first_imgAn Anti Bullying Art Exhibition in The Exchange in Buncrana has been a huge hit with the public.The exhibition, which runs for two days only, opened yesterday and continues today between 1 and 7pm.Yesterday was a huge success with almost 300 visitors including a visit from Minister Joe McHugh who was extremely supportive and very impressed by the art included. There is art from children and adults of all ages, and there are approx 250 submissions on exhibit. The purpose of the event was to create a clear representation of how children feel about bullying and how it effects them, and seeing their work all displayed together, and alongside the art submitted by the teen and adult artists, it is a very powerful display.We invite everyone to come along if they are in the area for a few minutes and to bring their children too. It really is beautiful and it shares a strong message that bullying hurts, it leaves scars and children and indeed adults have so much to say about it through their art. ANTI-BULLYING EXHIBITION PROVING A HUGE SUCCESS was last modified: November 29th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Barbiturates in Darwin’s Warm Little Pond

first_img(Visited 61 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Are barbituates the missing links to the origin of life?Nick Hud (Georgia Institute of Technology) is a respected scientist in origin of life research, receiving funds from NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his work. His latest paper, published in Nature Communications, claims you can get nucleotides that pair up, like nucleic acids, spontaneously – if you mix the right ingredients. What works, his team found, is a mixture of barbituric acid and melamine (more on those molecules below). These are the “missing links,” the Georgia Tech press release suggests, that could have been “brewed in primordial puddles“. Ben Brumfield’s prose tempts the reader’s imagination with imagery out of medieval alchemy:The crucibles that bore out early building blocks of life may have been, in many cases, modest puddles.Now, researchers working with that hypothesis have achieved a significant advancement toward unlocking a longstanding evolutionary mystery — how components of RNA and DNA formed from chemicals present on early Earth before life existed. It could also have implications on how astrobiologists view the probability of life elsewhere in the universe.In surprisingly simple laboratory reactions in water, under everyday conditions, they have produced what could be good candidates for missing links on the pathway to the code of life.And when those components joined up, the result even looked like RNA.As the researchers’ work progresses, it could reveal that much of the original chemistry that led to life arose not in fiery cataclysms and in scarce quantities, but abundantly and gradually on quiet, rain-swept dirt flats or lakeshore rocks lapped by waves.But did life really start on barbiturates? That’s a depressing thought. Let’s look at the chemical mixture, what they call “a pair of potential chemical ancestors of the nucleobases of RNA.” Barbituric acid (C4H4N2O3) is used to make a variety of barbiturate drugs that act as depressants to the central nervous system. A member of the pyrimidines, it is also one of four ingredients used to make riboflavin, or vitamin B12. The authors purchased their barbituric acid (BA) from a supply house.Melamine (C3H6N6) is an artificially-synthesized poison used in industry for insecticides, insulation and fire retardants, among other things. The authors purchased their melamine from a supply house, and with their order, they bought some ribose for their experimental soup. It should be noticed right off the bat that none of these chemicals occur naturally in any significant amounts, if at all. Ribose is particularly difficult to account for in plausible prebiotic conditions, since it disintegrates readily in water (11/05/04).Despite these drawbacks, Hud is tempted to speculate. He envisions a kind of Darwinian fitness race in the primordial puddle:“Early Earth was a messy laboratory where probably many molecules like those needed for life were produced. Some survived and prospered, while others eventually vanished,” Hud said. “That goes for the ancestors of RNA, too.”Using two molecules known as barbituric acid and melamine, the researchers formed proto-nucleotides so strongly resembling two of RNA’s nucleotides that it is tempting to speculate that they are indeed their ancestors.But are molecules red in tooth and claw? There’s no way Hud could ensure that the ingredients he needs would have survived and prospered in the mix of poisons, except by wishing it were true, and looking back from the fact that life exists, and thinking “Aha! It could happen!” Logic, however, rears its ugly head at these motivations. Could is not the same as did (pigs “could” fly; see 1/26/08). “Ancestor” implies a line of descent of information—not possible here. And the existence of a piece of sculpture does not presuppose it emerged out of a primordial soup of molten bronze. And those are not the only logical fallacies. He needs to rescue his speculation from an inconvenient truth of chemistry:There was one small caveat.“The reaction does not work as well if barbituric acid and melamine are present in the same solution before reacting with ribose because their strong attraction for each other can cause them to precipitate,” Hud said. So, the scientists completed the reaction involving barbituric acid separately from the one involving melamine….If melamine and barbituric acid formed their respective nucleotides (C-BMP for barbituric acid and MMP for melamine) in separate puddles on the early Earth, then rain could have easily washed the components together, where they would have rapidly assembled into what could have been a precursor to proto-RNA.The perhapsimaybecouldness index here climbs 5 notches. (1) Now he needs two warm little ponds. (2) They need to segregate the BA and the melamine. (3) Then, fortuitously, rain washes them together into a third warm little pond, where they rapidly assemble. (4) The product “could” have been a “precursor” to (5) not RNA, but “proto-RNA,” whatever that is.Yet Hud overconfidently states, “It works even better then we thought. It’s almost too easy.”Sure it is, when you run your lab by intelligent design.Hud deceives the public with this paper. He knows full well that this won’t work. For one, he gave no indication that barbituric acid or melamine—two synthetic poisons—would form naturally on earth. Even if they did, would they form in sufficient concentrations to matter? What would make them segregate into separate puddles? What are the downsides of having vast amounts of these poisons on the surface of the earth? What about all the undesirable cross reactions that would most likely swamp any gains in his “precursor to proto-RNA” (whatever that is), precipitating into tarry gunk that goes nowhere? Yet he calls this a “plausible” scenario six times in the paper, including in the title! Does he tell the public that he bought his ingredients from a chemical supply house? No. Here’s a double lie he tells to the press agent:The two ingredients would have been readily abundant for reactions on a prebiotic Earth, Hud said.  “And they would have been well suited for primitive information coding,” he added.That is baloney. Nowhere in the paper does he indicate how likely these ingredients are to form naturally; there’s only a reference to two earlier papers, and the abstracts of those show that chemists used intelligent design to synthesize them. Hud also failed to explain how chance would segregate the molecules into single-handed forms: “we have not shown chiral nucleotide selection, ” the paper admits clearly. Without homochirality (all nucleotides single-handed), you’re not going to get “primitive information coding” even if some “base pairing” occurs. Look at this myth in the paper:In particular, the ability for C-BMP and MMP to form noncovalent supramolecular assemblies could have facilitated the prebiotic localization, organization and subsequent linking of these (or similar) nucleotides into covalent polymers that were then capable of storing and transferring information (for example, by templating the formation of sequence-specific assemblies for the polymerization of additional monomers.The wishful-thinking nonsense in that statement can hardly be exaggerated. It’s like saying, “dropping Scrabble letters onto the floor at random is capable of storing and transferring information.” It’s not the letters, for crying out loud; it’s the “sequence-specific assemblies” that constitute information—sequences that have meaning, that perform a useful function. Molecules at the mercy of chance and natural law have neither the desire nor the power to template anything, to localize, to organize, or to store information. They’re dead, dead, dead!Hud also knows full well that ribose is extremely difficult to obtain (that’s why he conveniently ordered his from a supply house). He told reporter Susan Mazur in 2014, “As you know, RNA is not the most stable molecule” (The Origin of Life Circus, p. 92). But he continues to hold up the moribund RNA world scenario, imagining that if you can get precursors to molecules in a chemical soup (all dead), you are making progress. Criticized that he doesn’t have information, he responds, “Absolutely. We don’t have that yet” (p. 88). Mazur asks him if his work contributes to protocell development:No, we’re really looking at proto-RNA. Proto-nucleic acids. We’re also doing some work on proto-peptides. It’s really proto-biopolymers.He even talks to Mazur about “pre-proto-RNA” after she reminds him RNA falls apart (p. 87). What on earth is that, and what does it have to do with life? This is as silly as Geppetto thinking his Pinocchio woodwork is a proto-boy. Only in fairy tales does that work. Hud knows these things are not alive or becoming alive. He tells Mazur, “It may come down to, yes, you have something interesting. But is it alive?” (p. 93).No, his melamine and barbiturates are not alive. Nor are his proto-whatevers. He only imagines Proto to be alive, using the power of suggestion to personify his molecules, conferring on them the attributes of desire and ambition. “I’m trying to find the simplest molecules that would have been able to take the first steps toward what was needed to start life,” he says (p. 88). Look, Dr. Hud: molecules don’t take steps. They’re dead! They don’t know what is needed to start life. If they fall apart in the warm little pond, that’s perfectly fine with them. The fairy tale gets curiouser and curiouser. Pinocchio meets Dorothy:Proto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore (from The Blunderful Wizard of Flaws, 9/05/08 commentary).Hud also errs in applying natural selection to his dilute synthetic poison soup. He thinks evolution is equivalent to “change over time” because RNA can do that (p. 87). Mazur reminds him that Carl Woese pictured early cells smashing into each other as a form of exchanging information.But just because you can accept that life is not limited to vertical gene transfer [i.e., common ancestry], it doesn’t mean that you have to rule out survival of the fittest at the earliest stages. What it comes down to is that we don’t seem to have the selfish gene early on.Surely Hud knows that without genetic storage, there is no natural selection. There is only error catastrophe as any gains are lost as things smash into each other—whether they be molecules or cells.Why would Hud engage in this kind of fiction? Because he can’t report back to the money bosses at the NSF and NASA that it’s a failure. He has to present an illusion of progress to keep the $$$ spigot running. So even if he has to intelligently design some reactions, made with synthetic chemicals he bought at a supply house, and ignore massive problems in a mythical scenario, he needs job security over truth.This sad state of affairs happens because alternatives to naturalism, like design, have been ruled out. If Hud had to face the likes of Gish, Wilder-Smith or Meyer on a debate stage, he would be turned into a laughingstock in the first five minutes. But because Darwin started the trend of limiting all scientific explanation to methodological naturalism, the truth cannot come out. Some of you readers need to get really, really mad at what Charlie did to science. Government now funds storytellers to spin fairy tales, but censors any criticism. Call your Congressman and demand your tax money back!Footnote: Hud spent 16 years in Catholic schools, Mazur reports. The main thing he learned there is how to conceal his materialism. “He knows how to educate audiences about origin of life without eviscerating belief systems, and losing the crowd.” Sneaky propagandist, he is. Dark times, these.last_img read more

South Africa pays less for ARV drugs

first_imgThe decrease in the price of various drugs ranged from 4% to 81%, resulting in a 53% reduction in the cost of the total tender, and translating to a saving of about R4.7-billion – meaning the state could now afford to treat twice as many people as previously budgeted for. South Africa’s HIV/Aids treatment programme has been given a shot in the arm, with increased competition and economies of scale enabling the government to procure R4.28-billion worth of antiretroviral drugs at less than half the cost of previous tenders. “It is notable that these tender price reductions have been achieved through the same suppliers that are contracted in the current tender,” Motsoaledi said. “There are several reasons for this, including greater efficiency in active pharmaceutical ingredient production, increased competition and a tender system that attempts to achieve the lowest possible price.” To ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness in procurement, the last meeting of the National Health Council (NHC) of Minister and MECs approved the establishment of a Central Procurement Authority. This authority will implement measures that improve the availability and supply of medicines, achieve the lowest possible procurement prices, and ensure that suppliers are paid on time. “Given the clear evidence of the success of this approach to procurement, the Department of Health will be replicating this approach through a Central Procurement Authority,” Motsoaledi said. “The authority will focus on procurement of ARVs, TB drugs, vaccines and drugs for the treatment of diseases related to maternal and child health.” SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material 15 December 2010center_img Economies of scale Motsoaledi said the high prices had made no sense, as South Africa was the largest purchaser of ARVs in the world and should thus benefit from low prices through economies of scale. “Early this year in my health budget speech I mentioned that the prices that South Africa pays for ARVs are significantly higher than all other countries,” Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in a statement this week. “The high price paid by South Africa was despite the fact that South Africa has the largest ARV programme in the world.” The drugs will support the implementation of HIV/Aids treatment in the country for the next two years, effective from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2012. The selected suppliers include Aspen Pharma (with a 40.6% share of the tender), Sonke Pharmaceuticals (21.9%), Medpro (10.1%), Abbott Laboratories (9.8%), Cipla Medpro (5.1%), Strides Arcolab (4.2%), Adcock Ingram (4%), Aurobindo Pharma (3.1%), Specpharm (0.9%) and Merck Sharpe & Dohme (0.2%). Central procurement authoritylast_img read more

President Cyril Ramaphosa Unveils the Nelson Mandela Statue at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly

first_imgPresident Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a life-sized statue of late president Nelson Mandela at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, as South Africa celebrates Heritage Day on Monday 24 September 2018.           This comes as part of South Africa’s continued centenary celebrations of the founding father of the nation’s democracy – President Nelson Mandela. The year 2018 marks the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, thus providing a unique opportunity for people around the world to reflect on his life and times and to promote his legacy.President Cyril Ramaphosa says the late Nelson Mandela will forever hold a special place in the world for his dedication to peace and his legacy of forgiveness. “This celebration has provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made as a young democracy and the tasks that still lie ahead of us. It has also reinforced the need for South Africa to continue to build on the legacy of President Mandela in working towards a peaceful, just and prosperous world,” added President Ramaphosa.President Ramaphosa called on global leaders, international organisations and civil society groups to work together to restore the primacy and relevance of multilateralism, and emphasised the need for strengthened efforts to a more proactive approach to the maintenance of international peace and security.Team South Africa – led by President Ramaphosa kicked off their 2018 participation at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in the form of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit which was hosted in collaboration with the UN and coincided with Heritage Day in South Africa. The Nelson Mandela Peace Summit included a high-level plenary meeting on global peace in honor of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, the unveiling the Mandela live-size statue, and a reception hosted by South Africa for about 300 delegates on 24 September 2018. The high-level plenary meeting on global peace in honor of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, aimed to adopt a political declaration negotiated by Member States.President Ramaphosa concluded: “In line to the philosophy and practice of the Mandela years, South Africa continues to seek warm fraternal relations and strong economic ties with all the countries if the world, regardless of size, influence or alignment.“We remain firmly committed to the rules-based multilateralism as the most sustainable and effective approach to the management of international relations – and will continue to advocate for the needs and interests of developing countries to be placed at the top of the international agenda.”The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73) commenced on 18 September 2018, and the first day of the high-level General Debate starts today – Tuesday, 25 September 2018, and is scheduled to last for nine working days.Article Submission by: Tsabeng NthiteFollow the conversation on #SAatUNGA73 #BetterAfricaBetterWorldlast_img read more

How to Sell Green Homes

first_imgA video tour shows just what buyers need to see to appreciate sustainability It’s easy to showcase attractive trim packages, high-quality kitchen cabinets, and granite countertops, but how do you show off green features, such as tight envelope, good air quality, and water efficiency? These are the hidden things you don’t see in a finished home, and they’re often hard for a customer to buy in to. This video shows a special room that Pulte Homes Las Vegas adds to each of its sales offices to give potential buyers a closer look into these hidden features. This _Quality Construction Center_, has transparent wall and ceiling panels that give a behind-the-scenes look at blown-in cellulose insulation and sealed ductwork; thermometers compare temperature differences between the conditioned space and the relatively cool attic to demonstrate how well the insulation actually performs; and a hands-on display lets buyers feel how well the low-e glass holds back the summer heat. Pulte Las Vegas has incorporated the Environments for Living program to position itself as a leader in energy-efficient, environmentally friendly home building. And they put their money where their mouth is they have an energy-bill guarantee on all their new EFL homes.More InformationMore about Pulte Homes Las Vegas: Efficiency in the Desertlast_img read more

Goa temple denies access to wheelchair-bound girl

first_imgA trustee of Mangueshi Temple in South Goa stirred controversy on Monday by denying access to a wheelchair-bound girl from Mumbai.The Disabilities Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) has demanded action against the trustee and forwarded the complaint lodged by the girl’s parents to the Superintendent of Police (South) and the Collector of South Goa. The girl’s mother, Subhada Keskar, said the temple committee member, Anil Kenkre, prevented her daughter, Sanika Keskar, from entering the temple as its rules denied access to ‘vehicles’.‘Outright discrimination’The complaint said: “Anil Kenkre told us we were not invited and welcome inside the temple. This is outright discrimination and abuse of the right of a physically challenged person. The action is a criminal offence under Section 92 (a) of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016.” It further said that the trustee also violated Sanika’s right to worship, “which is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India.” The parents requested authorities to immediately register a criminal case against Mr. Kenkre under relevant sections of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 and the Indian Penal Code.The DRAG also wrote to the Collectors of North Goa and South Goa, and the State Disability Commissioner requesting them to direct all heads of religious places of worship in their jurisdiction to ensure that the elderly and persons with disabilities are not denied entry citing aids and appliances used for their mobility. The DRAG also asked the authorities to ensure within six months that places of worship are made disabled-friendly as mandated under the Act.Meanwhile, Mr. Kenkre denied the allegations. He said, “I don’t exactly remember the details of our conversation. We never deny permission to any person to enter the temple and pray. I only informed them that there is no facility to allow the wheelchair into the temple. It would be incorrect to say that we denied them access to the temple.”Mr. Kenkre admitted that the temple was not disabled-friendly, but that had never stopped “persons with disabilities from coming to the temple and nobody has ever had any issues in entering it.”‘An attitude problem’Anuradha Joshi, State Disability Commissioner, confirmed on Monday that she had received the complaint and would visit the temple on Tuesday to probe the matter. Avelino de Sa, president of DRAG, said that an online petition demanding justice for Sanika had garnered over 2,200 signatures by Monday evening.Mr. de Sa said, “The issue at hand is not one of lack of infrastructure, but an attitude problem of the temple trustee. This is evident from his statements such as ‘we have not invited you to the temple’ and ‘the wheelchair cannot be allowed in as it is a vehicle’.”last_img read more

JIS Showcases Technology in Media

first_img‘Technology in Media’ was the focus of a presentation by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) at the first Information Technology (IT) Exposition hosted on Friday, (November 16), by the Convent of Mercy Academy “Alpha”. The event, held under the theme: ‘Technology in Motion’, was attended by a number of organisations, representatives of which presented on how technology enhances work in various fields. Explaining the reason for staging the event, Acting Head of the IT Department at the all-girls school, Patrice Pryce, pointed to the rapid growth of technology globally and the need for the students to understand how technology enhances the various career fields. “Technology is everywhere and we just want to get the girls sensitised. They think IT is a career by itself and we (also) want them to know that it is a part of every single career,” Mrs. Pryce told JIS News. She said that JIS was a good choice for showcasing the integration of technology into the daily activities of the media. As the information arm of the Government of Jamaica, the JIS is a multi-faceted communication agency, which offers a wide range of media products and services for print, radio, television and the web. “The young people are going into media and we want them to know that in media there is technology,” Mrs. Pryce said. JIS Systems Administrator, Andre Allen, conducted a dynamic presentation, illustrating technology and its various applications, including software and hardware, which are employed in the production of JIS’ programmes. “It is important to see that IT is not something that you just learn about in class as theory.  It is something that we must utlise in our various departments at work in a very practical way to produce books, news releases, videos for TV, audio for radio and of course, all the material you find on our website,” Mr. Allen said. Sixth form IT student of the school, Toussan Cawley, acknowledged the importance of technology in modern lifestyles and how essential it is to keep abreast with the various gadgets and methods. “Technology is moving at a rapid pace, and I’m young so I don’t want to be left behind,” she stated. The exposition began with an opening ceremony, followed by presentations from representatives of various agencies to groups of students in various locations on the campus. Other organisations included GeoInformatics Institute, Hawkeye, Guardian Life, Johnson and Johnson, The Gleaner, Teens for Technology, Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Supreme Court.last_img read more

Jane Goodalls Movement To Stop Wildlife Trafficking

first_imgA well-known name in humanitarianism, environmentalism, conservation and advocacy through her Institute, Jane Goodall is now venturing into social media to create a movement to stop the trafficking of wildlife.Planning to meet with influential conservation leaders this year, Goodall wants to go armed with the support of the international community in the form of social media messages reinstating that the stopping of wildlife trafficking is a priority.The estimates she sites of the violations on protected species are startling: • 35,000 elephants a year are killed for ivory • poaching of rhinos went up 9,000% from 2007 to 2014 • 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins • a 2014 survey shows only 3,200 wild tigers left in Asia • 3,000 great apes are illegally killed or stolen from the wild each yearGoodall sees platforms such as Facebook and Instagram as powerful tools. “By using them for good,” she says, “we can help connect and organize, adding further pressure and momentum to let our networks, policy makers, change-making groups and the rest of the world hear our collective message.”With its potential to reach millions around the world, Goodall hopes to inspire people to demand and effect change.“When you join us,” she says, “we can build a movement through social media to stop wildlife trafficking together. By acting together on social media, we can stand up for what we believe in, protecting our beautiful and endangered wildlife from being hunted for trophies and other ‘parts’ to be sold and auctioned off. Post it. Gram it. Stop wildlife trafficking in its tracks.”Click here to see Jane Goodall’s petition and to share on social media.Copyright ©2016Look to the Starslast_img read more