Russian LGBTQ activist is killed after being listed on gay-hunting website.

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Russian LGBTQ activist is killed after being listed on gay-hunting website

Yelena Grigoryeva sounded the alarm after her name appeared on a website that offered prizes for attacking gays. Days later, she was dead.
Image: Yelena Grigoryeva

Police detain Yelena Grigoryeva during an anti-LGBT discrimination rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, on April 17.Anton Vaganov / Reuters file

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Autism largely caused by genetics, not environment, study finds.

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Autism largely caused by genetics, not environment, study finds.

The largest study of its kind, involving more than 2 million people across five countries, finds that autism spectrum disorders are 80% reliant on inherited genes.

That means that environmental causes are responsible for just 20% of the risk.

The findings could open new doors to research into the genetic causes of autism, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says affects 1 in every 59 U.S. children.

It might also help ease fears that autism is caused by maternal factors — a mother’s weight, mode or timing of delivery, or nutrient intake, for example. The new study found the role of maternal factors to be “nonexistent or minimal.”

Instead, “the current study results provide the strongest evidence to our knowledge to date that the majority of risk for autism spectrum disorders is from genetic factors,” said a team led by Sven Sandin, an epidemiological researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

The new study might help dampen public interest in supposed — but unproven — “environmental” causes of autism, such as vaccines. Long-discredited, fraudulent data linking childhood vaccination with autism is still widely cited by the “anti-vaxxer” movement.

“The contribution of the environment to autism spectrum disorder risk appears to be much smaller than the contribution of genetics,” a team of experts said in an editorial comment on the new study, which was published in July in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

However, genetic factors are frequently ignored, and instead environmental factors “often receive disproportionate attention from the public and the media, even when (as in the case of vaccine fears), they are debunked,” wrote psychiatrists Drs. Amandeep Jutla, Hannah Reed and Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele in the editorial. They are all from Columbia University in New York City.

According to Sandin and colleagues, the new study is the largest and most rigorous yet conducted into the causes of autism. The researchers looked at the medical histories of more than 2 million children born in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Israel and Western Australia between 1998 and 2012. All were tracked until 16 years of age. Of the group, just over 22,000 went on to develop an autism spectrum disorder.

Based on the data, about 80% of their risk of developing the condition was due to genetics, with the remainder of the risk tied to as-yet-unidentified environmental causes. Only a negligible amount of risk, about 1%, was due to maternal factors, the study researchers said.

They noted the new numbers are roughly in line with those from prior, smaller studies on the issue, further bolstering their validity. Dr. Andrew Adesman directs developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Reviewing the findings, he agreed that it “provides stronger evidence that autism is mostly due to genetic, and not environmental, factors.

“Although families are often most concerned about environmental risk factors for autism, the reality is that genetic factors play a much larger role overall,” Adesman said.

But he stressed that the findings don’t let potential environmental factors — which, unlike genetics, can be changed — off the hook.

“Environmental factors also play a smaller, but important, role,” Adesman said, so “this does not mean that we can completely ignore the environmental risk factors and their interaction with the genetic risk factors.”

And he noted that despite the new data, “we are not yet able to identify a specific genetic cause for autism in many children.” The next step, according to Adesman, is for researchers “to identify more of the different specific genetic differences or abnormalities that lead to autism in an individual child or family.”

Source: http://bit.ly/2YHvz8S

Author of Christian relationship guide says he has lost his faith.

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The American author of a bestselling Christian guide to relationships for young people has announced that his marriage is over and he has lost his faith.

Joshua Harris, whose biblical guide to relationships I Kissed Dating Goodbye sold nearly 1m copies around the world after it was published in 1997, has also apologised to LGBT+ people for contributing to a “culture of exclusion and bigotry”.

In his book, Harris, a former pastor at a US megachurch, urged young Christians to reject dating for “courtship” under the guidance of parents and observing sexual abstinence. Young couples should not kiss, hold hands or spend time alone together before marriage, he said. Dating was spiritually unhealthy and a “training ground for divorce”, the book argued.

The book, written by Harris when he was 21, was widely circulated within evangelical Christian youth groups, helping to promote a “purity culture” and vows to preserve virginity until marriage.

Harris later became a senior pastor in the Covenant Life church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which he left in 2015. The church had been accused of covering up allegations of child sexual abuse by failing to report the claims to police.

Last year, Harris disavowed the ideas in I Kissed Dating Goodbye, saying in a statement: “I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided. I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner.

“To those who read my book and were misdirected or unhelpfully influenced by it, I am sincerely sorry.”

This month he announced on Instagram that he and his wife were separating after 21 years of marriage because “significant changes have taken place in both of us”.

Another Instagram message posted nine days later said he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus”.

He wrote: “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction’, the biblical phrase is ‘falling away’. By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practise faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.”

He added: “I have lived in repentance for the past several years – repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few.

“But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality.

“I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.”

His bestselling book was to be discontinued because of its “flaws”, he said.

Source: http://bit.ly/2MP3jKj

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