International Fundraising Congress 2016 – day four


first_img Here is our round-up from the final day of the 2016 International Fundraising Congress in Holland. Advertisement  113 total views,  1 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis About Howard Lake Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world’s first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of GoodJobs.org.uk. Researching massive growth in giving. Tagged with: International Fundraising Congress Howard Lake | 22 October 2016 | News  114 total views,  2 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis International Fundraising Congress 2016 – day fourlast_img read more

Crepe firm reveals plans for new outlets


first_imgLondon-based Crepeaffair has just opened its 12th UK outlet as it strives for 15 in total by mid-summer as well as adding international sites and launching a ‘grab and go’ range. The Islington site opened last week as a standalone shop, with one to follow in May in Bristol, a kiosk opening in a “huge new development” at Birmingham’s Grand Central Station and a brand new concept launching in West London’s Westfield shopping centre in April at Kidzania.There are already 16 Kidzanias worldwide, with nine more planned including London, which is under construction now to open this spring. It is a concept for the entertainment of children and Crepeaffair founder Daniel Spinath has adapted his model to fit – Crepeaffair Mini will serve mini cakes from a mini cart and it is “highly likely” that this adapted version could be used elsewhere.“The launch will be at Kidzania and we are looking at integrating it into existing sites or do it separately as a new concept,” Spinath told British Baker.He is also “developing” plans with another party in Scotland and opening the biggest shop so far in Amsterdam in May as a joint venture. At 1,800sq ft it is roughly double the size of existing sites. An agreement with a partner in Kuwait has been signed and they are closing in on the first site, likely to be in a mall.Two other major plans for this year are developing an events arm of the business as of April or May and also launching a ‘grab and go’ range of four sweet and four savoury products, which are currently in development to be completed and on sale by September.last_img read more

Ancient Appalachia: The Southeast’s Old-Growth Forests


first_img“It’s all been logged.”That’s what I was told when I asked if there were any old-growth forests left in the South. Growing up in rural Western North Carolina, I was intrigued by the tales of the huge trees that once grew in my neighborhood. The thought that not one acre of forest had been left unlogged for me to enjoy saddened me, and didn’t fit with what I saw in the woods around me. Some steep, rocky areas and property boundaries had large and seemingly old trees. The more people I asked, the more complex the answers became. When I asked knowledgeable locals and outdoorsmen about specific areas like Spring Creek Gorge, I got promising answers like “Well I know that’s never been logged in my lifetime.”For the past three years, I have been working in conjunction with the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition and other conservation groups to document and protect the last vestiges of the original forest cover that blanketed the Blue Ridge when European settlers first arrived. Since 1994, this project has turned up over 114,000 acres of old-growth on the six National Forests of the Southern Blue Ridge – that’s 4.5% of our local National Forests, or 1.5% of the Blue Ridge as a whole. At least 14 biologists, ecologists, foresters, botanists and citizen scientists who have worked for 12 years with little or no funding to protect these special places by giving them a voice.The reason these ancient forests need advocates, is that occasionally, the U.S. Forest Service comes up with a project that proposes logging of old-growth. An example this year is the Globe Timber Sale in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. In such cases, conservation and recreation groups ask the Forest Service to exclude the old-growth sections from the logging proposal. The Globe Project is still being planned by the Forest Service and needs a lot of public input to keep the old-growth from being logged (see “Save the Globe” on page 24 for more details).Environmental and recreational groups have succeeded in protecting old-growth in this manner for the past ten years. But the outcomes are not always successful. At Hoover Creek in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest, 200 acres of old-growth were logged despite the outcry of locals. After the trees had been cut it was apparent that many had been over 200 years old.In some cases, the Forest Service does not intentionally log old-growth, but simply does not have accurate information about the millions of acres of forest it manages. With the Forest Service receiving inadequate funding each year, citizens are left to do the work of identifying and protecting old-growth forests.Almost all of the known old-growth sites in the Blue Ridge are still with us because of one or a combination of three factors: steep slopes, early purchase date (usually before 1925), and lack of commercial viability. Usually, steep slopes and noncommercial forests go hand in hand. Soils at such sites are dry, because they drain quickly, and are often leached of nutrients. Some sites, however, have rich soils or occur on gentler slopes above gorges, waterfalls, or other impediments to logging, and these sites grow not only old, but big trees. Finally, a different class of site, including many of the smaller tracts bought from farmers or seized from them by eminent domain, have old-growth forest for historical reasons. Some farmers kept their woods as places to hunt or to graze their livestock on chestnuts. Some, like Robert “Boogerman” Palmer, were simply reclusive and refused to sell their land to timber companies.Serendipity is the final factor that saved some old-growth forests. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is an example of this. Little Santeetlah Creek was on the verge of being logged several times, but the flooding of Santeetlah Lake stopped logging and then financial catastrophe to the parent logging company forced the land to be sold. The land changed ownership many times and finally, in 1936, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest was created, just as equipment was being moved to the area to log it.Some are skeptical of the emerging picture of 100,000+ acres of National Forest old-growth, and rightly so, they have been told the same stories about the history of our forests that I have. The roots of this myth originate in the perception that all old-growth forests have giant, eight-foot-diameter trees. Unfortunately, those places were logged first. What we have left is less impressive size-wise, but just as inspiring in character.Here is the criteria generally used to classify old growth:1) A lack of human disturbance: Old-growth forests lack logging roads, skidder trails, and cut stumps. Consider that chestnut blight could be considered a form of human disturbance, and that American chestnut was important in most of our native forests, so every forest in the Blue Ridge has had some human disturbance. Uncut chestnut debris, however, can be a reliable indicator of a lack of historical logging.2) The presence of old trees: All the sites in the SAFC data base have canopy trees whose ages are confirmed at over 150 years of age, and some have trees confirmed at over 300 years of age; a small handful are known to have trees in the 400+ year range. All of these sites are very remote, and unsuitable for agriculture. The big logging boom in the Southern Blue Ridge was 80-100 years ago, so 150 years is a reasonable proxy for old-growth status.3) A mixed-age canopy: When trees die of old age, or fall because of a natural disturbance like a storm, they leave canopy gaps that allow younger trees to grow, creating a mosaic of tree sizes and ages.4) The presence of coarse woody debris: Coarse woody debris is a fancy biological term for decaying wood. Old forests usually have copious amounts of decaying wood, varying from freshly fallen, to indistinguishable from soil.5) Snags: Snags are standing dead trees. They provide important habitat for a number of wildlife species including woodpeckers and black bears. They tend to be more common in forests where trees are allowed to die of natural causes.6) Complex character: The most difficult to quantify and reliable characteristic of old-growth forests is their structural and biological complexity. An example of this concept is that old-growth forests tend to have more diverse biological communities than second growth forests of the same type, because there is more physical structure, like snags, to utilize.When the Eastern national forests were purchased around 1913, those responsible for acquiring them where looking for some of the most valuable, and therefore, least logged tracts of land. William Willard Ashe, one of the people most responsible for the surveying and acquiring of Blue Ridge National Forests, stated that “the larger portion of the lands which have been acquired have had the timber cut off, or at least some of the best timber has been cut, but a number of fine stands have been secured within which there has never been the sound of the lumberman’s axe.” But over the years, the knowledge that the national forests of the Southern Blue Ridge contain significant old-growth forests was shouted down by the myth that “It’s all been logged.” Because these forests have been essentially forgotten, the sum of old-growth present before 1940 has been reduced by Forest Service timber sales. Hopefully, as the American people become more aware of this great treasure on their public lands, the remainder can be protected in perpetuity.OLD-GROWTH HIKES IN THE BLUE RIDGEWhile most of the old-growth in the Blue Ridge is far off the beaten path, there are several trails that provide access to some great forests. Of course, the most impressive old-growth in the Blue Ridge is in Smoky Mountains National Park at places like Albright Grove and Ramsay Cascades. However, the following is a guide to trails in all six National Forests of the Southern Blue Ridge that pass through magnificent old-growth forests.HOLCOMBE FALLS TRAILChattahoochee National ForestHighlights: Waterfalls, Huge HemlocksProtection: Informally protectedDirections: From Clayton Georgia, go east on Warwoman Rd. from its junction with US 441. Turn left on Hale Ridge Rd and park at the intersection of Hale Ridge Rd. and Overflow Rd. Rabun Bald Quad.Holcombe Falls Trail is one of the finest in North Georgia because of the beautiful falls on Ammons Branch and Holcombe Creek, and the old-growth acidic cove forest there. One hemlock here was measured by Jess Riddle at 144 ft. tall, making it the tallest hemlock in Georgia. See this grove soon, because if it is not treated quickly, it will succumb to the hemlock wooly adelgid (hwa).EAST FORK TRAILSumter National ForestHighlights: Wildflowers, Old-Growth HemlocksProtection: Permanently protected by Ellicott Rock Wilderness.Directions: From SC 107 near the NC line follow the directions to the Walhalla Fish Hatchery, the trail begins there. Tamassee Quad.From the parking lot to the first hundred yards of the East Fork Trail, you will immediately enter the tallest known hemlock forest. Many of the trees here are over 3 ft in diameter and 160 ft tall. Unfortunately many of the hemlocks appear to have been killed by hwa. The remainder of the East Fork Trail is very scenic, including a nice bloom of spring wildflowers. The trail follows the north bank of the East Fork of the Chattooga, which was heavily logged. However, by looking across the creek to the steep slopes of Medlin Mountain, you can look at unlogged hemlock and hardwood forests.FALLS BRANCH TRAILCherokee National ForestHighlights: Old-growth cove and a spectacular waterfallProtection: Permanently protected by Citico Creek Wilderness.Directions: From the Cherohala Skyway, park at the West Rattlesnake Rock Overlook, where the trail begins. Big Junction Quad.Falls Branch probably has Southeast Tennessee’s most impressive old-growth forest. Both rich and acidic cove forests can be found here with trees attaining sizes up to five feet in diameter. The largest trees are off-trail, through thick tangles of rhododendron, but the trail portion is just as beautiful and ends at the spectacular Falls Branch Falls.HICKORY BRANCH TRAILNantahala National ForestHighlights: Remote with excellent oak-hickory forestProtection: Temporarily protected as “Large Patch Old-Growth” by Nantahala National Forest.Directions: From Andrews, take Junaluska Rd. over Junaluska Gap. Approximately 1.4 miles past Junaluska Gap park at the pull-off on the right, and look for the unmarked beginning of the Hickory Branch Trail across the road. Topton Quad.The lower reaches of Hickory Branch were heavily logged, but for some reason, perhaps the formation of Nantahala National Forest, there appears to have been no logging above 3680’. Counting rings on trees cut by the trail is fun and will reveal ages over 200 years. The montane-oak hickory and high elevation red oak forests here are classic. This trail can be combined with the London Bald Trail and Junaluska Trail to form a loop.SNOOK’S NOSE TRAILPisgah National ForestHighlights: Views, rare plants, dry forest communitiesProtection: Protected as part of the Jarrett Creek Roadless Area.Directions: From Old Fort go east on Hwy 70 and turn left on Curtis Creek Rd. Trail is adjacent to the new RV campground. Old Fort Quad.The Curtis Creek area was part of the first purchase of National Forest in the East in 1913, and has some exemplary patches of old-growth because of it. The Snook’s Nose trail is a great place to get a workout (potential 3000-foot elevation gain), see some rare plants (watch out for turkey beard and Carolina rhododendron), and see a beautiful view. Above 3200’ the trail enters a dry and non-commercial forest that was never logged. Chestnut oak, black gum, red maple, black birch, table mountain pine, and Carolina hemlock, with thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron, compose most of the forest. For those confident with their map-and-compass skills, there is a beautiful, open forest of tulip poplar and red oak NE of Laurel Knob at 4000 feet, in an area known as the “Rompous Bowl.”CORNELIUS CREEK-APPLE ORCHARD TRAIL LOOPJefferson National ForestHighlights: Outstanding spring wildflowers, Apple Orchard Falls.Protection: Mostly protected by the North Creek Special Area. Some old-growth is still threatened by logging.Directions: Park at Sunset Fields overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Peaks of Otter and Thunder Ridge. Walk down Rt. 812 until you reach the AT. Take the A.T. to the left (northbound) until you reach the Cornelius Creek trail. Follow the Cornelius Creek trail to the bottom of the mountain & Rt. 59 and a parking area. This is also a trailhead for the Apple Orchard Falls Trail. Follow the Apple Orchard Falls Trail to the top of the ridge and the Sunset Fields overlook. Arnold Valley Quad.This hike passes through part of the North Creek Special Area originally protected for songbirds and other forest interior species, and enlarged in the latest Jefferson national Forest Plan Revision. A locomotive wrecked in Cornelius Creek in 1910 (removed for scrap in 1940), bankrupting a timber company, and saving portions of the North Creek watershed from logging. The area between the North Creek Special Area and the Thunder Ridge Wilderness Area (just to the north of Apple Orchard Falls) is open to commercial logging. The Parkers Gap Timber Sale was approved on steep slopes in this area. To view the site of this timber sale, drive down Rt. 812 to Rt. 765 and drive down Rt. 3034; logging will occur down slope of the road. A portion of old growth previously identified in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Jefferson National Forest Plan is located in one of the cutting units. The Parkers Gap Project may begin later in 2006 or early 2007.GARDEN MOUNTAIN-APPALACHIAN TRAILJefferson National ForestHighlights: Remote hiking experience, interesting rocky areas throughout; examples of 400 million year old ancient worm (Arthropycus) burrows or feeding trails can be seen in some of the rocks; much of the water flowing from this mountain provides habitat for the Tennessee dace, a rare, brightly colored fish; go to Chestnut Knob for outstanding views of Burkes Garden.Protection: Most is designated a wilderness study area, and receives strong protection.Directions: From Rt. 42, take Rt. 623 to the top of Garden Mtn. Take the AT southbound (left). Arrange for a shuttle at Walker Gap (Rt. 727) or backtrack to Rt. 623. Garden Mountain QuadWhile not part of the Blue Ridge proper–Garden Mountain is part of the Ridge and Valley Province-the forests around Garden Mountain are good examples of old-growth upland oak types, ranging from dry to moist. Garden Mountain and Chestnut Knob also provide beautiful views of the pastoral valley of Burkes Garden. The Garden Mountain roadless area is one of the areas proposed for wilderness protection in the Ridge and Valley Wilderness Act. Write your representative and senator and ask them to support this legislation.SAVE THE GLOBE: OLD GROWTH FOREST ON THE CHOPPING BLOCKA controversial U.S. Forest Service proposal to cut 231 acres of the Pisgah National Forest adjacent to the town of Blowing Rock, N.C., would include logging two old-growth forests. An evaluation of the area slated for cutting reveals that many of the trees range from 80 years old to well over 300 years old. One chestnut oak was determined to be 328 years old.Adjacent to Julian Price and Moses Cone Memorial Parks near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Globe Forest is a popular recreational destination for bikers, hikers, runners, paddlers, and climbers in the High Country of North Carolina.“We alerted the Forest Service of the presence of old growth back in February and asked them to protect these remarkable trees,” said Ben Prater, an ecologist with Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project. “But the agency has ignored our request and fully intends to chop them down.”Last month, hundreds of local property owners turned out to denounce the proposal, which could impact the views into the Globe basin located on the south slopes of Blowing Rock. The Blowing Rock Town Council passed a resolution opposing the proposal in August.“The Declaration of Independence was not even conceived of when these trees sprouted. Daniel Boone was not even born yet,” said Lamar Marshall, a Watauga County landowner. “Shame on the Forest Service for destroying our national treasures. These public lands are our natural heritage. Nothing is sacred anymore. Everything is for sale.”The Forest Service document originally located the Globe Project as being 11 miles northwest of Lenoir, North Carolina. The failure to note that the project was but one mile south of Blowing Rock raised suspicions in the minds of many residents and National Forest users.The Forest Service claims that the proposed logging project will provide habitat for turkey, grouse, deer, and bear and create a network of old growth. The old growth to which the agency refers is future old growth, not existing old growth. One of the stands to be so designated was cut only twelve years ago. The Forest Service refuses to discuss the actual old growth and claims that it is not an issue, since the agency is setting aside forest that it promises to allow to grow old.If the Forest Service continues to plan to log actual old growth, the decision likely will be challenged by Southern Environmental Law Center.Meanwhile, a move is afoot to obtain permanent protection for the forest from Congress. Residents of the Blowing Rock area have prepared a draft bill to designate a Grandfather National Scenic Area, and are seeking Congressional sponsors for it.More info: www.sabp.net.last_img read more

Evidence for Evolution Found – Or Claimed


first_imgIt seems that in this Darwin Bicentennial year, some reporters are overeager to find confirming evidence for Darwin’s theory.  Here are some recent reports where it is not clear the evidence presented would convince a skeptic.Survival of the weakest:  Add a new catch-phrase to Darwin’s arsenal: survival of the weakest.  Sure enough, Science Daily reported on experiments at LMU in which “in large populations, the weakest species would – with very high probability – come out as the victor.”  Almost without exception, their simulations of a scissors-paper-rock game-theoretical ecology showed the weakest species coming out the survivor.  They call this the “law of the weakest.”  They did not explore the philosophical question of whether a theory that can simultaneously explain the survival of the fittest and the weakest – opposite outcomes – explains anything at all (see the Stuff Happens Law, 09/15/2008 commentary).Psychedelifish:  A “freaky” fish species was found offshore of Indonesia, reported Robin Lloyd for Live Science.  The yellow-and-white-striped swimmer uses jet propulsion thrusters as well as fins to swim, has eyes that face forward, a fleshy chin and cheeks, and stripes that mimic the venomous corals among which it feeds.  Despite having “mysterious origins,” Histiophryne psychedelica was immediately Darwinized by its classifier: “It is just an absolutely fantastic example of what natural selection can produce.”Sharks in living color:  “Primitive deep-sea fish may have viewed the world much as we do,” announced New Scientist.  “The elephant shark, which evolved about 450 million years ago, is the oldest vertebrate to have ‘the colour vision system we know as humans’, says David Hunt at University College London.”  The article goes on to point out that the finding pushes the earliest known color vision back by 76 million years.Yeast is yeast and guessed is guessed:  The genomes of some 70 species or varieties of yeast have been sequenced.  Science News reported that this gives scientists a text “on the origin of subspecies” that helps “to bring the small branches of Darwin’s ‘Tree of Life’ into focus.”  The new data “enables the scientists to study genetics in much finer detail than was ever possible for Darwin.”  Readers may find it surprising that Darwin studied genetics, since the word was not invented till 1905, after Darwin was dead, but the sentence might be understood to mean it would not have been possible for Darwin to study it in such detail.  But then, neither would it have been possible for Louis Pasteur, Mendel or any other great biologist of the 19th century to do so.    Creationists probably wonder what this has to do with Darwin anyway, since they accept significant variation within created kinds.  They might also note the significance of this line in the story: “The basic machinery of yeast is surprisingly similar to that of humans….”  How Darwin could be vindicated at all by this research seems questionable.  The article went on to say, “They found that rather than all being derived from one common ancestor, humans have domesticated yeast strains at many points in history and from many different sources.”  (Readers are expected to ignore the dangling reference.)Fast-moving plants:  Darwin’s theory relied on slow, gradual accumulation of small variations.  To him, the abrupt appearance of the flowering plants (angiosperms) in the fossil record was “an abominable mystery.”  Science Daily chose to ignore these facts and boasted, “Rapid Burst Of Flowering Plants Set Stage For Other Species.”  The article spoke of a “burst” of diversification, “rapid emergence,” and a “series of explosions” of adaptive radiation.  Gradualism was getting blown up everywhere: “A new University of Florida study based on DNA analysis from living flowering plants shows that the ancestors of most modern trees diversified extremely rapidly 90 million years ago, ultimately leading to the formation of forests that supported similar evolutionary bursts in animals and other plants.”    Any hint of ancestry required divining fine details in molecules.  “Because the diversification happened so quickly, at least in evolutionary terms, molecular methods were needed to sort out the branches of the rosid clade’s phylogenetic tree, a sort of family tree based on genetic relationships,” the article explained.  “Only after sequencing many thousands of DNA base pairs are genetic researchers able to tease apart the branches and better understand how plant species evolved,” not whether they evolved.  Would it be clear to a neutral observer, though, when teasing apart the twigs in a hedge, that there is only one root below?Evolution completed:  Charles Darwin got praise again at the beginning of a press release from the University of Washington: “As the world marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, there is much focus on evolution in animals and plants.  But new research shows that for the countless billions of tiniest creatures — microbes — large-scale evolution was completed 2.5 billion years ago.”  Are they saying that evolution stopped dead for the majority of the world’s biota two billion years before the first multicellular animal emerged?  Apparently so.  Roger Buick, a paleontologist and astrobiologist at the university, added a remark that casts doubt on how human beings could ever know this: “it appears that almost all of their major evolution took place before we have any record of them, way back in the dark mists of prehistory.”  That being the case, it is not clear how any of the subsequent statements in the press release about microbe evolution have any footing in empirical science.    Most of the work revolved around the amazing ability of living microbes to fix nitrogen.  Molecular nitrogen, with its triple bonds, is a tough nut to crack, but microbes do it with ease by means of complex molecular machines (see 09/06/2002 and 11/18/2006).  Think how a Darwin skeptic might interpret this quote: “All microbes are amazing chemists compared to us.  We’re really very boring, metabolically” (compared to microbes).    Somehow, this press release was intended to convey the idea that evolutionary thinking leads to understanding: “To understand early evolution of life, we have to know how organisms were nourished and how they evolved” (not whether they evolved).  But that is just what Dr. Buick had said is lost in the dark mists of prehistory.The power of suggestion:  A news item on Science Daily shows a photo of Mars with geological deposits that resemble, in a superficial sense, the hot spring deposits on Earth.  No life has been found, but a lot of suggestion emerged.  The photos from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate “sites where life forms may have evolved on Mars.”    Most astrobiologists doubt that life evolved at hot springs.  They would say that the thermophiles found in Yellowstone’s geyser basins became adapted to that extreme environment long after life was well established.  Nevertheless, the article states that the Mars photos “have great astrobiological significance, as the closest relatives of many of the most ancient organisms on Earth can thrive in and around hydrothermal springs.”Getting together:  A press release from University of Arizona discerned evolution in some colonies of green algae.  Volvox is a well-known colony of cells that has a division of labor and thrives in community instead of individuality.  Now, research by Matthew Herron suggests that “Some algae have been hanging together rather than going it alone much longer than previously thought.”  In “a geological eyeblink” of 35 million years, he claimed, single-celled algae “took the leap to multicellularity 200 million years ago.”  Why?  “Some things can’t eat you if you’re bigger.”  That seems odd, because the majority of organisms have remained microscopically small throughout the history of life on earth.    Herron showcased Pleodorina starrii, a colonial alga with an incomplete division of labor.  “All the macroscopic organisms we see around us trace back to unicellular ancestors,” he proclaimed Darwinistically.  “Each of those groups had to go through a transition like this one.”  He did not think it necessary to explain why they took that “leap” 200 million years ago, nor why, if being bigger confers a security advantage, the simple colonies (and indeed the plethora of microbes) stepped off the evolutionary conveyor belt to remain essentially the same for the next 200 million years.    In some unspecified way, cell colonies invented the “extracellular matrix,” a kind of goo that binds the parties together.  Herron ascribed evolutionary game theory to the strategy of group-think: “Overcoming that conflict is essential to becoming a multicellular organism, he said.  The benefits of cheating have to be reduced for the cells to cooperate successfully.”  Apparently even Darwinism has a doctrine of original sin.Evolution as un-design:  One of the most remarkable new papers giving evolution the glory for complex design is a piece by Forterre and Gadelle1 about DNA-processing molecular machines called topoisomerases (see 08/14/2007, bullet 5).  They used the E-word evolution 18 times in an attempt to explain how these machines evolved.  Surprisingly, there is very little homology to hang a phylogeny on: similarities crop up between different kingdoms, and differences are seen where there should be homologies.  “Topoisomerases are essential enzymes that solve topological problems arising from the double-helical structure of DNA,” they explained.  “As a consequence, one should have naively expected to find homologous topoisomerases in all cellular organisms, dating back to their last common ancestor.  However, as observed for other enzymes working with DNA, this is not the case.”  Has Darwinian universal common ancestry, therefore, been falsified?  Not so fast.  In the evolutionary “scenario,” evidence is no longer a requirement.  The story is the thing:Topoisomerases could have originated by combining protein modules previously involved in RNA metabolism, such as RNA-binding proteins, RNA endonucleases or RNA ligases.  Alternatively, they could have evolved from protein modules that were already working with DNA, if the first steps in the evolution of DNA genomes occurred in the absence of any topoisomerase activity, i.e. before the emergence of long double-stranded DNA genomes.  Two arguments favour the latter hypothesis: first, whereas RNA polymerases and RNA-binding proteins are obvious candidates to be direct ancestors of DNA polymerases and single-stranded DNA-binding proteins, ‘RNA topoisomerases’ that could be direct ancestor of DNA topoisomerases are unknown.  Secondly, it is likely that double-stranded DNA genomes with complex DNA-replication mechanisms (i.e. concurrent symmetric DNA replication) were preceded by single-stranded or even short double-stranded DNA genomes replicated by simpler mechanisms, such as asymmetric DNA replication, and/or rolling circle (RC) replication (75) (Figure 3).  These simple systems probably did not require topoisomerases, as it is still the case for their modern counterparts (the RC replication of some replicons require supercoiled DNA, hence gyrase activity, but only for the recognition step of the initiator protein).  If this scenario is correct, topoisomerases probably originated when more complex DNA genomes (long linear or circular DNA molecules) were selected in the course of evolution, together with more elaborate replication machineries.Their viral-origin hypothesis required the word suggest 26 times, possible 16 times, could 14 times, and might 10 times.  Of one thing they were sure, however.  These complex molecular machines were not intelligently designed.  It’s rare for a scientific paper to even mention intelligent design.  Here’s what they said about it: “An intelligent designer would have probably invented only one ubiquitous Topo I and one ubiquitous Topo II to facilitate the task of future biochemists.”  Whimsical as that statement is, it represents a remarkable turnaround.  Usually, evolutionists claim that similarities disprove intelligent design.  These scientists are claiming that differences disprove it.  ID can’t win for losing.Darwin’s defenders continue to take their Bicentennial show on the road.  Science Daily and MSNBC reported on a show by Sean B. Carroll about “Adventures in Evolution,” a recounting of “the rip-roaring adventure tales behind the great advances in the theory of evolution.”  Interesting as the stories are, adventure is not the same thing as scientific evidence.  Undoubtedly the alchemists had their share of adventures (exploding flasks, etc.).    Forbes is one of few news organizations giving a platform to both sides of the Darwin-ID debate (see Evolution News report).  Jerry Coyne recently let creationists have both barrels.  Attacking an earlier piece by neurosurgeon by Michael Egnor, Coyne had no patience with Forbes giving any credibility to “evolution-deniers,” which he likened to Holocaust-deniers.  Phillip Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote the most recent post about “the dangers of overselling evolution.”  Even Ken Ham got a word in for Biblical creationism in this typically economics-focused venue.1.  Forterre and Gadelle, “Phylogenomics of DNA topoisomerases: their origin and putative roles in the emergence of modern organisms,” Nucleic Acids Research, published online on February 9, 2009, doi:10.1093/nar/gkp032.For those who need a refresher course on the Darwiniac storytelling strategy (see 10/11/2006), it goes like this: (1) Assume evolution.  (2) Observe a fact.  (3) Make up a story to fit the fact into the assumption.  For step 2, we have just shown you many contrary facts that should falsify evolutionary theory, but step 3 (the non-sequitur) remains invariant.  This is how the Darwinians get away with murder (11/30/2005).  The robust storytelling ability of the Darwinists is their most legendary trait.  It provides the foundation for the entire naturalistic political/economic/legal/educational/spiritual programme.    We should add a Step (4): Hate creationism.  Rant, rave and blather about how evil and wicked creationists and intelligent design proponents are, and how the Discovery Institute is conspiring to return America to the dark ages by substituting religion for scientific evidence.  This is supposed to provide subliminal reinforcement that Steps 1, 2 and 3 are “scientific.”  Step (5) is to outlaw challenges to Steps 1-3 in the courts.    Now that you know the Darwinian storytelling strategy, you understand about 95% of evolutionary biology.  The remaining 5% is microevolution, which is not controversial even for Ken Ham.  One would think Ken would be overwhelmed by the mounds of solid scientific evidence displayed in the articles reported above.  Does he know something Jerry Coyne doesn’t?(Visited 19 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

My Life as a Freedom Fighter


first_img4 April 2003Letlapa Mphahlele’s “Child of This Soil” (Kwela) is a window on events during the turbulent years of the apartheid struggle. All the hardships and suffering, the nomadic lifestyle and the unpredictable lives the freedoms fighters lived are wrapped in this moving book.Mphahlele, a cadre of the Pan Africanist Congress’s Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) – having gone into exile unsure of which political organisation to join – tells in this carefully crafted book his own story during this volatile period.In exile in his quest to get military training to allow him to fight for his land, Mphahlele makes it pellucid how precariously freedom fighters lived – moving from crevice to crevice across Africa in their quest to wrench their land from the lethal jaws of apartheid.Mphahlele found it saddening how people working towards a common goal could turn on one another, showing how power struggles and lack of co-ordination took their toll on organisations fighting colonialism.Mphahlele, after brief spells in Botswana and Lesotho jails, rose through the ranks within Apla, and with his colleagues lived like hunted animals for retaliating against the massacres perpetrated on blacks by the apartheid regime.When PAC leaders called for an end to armed struggle as apartheid neared its demise, Mphahlele was incensed. He defied the call and went underground after a spate of attacks on white targets.Mphahlele concedes in his book that the struggle for liberation has been won, but wonders if people got what they fought for – especially land. And he reminds his readers that “whites can even allow an African government to run the country so long as it doesn’t interfere with their grip on land. Do you think whites can give up without a fight?”Mphahlele rebuffs the claim that he was an enemy of the state, writing that “the deadliest beasts, miles from ubuntu [humaneness], are not in the shantytowns – they are in the boardrooms of multinational companies and on the stolen farmlands”.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Golden Globe for U2, Mandela movie


first_img14 January 2014 Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom achieved its first success of the film awards season at the 71st Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills on Sunday night, winning the Best Original Song award for “Ordinary Love”, composed by Irish superband U2. U2 were inspired to write a song for the big-screen dramatisation of Mandela’s autobiography after watching an early cut of the film. U2 has a long association with South Africa as supporters of the anti-apartheid movement and as supporters of Nelson Mandela’s projects, including 46664, Mandela’s global HIV/Aids prevention and awareness campaign. “This is amazing,” U2 guitarist The Edge said on accepting the award. “We have been working for President Mandela since the ’70s, since we were teenagers and when we did our very first concert against the apartheid movement, so it has taken us 35 years to write this song.” “This really is personal for us,” U2 lead singer Bono said. “Very, very personal. This man turned our life upside down, right side up. A man who refused to hate, not because he didn’t have rage or anger, but he thought love would do a better job. “We wrote a love song because it’s kind of what’s extraordinary about the film. You know about the global statesman, but you don’t know about the man, that’s why you should see this film.” Producer Anant Singh congratuled Bono and U2, saying they had composed “an amazing song that truly captures the love story of Madiba and Winnie. ‘Ordinary Love’ was their first song in three years. We thank them for their contribution to our film, and for their commitment to Madiba and to our continent.” Source: Nelson Mandela Foundationlast_img read more

Youth get it on campaign to fight graft


first_imgYoung kids with their hands in the air showing their clean from corrupt acivities. (Image: Public Service Accountability Monitor)A campaign by Corruption Watch is calling on young people to commit to taking responsibility for their actions and to stop corruption by publicly announcing “My hands are clean”.Corruption Watch, a graft-fighting watchdog, says it is urging people to publicly announce their positive stand against corruption and join the organisation’s team of corruption fighters. These people expose corruption where they see it, but are also willing to monitor their own behaviour before holding others to account.Writing in the organisation’s 2014 annual report, board chairman Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane explained the need to put an end to corruption for the wellbeing of the nation. “The pervasiveness of corruption in our country… is robbing our youth of their rightful inheritance. Corruption is insidious and corrosive, and the damage that it wreaks today will be felt well into the future by those who had no part in it, or at least are relatively free from blame,” he said.In its campaign, Corruption Watch urges people to participate in a nomination challenge: take a selfie of your hands and nominate your friends to do the same. Using the hashtag #MyHandsAreClean or #MHAC, post your selfies on social media sites Twitter and Facebook, as well as on Google+.#MyHandsAreClean is a response to the growing awareness of how corruption affects young people, says the organisation.The step by step process to participating in the campaign. (Image: Corruption Watch)At the launch of the campaign in February, people spotted taking part online locally included Justice Project SA chairman Howard Dembovsky and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.Dembovsky said: “The moment people stop paying bribes, whether it is to get out of something they did or didn’t do, is the moment they start curbing corruption. If you pay a bribe and you weren’t drinking, the same traffic officer will take a bribe from a drunk driver who, in turn, puts your life in danger on the road.”Vavi shared a similar sentiment, adding that corruption was at a “worrying” level. “We need to start collaborating at all positions of society because if we freely participate in small corruption, it leads the way to bigger corruption,” said the trade unionist.The campaign’s social media wall updates in real time the responses from Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, says Corruption Watch. “So far, we’ve received much-appreciated support from, among others, Transparency International chapters in Pakistan, Cambodia, France, Germany and more, Yusuf Abramjee and Crime Line here at home, NGOs, Cosatu, dozens of ordinary people, as well as the departments of Home Affairs, and Arts and Culture.”INVOLVING THE YOUTHCorruption Watch believes young people are a major factor in getting the scales to tip in favour of those trying to stop the scourge. “Our youth campaign aims to educate youth about corruption and encourage them to raise their voices and take action against this problem,” it says.The organisation is no stranger to youth engagement. On 9 December 2014, International Anti-Corruption Day, it released an anti-corruption song, performed by up-and-coming singer Fiesta Black, that has garnered substantial support.It has also begun engaging with about 30 young leaders regarding their experiences and perceptions of corruption, as well as on finding solutions on how to combat it.“This diverse group of young leaders, drawn from across South Africa, is made up of chief executive officers, student representative council presidents from universities and colleges, members of debating teams in secondary schools and tertiary education, and youth participants in leadership programmes and community-based organisations. This forum of young leaders will become the face of the Corruption Watch Youth Campaign and will inform our continuing strategy on engaging South Africa’s young people,” explains executive director David Lewis.“We’re calling on the youth to commit to take responsibility for their own actions, as well as encourage others to come clean with any kind of corruption they may have committed.”#MyHandsAreClean from corruption @PsycheDALIAc nominated me & I now nominate @AndreasFares @MohabRBeats @SummerNazif pic.twitter.com/qnzPrUHNdo— Farah (@CynicalJoyy) March 6, 2015Corruption Watch has also tackled corruption in the driving licence sector by teaming up with FunDza Literacy Trust to publish a seven-chapter short story about corruption in the sector affecting the youth.The drama, called Licensed to Lie, is available on the group’s website and on the Mxit app. By allowing young people to identify with the characters, the story teaches them about how to identify and resist corruption when they apply for their driving licences. There are two more stories scheduled for the first half of this year, highlighting corruption in the police and education sectors.No one opposes corruption more than Batman. I may not be Batman, but #MyHandsAreClean. Nominated by @TheCheif_ pic.twitter.com/Jynj4pmT1M— Duke of Burgershire (@TheAhmedRaafat) March 6, 2015last_img read more

Google Buzz API: They Built It, But Will Developers Come?


first_imgRelated Posts Tags:#Google#web Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img chris cameron When Google Buzz launched back in February of this year, it was initially met with intrigue which soon turned to concern as users became wary of the privacy concerns of mixing their email contacts with their social stream. Today at Google I/O, the Big G is hoping to take Buzz to the next level by introducing an application programming interface (API) which will allow third-party app developers to build native Buzz apps or integrate it with existing services.Twitter saw its use skyrocket with the introduction of a public API, and Google Buzz could see similar growth with its integration into popular web apps and services. Google accrued an impressive list of beta testers before announcing the API, including TweetDeck, Seesmic, Ping.fm, Plancast and Boxee. Fans of Buzz will soon be able to access their streams as easily as they do Twitter feeds, and will be able to post information directly to Buzz from web services that use the API. Google is taking the earlier privacy concerns surrounding Buzz to heart with their API releases today, making sure to note the control users will have over which applications can access which data. When an application wants to access the Buzz API, users will be taken to a page where they can determine which level of access they want to grant the app.The Google Code Blog outlined the features the API currently supports today, including “support for fetching public per-user activity feeds, fetching authorized and authenticated per-user activity feeds, […] searching over public updates, […] posting new updates, […] posting comments, liking updates, retrieving and updating profiles and social graphs, and more.”Will a Buzz API give the service a much-needed shot in the arm and help ease its earlier privacy concerns? Only time will tell, but it seems like an open invitation to develop third-party applications is a wise and logical next step. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Developers Discover That People Like to Walk


first_imgDevelopers Replace Golf Courses with Hiking TrailsDriving LessGreen Neighborhood in North CarolinaGreen Building Priority #4 — Reduce the Need for Driving A national poll two years ago among 3,000 adults showed that home buyers favor developments that make it easy to walk to stores, restaurants, and other community gathering spots. Residential developers have apparently taken note. An article posted at Construction Dive says that developers of master planned communities are increasingly likely to include more opportunities for walking, and they’re getting an especially positive response from Millennials — buyers in the 18-to-34 age bracket.Adam Drucker, managing director at real estate consultant RCLCO, said that residential developments of a generation ago often had no dedicated walking paths, and sometimes no sidewalks at all. But in the last 10 years, developers have started to favor networks of walking trails over more conventional community amenities like golf courses.“People want to engage with other people outside of their cars,” Drucker said. “Master planned communities (MPCs) are really focusing on providing walking opportunities and they’re getting good results… [Walkability] definitely isn’t a trend. This is now a permanent part of development.” Planned communities respondDevelopments such as the 7,200-acre Walsh community in Fort Worth, Texas, put a premium on open spaces, parks, and trails that connect different parts of the community, Construction Dive said. Residents of the first Walsh neighborhood, now underway, are within five minutes of a park or open space.Jake Wagner, co-CEO of the developer, Republic Property Group, said the appeal of walkways that connect neighborhoods is that they can be used by everyone who lives there, unlike other amenities that might be of interest to smaller groups of people.“Walking pathways are the backbone of the community because they connect homes and amenities,” he said.Municipalities also are doing more to become pedestrian-friendly. In Olympia, Washington, for example, sidewalks and planter strips are now required on every street. The city’s senior planner, Sophie Stimson, said, “Walking is a priority here.” A 2009 report from CEOs for Cities, “Walking the Walk,” said that houses located in walkable neighborhoods were worth more than similar houses in areas where walking was more difficult. “Above average” levels of walkability added a price premium of $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with “average” walkability in a typical metro area. Millennials show the most interest. The poll by the National Association of Realtors found that age group preferred walking over driving by 12 percentage points, a wider margin than any other generation. Millennials said that they wanted to live within walking distance of shops and restaurants, favored a short commute, and were most likely to use public transportation.Among all respondents, 77% said that being within an easy walk of community features like shops and parks was either very important or somewhat important (only 7% said that was not at all important); 85% said having sidewalks and places to take walks were very important or somewhat important. RELATED ARTICLES last_img read more

Priyanka did her job but party workers didn’t, says Babbar


first_imgCongress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was made in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, did her job but the party and its workers could not rise to the occasion, the party’s State unit chief Raj Babbar said on Monday.Disappointed with the results that gave the Congress just one seat out of 80 in the State and a nationwide tally of 52, Mr. Babbar said the poor showing at the hustings had pained party president Rahul Gandhi.Mr. Gandhi lost from his family bastion Amethi, which voted in BJP’s Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha this time, but won from Wayanad in Kerala. “He never viewed it (Amethi) as his constituency. Now, family members have given such a verdict,” the U.P. Congress chief said, expressing concern that a person who considered Amethi as his family and gave an identity to the place was not allowed to emerge victorious in the polls.On why Ms. Vadra did not have the desired impact, the actor-turned-politician said party workers and local leaders failed to rise to the occasion.“She did her job. But party workers, local leaders, candidates and the organisation could not accumulate the (electoral) benefits from it. Rahul ji worked so hard and Priyanka ji worked with such a high degree of enthusiasm,” Mr. Babbar said in his first interview after the election results. “We [party workers, local leaders and candidates] were unable to prove ourselves and rise to the occasion.”Asked about the future course of action, the 66-year-old Congress leader said Uttar Pradesh cannot be analysed in a single line.“You have to take steps after a lot of deliberations and strengthen the organisation,” he said.The lone victory for the party came from Rae Bareli, where UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi retained her seat. The BJP won 62 seats in the State, the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine 15 and the Apna Dal two.‘Must accept defeat’Refusing to give any one particular factor behind the party’s poll drubbing, Mr. Babbar said, “First, we must accept our defeat and acknowledge the victory of the winner. Having said so, I cannot sit alone and deliberate upon the possible reasons for the defeat. Everyone has to sit together.”Mr. Babbar himself lost the election from the Fatehpur Sikri Lok Sabha seat despite opting for it, after being initially named as party candidate from Moradabad.last_img read more