Top items at 49ers HQ on Thursday: Fred Warner thriving, running backs out

first_imgSANTA CLARA — Linebacker Fred Warner was less than 24 hours removed from his career-best game, and he was where his teammates expected: at the 49ers facility preparing for Sunday’s next opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.“He’s the last guy in the facility every day,” defensive end Nick Bosa said. “(Tuesday) was our off day and I was home waiting for him to get on Xbox with me, and he didn’t leave here until like 5, and that was our off day.“So that just shows what kind of player he is and what …last_img read more

Evangelical Christians Split on How to Handle Evolution

first_imgA dismal picture of controversy dividing Christian brother against brother, with no resolution in sight, is painted by Paul Nussbaum in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  He says evangelical Christians are not monolithic in their opposition to evolution, but as divided as much of the rest of the nation.  He quotes a spokesperson for the American Scientific Affiliation, a group of scientists who lean toward theistic evolution and old-earth creationism, saying:No topic in the world of science and Christianity has created the intensity of discussion and disharmony with evangelicals as the source of biological diversity.  Today’s spirited discussion often pits Christian vs. Christian and scientist vs. scientist.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)The article touches on some of the approaches for integrating Christian faith and evolution, including young-earth creationism, intelligent design, theistic evolution, and the view that science and religion represent non-overlapping realms of truth.    One evangelical certainly not conflicted over evolution is Lee Strobel, former atheist and now host of Faith Under Fire and author of The Case for a Creator.  Interviewed by Christianity Today, Strobel argues that no compromise is necessary; science backs up faith. Nussbaum allowed David Wilcox (Eastern U) to get away with a horrendous straw man argument.  Wilcox puts words into an imaginary student’s mouth when facing evolution in biology class: “Why do I have to learn this stuff – don’t you know that God hates science?”  Good grief.  Has anyone outside an insane asylum ever said that?  In response, Wilcox triumphantly touts theistic evolution as the winner with this half-truth: “God doesn’t hate science – he invented it.  We try to get them to see that evolution happened and it’s not so scary… that evolution is the way God did it.”  Well, if Nussbaum’s intent was to make this proponent of “evolutionary theism” make a fool of himself, he succeeded.  Runner-up was Ken Miller again with this borderline blasphemous straw man: “Their [the creationists’] God is like a kid who is not a very good mechanic and has to keep lifting the hood and tinkering with the engine.”  Who’s he kidding?  It’s the Darwinists who worship Tinker Bell (see 03/11/2005 commentary).   Other than that, Nussbaum’s article is fairly balanced, though gloomy.  He seems to see the most light in the two compromise views that will never work, theistic evolution (an oxymoron) or non-overlapping domains (a false dichotomy).  The main flaw in the article is the covert treatment of evolution as science instead of religion.  That is the hidden assumption in much of secular reporting.  It must be exposed for what it is: a big lie.  Therapy requires mastering the Baloney Detector, then reading all the chain links on Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory in these pages.  Follow-up treatment can include digesting our online book.    The evangelicals who are not gloomy and conflicted are the young-earth creationists and intelligent design people.  Most of them are vibrant, motivated, excited, passionate, interested, and devoted.  Maybe they’re onto something.  Read this, especially the first bullet item.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Tracing the origins of humankind

first_imgA group of Bushmen cross a salt pan inNamibia. The Bushmen are part of theKhoisan people, whose DNA links directlyto ancestors living 100,000 years ago.(Image: Chris Johns, National Geographic) DNA in mitochondria, the power producersof the cell, is providing clues to humanmigratory patterns.(Image: National Geographic)Janine ErasmusResearch carried out by the National Geographic Genographic project has revealed that the DNA of a small population of people living in the Karoo region of South Africa can be traced directly back to human ancestors of 100 000 years ago.The Karretjie people of South Africa’s Great Karoo region are so named because they are nomadic and carry all their worldly possessions with them in “karretjies” or donkey carts. They rely largely on seasonal sheep-shearing to earn a living.Yet in spite of their humble circumstances and the fact that they are one of the most marginalised of peoples in South Africa, this particular group of people is of immense scientific interest because they are related to the Khoisan and, uniquely, the DNA that they carry in every cell in their bodies can be traced back for more than 100 000 years.This gives researchers a more accurate glimpse of the movements of the human population at that time, and the ability to track the way that branches of that population split off and moved out into other areas.The Karretjie people are descended from both the Khoekhoen, the aboriginal herders of the Cape, and the San or Bushmen, who were hunters instead of herders. These are the First People, or earliest inhabitants of the region, and scientists have not yet established where they came from before they settled in Southern Africa.South Africa helping to map the movements of humankindThe National Geographic Genographic project was set up to map human migratory patterns going back many thousands of years. The project was launched in April 2005 in partnership with IBM and the Waitt Family Foundation, an organisation that provides funding for projects related to human ancestry. It will run over five years.Using the techniques of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA analysis, scientists can reconstruct the hereditary lineage of individuals and their families. This is leading to a better understanding of humankind’s migratory history and how the human race spread out from its suggested origins in Africa, embarking on a journey 60 000 years ago to eventually cover the world.The public at large is encouraged to voluntarily contribute samples of their DNA for analysis and inclusion in the database, which will provide valuable information about specific genetic markers of descent. These are variations or natural mutations in DNA that are passed down in families and can be used to track migration and ancestry.Dr Spencer Wells, the director of the project, and a global team of scientists from ten prominent international institutions are in charge of studies in the field in their regions. The ten centres are located in Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Lebanon, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the US.Professor Himladevi Soodyall, director of the South African Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research unit, is at the helm of the African section of the Genographic Project. Soodyall received a South African national order in 2005 for her outstanding work in the science of human origins. As a respected academic in the field she was invited to participate in the Genographic Project as the principal investigator for sub-Saharan Africa.Soodyall hopes to address several anthropological and genetic puzzles while working on the project, among them the question of how Indian Ocean trade activity influenced the gene pool in Africa, and the extent to which females have contributed towards shaping the gene pool, using mtDNA.Research at a local levelThe function of the Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research unit is to integrate regional population history with the process of mapping and modelling human genetic variation.In collaboration with Professor Mike de Jongh of the University of South Africa’s Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, the unit is studying the Karretjie people of Colesberg.“There is still overwhelming evidence from genetic data to support the theory that modern humans evolved in Africa,” said Soodyall. “Our own research has shown that some of the oldest mtDNA lineages and Y-chromosomes haplotypes found in living humans are found in Khoisan populations. Thus, there is stronger evidence from genetic data to claim that the origins of our species lies here in Southern Africa, and not East Africa, as is usually claimed.”Tracing our ancestryThe MRC has found that in recent years genetic ancestry testing using the mtDNA and Y-chromosome techniques has grabbed the interest of South Africans and, says the council, more than 70% of people who call the Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research unit for information decide to follow their call up with a test.Since February 2006 the unit has been offering ancestry tests to the public and, it says, several hundred people have already been tested. Interested parties can go to branches of the National Health Laboratory Service. The process starts with a 30-minute consultation with the subject; during which the whole procedure is explained.The subject, if still willing, signs a consent form, after which a cheek swab or blood sample is drawn and submitted for testing and comparison with data already held in databases. The process takes no longer than an hour and the subject receives a full explanation of their results. Since 2004, says the unit, over 600 people have been tested.Mitochondrial DNA a powerful tool for identificationMost of the genetic material in a living organism is found in the nucleus. The nucleus contains the chromosomes, which are made up of proteins and DNA. However, mitochondria, the structures in the cell that are responsible for generating power for the body through the burning of energy-rich molecules found in food, also contain a small amount of their own DNA. This is known as mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA and is thought to have a different evolutionary origin to that of nuclear DNA.First sequenced in 1981, the human mitochondrial genome is a small ring of DNA that contains 37 genes. At a very distant stage of human evolution mitochondria were once independent living cells, almost like bacteria, but over millions of years they invaded primitive amoeboid cells and gradually became dependent on their hosts, losing the ability to exist independently.Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to daughter without recombining. Sons receive mtDNA but don’t pass it on. Diseases caused as a result of mtDNA mutation are also passed down exclusively through the maternal line.Nuclear DNA is inherited from both parents and is a wholly individual characteristic because genes are rearranged through the process of genetic recombination, which takes place during cell division, resulting in the formation of sperm and egg cells.No such change occurs when mtDNA is passed from parent to child. This feature allows mtDNA to be used as a tool to track ancestry through the female line, going back hundreds of generations. It can also be used in forensics to identify human remains or to exclude matches between missing persons and unidentified remains. Because mtDNA remains the same across a span of many maternal generations it is better suited for the identification of older remains.The mtDNA technique was used to identify the woman known as Mitochondrial Eve, the most recent common ancestor through the mitochondrial pathway that connects mother to daughter. She lived about 140 000 years ago in East Africa and while she was not the only woman living at the time, she is the woman whose mitochondrial DNA is found today in every human alive.Y-chromosomal Adam is her male counterpart, a man who lived about 60 000 years ago in Africa. Traces of his DNA are today found in the Y-chromosomes of all living men.Useful linksNational Geographic Genographic ProjectMRC Human Genome projectWaitt Family FoundationNational Health Laboratory Serviceslast_img read more

Gordhan announces changes in taxes

first_imgHe also announced that the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project – an international collaboration to build the world’s largest radio telescope – would qualify for VAT relief. “In respect of beer and spirits, an increased benchmark tax burden is proposed to be phased in over the next two years,” Gordhan said. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for individuals and special trusts will be increased from 25% to 33.3%, and from 50% to 66.6% for companies and other trusts – still below international norms. To mitigate the impact on middle-income earners, the various exclusion thresholds will be increased. The annual exclusion threshold will be raised from R20 000 to R30 000, the exclusion amount on death from R200 000 to R300 000, and the primary residence exclusion from R1.5-million to R2-million. The secondary tax on companies comes to an end on 31 March, and a withholding tax on dividends, introduced at 15%, will be implemented from April 1. Pension funds will benefit as they will receive dividends tax-free, Gordhan said. Source: BuaNews The excise on spirits will increase by 20% to R36 for a 750 ml bottle this year. The tax on beer will go up by 10%, taking the price of a 340ml can up by R1.01. Consumers can expect to pay 8% more for a bottle of wine. The exclusion amount for the disposal of a small business when a person is over the age of 55 will be raised from R900 000 to R1.8-million, and the maximum market value of assets allowed for a small business disposal for business owners over 55 from R5-million to R10-million. As part of several measures outlined in the Budget Review to improve the corporate tax environment, Gordhan has mooted tax relief for housing developers who provide housing below R300 000 a unit. South Africa has a financial transaction tax on securities transfers, at a rate of 0.25%. Gordhan has proposed abolishing the current exemption for brokers and taxing transactions for the broker’s benefit at a lower rate. “The inclusion of financial derivatives in the base of the securities transfer tax is also under consideration,” he said.center_img 22 February 2012 Among the tax proposals that would affect businesses, Gordhan said tax relief for companies that set up in special economic zones was being considered – including a reduction in the corporate income tax rate and support for employment and training expenses. End of Secondary Tax on Companies This was announced by the Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his Budget speech in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a revised policy paper on carbon tax would be published this year for a second round of public comment and consultation. ‘Sin’ taxes increase Increases in duties on tobacco and alcohol products will be between 5% and 8% this year. Also, with effect from October this year, an excise duty at a rate of 7% will apply to small aeroplanes and helicopters with a mass below 5 000kg. A duty of 10% will apply to motorboats longer than 10 metres. In a media briefing held shortly before he delivered his Budget speech, Gordhan said South Africa was way below international norms on Capital Gains Tax, but was quick to point out that another increase was not on the cards, at least in this administration.last_img read more

Former Punjab BJP chief Kamal Sharma dies

first_imgFormer Punjab BJP president and senior party leader Kamal Sharma passed away on the morning of October 27 after suffering a heart attack in Ferozepur district.Mr. Sharma, 48, went for a morning walk when he suffered a heart attack, a close aide of Mr. Sharma saidHe was taken to a local hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead, he said.Mr. Sharma is survived by his wife and two children.Two hours back, Mr. Sharma had greeted people on Deepavali through his Twitter handle.last_img

STATIN Conducting Listing of Dwellings Exercise

first_img The exercise provides the sampling frame for the selection of households to be included in the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions, the Labour Force Survey, among others. Story Highlights The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) is conducting a Listing of Dwellings Exercise, which is aimed at updating the count of dwellings in Jamaica between censuses. Acting Director of the Research, Design and Evaluation Division at STATIN, Jessica Campbell, explained to JIS News that “because the census is done every 10 years, there has to be some form of exercise between censuses to update the list of dwellings in Jamaica, so that when we send out the interviewers, they can find, accurately, the dwellings that we assign them to”. The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) is conducting a Listing of Dwellings Exercise, which is aimed at updating the count of dwellings in Jamaica between censuses.The exercise provides the sampling frame for the selection of households to be included in the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions, the Labour Force Survey, among others.Acting Director of the Research, Design and Evaluation Division at STATIN, Jessica Campbell, explained to JIS News that “because the census is done every 10 years, there has to be some form of exercise between censuses to update the list of dwellings in Jamaica, so that when we send out the interviewers, they can find, accurately, the dwellings that we assign them to”.She informed that the exercise, which began in February 2019, will be completed on June 30 and will cover 952 enumeration districts across the island.Miss Campbell pointed out that each enumeration district generally contains an average of 100 to 150 dwellings, and, so far, 700 of the 952 enumeration districts have been completed.Explaining the process, she noted that an interviewer is assigned to an enumeration district and is tasked with covering every dwelling in that area.“The interviewer goes out with a tablet and a map of the district and begins at the starting point indicated on the map and canvasses every single dwelling until the exercise is completed,” Miss Campbell outlined.She noted that one member of the household is asked to participate in the exercise.“The person will be asked three basic questions – how many persons live there, the number of rooms, and the rooms used for sleeping. Answers to other questions relating to the type of dwelling, the type of roof, and material of the outer walls will be obtained from observation,” she pointed out.“So, the overall exercise is very simple, easy and short and the respondent does not have to present any document or material… just a smile and a welcoming face,” she said.Miss Campbell urged persons to support the process by cooperating with the team and participating in the exercise.“A major challenge is access to gated communities, and this has been a longstanding issue and we want to implore persons to allow the interviewers, whichever survey it is, to ask you the questions, as, in the long run, it benefits us as a people,” she noted.She is assuring citizens that the information they provide is confidential under the Statistics Act and cannot be provided to any other party.“The entire country needs to be on the lookout, as the exercise is being conducted across the island. The interviewers all have their identification cards displayed on their person and if it is not displayed, the respondent has the right to ask for it to be shown to them,” she said.Miss Campbell said that persons can verify the identity of the interviewer and the survey being undertaken, by calling STATIN at 876-630-1600.last_img read more