Addiction support discussed at the Community Couch Conversation

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – It was an evening full of emotion, compassion and understanding on Thursday at the Lido for the FSJ Community Couch Conversation.Collaboratively hosted by Healthy FSJ and the Fort  St. John Community Action Team, the Opioid Dialogues was co-hosted by Julianne Kucheran and Edwina Nearhood.Mayor Lori Ackerman gave an emotional dedication to the event in honour of those who are affected by drug addictions. Ackerman lost her brother to substance use. Afterwards, personal stories of addiction were shared by those who have been touched by drugs and addiction.Each guest stated that there is no shame in addictions and that it can happen to anyone no matter your background.In a statement from Healthy FSJ, the goal of Community Couch Conversation is to foster a supportive evening, where the community comes together to learn, listen and think about how we can be there for one another to build a healthy and resilient community in the face of the opioid crisis. Six health professionals, who specialize in drug use and addictions were part of the opioid panel.The main message conveyed by the panel is that community support is key when dealing with addictions.“Those who suffer from addictions within Fort St. John are a part of your family and that the community must come together and work as one”, said Amanda Trotter executive director for the Women’s Resource Society.The panel agreed that more resources need to be made available for substance users in Fort St. John.“There is a disparity for those who receive help and treatment. The poor suffer. You’re very lucky if you are able to afford it”, said Connie Greyeyes of the Nenan Dane zaa Deh Zona Family Services Society.The panel concluded that there is more work to be done and the discussions must continue.last_img read more

Contrasting poll narratives

first_imgThe ensuing long-drawn general elections are just around the corner. Manifestos or not, narratives in public meets and through the media are for everyone to see. Let us first take the party and alliance in power. There are four pillars to the BJP/NDA narrative. First, there is the pitch for a visibly strong nation high on nationalism and pro-active military action as illustrated through the Balakot strike post Pulwama massacre and reiterated through the Mission Shakti recently. On March 27, 2019, India conducted Mission Shakti, an anti-satellite missile test, from the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island launch complex. This was a technological mission carried out by DRDO. The satellite used in the mission was one of India’s existing satellites operating in lower orbit. The test was successful and achieved all parameters as per plans. The test required an extremely high degree of precision and technical capability. The significance of the test is that India has tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on completely indigenous technology. With this test, India joins an exclusive group of space-faring nations consisting of USA, Russia and China. Second, there is the pitch for a stable government led by a strong-willed leader Narendra Modi and his version of BJP ably assisted by party president Amit Shah. This underplays the fact that BJP is the leading power among 24 parties in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). There are a few more strong BJP leaders like Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh with a mass base, and there has been a litany of conflicts, major and minor, with alliance partners leading to Shiv Sena, Paswan’s LJP and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) being accommodated with a long rope. Alliance partners are temporarily fine as they expect a Modi-driven almost Presidential type of campaign will reap rich benefits. Third, there is an unmistakable tilt towards using the communal lingo in the polls with every passing day. The way Hindu-Muslim rhetoric is being used by the PM himself with reference to the Samjhauta blast alleged miscarriage of justice and about the strong Muslim electorate in Wayanad which Congress president Rahul Gandhi has picked up as his second seat, it is obvious that the ferocity of communal card shall be more aggressive down the line; as is seen in the speeches of UP CM Adityanath. Fourth, the BJP leadership is harping on the dynastic roots of Rahul Gandhi and several other regional political leaders of other opposition parties, and that the opposition alliances are all opportunistic and weak. And, interestingly, there is a fifth narrative, and it is a narrative in absentia. There is virtually no discourse on the very things which brought Modi to power in 2014 or have highlighted while in power; no talks on corruption at high-places, black money from abroad, double-digit GDP growth, benefits of demonetisation, digital or start-up India missions, Namami Gange, bullet train, Beti padhao beti bachao, multi-layered GST, et al. Now, let us look at the main opposition to the government. After bumbling on opposition alliances in Delhi, Haryana, Andhra, Bengal, Telangana, and being left out of UP, etc., Congress is now settling down with alliances in Bihar, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu in place. But this is surely a month late. With initial noises of a Mahagatbandhan, Congress seems to have got the successes in recent state elections a bit too much in the head. The scar of being left out of the UP battle has led them to put the two best faces, Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, to sweat it out in the sweltering summer heat and dust of Uttar Pradesh. Even the friends wonder why are they not best used in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Having apparently fumbled, the Congress narrative is picking up steadily now with the promise of its mind-boggling NYAY scheme (Nyuntom Aye Yojana) in which, if voted to power, it promises to ensure minimum income of Rs 12,000 a month for the poorest 5 crore families (20 crore people) incurring an expense of Rs 3.6 lacs crores a year, thereby ensuring the universal concept of Basic Minimum Income in India, along with all other welfare measures like MGNREGA, NRHM, etc., which cover rural, urban and tribal poor. This surely has brought back the narrative on their side, along with the promise of directly elected mayors across India to ensure better urban governance and people’s control over the same. And, ahead of BJP, Congress has now come out with their manifesto too. Apart from NYAY, the promises in the manifesto include commitment to legislate women’s reservation bill and reserve one-third of all government jobs for women, double education outlay at every level, free and compulsory school education up to Class XII in public education, review AFSPA, omit Section 124A of the IPC that is known as the Sedition Law, fill up around 30 lacs of jobs at various levels of the government, separate Kisan budget, legislate Right to Healthcare Act, GST 2.0 with a single moderate tax-rate, implement Forests Rights Act for tribal welfare in letter and spirit, abolish opaque electoral bonds, stringency against hate crimes, establish Environment Protection Authority, enact Right to Homestead Act for the rural homeless, et al. With this, Congress has surely moved ahead with an ‘inclusive development’ campaign narrative. It, however, remains to be seen how far its candidates and cadre can take these promises – music to every Indian ear – down to the grassroots.And the contrasting narratives of both the parties show some positives, in spite of the communal undertone in the ongoing campaign. While BJP scores heavily on the national pride and power front, Congress scores on specific aspects of inclusive justice, especially through its NYAY scheme. Congress will be forced to talk about handling cross-border terror, its possible outlook towards Kashmiri militancy in today’s context, and sprucing up the military arsenal of the nation. It has already got a dossier on national security prepared by the army officer who led the post-Uri surgical strikes, Lt Gen DS Hooda, and has promised in the manifesto to upgrade defence budget and military modernisation. On the other hand, unabated communal rhetoric may not pay desired dividends to BJP and the revival of Ram Janmabhoomi movement did not meet much enthusiasm of the people at large in spite of a well organised Kumbha Mela to launch the same. The Congress approach will require the rulers of the day to turn to a more development-focused narrative especially with regards to jobs, basic income, women’s issues, health and education, among other things. That surely is good for the nation. As electioneering goes ahead, it is also expected that a re-thinking on the role, independence and neutrality of the Election Commission and the media, apart from the fundamental premises of the Constitution, shall emerge. And, that, to my mind is another good outcome of this largest festival of democracy in the world: the Indian General Elections (along with assembly polls of several states too). (The author is a media academic and columnist, currently the Dean of School of Media, Pearl Academy, and earlier the Dean of Symbiosis and Amity Universities. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Tunisia awaits independent cabinet to oversee new elections

first_imgby Antoine LAMBROSCHINITUNIS- Tunisia was waiting Friday for the president to task Premier-designate Mehdi Jomaa with forming a cabinet of independents to lead the country to fresh elections after the Islamist-led government finally quit.Outgoing Prime Minister Ali Larayedh’s resignation on Thursday, under an agreement to end months of political deadlock and get Tunisia’s democratic transition back on track, comes nearly three years after veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s overthrow in the first Arab Spring uprising. The new premier, who is a relative political novice, will have to confront mounting social unrest and the persistent threat of jihadist violence, in a political climate that remains tense.President Moncef Marzouki is now expected to ask the head of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, Rachid Ghannouchi, to submit a candidate, with Jomaa nominated as the consensus choice to head the interim administration during crisis negotiations last month.The little-known industry minister will have 15 days to form his cabinet, which must be then approved by the national assembly.The Tunisian press welcomed Larayedh’s departure with relief, while also stressing the challenges that his successor faces.Shortly before his resignation, Larayedh announced the suspension of a new vehicle tax which came into force this year and has triggered strikes and nationwide protests, notably in the country’s impoverished interior where the 2011 uprising began.Poverty and unemployment were driving factors behind the revolution that unseated Ben Ali and remain pressing problems in Tunisia, amid lackluster economic growth and an unemployment rate of more than 30 percent among school leavers.Another key issue for Jomaa is the threat posed by armed jihadists, blamed for the assassination of two opposition politicians last year, which triggered the latest political crisis and finally forced the departure of the Ennahda-led government.“The hardest part has just begun,” warned Tunisian daily Le Quotidien, saying Jomaa had inherited a “poisoned chalice.”“With uprisings in all corners of the country, an ailing economy and a precarious situation, the future government will have its work cut out,” it said.Ahead of its formation, the national assembly is pushing ahead with the adoption of a long-delayed new constitution, voting on it intensively article by article.“We will work on it day and night,” said parliament speaker Mustapha Ben Jafaa on Thursday evening. “Maybe we’ll have a nice surprise and the constitution will be adopted on January 13,” the eve of the anniversary of the revolution.The “general principles” and the essential “rights and freedoms” in the charter have already been approved, although other chapters, including on the functioning of public institutions, have yet to be ratified.Lawmakers began examining those chapters on Friday, starting with legislative powers.There has been major progress on the issue of women’s rights, with the assembly passing an article last week that enshrines gender equality, and another on Thursday that commits the state to promoting equality of representation in elected bodies.There had been fears among secular politicians, which Ennahda has been at pains to disprove, that it would seek to roll back the extensive rights that women have enjoyed in Tunisia since independence, compared with the rest of the Arab world.The formation of an independent authority to oversee fresh elections, which the Islamists had set as a condition for stepping down, finally took place on Wednesday.last_img read more

Ohio State track brings in best recruiting class in years

When announcing the signings of nine recruits who will be coming to Ohio State as members of the men’s track and field team next season, OSU interim coach Ed Beathea said he believes the future of the team he is coaching is bright. “This is the best recruiting class we have put together in my time at Ohio State,” Beathea said in a press release. OSU will welcome a broad range of recruits in its incoming class. The class includes five athletes from Ohio, but also adds four out-of-state recruits. Among the class are three distance runners, two sprinters, one hurdler, two throwers and one multi-event athlete. Donovan Robertson, a hurdler from Berea, Ohio, headlines the class. Robertson, the 2011 Ohio Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year, has many accomplishments to his name. This year, Robertson set the indoor national record in the 60-meter hurdles, completing the event in 7.57 seconds. Robertson is also the defending state outdoor champion in the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles, and was named to the 2011 USA Today All-USA track and field team. Beathea said he recognized the significance of signing Robertson. “Donovan is one of the most talented signees in OSU history,” Beathea said in the press release. “He will have an instant impact on our conference and the country.” The group of in-state recruits is also highlighted by distance runners. Steven Weaver, from Napoleon, was the 2011 Division II state champion in the outdoor mile run and in cross country. The team also added Nicolas Pupino of Copley and Jordan Redd of Fairborn. Jack Kincade from Hilliard is the fifth in-state recruit in the class. Kincade scored 6,243 points in the decathlon last season, which was the sixth-best decathlon score among all high school athletes nationwide in 2011. OSU also lured four recruits from farther east to come west. Champ Page, a sprinter from Marlboro, Md., is a six-time Maryland state champion. Page finished the 2012 indoor season with times that ranked second nationally in the 300-meter dash with 33.93 seconds, third in the 500 meter with 63.71 seconds, and 11th in the 400 meter with 48.28 seconds. Justin Burke, a sprinter from Virginia Beach, Va., is a two-time defending outdoor state champion in the 100-meter dash, as well as in the 200 meter and 400 meter. Two throwers will also come to the Buckeyes from other states. Joseph Velez, from Providence, R.I., is joined by javelin thrower Billy Stanley from South Park, Pa. Assistant coach Kevin Mannon praised both incoming throwers. “(Velez) has the ability to make an immediate impact on the Big Ten and NCAA championships in 2013,” Mannon said in a press release. “Billy has already thrown a mark that can score at the Big Ten championships, so we expect him to be a major player for us in 2013.” read more

Kane the big threat for England – Courtois

first_imgBelgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is expecting Harry Kane to be England’s biggest threat in the World Cup in Russia ahead of their group stage clashThe Red Devils will face off against England in their final game of Group G.Kane, who was recently appointed the new England captain by Gareth Southgate, has scored 108 goals in his 139 Premier League games over the past five seasons after breaking into the Tottenham team.The 24-year-old had his most productive season in front of goal for Spurs this season with 30 league goals and Courtois is well aware that Kane cannot be taken lightly.“England have a team with a lot of individual talent, you’ll have to watch out for several players,” said Courtois, according to Goal.Jadon Sancho, Borussia DortmundCrouch: Liverpool could beat Man United to Jadon Sancho Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Peter Crouch wouldn’t be surprised to see Jadon Sancho end up at Liverpool one day instead of his long-term pursuers Manchester United.“But the one who scores almost 30 goals every year is Harry Kane. He is the most dangerous.”The Chelsea goalkeeper is disappointed by Mohamed Salah’s expected absence in their friendly against Egypt on Wednesday, in what he hopes will provide Belgium with a similar test to what they faced with Tunisia.“It’s a shame we can’t play against the best team [of Egypt] because they will play without their best player,” he said.“I think Egypt has a good team. Obviously, with or without Salah, it’s different.“But it will be a good game and a good test, hopefully a match similar to that against Tunisia.”last_img read more

PMH Emergency Contact Numbers

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppNassau, Bahamas, October 5, 2016 – The Princess Margaret Hospital wishes to advise the general public that it will maintain ALL emergency-related services for its patients and the general public during Hurricane Matthew. For ALL Medical Emergencies contact the Accident & Emergency 24 hour hotline at 1-242-326-7014.  The PMH Command Center numbers are 1 (242) 502-7890 / 322-1010 / 356-5322 / 356-0315. Please “Like” our page on Facebook (Princess Margaret Hospital) and listen to the radio for further updates. Related Items:last_img read more

Nintendos mobile Dr Mario World cures your iOS Android ills on July

first_imgThe doctor is a-coming to mobile devices on July 10. Nintendo Nintendo’s mustachioed mascot brings his medical knowledge to iOS and Android in Dr. Mario World on July 10, and you can register for virus-killing puzzler now.In this match-three puzzler, you use colored capsules to kill corresponding viruses. Nintendo posted a video showing how it plays.The video also reveals how the game’s microtransactions work.You can use diamonds to continue gameplay, get items and restore stamina. A pack of 20 costs $2, and they’re available in various increments up to 1,050 for $70. Tags Mobile Video Games Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct, T-Mobile and Sprint merger… Inside Nintendo’s E3 2019 booth Now playing: Watch this: Apparently fungi and dinosaurs can get medical licenses in the Mushroom Kingdom, because the video also shows the other doctors you can add to your roster using in-game coins or diamonds — Dr. Peach, Dr. Luigi, Dr. Toad, Dr Yoshi and Dr. Bowser. As you’d expect, each has different abilities. “Over 200 stages across many different worlds will be available at launch, with new doctors, stages and worlds continuing to be added to Dr. Mario World on a regular basis after launch,” Nintendo wrote in its emailed release. “Dr. Mario World can also be played together with friends and family around the world. Players can earn and receive stamina-giving hearts from friends and use the hearts to play Stage Mode. In Versus Mode, players can turn up the intensity by challenging others online to a one-on-one showdown in real-time.”Mario and friends won’t just be in the doctor’s office this summer — Mario Kart Tour is due out sometime in the coming months as well. If you need a Nintendo fix on mobile now, you can try out Dragalia Lost, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.Nintendo Switch owners can play the original NES Dr. Mario as part of its $20-a-year subscription service, and he’s playable in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.First published at 4:03 a.m. PT.Updated at 4:52 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.center_img Nintendo Share your voice Comment 1 13 Photos 1:29last_img read more

Dhoom 4 Will Salman Khans loss be Baahubali star Prabhas gain

first_imgSalman Khan and Prabhas.PR HandoutAfter Salman Khan refused to act in Dhoom 4, the movie seems to have fallen into the laps of Tollywood star Prabhas, who became the heartthrob of millions with the Baahubali series.If the latest rumours are to be believed, Prabhas has been approached for the antagonist role in Dhoom 4. It is said that the Yash Raj Films, which had considered him for the role initially, had changed plans at some point of time and held talks with Salman Khan.Well, Salman Khan reportedly turned down the offer as he was not keen to do a negative character. Thereafter, the names of Ranbir Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan had surfaced. Now, it looks like these two could not take up the projects for one or the other reason and the makers have now returned to their earlier plans and approached Prabhas.The Dhoom franchise is all about bikes and babes with a cat-and-mouse game between the thief and the cops. John Abraham, Hrithik Roshan and Aamir Khan had played the well-built stylish villains.Prabhas too has such charming personality and can bring a lot of freshness to the franchise, say industry insiders.While the baddies have been changing in every film, Abhishek Bachchan as a thief-nabbing cop with the support of his sidekick Ali (Uday Chopra) has been the permanent member in the franchise. A section of Bollywood media had reported that the Junior Bachchan would be replaced by Ranveer Singh, but there is no official word on it.The first and third instalments were directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, while Sanjay Gadhvi helmed the second part in the Dhoom franchise. The fourth instalment is rumoured to be directed, once again, by Acharya.Coming back to Prabhas, he is busy with Saaho. The shooting of the movie is almost completed and it will hit the screens in August. After this film, he will be moving on to KK Radha Krishna’s film, produced by UV Creations.last_img read more

Tamil meme creators to have field day Saravana Stores owner to turn

first_imgSaravanan Arul.PR HandoutSaravanan Arul, who holds a top position in the Saravana Stores, is all set to become a hero. The businessman is impressed by the story narrated by director duo, JD – Jerry (Joseph D Sami and Gerald) and given nod to act in the film.The forthcoming movie will be launched in September and the makers have set their eyes on Tamil New Year (April) in 2020 for its release. The pre-production works are underway and the project is expected to be announced soon.Saravanan Arul is a popular name among netizens from Tamil Nadu. Thanks his ways of branding his products, people have made him a subject of trolling. Especially his commercials with Hansika Motwani and Tamannaah Bhatia had made him a meme-friendly face.The meme creators are expected to have field days in the months to come following his latest adventure.However, people have mellowed down on their criticism over his acts in the recent months. In fact, there have been reports of his results ensuring a good brand recall value among the audience. It also paved way for his competitors to become the faces of their own brands.His relief works during Gaja Cyclone and philanthropy works have started yielding positive results for him as a section of people have started accepting him.last_img read more

Racial concerns prompt Christian university in Oklahoma to rename auditorium

first_img Bobby Ross Jr.,Load Comments,Omar’s Israel remarks expose Democrats’ simmering divisions By: Bobby Ross Jr. Anti-extremism program won’t stop hate, say Muslims who’ve seen its flaws August 30, 2019 News Baptists who split from Southern Baptist Convention have own sex abuse policies By: Bobby Ross Jr. Instagram apostasy stirs controversy over Christian ‘influencers’ August 30, 2019 Share This! By: Bobby Ross Jr. Share This! Bobby Ross Jr. Share This! News • Photos of the Week Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email,About the authorView All Posts Photos of the Week August 30, 2019 Share This! Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email,OKLAHOMA CITY (RNS) — A Christian university in Oklahoma is renaming its main auditorium — known for a half-century as Hardeman Auditorium — amid concerns over a racist statement attributed to the late namesake, N.B. Hardeman.The president of Oklahoma Christian University, which is associated with Churches of Christ, recently revealed to students that the assembly hall’s new name will honor donors Benton and Paula Baugh.The Baughs are members of the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston and active proponents of racial unity efforts in Texas’ largest city. They recently gave Oklahoma Christian $1 million — just their latest donation after previous seven-figure support of the university’s Bible and engineering programs.Students greeted President John deSteiguer’s announcement of the newly renamed Baugh Auditorium — already dubbed the “Baughditorium” — with a standing ovation.Oklahoma Christian University President John deSteiguer reveals that the school assembly hall’s new name will honor donors Benton and Paula Baugh at the former Hardeman Auditorium in Oklahoma City on Feb. 26, 2019. Photo courtesy of Hayley Bentley, Oklahoma Christian University“For a lot of African-American students, we’re happy that the name is changing,” said Elise Miller, a sophomore from Plano, Texas. “It’s difficult to worship under the context of a man who, if you met him, probably wouldn’t like you.”In 1966, Oklahoma Christian dedicated the 1,175-seat auditorium in memory of the late N.B. Hardeman, whom the university’s website called “a great preacher among churches of Christ in the early part of the 20th century and a longtime president of Freed-Hardeman College.”But recently, some students, faculty members and alumni raised questions about whether Hardeman was a racist.“As I learned more and more about the levels of concern that people had, I thought: Hospitality and welcoming people are such important core values of this institution that we probably needed to make a change,” deSteiguer said.Minority and international students comprise roughly one-third of Oklahoma Christian’s total enrollment of nearly 2,300.In an article titled “Negro Meetings for White People” in the March 1941 edition of the Bible Banner, prominent Church of Christ preacher Foy Wallace wrote that Hardeman refused to meet with African-American Christians and made derogatory comments about them while speaking in Texas.“When N. B. Hardeman held the valley-wide meeting at Harlingen, Texas, some misguided brethren brought a group of negroes up to the front to be introduced to and shake hands with him,” Wallace wrote. “Brother Hardeman told them publicly that he could see all of the colored brethren he cared to see on the outside after services, and that he could say everything to them that he wanted to say without the formality of shaking hands. I think he was right. He told of a prominent brother in the church who went wild over the negroes and showed them such social courtesies that one day one of the negroes asked him if he might marry his daughter. That gave the brother a jolt and he changed his attitude!”Douglas A. Foster, director of the Center for Restoration Studies at Abilene Christian University in Texas, said the statement attributed to Hardeman was “typical of the overtly racist attitudes of the day, including the reference to black men as sexual predators and the specter of miscegenation.”“Hardeman, like virtually all the white leaders of our churches and schools, bought wholly into white supremacist ideology, and it was manifested throughout all his dealings with people,” Foster said.Oklahoma Christian officials quietly removed the Hardeman name from the auditorium over the Christmas break, a fact first reported by the student newspaper The Talon in late January.Brad Bradshaw, a great-grandson of Hardeman, responded that nothing in his great-grandfather’s life, actions or works “supports any kind of disunity in the church. On the contrary, he was in favor of unity.”The great-grandson, who attends a Church of Christ in the Atlanta area, said older relatives who knew Hardeman well and are still living witnessed no hint of racial prejudice.“The allegations that my great-grandfather was a racist are a complete lie,” said Bradshaw, who was 9 years old when Hardeman died at age 91 in 1965. “It upset me, and it upset the family.”Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., also is associated with Churches of Christ. It’s named after A.G. Freed and Hardeman. Officials there declined to comment on Oklahoma Christian’s decision to rename its auditorium.However, Freed-Hardeman President David Shannon addressed racial issues at the Tennessee university’s recent 83rd annual Bible Lectureship. Shannon responded to a keynote sermon by a prominent African-American minister named Eugene Lawton. The New Jersey preacher’s message, taken from Exodus 22:21-27, addressed how “liberation from injustice was needed in Egypt then, and liberation from injustice is needed now in America,” according to the online program.Eugene Lawton, minister for the Newark, N.J., Church of Christ, preaches on liberation from injustice at the 83rd annual Bible Lectureship at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., on Feb. 5, 2019. Photo courtesy of Bramblett GroupShannon voiced regret for “so many injustices that we simply cannot explain.”“We regret the violent times of the Civil War and civil rights (era) — times of prejudice and cruel hatred,” Shannon told the lectureship crowd. “I regret times that we settled to be nice yet to be separate.”Shannon also said that “many of our Christian schools only opened the doors to all races when our government tied their funding — federal funding — to this discussion.”“There’s no way to explain that away, to make it right,” he said. “It’s just not. For this I’m sorry.”Churches of Christ have an estimated 1.4 million adherents in 12,000 congregations nationwide, according to a national directory.In recent years, universities associated with Churches of Christ have taken steps aimed at racial reconciliation — from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., awarding an honorary doctorate to Fred Gray, a civil rights attorney who once sued Lipscomb, to Abilene Christian launching a center on race studies and spiritual action.At Oklahoma Christian, an annual “History Speaks” series brings civil rights icons such as Gray, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and Terrence Roberts and Carlotta Walls LaNier of the Little Rock Nine to campus.“It’s been a priority for us to bring in heroes who we could learn from and be with as we try to make this a more welcoming community for folks,” deSteiguer said.(Bobby Ross Jr. writes for The Christian Chronicle, where the original version of this article appeared.) Share This! News TagsChurches of Christ N.B. Hardeman Oklahoma Christian University racial reconciliation,You may also like Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Emaillast_img read more

ExUS Rep Stockman indicted in Houston Federal Court for misusing donations

first_img Share APFILE – In this Jan. 3, 2013, file photo, Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, right, participates in a mock swearing-in ceremony in Washington. Sen. John Cornyn spent nearly $5.5 million in the two months leading up to Texas’ Republican primary to help fend off a quixotic challenge from the right by renegade Congressman Stockman. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)A grand jury has indicted former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman on charges he and a former aide orchestrated a scheme to misuse hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations for personal and campaign expenses.The Republican ex-lawmaker was indicted in Houston federal court on Tuesday along with Jason Posey. Both face a variety of charges, including mail and wire fraud, making excessive campaign contributions and money laundering. The indictment alleges both men misused much of $1.25 million in donations. Shaun Clarke, Stockman’s attorney, said Tuesday the ex-congressman “is an innocent man. He intends to enter a plea of not guilty.” Court records didn’t list an attorney for Posey.last_img read more

Neanderthals died out earlier than originally believed

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2010 PhysOrg.com A specialist in radiocarbon dating from Oxford University, Thomas F. G. Higham developed a new method of radiocarbon dating with ultrafiltration which is able to remove contaminants to better receive an accurate dating. Radiocarbon dating measures a radioactive isotope carbon (carbon 14) which decays at a predictable rate after death. In specimens older than 30,000 years, very little carbon remains.Higham, along with archaeologist Ron Pinhasi from University College Cork in Ireland examined the bones from a Neanderthal child found in the Mezmaiskaya Cave location in the northern Caucasus Mountains. Their new radiocarbon dating method put this fossil at 39,700 years old. A previously found fossil at this site had been dated at 29,000 and was being re-examined with the new method.Higham is re-dating Neanderthal sites throughout Europe and believes all remains will be changed with none begin younger than 39,000 years old. Because of this new find, he believes there is now no evidence that Neanderthals and modern humans were co-existing in Europe for very long at all, and that there is even the possibility that the Neanderthals demise was at the hands of the modern human.This is where the debate begins, as geneticists reported last year that 2.5 percent of the modern human genome is derived from the Neanderthal genome. There is evidence of Neanderthals co-existing in the Near East some 100,000 years ago, as well as in Europe 40,000 years ago. With the new carbon dating timeline, it is now believed that interbreeding between the two did not occur in Europe but rather during that first encounter. More information: Revised age of late Neanderthal occupation and the end of the Middle Paleolithic in the northern Caucasus, PNAS, Published online before print May 9, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1018938108AbstractAdvances in direct radiocarbon dating of Neanderthal and anatomically modern human (AMH) fossils and the development of archaeostratigraphic chronologies now allow refined regional models for Neanderthal–AMH coexistence. In addition, they allow us to explore the issue of late Neanderthal survival in regions of Western Eurasia located within early routes of AMH expansion such as the Caucasus. Here we report the direct radiocarbon (14C) dating of a late Neanderthal specimen from a Late Middle Paleolithic (LMP) layer in Mezmaiskaya Cave, northern Caucasus. Additionally, we provide a more accurate chronology for the timing of Neanderthal extinction in the region through a robust series of 16 ultrafiltered bone collagen radiocarbon dates from LMP layers and using Bayesian modeling to produce a boundary probability distribution function corresponding to the end of the LMP at Mezmaiskaya. The direct date of the fossil (39,700 ± 1,100 14C BP) is in good agreement with the probability distribution function, indicating at a high level of probability that Neanderthals did not survive at Mezmaiskaya Cave after 39 ka cal BP (“calendrical” age in kiloannum before present, based on IntCal09 calibration curve). This challenges previous claims for late Neanderthal survival in the northern Caucasus. We see striking and largely synchronous chronometric similarities between the Bayesian age modeling for the end of the LMP at Mezmaiskaya and chronometric data from Ortvale Klde for the end of the LMP in the southern Caucasus. Our results confirm the lack of reliably dated Neanderthal fossils younger than ∼40 ka cal BP in any other region of Western Eurasia, including the Caucasus. (PhysOrg.com) — According to a newly released report in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a newly refined method of radiocarbon dating has found that Neanderthals died off much earlier than originally believed. Where previous testing had shown fossils as young as 29,000 years ago, this new method puts the date closer to 39,000 years ago, sparking the debate that Neanderthals and modern humans probably never interacted in Europe. Explore further Scientists redate Neanderthal fossils Citation: Neanderthals died out earlier than originally believed (2011, May 10) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-05-neanderthals-died-earlier-believed.html Homo neanderthalensis, adult male. Credit: John Gurche, artist / Chip Clark, photographerlast_img read more

Why Xavier Mufraggi cant wait for agents to start selling Club Med

first_imgWhy Xavier Mufraggi can’t wait for agents to start selling Club Med Le Massif This story originally ran in the November 9th, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here. TORONTO — For travel agents, who generate a solid majority of Club Med’s bookings, according to Club Med North America’s President and CEO, Xavier Mufraggi, the new $120 million Club Med Le Massif in Charlevoix, Quebec will be a boon to anyone looking to break into the ski market, or to maximize their earnings on existing ski clientele.The arrival of the Quebec resort will be a shot in the arm for Canada’s ski industry too, where growth has been relatively flat for several years.Just like at its beach resorts, Club Med, the all-inclusive pioneer, includes everything in its ski vacations in one commissionable price, from flights and accommodation to ski passes, transfers and even lessons.Club Med already has more than 20 all-inclusive mountain hotels and resorts, dominated by its Alps product in France, Italy and Switzerland and shored up with additional ski properties in Japan and China. Already Club Med’s ski resort room count exceeds 6,000 rooms. And that’s before the construction of the Quebec property, which will bring in another 300 rooms, including 4-Trident Club and Deluxe-level rooms with a 5-Trident luxury space. Shovels will be in the ground next year and the resort is expected to open by the end of 2020, says Mufraggi.Worldwide, between its beach and ski resorts, Club Med now operates more than 70 resorts. More than 40,000 Canadians stay at a Club Med resort every year, and most book through travel agents.Why Charlevoix, and why now? Club Med has had its eye on Canada for many years and was just waiting for the right opportunity, says Mufraggi.“One-third of our capacity is ski,” he said in an interview with Travelweek. “Our very first Club Med opened in 1950. Our first ski resort opened in 1957. We’ve been in the ski business for a very long time.”It turns out last week’s Club Med Le Massif announcement was one of many to come, and the company is very much focused on North America. Says Mufraggi: “We plan to open one to two ski resorts per year for the next few years. North America accounts for 22% of ski business worldwide. And we have zero ski resorts in North America. It didn’t make sense.”The Quebec ski resort, although a first in Canada for Club Med, represents a return to the North American ski market for the company, following on the heels of properties including Club Med Crested Butte in Colorado which was taken over by new owners in 2006.In searching for the right destination for its first ski resort in Canada, Club Med had its priorities: “We wanted great snow quality, we wanted a major airport nearby, and we wanted a place that wasn’t too well known yet.”More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesClub Med, the all-inclusive trailblazer, likes to be the first in destinations too. Back in the early 1970s, Cancun, Mexico was just a blueprint on the drawing board. When the development was completed in 1974, Club Med was one of the first major hotel companies to hit the strip, opening Club Med Yucatan in 1976 (and the rest is history).The Quebec property is being positioned as a year-round resort, just about, open 300 or so days a year. “It’s one hour from Quebec City. It’s 40 minutes from some of the best whale-watching in the country. It’s not just a ski resort. It’s a Quebec experience resort.”Mufraggi adds that ski clients, especially the younger generation, want a mountain experience that may or may not include a whole lot of actual skiing, as it turns out. “They want to ski. But the reality is that they ski only about two hours a day” on ski holidays, he says. The European ski scene excels at extending the après-ski vibe around the clock and that’s something the Quebec development will be looking to emulate.Club Med’s sales out of the Canadian market, to all of its resorts worldwide, are up 40% over the past five years. Not only that, but the company’s ski business out of Canada (to its Alps resorts) is up 50% so far in 2017. “Our top three sellers out of Canada are first, Punta Cana, then Cancun, and then ski,” says Mufraggi.One of the biggest changes in the Canadian market is the growth in corporate and MICE bookings to Club Med resorts. “Our corporate and MICE business out of Canada has tripled in the last six years,” he says.Mufraggi says he expects the new Quebec resort will draw a 75:25 ratio of leisure guests to corporate guests, with a mix of 60% North Americans in the winter (and 40% international), and the reverse in the summer.Selling Club Med is an extremely attractive and valuable proposition for travel agents, he adds. “The loyalty [of Club Med clients] is extremely high,” he says. “Get them once and you get them forever.”Senior travel consultant Debbie Stellinga with The Travel Agent Next Door says Club Med Le Massif will interest her ski clients, saying that while ski vacations are a small percentage of her bookings, she’s seeing more interest year-over-year for destination ski trips. Price will be a big factor though. “I like the concept of the all-inclusive ski vacation and so do my clients,” says Stellinga. “Skiers tend to prep their own meals. Club Med takes the hassle out of prepping meals … no grocery shopping required. I think an all-inclusive resort in Quebec is a brilliant idea, however, I am interested to see if it will be priced right.”More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backClub Med’s value proposition, besides the all-inclusive angle, includes the fact that guests ages 4 and younger are free, says Mufraggi. That’s true for its ski resorts as well as its beach resorts. “It’s an extremely attractive and valuable product and market for travel agents,” he says, adding the loyalty of Club Med clients is “extremely high. Get them once and you get them forever.”Merit Travel is also reporting a consistent year-over-year increase in its ski sales. Club Med Le Massif will bring a new and fresh concept to this market, says Allison Patriquin, Manager, Product Development and Marketing for Merit Golf & Ski Vacations. “This is a first for Canada. The ski all-inclusive is unknown here.”Canadians are travelling in their country like never before for a variety of reasons, says Patriquin. There’s the dollar, of course, plus safety, friendliness, “amazing powder mountains and exquisite resorts,” she says.Paul Marner, Merit’s Director, New Business Development, says Club Med’s strong brand identity and reputation for value will enhance this destination already recognized “for snow galore”.Paul Pinchbeck, President & CEO of the Canadian Ski Council, says Club Med Le Massif is a promising development for the Canadian ski industry, which counts some 18.4 million skier visits annually (only 4 million of those are international). After several years of flat growth, the Canadian ski scene has rebounded strongly, bouncing back from a few years of snow droughts.Club Med Le Massif will help energize the domestic product, says Pinchbeck. “We’re seeing a generation of skiers who demand more sophistication from their ski experience. And anything that elevates the Canadian ski experience to the world is a positive.”This story originally ran in the November 9th, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here. About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Kathryn Folliott (see all) “They need to go where the bucks are”: Agents on ACTA partnership – April 18, 2019 As the cost of doing business climbs, host agencies, retail groups say they have options – April 4, 2019 As of 2021 Europe-bound clients will need to apply online for a visa waiver and pay a fee – April 3, 2019 Tags: Club Med, Feature Story, Quebec, Ski Resorts Posted by Kathryn Folliott Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Friday, November 17, 2017 last_img read more

Plane full of plumbers turns back around due to broken toilet

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: LOL, WTF Tuesday, January 30, 2018 OSLO — How many plumbers does it take to fix an airplane toilet? The answer, so it seems, is more than 85.On Jan. 27, Norwegian flight DY1156 experienced the definition of ‘irony’ when it was forced to return to Oslo due to a broken toilet, even though it was carrying close to 100 plumbers onboard.A total of 85 tradesmen from Norway’s plumbing industry, including 65 from one company, Rørkjøp, were on the two-and-a-half hour flight to Munich. But despite their combined skill and experience, they were unable to fix the faulty loo.“We would have liked to fix the restrooms, but unfortunately it had to be done from the outside and we did not take the opportunity to send a plumber [out] at 10,000 metres,” joked Rørkjøp CEO Frank Olsen, who spoke with Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.Upon its return to Oslo, the Boeing 737 aircraft “was repaired and continued with the flight later that day,” the airline spokesperson confirmed. “We would like to thank passengers for their patience and would like to apologize for the inconvenience.” Sharecenter_img Travelweek Group Posted by Plane full of plumbers turns back around due to broken toiletlast_img read more

Rovi has signed two Chinese DivX deals that will s

first_imgRovi has signed two Chinese DivX deals that will see the video technology integrated into Changhong digital TVs and Philips-branded TVs set for distribution in the country.The deal with consumer electronics manufacturer Changhong means that Rovi has now signed DivX agreements with each of the top five digital TV manufacturers in China. Changhong TVs will have DivX HD video certification as well as offer support for DivX streaming.The Philips distribution will result from a new deal Rovi has reached with TVP Technology Limited, a display solutions provider that plans to add add DivX Plus HD certification into Philips-branded TVs in China.Rovi, which announced both deals today, hailed the Changhong deal as a “significant milestone” for the company as it continues to gain momentum in the country with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) – companies that design products that are then branded by another firm.The TVP Technology comes after Rovi in January announced a deal with Mei Ah Digital and China Mobile Hong Kong to use DivX Plus Streaming to deliver premium entertainment services to mobile users.“As a premier ODM, TVP’s support for DivX technology further reinforces Rovi’s momentum in this rapidly growing market and highlights the universal value and appeal of the DivX Certified Program,” Rovi senior VP, sales and marketing, Simon Adams.“Philips TVs will add to the already expansive DivX ecosystem and increase the number of options for consumers who want to access and enjoy a growing catalog of Hollywood entertainment available in the DivX format.”The DivX Certified Programme lets consumer electronics manufacturers differentiate their products and guarantee reliable DivX video playback across all devices that bear the DivX logo. The format can be read on devices including phones, tablets, televisions and other digital media players.DivX Plus Streaming is an end-to-end solution for secure adaptive streaming for over-the-top content service providers on multiple platforms.last_img read more

Ryan Afshar Video advertising platform Videology h

first_imgRyan AfsharVideo advertising platform Videology has appointed former Time and Telefonica Digital executive Ryan Afshar as its new vice-president and media director.Afshar will be tasked with leading business development in Europe and driving continued growth and use of Videology’s technology in the region.Reporting to John Tigg, Videology’s senior vice-president of strategic partnerships in EMEA, Afshar will be based in London at Videology’s EMEA headquarters.“Videology develops industry-leading solutions to empower the continued convergence of TV and video, and I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity to contribute to a company that is helping to address this seismic change in the ad industry,” said Afshar.He previously worked to develop digital businesses in a number of roles with the likes of Time and Telefonica Digital. More recently, he worked as director and co-founder of Affable Digital, working with start-ups and tech companies to help them develop monetisation and revenue strategies.last_img read more

Yuliana Slashcheva Russian broadcaster CTC Media h

first_imgYuliana SlashchevaRussian broadcaster CTC Media has teamed up with audience measurement specialist TNS Russia and technology provider Vi to offer advertising space based on measurement of audiences across both linear and digital domains.The new ratings tool – known as Big TV – will measure the non-linear viewership of all the Federal – nationally available – Russian channels that are currently measured by TNS Russia’s audience panel, but CTC Media said it would be the first to use the data provided to offer a new advertising product.Vi will use its ViMB ad sales system as the technology platform to sell advertising based on Big TV ratings.“We embarked on the strategy to build a content holding two and a half years ago. Today our products are everywhere our viewers are, including web, mobile, and Smart TV. CTC projects consistently have strong digital audience. Today the viewership of certain CTC projects on new platforms is comparable to their on-air viewership. Now our partners and advertisers will be able to understand the real audiences of CTC projects, and later of our other channels as well,” said Yuliana Slashcheva, CEO of CTC Media.Ksenia Achkasova, TV Audience Research Director, TNS Russia, said: “The technology landscape is changing, and so is the measurement methodology to ensure they fully match. The new measurement technology offers a more accurate evaluation of content audience regardless of particular screen, time or place of its consumption.”last_img read more

French service provider Free has added movies ond

first_imgFrench service provider Free has added movies on-demand service LaCinetek to its Freebox offering – the first time the service has been made available by an IPTV operator.The service, which features classic movies of the 20th century chosen by international directors, will be available from June on the Freebox Révolution and Freebox Mini 4K services.The idea behind LaCinetek is to allow 45 top international directors to present and comment on their top 50 movies of the last century, including the likes of Jacques Tourneur’s La griffe du passé, chosen by Bertrand Tavernier, the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple, chosen by Jacques Audiard and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, chosen by Cédric Klapisch.The VOD service has a catalogue of about 600 titles in SD or HD quality, available from €2.99 each.LaCinetek was launched two years ago by a group of French and international film directors and Meilleurs du Cinéma, the group behind video-on-demand platform Univers Ciné.The service has been available via the LaCinetek website, but the group behind the project stated their ambition at the time to make it available on IPTV boxes.last_img read more

Last month a group of Australian scientists publi

first_imgLast month, a group of Australian scientists published a warning to the citizens of the country and of the world who collectively gobble up some $34 billion annually of its agricultural exports. The warning concerned the safety of a new type of wheat. As Australia’s number-one export, a $6-billion annual industry, and the most-consumed grain locally, wheat is of the utmost importance to the country. A serious safety risk from wheat – a mad wheat disease of sorts – would have disastrous effects for the country and for its customers. Which is why the alarm bells are being rung over a new variety of wheat being ushered toward production by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia. In a sense, the crop is little different than the wide variety of modern genetically modified foods. A sequence of the plant’s genes has been turned off to change the wheat’s natural behavior a bit, to make it more commercially viable (hardier, higher yielding, slower decaying, etc.). Franken-Wheat? What’s really different this time – and what has Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, NZ, and Associate Professor Judy Carman, a biochemist at Flinders University in Australia, holding press conferences to garner attention to the subject – is the technique employed to effectuate the genetic change. It doesn’t modify the genes of the wheat plants in question; instead, a specialized gene blocker interferes with the natural action of the genes. The process at issue, dubbed RNA interference or RNAi for short, has been a hotbed of research activity ever since the Nobel Prize-winning 1997 research paper that described the process. It is one of a number of so-called “antisense” technologies that help suppress natural genetic expression and provide a mechanism for suppressing undesirable genetic behaviors. RNAi’s appeal is simple: it can potentially provide a temporary, reversible off switch for genes. Unlike most other genetic modification techniques, it doesn’t require making permanent changes to the underlying genome of the target. Instead, specialized siRNAs – chemical DNA blockers based on the same mechanism our own bodies use to temporarily turn genes on and off as needed – are delivered into the target organism and act to block the messages cells use to express a particular gene. When those messages meet with their chemical opposites, they turn inert. And when all of the siRNA is used up, the effect wears off. The new wheat is in early-stage field trials (i.e., it’s been planted to grow somewhere, but has not yet been tested for human consumption), part of a multi-year process on its way to potential approval and not unlike the rigorous process many drugs go through. The researchers responsible are using RNAi to turn down the production of glycogen. They are targeting the production of the wheat branching enzyme which, if suppressed, would result in a much lower starch level for the wheat. The result would be a grain with a lower glycemic index – i.e., healthier wheat. This is a noble goal. However, Professors Heinemann and Carman warn, there’s a risk that the gene silencing done to these plants might make its way into humans and wreak havoc on our bodies. In their press conference and subsequent papers, they describe the possibility that the siRNA molecules – which are pretty hardy little chemicals and not easily gotten rid of – could wind up interacting with our RNA. If their theories prove true, the results might be as bad as mimicking glycogen storage disease IV, a super-rare genetic disorder which almost always leads to early childhood death. “Franken-Wheat Causes Massive Deaths from Liver Failure!” Now that is potentially headline-grabbing stuff. Unfortunately, much of it is mere speculation at this point, albeit rooted in scientific expertise on the subject. What they’ve produced is a series of opinion papers – not scientific research nor empirical data to prove that what they suspect might happen, actually does. They point to the possibilities that could happen if a number of criteria are met: If the siRNAs remain in the wheat in transferrable form, in large quantities, when the grain makes it to your plate. And… If the siRNA molecules interfere with the somewhat different but largely similar human branching enzyme as well. Then the result might be symptoms similar to such a condition, on some scale or another, anywhere from completely unnoticeable to highly impactful. They further postulate that if the same effect is seen in animals, it could result in devastating ecological impact. Dead bugs and dead wild animals. Luckily for us, as potential consumers of these foods, all of these are easily testable theories. And this is precisely the type of data the lengthy approval process is meant to look at. Opinion papers like this – while not to be confused with conclusions resulting from solid research – are a critically important part of the scientific process, challenging researchers to provide hard data on areas that other experts suspect could be overlooked. Professors Carman and Heinemann provide a very important public good in challenging the strength of the due-diligence process for RNAi’s use in agriculture, an incomplete subject we continue to discover more about every day. However, we’ll have to wait until the data come back on this particular experiment – among thousands of similar ones being conducted at government labs, universities, and in the research facilities of commercial agribusinesses like Monsanto and Cargill – to know if this wheat variety would in fact result in a dietary apocalypse. That’s a notion many anti-genetically modified organism (GMO) pundits seem to have latched onto following the press conference the professors held. But if the history of modern agriculture can teach us anything, it’s that far more aggressive forms of GMO foods appear to have had a huge net positive effect on the global economy and our lives. Not only have they not killed us, in many ways GMO foods have been responsible for the massive increases in public health and quality of life around the world. The Roots of the GMO Food Debate The debate over genetically modified (GM) food is a heated one. Few contest that we are working in somewhat murky waters when it comes to genetically modified anything, human or plant alike. At issue, really, is the question of whether we are prepared to use the technologies we’ve discovered. In other words, are we the equivalent of a herd of monkeys armed with bazookas, unable to comprehend the sheer destructive power we possess yet perfectly capable of pulling the trigger? Or do we simply face the same type of daunting intellectual challenge as those who discovered fire, electricity, or even penicillin, at a time when the tools to fully understand how they worked had not yet been conceived of? In all of those cases, we were able to probe, study, and learn the mysteries of these incredible discoveries over time. Sure, there were certainly costly mistakes along the way. But we were also able to make great use of them to advance civilization long before we fully understood how they worked at a scientific level. Much is the same in the study and practical use of GM foods. While the fundamentals of DNA have been well understood for decades, we are still in the process of uncovering many of the inner workings of what is arguably the single most advanced form of programming humans have ever encountered. It is still very much a rapidly evolving science to this day. For example, in the 1990s, an idea known simply as “gene therapy” – really a generalized term for a host of new-at-the-time experimental techniques that share the simple characteristic of permanently modifying the genetic make-up of an organism – was all the rage in medical study. Two decades on, it’s hardly ever spoken of. That’s because the great majority of attempted disease therapies from genetic modification failed, with many resulting in terrible side effects and even death for the patients who underwent the treatments. Its use in the early days, of course, was limited almost exclusively to some of the world’s most debilitating, genetically rooted diseases. Still – whether in their zeal to use a fledgling tool to cure a dreadful malady or in selfish, hurried desire to be recognized among the pioneers of what they thought would be the very future of medicine – doctors chose to move forward at a dangerous pace with gene therapy. In one famous case, and somewhat typical of the times, University of Pennsylvania physicians enrolled a sick 18-year-old boy with a liver mutation into a trial for a gene therapy that was known to have resulted in the deaths of some of the monkeys it had just been tested on. The treatment resulted in the young man’s death a few days later, and the lengthy investigation that followed resulted in serious accusations of what can only be called “cowboy medicine.” Not one of science’s prouder moments, to be sure. But could GM foods be following the same dangerous path? After all, the first GM foods made their way to market during the same time period. The 1980s saw large-scale genetic-science research and experimentation from agricultural companies, producing everything from antibiotic-resistant tobacco to pesticide-hardy corn. After much debate and study, in 1994 the FDA gave approval to the first GM food to be sold in the United States: the ironically named Flavr Savr tomato, with its delayed ripening genes which made it an ideal candidate for sitting for days or weeks on grocery store shelves. Ever since, there has been a seeming rush of modified foods into the marketplace. Modern GM foods include soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and a number of squash and greens varieties, as well as products made from them. One of the most prevalent modifications is to make plants glyphosate-resistant, or in common terms, “Roundup Ready.” This yields varieties that are able to stand up to much heavier doses of the herbicide Roundup, which is used to keep weeds and other pest plants from damaging large monoculture fields, thereby reducing costs and lowering risks. In total it is estimated that modern GM crops have grown to become a $12 billion annual business since their commercialization in 1994, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Over 15 million farms around the world are reported to have grown GM crops, and their popularity increases every year. They’ve brought huge improvements in shelf life, pathogen and other stress resistance, and even added nutritional benefits. For instance, yellow rice – which was the first approved crop with an entirely new genetic pathway added artificially – provides beta-carotene to a large population of people around the world who otherwise struggle to find enough in their diets. However, the race for horticulturalists to the genetic table in the past few decades – what could be described accurately as the transgenic generation of research – has by no means been our first experiment with the genetic manipulation of food. In fact, if anything, it is a more deliberate, well studied, and careful advance than those that came before it. A VERY Brief History of Genetically Modified Food Some proponents of GMO foods are quick to point out that humans have been modifying foods at the genetic level since the dawn of agriculture itself. We crossbreed plants with each other to produce hybrids (can I interest you in a boysenberry?). And of course, we select our crops for breeding from those with the most desirable traits, effectively encouraging genetic mutations that would have otherwise resulted in natural failure, if not helped along by human hands. Corn as we know it, for example, would never have survived in nature without our help in breeding it. Using that as a justification for genetic meddling, however, is like saying we know that NASCAR drivers don’t need seatbelts because kids have been building soapbox racers without them for years. Nature, had the mix not been near ideal to begin with, would have prevented such crossbreeding. Despite Hollywood’s desires, one can’t simply crossbreed a human and a fly, or even a bee and a mosquito, for that matter – their genetics are too different to naturally mix. And even if it did somehow occur, if it did not make for a hardier result, then natural selection would have quickly kicked in. No, I am talking about real, scientific genetic mucking – the kind we imagined would result in the destruction of the world from giant killer tomatoes or man-eating cockroaches in our B-grade science-fiction films. Radiation mutants. Enterprising agrarians have been blasting plants with radiation of all sorts ever since we started messing around with atomic science at the dawn of the 20th century. In the 1920s, just when Einstein and Fermi were getting in their grooves, Dr. Lewis Stadler at the University of Missouri was busy blasting barley seeds with X-rays – research that would usher in a frenzy of mutation breeding to follow. With the advent of nuclear technology from the war effort, X-rays expanded into atomic radiation, with the use of gamma rays leading the pack. The United States even actively encouraged the practice for decades, through a program dubbed “Atoms for Peace” that proliferated nuclear technology throughout various parts of the private sector in a hope that it would improve the lives of many. And it did. Today, thousands of agricultural varieties we take for granted – including, according to a 2007 New York Times feature on the practice, “rice, wheat, barley, pears, peas, cotton, peppermint, sunflowers, peanuts, grapefruit, sesame, bananas, cassava and sorghum” – are a direct result of mutation breeding. They would not be classified as GM foods, in the sense that we did not use modern transgenic techniques to make them, but they are genetically altered nonetheless, to the same or greater degree than most modern GMO strains. Unlike modern GM foods – which are often closely protected by patents and armies of lawyers to ensure the inventing companies reap maximum profits from their use – the overwhelming majority of the original generations of radiation-mutated plant varieties came out of academic and government sponsored research, and thus were provided free and clear for farmers to use without restriction. With the chemical revolution of the mid-20th century, radiation-based mutations were followed by the use of chemical agents like the methyl sulfate family of mutagens. And after that, the crudest forms of organic genetic manipulation came into use, such as the uses of transposons, highly repetitive strands of DNA discovered in 1948 that can be used like biological duct tape to cover whole sections the genome. These modified crops stood up better to pests, lessened famines, reduced reliance on pesticides, and most of all enabled farmers to increase their effective yields. Coupled with the development of commercial machinery like tractors and harvesters, the rise of mutagenic breeding resulted in an agricultural revolution of a magnitude few truly appreciate. In the late 1800s, the overwhelming majority of global populations lived in rural areas, and most people spent their lives in agrarian pursuits. From subsistence farmers to small commercial operations, the majority of the population of every country, the US included, was employed in agriculture. Today, less than 2% of the American population (legal and illegal combined) works in farming of any kind. Yet we have more than enough food to feed all of our people, and a surplus to export to more densely populated nations like China and India. The result is that a sizable percentage of the world’s plant crops today – the ones on top of which much of the modern-era GMO experiments are done – are already genetic mutants. Hence the slippery slope that serves as the foundation of the resistance from regulators over the labeling of GM food products. Where do you draw the line on what to label? And frankly, how do you even know for sure, following the Wild-West days of blasting everything that could grow with some form or another of radiation, what plants are truly virgin DNA? The world’s public is largely unaware that many of the foods they eat today – far more than those targeted by anti-GMO protestors and labeling advocates – are genetically modified. Yet we don’t seem to be dying off in large numbers, like the anti-RNAi researchers project will happen. In fact, global lifespans have increased dramatically across the board in the last century. The Rise of Careful The science of GM food has advanced considerably since the dark ages of the 1920s. Previous versions of mutation breeding were akin to trying to fix a pair of eyeglasses with a sledgehammer – messy and imprecise, with rare positive results. And the outputs of those experiments were often foisted upon a public without any knowledge or understanding of what they were consuming. Modern-day GM foods are produced with a much more precise toolset, which means less unintended collateral damage. Of course it also opens up a veritable Pandora’s box of new possibilities (glow-in-the-dark corn, anyone?) and with it a whole host of potential new risks. Like any sufficiently powerful technology, such as the radiation and harsh chemicals used in prior generations of mutation breeding, without careful control over its use, the results can be devastating. This fact is only outweighed by the massive improvements over the prior, messier generation of techniques. And thus, regulatory regimes from the FDA to CSIRO to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are taking increasing steps to ensure that GM foods are thoroughly tested long before they come to market. In many ways, the tests are far more rigorous than those that prescription drugs undergo, as the target population is not sick and in need of urgent care, and for which side effects can be tolerated. This is why a great many of the proposed GM foods of the last 20 years, including the controversial “suicide seeds” meant to protect the intellectual property of the large GM seed producers like Monsanto (which bought out Calgene, the inventor of that Flavr Savr tomato, and is now the 800-lb. gorilla of the GM food business), were never allowed to market. Still, with the 15 years from 1996 to 2011 seeing a 96-fold increase in the amount of land dedicated to growing GM crops and the incalculable success of the generations of pre-transgenic mutants before them, scientists and corporations are still in a mad sprint to find the next billion-dollar GM blockbuster. In doing so they are seeking tools that make the discovery of such breakthroughs faster and more reliable. With RNAi, they may just have found one such tool. If it holds true to its laboratory promises, its benefits will be obvious from all sides. Unlike previous generations of GMO, RNAi-treated crops do not need to be permanently modified. This means that mutations which outlive their usefulness, like resistance to a plague which is eradicated, do not need to live on forever. This allows companies to be more responsive, and potentially provides a big relief to consumers concerned about the implications of eating foods with permanent genetic modifications. The simple science of creating RNAi molecules is also attractive to people who develop these new agricultural products, as once a messenger RNA is identified, there is a precise formula to tell you exactly how to shut it off, potentially saving millions or even billions of dollars that would be spent in the research lab trying to figure out exactly how to affect a particular genetic process. And with the temporary nature of the technique, both the farmers and the Monsantos of the world can breathe easily over the huge intellectual-property questions of how to deal with genetically altered seeds. Not to mention the questions of natural spread of strains between farms who might not want GMO crops in their midst. Instead of needing to engineer in complex genetic functions to ensure progeny don’t pass down enhancements for free and that black markets in GMO seeds don’t flourish, the economic equation becomes as simple as fertilizer: use it or don’t. While RNAi is not a panacea for GMO scientists – it serves as an off switch, but cannot add new traits nor even turn on dormant ones – the dawn of antisense techniques is likely to mean an even further acceleration of the science of genetic meddling in agriculture. Its tools are more precise even than many of the most recent permanent genetic-modification methods. And the temporary nature of the technique – the ability to apply it selectively as needed versus breeding it directly into plants which may not benefit from the change decades on – is sure to please farmers, and maybe even consumers as well. That is, unless the scientists in Australia are proven correct, and the siRNAs used in experiments today make their way into humans and affect the same genetic functions in us as they do in the plants. The science behind their assertions still needs a great deal of testing. Much of their assertion defies the basic understanding of how siRNA molecules are delivered – an incredibly difficult and delicate process that has been the subject of hundreds of millions of dollars of research thus far, and still remains, thanks to our incredible immune systems, a daunting challenge in front of one of the most promising forms of medicine (and now of farming too). Still, their perspective is important food for thought… and likely fuel for much more debate to come. After all, even if you must label your products as containing GMO-derived ingredients, does that apply if you just treated an otherwise normal plant with a temporary, consumable, genetic on or off switch? In theory, the plant which ends up on your plate is once again genetically no different than the one which would have been on your plate had no siRNAs been used during its formative stages. One thing is sure: the GMO food train left the station nearly a century ago and is now a very big business that will continue to grow and to innovate, using RNAi and other techniques to come. The Casey Extraordinary Technology team has been tracking the leading lights of the RNAi medical industry for some time. Recently, one of our small biotech upstarts struck a potentially massive, exclusive deal with an agricultural giant to seed its own RNAi research program. Success could mean billions for both firms. If you’d like to know what company we believe will profit most from the next generation of GM food development, subscribe to CET. Bits & Bytes Last Chance for RIM? (CNN Money) Few companies have been written off as frequently as Research in Motion, whose Blackberry was once state of the art and which now finds itself fighting for its life. Its stock just soared 9% merely because it said release of the new Blackberry 10 is still on schedule for early next year. Whether the 10 will be able to put a dent into the Apple/Android monolith remains to be seen, but for RIM it could be the last, best hope. Giant Media Merger (LA Times) What do you get when you mate Han Solo with Minnie Mouse? We’re about to find out – fiscally, if not physically – with Tuesday’s announcement that Disney is acquiring Lucasfilm for a cool $4 billion. Disney is projecting it’ll get its money back within three years, while George is, well, retiring – as he is now well able to do. Google Settles Final AdWords Dispute (Ars Technica) Several companies have taken Google to court over AdWords, saying Google shouldn’t be allowed to key advertisements to their names, which are protected trademarks. The last and one of the most persistent has been Rosetta Stone, a language-software maker that sued Google in 2009, but lost in federal court. However, its case was revived on appeal, and yesterday it finally was settled on confidential terms. How Easy Is a Tablet to Use? (TechCrunch) Pretty damn easy, as it turns out. In a remarkable experiment, OLPC (One Laptop per Child) researchers in Ethiopia handed a Motorola Xoom tablet to each of a group of illiterate village children aged four to eight. Click the link to learn the amazing results.last_img read more

Leaders can have many different styles — just comp

first_imgLeaders can have many different styles — just compare President Donald Trump to Malala Yousafzai to your boss or the coach of your kid’s soccer team.But a study published Thursday suggests that people who end up in leadership roles of various sorts all share one key trait: Leaders make decisions for a group in the same way that they make decisions for themselves. They don’t change their decision-making behavior, even when other people’s welfare is at stake.That may come as a bit of surprise, given that most lists of key leadership qualities focus on things like charisma and communication skills.”Previous research has mostly focused on these kinds of either personality characteristics of a leader, or situations where individuals are likely to lead,” says Micah Edelson, a neuroscientist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. “But we don’t know much about the cognitive or neurobiological process that is happening when you are choosing to lead or follow — when you’re faced with this choice to lead or follow.”He notes that the decisions of leaders can affect the lives of many others. “It’s not always that easy to make such a choice, and it’s something that could be even a little bit aversive to you, to make a choice that impacts other people,” says Edelson. “And there are some people that seem to be able to do it; some people don’t. So we were interested in looking at that.”He and his colleagues had volunteers come to the lab, and gave them questionnaires that are widely used to predict whether someone is likely to be in a position of leadership. They also collected information about people’s real-world leadership experience, such as what rank they’d achieved in the military (which is compulsory for men in Switzerland) or in the popular Swiss Scouts organization.Then they put the participants into small groups and had them play a series of games in which individuals had to make choices about whether to take a risky action to get a reward.”These are choices about uncertain gambles that have some probability of success and potential gains and losses,” Edelson explains.The player could choose to either make the choice alone, or defer the decision to a majority vote.The games were played under two conditions: Sometimes the decision affected only the individual player’s winnings and other times the decision affected what the entire group received.What the researchers found is that people in general tended to avoid taking responsibility for what happens to others; deferral rates were the highest when decisions affected other people’s pocketbooks.But the people who changed their decision-making behavior the least were the ones who generally served as leaders in the real-world and scored high on leadership questionnaires. Unlike others, they did not require more certainty before being ready to personally make a decision that would affect the whole group.”On average, people tend to increase the certainty threshold when the choices affect the entire group. But higher-scoring leaders just keep their thresholds almost constant,” says Edelson, who says preliminary work using MRI brain scanning supports the idea that leaders and followers differ in how their brains process information about gains, losses, and risk in the context of thinking about others.Other neuroscientists say the work, published in the journal Science, is fascinating.”It seems a very reasonable finding,” says Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London. “It works with our intuition, but in the same way it’s not something that you’d necessarily think about that distinguishes leadership.”Sharot cautions that it’s not clear whether this decision-making behavior is what led people to their leadership position, or if they’ve developed it as a result of real-world leadership experience.And this study doesn’t say anything about who ends up being a “good” leader, either.But Sharot says the researchers have identified something about leadership that can hold true regardless of a leader’s style.”You can have authoritarian leaders who like to have the ultimate control,” she says. “You can have democratic leaders who want to lead according to the will of the people. You have leaders who are risk-takers, leaders who are risk-adverse and conservative and so on.”But what’s really interesting about this work, she says, is that these different types of leaders’ decision-making behavior stays the same regardless of whether the outcome affects only themselves or other people. “What this paper shows is that all these types of individuals, all these types of leaders, have something in common.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more