first_imgPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has frankly declared that 2014 has so far been a very difficult year for the people and government of Liberia as a result of the numerous problems that the country continues to experience.The Liberian leader noted that since the turn of this year, Liberia has been going through difficult times. The country is facing a very serious budget shortfall, depreciation in the exchange rate, flooding as a result of climate change and manmade interventions. The sharp decline in the price of rubber has also taken a toll on the country’s economy by further upsetting the balance of trade.Worst of all the calamities that have befallen the nation, she declared, is the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which has already claimed the lives of more than one hundred Liberians.Delivering her Independence Day Message at the 167th Independence ceremony at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia last Saturday, President Sirleaf said the Ebola virus had become a serious tragedy that continues to claim lives on a daily basis.The Daily Observer has reliably learned that latest victim one of Liberia’s most senior medical practitioners, Dr. Sam Brisbane, the chief internist at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) Memorial hospital.  The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, during its latest update on July 20, 2014,  indicated that it had recorded 224 clinical cases of EVD, including 77 laboratory confirmations and 127 fatal cases. All of these cases are from six counties —  Lofa, Montserrado, Margibi, Bomi, Bong, and Nimba Counties.The latest information also has it that the virus is now in Grand Gedeh.“Through the 167 years of our existence, we have come against many challenges and have overcome them,” said President Sirleaf. “This is the proud history of our country.   We lay claim to that legacy today. We will fight against this deadly Ebola virus, not by blaming each other, but by coming together to defeat it. It is real.  It kills, but it can be prevented if we move in unison to resist it,” the President confidently declared.Although the country has faced three years of successive budget shortfalls since Minister Amara Konneh took over the Finance Ministry, this year’s seems to be the worst, as it led, in part, led to the cancellation of the Independence celebrations scheduled to take place in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties.Public Works Minister, Dr. Antoinette Weeks has, on several occasions, complained that the Finance Ministry was not willing to disburse funds for the construction of the Sinoe roads, which was the greatest impediment to the hosting of the celebration. The deplorable condition of the roads which government was unable to rehabilitate, Dr. Weeks said, was the reason for the cancellation.President Sirleaf in her Independence Day Message, said, “We should have been marking this Anniversary in the southeastern counties of Sinoe and Grand Kru. However, we decided on a postponement to ensure that we are better prepared to give the best to our compatriots in Greenville and Barclayville, and the several other cities and communities, which are to benefit from the multiplying effects of hosting these celebrations.”She further stated, “At the same time, we use this platform to remind ourselves that the celebrations are scheduled to take place in Maryland, River Gee and Grand Gedeh in 2015; and in Rivercess, in 2016.  Let us all begin the preparations for those counties right now.”Liberian President said: “Fellow citizens, the hallmark of success of any nation is not the improvement in social and economic infrastructures; it is not in sound policies and law; it is in the love of country. This love must make us brave in times of troubles as well as compel us to reach out to each others in times of distress.” “We must come together as never before inspite of our political, religious and social persuasions. We must show a deep sense of nationalism. We must reach across borders and join our brothers and sisters in the other neighboring countries that are also affected to show a continuing common response,” the Liberian leader pleaded.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

first_imgBirds are the only vertebrates with a unique one-way, flow-through breathing system that includes hollow bones.  Their unique respiratory system is part of the set of features that allows flying with its need for rapid metabolism.  Science news outlets are clucking wildly about another putative missing link between dinosaurs and birds: “Meat-eating dinosaur from Argentina had bird-like breathing system,” announced PhysOrg, for instance.  Does the evidence fly?    The original paper in PLoS ONE is much more subdued.1  Paul Sereno and team found an allosaur-like dinosaur with more hollow bones than usual, which they interpreted to be associated with air sacs.  Air sacs are a feature of the avian lung system, but not the only feature; nor is this the first dinosaur fossil with “pneumatized” (hollow, air-filled) bone.  The big sauropods like Diplodocus had them.  Opinions differ on what function they served in the dinosaurs: thermal regulation, weight reduction, balance and other functions are possibilities unrelated to respiration.    Sereno’s team has been examining this fossil for 12 years.  In short, they found more of hollow bones than usual in this dinosaur, some in the thoracic region.  Using this evidence as a launching pad for speculation, they devised a four-stage hypothesis on how the avian lung might have evolved.  They did not claim that this dinosaur had a bird-like breathing system, despite the headlines.    The following excerpts from the paper give a feel for the conservative tone of the authors about their find:Evidence from the fossil record for the origin and evolution of this system is extremely limited, because lungs do not fossilize and because the bellow-like air sacs in living birds only rarely penetrate (pneumatize) skeletal bone and thus leave a record of their presence.Principal findings: We describe a new predatory dinosaur from Upper Cretaceous rocks in Argentina, Aerosteon riocoloradensis gen. et sp. nov., that exhibits extreme pneumatization of skeletal bone, including pneumatic hollowing of the furcula and ilium.  In living birds, these two bones are pneumatized by diverticulae of air sacs (clavicular, abdominal) that are involved in pulmonary ventilation.  We also describe several pneumatized gastralia (“stomach ribs”), which suggest that diverticulae of the air sac system were present in surface tissues of the thorax.The advent of avian unidirectional lung ventilation is not possible to pinpoint, as osteological correlates have yet to be identified for uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation.The origin and evolution of avian air sacs may have been driven by one or more of the following three factors: flow-through lung ventilation, locomotory balance, and/or thermal regulation.As a result of an extraordinary level of pneumatization, as well as the excellent state of preservation of much of the axial column and girdles, Aerosteon helps to constrain hypotheses for the evolution of avian-style respiration.The capacity of the cervical air sacs to invade centra to form invaginated pleurocoels may have evolved independently in sauropodomorphs (sauropods) and basal theropods and appears to have been lost several times within theropods.The osteological or logical correlates needed to support some of these inferences have been poorly articulated, which may explain the wide range of opinions on when intrathoracic air sacs like those in birds first evolved and how these relate to ventilatory patterns.Based on the osteological correlates we have assembled (Table 4), we would argue, first, that until we can show evidence of the presence of at least one avian ventilatory air sac (besides the non-ventilatory cervical air sac), it is problematic to infer the presence of flow-through ventilation or a rigid, dorsally-attached lung.  Second, we know of no osteological correlates in the gastral cuirass that would justify the inference of abdominal air sacs.  Potential kinesis of the gastral cuirass and an accessory role in aspiration breathing potentially characterizes many amniotes besides nonavian dinosaurs.  The absence of gastralia in crown birds or in any extant bipeds also hinders functional inferences.  And third, it is not well established that abdominal air sacs were either first to evolve or are functionally critical to unidirectional ventilation.Avian lung ventilation is driven by muscles that expand and contract thoracic volume by deforming the ribcage and rocking a large bony sternum.  Basal maniraptorans have many of the features associated with this ventilatory mechanism including a large ossified sternum, ossified sternal ribs, uncinate processes a deepened coracoid that contacts the sternum along a synovial hinge joint.  By contrast Aerosteon and the abelisaurid Majungasaurus lack these features.  Does that mean that maniraptorans had evolved unidirectional lung ventilation?  Or does it indicate only that the maniraptoran ribcage functioned in aspiration breathing more like that in avians?  We do not know of any osteological correlates that are specifically tied to uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation (Table 4), which may explain the range of opinion as to how and when avian unidirectional lung ventilation first evolved.The factors driving the origin and evolution of the functional capacity of avian air sacs and lung ventilation remain poorly known and tested.After the fossil was described with its typical taxonomic details, the paper primarily contained a good deal of speculation on the origin of the avian lung system, with no firm conclusions.  The authors discussed problems with all existing theories.  The most optimistic claim they could make was stated as follows: “In sum, although we may never be able to sort out the most important factors behind the origin and evolution of the unique avian pulmonary system, discoveries such as Aerosteon provide clues that help to constrain the timing and circumstances when many of the fundamental features of avian respiration arose.”  Such a statement merely assumes that avian respiration “arose” by evolution somehow.  The “wide range of opinions” within the evolutionist community undermines the confident claims in the popular press.  It also shows that non-evolutionary explanations for the unique system that enables birds to soar gracefully in the air were completely ignored.    For problems with bird lung evolution theories, see an article on CMI that reviewed Michael Denton’s use of the topic to argue against Darwinism in his classic book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.  A diagram of the bird respiratory system is shown in the article.  Carl Wieland on CMI (PDF file) also critiqued an earlier claim (2005) that hollow bones in some dinosaurs revealed an evolutionary link to the avian lung.1.  Sereno et al, “Evidence for Avian Intrathoracic Air Sacs in a New Predatory Dinosaur from Argentina,” Public Library of Science ONE, 09/30/2008, 3(9): e3303 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003303.The bluffing about evolution in many science news reports is shameful.  Search on Aerosteon and you will find examples, like this one on InTheNews.co.uk: “Dinosaurs: Breathed like birds.  A carnivorous dinosaur with a bird-like breathing system has provided more evidence of the connection between the two groups of animals separated by millions of years.”  The whole article is fluff.  “Palaeontologists are now satisfied Aerosteon provides the evidence needed to seal the connection with birds,” it ends.  One cannot bluff about fluff.    National Geographic must have panicked at our expose, so they cranked out a propaganda piece immediately announcing, “New Birdlike Dinosaur Found in Argentina.”  They even put imaginary feathers on it: “The new dinosaur probably had feathers, but did not actually fly,” they said (cf. 06/13/2007).  OK, so we went hunting for feathers in the original paper.  “The fossil evidence for intrathoracic air sacs now closely overlaps that for feathers, which had evolved in coelurosaurian theropods most likely for heat retention.”  That was the only mention of feathers.  This appeal to imaginary feathers was followed by more storytelling in lieu of empirical evidence:Air sacs may have initially been employed as an antagonist to feathers in theropod thermoregulation.  Although this hypothesis has been criticized for lack of empirical evidence in living birds, air sacs have been implicated in avian heat transfer and/or evaporative heat loss, and Aerosteon and many other theropods had a body weight more than an order of magnitude greater than that for any living bird.  A thermoregulatory role for the early evolution of air sacs in nonavian dinosaurs should not be ruled out without further evidence from nonvolant ratites.Can you believe that?  They invented imaginary feathers out of thin air for this big heavy meat-eater to compensate for imaginary air sacs that they presume existed near its hollow bones.  So now their evolutionary magic produced two imaginary thermoregulatory systems competing with each other – what, for survival of the coolest?    For the fun of it, let’s grant them air sacs and even imagine with them a respiratory system that had some birdlike features; after all, any two vertebrates, like mice and camels, or frogs and penguins, are bound to have similarities as well as differences, depending on what you decide to focus on for the moment.  Paul Sereno told National Geographic that the beast didn’t fly (obviously, unless you can imagine wings on a T. rex), so NG concluded, “even though this species was birdlike [sic], feathers and air sacs didn’t necessarily evolve for flight.”  So their point is… ?  All the hype about feathers was supposed to reinforce the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs.  They were practically ready to name this thing Tweety Rex, and now they seem to be telling us this beast evolved air sacs for a completely different function, about which no one is sure, and it was an evolutionary dead end anyway.  Even NG’s accompanying slide show didn’t show feathers.  The only suggestion of a birdlike respiratory system was in slide 2, where colored regions represent the imaginary air sacs in the thorax. But excuse me, Mr. Scientist sir, did any of that soft air-sac material fossilize?  “Evidence from the fossil record for the origin and evolution of this system is extremely limited, because lungs do not fossilize and because the bellow-like air sacs in living birds only rarely penetrate (pneumatize) skeletal bone and thus leave a record of their presence.”  Are you telling me there was no direct evidence for the air sacs in this dinosaur?  “Some of its postcranial bones show pneumatic hollowing that can be linked to intrathoracic air sacs that are directly involved in lung ventilation.”  They can be, you say, but how strong is the inference?  “We do not know of any osteological correlates [fossil evidence] that are specifically tied to uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation (Table 4), which may explain the range of opinion as to how and when avian unidirectional lung ventilation first evolved.”  But isn’t a unidirectional lung ventilation system the primary distinguishing feature in birds?  Are you telling the court that this is all inference, not evidence?The tale gets more speculative and implausible with each lawyer’s question.  Darwin’s defense attorneys are sweating in their seats.  NG quoted a colleague admitting, “It shows that evolution is not a chalk line—there are many dead ends.”  Being interpreted, this means evolutionists can always concoct a story for any possible combination of data.  (Chalk is erasable, you know.)  We think a scientist who wants to feather his monster should produce the feathers in the fossil, not draw feathery dragons on the chalkboard and tell the press that it “probably had feathers.”  Chalk lines are supposed to be snapped to a level that has been carefully measured.  So he’s right; evolution is not a chalk line; it’s a crooked crack in the wall of a theory that is about to collapse.  Don’t build to it.    We brought you extended quotes to illustrate the difference between original sources and the news media hype.  The lesson: always check out the original data.  The authors with the bones in their hand usually know better than to make any outlandish claims to their colleagues.  In front of reporters, though, they lose restraint.  Reporters go ape to praise Darwin.  For example, Live Science, that perennial Darwin billboard, shouted Extra! Extra! “Bus-sized Dinosaur Breathed Like Birds.  A huge carnivorous dinosaur that lived about 85 million years ago had a breathing system much like that of today’s birds, a new analysis of fossils reveals, reinforcing the evolutionary link between dinos and modern birds.”  That, in turn, got passed around to all the major news outlets as gospel truth.  This is bad breath, not bird breath.  The sound of flapping dino-feathers is only the pompons made of synthetic material manufactured for the Darwin Party cheerleaders.(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_img1 December 2011Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has announced a wage increase for South Africa’s domestic workers, and appealed to employers to be fair to a category of workers who form an integral part of the economy.The adjustment, effective from 1 December, is part of an annual binding determination by the minister in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.Sectoral determinationSectoral determinations deal with the protection of workers in vulnerable sectors or areas of work. The determination sets minimum working hours, minimum wages, number of leave days and termination rules.The sectoral determination also divides the domestic sector into two geographic areas, Area A and Area B.Area A includes all urban areas with municipalities such as Bergrivier, Buffalo City, City of Tshwane, Emalahleni, Richtersveld, Nama Khoi, Johannesburg and others, while Area B includes smaller municipalities not covered in Area A.From 1 December, the minimum wage for domestic workers who work 27 hours per week or less in Area A, the minimum wages for workers’ hourly rate will rise from R9.12 per hour to R9.85; and from R246.30 per week to R265.94, and scale up from R1 067.15 to R1 152.32 per month.For those who work more than 27 ordinary hours per week in Area A, the minimum wage will rise from R7.72 per hour to R8.34, increase from R347.79 to R375.19 per week and nudge higher from R1 506.35 to R1 625.70 per month, said Department of Labour spokesperson Page Boikanyo.In Area B, workers who work 27 ordinary hours per week or less will now earn a minimum of R8.33 per hour, a weekly minimum of R224.90 and a minimum monthly rate of R974.49, Boikanyo said.In Area B, where workers work more than 27 ordinary hours per week, the minimum hourly rate will be R7.06; while the weekly minimum rate will be R317.62 and the monthly rate will rise to R1 376.25.Integral part of the economyOliphant appealed to employers to be fair to domestic workers as they are an integral part of the economy.“We would like to appeal to those who pay their workers well not to lower wages. The sectoral determination is really about the absolute minimum that workers must earn and not the maximum,” she said.The determination has now expanded to include other sectors such as forestry, contract cleaning, children workers in the performance of advertising, artistic and cultural activities, taxi sector, farm workers, civil engineering, hospitality, learnerships, private security sector, wholesale and retail sector.“For those domestic employers who choose to ignore this Domestic Worker Sector determination and disregard the law, they must know that the Department of Labour will be watching vigilantly,” said Boikanyo. “The department will intensify enforcement of law during its routine and blitz inspections.”Employees are encouraged to report non-compliance at their nearest Labour Centres.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

first_imgGoa Congress president Girish Chodankar on Friday slammed the BJP-led coalition government for failing to protect Sidharth Kuncalienkar, the BJP’s candidate for Panaji bypoll. It also demanded that at least 100 police personnel should throw a permanent security cordon around Mr. Kuncalienkar.Mr. Chodankar was responding to a complaint by Mr. Kuncalienkar who on Thursday accused the Opposition of acting out of frustration, after two unknown persons on Thursday night flung a bottle at Mr. Kuncalienkar’s car while he was returning home.Mr. Chodankar also questioned the law and order situation in the city saying that the BJP-led coalition government had failed to provide security for its own candidate. “The Congress is not in power. If your candidate is not safe, then how can you safeguard people?,” asked Mr. Chodankar at a press conference here.“First of all, it is a shame for the government and the Chief Minister. Government is run by the Chief Minister and Home Ministry is also under him,” Mr. Chodankar said, emphasising that the police needs to arrest the culprit as soon as possible. A police complaint was registered at the Panaji town police station on Friday after the incident. Mr. Kuncalienkar was travelling along with a friend on Thursday night in Panaji’s Mala ward when unknown persons riding a two-wheeler flung a bottle at his car’s wind shield. Mr. Kuncalienkar said further in his complaint that the incident happened while passing through his constituency, after a public meeting addressed by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari was over on Thursday evening.“My opponents must have been rattled after the success of the meeting, which is why they resorted to this act in desperation,” Mr. Kuncalienkar said while speaking to the media persons. Mr. Kuncalienkar is facing Atanasio Monserrate of the Congress, Valmiki Naik of the Aam Aadmi Party and Subhash Velingkar of the Goa Suraksha Manch, among others in the May 19 bypoll for Panaji, which is taking place following the demise of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on March 17.last_img read more