Category: vfyoxdnx

‘Axeman’ Walters for December 19 fight in New York

first_img CURRENT RANKING Because of the loss of his title on the scale, Walters fell to No. 4 in the world rankings in that division and is now working his way back up to a title fight. It is not yet known if he will return to the 126-pound featherweight division after this foray into the higher 130-pound weight class. “We just have to wait and see” a member of his camp told The Gleaner yesterday. Walters is still unbeaten as a professional boxer, with a perfect 26-0 record including 21 knockouts. He has an 81 per cent knockout percentage and is known for his aggression, which includes pin-pointed jabbing and savage attacks to the body. His opponent also has an impressive record. He goes into the ring with 18 wins, one loss, and three draws. He has 14 knockout victories, giving him a 64 per cent knockout percentage. Reports are that he is an aggressive fighter who likes to stay close to his opponent, but who also has good hand and foot speed. He is the type of fighter who is not afraid to challenge his opponent, and an action-packed encounter is, therefore, expected. In what could be a signal that he is moving up to a higher weight class, former World Boxing Association (WBA) Featherweight Super Champion Nicholas ‘The Axeman’ Walters, will be fighting American super-featherweight Jason Sosa in a 10-round bout at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in New York on Saturday, December 19. This will be the semi-final on an HBO Boxing After Dark card, featuring a WBA heavyweight title fight between Luis Ortiz and Bryant Jennings. Walters, who had a fantastic climb to the top of the WBA featherweight division, faltered on June 13 this year when he came in overweight in a title defence against Miguel Marriaga and lost his Featherweight Super title on the scale. He went on to win that fight in dramatic style, by unanimous decision, at Madison Square Garden in New York after flooring Marriaga in the ninth round. Job Walters, who is his son’s assistant trainer to Celso Chavez, left Jamaica yesterday for Panama to assist in the pre-fight conditioning. He told The Gleaner before his departure that “we are taking this fight seriously as Nicholas cannot afford to make any mistakes this time around. When he fights in December, it will break a six-month lay-off, and he, therefore, has some hard work ahead over the next six weeks. I am confident that he will beat this boxer and become a champion again soon.” NO ROOM FOR ERRORSlast_img read more

Union submits conditions for RUSAL workers’ reinstatement

first_img…awaiting response from company as impasse standsThe Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) on Friday met with officials of the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) for another round of discussions to put an end to the ongoing friction between the company and its dismissed workers, which ended with no possible solution to the problem.The meeting was held with GBGWU President, Leslie Gonsalves; General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis; Assistant Secretary, Sheldon Thomas; and BCGI branch leaders Ephraim Velloza and Sheldon Thomas. BCGI – owned by Russian Aluminium Company RUSAL – presented its delegation comprising of company representative, Permyakov Vladimir; Personnel Manager, Mikhail Krupenin and Labour Adviser; Mohamed Akeel.RUSAL representatives during a previous meeting with the Union and Labour DepartmentHowever, after amicable talks, RUSAL’s representatives chose to return to their Russian counterpart for advice on the way forward and no agreement was arrived at. The discussion circled around the reinstatement of the dismissed workers and the removal of the blockage on the Berbice River.The Union would have also submitted terms and conditions for which normalcy can be attained, to which the company is yet to respond.While concerned about the “absence of decision-making” on the company’s side, the Union said that they are looking forward to the next engagement on Tuesday.“The Union, while concerned about the absence of decision-making, is prepared to wait on a response expected at the next meeting as this will determine the way forward and the genuine commitment of BCGI of engaging the Union with integrity and willingness for mutually acceptable decision. Until such time the impasse remains.”BCGI had dismissed 61 workers on February 19, 2019, for protesting against a one per cent wage increase and since then, employees blocked a section of the river which leads to the company’s operation located at Aroaima, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). A further 30 persons were dismissed since the affected section of the operation had to be temporarily closed.The Berbice River has been blocked with wire rope, preventing bauxite-laden barges from passing.This publication understands that as a result of the blockages, the Russian company has lost millions already.During a meeting with GBGWU and representatives of RUSAL, the company said it failed to recognise the Union. However, the Union and the company met with representatives of the Labour Department and recognition was given to the workers’ union.Even as the issues with the bauxite workers are being discussed, loggers in the area on Wednesday reached out to Guyana Times pointing out that they have been left in a quandary, as the current blockage of the waterway by dismissed workers and residents is having a negative impact on their operations and businesses.For now, the loggers are not allowed to use the river and have been stranded for almost two weeks. One local sawmill owner from Canje, Berbice, Imtiaz Hoosein, explained to Guyana Times that while attention is being placed on the deadlock between RUSAL and its employees, consideration must be given to other stakeholders who are notably affected.last_img read more

MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO ROBBING DONEGAL POST OFFICE – USING STOLEN MAIL VAN!

first_imgThe scene of the 2014 robbery at Manor post office: Pic Copyright Joe Boland North West News PixThree bungling thieves used a bright red stolen Royal Mail van to carry out a terrifying post office robbery in Co Donegal.The men, all from Derry, dressed up in hi-visibilty jackets before traveling to Manorcunningham to carry out the raid on October 4th last year. The men, carrying a hatchet, knife and hammer terrified the postmistress before making a break for the border with €2,972 in cash from the raid.The men initially tried to break down a locked door of the post office before realising the door beside it was actually open.But unknown to the men, Gardai had been tipped off by their counterparts in the PSNI in Derry that a Royal Mail van had been hi-kjacked in Derry earlier in the day.Detectives were patrolling the border and managed to use a stinger device to bring the getaway mail van to a halt.All three men, who have 300 previous convictions between them, were arrested and appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday after pleading guilt an an earlier court sitting to the charges.Detective Garda Rosemary Rooney recounted the terrifying experience which the gang put the postmistress through.The court heard how Ms Kathleen Diver saw the men in hi-viz jackets coming past the window of her post office carrying weapons and pressed the alarm.However the men burst into the premises and smashed up the entire promises using the hammer and hatchet.The terrified postmistress, who did not come to court, threw the cash at the robbers.The owner of a hairdressing salon next door, Ms Amanda Devenney, managed to contact Gardai who rushed to the scene and also gave chase.All three men, David Knight, who is 37 and from 25 Melmore Gardens in Derry, Noel Lavy, also 37 and from 57 Ballymagowan, Derry, and Joseph McMullan, who is 5 Kavanagh Court were arrested a short time later despite trying to flee across fields when the tyres of the mail van was burst by the Garda stinger.The court heard how all three men came from deprived backgrounds and all had issues with drugs.Barrister Damien Crawford said the raid was carried out with little planning and by men who were all high or under the influence of drugs.“Short of driving a red fire engine or Dr Who’s tardis and wearing hi viz jackets they could be not more conspicuous,” he said.Judge John Aylmer said he needed time to consider all the submissions of the men’s backgrounds and adjourned the case until December 16th next.MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO ROBBING DONEGAL POST OFFICE – USING STOLEN MAIL VAN! was last modified: December 8th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Drake Student-Athletes Set To Receive Degrees

first_imgDES MOINES, Iowa – A total of 47 Drake University student-athletes from 11 different sports will receive their diploma at Drake University’s 140th commencement ceremonies this weekend at the Knapp Center.This group of distinct and successful student-athletes include four Missouri Valley Conference Elite 18 Award winners, two who earned first team all-conference academic honors this past season and multiple MVC Scholar of the Week winners. Nine of the graduates are MVC Presidents Council Award honorees that have maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.80 or better and nine will graduate either summa cum laude or magna cum laude. Athletically, eight of the graduates have earned all-conference honors this season.Saturday’s commencement puts the finishing touches on another outstanding academic year for the Bulldogs. During the fall semester, 69 percent of the student-athletes earned a 3.0 or higher grade point average. A total of 17 Drake student-athletes currently maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA.Additionally, for the second year in a row, Drake was presented with the Missouri Valley Conference All-Academic Award, given to the school with the highest overall GPA in the conference during the 2014-15 season. Below are the student-athletes scheduled to receive their diplomas this weekend. During the year’s earlier fall commencement, 21 student-athletes received their degrees. Here are those recipients.Men’s SoccerAustin Reutzel – Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular BiologyAlex Troester – Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology – Mortar Board, Summa Cum LaudeBrandon Welter – MathematicsWomen’s SoccerMariah Boncek – Biology – Cum LaudeKylie DeHaven – Marketing – Cum LaudeRhian Pritchard – Accounting, International Business – Magna Cum LaudeTricia White – Marketing, International BusinessRowingAshley Beall – EnglishKelsey Leahy – Advertising, Account ManagementAlex Lueck – Actuarial Science, FinanceTristina Meister – Graphic DesignBri Varela – Elementary Teacher Education – Summa Cum LaudeWomen’s TennisMariel Ante – Biology – Biology Honor SocietyJordan Eggleston – Advertising – CreativeMaddie Johnson – PsychologyLea Kozulic – International BusinessMen’s TennisBen Lott – ManagementFootballPhil Hespen – SociologyJordan Siebert – MathematicsAl Wegener – ChemistryMason Massei  – MarketingBryan Pisklo – Accounting/Finance – Cum LaudeWomen’s GolfKatie Clausen – Marketing – Summa Cum LaudeMen’s GolfBlake Huser – ManagementWill McDonald – MarketingMen’s Track & Field/XCRyan Cook – Secondary Teacher EducationSean Buczek – Physics, MathematicsZach Elkins – Psychology, Computer Science Ali Jandal – Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology, Chemistry – Summa Cum LaudeRobert McCann – Mathematics, Actuarial Science – Summa Cum LaudeJames Saxton – Biology – Summa Cum LaudeDavid Silkman – Health Sciences – Cum LaudePierce Vincent – PsychologyWomen’s Track & Field/XCCassie Aerts – Elementary Teacher Education – Summa Cum LaudeKathryn Ambrose – Psychology – Magna Cum LaudeCeleste Arteaga – Health SciencesKayla Bell – Psychology  – Summa Cum LaudeLaura Gann – Psychology, SociologyVirginia Hill – English, Law, Politics & SocietyEmma Huston – Biology, Environmental Science – Summa Cum LaudeTaylor Scholl – International Business/MarketingDestani Welch – PsychologyVolleyballKatie Allen – MarketingShelby Daum – Marketing, Entrepreneurial ManagementRebecca Brown – Public RelationsScarlett Howerter – Health SciencesPrint Friendly Versionlast_img read more

USATF 1-Mile Road Championship fields confirmed for Grand Blue Mile

first_img Garrett Heath 2017 Men’s USATF 1 Mile Championship – Start List As part of the challenge, the community with the highest percentage of its residents participating in Grand Blue Mile — measured by the number of registrants for a given ZIP code against its total population — will be awarded $10,000 to use on a project that promotes safe and accessible places in which to be active, such as a park, playground, or trail. ·         Katie Mackeyo    3-time Falmouth Mile Champion (2013, 2014, 2016)o    7-time All-American (University of Washington)o    Mile personal best: 4:23.6 (road) Grand Blue Mile race officials today announced the elite fields for the 2017 USA 1-Mile Road Championships set for Tuesday, April 25, in Des Moines. A world-class group of elite runners will headline the event, along with more than 2,500 participants who will compete among the recreational and amateur competitive divisions.This year’s race features a top prize of $5,000 each for the men’s and women’s champions with the potential to earn an additional $2,500 for setting a new course record. Overall, $30,000 in prize money will be contested across the men’s and women’s championship divisions. Vying for the national title and a share of the prize are Olympic medalists and World Championship finalists, including:Men’s Division:·         Clayton Murphyo    2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist (800m)o    2015 Pan American Games gold medalist (800m)o    Mile personal record: 3:54.31 (indoor) Brian Llamas Dey Dey Hannah Fields Confirmed mascots in the “fast” division include:·         Maniac (Des Moines Menace)·         Surge (Iowa Energy)·         Viktor (Grandview University)·         Rosie the Reader (Des Moines Public Library) Drew Windle Eleanor Fulton Leo Manzano Maddie Alm Chad Noelle Lex Williams Thomas Awad Katie Mackey Megan Malasarte Riley Masters Margaret Connelly Hillary Bor ·         Leo Manzanoo    2012 Olympic Silver Medalist (1500m)o    9-time NCAA All-American (University of Texas)o    Mile personal record: 3:50.64 Andy Bayer Graham Crawford Josef Tessema Daniel Herrera Brette Correycenter_img Trevor Dunbar 2017 Women’s USATF 1 Mile Championship – Start List Alexina Wilson Izaic Yorks Gabriele Grunewald Pat Casey Amanda Eccleston Shannon Osika “Championing community wellness is at the core of the Grand Blue Mile-Healthiest State Initiative alliance,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark Sponsorship Manager and Grand Blue Mile Official. “Collectively, we appreciate the positive impact everyday movement — like walking or jogging a mile — has on our health, and we’re thrilled to see so many Iowans embracing the challenge and registering themselves, their families, and neighbors.”      Mascot MadnessIowa’s most beloved mascots are back to compete head-to-head in the third-annual Mascot Madness Charity Challenge. The mascot races take place on the backstretch of the Grand Blue Mile course, near 12th Street & Grand Avenue, and follow the recreational division at approximately 6:35 p.m. Mascots will be divided among two categories — the “fast” and the “furriest.” The winning mascot from each division will be awarded a $1,000 prize for their organization’s charitable foundation. ·         Chad Noelleo    2016 Grand Blue Mile Invitational Champion (4:12.11)o    NCAA 1500m Champion (Oklahoma State University)o    Mile personal record: 3:57.78Women’s Division:·         Shannon Rowburyo    American record-holder in the 1500m and the 5Ko    4th in 2016 Olympic Games (1500m)o    2016 World Indoor bronze medalist (3000m) Set the PaceNew for 2017, the Healthiest State Initiative and Grand Blue Mile are teaming up to Set the Pace — encouraging Iowans to develop sustainable, healthy habits, starting with participating in Grand Blue Mile, the popular one-mile walk/run through Downtown Des Moines on April 25. Patrick Peterson Dana Mecke Jamie Cheever Brandon Lasater Meghan Peyton Ashley Maton Shannon Rowbury Confirmed mascots in the “furriest” division include:·         TC (University of Northern Iowa)·         Cubbie Bear (Iowa Cubs)·         Crash (Iowa Wild)·         Spike (Drake University)·         Cy (Iowa State University)·         Herky (University of Iowa)·         Wanda the Wallaby (Blank Park Zoo) Clayton Murphy Tori Tsolis Andy Phillips ·         Amanda Ecclestono    4th in 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials (1500m)o    2-time All-American (University of Michigan)o    Mile personal best 4:20.7 (road)”We are honored to host the USATF 1 Mile Championships and these incredible athletes at the Grand Blue Mile,” said Blake Boldon, Drake Relays Director. “Both fields feature some of America’s best milers, and with the additional incentive to set a new course record, this is a can’t miss event.” Cristian Soratos Register todayRegistration for Grand Blue Mile on April 25 is open and costs $15 for youth (ages 17 and under) and $20 for adults until April 24. Event proceeds support Iowa Kidstrong school fitness programs and the historic Drake Relays. Visit www.GrandBlueMile.com to register for the race, view the course map, find training tips, and get spectator information. Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more

Top travel team shortlisted for Travel Agency of the Year Award

first_imgAtlantic Travel in Letterkenny are celebrating today’s announcement that they have been shortlisted for the ITTN Travel Agency of the Year Awards 2018.Atlantic Travel has been listed as the only Donegal group in the Top 4 Ulster finalists of the travel awards by Irish Travel Trade News.The multi award-winning Atlantic Travel team are delighted with this latest recognition. Manager Emma McHugh said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted for these coveted awards. “To have been selected in the top 4 in Ulster among so many strong competitors is such an achievement.  The nomination recognises the dedication and professionalism the team deliver to our clients on a daily basis.“We have a really great team who are exceptional at what they do and are passionate about travel.“This nomination is a real compliment to our team and is testament to how the industry views them.”Atlantic Travel team unveil their new look offices in January 2018Agencies were nominated for the ITTN awards by airlines, tour operators, and transport companies who selected their preferred firm in each province. The overall winners will be revealed at a Gala Dinner for the 2018 Irish Travel Trade Awards on Friday 23rd November 2018.Atlantic Travel team members: Emma McHugh, Moya McCrossan, Caroline Kerr, Evelyn McClafferty, Mary Toye, Donna Feeney. Missing from photo: Noreen Cullen Top travel team shortlisted for Travel Agency of the Year Award was last modified: July 25th, 2018 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:atlantic travelawardstravel agencylast_img read more

Struggling to Make Evolutionary Sense

first_imgEvolutionists love to quote Dobzhansky, who said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”  But when they go about explaining biological observations, the sense and light seem hard to come by.Biodiversity:  The subject of the emergence of diverse forms of living things seems tailor made for a Darwinian explanation.  Why, then, 150 years after the Origin of Species, did Science Daily write a piece called, “The Puzzle of Biological Diversity”?  The opening paragraph seems to contradict long-held ideas: “Biologists have long thought that interactions between plants and pollinating insects hasten evolutionary changes and promote biological diversity,” it said.  “However, new findings show that some interactions between plants and pollinators are less likely to increase diversity than previously thought, and in some instances, reduce it.”    The findings come from studies of specialized moths that pollinate the Joshua tree.  Researchers found, contrary to expectations, “no evidence that local populations of moths adapt to local populations of Joshua trees.”  One of the researchers boasted that the findings fit his theory, but it’s hard to confirm a theory that can explain opposite outcomes: “But different interactions can have very different effects — some increase diversity, some don’t increase diversity at all, and some can even reduce diversity.”  If this represents a law of evolution, it resembles the Stuff Happens Law.Arms race:  The metaphor of an “evolutionary arms race” is popular among evolutionists.  According to this projection theme, one organism attacks another, causing it to evolve defenses, making the attacker evolve attacks, leading to more defensive evolution, and on and on.  Science Daily claims this theme has been verified in the case of a new model system, a mustard plant and a fly.  The article begins by claiming that this system “promises to answer many long-standing questions surrounding the evolutionary arms race between plant-eating insects and their host plants” – raising two questions immediately: (1) why haven’t long-standing questions about this been answered after 150 years of Darwinian theory, and (2) when will the promised answers arrive?    Noah Whiteman at the University of Arizona bypassed the usual model plant Arabidopsis thaliana for one that he could watch in real time as an insect attacked it.  Genetically tractable systems are “holy grails of any serious science that aim to unravel biological mechanisms down to the level of genes and proteins and signaling molecules.”  This statement suggests that few such systems exist for studying the evolutionary arms race phenomenon.  Whiteman did some good old fashioned field work, observing plants that were attacked by the flies, and then bringing them into his lab.  The observations seemed to indicate that the plants were responding by producing chemicals that mess up the flies’ digestive tract, but he admitted, “It’s very complicated, we don’t really know what’s going on at a molecular level.”    Controlled experiments with knockout genes seem to support ideas that genes respond to attacks and defenses.  The picture is quite complex, though: “As often in ground-breaking research, the initial discovery stirred up a myriad of questions,” including, but not limited to:“…How is the leaf miner responding to the presence or absence of these toxic molecules?  Does it care?  Clearly, it does.  There is a cost for detoxifying, but what is it?”    Ecological questions are waiting to be answered as well.    “We know that the leaf mining habit has evolved probably 25 times in insects,” Whiteman said, “mostly in beetles, butterflies, moths, some wasps and saw flies.  It’s not present in the other insect orders, but why?  How has selection shaped the ability of these insects to colonize an organism with a potent defense response?Clearly, for Whiteman to make sense of this in the light of evolution, he has a lot of work to do.  Incidentally, readers might ask how Arabidopsis thaliana became a model organism for study.  There’s no scientific procedure.  “There seems to be this idea that there is this big convention where people decide what becomes a model organism, when in fact it’s just individuals who decide what can be collected and what will work,” Whiteman remarked.  One wonders if generalizations from a model plant can really be applied to giant eucalyptus trees, the Venus flytrap, cacti and orchids.Protection racket:  Science Daily continued the arms-race theme with birds.  “Like gangsters running a protection racket, drongos in the Kalahari Desert act as lookouts for other birds in order to steal a cut of their food catch,” the article began.  “The behaviour … may represent a rare example of two species evolving from a parasitic to a mutualistic relationship.”  It’s hard to call this an example of evolution, though, because even if their interactions changed, their biology – their genotype and phenotype – remained the same.  And this was called a rare example of such evolution, if it is an example at all (“may represent”).Rewrite the textbooks again:  Some plants, such as cacti and grasses, use an alternative form of photosynthesis called C4.  Evolutionists thought they knew why.  But now, according to PhysOrg, “A new analysis of fossilized grass-pollen grains deposited on ancient European lake and sea bottoms 16-35 million years ago reveals that C4 grasses evolved earlier than previously thought.  This new evidence casts doubt on the widely-held belief that the rise [e.g., evolution] of this incredibly productive group of plants was driven by a large drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations during the Oligocene epoch.”    In other words, if the earlier explanation made sense in the light of evolution, it no longer does.  “The idea that C4 grasses originated prior to global decreases in carbon dioxide levels requires us to reevaluate the way we think about the evolution of C4 photosynthesis,” Dr. David Nelson [U of Maryland] said.  “This new information should encourage the examination of alternate evolutionary selection pressures, such as warm temperatures or dry climates.”Size matters not:  Giving a notion a fancy name sometimes accomplishes little.  “Encephalization” is a term evolutionists invented to describe what they expected to find: increasing brain size relative to body size over time.  Suzanne Schultz and Robin Dunbar at University of Oxford decided to test if encephalization even happens.  Writing in PNAS,1 they noted that “allometric relationships between brain size and body size have been used as a proxy for evolutionary change, despite the validity of this approach being widely questioned.”  For the first time, they tried “quantitatively investigate temporal trends in brain size evolution across a divergent group of mammals” by studying 511 different living and fossil animal skeletons.    Contrary to expectations, they found no encephalization patterns: “Encephalization trends vary across mammalian taxa, with some showing strong evidence for macroevolutionary increase in brain size and others not,” they wrote.  ; “These findings challenge the conventional assumption that encephalization is a general trend across mammalian taxa.”  Whatever pattern they found seemed related to sociality, not fitness, but even that association was weak: “This suggests that the pressure for increased encephalization is associated with some aspect of bonded sociality,” they said, but “There are still unresolved questions regarding the cognitive demands of bonded sociality and what aspects of a taxon’s ecology that made bonded sociality evolutionarily so advantageous” – that is, assuming that the weak correlation is real and indicates a cause or effect.    But even if brain sizes did increase over time, it’s not established that evolution has made progress.  After all, Schultz and Dunbar noted, “A common analogy is drawn with computer technology; over time, size does not directly relate to functional efficacy, even though within comparable technologies it is more likely for a size/function relationship to hold (e.g., when comparing hard drive or RAM size, or dual vs. single Pentium processor speed).  Additionally, an evaluation of variability in total or relative brain size within taxa cannot address general patterns of variation in patterns of brain evolution across groups.”  In short, it’s not clear that any of the data make sense in the light of evolution.    PhysOrg’s writeup, however, completely ignored the problems they admitted, and made it look like evolution triumphed in explaining the data.  “Over millions of years dogs have developed bigger brains than cats because highly social species of mammals need more brain power than solitary animals, according to a study by Oxford University,” it said in bold print.  That is not what the original paper communicated.Snails is snails:  A new PhD is proud of his New Zealand snail collection.  PhysOrg gave Simon Hills, a Maori native, the limelight for extracting the “secrets of evolution” from fossil and genetic data of New Zealand snails.    But nowhere in the short article was there any information about evolution that people really care about: evidence of snails emerging from non-snails, or evolving into something else – after all, even the most hard-core creationists accept “changes over time” within kinds.  Moreover, Hills’ snails are all from a single genus.    Surprisingly, Hills “illustrated that the origins of the modern species are around 13 million years younger then [sic] the oldest known fossil specimens,” yet the snails were still snails after more than twice the time the human brain is claimed to have emerged from chimpanzee-level apes, or a tetrapod mammal is thought to have evolved into a blue whale.    How could a young PhD candidate confuse snail collecting with scientific explanation?  His answer revealed more emotion than philosophical rigor: “The trick with a PhD is to be excited about your topic,” he said.  “My academic record wasn’t that flash.  Then I took a paper on evolutionary biology and that was it.”Leaf multitasking:  Did you know that the veins in a leaf do much more than transport fluid?  In an article on Science Daily, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona compared them to the major organ systems in your body: “It’s like the skeleton because it holds the whole leaf up and lets it capture sunlight and not get blown over in a windstorm.  It’s like the circulatory system because it’s distributing water from the roots up to all the cells within the leaf, and it’s also bringing resources from the leaf back to the rest of the plant after photosynthesis has happened.  It’s also like a nervous system because there are chemical signals that are transmitted to the leaves from other parts of the plant through the liquid in the veins,” he said.    For a student in the department of evolutionary biology, Blonder had surprisingly little to say about evolution (i.e., nothing).  Instead, he was studying how leaves achieve the optimum tradeoffs in trying to fulfill these functions simultaneously in different environments.  Leaf veins, for instance, provide multiple paths to each cell, and can repair alternate pathways in case of damage.  “If the city was designed well, you can still take another road to get to where you want to be,” he said, apparently oblivious to the implications for his own work.Flying snakes:  The news media have been having fun with flying snakes without discussing their evolution (e.g., Science Daily)  Like Buzz Lightyear, some snakes can fall with style, and National Geographic has the video to show it.  Did evolution shed light on this phenomenon?  “This is amazingly interesting and curious, and it’s not at all clear how it works or how it could have evolved,” a physicist from Virginia Tech said.  “I’m just trying to answer these basic questions.”  The Dobzhansky flashlight must be out of order.When scientists can point to a law of nature that allows predictions, they can claim to stand on firm scientific ground.  Biologists envy the neat, mathematical laws of physics that permit no exceptions.  Laws in biology have been few and controversial.  Last week in Science,2 Roberta Millstein, a philosopher at UC Davis, reviewed a book that proudly announced a new, universal biological law of evolution: Biology’s First Law: The Tendency for Diversity and Complexity to Increase in Evolutionary Systems, by Daniel W. McShea and Robert N. Brandon (University of Chicago Press, 2010).  Millstein, fully conversant with the conceptual problems with scientific laws, aware of the debate over whether biological laws even exist, seemed amused by the bold claim of these two non-philosophical biologists to have found one.    And some law: McShea and Brandon concocted a “zero-force evolution law” (ZFEL) that seems indistinguishable from random stuff happening.  They explained it by an analogy (paraphrased by Millstein):Imagine a yard containing a number of trees, and imagine that the wind blows from each point of the compass with equal probability.  Come autumn, the result will be an increase in the dispersal of the leaves over time.  This, they suggest, is a zero-force state because there are no directional forces acting on the leaves.  Yet there is a change over time (unlike the phenomenon described by the law of inertia in physics)—the leaves that were originally clustered about the trees become more dispersed.  And if an evolutionary system is similarly in a zero-force state, it too will experience an increase in divergence over time.Do McShea and Brandon really believe that this kind of notion is going to explain the origin of bird flight and dolphin sonar and cellular motors? (see CMI article on ATP synthase to see what evolution is up against).    Millstein seemed almost patronizing in her attempt not to call this silly.  She took apart their terms and concepts and showed that the authors confused forces, causes, and empiricism.  “What happens, then, if (in spite of its name) the ZFEL isn’t really a zero-force law at all?  The authors’ generalization loses some of its rhetorical punch, perhaps, but punch isn’t everything,” she ended, with a grin discernible in the subtext.  If the ZFEL holds in many cases, then it’s just like seeing a forest in the trees.  If it holds for few cases, then “in each case we will have to consider whether we need to invoke special explanations for observed increases in diversity over time.”  But if one has to invoke special explanations in each case, all hopes for having discovered a scientific law are gone.    There might be a baby somewhere in all this bath water (or, to maintain the Dobzhansky metaphor, some sense in the light of evolution): “A generalization does not have be a zero-force law, or a law at all, in order to be important, useful, and informative.”  After all, sometimes “Stuff happens” is a useful answer to a question.1.  Suzanne Schultz and Robin Dunbar, “Encephalization is not a universal macroevolutionary phenomenon in mammals but is associated with sociality,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print November 22, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1005246107.2.  Robert L. Millstein, “Evolution: A Law by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet,” Science, 19 November 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6007 pp. 1048-1049, DOI: 10.1126/science.1197366.For you Darwin-loving anti-creationist skeptics dropping by, will you not study this entry?  Where is the evidence that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”?  Where is the light?  Where is the sense?  These 8 entries are typical of the standard fare that passes through the science news on a daily basis.  Are you proud of this stuff?  Is this what you call science?  Is this what you call Enlightenment?    For the rest of us who have not left off common sense, this is the theory that its promoters say is so well established, so obvious, so enlightening, that to believe anything else makes one insane or wicked.  It is the theory that must be forced on all our students.  No student shall be allowed to read a warning label, or hear a short statement at the beginning of the semester for 30 seconds that perhaps there are some problems with Charlie’s big tale and there are alternatives one can read about if desired.  Try that and the wrath of the Darwin Establishment brings down fire and brimstone on you.  Incredible.    If so many powerful people didn’t believe this stuff, it would be called a cult.  Now it has become a culture.  And like a diseased culture in a body, some strong antibiotics are needed to restore science to health.(Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA seeks ‘balanced trade’ with China

first_img12 September 2013 South Africa is looking to foster a more balanced and sustainable trade relationship with China, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said at the opening of the last in a series of three South African expos in Beijing on Thursday. The expo, taking place at the Beijing Exhibition Centre, is showcasing South Africa’s top 10 value-added products and services for export to China, as well as the country’s top 10 investment areas, including agro-processing, chemicals, and automotive steel and aluminium. A total of 63 South African companies have been taking part in the expos, which began in Xiamen earlier this week before moving to Shanghai and now to Beijing. China is South Africa’s largest trading partner from both the import and export perspective, with South Africa’s exports to China increasing from R6.4-billion in 2004 to just over R81-billion in 2012, while South Africa’s imports from China grew to R120-billion in 2012. South Africa places emphasis on value-added trade, as opposed to the country being merely the source of raw materials. Chinese investments have been mainly focused on metals, followed by chemicals, food and tobacco, consumer electronics and automotives. “We are slowly seeing a shift in our export structure, and although the value of exports to China is still negligible, we believe that over time, the patterns of trade will evolve,” said Thabethe. She said South Africa was looking forward to China buying “made in Africa” products coming out of a future trilateral free trade area covering 26 countries in southern, eastern and central Africa. The free trade area – currently being worked on by the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (Comesa) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) – “will effectively expand South Africa’s market from 50-million to 600-million, placing us in a similar category in terms of market size as our BRICS partners,” Thabethe said. Jiachang Cao, the deputy director-general in China’s ministry of commerce, told a a business seminar held at the expo on Thursday that China saw South Africa as an important and strategic trade partner, and was looking to deepen relations between the two countries. The Chinese government was also supportive of development in the country and on the continent, Jiachang said, and was encouraging businesses to invest in South Africa. Chinese companies already doing business in South Africa include Baosteel Resources SA, Sanyu Southern Africa and PMG Mining. Thabethe, also addressing the seminar, said South Africa was ideally positioned for access to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with its combined market of over 250-million people. She added that the South African government was on an infrastructure drive which would see it investing R827-billion in building and upgrading infrastructure over the next three years. In 2012, Chinese companies completed construction contracts in Africa worth US$40.83-billion, an increase of 45% over 2009. SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

Farm Credit Head: System Safe, Sound

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — Though agriculture is experiencing pressures on a number of fronts, the head of the Farm Credit Administration told federal lawmakers on Tuesday the overall credit system remains in good shape.Glen R. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of the FCA, said during a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit that, despite all the challenges in the industry, most farms are holding their own.Because the general economy in the United States is good, Smith said farm families are seeing the benefits.“Although overall farm finances have declined in recent years, most farms remain financially strong,” he said.“A strong economy and labor market are helping support the incomes of these producers as well as larger producers. Many producers continue to find ways to cut costs and make the most of the marketing opportunities when prices rise temporarily. Still, the financial pressure can be significant for individual producers, particularly those who suffered yield losses in recent years.”One major concern for FCA is U.S. farmers have taken on an estimated $41 billion in additional farm debt since 2016. Adjusted for inflation, total farm debt is nearing the record set about 40 years ago.“Income shortfalls have cut working capital and elevated borrowing needs,” Smith said. “With cash flows tight, the number of producers finding it difficult to repay their loans is growing, albeit at a modest pace. Increasingly, producers are restructuring their debts to improve their cash flow.”Smith said FCA’s entire loan portfolio, however, is seeing low levels of credit stress, although there are signs of weakness in the system.FINANCIAL STRESS REGIONALIZEDMost financial stress is regionalized, he said, and is most prevalent in the dairy and grain segments. Of the 10 states with the highest levels of distressed loans, according to FCA, six are in the Midwest.“Some farmers will continue to restructure their balance sheets to the extent they are able and/or make changes in their operations to reduce production costs,” Smith told the subcommittee.“Fortunately, both the Farm Credit System and the Farm Credit Administration are laser-focused on cash flow and loan repayment. This approach contrasts with ‘collateral lending,’ which contributed to the 1980s farm financial crisis. Lenders are also much more proactive with borrowers encountering difficulty, encouraging them to adjust their operations before it is too late. Importantly, in the most recent farmland price run-up, system institutions used lending caps and other practices to mitigate lending risks associated with higher land prices.”Farmland values are what have helped agriculture weather the storm, although some Midwestern states have seen land values fall off. For example, Nebraska has seen values fall 15% to 20% in recent years.“While farmer interest and financial ability to purchase land have waned, the limited amount of land for sale, solid non-farmer demand, and low interest rates have contributed to the stability in land markets,” Smith said.Because farmland markets have remained stable, he said, borrowers have been able to restructure balance sheets with longer-term debt and free up working capital.Still, Smith said FCA is concerned land values could decline if an increasing amount of land is put up for sale.“With declining land prices, farm balance sheets could deteriorate more quickly, and a farm borrower’s ability to restructure debt or obtain additional financing could weaken,” he said.“System institutions have indicated that, as lenders, they will work with customers if they are willing and able to make changes to their operations to restore profitability. Fortunately, system institutions have the financial capacity to work with their customers. Other lenders may not have this capacity, or some borrowers may have already used up their opportunities to restructure their balance sheets. Either case creates concern if farm stress intensifies in the coming years.”THE FCA SYSTEM NUMBERSSmith said the overall farm credit system remains “strong and sound” and is well capitalized to help agriculture producers.As of June 30, 2019, the FCA system had $61.2 billion in capital available, an increase from $57.3 billion in 2018.The FCA reports an increase in nonperforming assets totaling $2.5 billion this year, or 0.92% of loans and other property owned as of June 30, 2019. This is an increase from $2.3 billion or 0.83% at the end of 2018.The FCA has seen a small increase in loan delinquencies compared to 2018, Smith said.“While credit risk in the system’s portfolio has increased, the system’s risk-bearing capacity remains strong,” he said. “The system continues to have reliable access to the debt capital markets. Investor demand for all system debt products remains positive, allowing the system to continue to issue debt on a wide maturity spectrum at competitive rates.Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.comFollow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(CZSK)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

6 Tips for Submitting a Film to GIFF

first_img2. Tell a story only you can tellThere’s nothing wrong with your film being about a geocaching love story, a race to the FTF, or a geocaching montage, but be aware that we’ve seen those themes a lot in the past. After watching the finalist films from previous years, where do you find the art in geocaching? How do you make this game your own? And don’t forget that your film can be fiction or in a documentary style.3. Make it globalGeocaching is an international game, and so is every GIFF audience. Try to show an element of the geocaching experience that people in different corners of the world can connect with. Try to find a balance between a film that is personal to you and one that others can relate to.4. Make it visualShow, don’t tell! Film is visual medium—you’ll have your audience hanging on tenterhooks by keeping the voiceover and dialogue short and sweet. This GIFF 2015 finalist film was able to do a lot with no dialogue at all.5. Less is moreJust because you can submit up to 4 minutes of video doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Ask yourself, “What is the simplest way I can tell this story?” Then, add more if you can’t resist. This will help you focus on what is truly important and keep your audience engaged. 2015 GIFF finalist, Travel Bug Story, tells a sweet and simple story in under 2 minutes!6. Focus on qualityWe understand if geocaching comes before filmmaking on your hobby list—we’re not looking for Hollywood here. We are, however, looking for videos that will look and sound good on the big screen. As much as you may love your GoPro, simply wearing it around while you go geocaching usually doesn’t make for the best footage. If you can, use a tripod and an external mic. If you can’t, have your actors speak close to your on-camera mic and use a natural tripod like a tree limb or your friend’s shoulder. The 2015 finalist, The Future of Geocaching, is a great example. For more technical tips, check out Vimeo’s Video School. Share with your Friends:More SharePrint Related5 Tips for getting your video into GIFF 2015June 15, 2015In “Community”Calling all filmmakers! Submit your film to GIFF 2017.March 13, 2017In “Community”Last Call: GIFF Videos Due July 1stJune 17, 2014In “Community” The Geocaching International Film Festival is returning for another year of epic geocaching moments captured on camera.If you’re a filmmaker, a geocacher, or something in between, GIFF 2017 is your chance to have your geocaching film viewed by thousands of people on movie screens all over the world. Submissions are due August 1, 2017.But before you start filming, check out these tips all GIFF filmmakers should follow!1. Know the rules for submissionSeriously. Read the rules. In the past we’ve had to reject films that:Are longer than 4 minutes. We immediately disqualify these entries.Show footage of a geocache that they either don’t have permission to spoil or that doesn’t follow all basic requirements for hiding a geocache. If you’ve received permission to show an active geocache, make a note of that in the film submission form.Include footage that is not family friendly. By “family friendly” we mean: no nudity, sexually explicit or suggestive content, profanity, firearms or other weapons, racist, harassing or otherwise offensive content or content that would be inappropriate for children, such as violent or frightening content. Several times in the past, we’ve had to disqualify film entries for scenes that are too frightening for young kids.Use footage, music, photos, etc. that they don’t have rights to.  Here are some free, fair-use music resources:Free Play MusicVimeo Music Store (choose Creative Commons/free)Garage Band (mac app)LMMS (PC app) Submit Your Filmlast_img read more