Will President Trump invite hostile foreign power Toronto Raptors to the White House?

first_imgThank goodness the Golden State Warriors lost the NBA Finals. The Bay Area will now be spared of what had become an annual question: Will they or will they not visit the White House?That debate has now been transferred north to the Toronto Raptors and, to an extent, the rest of Canada.Given that the team is based in another country, will President Donald Trump even extend an invitation? Or has the task of sending out Evites fallen to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?Trudeau likely is …last_img

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

Exploring bicycle culture in South Africa

first_imgJohannes van Wyk and his children Chris, Danisha and Sarie not only cycle, but arealso capable bicycle mechanics. Twin sisters Louisa and Johanna Mokoaqoencourage each other’s love of cycling.Marina le Grange prefers to cycle short distances, rather than getting into a car. (Images: Day One Publications) MEDIA CONTACTS • Stan EngelbrechtDay One Publications+27 82 928 6586 RELATED ARTICLES • SA’s first hydrogen bike rolled out • Improving lives with bicycles • Bikes for Africa – from bamboo • School campaign helps change lives• Going green for 2010Wilma den HartighTwo South African friends who share an enthusiasm for bicycles and cycling have started a project that explores South African bicycle culture and commuting on the saddle.The project, called Bicycle Portraits, is the idea of Stan Engelbrecht, a photographer and publisher, and Nic Grobler, a motion graphics designer.The focus of the project is to provide insight into the lives of people who use bicycles for daily commuting, instead of just leisure or exercise. With global warming a concern across the planet, the efforts of these energetic people have the potential to make a big difference.Since early 2010, Engelbrecht and Grobler have travelled across the country, on their own bicycles, to take photographs of saddle commuters and their bikes.“It has been an incredible journey to meet South Africans who rely on two wheels for transport, and also to meet their bicycles,” Grobler says.They have been everywhere, from South Africa’s major cities to the West Coast, from country towns in the Free State to Orania in the Northern Cape.“So many times, when we look at the bicycle and the owner, they just fit together. I don’t know how it works, it is just a weird connection,” Grobler says.South Africa’s diversity of peopleEngelbrecht and Grobler have photographed South Africans of all ages, and from all walks of life. Some of the cyclists they meet along the way use bicycles because they cannot afford cars or public transport. Others just love cycling.Marinda le Grange, from Orania in the Northern Cape, had this to say about her bicycle: “The most enjoyable thing for me on the bicycle is when I become daring enough to ride with no hands, just to pedal and not hold on – then I feel young.”David Mamabolo, from Muckleneuk in Pretoria, said many people want him to sell his bicycle to them. “But I always say no because I really like it. You see, it’s an old one like me.”Chrystl Küstner, from Pretoria in Gauteng, works as a physiotherapist and uses her bicycle to visit patients. “I like cycling with a purpose, not just for the sake of it. I go to the shops and I do my shopping, carrying a backpack and using my carrier. I do all my shopping with the bicycle, or with my feet – I don’t like driving with a car,” she says.Awie Harmse bought a bicycle because he can’t afford a car. Salmon Mojaki says that his bicycle may have an old frame, but it is one of the strongest frames you can get, and his bicycle has been the best transport he’s ever had.Many benefitsEngelbrecht and Grobler are raising funds to publish a full-colour hardcover photographic book early next year of their travels, the people they have met and their stories.The co-founders hope the project and the book will encourage more South Africans to get on to their bicycles and start peddling.Strangely, besides all the benefits one could enjoy from owning a bicycle, commuter cyclists still seem to be a rare breed,” Engelbrecht says. As they spent more time on the road, they realised just how few South Africans use bicycles to commute.They also want to change perceptions about cycling. Given all the benefits, such as independence, health, fitness, cost-effectiveness, and kindness to the environment, more South Africans from all social classes should be encouraged to use bicycles.Many of the cyclists they interviewed told them that cycling was easier on the pocket. Cycling helps them to save money every month by avoiding public transport. However, Engelbrecht says that he’s not exactly sure why so few people don’t own bicycles or cycle.Some of the reasons they have identified include cultural intolerance, stigma of poverty, physical danger and lack of infrastructure. “We’ve noticed that as our major centres develop there still seems to be a trend to make cities more friendly for cars, not people,” he says.If roads were more cycle-friendly and the correct infrastructure was established, owning a bicycle could change the lives of many people. South Africa’s socio-economic climate makes it the ideal location for cycle commuting, Grobler says.For more people to take up cycling, there is a great need for good quality, yet affordable and comfortable bicycles in South Africa.Cheap imported bicycles are another challenge, he says. They have too many gears, smart paint jobs and are poorly made. “Second-hand bicycles can be cheap but simple, robust and easy to maintain. That is what we need,” he says.Inspiring South Africans to cycleThrough the project, Engelbrecht and Grobler also want to empower underprivileged South Africans. Some of their ideas include teaching bicycle maintenance skills and providing cyclists with important cycling gear such as helmets, tyres, tubes and locks.One of their long-term goals is to create a support structure such as a trust funded through a percentage of book sales, or a charity, for people who appear in the book.Grobler says that they have relied on social networking sites such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness of the Bicycle Portraits project.This has been very successful and has created an entire community of local and international followers who are interested in the project. Some fans are cycling fanatics, but others are not familiar with bicycles at all.The Kickstarter initiativeEngelbrecht and Grobler decided to raise funds through the Kickstarter social-network pledge-for-a-reward fundraising page.Anyone with a creative idea can pitch it on the Kickstarter website. The way it works is simple: every project must have a funding goal (an amount in dollars) and a time limit between one and 90 days, determined by the creator of the project.Once the deadline is reached, funding will either be successful if it reached the goal, or terminated. If it meets the goal, all pledge amounts are collected at once and the money is handed over to the project creator. In return, the project must be completed as promised.If the project does not meet the funding goal all pledges are cancelled. To encourage people to pledge, each project has to offer a reward as part of the pledge deal. Engelbrecht and Grobler have undertaken that each person who donates US$50 (about R348) or more will receive a copy of the book.Their goal is to raise $35,000 (R243 862) to complete the production of the book. Fundraising has been divided into three pledge drives. The third and final fundraising leg will start in December.In the first phase, they raised more than $15,000 (R104 512) to cover travelling, shooting, writing and preparation of the content for the second phase of the project.In the second pledge phase, $9,000 (R62 707) was collected for design, layout and pre-printing preparations. They hope that the third fundraising phase will raise $12,500 (R87 093) for printing and binding of 3000 copies of the book.Revealing the spirit of South AfricansIn comparison with the rest of Africa, and a country like the Netherlands, South Africa has quite a bit of catching up to do when it comes to cycle commuting. But besides motivating more South Africans to cycle, Engelbrecht says the project has also revealed the character and friendliness of South Africa’s people. Wherever they went, people were big-hearted, eager to share their stories, and truly inspirational, he says.last_img read more

Timeline of Emotions: The Challenges of Military Families Experiencing Deployment

first_imgBy: Jason M. Jowers, MS, MFT Return to article. Long DescriptionPixabay[Army Deployment by skeeze on June 30, 2014, CC0]As a service professional, it is important to understand the impact of deployment when working with members of military families. Deployments are a trying time for military families. There are also unique challenges that each member of a military family will face throughout the cycle of deployment.This blog from The National Military Family Association goes over the various phases that a military family can expect to go through. These are broken down into seven phases and highlight certain emotional responses within each. It is also important to note that each family is unique and may experience these phases differently or at different times. Let’s take a look at these different phases and how we as service professionals might help military families cope throughout the deployment cycle.Phase 1 focuses on the anticipation of loss and begins with receiving deployment orders.Phase 2 deals with the detachment and withdrawal that families may experience.Phase 3 is defined by a sense of disorganization, especially in disruption of routines and emotions.Phase 4 is all about reestablishing routines.Phase 5 focuses on the news and anticipation of homecoming for the service member.Phase 6 is when the service member finally returns home.And finally, Phase 7 addresses the reintegration of the family.It is important to note that this article further breaks down issues that may arise between couples as well as for children in the family. One key component to remember to share with family members is that they are not alone. Military families are strong and they can rely on each other and other families in their communities for support.For more on resources and programs that support military families, be sure to head over to the National Military Family Association website and learn more about their mission to help support military service members and their families year-round. Also, MFLN Family Development has lots of great resources! This past blog post, “From the Front Lines to the Front Door: Going Back to Family Life after Deployment,” addresses the reintegration process of returning military service members to their families.ReferencesBoice, M.J. (2017). Deployment Cycle of Emotions: No, You’re Not Crazy. National Military Family Association. Retrieved from: https://www.militaryfamily.org/deployment-cycle-of-emotions/This post was written by Jason M. Jowers, MS, MFT, of the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development concentration on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.  You can also listen to our Anchored. podcast series via iTunes and our website. Army Deployment of Soldiers lining up to get on a military planelast_img read more

Congress, BJP accuse each other over Baba Ramdev’s land deal

first_imgHeated exchanges were witnessed in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly on Wednesday on the issue of allotment of 22 acres to Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth at Sadhupul in Solan district in 2009. State Revenue Minister Kaul Singh Thakur revealed that the Cabinet had on February 17 given its nod to reconsider the lease of land to the Yogpeeth that was earlier cancelled by it in February 2013. The Congress government after coming to power in December 2012 had taken back the land given to the Yogpeeth on a 99 years lease by the previous BJP government because of certain anomalies and undue favours given to the Yog Guru, he said.Necessary formalitiesThe incumbent government would remove all irregularities and carry out the necessary formalities before finalising the land deal with the Yogpeeth, he added.Mr. Thakur claimed that the lease deed was signed in haste during the previous government and it had the signatures of someone else and not that of Acharya Balkrishan of the Yogpeeth who had further given the power of attorney to someone else.Some multi-storey buildings and hospitality units were being constructed there when the government took repossession of the land, he said.The Minister also maintained that if the Yogpeeth takes back its writ in the High Court against the government for illegally cancelling its lease deed, the incumbent government would take a relook at the matter and again register the lease in its name after carrying out the necessary preconditions.Some of the Congress MLAs also requested the government to not renew the lease deed with the Yogpeeth since it had openly violated the conditions in the memorandum and instead an orphanage or shelter for stray cattle should be constructed on the let out land.‘Unnecessary move’The BJP members blamed the government for unnecessarily cancelling the lease to the Yogpeeth earlier which was constructing a herbal garden and a branch of the Patanjali Yog Centre on behalf of its Trust.Leader of the Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal and other BJP members wanted to know why the government was now planning to reinstate the lease deed in favour of Baba Ramdev who is close to the upper echelons of the Union government.last_img read more

Irrfan Khan gets candid

first_imgA small-screen actor who worked his way to Hollywood, receiving praise and critical acclaim along the way… Maqbool and Slumdog Millionaire are just a few movies he collected accolades for.To be or not to beMy dream was to learn acting, and attending the National School of Drama (New Delhi), changed my life. It has given me a different way of looking at things and myself. Drama school plays a very important role in an actor’s life, but you should be serious about the craft. If you just want to get popular and become a hero, it’s not for you. If you’re passionate, it gives you the aptitude and the direction you need.The returnsWhen it comes to awards and recognition, my Padma Shri probably means the most to me. It tells me how my fans and well wishers have reacted to me emotionally. It makes me think about how much people care and value my work and how personal it feels for them, that it matters to them.A philosophical sideLife is not 2+2 = 4. Life could be 2+2 = 100. That is why you say yeh saali zindagi! It is not logical or calculated. It is magical – something beyond calculation or comprehension. So dream your dream, and live your life…Hollywood beckonsIf I’m offered a role that gives me the opportunity to explore something new, that is what I look forward to. I am not there to create headlines about what I’m wearing at a premier; that doesn’t matter and I don’t want to get caught in that either. (He is currently shooting for the next franchise of Spiderman that’ll be released next year.)advertisementPlaying sportI hope to catch some World Cup matches if time permits. I like this team and Dhoni. I admire his attitude – I think he is the best captain I have seen after Steve Waugh. He is at such ease with himself, which is why he is so composed with his team. I love Sehwag’s playing style; when he is batting I want to go home and watch his innings. But Dhoni is special; the way he deals with pressure situations; he is fascinating – just super!The family manI try to spend as much time as I can with my family – we fly kites, play football, computer games, swim, sometimes we just get bored together! I also love going out of the city, out in the wilderness, being one with Nature. I try to cook whenever I get the time; to me cooking is like meditation. When it comes to eating, I do watch what I eat; everything in moderation is what I believe in. And I stay away from processed foods.last_img read more

Drug money funds terror acts in India

first_imgA nexus among Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Maoists and insurgent groups of North-East is using money earned from drug trafficking to fund terror activities in India, official sources have said.Major drug seizures on the India- Nepal border in the past four months have put a spotlight on this revenue generation strategy adopted by terror groups. Intelligence sources say that the ISI, Maoists and north- eastern groups are hand in glove.In the last four months, Custom officials have seized more than 10 kg of heroin worth Rs 60 crore in international market from the India- Nepal border in Bihar’s Araria district. Apart from this, 1,000 kg of marijuana and four kg of charas were also seized in the same area.”The amount of seizure made in the last four months from the Indo- Nepal border drastically exceeds the seizure made in years from across the country. In the past, not more than three- four kg of heroin was recovered during the entire year,” said a Custom official, who is a part of the team probing the seizures.While only two arrests have been made in the five cases, counter- terror agencies suspect that the terror nexus is behind this international drug racket.”This is definitely the most lucrative method of generating funds…The Maoists have managed to procure hi- tech weapons from the US and China. Where is the money coming from?” an intelligence official said . The information about the big seizures has been shared by other agencies. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence ( DRI) and the Intelligence Bureau have also been roped in. A detailed dossier, with all information on the drug syndicate and its links with terror outfits, is also being prepared.The DRI has already prepared a detailed note on the ongoing probe and forwarded it to intelligence agencies.Even the National Investigation Agency ( NIA) – probing the arms procurement of the Maoists – is looking into the financial aspect.Sources say the entire machinery is well- organised.The procurement is being done by the ISI, while the stocking and distribution are done by the Maoists and N- E insurgents.Many smugglers are former Maoists who facilitate the drug trade. The drugs being procured are from two blocks – the golden triangle: Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq; and the golden crescent: Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.What has shocked agencies is that unlike in the past, drugs are also being used in India. “Traditionally India was only a transit route, but now the demand for various drugs is increasing within the country,” said an official from the Narcotics Control Bureau.advertisementlast_img read more