Dominica opposition withdraws motion of no confidence against Prime Minister

first_imgOpposition leader Lennox Linton says he has withdrawn a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit after complaining that his original motion had been amended “to the point where I could not recognize the motion anymore.”Linton, speaking at a public meeting  on Tuesday night, said that the motion was due to have been debated in the Parliament next week.That motion was totally re-organized and changed and new words brought in and new format adopted to the point where I couldn’t recognize the motion anymore.“And so I have asked that the motion be withdrawn. The one that they have standing in my name, which is not my motion, I have asked that it be withdrawn,” he told party supporters.Linton took the opportunity to thank the regional and international community that came to the assistance of Dominica when it was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last year, killing 30 people and leaving 30 others missing. The hurricane was also blamed for the millions of dollars in infrastructural damage.“We thank all those who rallied in support of us. It was a tremendous outpouring of charity from a world community that saw us struggling and decided it was going to be there with us.‘We ask ourselves one year later what lessons did we learn from Maria. If Maria demonstrated to us charity from around the world like we have never seen before how did that help us in Dominica?. Well we saw our brothers and sisters looking out for each other in Dominica…and we saw our government in some way trying its best, but in many ways making a mess,” Linton said.last_img read more

Five keys for the Raiders against winless Bengals

first_imgOAKLAND — Jon Gruden knows something you don’t know.The Raiders could lose to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at the Coliseum. Yes, the 0-9 Bengals, front-runners for the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2020, pose a threat.Gruden is at his dismissive best if it’s suggested that an opponent with the 26th-ranked offense, 32nd-ranked defense and the second-worst negative point differential in the NFL is anything less than a … Click here if you’re unable to view the photo gallery on your mobile device.last_img

Ichthyosaurs Suddenly Appeared in Triassic Oceans

first_img“Ichthyosaurs were a group of Mesozoic marine reptiles that evolved fish-shaped body outlines,” begins Ryosuke Motani (UC Davis) in the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences,1 in a paper on “Evolution of Fish-Shaped Reptiles… in Their Physical Environments and Constraints.”  But while much is said about their environments and constraints, little is said to explain their evolution.  It is not even certain they were reptiles: “The sister group of ichthyosaurs is unknown,” he says, resulting in taxonomists proposing conflicting ideas of where to put them within the vertebrates: “Many different hypotheses have been proposed as to where ichthyosaurs belong in the tree of vertebrates, and all major groups, including mammals, amphibians, and osteichthyes [bony fishes], have been proposed.”  The majority view is that they are reptiles that diverged before the dinosaurs, though “It is unknown whether they are outside or inside the saurian clade.”  The classification problems continue inside the clade.  Even though “there seems to be a consensus regarding the basic phylogenetic relationship among major groups” of ichthyosaurs, “None of the published phylogenetic trees is uncontroversial,” he notes.    Ichthyosaurs are characterized by narrow snouts, usually conical teeth, and a bend in the vertebra near the tail.  They apparently ate fish and squid.  Some of them had enormous eyes, much bigger relative to body size than any other animal.  The number of fin digits varied from one to twenty.   “Ichthyosaurs were a diverse group, with various body forms and sizes,” writes Motani, an expert on this unusual group of swimmers.    The first ichthyosaur was described in 1814, long before Darwin’s theory.  “Despite such a long history of scientific study,” Motani says, “our knowledge of the evolution of the group was limited until recently because interest in the group flagged, especially after the recognition of the Dinosauria (Owen 1842).  It was not until the late 1980s that the ichthyosaurian study was revitalized, and many of the noteworthy facts listed above were recognized during the past decade.”  Summarizing the latest discoveries and discussing future perspectives are the purposes of Motani’s review.    “The first definitive records of ichthyosaurs appear suddenly and almost simultaneously over a wide range of the Northern Hemisphere, including Canada, China, Japan, and Spitsbergen,” in the upper Triassic, he says, making it “difficult to discuss the geographic origin of the group.”  The earliest forms look like a “long-snouted lizard with flippers and a small caudal fin…, with a relatively small skull, an elongated trunk containing approximately 40 vertebrae in front of the pelvic girdle, and a short tail” (emphasis added in all quotes).  These were 1-3 meters in length.  Two other groups appear in Middle Triassic strata, one large (9m) and one small (2m), that disappear in the Late Triassic.  A group of tuna-shaped ichthyosaurs called Parvipelvia shows up in Late Triassic strata and became the dominant type in those rocks.  Ichthyosaur fossils appear throughout the Jurassic into the Cretaceous, when they all went extinct.  More fossils of new species are being found all the time.  Some finely-preserved, articulated specimens found recently in China are proving very interesting.  Yet putting all the diversity of ichthyosaurs into an evolutionary timeline is made difficult by gaps:The evolution of the intermediate grade ichthyosaurs during the Middle and Later Triassic is poorly understood at this point, and the diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Early Cretaceous requires further investigation.  Middle and Late Jurassic are also important, given the scarcity of materials known at his point.Motani speaks often of evolution in his review, yet points more to species diversity than to any particular trends in morphology.  For instance, discussing the flippers, he claims “it is possible to trace the continuous evolutionary transformation series for the forelimb,” but then says, “Although the series is continuous, it is difficult to single out a feature that is shared by all ichthyosaurian front flippers.”  His elaboration presents a somewhat confusing picture:Ichthyosaurs initially had five digits as in many amniotes, including humans.  Some time in the Late Triassic, a form without the first digit, or the thumb, appeared…, and this lineage eventually gave rise to the Parvipelvia.  Extra digits started to appear in some species of Norian ichthyosaurs, and many Jurassic ichthyosaurs added digits both anteriorly and posteriorly in the forelimb (Figure 4), a phenomenon referred to as hyperdactyly.  Ichthyosaurs also added extra finger bones, or phalanges, to their digits.  Such hyperphalangy was present even in the most basal ichthyosaurs, such as Utatsusaurus ….So the earliest forms already had multiple phalanges and digits; some later forms had more, some had fewer.  Neither is there an evolutionary pattern in size: “There was no simple trend in ichthyosaurian body sizes through geological time,” he writes.  “Large as well as small ichthyosaurian species seem to have coexisted from the beginning.”  Most were under 10m, but a giant species possibly 20m was found near British Columbia.    Motani says that ichthyosaurs were the “first tetrapod to evolve a fish-shaped body profile with a well-demarcated caudal fluke, long before cetaceans came up with a similar design some 150 million years later,” but merely assumes that three very different groups – reptiles, mammals and fish – all converged on the multiple structural and physiological features necessary for streamlined swimming.  He claims ichthyosaurs “evolved the largest eyes of all vertebrates” without saying how; later, he mentions, “It is not known why such an extensive bony coverage of the eyeball evolved.”    Motani also discusses that ichthyosaurs “have one of the earliest records of live-birth in amniotes” without mentioning the transitions necessary to make it possible; in fact, this capability seems to have appeared abruptly in this group: “Given that ichthyosaurs did not appear until very late in the Early Triassic, live-birth clearly evolved early in the ichthyosaurian evolution, at least during the first few million years or possibly less, of their 150-million-year evolutionary history” — i.e., this complex adaptation suddenly appeared in the first 1% of their timeline and persisted unchanged throughout 150 million years, while other major changes in body shape evolved, including significant reductions in the pelvis.    Motani’s only specific reference to a transitional form is “Californosaurus, which is one of the transitional forms between the fish-shaped and more basal ichthyosaurs, it is clearly seen that the change of the orientation of the neural spines corresponds to the position of the tailbend.”  Yet that change seems to represent only a rather minor difference in shape.  In another place, he admits that “The exact phylogenetic position for the appearance of the fish-shaped design in ichthyosaurs is controversial.”  The only other reference to transitional forms is: “The evolution of the group during the Early Jurassic can be considered as continued experimentation along the fish-shaped parvipelvian design that appeared in the Norian,” yet he does not elaborate on which descended from which, or which could be considered more fit or better adapted.    However confusing the interpretation of ichthyosaurs remains, this diverse group of marine animals became an early icon of evolution: ichthyosaurs “were the first major fossil collected by Mary Anning in the 1800s (McGowan 1991), and, together with the plesiosaurs that she discovered later, they symbolize the early phase of scientific movements in England that cultivated the grounds for Darwin’s evolutionary theory.”    Some of the most remarkable ichthyosaur fossils show the young in the process of being born.  At least six genera show embryos inside adult individuals. 1Ryosuke Motani, “Evolution of Fish-Shaped Reptiles (Reptilia: Ichthyopterygia) in Their Physical Environments and Constraints,” Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol. 33: 395-420 (Volume publication date January 2005) (doi:10.1146/ were a remarkable group of swimming animals.  Motani knows a lot about them, but he doesn’t know much about their evolution.  Despite his bluffing assertions about phylogeny, there is not a single point he makes that is without controversy or problems.  Even accepting the evolution-biased geological dates, he has to admit that the “basal” (earliest, presumably most primitive) ichthyosaurs already had five digits in functional flippers and gave birth to live young.  No subsequent evolution could be anywhere near as dramatic as having a full-fledged ichthyosaur appear in the fossil record without ancestors.    They are not clearly related to any other group of vertebrates, yet in many respects are like reptiles in fish costumes.  The similarities in body shape between some ichthyosaurs and tunas or dolphins is uncanny.  Streamlined body design requires not just a skeleton, but the musculature and skin to deal with fast swimming.  Every other body system – digestive, circulatory, endocrine, nervous, sensory, excretory, reproductive, and immune – must also adjust when there are changes in morphology.  How many lucky mutations had to converge in just one species of ichthyosaur to get this all right, let alone in a tuna (bony fish) or dolphin (mammal)?  Since the last common ancestor of these three groups could not have possessed that genetic information, the Darwinist is forced to believe that these three distant groups illustrate an amazing example of convergent evolution, whatever that means.  But even accepting that cop-out explanation, Motani admits that the phylogenetic position of the fish-shaped ichthyosaurs is controversial.  They seem to appear fully streamlined out of nowhere.    Consider also how remarkable it is to have numerous examples of fossils containing live embryos.  Marine creatures do not normally fossilize while carrying young.  A marine animal is either eaten or else dies of old age, not while giving birth.  For the embryos to be preserved, some even possibly in the process of exiting the birth canal, there had to be a sudden catastrophe that captured and smothered these large, strong creatures in mud before they could even appear startled.    There is nothing in this story to suggest these creatures evolved from something else.  Diversity is not evolution.  Motani did not demonstrate any clear sequence of characters morphing into others, or new functional capabilities arising de novo; nor did he explain how mutations and natural selection could produce an interrelated suite of complex structures like an ichthyosaur.  He did not show how they originated in one location and spread around the globe.  On the contrary, they burst on the scene all over the world, from Canada to Europe to China, in a geological blink of an eye, without precursors.  The only thing of any certainty about evolution in this paper was his determination to force-fit every piece of data into a Darwinian belief system.  (Notice how these fossils were used as props for Darwin’s theory, even though 146 years later, scientists are still struggling to understand their evolution.)  There is much in this story, however, that fits the framework of creation and a worldwide flood.  Along with most other living things, these marvelously designed animals were carrying out their everyday life and bearing their young, when the flood came and destroyed them all.(Visited 56 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Fiber-Optic Sponge Makes Deep-Sea Lamps

first_imgLast year, it was announced that a deep-sea sponge named the Venus Flower Basket possessed glass strands similar to fiber optic cables (see 08/20/2003 headline).  Now, a five-member team from Bell Labs has performed the first detailed optical analysis of the fibers.  They indeed found these structures to be “remarkably similar to commercial silica optical fibers and are capable of forming an effective fiberoptical network.”  Their findings are published in PNAS.1    The sponge’s fiber optics, though, are superior to man-made ones in four respects:Focus:  “Other interesting design elements include terminal lens-like extensions located proximally and barb-like spines located along the spicule shaft.  The presence of these lens structures at the end of the biofibers improves the light-collecting efficiency [that] offers an effective fiber-optical network with selected illumination points along the length of the crown-like fibrous network surrounding the cylindrical skeletal lattice.”Cool:  “Second, the formation of the biosilica fibers occurs at ambient temperatures and pressures.”  Man-made glass fibers are made at high temperatures.  “Their complex structure and composition are encoded in the organism and are controlled by specialized organic molecules and cells.  The low-temperature formation of silica in organisms, as an alternative to the high-temperature technological process, is a subject of extensive studies.”Dope:  “The low-temperature synthesis brings about an extremely important feature: the ability to effectively dope the structure with impurities that increase the refractive index of silica.  Our elemental analysis showed, for example, the presence of sodium ions in the entire fiber, particularly in the core.  Sodium ions (and many other additives) are not commercially viable optical fiber dopants because of manufacturing challenges, including devitrification at high processing temperatures.  In the case of these spicules, however, the presence of sodium ions results in the increase of the refractive index to values approaching and even exceeding that of vitreous silica.No Stress:  “Another advantage of the low-temperature synthesis is evidenced in the lack of the polarization dependence on the refractive index.  Birefringence in commercially prepared fibers often occurs as a result of the residual thermal stresses in the fibers upon their cooling.  Ambient condition formation of the spicules in biological environments prevents the development of any residual thermal stress.The authors are not sure how the sponge uses its technology.  Typically, this species inhabits deep waters near hydrothermal vents, where the only light is from bioluminescent organisms or chemoluminescence.  They offer a suggestion that it might act as an underwater lamp for symbiotic organisms: “Our results suggest that if such sources exist within or in close association to the basalia of E. aspergillum, their light might be efficiently used and distributed by the sponge.  Such a fiberoptical lamp might potentially act as an attractant for larval or juvenile stages of these organisms and symbiotic shrimp to the host sponge.”    Their final paragraph sums up the wonder of this creature’s amazing manufacturing ability:In conclusion, we have demonstrated an example of nature’s ability to evolve highly effective and sophisticated optical systems, comparable and in some aspects superior to man-made analogs.  High fracture toughness arising from their composite structure, the presence of index-raising dopants, the degree of silica condensation, and the absence of residual stress in these fibers suggest an advantage of the protein-controlled, ambient temperature synthesis favored in nature.  Whether these optical properties are biologically relevant or not, the mechanisms of the formation of silica spicules in E. aspergillum are inspiring to materials scientists and engineers.  We believe, therefore, that this system represents a new route to improved, silica-based optical fibers, constructed by using a bottom-up approach.1Aizenberg et al., “Biological glass fibers: Correlation between optical and structural properties,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, (published online before print on 03/01/2004).Mother Nature, being blind, would not make a lamp.  Let’s object when scientists use the word “evolve” as a synonym for “engineer”.  Nature cannot “evolve” a “highly effective and sophisticated optical system.”  Highly effective and sophisticated systems are products of engineering.  Engineering requires intelligence and purpose.    This sponge, first named by creationist Richard Owen in 1841, is a natural wonder.  Another wonder is how Darwinists think Nature Inc. can get any manufacturing done, with their pointy-haired boss (chance) managing a crew of blind, deaf and dumb Dilberts (natural selection).  The competition, Intelligent Design Unlimited, puts out a catalog that is a work of art.(Visited 16 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Google Places and Hotpot Come to iPhone, Google Maps

first_imgGoogle Hotpot, the restaurant review system that looks like a game of flashcards, is now pushing recommendations to Google Maps search results pages for participants. A new Google Places app with Hotpot included just hit the iPhone app store, too. Hotpot launched in November and looks firmly aimed at undercutting Yelp. The user experience in Hotpot on the desktop and new iPhone app are both quite good. Now you can use Hotpot on your phone to rate the Hotpot in your belly, if you’re lucky enough to find a good Hotpot restaurant nearby. If you’re my friend on the service, you’ll see that I just recommended one. As ReadWriteWeb’s Audrey Waters explained when Hotpot launched, “The aim of Hotpot is to make local recommendations more personal and relevant, by recommending places based on your ratings and the ratings of your friends.” The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology “By moving the recommendation and review process ‘in house,’ so to speak, by being able to provide an algorithm to recommend sites based on preferences, not merely location, and most importantly perhaps, by integrating these recommendations with mobile, Maps and Search, Google’s Hotpot may be a ‘killer’ location-based app. Sorry, Yelp.”That said, Hotpot isn’t all things to all people yet. There’s no feed of recent nearby reviews like there is on Yelp. There aren’t beautiful food photos like there are on Foodspotting. The recommendations seem a little crude. Hotpot is clearly an early product, but in that context it’s quite good.Google hopes that its new Near Field Communication (NFC) window stickers for restaurants and NFC enabled Android OS mobile phones will lead to more reviews of restaurants and more data to base recommendations on. This new mobile app dedicated to Places will probably make a bigger difference in the short term. Incidentally, if you’ve never eaten at a Hotpot restaurant, I just did for the first time this weekend and it was great. You go through a buffet to pick up meat and veggies, then sit down at a personal bowl of savory soup with a flame underneath it. You put the food into the soup to cook, then take it out with chopsticks and eat it. Very nice. Whether that sounds good to you or not, Google’s Hotpot will now turn your expressed tastes into restaurant recommendations in the sidebar of your Maps searches and on this nice new iPhone app. It’s pretty cool.It would be great to see this product develop all the more and really push the envelope. Most Google services feel like they come up short of that, though, probably in an effort to reach as many users of different levels of sophistication as possible. Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement marshall kirkpatrick Tags:#mobile#news#web What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts last_img read more

Famous Faces To Bet Big At Cancer Free Generation Poker Tournament

first_imgTV icon Jason Alexander, along with dozens of stars from TV, sports, music and film, will bet big to support talented young cancer researchers and change the future of cancer at Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s (TCRF) Inaugural Cancer Free Generation Poker Tournament and Casino Night on Saturday, June 7, 2014 in Los Angeles.The event has attracted the support of numerous celebrities, including AJ Buckley (CSI NY), Alexis Bellino and Jim Bellino (Real Housewives of Orange County), Ashlyn Pearce (The Bold and the Beautiful), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Christine Bently (Ballers-HBO), Corey Maggette (Detroit Pistons), Erik Valdez (General Hospital), Gilles Marini (Switched at Birth/Dancing With The Stars/Sex and the City), Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi (Shahs of Sunset), Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley (Real Housewives of Orange County/Marriage Boot Camp), Katie Cleary (America’s Next Top Model, Ironman 2), Kiptyn Locke (The Bachelorette), Lil’ Mama (hip hop recording artist), Maryse Ouellet (WWE Diva), Michael Vartan (Alias, Bates Motel), Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow, Resurrection), Nyambi Nyambi (Mike and Molly), Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side), Ryan Cabrera (pop rock singer/musician), Shanna Moakler (VH1 Hollywood Exes), Tony Denison (Major Crimes), Vanessa Marcil (Las Vegas), and Torrie Wilson (WWE Diva/Playmate).Cancer Free Generation (CFG) is the young leadership division of Tower Cancer Research Foundation. CFG seeks to identify, among their peers in Southern California, visionary and innovative doctors, medical professionals and researchers and enable them to discover and implement new ideas and techniques to conquer cancer. Additionally, CFG’s efforts support young people and their families who have been impacted by cancer, so that they may approach life with renewed strength and optimism. With this dual approach, CFG’s goal is to help ensure that the next generation becomes the first cancer free generation.TCRF has been the Southern California cancer patient’s greatest ally since 1996. The foundation is known for its stellar reputation professionally vetting cancer research programs and maximizing the impact of donor-investors. TCRF provides grants for clinical trials, innovative cancer research, caring patient support and community education. In line with its mission to advance local cancer research on every level, TCRF supports pioneering and talented physician scientists with awards of annual grants to those doing cutting-edge bench-to-bedside lab research. TCRF’s patient support services include patient mentoring, cancer support groups, free groundbreaking workshops and support for caregivers. TCRF’s Cancer Information and Resource Telephone Help Line, staffed by professional social workers, is a free service to help cancer patients and their families cope with the complexities and challenges of a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment.Poker & Casino Prizes include: PokerStars supporting a Cancer Free Generation by donating an Entrance into the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event in the Bahamas, valued at $10,000; 5-Night stay at the Trump International Waikiki, Hawaii; 2 Los Angeles Lakers Floor Seats.Raffle and Silent Auction Items Include: Red Hot Chili Peppers autographed guitars; Private tour and Night at the Magic Castle Hollywood; Santa Anita “A Day at the Races” Package; and much more.The event will take place at the Sofitel Hotel, Riviera 31, 8555 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Red carpet arrivals begin at 6:00 PM PST.Tickets may be purchased here or by calling 310.299.8477.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more