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UK Catholic Care loses gay adoption fight

first_imgBBC News 1 Nov 2012A Roman Catholic adoption agency has been told it cannot turn away gay couples if it wants to keep its charitable status. Catholic Care, run by the Diocese of Leeds, wanted its adoption service to be made exempt from equality laws. A judge has ruled the charity had failed to give convincing reasons why it should be allowed to do so. Catholic Care said it would consider its position but could have to end the service as it would lose funding. The charity – which has been placing children with adoptive parents for more than 100 years – was among 12 Catholic agencies in England and Wales forced to change their policy towards homosexual people due to equality laws passed in 2007. Others have since closed or cut their ties with the Church.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-20184133last_img read more

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Kroger, Union Hoping To Beat Saturday Deadline

first_imgKroger and the supermarket’s union workforce are meeting this week as a labor contract is set to expire on Saturday, Nov. 9.They’re trying to beat the deadline to reach a new labor deal for the 12-thousand employees at 80 tri-state stores.Negotiations have been ongoing since late September, and both sides extended talks by a month which originally expired on Oct. 5.Officials say contract agreements have been complicated by health care benefits and their costs.last_img

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The Final Word: Syracuse stuns No. 10 Duke, 78-75

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ MORE COVERAGEGallery: Syracuse’s upset victory over No. 10 DukeTyus Battle scores 18 points in Syracuse’s 78-75 upset win over No. 10 DukeSyracuse upsets No. 10 Duke with John Gillon’s buzzer-beating banked 3What we learned from Syracuse’s 78-75 win against No. 10 Duke Published on February 23, 2017 at 12:00 am Behind John Gillon’s second-half outburst, Syracuse (17-12, 9-7 Atlantic Coast) upset No. 10 Duke (22-6, 10-5), 78-75, Wednesday night in front of the largest on-campus crowd in college basketball this season. Gillon hit the game-winner at the buzzer, freshman guard Tyus Battle returned to his old self (18 points) and the Orange scored 53 second-half points to complete the victory. SU plays next at Louisville on Sunday.Our beat writers Connor Grossman and Paul Schwedelson discuss SU’s comeback win and where it puts SU in NCAA Tournament contention.  AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Commentslast_img read more

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Never count out the Palmdale girls

first_img“We live in an age of entitlement,” Corisis said. “Unfortunately, in our society, mediocrity is accepted now.” It has never been acceptable to Corisis, who recorded his 500th career victory Feb. 21 – 40-34 over St. Joseph’s of Santa Maria. His 502 career wins (all at Palmdale) lead in the Daily News coverage area and place him eighth in the state. This year, he’s pushed a team that many had written off before the season started. [email protected] (661) 267-7802160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PALMDALE – Nothing done by the Palmdale High girls’ basketbll team should come as a surprise, given its tradition of pulling off shocking upsets. Soon after coach George Corisis took over the unheralded program in the early 1980s, the team pulled off improbable playoff upsets over San Gabriel and Foothill of Santa Ana, considered among the state’s elite. But these days, Corisis might have outdone himself. Palmdale has come through a series of obstacles to advance to tonight’s Southern Section Division II-A semifinals. The Falcons (18-11), who have never won a section championship and are seeking their first title game appearance since 1996, will play Temescal Canyon of Lake Elsinore (22-6) at 7:30 p.m. at Lakeside High of Lake Elsinore. Palmdale is coming off a 52-45 upset of Vista Murrieta on Saturday, a No. 2 seed that it trailed 14-3 early in the game. Corisis stresses fundamentals in practices, even in late February, when most of his coaching counterparts allow their players to scrimmage. His teams are known for playing hard-nosed, in-your-face defense. Corisis said he has adjusted to today’s players, whom he finds less accepting of criticism, but is an admittedly demanding coach who pushes players and doesn’t always tell them what they want to hear. last_img read more

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Heartbreak in Novato: Last-second touchdown ends Crusaders’ season

first_imgThe St. Bernard’s Crusaders lead 47-42 with one second remaining in Saturday’s quarterfinal playoff game against San Marin. With 0.5 seconds to play the Crusaders found themselves trailing after the Mustangs’ quarterback Matthew Sargent lobbed a last ditch fourth down pass to his receiver, Garrett Franz, who pulled it down in the back of the end zone to send the Crusaders back to Humboldt County and his team through to the North Coast Section Division-IV semifinal round with a memorable 49-47 …last_img read more

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Evolutionists Admit It’s About Mistakes

first_img“Evolution by Mistake” is the headline of an article about evolution on Science Daily.  Can the protagonists get mistakes to create eyes, wings, and brains?    The rest of the headline reads: “Major Driving Force Comes from How Organisms Cope With Errors at Cellular Level.”  Right off the bat, a tension seems set up between errors, which are directionless and purposeless, and how organisms cope with them, which at first glance seems a matter of design and purpose (as in a corporate security policy or anti-virus software).  But this is not an appeal to intelligent design.  “Charles Darwin based his groundbreaking theory of natural selection on the realization that genetic variation among organisms is the key to evolution,” the opening sentence declared.  The tip of the hat to Darwin means they intend to explain all of the wonders of the living world by descent with modification from bacteria to man.  Can they pull it off with “evolution by mistake”?    Like Darwin, Joanna Masel and Etienne Rajon at University of Arizona (smiling at the whiteboard in a photo), recognize the exquisite adaptation of organisms to their environment.  “But exactly how nature creates variation in the first place still poses somewhat of a puzzle to evolutionary biologists,” the article admitted.  That may appear strange to readers who thought Darwin or the neo-Darwinists had that issue wrapped up long ago.    Masel and Rajon “discovered the ways organisms deal with mistakes that occur while the genetic code in their cells is being interpreted greatly influences their ability to adapt to new environmental conditions – in other words, their ability to evolve.”  They are implying that ability to evolve will lead to innovation (wings, eyes, brains), because later, the phrase “how nature creates innovation” appears.  Can they get from errors to innovation?  If so, they need to do it without personifying evolution, so readers had best forgive this line that mixes up personified evolution with intelligent design: “Evolution needs a playground in order to try things out,” Masel said  “It’s like in competitive business: New products and ideas have to be tested to see whether they can live up to the challenge.”Overlooking that slip, they delved into the details of their idea:In nature, it turns out, many new traits that, for example, enable their bearers to conquer new habitats, start out as blunders: mistakes made by cells that result in altered proteins with changed properties or functions that are new altogether, even when there is nothing wrong with the gene itself.  Sometime later, one of these mistakes can get into the gene and become more permanent.Keep your eyes on the ball.  The reader wants to see innovation, like an eye, or a wing, or a brain, where it didn’t exist before.  So far we have blunders that alter proteins.  The gene was fine, but something happened downstream.  “Sometime later, one of these mistakes can get back into the gene,” they claimed.  Any evidence?  None in the article.    They next distinguished between global and local solutions.  The global solution, they said, is “to avoid making errors in the first place, for example by having a proofreading mechanism to spot and fix errors as they arise.”  Something “watches over the entire process,” they said, begging the question again of how an entire process that watches for errors and fixes them could itself be a product of mistakes.  Regardless, global solutions are about preserving integrity of the genome, not innovating wings, eyes, and brains.  Innovation will have to be local:The alternative is to allow errors to happen, but evolve robustness to the effects of each of them.  Masel and Rajon call this strategy a local solution, because in the absence of a global proofreading mechanism, it requires an organism to be resilient to each and every mistake that pops up.    “We discovered that extremely small populations will evolve global solutions, while very large populations will evolve local solutions,” Masel said.  “Most realistically sized populations can go either direction but will gravitate toward one or the other.  But once they do, they rarely switch, even over the course of evolutionary time.”This paragraph is full of strategy – another ostensibly purposeful concept.  If an organism has a strategy to allow some errors to creep in, but then “evolve robustness” to their effects, did that strategy itself evolve by mistake?  They didn’t say.    Next, they introduced a contrast between “regular variation, which is generally bad most of the time, since the odds of a genetic mutation leading to something useful or even better are pretty slim,” (see online book for calculation), “and what they call cryptic variation, which is less likely to be deadly, and more likely to be mostly harmless.”  Even so, a poison pill and a placebo are not likely to produce wings, eyes, and brains.  If you have an antidote to the poison pill, or a process to avoid swallowing it in the first place, it won’t kill you, but the placebo (cryptic variation), even if it is “mostly harmless,” contains no power to innovate.  You are not likely to get a third eye from it. So how does cryptic variation work and why is it so important for understanding evolution?    By allowing for a certain amount of mistakes to occur instead of quenching them with global proofreading machinery, organisms gain the advantage of allowing for what Masel calls pre-selection: It provides an opportunity for natural selection to act on sequences even before mutations occur.The critical reader of this paragraph is going to want to know not just whether their theory can produce innovation from mistakes, but how their theory itself arose from mistakes.  In other words, they talked about cryptic variation working, about importance, about understanding, about strategies of allowing some mistakes but not others – who or what decides?  They swept right past the question of how “global proofreading machinery” could ever arise from mistakes, to the grand fallacy (see Weinberg’s Corollary) of pre-selection as “an opportunity for natural selection to act”.  Is natural selection a person?  Does it have a plan?  How would natural selection have any precognition of the need for an eye, a wing, or a brain?    A mistake that leads to a misfolded protein, they admitted, could be “very toxic to the organism.”  Creationists would agree that “In this case of a misfolded protein, selection would favor mutations causing that genetic sequence to not be translated into protein or it would favor sequences in which there is a change so that even if that protein is made by accident, the altered sequence would be harmless.”  Purifying selection (eliminating mistakes) and compensating selection (tolerating mistakes) are not controversial: unless you avoid taking the poison pill, or have no antidote, you die without passing on your genes.  Having those protections still won’t give you a wing, an eye, or a brain.  But if you just had the opportunity to get them, wouldn’t you want them?“Pre-selection puts that cryptic variation in a state of readiness,” Masel said.  “One could think of local solutions as natural selection going on behind the scenes, weeding out variations that are going to be catastrophic, and enriching others that are only slightly bad or even harmless.”    “Whatever is left after this process of pre-selection has to be better,” she pointed out.  “Therefore, populations relying on this strategy have a greater capability to evolve in response to new challenges.  With too much proofreading, that pre-selection can’t happen.”Masel’s wording recalls Darwin’s personified depiction of his theory: “Natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.”  But even Darwin might have balked at the idea of pre-selection, that natural selection would keep harmless variations in a junkyard for scrutinizing later.  Masel argued that “the organism doesn’t pay a large cost for it, but it’s still there if it needs it.”    How big a junkyard can an organism afford to keep around?  Masel and Rajon recognized the cost of error correction:Avoiding or fixing errors comes at a cost, they pointed out.  If it didn’t, organisms would have evolved nearly error-free accuracy in translating genetic information into proteins.  Instead, there is a trade-off between the cost of keeping proteins free of errors and the risk of allowing potentially deleterious mistakes.The accuracy of error correction is indeed surprisingly high, but there is also a cost of hanging onto useless junk.  All the junk has to be copied every time a cell divides, and transported in a dynamic environment where the need to eat, eliminate, defend and adapt are ever present.  It may be that some organisms carrying around huge genomes are at a disadvantage and are headed for extinction.  Maybe they still need time to sift through their junk for parts of eyes, wings, and brains.    The authors ended on a biomimetic theme.  Engineers, too, may want to imitate the practice of evolution by mistake:“We find that biology has a clever solution.  It lets lots of ideas flourish, but only in a cryptic form and even while it’s cryptic, it weeds out the worst ideas.  This is an extremely powerful and successful strategy.  I think companies, governments, economics in general can learn a lot on how to foster innovation from understanding how biological innovation works.Most entrepreneurs, while admitting the value of brainstorming, trial and error, and even “evolutionary algorithms” (10/04/2005, 04/18/2009) will recognize that what they do has purpose and intent.  The same cannot be said of mistakes in yeast cells that Masel and Rajon studied.It might be said in the authors’ defense that the popular press had to oversimplify and personify their ideas for the lay public; the original paper in PNAS is where the goods are.1  A look at the abstract, though, shows a strong requirement: “The local solution requires powerful selection acting on every cryptic site and so evolves only in large populations.”  Yet the local solution is the only one pregnant with innovating potential, because “Strongly deleterious effects can be avoided globally by avoiding making errors (e.g., via proofreading machinery) or locally by ensuring that each error has a relatively benign effect.”  If large populations with mistakes of “relatively benign effect” is the best one can hope for, will wings, eyes, and brains follow?    In the body of the paper, the words innovate or innovation are nowhere to be found.  The stem improve is only found in reference to “improved proofreading machinery,” which they assume already existed.  There are equations about fitness, but with apparently no linkage to innovation: “components of fitness associated, respectively, with the expression of cryptic sequences, with deleterious sequences becoming permanently expressed through new mutations and with the cost of proofreading during protein synthesis.”  But cryptic sequences, remember, are only variations that do not kill the organism.  They are mistakes that are tolerated and kept in store.  Other mentions of fitness concern deleterious mutations, loss of function, and null fitness, except where additive fitness is offered hopefully: “Fitness in the additive scenario depends on the total concentration of all deleterious products within the cell and on their toxicity.”  It sounds more like a bomb shelter than a lab for innovation.  The authors use fitness primarily as a measure of mutations that assimilate in a population without getting edited out.  The last paragraph sums it up:Our core result is that a solution acting at many sites at once evolves in small populations, and local solutions at each independent site evolve in large populations, whereas either outcome is possible in populations of intermediate size.  Local solutions, associated with large populations, have both higher mean fitness and greater evolvability.Again, though, the authors never linked “higher mean fitness” with anything better than assimilation of harmless mutations.  In fact, what they present as a “positive feedback loop” is merely a loophole for mutations to escape the scrutiny of the editing machines: “This positive feedback loop between accuracy and the proportion of cryptic sequences that are strongly deleterious would ultimately lead to the evolution of an infinitely small error rate if avoiding errors did not come at a cost, resulting in a trade-off between the cost of expressing deleterious sequences and the cost of accuracy.”  Tolerance for harmless mutations was never linked to the innovation of wings, eyes, or brains, or anything even simply adding a new function to a cell – no matter how small – except for one vague reference in a table to “subfunctionalization” (split of functions between copies)2 or “neofunctionalization” (no examples provided; cf. 10/24/2003).    Apparently, then, all the authors hope for is the opportunity for evolution to work its magic (see 01/23/2011): “The local solution facilitates the genetic assimilation of cryptic genetic variation and therefore substantially increases evolvability” – i.e., the opportunity to innovate.  But they cannot assume that evolvability entails the ability to innovate new organs of extreme perfection without begging the very question Darwin’s original idea proposed 150 years ago.3  They lead the reader to hope that evolution may “tinker” with the assimilated junk: “cryptic sequences that are not strongly deleterious may tinker with rather than destroy function and so contribute to adaptation.”1.  Etienne Rajon and Joanna Masel, “Evolution of molecular error rates and the consequences for evolvability,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print January 3, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012918108 PNAS January 3, 2011.2.  On subfunctionalization, see 06/20/2005, 07/26/2006, 10/17/2007, and 01/03/2011.  Note that the word neofunctionalization begs the question whether natural selection is capable of producing new function. 3.  For previous attempts to explain “evolvability,” see 08/04/2004, 10/04/2005, 10/16/2006 bullet 3, 02/05/2007, 10/17/2007 bullet 4, 03/20/2008 commentary, 02/18/2009, and 01/05/2010.It may seem like this long entry was like a cruel cat playing with its captive mouse, or the hangman letting the victim draw his own rope, but it was necessary to give them all the space they wanted before showing there is no escape.  They chose to bounce on the cat’s paws; they built their own gallows.  We wanted them to have the space to make their case and try to escape, but they should have known it was doomed from the start.  Can you get wings, eyes, and brains by mistake?  Intuitively, none of us could ever believe that.  Yet academia presents that weird idea as unquestionable scientific truth.    OK, give it your best shot.  Here you had it – one of the most optimistic explications of evolutionary innovation you could ever find, by trained Darwin Party sophists, letting us all know why our intuitions are misguided.  And all they could do was tell us the old “If you build it, they will come” theory of evolution (03/29/2007, 10/31/2010, 11/29/2010 commentaries).  Merely give Tinker Bell the tools (08/30/2006, 11/29/2010), and wings, eyes, and brains are sure to follow.  Impressed by the song and dance?    This series of remakes about evolvability is like American Idol with never a star.  It didn’t help change the judges’ decision when they tiptoed offstage with a little biomimetics flower toss.  Entrepreneurs, before taking their business advice, realize that this weird science show would probably never have been produced without your tax money from the National Institutes of Health.  The government always has your business interest in mind.(Visited 18 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Massive HIV-testing drive for SA

first_imgA major HIV counselling and testing campaign set to reach 15-million South Africans is due to kick off this month. (Image: Chris Kirchhoff, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more free photos visit the image library)  A major HIV counselling and testing campaign will be launched in South Africa this April. Recognised as the most comprehensive in the world to date, the drive aims to have 15-million South Africans tested by June 2011.The initiative, which is being led by the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) and government, will run until the end of 2011, when the National Strategic Plan on HIV and Aids is concluded.Speaking at a Sanac meeting in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on 17 March, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said: “The main objectives of the campaign are to encourage South Africans to know their HIV status; to equip those who test HIV-negative with ways of ensuring that they do not get HIV; to increase health-seeking behaviour; and to create a quick and easy entry point to accessing wellness and treatment services for those who test HIV-positive.From April 15, everyone who visits one of the 4 300 health facilities in the country will be offered an HIV test, regardless of whether they show symptoms or not, the minister added.Previously only pregnant women and people showing symptoms of HIV were given the option of being tested, while others had to volunteer and request a test.“I don’t have a feeling that South Africans understand that the biggest weapon against HIV must be prevention,” Motsoaledi said. “The mainstay of the fight against any disease is to prevent it from happening.”The Department of Health will raise funds for testing kits to be supplied to all health centres. “Health facilities won’t be expected to provide those,” the minister said.According to the Health Department, there are currently more than 5-million people living with HIV/Aids in South Africa – out of a population of 49-million.In the 2010/11 national budget, presented by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the Department of Health’s HIV/Aids allocation increased by 33% from the previous year.Compared to budgets for other departments, 33% is the highest increase, said Motsoaledi.But “we can’t keep on increasing by 33%. We have got to cut the rate of infection. That’s where the issue of prevention comes in,” he said.“If we keep on increasing [the budget] we will reach a situation in South Africa where the whole budget must go to the treatment of HIV/Aids, and I don’t think any country can afford that. So, our war of prevention is extraordinarily important.”Private-public partnershipLocal business has shown great support for the drive. “We fully endorse and support government’s campaign, its targets and the keen focus on HIV prevention,” said Brad Mears, CEO of The South African Business Coalition on HIV/Aids (Sabcoha), which works with the private sector in combating the epidemic.Mears said his organisation would establish workplace wellness facilities to provide HIV counselling and testing.“You don’t have to be a scientist to know that prevention is better than cure at all times. But if you have failed to prevent it and it has happened, you have to treat it. We do accept that the fact that we have got so many people on treatment, might be the failure of prevention,” Motsoaledi said.last_img read more

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Insecticidal seed treatments in late-planted crops

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Kelley Tilmon and Andy Michel, Ohio State University ExtensionMany producers are planting late this year due to continued wet weather and may be wondering how insecticidal seed treatments should factor into their planting decisions. While individual situations vary, here are some rules of thumb to consider.The most commonly available class of insecticidal seed treatments are neonicotinoids such as thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and imidacloprid. The conventional wisdom is that late-planted crops stand to benefit less from these products than early-planted crops. Warmer soil and air temperatures get the plant get off to a faster start and faster growth, allowing it to outpace insect pests. Another important factor to keep in mind about insecticidal seed treatments is their window of activity. The insecticide applied to the seed coat is taken up by the germinating plant and translocated through the plant in the growing tissue. The amount of product that goes on to the seed is finite – when it runs out, it runs out. Studies have shown that on average, new plant tissue added 3 weeks after planting does not contain the insecticide product. This means that pests that affect plants after the 3-week planting window will not be managed by the insecticide. Thus we do not recommend these products for use against anything but the earliest season pests (usually soil pests). We generally do not recommend insecticide seed treatments as a prophylactic against early-season bean leaf beetles. Feeding on early V soybeans is rarely economic, only cosmetic. In the rare cases where feeding may be economic (considerable stem clipping or over 40% defoliation on most plants) a foliar insecticide can be applied.last_img read more