Peking Man Ages 200,000 Years

first_imgDates for Chinese fossils of Homo erectus have been pushed back 200,000 years to 780,000 years before the present, reported Live Science.  The report is based on a paper in Nature by scientists who used cosmogenic nuclide dating methods for the first time.1  Ciochon and Bettis, in the same issue of Nature,2 said the report “prompts a rethink of the species’ distribution in both the temperate north and the equatorial south of east Asia.”    Zhoukoudian Cave near Beijing has been a prime site for Homo erectus remains since 1918.  “Homo erectus stood 145�180 cm tall, walked fully upright with a modern-like human footprint, and used stone tools,” Ciochon and Bettis said.  “The species is easily distinguished from H. sapiens by its distinctive torso, which was much more barrel-shaped and larger in volume.”  Six crania and bones of 40 individuals have been found at the site (Ciochon and Bettis count 50 individuals and 17,000 artifacts).    How certain are the dates?  A variety of methods have been employed since the 1970s.  “A time range of ~230 to 500 kyr ago for the hominin-fossil-bearing layers has been widely accepted by palaeoanthropologists, although with a few critical comments,” the authors said.  They pointed out problems, though, with previous dating methods:The age of Zhoukoudian Homo erectus, commonly known as ‘Peking Man’, has long been pursued, but has remained problematic owing to the lack of suitable dating methods.In contrast, much older ages were determined using mass spectrometric U-series dating of intercalated pure and dense calcite samples, known to be a more reliable chronometer.The suggestion that Zhoukoudian H. erectus is substantially older than previously estimated remains to be validated by independent checks.However, numerical dating beyond the upper limit of mass spectrometric U-series dating, ~600 kyr ago, is difficult in China because the lack of contemporaneous volcanic activity nearly precludes the application of 40Ar/39Ar dating.The U-series dates, being substantially older, led to their attempt to use an independent method—cosmogenic radionuclide dating.  This depends on the exposure time of surface sediments to cosmic radiation.  The ratio of aluminum-26 (half-life 717,000 years) and beryllium-10 (half-life 1,360,000 years) in quartz crystals is 6:8:1 when exposed to the ground surface.  “Their initial concentrations depend on the mineral’s exposure time, which in turn is controlled by the erosion rate of the host rock,” they explained.  “If quartz grains from the surface are deeply buried, for example by deposition in a cave, then the production of cosmogenic nuclides nearly stops.”  Because the aluminum-26 decays faster than beryllium-10, the ratio decreases exponentially with a half-life of 1.52 million years.  “The strengths of this method are its radiometric basis and its independence from other dating methods,” they said.    Nevertheless, the method must be used with caution.  “However, it must be recognized that cave sediments can have complex stratigraphy, particularly in vadose fills.  If fossils are mixed with quartz sediments with a prior burial history, the resulting age will be erroneously old.”  They took six samples from different levels and four quartzite samples from artifacts that directly indicate hominin presence.  Three of the latter were consistent, but one gave an anomalous date of 1.6 Mya (million years ago).  “This particular sample could have been taken from an older cave fill or terrace before manufacture,” they suggested, so they threw it out.  Of the sediment quartz samples, three gave consistent results “slightly older than, but within error of, the weighted mean of the results from the three artefacts, indicating that some sand might have entered the cave with a previous burial signal.”  One sample, though, gave a result of 2.78 Mya.  How did they explain that?  “This sample may possibly date to an earlier phase of cave formation, as it was collected from a thin sandy layer that is adhered to the north wall and is now out of stratigraphic contact with the main cross-section.”  The other two had to be tossed, also.  “The two samples from the basal fluvial sediments do not yield statistically meaningful results,” they said; “Their inherited cosmogenic nuclide concentrations are quite low due to rapid erosion in their source area, leading to large uncertainty.”    In summary, they had to eliminate four out of ten measurements to arrive at a consistent result.  “Taken together, we consider the weighted mean of the six meaningful measurements, 0.77 [plus or minus] 0.08 Myr, to best represent the age for layers 7�10.  This is consistent with both previous U-series and palaeomagnetic data.”  Future refinements of these estimates will be necessary, they said, correlating the cave sediments with the local geology and ecological history.  They summarized their findings within the wider context of dating uncertainties:A reliable chronology is critical for resolving debate over the mode of Middle Pleistocene human evolution in East Asia.  Previously, the chronology of Chinese sites has been largely based on the U-series and electron spin resonance dating of fossil materials, which are known to be vulnerable to post-burial U migration.  230Th/234U dating of speleothem calcite has repeatedly shown that the previous timescale for Middle�Late Pleistocene hominin sites in China may have been underestimated as a whole.  The results of this paper show that such a tendency persists beyond the range of mass spectrometric U-series dating.  It is foreseeable that 26Al/10Be burial dating will be applied to other hominin sites in China and elsewhere, contributing substantially to a robust chronological framework and thereby to a better understanding of human evolution.What are the consequences of the new dates?  Ciochon and Bettis claim that Homo erectus arose in equatorial Africa two million years ago, then migrated to Asia 250,000 years later over a 150,000 year period, with some surviving (Solo Man in Java) till 50,000 years ago.  If Homo erectus was in Asia as long ago as the new dates indicate, then the population had to endure an ice age.  “Many scientists thought that the species moved north with the interglacials and south with the glacials,” the Live Science article said, but Ciochon told them the new date shows they must have hung around during colder periods.  It’s not like the land was covered with ice, he explained: it was just a colder, dryer period.  Presumably the caves provided some warmth.  The new date also tells evolutionary paleoanthropologists there were two migrations–one to China, and one to Java.  Before, they thought the Chinese population was related to the Indonesia population.  Ciochon told Live Science that Homo erectus had legs: “Aside from Homo sapiens,” he said, “it’s the most widespread hominin species.”  One can only wonder why such a migration-capable population took 400,000 years to do reach China when modern man spread from the Fertile Crescent in one thousandth of that time.  Despite these questions, Live Science provided its readers a matter-of-fact synopsis of the human evolution saga:The Homo genus, which includes modern humans, originated in Africa with Homo habilis about 2.5 million years ago.  H. erectus likely derived from some early version of H. habilis around 2 million years ago, anthropologists think.    Some portion of the H. erectus population later left Africa and spread out across the Old World (the population left behind in Africa likely led to Homo heidelbergensis, from which the first early Homo sapiens likely derived, Ciochon said).  Other sites of H. erectus bones show that the migration had reached Dmanisi, Georgia (in Asia), by about 1.75 million years ago and Java by about 1.6 million years ago.Filling in details will require future work, like finding more fossils along the migration route, the article said.1.  Shen, Gao, Gao, and Granger, “Age of Zhoukoudian Homo erectus determined with 26Al/10Be burial dating,” Nature 458, 198-200 (12 March 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature07741.2.  Russell L. Ciochon, and Arthur Bettis III, “Palaeoanthropology: Asian Homo erectus converges in time,” Nature 458, 153-154 (12 March 2009) | doi:10.1038/458153a.It should become evident that Darwin Party hacks are engaging in another of their colossal storytelling episodes.  This is akin to listening to an ancient Babylonian creation myth.  The only difference is improved arcane terminology with which they con the listeners into thinking they are worthy Shamans, worthy of respect as Wise Knowers.    If you think this judgment is too harsh, look at what they did.  They tossed out half their samples to get the dates they wanted—dates that would match up with their predetermined myth.  Well, we think they should use the outlier measurements: we propose that our ancestors emerged suddenly 2.78 million years ago, then just sat in a cave for 2,730,000 years till the last one, Solo Man, wasted away without a bride (alone again, naturally).  We say the African population arose independently, or started when a few Peking Man people moved there.  Why not?  We have data to support that myth just as much as they have to support theirs.  Pick which lie you like better.    This is not science.  It is storytelling with a vengeance.  Aluminum and beryllium isotopes and cosmic rays have nothing to do with it.  These people have a predetermined script they are following.  Data are just props to make it sound convincing.  For one thing, they completely eliminated from consideration any alternative script (like creation).  No matter how much the evidence supports alternatives, and no matter how much data causes problems to their script, they cling to it tenaciously, even when it is absurd on the face of it.  Why?  Because it supports their naturalistic, materialistic world view.    Consider how absurd their story is.  For one thing, they invented a class of “hominins” (a word embedding evolutionary assumptions masquerading as knowledge) to describe as “other” a class of people that are, for all practical purposes, just like us.  How many people today can you find on the beach with normal brain size, walking upright, using tools, but sporting a barrel-shaped chest?  That description easily fits within the range of human variability.  They expect us to believe that these people were smart enough to migrate long distances, endure the cold of an ice age, and make tools, but were too dumb to ride horses or make art or build cities.  Smart enough to survive diverse habitats in Georgia, China and Java, they couldn’t figure out for over two million years anything better than cave life.  And if you don’t believe this, well, they have the dates to prove it – provided you toss out half the samples they don’t like.  These con artists make reckless drafts on the bank of time (07/02/2007), and expect us taxpayers to bail them out with our endless credulity.    Picture a wise person unaccustomed to Western evolutionary mythology listening to this tale and deciding if it made any sense.  “What?” he might exclaim.  “Are you telling me that upright-walking, world-migrating, tool-making people were not human?  And that they lived in caves for two million years – hundreds of times longer than the history of civilization?  What planet are you from?”  Most of us only give the myth the time of day because we were taught to respect “science” and somehow think the Darwin Party shamans have their reputations tied to that otherwise noble enterprise.  The shamans perpetuate the ruse by working in science labs and knowing how to speak the right mumbo-jumbo about uranium isotopes (see association in the Baloney Detector).  Occasionally they announce finds that make them “rethink the story of human evolution.”  They’re not really rethinking.  They’re just rearranging the cave furniture to keep the public thinking they are busy and therefore need the ongoing flow of research dollars.  Like the medieval scholars who forbade the populace to read the Scriptures, because only they were capable of interpreting the blatant discrepancies between its teachings and church practice without contradiction, these shamans distract others from pointing out contradictions between the evidence and their stories by hiding behind an appearance of scholarship.  Thus we allow them to explain away the contradictions, toss out the anomalies, and arrange the remaining bits into support for their schemes.    If natural disasters were to bury some modern beach bums in California, South Africa, Yugoslavia and Siberia and fossilize their bones, how much would you want to bet that evolutionists would be able to concoct a story of the emergence of man, migrations and all, and support it with dating methods of their choosing?  You better believe they could.  Their imaginations are constrained only by their prior commitment to their over-arching world view.  As long as they could use the data to teach that the universe, life, and man all arose from slow, gradual processes of evolution, a plethora of new papers would hit the journals.  With a little selective sampling, a little weeding out of anomalous measurements, and a lot of imagination, they could make the new data fit.  The only difference with Homo erectus is that the cave people are no longer here to explain what really happened.    Finding human bones in caves should not be surprising.  There are people living in caves today.  There are also people living under freeways and in abandoned buses.  Whoever lived in the caves of Dmanisi, Beijing and South Africa may have been outcasts, nature-lovers, temporary residents, refugees, early followers of Rousseau or the Sierra Club, or just the dumbest of the tribe with nowhere else to go.  Maybe they were expelled from their tribes for not accepting the local myth.  Just because they didn’t leave textbooks and iPods among their artifacts doesn’t mean they were non-human.  The writer of Hebrews described men of whom the world was not worthy wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:38).  Let’s use that to start a new paradigm.  It has just as much scientific and historical evidence, if not more: cavemen represent the greatest sojourners on Earth, rejected by their fellow men, but heirs by faith of the promises of God: among them Moses, Elijah, the prophets hid by Obadiah, David, and John the Baptist.  On scales of wisdom and righteousness, there are some primitive individuals inhabiting modern research labs.(Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

South Africa’s biggest desalination plant opens

first_imgThe Mossel Bay desalination plant willensure a constant supply of fresh watereven in times of drought. (Image: Mossel Bay Municipality) MEDIA CONTACTS • Harry Hill  Strategic support, Mossel Bay Municipality  +27 44 606 5193 • Thabo Mabaso  Spokesperson, PetroSA  +27 21 929 3365 RELATED ARTICLES • New solutions for water conservation • SA maps its freshwater priority areas • Green pilot project on Robben Island • Waste drive reaps rewards • Plastic recycling major job spinnerEmily van RijswijckSouth Africa’s biggest seawater desalination plant has opened in the seaside town of Mossel Bay in the Western Cape province. This facility will ensure that the economic hub achieves greater water security and economic growth going into the future.The plant, which has a capacity of 15-million megalitres per day, started operating in September but currently puts out only 5-million megalitres of water, as the area has had excellent rains and dams supplying the town are full.The 5-million megalitres are used entirely by the synthetic petroleum plant of PetroSA, the town’s biggest employer and biggest user of water. PetroSA consumes almost as much water daily as the municipality itself.“The development of a desalination plant was always envisaged for the near future but after the town was faced with a severe drought, the project was escalated,” confirms Harry Hill, spokesperson for the municipality.  Worst drought in 130 yearsThe drought, which was the worst in 130 years, reached such critical proportions at one point that the Eden District area in the south of the province was declared a disaster area. In the Eastern Cape the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality had to impose water restrictions for almost three years as a result.The enforced water restrictions in Mossel Bay meant that the water usage for the entire municipality was about 14-million megalitres a day.“So the desalination plant has the capacity to meet the town’s entire water needs should this again be necessary,” adds Hill.The project was jointly funded by the National Treasury and PetroSA who contributed R92-million (US$11-million) and R80-million ($9.6-million) respectively to the total project cost of R210 million ($25-million).Apart from the seawater desalination plant, the municipality also sank several boreholes and built a plant to reclaim waste water for industrial purposes.“While the new water sources, such as the seawater desalination plant, now seem to be superfluous, it must be remembered that Mossel Bay periodically suffers severe droughts,” says municipal manager Michele Gratz.“The town’s population has also nearly doubled in the last two decades and it is almost certain that there will again be times that the municipality will have to rely on these others sources instead of the dams,”.Water resource strategySouth Africa’s Department of Water Affairs foresees that by 2030 up to 10 % of the country’s urban water supply could come from water desalination plants. The National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS) is the blueprint on which the government bases its future water management approach.The most recent version of the NWRS was drafted in 2004 and paints an alarming picture of water availability in years ahead, with a worst-case scenario showing a national deficit of 2 044-million cubic metres of water a year by 2025.At the moment South Africa only has a few desalination plants – the plant in nearby Knysna is the second biggest, but pumps a mere 1.5 megalitres a day. There are also plants at Bitou Municipality, Sedgefield on the Garden Route and Boknes in the Eastern Cape.“Seawater desalination technology is widely used across the world and it makes good common sense for a water-scarce country like South Africa to begin to do the same,” Hill adds.Suitable for human consumptionThe process of desalination is increasingly being used as a way to provide fresh water for human use in regions such as the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Australia, where potable water from other sources is limited.The most widely used method follows the process of reverse osmosis. Seawater is pumped into a plant where semi-permeable membranes and pressure are used to separate dissolved matter and salts from the water.The fresh water is then pumped to a storage facility for use while the brine, the highly concentrated seawater which resulted from the process, is pumped back into the sea or an estuary.Despite all its benefits, desalination doesn’t offer a “silver bullet” solution to the world’s growing water problems. Besides using very expensive equipment, the process also uses a considerable amount of electricity and is not without environmental consequences.Both the intake and discharge processes of the water may have affect on water quality and marine life. Aquatic species have a tolerance for natural salinity, an aspect which may be affected by the highly concentrated seawater which is pumped back into the ocean.And while the intake structure is designed to maintain a flow of less than 0.15 metres per second – the minimum escape velocity for aquatic species – there is still a risk that plants, fish eggs and fish larvae around the intake areas may die.The process also uses chemicals which if left untreated, can be harmful to the environment.Green drop certificationThe most widely held belief is that desalination should be used in conjunction with other water-saving mechanisms such as waste water reclamation. This treated water is especially suitable for industrial use.Mossel Bay Municipality is proving to be a leader in waste water treatment as it achieved Green Drop status in 2011 for two of its water treatment plants.  The Municipal Green Drop Certification Programme was introduced in 2008 as an incentive-based regulation of waste water quality and waste water management systems in South Africa.A total of 821 waste water systems were assessed by the Department of Water Affairs in 2011, with only 40 systems achieving the coveted Green Drop status.The Western Cape fared the best in this year’s Green Drop programme, scoring 83%, the highest average percentage. KwaZulu-Natal scored 82%, and Gauteng scored 79%. The Northern Cape finished last with 23%.Municipalities were assessed in eleven categories, namely process control; maintenance and management skills; waste water quality monitoring programmes; credibility of waste water sampling; the submission of waste water results; waste water quality compliance; reaction management to waste water failures; stormwater and water demand management; by-laws; capacity of the waste water treatment plants; and waste water asset management.last_img read more

Taxi Startups Show The Right Way And Wrong Way To Hack Regulations

first_imgTags:#collaborative consumption#Hailo#New York City#on-demand transportation#sharing economy#SideCar New York is one of the few places in the world where you can still raise your hand and reliably flag a taxi. Now, thanks to recent changes by regulators, it’s become one of many places where you can also tap an app on your smartphone instead.Hailo, a London-based company which recently set up operations in New York, got approval from the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission today to offer its e-hailing app, CEO Jay Bregman said at a panel at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this morning. Uber Technologies, a San Francisco-based company which had previously tangled with city bureaucrats over a taxi-hailing service, received approval last week.(See also: Lyft & Uber Win Small Victory In Internet’s War With Taxi Industry)Meanwhile, SideCar saw some of its drivers, whom the TLC views as unlicensed limo drivers, stopped by police and their vehicles impounded, leading to a testy exchange between Ashwini Chhabra, a deputy commissioner, and Sunil Paul, CEO of the on-demand transportation company.SideCar has sought to have its mobile app, which connects drivers with passengers, categorized under regulations applying to ridesharing service. SideCar calls the fee passengers pay a “donation” and argues that its service is like a friend offering a friend a ride, even though drivers and passengers typically don’t know each other.“Sharing is not a crime,” Paul said.“Sharing” has become a buzzword used by services as varied as Airbnb, the lodging marketplace, and TaskRabbit, the contractor-finding service, to describe their offerings, which allow people who have a resource like a spare room or extra time to find buyers for it. SideCar suggests that the empty seats in drivers’ cars are a similar resource. But under Paul’s definition of “sharing,” almost any transaction where people provide a good or service in exchange for money could be defined as “sharing.”(See also: Regulators vs. Uber & Friends: The Final Battle For Taxi Domination?)Chhabra, the TLC commissioner, made it clear that it views SideCar as a taxi service.This isn’t the first time Paul has tangled with regulators. SideCar drivers also saw their cars impounded in Philadelphia earlier this year, and SideCar is the lone holdout among the companies cited by the California Public Utilities Commission for breaking public-safety rules for transportation companies in that state.As a result, Uber is offering a SideCar-like service where drivers provide their own vehicles, unlicensed as taxis or limos, as is Zimride, whose Lyft service is similar to SideCar.Bregman, the Hailo CEO, had the best line of the panel where he, Chhabra, and Paul spoke: “You can be disruptive without being abrasive.”He has a point, since he’s been able to win over regulators where Paul’s combative tactics have—so far—failed.Photo courtesy of Flickr user n8kowald, CC 2.0 A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting owen thomas 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

23 days agoNacho hands Real Madrid heavy injury blow

first_imgNacho hands Real Madrid heavy injury blowby Paul Vegas23 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveNacho has handed Real Madrid a heavy injury blow.The defender has suffered a ligament injury to his right knee during their 2-2 draw with Club Brugge last night.AS says the setback could see Nacho sidelined for three months.The defender has been played at left-back this season by coach Zinedine Zidane. About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img

LICJ to Make Submission for Geospatial Legislation

first_img The move, he said, will reposition the country and bring it on par with other Caribbean territories such as The Bahamas, which already has such statute in place. “Advancing geospatial information management and the creation of spatial data infrastructures will assist to alleviate global issues such as poverty, food security and natural disasters,” he contended. Chairman of the Land Information Council of Jamaica (LICJ), Alexander Williams, says that body will shortly be submitting a proposal to the Government regarding the crafting of legislation to govern the country’s geospatial and land information management framework.He said the Council has reviewed the policy guidelines, “and we are about to make recommendations to the Cabinet to put in place a basic legislative framework”.The move, he said, will reposition the country and bring it on par with other Caribbean territories such as The Bahamas, which already has such statute in place.Mr. Williams was speaking at the opening of the inaugural two-day Jamaica Geographic Information System (GIS) User Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday, October 10.The LICJ Chairman noted that Jamaica has been a pioneer in the English-speaking Caribbean in the use of geospatial technology and land information management.He said this dates back to 1992, when the LICJ was established to coordinate the implementation of the National Land Information Policy and Strategy as well as develop a national GIS network.He pointed out, however, that “we have not been a pioneer… with the (creation of) a legislative framework”.The LICJ Chairman said many countries have recognised the value of using geospatial information and tools to plan, develop policies, make decisions and manage their physical and natural resources in order to address challenges and improve the lives of citizens.“Advancing geospatial information management and the creation of spatial data infrastructures will assist to alleviate global issues such as poverty, food security and natural disasters,” he contended.Against this background, Mr. Williams said the GIS Enterprise Licence Agreement (ELA) signed between the Government and American technology firm, Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) in 2015, represents a major investment in national development.The four-year ELA provides ministries, departments and agencies with unlimited access to Esri’s suite of GIS technology software, which has served to boost their operations in areas of land administration and management; planning, hazard mitigation and emergency management; environmental science; national security; and utilities and infrastructure.“By getting the ELA established in Jamaica, the Government has provided the platform to ministries, departments and agencies to use, so that they can exploit the layers of geospatial data and information and (related) data in diverse locations for planning and making strategic decisions,” Mr. Williams added.The two-day conference, which concluded on Wednesday, October 11, was jointly staged by the LICJ and National Spatial Data Management Division under the theme ‘Geospatial Technologies: Mapping Our Way to Secure Communities’.It formed part of the activities marking the LICJ’s 25th anniversary. Story Highlights Chairman of the Land Information Council of Jamaica (LICJ), Alexander Williams, says that body will shortly be submitting a proposal to the Government regarding the crafting of legislation to govern the country’s geospatial and land information management framework.last_img read more

National Solid Waste Day to Focus on Composting

first_imgStory Highlights The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) will be focusing on composting household waste for National Solid Waste Day on June 6.Executive Director of the NSWMA, Audley Gordon, said that the objective is to foster a culture of composting in Jamaica, in order to reduce the amount of waste generated for disposal.“All our studies, including our recent garbage characterisation study, show that over 60 per cent of our garbage is compostable, which means that it could be broken down and used even around the house to provide fertiliser for your flower bed or kitchen gardens,” he said.“Just cast your mind to that 60 per cent not being put out for a truck to collect. We would have a smaller amount of garbage, we would need fewer trucks, it would be easier to manage overall and it would then be beneficial to the economy. There is good productive use that we can put the compostables to,” he noted further.Mr. Gordon was speaking at a JIS Think Tank on May 29 where he announced the agency’s week-long plans for National Solid Waste Day under the theme ‘Compost before you dispose’.The day is part of National Environmental Awareness Week from June 2 to 8.Activities will begin with a church service at the Ridgemount United Church, Manchester, on Sunday, June 2, and include an Expo on National Solid Waste Day at the Cecil Charlton Park in Mandeville, Manchester.The week will end with a Family Fun Day for staff of the NSWMA’s four operational regions on Saturday, June 8.Throughout the week, NSWMA community relations officers will visit schools and communities islandwide to share information on what is compostable, the benefits of composting, and how to create compost heaps.“We will be taking the message across the length and breadth of Jamaica in such a frontal way that it will be difficult for anyone in Jamaica not to know or to understand composting after this solid waste week,” Mr. Gordon said.“This message of composting, we believe, is a very important message and if we get it right, that alone would solve a huge problem for us in terms of storage and transporting solid waste,” he added. The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) will be focusing on composting household waste for National Solid Waste Day on June 6. “All our studies, including our recent garbage characterisation study, show that over 60 per cent of our garbage is compostable, which means that it could be broken down and used even around the house to provide fertiliser for your flower bed or kitchen gardens,” he said. Executive Director of the NSWMA, Audley Gordon, said that the objective is to foster a culture of composting in Jamaica, in order to reduce the amount of waste generated for disposal.last_img read more

Prince Charles Visits Refugee Camp In Jordan

first_imgIn the week marking two years since the crisis in Syria began, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited a refugee camp in Jordan and met families who have fled the fighting.The King Abdullah Park camp, just 15 kilometres from the Syrian border, is sheltering 921 people, 529 of whom are children under 18. They are receiving assistance from UNICEF, UNHCR, and the World Food Programme.During their visit, their Royal Highnesses spent time with families in the camp, hearing for themselves about the profound distress that they have been through and the extreme challenges that many now face as they start a new attempt to survive and look after their children. The Duchess of Cornwall was introduced to children at the centre, who told her that they were drawing pictures of things they miss from home, like their gardens. Her Royal Highness was told that this kind of activity helps children deal with the severe trauma that many have experienced before they fled their country to escape the conflict. In essence, they learn to reconnect and become children again.
UNICEF Representative Dominique Hyde explained to the party that 250 children from the camp are transported every day to a Jordanian state school in a nearby town. The children told Her Royal Highness that it makes them happy to be able to go to school again.Ms. Hyde then described how UNICEF helps children in the camps on a daily basis. “After all the violence they have witnessed and all the stress they have been through, UNICEF is providing the children of Syria with vital support ranging from safe drinking water, essential vaccines and nutrition, to education, clothing and protection,” she said.
“In this camp alone we are helping more than 250 children to get back into school and reconnect with their childhood. Across Jordan, we support the education of nearly 40,000 children,” she added.“We hugely welcome the visit of Their Royal Highnesses and thank them both for shining a spotlight on our work, alongside that of the Jordanian Government and all our partners. We also hope that the world’s attention continues to focus on this crisis and that we can receive the support we desperately need to continue our vital and lifesaving work,” she said. To date, UNICEF’s appeal for children affected by Syria is less than 20 per cent funded. This chronic lack of funding is threatening to leave many Syrian children without essential assistance. Unless an 80 per cent funding gap is bridged UNICEF will be forced to scale back on even life-saving interventions including water provision.Source:UNICEFcenter_img The royal couple were shown around the camp by UNICEF and UNHCR, which support the Jordanian government to assist the families. Their Royal Highnesses visited a children’s space and met children who had fled Syria with their families. last_img read more

UAB Shows Us How To Revive A College Football Program

Just six months after UAB President Ray Watts made what he termed an agonizing decision to shut down the school’s football program because of its pending financial insolvency, he announced Monday that Blazer football is back. Sometime in the next couple of years — once UAB has re-recruited its players, reassembled its coaching staff and regained admission to the Football Bowl Subdivision — Birmingham will once again have a (relatively) big-time college football program.A whole lot changed in the interim, including the data being used to back up the decisions. In his announcement of the reversal, Watts cited an influx of outside financial pledges to the football team as the key reason a program is once again viable. Some observers, including Paul Finebaum, a popular sports-talk-radio host in the South, point to the fervent outpouring of support for the team after its demise. (Online, the #freeuab movement has been particularly impressive and has often been coupled with the #fireraywatts hashtag.) Local politicians have also been pressuring Watts into reinstatement, perhaps because much of the pressure behind the decision to shut down the program seems to have come from Tuscaloosa, where the University of Alabama football program has often been hostile toward UAB’s. But the biggest change seems to be which model of Blazer football’s financial future Watts and UAB are choosing to trust.Over the past year, entities within UAB have commissioned three separate forecasts from three consulting groups to analyze the financial prospects of its athletic department with and without football. Universities often lean on projections from outside consultants when making major decisions, but these projections are controlled by the formulas the consultants use — formulas that aren’t always statistically rigorous. In this case, despite having access to much of the same data, the reports contain completely different projections about the program’s impact on the university. One says it will cost the university millions of dollars a year. Another says the program will roughly break even. And another — the one UAB tried to cancel midway through — says football will be a huge financial boon. Small differences the consultants made in the assumptions behind the models created huge effects in the data sets. As a result, their recommendations were completely different.When Watts announced the death of the program in December, he cited a report from CarrSports Consulting projecting that if the athletic department kept football, it would lose more than $5 million a year and would need to spend an additional $20 million to improve facilities. CarrSports got those numbers by pairing generous calculations for the cost of fielding what it termed a competitive Conference USA team with modest increases in ticket sales, donations and student fees. “When considering a model that best protects the financial future and prominence of the athletic department, football is simply not sustainable,” Watts wrote at the time.Pushback in the wake of the decision, combined with complaints over the discovery that some may have been planning for the cancellation before the review even started, led UAB’s Athletic Assessment Task Force to commission another study. This time the consultants were College Sports Solutions (CSS). CSS said that although an athletic department with a football team would lose roughly $3 million a year compared with a department without football, mainly because of financial aid for players, almost all of that would be made up by increased enrollment, donations and other revenue resulting from the national prominence a football team brings. The study concluded that either resurrecting the program or leaving it for dead were “viable options”; Watts leaned on this report when announcing football’s return.There was another study, too, that fell between CSS’s and CarrSports’s. The task force had originally engaged a firm called OSKR to lead the review before the administration vetoed its hiring in March. Allen Bolton, UAB vice president of financial affairs and administration, said he was worried that the OSKR team had already made up its mind that UAB should keep the sport, explaining that “due to their very own comments this firm does not meet the critical threshold for many of providing a fresh, new, unbiased analysis.” OSKR finished its review anyway and found that keeping football would add an additional $2 million a year to the university’s coffers once benefits from donations and exposure were accounted for. OSKR’s projections are the most optimistic, and they seem to be the most rigorous. They model not only expected changes in the athletic budget over time, but also the impact of the team on the university’s media coverage, out-of-state enrollment and conference affiliation.Two major factors caused the $7 million swing in annual projections that led to the disparate recommendations: First are projections on how fast football-related revenue will grow. CarrSports projects that with football, the athletic department’s revenue will grow a measly $300,000 or so a year, while OSKR and CSS both project more than $1 million each year in added revenues. The larger forecast makes sense considering that Conference USA’s TV deal with Fox Sports alone is worth more than $1 million a year to each team.Second are assumptions about expenses. Both the CarrSports and CSS reports treat athletic scholarships as, basically, gifts that cost the university about $4 million to give each year. In his Tumblr, OSKR consultant Andy Schwarz argues that this is willful manipulation because the actual expense to the school to feed, educate and house its players is much, much lower than the projected $52,000 each scholarship “costs.” In addition, he notes that the program attracts full-tuition-paying walk-ons who are transferring out now that the program has been shuttered. By OSKR’s math, scholarships cost the university only about a million dollars a year.Once you add in the reports’ different assumptions about football’s impact on student enrollment and alumni donations and the need to upgrade facilities to be competitive, you’re left with the final mess, in which UAB’s president can totally reverse course — and still have a model that backs him up. read more

Kobe May Go Down As the NBAs Last True Gunslinger

Bryant, the son of former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, modeled his game after Michael Jordan and came closer to replicating His Airness’s silky offensive style than anyone we’ve seen. He finished his 20-year career with more points than MJ and stood apart by managing to hit impossible shots from all over the floor, despite having defenses draped over him.What Michael was to Kobe, Kobe became to the next generation of players. One possible sign: The number of guys wearing No. 8, which Bryant wore for the first 10 years of his NBA career, has more than tripled — from seven in 1995-96, the year before Bryant’s rookie season, to 231This list shows 25 players, but two were cut before they actually played a game for the team they entered the preseason with. this season. (In the second half of this career, Bryant wore No. 24, which was more popular than No. 8 before Bryant donned it. Bryant’s adoption of it doesn’t seem to have had much influence leaguewide.)But even though younger NBA players adopted Bryant’s number, few players have adopted his style of play — a ball-dominant one that involved taking tough contested shots inside the arc — as some offenses around the league have become more free-flowing and hyper-efficient.The current players who draw perhaps the most frequent comparisons to Kobe, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan (both of whom are from the L.A. area and played there collegiately), each count Bryant as a mentor of sorts and possess a handful of the same skills and flaws that he had.In Westbrook’s case, he’s so talented that he sometimes can dominate the ball too much — even when he has another superstar, or two, on the court with him. And much like Bryant did, DeRozan makes a living from midrange, a shot that goes against the grain of today’s league, where most star wing players have developed a respectable shot from 3-point range.Translation: On any given night, both guys are capable of shooting it less efficiently than other stars because they’re taking far tougher shots than just about everyone else. (DeRozan, in particular, has the highest degree of shot difficulty in the NBA among those who’ve taken at least 200 attempts, according to data from Second Spectrum, which uses high-level tracking equipment in NBA arenas to compile data.) That willingness to launch (miss) scores of contested shots is vintage Kobe.“I don’t care about that crap, and I’m sure he doesn’t either,” said then-Lakers coach Byron Scott after Bryant broke a record for the most missed shot attempts in NBA history. “I don’t mean to cut you off, but to me, it speaks of his aggressiveness and longevity.” It also speaks to his being wired far differently than many other players, who refuse to take shots that have little chance of going down for fear of hurting their field-goal percentages, which factor into future contracts and potential earnings.During the 2015-16 campaign, his farewell season, Bryant attempted more fadeaway jumpers than any guard in the league despite missing 16 games that year. And during the final three-season span of his career, Bryant ranked dead-last among 357 players2Those who attempted at least 500 shots total from the 2013-14 season through the end of the 2015-16 season. in Second Spectrum’s Quantified Shot Quality metric, which estimates the odds of a shot going in by tracking shot and defender distance. Put another way, this means he took the hardest collection of the shots in the NBA in that window. (He also shot worse than expected on those attempts.)It’s worth mentioning a couple of things here. First, it’s not really fair to focus more on Bryant’s misses3Especially late in his career, when he was clearly diminished and arguably the worst volume shooter in the league. than his makes — he was an absolutely devastating scorer in his prime — and defensive accomplishments. Secondly, even his missed shots often turned out to be a good thing. Kirk Goldsberry, then of Grantland, created the “Kobe Assist,” a metric that highlighted how Bryant’s shot attempts attracted so much defensive attention that they opened up easy putback opportunities for his teammates.There’s no telling how much more productive Bryant could have been in this era, one in which coaches, teams and even the league itself are more aggressive about resting their players in hopes of safeguarding them from injury. Bryant, of course, famously pushed himself to play through pain, especially during the final days of the 2012-13 season, in which he tore his Achilles tendon while playing enormous minutes during a playoff push.Both the increased focus on efficiency and the new-age strategy of holding players out for rest make it less likely that we’ll see another star with such a devil-may-care attitude on scoring and health. On some level, that’s what made Bryant’s finale — in which he scored 60 points on 50 shots, both NBA records for a player’s last game — so fitting. Having the courage to fire up tough shots from all over the floor, and worrying about the statistical consequences later, if at all, doesn’t happen much anymore. In fact, it’s an attitude that might’ve gone extinct with Bryant’s exit from the league.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Related: The Lab Retiring a number is the ultimate recognition of a former player’s contribution and legacy to a franchise. But for Kobe Bryant, one number apparently doesn’t do his years with the Los Angeles Lakers justice: Tonight, he’ll become the first player in NBA history to have two different numbers lifted to the rafters by the same team. It’s a fitting honor for a man who played more than 1,300 games, scored more than 33,500 points and won five titles for Los Angeles — yet couldn’t settle on one number to wear.But if there’s one thing we end up remembering the Laker legend for, it should be that he went out as arguably the NBA’s last true gunslinger. The Sixers Still Have Growing Pains To Work Out read more

Football Ohio State drops six spots to No 8 in latest AP

Wide receiver K.J. Hill (14) and coach Urban Meyer sing Carmen in front of the student section following their 31-16 loss to Oklahoma. Credit Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorFollowing Ohio State’s 31-16 loss to Oklahoma at home Saturday, the Buckeyes have dropped six spots from No. 2 to No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. The victor in that game replaced Ohio State as the No. 2 team.The top five consists of No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 USC and No. 5 Penn State. Michigan is the only other Big Ten team besides Penn State to be ranked ahead of Ohio State at No. 7.In total, the Big Ten has four teams in the top 25. After Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State, Wisconsin placed at No. 10, moving down one spot from last week. Three teams in the conference received votes as Maryland received 42, Iowa had two and Michigan State had one.Ohio State will look to rebound next Saturday when it hosts Army at 4:30 p.m.AP Poll Alabama (58)Oklahoma (2)Clemson (1)USCPenn StateWashingtonMichiganOhio StateOklahoma StateWisconsinFlorida StateLSUGeorgiaLouisvilleAuburnVirginia TechMiami (FL)Kansas StateStanfordTCUWashington StateSouth FloridaTennesseeFloridaUCLA read more