19 Dec

Evolution Everyone Can Agree On

first_imgThe controversy over Darwinian evolution concerns one core question: Can an unplanned, undirected process generate new functions and complex organs of irreducible complexity without design?  No one really doubts that organisms vary in horizontal or downward ways – either by modifications of existing genetic information, or by deleterious mutations that somehow allow animals to continue to survive.  Here are some recent examples.Churkey lurkey:  The Transylvanian naked neck chicken is an ungainly bird with a long red neck (see picture in a BBC News) article).  “The ‘churkey’ owes its distinctive look to a complex genetic mutation, according to scientists.”  A vitamin A derived substance apparently gives the strong red color to the neck.  Fortuitously, the lack of feathers on the neck helps the bird withstand heat – an advantage in hot regions.  This is an example of loss of function that inadvertently helps these birds survive in specific environments.Plant doubling:  “Evolution in the act” was announced by an article on Science Daily.  The story concerned a hybrid plant introduced to America that underwent a spontaneous doubling of its genes.  Before, the hybrid experienced relaxed gene expression, but after the doubling, expression was regained, the plants became vigorous again, and started to spread.    “No one had extended this to natural populations and the rapidity at which this can occur, and that’s pretty astonishing,” a researcher from Iowa State University remarked.  Another considered this like nature hitting a “reset button” after gene expression had been disturbed by hybridization.  This is an example of down-and-back-up evolution; even so, the hybrid was introduced on purpose by breeders and does not represent a natural state.Human evolution:  The BBC News published a story about cleaner fish that pick the parasites out of sharks’ mouths, without the sharks taking advantage of the free food (see 01/13/2003, 06/22/2004, 11/23/2009, 01/13/2010, bullet 4).  Divers interested in watching the phenomenon have flocked to an observing site at a seamount off the Philippines, where the sharks come in gently for their dental treatment.  The article quipped, “A huge dive tourism site has evolved around them.”Seen on birthday party napkins: “I’m not aging; I’m evolving.” Evolution is a word with many meanings.  The root of the word just means unfolding – nothing controversial about that.  It can mean change over time of any kind, like the evolution of technology or the change from a landscape from a meadow to a forest.  In the debates over Darwinism, it is important to specify the meaning at issue.    At seminars by the most ardent Biblical creationists, it is common to see presentations showing the variations in human skin color, horse size and traits, and dog breeds arising from either artificial selection or the kind of natural selection best described as stabilizing selection.  Biblical creationists accept a broad degree of horizontal variation from original created kinds.    That kind of “evolution” is a far cry from what Darwin promoted: the common ancestry of all life from a single cell accidentally produced in some warm little pond, producing the vast array of plants and animals by a purposeless, unguided process.  Jokes about humans evolving instead of aging, or evolving a tourism site are just that: figures of speech not to be confused with Darwinism.  Beware of equivocation.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

18 Dec

South Africa, EU to tackle job creation

first_img19 July 2013 The 6th South Africa-European Union Summit ended in Pretoria on Thursday with the leaders of the two sides in agreement that joint programmes in education and training were needed to address the common challenge of job creation. In a joint communique issued after the summit, South African President Jacob Zuma, EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy said education and training were the key factors contributing to job creation and economic growth. The two sides vowed to take their education and training cooperation to the next level under the Youth Employment Accord and promote technical support and exchange programmes for youth development. “We will continue high level discussions on addressing the shared challenges of youth employment, as well as the way which skills and training can contribute to South Africa’s infrastructure expansion,” the communique reads. “Under the EU financed development programme, approximately R650-million – €50-million – remains available to support job creation initiatives.”‘Job creation through investment’ With the summit’s central theme being “Job Creation through Inward Investment”, Zuma said South Africa still faced the inherited challenges of unequal wealth and resource distribution, inequality, unemployment and deeply entrenched poverty. “We are of the firm view that given these realities, the EU should continue its development programmes in South Africa, complementing as they do the work of government within a developmental framework,” Zuma said. Barroso said Europe was also still working on addressing the scourge of youth unemployment. Given that South Africa was also working to promote growth and jobs to diversify its economy to ensure that its development is inclusive, the two sides could both benefit from working more together to face these challenges, Barroso said. “I would even say that Europe is South Africa’s natural partner to do it. South Africa is now an emerging economy with different types of needs, so we must adapt our cooperation accordingly,” he said. “But certainly, we want to keep development cooperation with South Africa. This is why I have proposed to focus our future cooperation on job creation, education, skills and innovation and capacity development.”Energy pact signed The summit also saw South Africa and the European Atomic Energy Community sign an agreement of cooperation on the use of nuclear energy. The deal, which was signed by new Minister of Energy Ben Martins, will see an intensified roll out of rural electrification, with an initial target of 300 000 households in the remote areas of South Africa. Parties to the deal also agreed on a new R1.3-billion support programme to blend grants with loans from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the European Development Finance Institutions to support South Africa’s infrastructure programmes.Narrowing the trade deficit Leaders at the summit also looked at the trade deficit, which is in favour of the EU and agreed to cement growth by remaining committed to “open and transparent trade” rules by working on policies that promote bilateral trade and investment that is mutually beneficial. Total trade with EU countries last year was R383-billion, compared to R419-billion in 2008. In 2008, SA exported R186-billion worth of goods, which fell to R122-billion in 2009. Imports from the EU have recovered to more than the levels that they reached in 2009. Imports were R233-billion in 2008, while they were R239-billion last year. At least 2 000 EU companies have invested over R60-billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) and have created 350 000 direct jobs in South Africa. Barroso said negotiations were ongoing on citrus black spot in the export of South African produce to Europe and he was confident that a mutually beneficial agreement would soon be reached. SA had cautioned that the “upgraded surveillance” would greatly affect the South African citrus industry, which exports around 100-million cartons to 45 countries, generating R6-billion in foreign exchange. This would also lead to job losses as the industry employed 40 000 permanent workers and 40 000 seasonal workers.‘Gaining market access’ The leaders also discussed the October 2014 deadline imposed by the EU for the conclusion of the economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. The EPA gives the SADC countries preferential market access for their agricultural and agro-processed products. South Africa had warned that the threat of withdrawing preferential market access for products from South Africa and neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland would have devastating socio-economic consequences as it would lead to significant job losses. “We agreed that the negotiations should conclude shortly. We reaffirmed the importance of reaching an agreement that is mutually beneficial, enhances growth and generates jobs, and supports development and integration in Southern Africa,” the communique reads.Supporting peace efforts The summit also touched on global issues such as climate change, human rights and the troubled areas including Syria, Madagascar, Egypt, the Great Lakes region and Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections. Van Rompuy said the EU supported the mediatory efforts by President Zuma and SADC to forge an agreement between the squabbling political parties. The EU will respond to the outcome of the elections on evidence of peaceful and transparent elections with results that are accepted by all, according to Van Rompuy. “We look forward to normalisation of relations and deepening out partnerships with Zimbabwe,” he said. Over all, the leaders said that relations between the South Africa and the European Union were “at a mature stage”, with the two sides as powerful engines to boost and benefit both economies. “Our strategic partnership with South Africa is also an integral part of our special relationship with the African continent,” Borroso said. The 7th SA-EU summit will be hosted by the EU in 2014. Source: SANews.gov.zalast_img read more

17 Dec

Island style — agriculture on Lake Erie

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It’s a surprise for many to learn that Ohio boasts its own share of sizable islands on the state’s inland sea — Lake Erie. And though physically removed from the mainland, animal agriculture still thrives there.Kelleys Island, boasting an area of 4.41 square miles and a population of 312 as of the 2010 census, has its own share of farm life. Gary Finger, along with his wife Jackie, own and operate The Village Pump, a restaurant and all-around community staple. They also raise some of the livestock that call the island home.“I don’t ever question it. I totally enjoy it. But I’ve lived here my whole life,” Finger said of raising livestock on an island. “It’s good for me. That’s all I do is take care of people all the time, so it’s fun to take care of our own animals too.”Gary got his start on the island after his brother bought the Village Pump in 1969 and he convinced his parents to let him move in above the restaurant in 1972.“I graduated from high school here. We were the largest graduating class in 10 years,” he said. “I like to tell everybody I was really proud of the fact that I was second in my class. But I was last in my class too.”Gary and Jackie eventually met, fell in love and got married, buying the Village Pump in the early 1980s. Jackie brought her love of livestock to the island.Some of the Fingers’ livestock enjoy the island sun while grazing on pasture.“My wife had horses her whole life living Pennsylvania and Medina. It wasn’t until shortly after we bought the Pump that we got our first quarter horse. Then that led to the second animal and the third animal,” he said.The snowball effect has led to a hobby farm of sorts including horses, donkeys, alpacas, and ducks, with new hooves joining the Finger family from time to time.“We just recently got two new colts. We got a six month old colt right before the ferry boat quit running in December and then we got a half brother right when the ferry boat started,” Gary said.While the island life has clear benefits, Finger said there are some major challenges that come along with the lifestyle, especially with animals along for the ride.“Those are the challenges — getting feed, veterinary support. Even with our dogs and cats, our small animals. Even with people, we have to pretty much take care of each other because we don’t have doctors and it is the same with the large and small animals,” Gary said. “Ohio State of course is our fall back with our large animals and our small animals.”Accessible only by ferry and airplane in the best of weather, the harsh Ohio winters make traveling by lake impossible for months when the water freezes, all but cutting off the island’s year-round dwellers from the rest of the world.“Well it’s nerve racking. Because you really know then you’re limited. Now a couple veterinarians may come by airplane. You pretty much just can’t transport anything. You’re on your own,” Finger said. “You just have to take time in getting prepared and getting everything brought over. We fly over a lot of freight but there are a lot of things you can’t fly over. So a lot of the stuff you have to put up and try to be prepared. It’s not as easy for everybody. It’s quite the challenge to be able to afford, feed and care for the animals and foresee what you need to bring you in the way of supplies. They can’t fly batteries, they can’t fly oxygen — things like that. And we don’t always know when the last ferry is going to be. Sometimes it’s the middle of December. Sometimes it can be a week into January depending on the ice. Once the ice gets really bad, then of course they can’t run the boat anymore. And then when it starts up again you don’t know. Some years, not until April.”With their diverse array of livestock, Jackie and Gary face a broader array of challenges in caring for the animals through the winter.“We have had as many as 11 alpacas but we’ve thinned our herd quite a bit. The challenge with that recently has been we moved them in with our horses. We had them at our house but we thought it would be better to have them all together. We learned the hard way about the meningeal worm. The meningeal worm affects them neurologically. It will come through the feces of the white tailed deer,” Gary said.Unfortunately, such island hardships don’t always have a storybook ending.“Right before the ferry started this spring we had to put one down. The vet came over and helped us,” he said. “Now I’ve got two I’m battling it with. I thought we got ahead of it but we’re falling behind.”Though sometimes challenging, having livestock on the island offers a unique island calming effect, especially in the high stress world of restaurant and business ownership. The Fingers’ busy peak season includes the end of June, July, and the beginning of August.“The animals are our little getaway from here. We don’t leave this much. After 33 years, Jackie and I are married to this,” Gary spoke of the restaurant. “But it’s sort of nice to have that place to go to because regardless of how busy we are, I know I have to go take care of the animals. Our whole season is just a couple months so the rest of the year it’s a lot more relaxed — we get to spend a lot more time with them.”Being kept by the full-time requirements of the Village Pump, the Fingers are also pushed to make sure hay and feed requirements are always ready to go. The Fingers do not bale on the island, but have friends that do. They also get about 200 bales at a time from the mainland throughout the warmer months, which they are sure to store up for the winter.Overall, the island lifestyle makes the roughly 125 people that live there throughout the year a family of sorts.“Here on the island, even though we’re not all related truly by family, we’re all like a family and so it’s nice because we all look after them,” he said.The Fingers aren’t the only family that has livestock on the island. A herd of beef cattle also calls Kelleys home and the island also has a history of a dairy farm and other livestock. All of the livestock on the island had to get there via ferry.How do animals fare on the ferry?“In the trailers, they’re not too bad. It’s nicer if it’s a little bit rougher because they have to keep their balance just like on the road versus at a stand still. But most of them handle it fairly well,” Gary said.Jackie has a hunch as to why there aren’t troubles on the ferry crossing.“It’s because they know they’re moving to Kelleys Island for their new home,” she said.last_img read more

12 Dec

Helping Military Dads Stay Connected

first_imgBehnke suggests, “You might invite dads to a “how to” session on finances or investing.  Or an activity on helping their kids succeed in school or staying connected while apart using technology. These topics can become a spring board for teaching ways that dads can be even more “amazing.” Most dads like to be told what they are doing right and even seen as experts, they don’t like to be told how to parent.  One approach that I like is offering a personal invitation to a dad to attend a program so they can act as a mentor for other dads or learn some things to help the other men in their units. A lot of times it really comes down to fathers feeling that they are heard, and that their opinions are respected.”Other tips from Behnke for helping military dads rejoin their families:Military Dad with Little GirlA child’s caregiver, often wives (for married dads) and girlfriends or relatives (for other dads) are the gateway to maintaining the connection with their children when dad is deployed. Help dads find their personal style for communicating more and make it a pattern they follow every week.Fathers can be each others’ greatest support. Take time to encourage dads to seek out a natural mentor or a friend that they can relate to and look up to as a father.Church support is also a powerful source of strength for many military dads. Where many other things in their lives change so much a faith community can be a source of stability and support. Helping dads find a church or a community group they really connect with is a great source of strength.According to the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), nearly two million children of military dads are affected by the unique stresses of military life.  Approximately 593,000 active-duty service members and nearly 300,000 U.S. reservists are dads.  Today there are approximately 150,000 military fathers currently deployed.As there are lots of military dads there are also lots of resources. To help prepare fathers and their families for the stresses of deployment, transitions, and times away, the NFI offers quality resources developed by seasoned military personnel and offers training and workshops to prepare families for both deployment and reunion, as well as tools for strengthening families.The Deployed Fathers and Families Guide produced by NFI has numerous resources to help dads anywhere in the deployment cycle.Another great resource is the Pay it Forward Parenting free online parenting program for military moms and dads.  This free class (normally $299) is taught by one of the world’s foremost authors on parenting Amy McCready and offers an amazing opportunity to learn skills and techniques to be the parent you want to be. Military Dad Playing Ball with SonIn his white paper, Deployed Dads: Strengthening Military and Veteran Fathers, Families and Communities, Richard Lewis says that the negative impact of a father’s military service, especially pre- and post-deployment, can be mitigated by increasing the family’s access to resources.But where do you start?  What makes sense in terms of helping military fathers transition from active duty to “full-time” dad?Andrew Behnke, Professor and Human Development Specialist at North Carolina State University, says that we should start with fathers where they are.  Behnke shares, “They might not want to learn about being a dad, or a better spouse, but they will likely want to do things with other dads or with their families—like playing basketball, working out, going on a picnic, or hiking. Educational programs are most effective when they involve ‘stealth education’ – education that is hidden in fun activities and focuses on their kids or things they would do naturally with other guys- that allows fathers to come to programs on topics that interest them, while still providing dads some ways to learn to be the dad they want to be.last_img read more

28 Oct

9 months ago​Southampton eyeing Brentord duo Watkins and Mepham

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say ​Southampton eyeing Brentord duo Watkins and Mephamby Freddie Taylor9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveSouthampton want to sign two players from Brentford.According to Sky Sports, boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has scouts checking on Ollie Watkins and Chris Mepham.No bid has been made, while Brentford would want north of £20 million for both of them.Watkins has seven goals this season in 25 games, while Mepham is a central defender who is comfortable on the ball.At only 21, he is seen as a great prospect in the position, while he would compliment the style Hasenhuttl is attempting to instill at the Saints. last_img read more

28 Sep

The College Football Playoff Picture Looks Tidy Now But That Will Probably

For instance, our model says there’s only about a 1-in-5 chance that all four current major-conference undefeateds make the playoff in the end. Some of that comes from the possibility of losses — according to our simulations (based on ESPN’s FPI ratings), there’s a 96 percent probability that at least one of the four loses before the playoff field is set — and more still comes from the uncertainty of how the committee eventually will sort out the top four.Texas A&M’s dropping out of the conversation — their CFP odds fell from 19 percent to 2 percent — helped crystallize the playoff picture over the weekend. Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Washington also saw their CFP chances rise because they either scratched a difficult opponent off of their schedule (the Tide squeaked past LSU) or improved their FPI with dominating wins (the Tigers and Wolverines won by 54 and 56, respectively, while the Huskies dropped 66 points on Cal).But there are still plenty of paths for teams currently on the outside looking in. Washington’s remaining schedule is notably difficult, starting with a matchup against FPI No. 12 USC on Saturday. A slip-up could open a window for, say, Louisville — if it keeps winning. Meanwhile, Ohio State would likely play its way in by beating Michigan in their annual tilt on Nov. 26, and two-loss Wisconsin could still feasibly make it by winning the Big 10’s opposite division and the championship game over the Michigan-Ohio State winner. (Our model gives conference champions a slight bonus.)With only two of the top eight in our current CFP odds having anything less than an 88 percent chance of winning their next game (according to FPI), this weekend might not make for many wild swings in the playoff odds and rankings. But soon enough, the chaos will set in — perhaps even for that neat, tidy four-team group atop the committee’s standings.Check out our college football predictions. Things have been relatively easy for the College Football Playoff committee so far this season. There are four remaining undefeated major-conference schools — Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Washington — which slide neatly into the top four slots of the rankings. Meanwhile, a couple of dominant one-loss teams — Ohio State and Louisville — wait in the wings, just ahead of the gnarled mass of two-loss teams in the field at large.Even when the committee invited controversy in its initial 2016 rankings, slotting then 7-1 Texas A&M ahead of unbeaten Washington for the No. 4 slot, it was quickly given the opportunity to fix the mistake when the Aggies lost at Mississippi State. And with the committee’s rankings aligning with outside opinion, our College Football Playoff prediction model sees more certainty in the “Final Four” than a week ago. Four slots, four undefeated teams — it seems as if things are shaping up to work out unusually well in the CFP’s normally chaotic world.Well, maybe. If those four teams win out, things would indeed be convenient for the committee. Our model even thinks a team as dominant as Alabama could afford to drop a game and still be more likely to make the playoff than not. But, as is often the refrain when peering into the college football crystal ball, a lot can happen between now and when the final rankings are released on Dec. 4. Will your favorite team make the College Football Playoff? See all of our predictions for the 2016 season » read more

18 Sep

Report Buffon to undergo PSG medical next week

first_imgGianluigi Buffon is set to undergo a medical next week ahead of completing his free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, reports Football-ItaliaThe 40-year-old is now officially a free agent after his contract at Juventus expired on Sunday.Buffon had been expected to retire from professional football at the end of last season, but instead held a press conference in May announcing his intention to prolong his playing career.Neymar, BrazilNeymar can win the Ballon d’Or, says Ander Herrera Andrew Smyth – September 13, 2019 An “excited” Ander Herrera believes new Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar is a contender for the Ballon d’Or alongside Kylian Mbappe.While Buffon’s 17-year association has come to an end, the Italian has received a numerous amount of offers and now appears set to complete his free transfer to PSG next week.The 2006 World Cup winner is expected to sign a two-year with the Ligue 1 giants for a reported €8m per season plus performance-related bonuses.The Italy legend is set to displace current PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola as the club’s new number one for next season under new head coach Thomas Tuchel as the capital side look to finally win the Champions League for the first time.last_img read more

18 Sep

Garcia backs Coutinho

first_imgFormer Liverpool player Luis Garcia has backed Phillipe Coutinho to flourish for Barcelona in the upcoming season.Former Spain international believes Coutinho can be as good as Neymar was for the Catalan club when the new season starts this month.Coutinho joined Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018, missing out on UEFA Champions League football with the team after representing Liverpool in the same season.The Brazil international is about to begin his second season at the Camp Nou, his first full season, and Garcia believes the club’s supporters are yet to see the best of him.When asked if Coutinho could have the same impact like fellow Brazilian Neymar had at Barcelona, Garcia replied as quoted in Daily Mail:“Coutinho is a different player from Neymar but I’m sure he can have the same impact in terms of goals. I believe he can contribute more goals than Neymar did.”Philippe Coutinho, Bayern MunichPhilippe Coutinho faces a late fitness test at Bayern Munich Andrew Smyth – September 12, 2019 Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac plans to make a late decision on Philippe Coutinho’s availability this weekend after returning from representing Brazil.“Neymar is very good with his runs and dribbling abilities but I know Coutinho can be as effective as he was at the club.”“We still haven’t seen the best of him (Coutinho) yet, I’m sure he’ll surprise a lot of people with his football.”Luis Garcia who also played for Liverpool and Barcelona in his football career did the exact opposite of what Coutinho did, by leaving Barcelona to sign for Rafael Benitez and Liverpool in 2004.The former Liverpool hero also defended under-fire Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius who has come under intense criticism over his recent performances.“What happened to him in the Champions League final and in recent preseason friendlies has not helped him in any way but I believe he’s a good goalkeeper and a good season last year.”last_img read more