brought into play. The non-scientific bit of the agency, the bit that brought you the Apollo project, has been looking for a proper job since 1972, when Apollo was cancelled. It thought it had found it in the Space Shuttle, but building a cheap, reliable orbital truck proved impossible. It thought it had found it in the International Space Station, but that has turned into a scientifically useless tin can in the sky. The latest wheeze is to build a rocket that might one day, many administrations hence, go to Mars.

In a well-ordered world, this bit of NASA would have been closed down years ago. That it has not been is due, in large measure, to the lobbying power of aerospace companies which see the agency as a way to divert money from taxpayers’ pockets into those of their shareholders. This pocket-picking would be less irksome if something useful came of it. Why not, therefore, change this part of NASA’s remit to protecting the planet from external attack, not by evil aliens but by an uncaring universe?

Two things would be needed. One is a bigger system of telescopes, either on the ground or in orbit, to give notice of a threat. The other is a way to counter the threat. That might be done with lasers, or with controlled explosions that would shift the incoming object’s orbit sufficiently to make it miss altogether, or (if that is not possible) hit an unpopulated area.

Developing all this would be a technological challenge worthy of NASA’s engineers. It would keep the agency’s bureaucrats in their jobs. It would keep the money flowing to the aerospace companies. It would probably cost no more than the space station (about $100 billion). And, if it worked, it would provide something that benefited not just America, but the world—precisely the sort of thing a rich country which often claims the moral high ground ought to be doing.

When Apollo 11 took off from the Moon on July 21st 1969, its crew left behind a plaque that read, “They came in peace, for all mankind”. What an opportunity both America and NASA now have to prove that they meant it.

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21572203-something-useful-americas-underemployed-space-agency-do-real-star-war

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