Weekend Round-up

first_imgHere’s a backlog of assorted news stories worth noting before moving on to the big stories for the new month of May.PhysOrg, which makes the snake the hero of the story.  It wins by saying, “or: Snakes … may well have given bipedal hominins, already equipped with a non-human primate communication system, the evolutionary nudge to point to communicate for social good, a critical step toward the evolution of language, and all that followed.”  Why mice did not develop language and all that followed to avoid being bitten is left as an exercise.Evolving molecules.  Studying evolution by observing finches at the Galapagos is hard work, so Sarah Voytek found an easier way.  She lets molecules evolve in a test tube in the comfort of her lab at Scripps Institute.  Really.  She gets molecules to evolve by natural selection, competing for resources, just like Darwin’s finches.  How this contrived situation with fake “food” being supplied by the investigator to non-living material could say anything about the origin of species is not quite clear, but Gerald Joyce, her advisor, was pleased.  Read about it on Science Daily.Grounded pterosaurs:  National Geographic news found a Japanese scientist who thinks giant pterosaurs couldn’t fly, because the takeoff and flapping muscles required would have defied the laws of physics.  Why these giant beasts went to the trouble to evolve useless wings was left unexplained.Evolution inaction:  Robert Roy Britt is using the current swine flu epidemic to plug Darwin and punch Darwin doubters.  Swine flu is evolution in action, he said on Live Science.  He even got a Darwinist to agree: “Yes, this is definitely evolution.”  If this bolsters Darwin’s Origin of Species, Britt didn’t seem to notice that we still call it influenza after all these years.  Terry Trainor at Talk About Origins considers Britt’s article another case of misrepresenting creationism.Thank a comet:  Prof. Bar-Nun thinks comets contain the key ingredients for life, according to a story in Science Daily.  A pinch of argon, a dash of xenon, under the full moon, and he has solved an other-worldly puzzle.  “The story started between 4.6 and 3.8 billion years ago, when both the moon and the Earth were bombarded by a flux of asteroids and comets.”  It’s simple: comets slammed into earth bearing their life-giving cargo, “which eventually were dissolved in the ocean and started the long process leading to the emergence of life on Earth,” he said.  They became more complex over time, and here we are.  We got our ingredients by special delivery, Bar None.A messenger from Mercury:  The May 1 issue of Science had a special series of articles on Mercury, presenting the latest ideas from the first two flybys of the MESSENGER spacecraft.  Science Daily summarized one of the papers about Mercury’s crust.  Planetary scientists now believe that, because of all the smooth plains covering 40% of the surface, Mercury experienced much more volcanism than the moon early in its history.  See also the Astronomy Picture of the Day for May 4.Nothing to show for a decade of work:  SETI@Home is celebrating its tenth anniversary.  This distributed-processing search for intelligent alien signals utilizes spare CPU cycles from a million users’ PCs.  The article on PhysOrg had good news and bad news.  Bad news: no signal has been found.  Good news: the technology for finding nothing is getting better.Dino-mite:  Most dinosaur hunters use fine brushes and instruments to extract their prey.  Researchers at Dinosaur National Park, however, are having a blast.  Science Daily said that sometimes more force is required to extract the precious bones, so they called in some dynamite experts.  “Without their talents, scientifically important fossils would have remained locked underground in their stony mausoleum,” the article explained.  But will it take more work to reassemble thousands of bits of debris?    The bones will apparently survive intact; after all, Science Daily also reported that some dinosaurs apparently survived a planet-extinction blast from the past.  This is kind of a twist on the creationist claim that dinosaurs survived the Flood.  In the evolutionary scenario, “we already know that flying theropod dinosaurs (more generally referred to as birds) and crocodiles survived, so the possibility of pockets of survivors of other types of dinosaur is not quite as far fetched as it might sound.”  Now you have a choice of far-fetched beliefs.  Of course, believing that humans and dinosaurs co-existed “still belongs firmly in the realms of pure fantasy,” the article said.  You can trust Science Daily, can’t you? (see bullets 2, 5).Powers of darkness:  What is dark energy? asked Clara Moskowitz on Space.com.  The upshot: we don’t know, because it’s dark.  What we do know is that it shook up a lot of astronomers and made some of them believe in alternate universes, which they also cannot see.  Maybe it’s something sci-fi, like anti-gravity.  If the expansion slows, it might let multiverse proponents argue that our universe must be pushing against another.  “Maybe that’s why our universe is so peculiar,” ended Moskowitz, invoking a very apropos word for the occasion.Galaxy youngsters:  Some galaxies are “oddly young,” Clara Moskowitz reported in another article on Space.com.  John Salzer, astronomer who conducted the survey, was dumbfounded.  “It’s just hard for me to fathom, and hard for models to account for, an increase by a factor of 30,” he told Space.com.  (Astronomers think stars and galaxies are young if they have low abundances of metals, or elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.)  The team detected the 2,400 young galaxies using the Kitt Peak National Observatory International Spectroscopic Survey (KISS), which also stands for, “Keep it simple, stupid.”Brain music:  You might be able to download your own brain soundtracks and play them on your iPod, reported Science Daily.  Maybe they will help your mood.  You can listen to a sample played back on a piano.  Not quite Bach or Mozart, but it’s kind of cool, like mellow jazz.  You might not want to hear the tracks from the angry driver behind you.The automated railway in your nerves:  Scientists at USC found a kind of sorting mechanism regulating the direction of motorized trucks that deliver cargo to the plus and minus ends of your nerves, said Science Daily.  “Proteins go everywhere in the cell and do all sorts of work, but a fundamental question has eluded biologists,” the article began: “How do the proteins know where to go?”  The trucks that haul them are little motors called myosin and kinesin.  The kinesins tend to be attracted toward the axons, but the myosins pick out the ones with dendritic protein cargo, which need to go the other way, and carry them back to the dendrites.  This way, the axonal proteins always go to the axon, and the dendritic proteins always go to the dendrites.  Don Arnold called this process inefficient yet effective, leaving the reader wondering how he could make vehicles without eyes or brains do a better job.    Scientists at UC Davis, meanwhile, are modeling “how cells change gears,” says another article on Science Daily.  They think cell regulatory processes are “resilient and redundant,” just like any well-engineered system should be.Nice lice:  What could be more disgusting than lice?  Science Daily said the little pests might help calibrate the human immune system.  The best that can be said about this is that maybe the bugs are not all bad.  Professor Jan Bradley put an evolutionary spin on it: “It is possible that the immune dysfunctions we see today are the result of immune systems moulded by evolution for a set of challenges completely different to those encountered in modern times.”  Tell that to the lice-infected people in Africa where they tell us humans evolved.Nice spice:  “How plants protect us from disease” is the title of another article on Science Daily about plant products in everyday food that help us fight inflammation.  The phytochemicals from red wine, green tea, garlic, curcumin and cinnamon have curative powers.  “He who controls the Spice controls the universe” from Dune comes to mind.Encore: Speaking of health, here’s a word of encouragement for the elderly.  Science Daily reported that “Physical Activity Improves Life Expectancy And Decreases Need Of Care Among Older People.”  Like our sponsoring domain says, Creation Safaris has something for every body.This gives you a taste of the variety of material reported on Creation-Evolution Headlines usually in more depth.  We’ve offered you a tray of science hors douvres to sample and taste.  Many should not be swallowed, though.(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Glitzy Captain’s Dinner planned

first_imgA prestigious dinner will be held to honour South African football team captain Aaron Mokoena. (Image: www.safa.net)  South Africa’s national football squad captain Aaron Mokoena will be honoured at a high-profile dinner in Johannesburg on 7 June. The event will also help to raise funds for Mokoena’s charity foundation, and wish his team well for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.The Aaron Mokoena Foundation, which will host the The Captains Dinner, was founded in May 2008 and uses football as a medium to teach children about healthy living and the importance of education, with the hope of developing them into successful sportsmen and women.“I believe football and sport are a fundamental part of the education of all young people,” said Mokoena. “I believe that all young people should have an opportunity to take part in a range of sporting activities. Participation is important in itself, but football and sport can also develop important values and attributes.”Well-known South African and international public figures from the world of sports, entertainment, government and business will attend the black-tie dinner, which will involve a cocktail reception, dinner, after-party and auctionThe entertainment line-up includes top South African performers such as Hugh Masekela and local R&B artist Danny K.“I am delighted to be able to host this event, which will profile and raise funds for the work undertaken by my foundation. It will be a great night,” said Mokoena.With the dinner being held just days before World Cup kick-off on 11 June, it’ll offer the ideal opportunity to wish national team Bafana Bafana well for the month-long tournament. The team have been drawn into Group A to face Mexico, France and Uruguay.Young championMokoena’s illustrious captaincy of Bafana Bafana will also be celebrated on the night.In 1999, at just 17, Mokoena was called to play for the national squad, making him Bafana Bafana’s youngest member ever. He still holds this record today. “To play for my country is a great honour. To be called up at 17 was a dream come true and I could not have been more proud,” he said.As captain, Mokoena has received the most caps in the history of the team. On the 30th May, he got his 100th cap during the team’s international friendly game against Guatemala. “In September 2009 I achieved a record of 50 caps as captain. I am all too aware of my responsibilities as captain of Bafana Bafana and understand my role as a leader who must motivate, encourage, and enthuse my fellow teammates,” he said.“The year 2010 is the most important time in our nation’s history, when the eyes of the world are on South Africa as we host the 2010 Fifa World Cup. It is an exciting time to be a South African and it is an important time to be focused in order to deliver on the field at the biggest football show on earth.”  Mokoena has also led a successful football career in Europe, playing for teams such as Bayer Leverkusen, Ajax Amsterdam, Genk and Blackburn Rovers. He is currently the team captain for English Premiership club Portsmouth.last_img read more

State corn grower leaders to Trump: Uphold commitment to farmers and RFS

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest State leaders of corn grower organizations in 23 states sent a letter to President Trump, calling on him to follow the law and keep the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) whole. The letter to the President comes on the heels of the Trump Administration’s most recent approval of 31 new RFS waivers to big oil companies. The 85 total waivers approved under the Trump Administration amount to 4.04 billion gallons, resulting in reduced corn demand due to lower ethanol blending and consumption and a rising number of ethanol producers slowing or idling production.The state corn grower leaders urge the President to stop the harm caused by waivers and restore integrity to the RFS by directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to account for projected waivers beginning with the pending 2020 RFS volume rule.The full text of the letter is below.Dear President Trump,We are writing on behalf of the more than 300,000 corn farmers across the country who are being negatively impacted by a perfect storm of challenges in rural America. The 31 new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers to big oil companies, recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and bringing total waivers issued under your Administration to 85, could not have come at a worse time for agriculture.Ethanol plants in several states, including Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota and Mississippi have closed or idled. These closures have cost 2,700 rural jobs and impacted demand for more than 300 million bushels of corn. Corn farmers are beginning harvest and continuing to lose markets to deliver their corn. Frustration in the countryside is growing.Corn farmers are not asking for a special deal. We are simply asking, as we have been for the past two years, that your EPA uphold the law.To effectively stop the harm caused by RFS waivers, EPA needs to account for projected waivers beginning with the pending 2020 RFS volume rule. Accounting for waivers in the annual RFS volume process restores integrity to the RFS. It also allows your Administration to continue granting waivers, as allowed by the law, while keeping the RFS whole.While adding gallons and improving market access for higher blends of ethanol are all policies farmers appreciate and support, future waivers will continue to minimize the RFS, unless your Administration acts to account for waivers beginning this coming year first.We were pleased to see press reports indicating that, following a meeting with farm-state lawmakers, an agreement had been reached to address the harm caused by waivers. With more than 4 billion gallons waived out of the RFS, we appreciate you listening to our elected representatives about what is needed to restore meaning to the RFS. Farmers across the country are anxiously awaiting the release of more details about this agreement. Ethanol plants will continue to close if you don’t act soon, creating a rippling effect throughout the rural economy.Corn farmers are appreciative of your past support for agriculture and ethanol. We especially appreciate your efforts to remove the barrier to year-round sales of E15, but EPA’s current use of waivers undermines growth potential for higher blends of ethanol, reduces demand, lowers the value of our crop, and puts the outlook for the rural economy in jeopardy.Mr. President, we firmly ask that you uphold your commitment to America’s farmers and the RFS.last_img read more

Bahujans must come to power: Chandrashekhar Azad

first_imgChandrashekhar Azad, the fiery Dalit activist from Uttar Pradesh shot to prominence in 2017 when he was jailed for over a year for a Thakur-Dalit clash in Saharanpur. Called ‘Ravan’ by his followers, in a subaltern challenge to BJP’s Ram, Azad famously put up a signboard in his village that read, ‘The Great Chamars of Dhadkhauli Welcome You’.The 32-year-old, who leads the Bhim Army, is seen as one of the faces of an emerging radical Bahujan movement. With his twirled moustache, iconic dark blue scarf, and Enfield Bullet, Azad makes a statement wherever he goes, and it’s obvious he was the inspiration behind the character of Nishad in the recent Bollywood film, Article 15.He is in jail again, this time in Delhi, over protests against the demolition of Ravidas Mandir, a temple for poet-saint Ravidas of the 16th century who has a large Dalit following. He met The Hindu when he was in Karnataka a few days before his arrest. Excerpts:The demolition of the Ravidas Mandir has created a new flashpoint between Dalits and the Centre. But the government says it was the Supreme Court that ordered the demolition for violating zoning norms?It was the Delhi Development Authority that sought to demolish the temple, not the Supreme Court. The government used the court to achieve its end. The issue finally boils down to respecting Bahujan cultural symbols. PM Narendra Modi visited Ravidas Mandir in Varanasi earlier this year and said he was a devotee of Sant Ravidas. Now he must take the lead in restoring the temple or his hypocrisy will be exposed. We will launch a nationwide protest demanding its restoration on the same spot.The recent Bollywood film, Article 15, had a character modelled on you. Did you see the film? There has been criticism that instead of telling the story of caste oppression from the perspective of the Dalit, the movie did it from the perspective of a Brahmin officer. What is your take on this?I have not seen the film. But the opposition to the film by the upper castes and the right wing is telling of how the entire system works against Dalits. Maybe it is not time to tell the story from a Dalit perspective in the mainstream. Maybe the film wouldn’t have released at all if that were the case. But I have heard of recent films in the South with Dalit protagonists. I feel the progressives among the upper castes need to come forward to question caste hierarchy. But it is time we lead our struggles and tell our stories and those from other castes need to support us.Many are critical of the style of Bhim Army, though not its substance. They argue that violence only begets more violence. What is your take?We have the right to fight for our rights and don’t have to tolerate any oppression. It is time our voices rang louder on the streets. Bhim Army is Ambedkarite in its outlook — Educate, Organise and Agitate. We believe nothing comes without struggle and we are ready for any sacrifice. We are not attacking anyone, but if someone comes into our homes and hits us, we will not hesitate to retaliate in self-defence. When the system is so geared up against us, what else can we do? I was blamed for the violence in Saharanpur and arrested, but nobody speaks of the violence wrecked on us. The state brands Dalits who raise their voice as Naxals, as we have seen in Bhima Koregaon, and Muslims as terrorists.Does the rise of radical Dalit leaders and their large followings among the youth indicate the failure of mainstream Dalit politics?Mainstream Dalit parties have failed repeatedly. A student who has all the resources but fails exams repeatedly cannot claim to be a brilliant student. Most of our politicians today are crorepatis; they come from dynasties that don’t know our problems. We cannot let their failure fail the movement. These parties are severely compromised on the ideological front, including in allying with a brahminical party like the BJP. As these leaders remain stuck in AC rooms, the youngsters fight on the streets, giving rise to new leaders and a militant movement.The BJP now seeks to claim the legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, even to defend the revoking of Article 370 in J&K. The BSP has supported the move. How do you view the government’s handling of Dalit issues?Brahminism is in the DNA of the BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS. This seeks to impose the Manusmriti, which doesn’t allot any power to Shudras and Dalits. While we can become the President of India, we still cannot enter a temple. The social forces that this regime has emboldened, giving them impunity, have translated into increased atrocities against minorities, Dalits and tribals. Dalits are the biggest targets of lynchings, even more than Muslims.On Kashmir, the future of Dalits cannot be seen in isolation. It is linked with the aspirations of Kashmiris. It is better if BJP stops trying to appropriate Ambedkar as it is a legacy they can never claim and it only exposes their hypocrisy.RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has called for an open debate on reservations.The RSS-BJP has always been anti-reservation and their agenda is to subvert reservation. By giving reservation to the poor among upper castes, they have done exactly that. Reservation has always been about correcting social and educational backwardness, not economic. This government has been keen on disinvestment of PSUs, which essentially hits Dalits, as there is no reservation in the private sector. Mohan Bhagwat’s statement only reflects the anti-Dalit mindset of the RSS-BJP. We are ready for a debate on reservation with Mohan Bhagwat. Let us debate on what we have really got from reservation in the last seven decades. Even today 54% of Dalits don’t own any land. We will tell what we have gained and what we have lost because of caste in this society.The Opposition has failed to defeat BJP electorally, despite the Mahagathbandhan of the SP-BSP in UP. How can you counter the BJP, even as many aspirational Shudra and Dalit classes cosy up to the party?The only way to fight BJP is to take to the streets. They may have a majority in Parliament but we [Bahujans] have a majority on the streets. All pro-Constitution forces need to unite for this fight. Though we may have failed once, that should not deter us. More than political alliances between parties, we need to mobilise people on the ground. Any truck with the BJP is against the interests of the Bahujan community. We need to expose this and convince people.Was the SP-BSP alliance fraught with contradictions, as in the villages it is the OBCs and Dalits who are often in confrontation with each other? Is an OBC-Dalit alliance practical?We in the Bhim Army believe the Bahujan community includes all oppressed classes — Dalits, Adivasis, Shudras and minorities — and we will work towards bringing these classes together in the villages at a social level. Bahujan unity is the key to countering the larger Manuvad [parties] ruling us today.There has been an argument that the Left and Dalit movements must unite. Do you feel synergising these two mass movements is the way ahead?Bahujan politics is the politics of kamzor log (the weak) and we are ready to support anyone participating in these politics, in a pro-Constitution manner. I believe, while there may be several organisations working independently, we need to come together to fight on common issues, be it various Dalit organisations or even the Left. But enough of us voting others to make them leaders, now we want others to vote for our leadership. Historically, it is time this happened.Bhim Army is in expansion mode. Your success in UP has been organic. Can you replicate it elsewhere?Our success in UP is largely due to the Bhim Shaalas we run, evening and holiday schools in villages and slums where we educate Bahujan youth in English, help them with studies and impart political education to help them cultivate a Bahujan consciousness. Bhim Army runs 1,700 such schools in UP, which has given us a committed cadre. We will soon begin Bhim Shaalas across the country. India is a diverse land and we will factor that in. Bhim Army will be the loudest voice on the streets for Bahujans everywhere.Is Bhim Army on its way to becoming a political party or are you caught between remaining a social movement and entering electoral politics?Bhim Army is not averse to electoral politics, but it is not an organisation that is only political. We will always remain part of the larger Bahujan movement; electoral politics is only one of the means to further the cause. We follow both Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram and believe the Bahujan community, which has a majority in society, must come to power.You had dropped ‘Ravan’ from your name but now it is back?It is the people who lovingly called me Ravan for taking on the BJP. But I realised BJP was trying to polarise the people as supporters of Ram and Ravan in Varanasi when I announced I would contest against Narendra Modi. So, I announced I was dropping Ravan from my name. But now that the elections are over and people like calling me Ravan, it is back.adhitya.bharadwaj@thehindu.co.inlast_img read more

A woman accused of abusing her 14monthold until

first_imgA woman accused of abusing her 14-month-old until he wound up in the hospital with severe head trauma and died was indicted by the Tuscaloosa County Grand Jury on aggravated child abuse and murder charges Wednesday.The incident happened Dec. 18, 2018, when Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit investigators visited Children’s Hospital in Birmingham after a report of the child named Tedarrius Ryce was brought into the hospital suffering severe head trauma.Doctors said the baby had no brain activity, and the baby’s injuries were consistent with trauma and shaken baby syndrome. Doctors placed the baby on life support, and he died Dec. 20.In April, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences medical examiner ruled the baby’s death as a homicide, and the Tuscaloosa Grand Jury indicted his mother, 30-year-old Temika Carter on aggravated child abuse and murder charges.Carter was placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Wednesday pending a $30,000 bond.last_img read more