Drinking your immune system to death  

Apparently, binge drinking can damage more than just your judgment.

A study, conducted in 2014, found that in addition to the potential for “alcoholism, long-term heart disease, and generally all-around poor decision making,” binge drinking “can apparently also kill your immune system.”

The study, led by Loyola University Chicago’s Dr. Majid Afshar, focused on the effect to the immune system of drinking four or five shots of hard liquor in just a few hours.

“When dealing with the effects of alcohol, [people] don’t consider the binge pattern. Having four to five drinks in a matter of a few hours is considered normal,” Afshar adds, “but we showed that just one episode of a binge like this causes disruptions in the immune system, and can potentially play a role in the way people respond to illness.”

New fossil find points to much earlier human migration out of Africa  

It turns out humans may have migrated out of Africa a lot longer ago than anyone thought, if the discovery of the “oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa” is anything to go by.

Scientists were digging in one of a series of prehistoric caves, on the slopes of Mount Carmel on the northern coast of Israel, when they found the fossil of an “upper left jaw, with parts of the nasal cavity and cheekbone still intact.”

The fossil also had intact teeth. “We have the pre-molars, the molars, the canine, and we have the lateral incisor,” says Israel Hershkovitz, a paleoanthropologist at Tel Aviv University who was part of the team that studied the fossil.

A detailed analysis of the jawbone and the teeth confirmed that it indeed belonged to someone of our species, Homo sapiens. And when they dated the fossil, it turned out to be between 177,000 and 194,000 years old, making it the oldest known such fossil outside the African continent.

Earlier evidence had “suggested that Homo sapiens got out of Africa about 120,000 years ago.”

Why did two-thirds of these weird antelope suddenly drop dead?  

In just three short weeks, some two-thirds of all the world’s saiga suddenly dropped dead. The big question is, how come?

The saiga is an endearing antelope, whose bulbous nose gives it the comedic air of a Dr. Seuss character. It typically wanders over large tracts of Central Asian grassland, but every spring, tens of thousands of them gather in the same place to give birth. These calving aggregations should be joyous events, but the gathering in May 2015 became something far more sinister when 200,000 saiga just dropped dead. They did so without warning, over a matter of days, in gathering sites spread across 65,000 square miles—an area the size of Florida. Whatever killed them was thorough and merciless: Across a vast area, every last saiga perished.

Richard Kock, a veterinarian and conservationist from the Royal Veterinary College, saw it all. He and his team were there on a routine monitoring trip to check the health of the population. “Mass mortality events are never nice things and I’ve experienced quite a few,” he says. “But the experience of the saiga was unprecedented, and unworldly. Even after 40 years of work, I just said: I don’t understand.”

The mega-death was all the more tragic because it struck at what should have been a time of celebration. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, poachers had brought the saiga to the edge of extinction, but governments and conservationists rallied to protect the species, and it rebounded. Saigas are good at that. Females can produce their first calf before their first birthday, and in every subsequent breeding season, most produce twins. So they recover quickly from disasters. By 2015, their population had quadrupled since the early 2000s, and it was predicted to do so again in a few years. “Everyone was saying: Oh great, we’ve really got them over,” says Kock. “They were beginning to talk about downgrading them off the endangered list. And then — bang — this happened.”

Texas judge tells a jury that ‘God told me the defendant is not guilty’

Just when you thought it was safe to trust a judge not to have a screw loose:

A Texas judge allegedly interrupted a deliberating jury to claim that God told him the defendant is not guilty.

Judge Jack Robison reportedly told jurors on Friday in a state district court in Comal County in Texas that Gloria Romero-Perez was not guilty of trafficking her 16-year-old niece for sex.

According to the Herald-Zeitung, Judge Robison apologized to jurors for the interruption, but defended his actions by declaring: ‘When God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it.’

Despite Robison’s outburst, the jury found 32-year-old Romano-Perez guilty of continuous trafficking of a person and sentenced her to 25 years in prison.

Talk about woo woo on the bench!

Switzerland bans boiling lobsters alive

It’s about time action was taken against this unspeakably inhumane practice. Let’s hope banning the boiling alive of lobsters and crabs spreads to other countries around the world. The sooner the better.