The parcel delivery firm says it will loosen guidelines for more than 500,000 workers globally.- Advertisement –
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Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionRe Jan. 29 letter, “Get Trump library in upstate New York”: I’d like to suggest the perfect location. How about next to the Joe Landry baseball field. Given the fact that they are mirror images of each other, I view this as something that our Niskayuna Town Board would unanimously agree upon.In my opinion, placing both of them on top of the Niskayuna landfill would be the perfect location.W.L. WertmanNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Puccioni’s two goals help Niskayuna boys’ soccer top Shaker, remain perfect
What’s new on the Galápagos? For those needing an update on Darwin’s famous finches, the researchers who have spent the most time studying them – Peter and Mary Grant (Princeton) – wrote a Quick Guide in Current Biology1 in question-and-answer format. We’ll skip the introductory material about how the birds got named after Darwin, and what makes them special in the history of evolutionary thought, to see if the Grants have any evidence that they have, indeed, evolved. The key question is: “Are Darwin’s finches still evolving?”An often asked question may be phrased as follows: what can be said about evolution if it all happened in the past, for surely understanding where our biological diversity came from is then a mixture of scientific inference and inspired guesswork, almost impossible to verify? Imperceptibly slow evolution encourages such skepticism. In the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote “We see nothing of these slow changes in progress until the hand of time has marked the lapse of ages”. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated evolution in action, and the study of finches on the island of Daphne has contributed significantly. When the environment changes, for example when a severe and prolonged drought occurs, finches die in large numbers, not randomly but size-selectively. Large finches with large beaks have an advantage over small birds, and survive better, because they are able to crack the large seeds that are relatively common after almost all the small seeds have been consumed. When they breed the next year they produce offspring with large beaks because beak size is heritable. This change from one generation to the next is evolution. Some time later, the environment changes again, food supply changes, the advantage shifts toward finches with small beaks and correspondingly the direction of evolution changes. The back and forth process may have a net trajectory toward large or small size, and this is where inference enters the interpretation, because persistent directional changes in structures such as bird beaks are not likely to occur so rapidly that they can be documented in a few years. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Moreover, when asked about finch genomics, they claimed the genes of the finches are evolving, though the evidence is only preliminary:The molecular analysis of finch beaks has only just begun. In addition to this functional genetic study, molecular markers in the nuclear and mitochondrial genome have been used to estimate the phylogeny of the finches. With some exceptions they support the traditional grouping of the species on the basis of their plumage and beak characteristics. Molecular markers have also been used to track the exchange of genes between species that interbreed, albeit rarely, and the finding is dramatic. They show a pair of species on Daphne in a state of flux, at present converging genetically and morphologically, having diverged strongly in the past. This nicely captures the evolutionary dynamism that Darwin’s finches display to an unusual degree.Yet if they diverge then converge back to where they were before, is that really evolution? The Quick Guide moves on, leaving that question unasked and unanswered.1Peter R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant, “Quick Guide: Darwin’s Finches,” Current Biology, Volume 15, Issue 16, 23 August 2005, Pages R614-R615.There you have it: the world’s leading authorities on the beaks that made Charlie famous, and they don’t add a thing to what young-earth creationists already believe. The Grants merely repeated what is already admitted by intelligent-design researchers in the films Unlocking the Mystery of Life and Icons of Evolution; any observed changes are mere oscillations about a mean. These poor devoted people have measured beaks for over 30 years and have not found any persistent directional changes – nor could they be expected to in one human lifetime. They even admit that today the birds remain interfertile and so have not really undergone speciation after however long they have lived on these islands. Yet they expect us to think that it is a scientifically sound inference to extrapolate their data, which, in evolutionary terms, constitute noise, into long-term directional trends. Inference, interpretation based on presuppositions – that’s what Ken Ham and the most ardent creationists accuse the Darwinists of engaging in without scientific rigor. We all have the same data, but the interpretation depends on your world view and how much you adore Charlie. David Berlinski chuckles at the Darwinistic boasting over this most famous of examples of evolution. It “doesn’t even pass the threshold of anecdote,” he said in the film Icons of Evolution. OK, finch beaks adapt to drought conditions, and adapt back when the rains return (the changes are submillimeter differences, by the way). Fine. But, Berlinski continues, to be convinced that all the complexity of life could be explained by Darwin’s hypothesis of natural selection, “we’re going to need a whole lot more by way of evidence…. a whole lot more if this is to be serious science.”(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
“Light is the most important variable in our environment,” wrote Edith Widder, a marine biologist. The inhabitants of two different ecosystems have to deal with either too little or too much. Let your light so shine: A thousand meters below the sea surface, all sunlight is extinguished. Yet for thousands of meters more, creatures live in the perpetual darkness by manufacturing their own light. Bioluminescence is everywhere, reported Mark Schrope in Nature,1 “Eventually, the lightshow grows into a veritable fireworks display against an ever blacker background.” The light comes from everything alive: bacteria, microorganisms called dinoflagellates, jellyfish, anemones, shrimp, vertebrate fish, and more. Edith Widder is co-founder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, Florida. With a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), her team uses a deep ocean submersible craft called Eye-in-the-Sea to understand creatures who can only be studied in their own space. The submersible is equipped with an LED flasher that tries to beckon organisms and study their behaviors. They were actually able to get a distant organism to flash its light back. They also got a squid to respond to their light signal, thinking it had discovered lunch. Possible uses of biological light include decoy, defense, camouflage, mimicry, sexual attraction and alarm. Though red light is the first to be extinguished in the depths, and most dark-adapted organisms see in the blue-green range, some organisms appear to emit red light that could be visible only among their own. To do this, they must transfer the blue-green light from their photophores to red-fluorescent proteins, which seems inefficient. “My physics head says, ‘No,’” commented Justin Marshall, an Australian participant in the Deep Scope project, “But my biology head says, ‘Well, Why not?’ Biology is weird, so it could be.” The fact that organisms can emit light by intricate processes of bioluminescence presupposes that they also contain sensitive organs to detect it. Many deep-sea fish have large eyes tuned to the blue-green light of photophores. A new version of Eye-in-the-Sea is being prepared for deployment in early 2008 in Monterey, California. This will provide the first undersea observatory of the dark depths, “the first effective, long-term study of true deep-sea bioluminescent behaviour.” It may shed new light on an ecosystem that communicates in the language of photons.Too much of a good thing: On topside, some organisms have the opposite problem: too much light. Plants harvest sunlight to make nutrients from the soil, but like sunbathers know, too much can burn. Within leaves are elaborate mechanisms to shunt away excess light from the photosynthetic factories. Science Daily reported on a paper in Nature2 where researchers from University of Sheffield and Queen Mary, University of London learned more about “photoprotection” in plant leaves: “They were able to show how a small number of certain key molecules, hidden among the millions of others in the plant leaf, change their shape when the amount of light absorbed is excessive; and they have been able to track the conversion of light energy to heat that occurs in less than a billionth of a second.” The original paper stated, “it is experimentally demonstrated that a change in conformation of LHCII occurs in vivo, which opens a channel for energy dissipation by transfer to a bound carotenoid. We suggest that this is the principal mechanism of photoprotection.” The excess energy is thus shunted to a heat sink by an extremely rapid switch. What they are learning may help increase crop yields and improve photovoltaic cells. Plants already know how to adjust for the dim light of a cloudy day to the scorching radiation under a midsummer sun at noon. “Many plant species can successfully inhabit extreme environments where there is little water, strong sunlight, low fertility and extremes of temperature by having highly tuned defence mechanisms, including photoprotection.” See also the 06/23/2006 and 01/24/2005 entries about photoprotection, “One of Nature’s supreme examples of nanoscale engineering.” (That’s Nature as in the real world, not the artificial journal.)Light just right, but que pasa?: We humans, too, have to not only be able to harvest light, but process it as information. The brain has a mechanism for making sense of a scene – deciding what is foreground, and what is background. A “neural machine,” described in Science Daily, sorts this all out faster than the blink of an eye. A portion of the visual cortex called V2 makes a preliminary judgment of what part of the field is the background, and what part is the foreground. Rudiger von der Heydt, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, described what happens: “What we found is that V2 generates a foreground-background map for each image registered by the eyes. Contours are assigned to the foreground regions, and V2 does this automatically within a tenth of a second.” This first-pass interpretive filter helps us make instant sense of a complex scene, even though its decision can be overridden by the conscious mind, or tricked by optical illusions. Paintings by artist M.C. Escher, for instance, owe their popularity to tricks with the mind, fooling our eyes with contradictions about which way is up, or which part is the foreground and which is the background. Van der Heydt continued, “Because of their complexity, images of natural scenes generally have many possible interpretations, not just two, like in Escher’s drawings. In most cases, they contain a variety of cues that could be used to identify fore- and background, but oftentimes, these cues contradict each other. The V2 mechanism combines these cues efficiently and provides us immediately with a rough sketch of the scene.” The neuroscientist commented on the wonders of this system. “We can do all of this without effort, thanks to a neural machine that generates visual object representations in the brain,” he said. He admitted that how it works is still a mystery to us. “But discovering this mechanism that so efficiently links our attention to figure-ground organization is a step toward understanding this amazing machine.”Look at your eyes in a mirror. Using an eye to see the eye: fascinating. There’s enough in that self-reflexive activity to keep biologists, neuroscientists, physicists and philosophers busy for millennia.1. Mark Schrope, “Marine biology: Lights in the deep,” Nature 450, 472-474 (2007) | doi:10.1038/450472a.2. Ruban et al, “Identification of a mechanism of photoprotective energy dissipation in higher plants,” Nature 450, 575-578 (22 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06262.As with every natural resource in every ecological environment, light is used efficiently and effectively by a multitude of organisms well equipped to manage with feast or famine. What other physical resources are utilized via similar feats of nanoengineering by living organisms? Water (vapor, liquid, and solid), oxygen, nitrogen, iron, magnetism – no matter the physical resource, living things know how to harvest it for highest and best use. Organisms daily exhibit a declaration of intelligent design; they have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rightly elegant constitutions.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Juventus boss Allegri questions need for Arsenal midfielder Ramseyby Ansser Sadiq9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveJuventus coach Max Allegri has questioned whether he needs Aaron Ramsey in his squad.Reliable reports in Italy have suggested the player will sign a contract with Juve when his deal at Arsenal runs out in the summer.And it is common for Juventus to sign top players when they are available on cut price or free deals. But their coach Allegri may not want Ramsey.”I can already rely on five top midfielders. They are so good that I need nobody,” Allegri said in a press conference.”Tomorrow [Coppa Italia game against Bologna] we must maintain our focus or we’d have lost a target”. TagsTransfersAbout the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your say
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Chelsea boss Lampard happy for Abraham over England recallby Paul Vegas20 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea boss Frank Lampard is delighted for Tammy Abraham over his England recall.Lampard does not want to put too much pressure on the striker’s shoulders by saying he will definitely score goals at international level, but points out the player has shown he can score goals in the Championship and now in the Premier League.He said, “The work has only really begun for him because he is a young player, so I want to see him continue playing in the same vein for Chelsea and scoring goals and then naturally when he goes to the England squad, he has all the attributes to go there and be successful.”But it will be another step for him. I am sure he has the attitude to take that challenge of being a goalscorer for England and there is competition there. He will see there are great strikers in that squad already and it is a good challenge for Tammy.”
Story Highlights A Jamaican human-trafficking survivor will be among the presenters at an inaugural international conference highlighting the crime to be held at the Meliá Braco Village Hotel in Trelawny from July 25 to 26.The first forum of its kind to be convened in the Caribbean, the conference will be hosted by the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), under the theme ‘From Victim to Survivor: The Hard Road to Recovery’.It is one of the key events that will be held to mark Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Week, to be observed from July 22 to 28 under the same theme.Details on TIP Week, and the conference in particular, were provided by Chair, NATFATIP, Carol Palmer, during a press briefing held at the offices of the Ministry of Justice in Kingston on Wednesday (July 18).Mrs. Palmer, who is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, said the conference has attracted several presenters from the local and international community, in keeping with the thematic focus of TIP Week.“Presenters from Romania, France and the United States of America will be joined by local presenters, who bring considerable expertise in various aspects of human trafficking,” she said.Mrs. Palmer informed that Jamaican human-trafficking survivor, Shamere McKenzie, who has a voice in the international community, will deliver the opening address.“There can be no more powerful voice than that of a person who has survived and who has recovered to speak to the challenges faced by victims of trafficking on their journey to recovery from the pain and trauma they have experienced. She is one of two ambassadors who have agreed to lend their public image and voice to Jamaica’s national effort to fight against human trafficking,” she said.The other ambassador is Miss Jamaica World 2017, Solange Sinclair.The NATFATIP Chair further informed that the objectives of the conference are to improve cooperation among regional law-enforcement agencies to deter and combat trafficking in persons, increase public awareness to discourage these activities and to warn those who are unaware, and train officials throughout the public and private sectors on identifying victims of trafficking.It also aims to build capacities through legislation and institutional strengthening; explore the provision of appropriate protection and assistance to victims of trafficking, particularly women and children; develop an Outcome Document setting out a collective strategy in the fight against trafficking in persons; and promote the sustainability of partnerships to effectively combat the offence.Some of the topics that will be covered at the conference include Victimology; Cybercrime and Human Trafficking: the Dark Web and Social Media; Child Trafficking: A Clear and Present Danger; and Partnerships for Sustainability.In the meantime, Mrs. Palmer said this year’s observance of TIP Week, which seeks to raise awareness of this crime, will be victim-focused and victim-centred.“We hope that the attention and public discourse that will emanate from the Week’s activities will continue to raise awareness about the plight of victims and why it is necessary for not just a ‘whole of Government’ but a ‘whole of country’ response (to help victims),” she said.Mrs. Palmer further noted that even though TIP Week officially ends on July 28, its observance will be extended to July 30, which is recognised worldwide as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.The Week’s activities will commence with a church service at the Providence Methodist Church in Kingston on July 22.Media personnel interested in covering the event can register for accreditation on the JIS’s website at: https://jis.gov.jm/natfatip-international-human-trafficking-conference/.Mrs. Palmer informed that the Ministry will arrange accommodation for the press. The first forum of its kind to be convened in the Caribbean, the conference will be hosted by the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), under the theme ‘From Victim to Survivor: The Hard Road to Recovery’. Details on TIP Week, and the conference in particular, were provided by Chair, NATFATIP, Carol Palmer, during a press briefing held at the offices of the Ministry of Justice in Kingston on Wednesday (July 18). A Jamaican human-trafficking survivor will be among the presenters at an inaugural international conference highlighting the crime to be held at the Meliá Braco Village Hotel in Trelawny from July 25 to 26.
APTN National NewsIt was taken off the shelves in Ontario at the end of February.But there’s still enough OxyContin to make it easy to get for a price.On Cat Lake First Nation in northern Ontario, they’re trying to stop the flow and help people get off the drug.APTN National News reporter Tiar Wilson has this story.