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Thousand Oaks shooting: Warriors’ Steve Kerr offers empathy

first_imgOAKLAND — As he processed the news, Warriors coach Steve Kerr conveyed both empathy and frustration.Another mass shooting occurred, the latest at a Thousand Oaks country music bar that killed 13 people, including the alleged gunman. Kerr, who has spoken out on gun violence anytime an incident has happened, took the microphone once again before the Warriors hosted the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday at Oracle Arena.“We’re going to have a moment of silence out here tonight. We had a moment of …last_img

National parks, wilderness areas in California could expand under sweeping new bill

first_imgIn the largest land conservation bill passed by Congress in 10 years, vast areas of California’s desert are headed for new protections that would prohibit mining, roads and off-highway vehicles, and enlarge two national parks, Death Valley and Joshua Tree.The bill would designate 1.3 million acres of federal land across the American West as wilderness, the highest level of protection, establish four new national monuments, and set aside more than 600 miles of rivers from dams and other …last_img

49ers gave Russell Wilson a chance to win, so — of course — he did

first_imgSANTA CLARA — When you have a chance to slay the boogeyman, you cannot hesitate.The 49ers’ boogeyman is Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.And on Monday night — in their biggest challenge of the season to date — the 49ers had countless chances to beat him and their arch-rivals from the Pacific Northwest. Countless chances to take the upper hand in a rivalry that has been lopsided for half a decade. Countless chances to announce to the NFL that they are, in fact, an elite squad this …last_img

Animals Got Rhythm; Scientists Don’t

first_imgHere’s a biological puzzle with plenty of room for young researchers to solve: the workings of biological rhythms.  All animals respond to rhythms in periods of hours, days, weeks, months, and years, but as George E. Bentley (UC Berkeley) wrote in Current Biology,1 how they do it is only partially understood.  “Sometimes the questions are simple and the answers are complicated,” he ended his article.    And complicated it is.  Here’s just a portion of the caption to one of his diagrams called “Proposed novel pathways of photoperiodic timing in birds and mammals” to glaze your eyeballs:(A) A diagrammatic representation of the proposed novel pathway for photoperiodic timing in birds.  (1) The light signal enters the brain via the skull and is detected by extra-retinal, deep brain photoreceptors (2), the exact identity and location of which are not yet known.  Long day lengths induce TSH and Dio2 expression (3) in the pars tuberalis (red) and mediobasal hypothalamus, respectively, thereby causing a local increase in T3.  This increase in T3 is conveyed via an unknown pathway to promote the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from neurons (4) in the pre-optic area.  GnRH then induces the release of gonadotropins luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland into the bloodstream to cause gonadal activation (5).  Note the lack of involvement of melatonin in this proposed pathway, even though the pineal gland in birds is light-sensitive in its own right. (There will be no quiz.)  That was just the bird part.  A different complex system exists in mammals.  But the complexity does not end there.  Animals, with their widely differing gestation periods, exhibit many variations on the theme.  Some respond to melatonin and thyroid hormones in different ways, at different rates, and from different parts of the brain.  There appears to be no unifying mechanism.  From hamster to elephant, animals have not told evolutionists what rules or natural law govern their rhythms (see footnote 3 for two attempts). Bentley commented, “However exciting and potentially important these recent findings might be from the perspectives of ecology, physiology and evolution, it’s obvious that they do not provide us with the full picture.  For example, how is this common mechanism tweaked so as to cause short-day breeding in some species and long-day breeding in others?”  He did not explain who or what does the tweaking.    Bentley’s article was one of several in a special issue of Current Biology devoted to the phenomenon of animal and plant rhythms.  In an Editorial in the same issue,2 Albert Goldbeter (U of Brussels) began, “The development and harmonious functioning of an organism depend on the exquisite coordination of myriad intertwined biological processes.”  Just one of those is biological timing.  Animals need to know when to eat, when to sleep, when to hibernate, when to reproduce, and much more.  “The period of biological rhythms spans more than ten orders of magnitude, from a fraction of a second up to tens of years,” he added.  These rhythms are tightly coupled to regulatory processes in the cell and the animal as a whole.    Only now are scientists beginning to understand the multiple feedback loops and regulatory processes that begin at the molecular level and extend up to the visible behavior of a whole population.  This is a field ripe for systems biology – a new approach to biology that keeps the big picture in mind.  Goldbeter explained: “Because rhythmic behavior cannot be ascribed to a single gene or enzyme, and rather constitutes a systemic property originating from regulatory interactions between coupled elements in a metabolic or genetic network, cellular rhythms represent a prototypic field of research in systems biology.”  For instance, the big-picture look has revealed a phenomenon called the limit cycle.  This concept is a central figure in the study of biological rhythms, he said.  How do limit cycles work? Models help unraveling the dynamics of cellular rhythms and show that sustained oscillatory behavior often corresponds, in the concentration space, to the evolution toward a closed curve known as a limit cycle.  Cycling once around this trajectory takes exactly one period.  The closed trajectory is generally unique in a given set of conditions, and is particularly stable as it can be reached regardless of initial conditions.His use of evolution here (one of only two mentions in the two papers) does not refer to Darwinian evolution, but to the unfolding of the limit cycle as a consequence of multiple inputs.  The only other mention of evolution, by Bentley, was only a passing reference – and that in the most general terms (see quote in paragraph 2, above).  Other papers in the series mentioned evolution only in passing; only two tried to discuss it in some detail, with questionable success.3    In his final paragraph, Goldbeter described the pervasive and intertwined nature of biological rhythms with an analogy.  Again, don’t cram for a quiz.The ubiquity and physiological significance of biological rhythms can be illustrated by one last example, which shows how rhythms are often nested in a manner reminiscent of Russian dolls.  In the process of reproduction, several rhythms play key roles at different stages and with markedly distinct periods.  Fertilization of an egg triggers a train of Ca2+ [doubly ionized calcium] spikes that are essential for successful initiation of development.  Prior to these Ca2+ oscillations of a period of the order of minutes, ovulation requires appropriate levels of LH and FSH established through pulsatile signaling by GnRH with a period close to one hour (the response of pituitary cells to GnRH also involves high-frequency Ca2+ oscillations).  The ovulation cycle is itself periodic, and takes the form of the menstrual cycle in the human female.  Capping these various periodicities, in many animal species reproductive activity varies according to an annual rhythm controlled by the photoperiod, through modulation of the circadian secretion of melatonin.  In a final manifestation of the ticking of the biological clock, ovulation stops at menopause.  At the very core of life, the reproductive process highlights the deeply rooted links between rhythms and time in biological systems.1.  George E. Bentley, “Biological Timing: Sheep, Dr. Seuss, and Mechanistic Ancestry,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 17, 9 September 2008, Pages R736-R738.2.  Guest editorial by Albert Goldbeter, “Biological rhythms: Clocks for all times,” Current Biology, Vol 18, R751-R753, 09 September 2008.3.  A quick word search on “evolution” in the other six papers in the series found only two discussing it in some detail.  One European team’s analysis, however, did not explain how these complex systems actually originated by mutation and natural selection.  They provided only a just-so story on how the different mechanisms in different groups of animals might have been related ancestrally.  Their language glossed over the origin of a multitude of complex systems with phrases like “the evolution of” and “the development of” sprinkled with doubt-words like probably, likely, may have and our interpretation.  They also spoke of the “flow of information” and repeatedly mentioned function without explaining those design-theoretic concepts in Darwinian terms.  Overall, it was clear they were assuming evolution rather than demonstrating it; they assumed that natural selection was capable of providing whatever structure that the “evolutionary pressures” were demanding.  Here is their complete citation (reiterated with diagram in their Figure 4); it can be considered representative of the other 5 papers in the series that mentioned evolution (most of them with just a passing reference that was not germane to their subject matter, and some with contrary evidence and damaging admissions). The unusual direction of information flow described here probably reflects an ancestral mechanism preceding the evolution of a separation between the hypothalamus and pituitary and the development of a local portal blood system linking the tissues.  In ancestral vertebrates (Figure 4, left), it is likely that photoreceptor expression in multiple sites in the central nervous system (CNS) served discrete principal functions: control of vision (lateral eyes), circadian rhythms (pineal structures), and photoperiodism (deep brain and pituitary).  In mammals (Figure 4, right), photoreceptor loss has led to the lateral eyes’ assuming all light-sensing functions, with pineal melatonin secretion becoming a humoral relay for photoperiodic information to pituitary and deep-brain sites.  Additionally, distinct regions of the ancestral brain have become specialized for different functions, notably the hypothalamus for integration of environmental cues and the pituitary for hormone production.  Our interpretation is that photoperiodic control has been assumed by TSH expression at the PT-brain interface, allowing information encoded in the melatonin signal to reach hypothalamic sites.  Birds may be viewed as an intermediate scenario in which compartmentalization of endocrine control into sites of integration (hypothalamus) and output (pituitary) has occurred, but extraretinal photoreceptor sites persist.  The highly derived state of the photoperiod-transduction pathway in mammals may well reveal the constraints imposed by their nocturnal ancestry.Hanon et al, “Ancestral TSH Mechanism Signals Summer in a Photoperiodic Mammal,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 15, 5 August 2008, Pages 1147-1152.The other paper that discussed evolution in detail arguably only spun just-so stories uneasily in the face of contrary evidence:A re-evaluation of the role of the TTFL [transcriptional/translational feedback loops] in eukaryotes is underway.  Can the cyanobacterial clock system [a complex clock in the simplest of unicellular organisms] tell us anything about clocks in eukaryotes?  Eukaryotic circadian genes have no detectable homology to kaiABC sequences, so if there is an evolutionary relationship between the bacterial and eukaryotic systems, it is so diverged as to be genetically invisible.  But what about the possibility of convergence to a fundamentally similar biochemical mechanism?  It might seem implausible that clocks of independent origin would converge upon an essentially similar core PTO [post-translational oscillator] made more robust by an overlying TTFL.  However, the advantages that accrue to the cyanobacterial system by having a post-translational mechanism at its core are also relevant to eukaryotic clocks.  For example, individual mammalian fibroblasts express cell-autonomous, self-sustained circadian oscillations of gene expression that are largely unperturbed by cell division in a fashion reminiscent of cyanobacteria.  Could the necessity for imperturbability, even when buffeted by the massive intracellular changes provoked by cell division, provide an evolutionary driving force for circadian clock mechanisms to converge on a relatively similar core mechanism?  The results from cyanobacteria, combined with recent results from eukaryotic systems that do not easily fit into the original TTFL formulation, embolden such speculations.Foster and Roenneberg, “Human Responses to the Geophysical Daily, Annual and Lunar Cycles,” Current Biology, Vol 18, R816-R825, 09 September 2008.Clocks within clocks within clocks – wouldn’t William Paley be astonished.  Pay no mind to those Darwinian storytellers in the footnotes; they are assuming 99% of what they need to prove, and still scrambling to come up with plots that thinking people would not laugh at.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Platypus Evolution “Remains a Mystery”

first_imgEvolution spectacularly fails to explain one of the planet’s most intriguing animals.No contest. It was like watching a presumed world champion forfeit at the beginning of a highly-advertised boxing match. The National Geographic banner reads, “How the Venomous, Egg-Laying Platypus Evolved.” The tension in the arena is electric as the champion steps into the ring. The announcer introduces the champion and states the rules. Finally, NG will crush the creationist opponent by answering the long-standing challenge!If there was a poster animal for diversification, it would have to be the platypus. It looks like an otter that’s gone trick-or-treating as a duck.It’s a mashup that inspired Mark Anthony Libre to ask Weird Animal Question of the Week: “How did [the platypus] evolve in this unlikely fashion?”It was not to be. The presumed champion quit in the first round, uttering a barrage of excuses. Reporter Liz Langley interviews shamed contestant Wes Warren (Washington University, St Louis) for explanation.“The platypus is an Australian mammal with some weirdly reptilian traits, like egg-laying.” This is an observation, not an explanation.“While we think of mammals and reptiles as very different, at one time they were more closely related,” says Warren. This is an assertion from his own position, not an argument.“Warren led the 2008 study that found that the platypus has genetic similarities to reptiles, birds, and mammals.” This should constitute a falsification to evolutionists, since the three groups are separated by millions of years, and no other mammal retained the particular traits of the platypus. Langley writes, “Mammal-like reptiles diverged from the lineage they shared with birds and reptiles about 280 million years ago.” Then in the evolutionary scenario, “Around 80 million years later, the monotremes—or egg-laying mammals—split off from the mammalian lineage, says Rebecca Young, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin,” intervening like an assistant helping to help revive the boxer who is sweating in the corner.How about some fossils? Warren points to an extinct monotreme from South America with a duckbilled snout like the platypus’s, but then says, “but is likely not close kin.” The crowd boos, impatient with the lack of explanation.Warren quits the arena without answering the challenge. “But why platypuses ‘stopped evolving and losing these components that make a mammal a mammal,’ such as fur, remains a mystery, says Warren.”Seeking to save face after the disastrous forfeit, the assistant intercedes again: “Speaking of evolution, the platypus is a good reminder that the process can be random, with mutations and adaptations that happen along the way, Young says.”The forfeiture is evident from Young’s appeal to the Stuff Happens Law. But the platypus is clearly not random. It is a unified whole, fully adapted to its habitat. It can hunt in the dark with an electric sense. It has cute eyes and sleek fur. The males have a poison spur on the foot that Warren knows cannot be explained by mutations and selection over millions of years.Warren led a 2010 study that found 83 toxins in platypuses’ venom, which contains genes that resemble the venom genes of other animals, including snakes, starfish, and spiders.So what is his explanation for that? Langley displays it on the arena’s projection screens: “It’s likely an example of convergent evolution, in which unrelated species evolve similar traits.” Excuses about convergence are even evident in the platypus’s scientific name: Ornithorhynchus paradoxus, which means, “a paradox of an animal with a bird-like mouth.”The creationist challenger is doing a victory dance in the ring, to the cheers of the crowd, as Warren’s supporters boo and leave in disgust. “Convergent evolution” is no explanation at all. A trait is unlikely to emerge by chance one time, let alone 83 times! Does Warren and his NG sponsor really expect the crowd to believe that the platypus lucked out imitating snakes, starfish and spiders?The creationist takes the microphone. “The platypus is real,” he says. “It’s not a duck costume stuck on an otter.” He reminds them that evolutionists at first thought the platypus was a hoax when it was revealed to British scientists in 1798 (British zoologist George Shaw even cut into the duckbill with scissors, looking for stitches). Instead, he continues, the platypus is a beautifully designed animal with numerous irreducibly complex traits magnificently designed for its habitat. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” he quips, to the chuckles of the audience, “if the Creator made the platypus to embarrass evolutionists.” (Visited 226 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

New low-cost airline for rural South Africa

first_imgThe South African National Taxi Council’snew low-cost airline is due to officiallylaunch on 16 September, and will startoperating in November. (Image: airplane-pictures.net) MEDIA CONTACTS • AJ Mthembu Santaco +27 12 321 1043 RELATED ARTICLES • Green airline goes greener • 1time to start flying from Lanseria • Zambezi Airlines lands in SA • Mango starts flying from LanseriaNosimilo RamelaThe South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) plans to launch a new low-cost airline to accommodate the scores of people from rural areas who work in the main cities and are forced to make their frequent trips home via bus or taxi, as they cannot afford plane tickets.Santaco’s business development officer Nkululeko Buthelezi said the airline would be called the Santaco Express. The service is due to officially launch on 16 September, and will start operating in November.Buthelezi said the airline would focus on routes untouched by other domestic airlines – going into more rural areas of the country.“We specialise in awkward areas because that’s where our business is,” said Santaco president AJ Mthembu.Buthelezi named local company AirQuarius Aviation, which works with other domestic airlines in the country including SA Express and SA Airlink, as the initial managers of the airline. Once the venture is up and running AirQuarius will hand over all management to Santaco, most likely within 18 to 24 months.AirQuarius Aviation is based at Lanseria Airport and provides services such as aircraft management; training and development of pilots and crew; aircraft sales, leasing and charters; and aircraft maintenance.According to Buthelezi, the company will initially supply Santaco Express with a 100-seater craft and a crew, as well as the necessary aviation licences.The airline is planning to operate one or two flights a day between Lanseria International Airport in Gauteng and Bhisho in the Eastern Cape, with a stop thereafter at Cape Town International.Mthembu said the ticket will include transport from the taxi rank to the airport, and then a transfer to a taxi rank at the destination.“We will be building everything into one price in the affordable sector.”He added that the final cost of a ticket had not yet been decided, but that Santaco was considering prices ranging between R500 (US$74) and R600 ($89) for a one way ticket.“The sky is the limit”Commuters welcomed the announcement.“We are so excited about this airline,” said Luthando Nyawuza from Bhisho. “I work in Johannesburg but my family lives in the Eastern Cape, I try to visit home every two months which is a long taxi trip taking 14 to 15 hours. This is usually over a weekend, which means I spend a whole day travelling there spend one day with my family before having to travel another full day back to Johannesburg.”Nyawuza said that the new airline would cut down on travelling, and allow for more family time.He added that the high cost of air travel and the long distances between airports and residential areas made it difficult for him to afford a plane ticket home.“I appreciate what the taxi drivers are doing for us. They are really looking out for us people from the rural areas because they come from there and are considerate to our needs. I never thought this kind of service would be possible for us. Clearly only the sky is the limit.”He said that the proposed air ticket prices compare favourably to what commuters already pay to travel in buses or taxis.Repositioning the taxi industrySantaco CEO Bongani Msimang said Santaco planned to transform the taxi industry, and the airline was but one of many initiatives in the pipeline. He said Santaco aims to become a leader in mass affordable, safe, and reliable transportation.Another of Santaco’s goals, said Msimang, was to move away from an informal structure, and become a body that was appropriately organised and run like a corporate business at all levels.“This would involve redefining the scope of the industry to include other transport modes such as bus and rail to ensure we don’t lose our market share,” he said.last_img read more

South African photographer documents pantsula

first_img5 February 2016Profiled in a recent New York Times (NYT) photo essay, South African photographer Chris Saunders says his love of the pantsula dance culture stems from its spontaneous and makeshift energy and the positive message the dance’s champions are trying to spread.“The guys are trying to spread a message of better living through the dance,” he told the NYT Everywhere you walk down a road, there’s kids playing, people dancing, people barbecuing, it’s (has) a vibe. It’s street culture.”What started as an eight-week assignment for Dance magazine soon turned into a six-year obsession with the art and artists of pantsula.As described in the NYT article, pantsula is defined as combining “precise and technical footwork and house music, (while using) hectic city streets as their stage, surrounded by traffic, pedestrians and vendors”. The dance moves are steeped in history, both cultural and political, and rooted in the African sense of community and the joy of freedom of movement.And it is not merely a dance of improvisation and spontaneity, with many dancers forming well-coordinated troupes that practise long hours to come up with the best and most original routines. For many in the townships, the pantsula dancer is both a hero and an entertainer.Together with German writer Daniela Goeller, Saunders set out in 2012 to comprehensively document the real story behind the dance, intent on recording the art form’s greater significance in modern South African youth culture. “There is no coherent documentation about this dance form, its history, where it comes from,” Goeller said in the NYT article. “There is really an opportunity to gather this information so this culture can be recognised.”Saunders explains that he didn’t want to focus on the negativity that surrounds the reality of a lot of people’s lives in the pantsula scene. “I wanted to focus on the dance, the beauty of the culture and what they’re trying to portray to the world.”Goeller, Saunders and four of the most respected pantsula dancers in Johannesburg have since founded the Impilo Mapantsula collective. It unites over 50 pantsula troupes from around Gauteng, supporting their professional development and improving their personal circumstances.Proceeds from Saunders’ photography exhibitions around the world, as well as a book with Goeller that documents the history and culture of pantsula, will contribute to helping the dancers fulfil their dance dreams and personal goals.Source: News24Wire/New York Timeslast_img read more

Rural business and energy grant sessions

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The USDA, Rural Development will be holding three free Rural Business Development Grant and Rural Energy for America Program information sessions and application workshops in Reynoldsburg, Nelsonville, and Findlay. The first hour will be for anyone interested in RBDG and the second hour will be on REAP.  You are invited to come and learn about the programs, receive information on the application processes, and ask questions.  Both programs have an upcoming deadline of May 2, 2016.Eligible entities for REAP are rural, small, for-profit businesses and agricultural producers — urban or rural.  Eligible entities for RBDG are rural public entities such as towns, non-profit corporations and institutions of higher learning.  To learn more about these programs please see the fact sheets that are attached or go to our website at: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs/business-programs.WHEN:                     March 1st from 9:30 – 10:30 RBDG                                    March 1st from 10:45 – 11:45 REAPWHERE:                  Ohio Department of Agriculture8995 E Main Street, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 Seminar Room WHEN:                     March 15th from 9:30 – 10:30 RBDG                                    March 15th from 10:45 – 11:45 REAPWHERE:                  Wayne National Forest Headquarters                                    13700 US Hwy 33, Nelsonville, OH 45764Conference Room                                   WHEN:                     March 17th from 9:30 – 10:30 RBDG                                    March 17th from 10:45 – 11:45 REAPWHERE:                  USDA, Rural Development                                    7868 County Road 140, Findlay, Ohio 45840Conference RoomAll are welcome.  Reservations are not required.If you have any questions or would like additional information, for REAP please call Christie Hooks at (614) 255-2397 or email at [email protected]; for RBDG please call Cindy Musshel at (614) 255-2427 or email at [email protected]last_img read more

Agronomists, CCAs and custom applicators invited to FSR Agronomy College

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Agronomists, Certified Crop Advisers (CCA) and custom applicators can stay current on agronomy issues on the grounds of the Farm Science Review this September.The Farm Science Review Agronomy College, hosted by the Ohio AgriBusiness Association in partnership with Ohio State University Extension, will bring industry experts, OSU staff and researchers, and agronomy service providers together to enhance collective knowledge and learning at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio, on Sept. 13 — one week before the start of the annual three-day farm show.“The Agronomy College provides insightful information and education for agronomists and applicators to better serve their customers,” said Harold Watters, certified professional agronomist, CCA and assistant professor in agricultural and natural resources at Ohio State. “Attendees will be able to confidently apply current research and knowledge in their businesses as a result of this event.”The full-day event features time with OSU Extension staff in the field at the small agronomy plots and larger demonstration field on the east side of the grounds. Breakout sessions will feature topics including tip selection and herbicide tolerant crops, nutrient application, and precision ag.CCA and pesticide application credits are also available to those attending.This is the second year the FSR Agronomy College will be held through the partnership between OABA and OSU Extension.“OABA continues to build and grow its industry partnerships to provide access to a broader resource base in an ever-changing industry,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO. “This event is a great opportunity to help service providers meet the evolving needs of their customers at a personal, professional and industry-wide level.”Registration for the Agronomy College is $120 per participant. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with on-site welcome and registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. To register or for more information, visit oaba.net/events, call 614-326-7520 or email [email protected]last_img read more