Darwin’s Finches: Researchers Tweak the Beak

first_imgEvery once in awhile, a new angle on Darwin’s finches (an icon of evolution) appears in print.  Peter and Rosemary Grant, who have devoted their life to studying everything possible about these related species of birds that inhabit the Galápagos Islands – only to find that evolutionary changes are reversible (see 04/26/2002 headline) – have a new molecular story to tell.  In an effort to tie the evolution of beak shape to embryonic development, they and three Harvard geneticists searched for the actual proteins that build beaks in the egg, and found one named Bmp4 (bone morphogenetic protein #4) that appears to singlehandedly influence beak width and stubbiness.  Their results are printed in the Sept. 3 issue of Science.1    In the same issue,2 USC scientists Ping Wu et al. studied the same protein in chickens and ducks.  They studied Bmp4 expression in the growth zones of developing beaks, and found that “By ‘tinkering’ with BMP4 in beak prominences, the shapes of the chicken beak can be modulated.”  It was not clear, however, whether BMP4, a signalling molecule, is solely responsible or affects other upstream factors in the developmental process.    Each article assumes these studies are important to evolutionary theory.  The Grants say, “Darwin’s finches are a classic example of species diversification by natural selection.”  Ping Wu et al. generalize, “Beak shape is a classic example of evolutionary diversification.”  Elizabeth Pennisi, Science writer who usually makes evolutionary stories grist for her mill, writes in the same issue,3 “Darwin’s finches are to evolutionary biology what Newton’s apple is to physics.”  (Did she mean the obvious comparison, considering that the story of an apple hitting Newton led to his theory of gravitation is a myth?)  “Today,” she continues, “these songbirds are often cited as a perfect example of how new species arise by exploiting ecological niches.” (Emphasis added).  Yet the classification of these birds into separate species is controversial, since apparently most of them (at least) are interfertile.    Though the scientists Pennisi quotes are impressed with the studies, and find the evidence convincing that BMP4 shapes beaks, one cautions that “Other genes and molecules will also be involved.”  Indeed, Pennisi admits, “neither group knows what makes the BMP4 gene more active in birds with bigger bills.”  And neither study explains “why some birds, such as the finches, rapidly form new species—with the different lifestyles that are possible because of changes in their shapes—while others living in the same place, for example, warblers, do not.”  Nevertheless, Pennisi is confident, “Darwin would be pleased.”1Abzhanov, Protas, Tabin, Peter and Rosemary Grant, “Bmp4 and Morphological Variation of Beaks in Darwin’s Finches,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5689, 1462-1465, 3 September 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1098095].2Ping Wu et al., “Molecular Shaping of the Beak,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5689, 1465-1466, 3 September 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1098109].3Elizabeth Pennisi, “Bonemaking Protein Shapes Beaks of Darwin’s Finches,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5689, 1383, 3 September 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5689.1383].The findings are really no help to evolutionary theory.  Neither of these studies account for the origin of BMP4 and the many other complex proteins that interact with it; they just show you can get freaks by tweaking the beaks.  We already knew that with humans.  Failures in the complex developmental pathways of any embryo can produce grotesque or useless deformities.  These studies only tinkered with expression of existing genes, not with the origin of new genes or their “improvement.”  The studies were not tied to adaptation, which is what Darwinism purports to explain.    Picture the highly specialized beaks of hummingbirds, spoonbills, pelicans, owls, hornbills, woodpeckers, eagles, ducks, and the other thousands of species of birds.  To explain these, an evolutionist is going to need a lot more than just differences in the local expression of BMP4.  He or she is going to need millions of transitional forms, and proof of heritable adaptive changes in all the developmental pathways that affect beak morphology.  Even if the Grants can tie finch beak changes to this molecule, and show that beak changes are adaptive for various ecological niches on the islands, they have not explained the origin of BMP4, the beak, or the finch itself.    Creationists and evolutionists both are comfortable with slight morphological changes in existing species.  It is very probable that a tougher beak will aid a finch in a drought, so that it can crack the nuts and get to the seeds better than a cousin with a thinner beak.  But when the rains return, and seeds are plentiful, the change is no longer adaptive and the populations can revert back.  Over time, no one has shown that these slight changes to Darwin’s finches have led to any long-term morphological change.  Certainly they have not shown that they came from, or are leading to, anything other than finches.    If the Grants want to spend their lives measuring beaks to fractions of a millimeter, and weighing the little birds to fractions of a gram, and studying the ways their eggs grow and what genes and proteins are expressed, that’s fine and wonderful and praiseworthy.  But if anyone claims their work has defended Chairman Charlie’s wild speculation that humans had bacteria ancestors, beak airful.(Visited 19 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Jordy Smith captures Billabong Pro Rio

first_img20 May 2013 “This whole week was so tricky and it was one where you had your heart in your mouth whole time. I think I went out there and over-thought it. I got way too excited watching Jordy, Filipe, Adriano and Medina and tried airs and embarrassed myself. “The waves I had at the start didn’t really allow turns so I thought I’d go for airs and find waves that allowed turns at the end and it didn’t work out. Congrats to Jordy. He’s been surfing great this whole event.” “I knew I could win a World Tour event, but I had to prove to myself that I could do it away from South Africa. Semi-finalsMick Fanning matched his Billabong Rio Pro result from 2012 with a semi-finals finish. He looked deadly in his quarterfinals victory over ASP WCT rookie Sebastian Zietz, but was unable to find a rhythm against Smith in their semi-finals clash. ASP WCT TOP 5 SURFERS (Following Billabong Rio Pro)Adriano de Souza (Bra) 18 500 ptsJordy Smith (RSA) 18 250 ptsMick Fanning (Aus) 18 200 ptsKelly Slater (USA) 16 950 ptsTaj Burrow (Aus) 15 700 pts “This win feels unbelievable,” Smith said afterwards. “It’s another dream come true. The next stop on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) will be the Volcom Fiji Pro from 2 to 14 June. De Souza’s win at Bells Beach combined with his runner-up effort in Rio vaulted the hard-working Brazilian to the number one position over former rankings’ leader Kelly Slater, highlighting his chances of becoming the first-ever Brazilian ASP world champion. Final Gabriel Medina was in top form on the final day of competition, earning a perfect 10-point ride for a lengthy barrel-to-air combination in the quarterfinals. The high-flying Brazilian was equally dangerous in his semi-finals showdown with his fellow countryman De Souza, scoring a stout 17.50 out of 20 heat total, but it was not quite enough to see him through to the final and he had to settle for a share of third. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material Smith now sits at number two on the ASP WCT Rankings. Highlights from the Billabong Rio Pro are available at http://wctbrasil.com/rio13 SAinfo reporter De Souza, the 2011 Billabong Rio Pro winner, went on a rampage to advance to his second career Billabong Rio Pro Final, eliminating 11-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater (USA) and goofy-footer Gabriel Medina (Brazil), but was unable to top Smith’s devastating form in the final. South Africa’s Jordy Smith captured the Billabong Rio Pro on Sunday, edging out home favourite Adriano De Souza in the final by a score of 17.80 to 16.34 in clean two-to-four foot (one-metre) waves at Barra Da Tijuca. 1 – Jordy Smith (RSA) 17.802 – Adriano de Souza (Bra) 16.34 “It would have been good to go one better, but the semis is good,” Fanning said. “Thanks to the crowd and Adriano. He’s been ripping the whole event. Thanks to all of my friends and family for all of the amazing support.” Amazing runSmith’s run to the final was nothing short of amazing as the South African powerhouse defeated dangerous rookie Filipe Toledo (Brazil) and two-time ASP world champion Mick Fanning (Australia) en route to the final. Adriano de Souza 15.33 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.30Gabriel Medina 16.43 def. Adrian Buchan (Aus) 14.93Mick Fanning 12.50 def. Sebastian Zietz (Haw) 12.37Jordy Smith 17.76 def. Filipe Toledo (Bra) 14.07 ‘I got a couple of scores’“When the swell dropped against Adriano and he took to the sky, I knew I was going to have to do the same, but luckily I got a couple of scores.” RESULTS Smith attributed his success to his ability to adapt to both his competitors and the ever-changing conditions of Barra Da Tijuca. Quarter-finals Semi-finals Smith showed an incredible variety of technical airs and turns in the final, launching a massive straight frontside air for a 9.33 and a stalefish air-reverse for an 8.50 to top De Souza for the win. Adriano de Souza 17.64 def. Gabriel Medina (Bra) 17.50Jordy Smith 14.83 def. Mick Fanning (Aus) 8.26 ‘Congrats to Jordy’“I did my best out there and thanks to the crowd for being behind me 100 percent,” De Souza said. “Congrats to Jordy. He beat me in the final from start to finish. I’m so happy to be here representing Brazil. Jordy was the best out there today and congrats to him.” The third of 10 stops on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the Billabong Rio Pro used the entire event waiting period, culminating in a high-performance showdown from the ASP’s top 34 amidst a bevy of barrels and ramps. Third ASP WCT winThe Billabong Rio Pro victory marks the third career ASP WCT event win for the 25-year-old and his first away from South Africa. “I knew it was going to be tough,” he said. “I was really nervous in the first heat against Filipe. Luckily I got through that one and when I came up against Mick I waited for better waves. last_img read more

Understanding the benefits of health reimbursement arrangements

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It’s no secret that a spotlight has been on our country’s healthcare system for some time now — and a bright one at that. Health insurance options and expenditures are a real concern for agribusiness owners and it’s hard to know what options will best fit the needs of your operation. Rest assured there are options; some that can even put money back your pocket.Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) are based upon Section 105 of the Internal Revenue Code. These particular arraignments allow farmers who qualify to deduct 100% of family medical cost against the farm income. In turn, the taxpayer saves federal, state and FICA taxes for family medical costs (typically a 35% savings).This is done by declaring medical expenses as business expenses, not as Schedule A itemized personal deductions, which are often limited or lost. What’s the catch here you ask? Whether they file as sole proprietor or an LLC, farmers must have a spouse who is employed by their business, at least on a part-time basis. More and more farmers are putting their spouse on the payroll in order to take advantage of HRAs.A Section 4 105 Plan allows a qualified farmer to benefit by deducting 100% of:Health Insurance and dental insurance premiums for eligible employee(s) and family. This also includes qualified long-term care insurance.Uninsured (out of pocket) medical, dental and vision care expenses for eligible employee(s) and family.Chiropractic, medical supplies, contact lenses, hearing aids, Medicare Part A, Medicare Supplemental, optical/vision, and cancer insurance premiums for eligible employee(s).Let’s take a look at scenario that would qualify: Joe owns and runs a farm. His wife, Jane, helps in the fields and takes care of some financial records and administrative functions for the farming business. Because Jane is already a service to the farm operation, Joe makes her a true employee and begins providing her with compensation. They are now eligible for HRAs.Joe compensates Jane a total of $14,000 per year in the following way:1. Reimbursement for family health premiums:  $7,0002. Reimbursements for uninsured medical expenses:  $5,0003. W-2 Cash Wages:  $2,000TOTAL$14,000 By allowing for a 100% federal, state and FICA tax deduction of the $12,000 of reimbursed expenses, Joe would receive $4,200 in actual tax dollar savings by taking advantage of a Section 105 Plan. (Note: the tax savings is assuming rates of 15% federal, 5% state and 15% FICA taxes=35% savings).It’s important to note that farmers who file as C corporations don’t need to abide by the spouse/employee method. The corporation is viewed as the employer in this case and the owner is an employee as long as the employee is receiving scheduled pay. Also note farm entities and sole proprietors with two or more employees may not be eligible for this special deduction because at the two or more employee threshold the new Affordable Health Care Act rules require certain “essential health benefits” (group insurance) and the Section 105 HRA rules may not apply. If you have two or more employees, we advise you consult your accountant for other potential health care solutions.AgriPlanNOW and BizPlanNOW is a couple of the HRAs you may have heard about. HRAs like these aren’t too confused with actual insurance plans. These are reimbursement programs that you must enroll in and there are annual fees, but the savings they provide far outweigh the upfront costs. Once enrolled, you will work with your insurance provider and tax professional to lower your out-of-pocket costs. Because you’re medical costs are now classified as business expenses you will see your deductions increase and tax savings will be the result. Savings will of course vary, but the average is around $5,000 per year.Once you submit an application for an HRA and you are enrolled, then it becomes vital to keep receipts and all records of medical expenses and health insurance premiums as well as payroll transactions. All this information will need to be reviewed and submitted at year-end by your tax professional. A CPA with experience in working with agribusiness professionals can assist you with proper record keeping and of course the tax reporting piece of the puzzle. Brian E. Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA is a Principal with Holbrook & Manter, CPAs. Brian has been with Holbrook & Manter since 1995, primarily focusing on the areas of Tax Consulting and Management Advisory Services within several firm service areas, focusing on agri-business and closely held businesses and their owners.  Holbrook & Manter is a professional services firm founded in 1919 and we are unique in that we offer the resources of a large firm without compromising the focused and responsive personal attention that each client deserves.last_img read more

Goa Congress MLAs urge Governor to follow Karnataka precedent

first_imgGoa Congress leaders, including leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar, and party MLAs on Friday called on Governor Mridula Sinha and urged her to follow the immediate precedent set by Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala and invite the Congress in Goa, as the largest party to form government.The Goa Congress Legislative Party (CLP) has 16 MLAs in the Assembly. Mr. Kavlekar was accompanied by 13 MLAs as two MLAs are not in the state and one MLA is in hospital at the moment, said party spokesperson Siddnath Buyao.Coming out of the meeting with the Governor at Raj Bhavan, Mr. Kavlekar told presspersons that a representation had been submitted to the Governor, requesting her to “right the past wrong” of inviting the BJP to form the government in Goa in March 2017, and now invite the 16-member Congress party to form the government instead.“We have asked her to do what the Karnataka Governor has done recently and invite the Congress as the single largest party to form the government in Goa. This current government has to be dismissed,” said Mr. Kavlekar.He asserted that the Congress in Goa was capable of forming a government and prove its majority in the 40-member Assembly, if it was invited to do so by Ms. Sinha.“She has told us that she will respond to our letter in two days,” Mr. Kavlekar said.The February 2017 pollsThe BJP won 13 seats in the February 2017 elections, against 17 bagged by the Congress. The BJP staked its claim to power with two regional outfits and independent MLAs, and formed a coalition government after getting a prompt nod from Ms. Sinha.Subsequently, Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane quit the party after he remained absent on the floor of the House defying the party whip when Mr. Parrikar took a vote of confidence and joined the BJP to become a Minister, taking the BJP’s strength to 14.At present, the BJP-led alliance has a strength of 23 legislators, with 14 from the BJP, three each from regional parties Goa Forward and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three Independents. The Opposition comprises 16 of the Congress and one NCP member.last_img read more

Ravena, Teng lead respective teams in mini-tournament at Draft Combine

first_imgRunner wins marathon after competitors ahead take wrong turn Kin of Misamis Oriental hero cop to get death benefits, award — PNP PBA IMAGESKiefer Ravena and Jeron Teng captained their respective crews to the top of their groups in the 2017 Gatorade PBA Draft Combine mini-tournament Monday at Gatorade Hoops Center.Ravena, a two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player, anchored Team A-2 as they swept Group A in lopsided fashion.ADVERTISEMENT There will also be a three-point shootout at 2 p.m., before the Finals commence at 2:30 a.m.The Scores:First Game:A-2 71 – Perkins 20, Flores 13, Herndon 13, De Chavez 8, Ravena 7, Cabahug 6, Manuel 4, Geronimo 0.A-1 49 – Casiño 12, Dagangon 12, Moralde 11, Jose 8, Apreku 4, Dela Peña 0.Second Game:B-2 60 – Vigil 17, Gabriel 13, Palma 12, Sumido 7, Baltazar 6, Sargent 3, Torres 2.B-1 58 – Bringas 16, Juico 15, Ortega 11, Onwubere 8, Capacio 6, Grimaldo 2, Sollano 0.Third Game:A-1 72 – Jose 24, Manuel 22, Dagangon 10, Apreku 6, Casiño 5, Moralde 5.A-3 68 – Potts 13, Nalos 12, Bulawan 10, Tallo 10, Gabayni 9, Enguio 9, Arong 5. The former Ateneo stalwart displayed his playmaking skills in his side’s 71-49 rout of  Team A-1 as Jason Perkins (20 points), Lervin Flores (13 points), and Robbie Herndon (13 points) did the damage on offense.Ravena, then, took charge down the stretch to pull off the 69-58 win over Team A-3, firing nine of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutHerndon continued his stellar showing in the second game, going perfect from the field to wound up with 23 markers, as Flores had 13.Meanwhile, the Teng-led Team B-3 had its victory come in contrasting fashion, squeaking out a 44-41 thriller over Team B-2, and a close 49-48 shave against Team B-1.Teng showcased his full array of talent in the combine, pacing his side with 10 points in a highly physical first game before going for 23 markers in the second game, but not before dishing out the game winning assist to Kyle Neypes for the go-ahead bucket in the waning seconds of the second game. But it’s not all Ravena and Teng as the coaches in attendance also took notice of some stalwarts in day one.Raymar Jose, Louie Vigil, Julian Sargent, Jon Gabriel, Jett Manuel, Gab Dagangon, Davon Potts, and Michael Juico are just some of the prospects who churned out solid performances for their respective teams.The mini-tournament continues on Tuesday as it goes on to the crossover semis.Ravena’s Team A-2 will take on Team B-2 of Vigil and Sargent at 9 a.m., while Teng’s Team B-3 face off against Team A-1 of Jose and Manuel at 10 a.m.Team A-3 of Potts and Mac Tallo and Team B-1 of Juico and Arvie Bringas will also be meeting in a battle for fifth game at 11 a.m., before the losers of the crossover semis face off at 1 p.m. in a battle for third.ADVERTISEMENT QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. center_img Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH View comments Fourth Game:B-3 44 – Teng 10, Grospe 9, Neypes 8, Nicholls 8, Abrigo 5, Sara 4, Cahilig 0.B-1 41 – Juico 19, Capacio 8, Sollano 6, Grimaldo 3, Ortega 3, Onwubere 2, Bringas 0.Fifth Game:A-2 69 – Ravena 24, Herndon 23, Flores 14, Perkins 8, Geronimo 0, Cabahug 0, De Chavez 0.A-3 58 – Potts 16, Gabayni 12, Arong 10, Tallo 9, Nalos 5, Bulawan 4, Enguio 2.Sixth Game:B-3 49 – Teng 23, Grospe 10, Neypes 4, Abrigo 7, Sara 5, Nicholls 0.B-2 48 – Vigil 16, Gabriel 9, Sargent 9, Baltazar 6, Palma 6, Torres 2, Sumido 0. MOST READ Read Nextlast_img read more

10 months agoKeane slams Man Utd after Liverpool thumping: These players not good enough

first_imgKeane slams Man Utd after Liverpool thumping: These players not good enoughby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United legend Roy Keane slammed the standard of the players after defeat at Liverpool.Mourinho’s team looked lost throughout the encounter and speaking after the game United legend Keane questioned the quality within his former team.“I certainly believe a lot of the players playing for Man United today aren’t good enough for Man United,” Keane told Sky Sports. “I really believe that. They are good players, but not for Man United.”Again you look over the last year or two, the league campaign, to be so far behind the likes of Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham and Chelsea at this moment of time.”We’re on about creativity, but I really think their biggest problem is defensively. You have to try and get some kind of foundation to go forward and were on about scoring a goal, you’ve got to try keep some clean sheets. They are all over the place.“I think if Liverpool were really at it today, towards the last 10 and 15 minutes, they could have scored four or five.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

10 months agoMan Utd hero Parker: Why would Pochettino leave statues for mess?

first_imgMan Utd hero Parker: Why would Pochettino leave statues for mess?by Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United legend Paul Parker has questioned why Mauricio Pochettino would want to join the club in their current state.The Tottenham Hotspur manager is believed to Ed Woodward’s preferred choice to replace Jose Mourinho, once Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s leaves as caretaker at the end of the season.But Parker doesn’t see the appeal for Pochettino.He told Eurosport: “Everyone will talk about Mauricio Pochettino taking on the Manchester United job at the end of the season.”Poch is moving into an unbelievable stadium with Spurs. If the chairman Daniel Levy can give him a little bit of money in the new stadium to improve certain bits of his squad with the young players, why would he leave there?”If he can win a first English title with Tottenham since 1961, suddenly he’s going to have his own statue outside the ground. If he wins it for Manchester United, they will say ‘we expect you to do that: that’s why you are here’.”Why would Pochettino want to go straight to United after all he has built at Tottenham over the past four years? People will shout about the size of United and the money he would have to spend, but football is not like that any more.”People don’t automatically go and play for United because of the name. First of all, they think they want to be in London and secondly, they think who the coach is. They all want to be around London. Even Mourinho stayed in London as United manager.” About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Wayne Brady Speaks At Clinton Foundation Health Matters Summit

first_imgEarlier this week, the Clinton Foundation hosted the fourth annual Health Matters Activation Summit.The summit brought together leaders in healthcare, public policy, veterans affairs, business, education, and professional sports to identify and implement strategies for systemic health improvement.The summit, sponsored by Tenet Healthcare Corporation, included panels on health innovation and health and the economy. Summit attendees participated in discussions on topics including universal access to sport and physical activity for youth, behavioral health in primary care, scalable solutions for health communities, and connectivity in healthcare.“Through Health Matters, we are committed to empowering people to change their lives and communities to change their own futures by employing the best available technique – creating partnerships among diverse stakeholders,” said Bill Clinton. “At this year’s Health Matters Activation Summit, we announced strategic partnerships that make lifesaving drugs more available, encourage physical activity for youth, and inspire innovation in the health field.”During the event, actor and comedian Wayne Brady discussed his battle with depression and why it is important that individuals take an active role in addressing their whole body health, particularly men, who are least likely to pursue the course of action or treatment they require.Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders also took part.last_img read more

Canada increases oil exports finding buyers in the US despite shale oil

first_imgCALGARY – The National Energy Board says Canadian oil exports rose by 6.5 per cent last year to 3.3 million barrels per day despite an increase in light shale oil production in the United States, Canada’s biggest customer and competitor.The federal regulator says heavy crude made up 77 per cent or 2.5 million bpd of Canadian exports, continuing a trend that has resulted in such exports rising by 48 per cent over the past five years as new oilsands projects come on stream in Alberta.Light oil exports fell six per cent in 2017 to 760,000 bpd, a reduction of 13 per cent from five years ago.The NEB says the U.S. still wants to buy Canadian heavy crude because many of its refineries are configured to process it and it is a cheaper feedstock than light oil.Higher oil prices and volumes resulted in the value of Canada’s oil exports rising to $66.9 billion in 2017 from $49.9 billion the year before.Last year, about 90 per cent of crude oil exports were moved by pipeline to the U.S., according to the NEB. Crude-by-rail export volumes rose 44 per cent due to pipeline capacity constraints, but remained a much less-utilized option at about 130,000 bpd.last_img read more

Opinion Columbus Blue Jackets shouldnt give in to Ryan Johansens agent

Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen (19) carries the puck up ice in front of the Florida Panthers’ Drew Shore (15) during a game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on March 1, 2014. Columbus won, 6-3.Credit: Courtesy of MCTThe Columbus Blue Jackets would be smart to move on from Ryan Johansen. Not because they don’t need him, but because he needs them. And he’ll realize that soon enough.Following a breakout season where he posted a team-leading 63 points, Johansen has yet to sign a new deal with Columbus. He’s sitting on his restricted free agent status while his teammates have begun preseason play. All signs point to Johansen’s agent Kurt Overhardt as the reason for the contract impasse. In a recent press conference, Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said Overhardt wanted to double a contract offer worth $6 million over two years. On Monday, a CBS Sports report said Overhardt had lowered that asking price to $2.6 million per season.The Blue Jackets have already offered $32 million over six years and $46 million over eight years, Davidson said. Overhardt rejected each offer.While team executives don’t normally publicize contract negotiations, Davidson and Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen had apparently grown tired of Overhardt’s antics.Consequently, in the midst of training camp, Columbus is no longer shaping its lines around the 22-year-old who led the team with 33 goals last season.The Blue Jackets are pushing forward and it’s a smart move from a side that holds leverage.Johansen’s numbers were abysmal through his first couple seasons. He recorded 33 points through 107 games before last year, and was a left out of the 2013 American Hockey League playoffs despite being healthy.Regardless of what happened last season, the Blue Jackets would be irresponsible to offer Johansen a hefty contract based on such a small sample size. What happens if their star center licks the envelope and mails it in next season?It seems the only agreement between Columbus and Overhardt has been on the length of the contract. Both sides are working toward a two-year deal, according to The Columbus Dispatch.Davidson said Overhardt wants his client to be paid more per year than Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn, who signed a five-year, $26.25 million contract in 2013 and had 64 more points than Johansen through his first three years in the league.While the term of Benn’s deal is longer, Davidson’s comparison between Overhardt’s wishes and Benn’s contract is enough to justify Columbus’ frustration.Johansen is foolish not to sign the Blue Jackets’ two-year, $6 million offer. The deal could position him for a huge payday if he continues his production through the 2015-16 season.Speculation suggests Overhardt is lobbying for a contract similar to Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene’s. After registering 150 points through his first three seasons, Duchene signed for $7 million over two years in June 2012.Unfortunately for Johansen, a two-year, $7 million deal is normally reserved for players who produce more than 14 goals through their first two seasons.The Blue Jackets tabling $6 million over two years is a gift to Johansen. He’s getting $3 million per year to prove he’s worth a long-term, big-money deal.But the longer Johansen waits, the more he might cut into his production for this upcoming season.He’s already missing the preseason, and while training camp isn’t the fitness wake up call it used to be, Johansen is still missing the benefit of playing alongside new linemates before the games start to mean anything.It’s time for Johansen to realize his position and sign a new deal.Columbus is ready. read more