Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stability tops democracy, ex-Singapore leader says

"Stability for investors in Singapore is more important than the "democracy" promoted by Western media, the city-state's influential founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew was quoted as saying Monday.Lee told a meeting that the Western media "want me to listen to them, have more democracy, more protests like Taiwan -- that's a democracy," The Straits Times reported."But you calculate yourself, do you want us to make them happy or to have the investors have confidence in us? Which is good for us?" he was quoted as saying."Where do they put their money? If they think Singapore is a... chaotic country, we won't have such investments."The city-state is Southeast Asia's most advanced economy and one of the most politically stable countries in the region. Thousands of foreign firms have made Singapore their base of operations.The country's leaders say its tough laws against dissent and other political activity are necessary to ensure the stability which has helped it achieve economic success.Singapore's leaders maintain that Western-style liberal democracy is not suitable for the tiny, multi-racial nation."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Breastfeeding leads to higher IQ in babies with the right gene

"Scientists have identified a gene which leads children to have higher IQs if they are breastfed, according to a study released Monday.The study took a bite out of the nature versus nurture debate by showing that intellectual development is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors."There has been some criticism of earlier studies about breastfeeding and IQ that they didn't control for socioeconomic status, or the mother's IQ or other factors," said study co-author Terrie Moffitt, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Duke University and King's College in London."Our findings take an end-run around those arguments by showing the physiological mechanism that accounts for the difference."Researchers examined more than 3,000 breast-fed infants in Britain and New Zealand and found that the child's IQ was an average of 6.8 points higher if the child had a particular version of a gene called FADS2.This difference remained after researchers were able to rule out the influence of socioeconomic status, the IQ scores of the mother, birth weight and gestational age as factors."The argument about intelligence has been about nature versus nurture for at least a century," Moffitt said. "We're finding that nature and nurture work together."Ninety percent of the children had at least one copy of version of the gene which yielded higher IQ if they were breast-fed.The IQ scores of the other 10 percent were not influenced by breastfeeding, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The gene was studied because it produces an enzyme found in breast milk which has been associated with higher IQ. The enzyme helps convert dietary fatty acids into the polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been shown to accumulate in the human brain during the first months after birth.This enzyme and the fatty acids has been added to many infant formulas since the first findings about breastfeeding and IQ appeared a decade ago, but tests have not been able to show whether it has an impact.The authors suggest that may be because those studies did not account for whether or not the gene was present.Lab studies on rodents and primates fed supplemental fatty acids have shown enhanced abilities in tests of learning, memory and problem-solving."