Liu Xiaobo – only Nobel peace laureate still detained

first_img The entire world applauded when Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s pro-democracy opposition and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, was freed on on 13 November. Her release means that Chinese political dissident Liu Xiaobo (刘哓波) is now the only winner of this prestigious award to remain in detention.Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo have similar destinies. Both are fighting for democracy in their countries and both were locked up by governments that do not respect freedom of expression. Will the former’s release prompt the Chinese authorities to release their “Nobel”, who continues to serve an 11-year jail sentence? Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of Liu and all of China’s political prisoners. The Chinese government reacted to Aung San Suu Kyi’s release by calling her an “important political figure” and voicing confidence in the process of peace and ethnic reconciliation in Burma.. So why shouldn’t it follow suit with Liu? There is an urgent need to end his unjust imprisonment.Reporters Without Borders also reiterates its call for the release of Burma’s 2,200 political prisoners and for the Burmese authorities to stop censoring the media and allow them to report Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and to cover her current activities. Meanwhile, there has been no let-up in the harassment and pressure on Liu’s family and supporters and all the other free speech activities in China.The Chinese government has already tried to dissuade diplomats from attending the Nobel award ceremony on 10 December in Oslo and has prevented several Chinese human rights activists from leaving the country in case they go to Oslo. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), is still under house arrest while his brothers are pessimistic about their chances of being able to travel. Liu has also been denied a monthly visit by relatives. Mo Shaoping (莫少平), a human rights lawyer who supports Liu, is among those who have been prevented from travelling abroad.The Nobel Committee could as a result find itself unable to hand over this year’s peace prize, said one of its leading members, Geir Lundestad, describing Liu as “one of the most important Nobels in history.”The authorities are also continuing to arrest Liu supporters.Guo Xianliang (郭贤良), an Internet writer known as the “Tianshan Hermit” (天山居士) has been detained in the southern city of Guangzhou for distributing leaflets referring to Liu in the city’s parks and streets. Li Hai (李海), a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, was arrested on 30 October. His family have had no news of him since then.Hua Ze (华泽), a freelance journalist and human rights activist who used to work as a documentary film-maker for the government TV station CCTV, was abducted in the Beijing metro on 27 October and deported to Jiangxi, her home province, where she is now under house arrest.Human rights lawyer Teng Biao (滕彪) reported in a message posted on Twitter that Beijing resident Shen Minqiang (沈民强) was arrested while giving an interview outside Liu’s home on 8 October. He has been placed under a non-judicial form of detention and it is unclear what he is charged with.The authorities have also stepped up their control of news and information since the announcement of Liu’s Nobel and, determined to nip any grass-roots movements in the bud, are targeting NGOs as well as media. Ai Yuan (“爱源”), an AIDS charity created by the activist Hu Jia (胡佳), who has been imprisoned since 2007, has had to cease operating under pressure from the authorities. Hu Jia’s parents have been told by the police that they must not leave Beijing and his wife said the police even “investigated” their daughter’s crèche.The Chinese Internet also continues to be targeted by government censors. A bogus invitation to attend the 10 December Nobel award ceremony in Oslo that contains a powerful “trojan” virus has been circulating by email. The computer security company F-Secure said it had been unable to identify its origin. Liu’s website was the target of an initial hacker attack two weeks before the trojan appeared.Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard and the head of the organization’s Asia-Pacific Desk, Vincent Brossel, will attend the Nobel ceremony in Oslo in a show of support for Liu and press freedom.Sign the petition for Liu’s release:http://fr.rsf.org/petition-liu-xiaobo,38700.html May 31, 2021 Find out more US journalist held in Yangon prison notorious for torture November 18, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Liu Xiaobo – only Nobel peace laureate still detained News Receive email alerts May 26, 2021 Find out more Organisation MyanmarAsia – Pacific MyanmarAsia – Pacific to go furthercenter_img News Help by sharing this information Follow the news on Myanmar News RSF_en Thai premier, UN rapporteurs asked to prevent journalists being returned to Myanmar News May 12, 2021 Find out more RSF asks Germany to let Myanmar journalist Mratt Kyaw Thu apply for asylumlast_img read more

News story: Funding boost for child sexual abuse prevention helpline following jump in contacts

first_img a taskforce, chaired by the Home Secretary, bringing together representatives from ad agencies, trade bodies and brands to ensure criminals don’t have access to this funding stream a £250,000 innovation call for organisations to bid for funding to assist them in developing innovative solutions to disrupt live streaming of abuse new tools to improve the capabilities of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) – the database used by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and UK police forces to search for indecent images of children and increase the ability to identify victims Director of the Stop It Now! helpline, Donald Findlater, said: Child sexual abuse is a truly sickening crime and I’m committed to doing everything in my power to eradicate it from society. It’s vital we take action on a number of fronts. That’s why we have given police and prosecutors the tools they need to bring offenders to justice, are educating young people on how they can protect themselves and will be legislating to ensure tech giants are fulfilling their responsibilities to protect our children. But it is also important to focus on preventative measures that stop potential abusers from committing crimes in the first place. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation plays a key role in this work and has my full support. NCA Director Rob Jones said: Since the start of the deterrence campaign, 5,114 people have called the helpline seeking advice and support to stop viewing online sexual images of children.A further 2,418 people called for support regarding concerns about someone else’s online viewing behaviour.People can also access the Get Help website, which had over 40,900 users in 2018 compared to around 23,000 in 2016.Callers agree actions that they can take to manage their behaviour and protect children as well as exploring other services and agencies available. Calls remain confidential and anonymous, unless a child is deemed to be at risk.While the Stop It Now! deterrence campaign was launched in 2015 to specifically tackle indecent images of children online, the Stop It Now! helpline has been running in the UK since 2002. It deals with all aspects of child sexual abuse prevention, including direct contact abuse, child grooming, and harmful sexual behaviour of a child or young person.Independent evaluation shows that, as a result of the advice, people take steps to control their behaviour, including stopping all internet or pornography use, installing controls and filters on devices and informing partners or family members.The National Crime Agency estimates that around 80,000 people in the UK are regularly viewing images of child sexual abuse online.In October, the Home Secretary travelled to the west coast of the USA to demand that tech firms do more to tackle online CSE and to develop a tool to detect and remove child grooming sites.Other measures announced include:center_img People viewing sexual images of children online need to know this is not a victimless crime – children are harmed when these images are first made, and afterwards when they are viewed or shared again. There are serious consequences for anyone arrested for such behaviour, possibly including imprisonment, losing their job, friendships and relationships, losing contact with their own children as well as ending up on the sex offenders register. Confidential help is available to stop viewing these images and to stay stopped. Over these last 3 years thousands of people, mostly men, have come to us for help to get their lives back on track. This additional funding will ensure thousands more get through to stop their illegal behaviour and stay stopped. The Home Secretary has announced £600,000 funding for The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s Stop It Now! child sexual abuse prevention helpline.The charity offers confidential advice to offenders who want to change their illegal behaviour. The funding boost comes following a sharp 65% rise in callers and visitors to the Stop It Now! helpline and self-help website regarding viewing sexual images of children online.In a speech in September, the Home Secretary set out his support for the charity. The funding will enable The Lucy Faithfull Foundation to support more people at risk of offending over the next 18 months.The Stop It Now! deterrence campaign was launched in October 2015 to discourage people from viewing illegal sexual images of children online, and to offer help to those wanting to change their behaviour. It also supports the families and friends of offenders, and professionals.More than 2,000 people contacted Stop It Now! last year through the helpline and its secure messaging service last year to change this behaviour.Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: The scale and severity of child sexual abuse and exploitation we are seeing has significantly increased. Helping offenders to stop is really important, but it is absolutely crucial to help potential offenders before they even begin looking at the sexual abuse of children online. The NCA welcomes this funding to support more people at risk of offending. This needs to be part of a wider approach that includes the tech industry tackling offending, age appropriate education, and support for children, parents and carers such as in our Jessie and Friends campaign for four to seven year olds.last_img read more

The Trump Effect: With Thousands Newly Registered, Muslims Ready to Vote

first_img‘It’s a Tense Time’Some Muslim Americas are already living the nightmare.It’s not uncommon for people to hurl disparaging remarks or gestures at families leaving Masjid Darul Quran, Jabbar says.“Go back where you came from!” people yell, he says. “Sometimes they would use the ‘F’ word.”“This is quite derogatory and full of hatred,” Jabbar continues. “And this has never been before—and this is because of Trump.”In June, CAIR and U.C. Berkeley Center for Race and Gender released a report that found attacks on mosques in the US nearly quadrupled from 20 to 78 between 2014 and 2015. Nearly half of those incidents were recorded in November and December, which coincides with the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., and Trump’s subsequent Muslim ban proposal.In September, Adelphi University in Garden City shared with the Long Island Press preliminary results of a study scrutinizing how the election has impacted Muslim Americans. Respondents overwhelmingly blamed the rancorous presidential election for their feeling unsafe in the US. A majority also said they felt obligated to prove their patriotism and have experienced their loyalty come under fire.Dr. Hussein Rashid, an ex-professor of religious studies at Hofstra University in Hempstead who is currently an adjunct at Columbia University, says Trump is holding on to a “mythic past” in which he challenges “the notion that the vast majority of Americans are in fact American.”“It is troubling that he is being so successful in undermining the principles of our nation and that people believe that he is right,” he says in an email. “Both his followers and his victims.”As the election winds down, Muslim American voters are experiencing a mixture of both anxiousness and relief that the incessant campaigns are coming to an end, says the trustee at the Valley Stream mosque who wished to remain nameless.“It’s a tense time,” he says.But now Muslim Americans, a group that accounts for about 1-percent of the US population and one that is often used as a tool by some to sew fear in the hearts of concerned Americans, will finally have their moment to have their voices heard—at the polls.“As far as politics go, everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I can tell you straight forward that the amount of rhetoric that is coming out of certain corners has really motivated our congregants to get out there and be a part of the conversation,” says Iqbal of Masjid Noor. “Because right now we feel we’re not a part of the conversation.“Old, young, rich, poor—this is the topic of conversation right now,” he continues. “People are very motivated to get out there and vote and flex their muscle…to get their mandate across.“We have doctors, lawyers, engineers, social workers, sports stars—our narrative is being hijacked and controlled by somebody else and we want to take back our narrative.” Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York [dropcap]F[/dropcap]or much of the US presidential election cycle, the coverage of Muslim Americans in the country has almost exclusively focused on national security—that their religion inherently makes them a danger to society and even the good ones are somehow responsible for failing to weed out troublemakers in their own communities.Muslim families watched in horror last December when Donald Trump, a reality TV star and businessman vying for the Republican Party’s nomination, proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the US.They cringed, but were not surprised, when he suggested law enforcement spy on their mosques—a controversial tool that has become all-too commonplace after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks—and have the federal government establish a database of all Muslims living in the US.There were moments, although fleeting, that made them swell with pride, like when Ghazala and Khizr Khan, the parents of a fallen Muslim soldier, became the unexpected stars of this election.With the vitriolic presidential election careening toward a welcomed end, Long Island Muslims interviewed over the course of the final weeks of the race say they’re motivated, perhaps more than ever, to flock to the polls. Muslims aren’t the only segment of the population who feel they have been unfairly maligned this election, but the long-list of inflammatory remarks, perhaps buttressing a troubling rise in attacks on mosques and rampant Islamophobia, has them confident people will be inspired to turn out in droves, according to surveys and chatter in mosques.“Until this year we were not serious,” about getting involved politically, Dr. Safdar Chadda of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, tells the Press. “This is the first time we’re doing it in an organized way.”To ensure strong turnout on Tuesday, a coalition of mosques across the Island held a picnic at Belmont Lake State Park in September to encourage people to head to the polls. In Nassau County, community leaders gathered at a local restaurant to strategize how best to mobilize volunteers and their plans for upcoming meet-the-candidate events.The campaign to bolster the ranks of registered voters is not only about Tuesday’s presidential election. Leaders hope to channel the motivating factors contributing to voter enthusiasm into something more tangible, perhaps even encouraging some to run for office.What community leaders quickly realized, however, was Muslim Americans here were already motivated to register, but also vote come Nov. 8. The unifying force, strangely enough, was Donald J. Trump.“Donald Trump, believe it or not, is the best thing to happen to Muslims in America because it kind of gave them a kick in the pants,” Dr. Mamoon Iqbal, a leader at Masjid Noor in Huntington, tells the Press.“People themselves want to register,” Chadda adds, “because their own future is at stake.” Switching AllegiancesA recent CAIR survey found that 86-percent of Muslim voters polled said they intend to vote this presidential election, with 72 percent vowing to support the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.There was a time when Republicans dominated the Muslim vote. In 2000, Muslims overwhelmingly supported George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore. Four years later, however, the pendulum had swung in favor of the Democrat John Kerry.The level of support from Muslims directed at Democrats has only grown since. According to CAIR, 49 percent of Muslims identified as Democrat in 2008, compared with 67 percent going into this election.Chadda, of the Islamic Center of Long Island, was one of those Republicans. But in September he changed his party status to Independent and has pledged to vote for Clinton.“It has been on everybody’s minds and some people are really worried and scared,” he says of some of Trump’s remarks.Recently one of his daughters gave an ultimatum. If Trump wins the election, she said, “I don’t want to live here, I want to go back to Canada”—the country of her birth.Dr. Yousuf Syed, trustee at the Selden Mosque, is also a registered Republican voting for Clinton.“I’m not too happy as a Republican,” he says, adding: “If somebody personally picks on [a religion], it’s a matter of concern.”Muslim Americans are historically socially conservative, which would appear to be a tantalizing segment of the electorate for Republicans outspoken about religious liberty. But the never-ending War on Terror, Bush-era surveillance of Muslims, and now Trump’s perceived attacks on the religion has damaged that once promising relationship, maybe even irrevocably.Muslims who immigrated to the US “gravitated toward their social polices and fiscal conservativeness,” Iqbal says. “That has definitely changed.”As nonprofits, Mosques are careful to remain apolitical. But with one particular candidate using anti-Islam rhetoric to spur support in an age of terror on TV and 24/7 cable news, it’s hard for them to not wear their heart on their sleeve.Imam Muhammad Abdul Jabbar of Masjid Darul Quran in Bay Shore says the mosque doesn’t endorse or advocate for a certain candidate “but everybody knows who to vote” for.“People say that after this hype is over, hopefully something good will come,” he says.If Trump wins, he adds, “it will be a nightmare for the Muslims.” Embed from Getty Images Get Out The VoteDespite the apparent enthusiasm, mosques across Nassau and Suffolk counties say they’ve collectively registered more than 10,000 new voters over the course of eight months—beginning during the primary season and continuing through the general election.Surprisingly, the most sought after segment of potential new voters were 50-and-60-year-olds who have lived in the US for decades but mostly shrugged when election season rolled along.“The way the political atmosphere is, and how charged the election is, everybody is a stakeholder in this election,” says Iqbal. “So they want to have their voices heard. The way to get your voices heard is to go out to the ballot box.”The same thing goes for older generations of Muslim Americans in Nassau County.“They’re inspired now, obviously,” says a trustee at Masjid Hamza Islamic Center of South Shore in Valley Stream, who requested anonymity because of the toxicity of this election. “The rhetoric is directly aimed toward Muslims.”Long Island Muslims are not alone.Muslim advocacy groups across the country report mobilizing voters at unprecedented levels through voter registration campaigns online and through traditional canvassing efforts.The US Council of Muslim Organizations said last week its Get Out The Vote campaign it initiated last December “has been overwhelmingly success.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has had similar initiatives, as has Emerge USA, which focuses its efforts entirely in swing states like Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, and has used the hashtag #Muslimswingvote to galvanize voters.Inspired by Trump’s attacks against the Khans, Mirriam Seddiq, a criminal defense attorney and Muslim advocate, created the American Muslim Women PAC. The political action committee has endorsed Clinton and has raised money for her campaign.“We are awake and motivated now and we are getting organized,” Seddiq tells the Press in an email. “Not the real task is not to be complacent again, because it is that complacency that allowed us to be put in this position in the first place.”last_img read more

Westport Winery Releases The Kraken

first_imgFacebook98Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Westport Winery“Release the Kraken!” It’s the phrase the Roberts family of Westport Winery in coastal Washington State have been waiting to say for two long years and the one shouted across their 15-acre garden resort on August 1. The grapes in Kraken, their ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon, were harvested at the world famous Klipsun Vineyard in the Red Mountain AVA and Elephant Mountain Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA.The winery is equally proud to announce that a portion of the proceeds from this wine will benefit the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, the owners and operators of Lady Washington. The Lady was a star in the first Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl movie playing the role of the HMS Interceptor. She is Washington State’s Tall Ship Ambassador as well as the State Ship. Built in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1989, she is a replica of a classic brig.The Kraken label features original art by winery founder and co-owner Kim Roberts. Each of Westport’s wines is commemorated in their world-class gardens with a sculpture by a local artist. In this case, Tyler Hansen of Hansen Metalworks in McCleary, Washington, created the giant Kraken that resides on the entrance portal to the winery.For more information you may visit the Westport Winery website or call 360-648-2224. Westport Winery Garden Resort, Ocean’s Daughter Distillery and the Sea Glass Grill are open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.last_img read more

Audubon Society Hosts Trip to Forsythe Wildlife Refuge

first_imgOCEANVILLE – The Monmouth County Audubon Society will host a trip to Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic County on Sept. 21.The refuge, known as “Brig” (short for Brigantine) to local birders, is one of the most active flyways for migratory water birds in North America. The refuge contains fresh and saltwater habitats, which attract shorebirds and waterfowl that spend the winter months here.The trip will be led by Rob and Lisa Ann Fanning, as well as other volunteer leaders.“Brigantine is one of my favorite places for birding,” says Lisa Ann Fanning, “because of the great diversity of habitats. You can see quite a variety of birds there, and you stand a good chance for spotting some of the rarer species. If the tide is right you can get fairly close to the birds.” Because of the variety of habitats the bird life is varied as well: shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, gulls, terns and land birds can all be found here.Anyone interested in observing the birds of Forsythe can meet in the parking lot of the refuge at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21. Forsythe is located off Exit 48 of the Garden State Parkway (Port Republic exit). Pack a lunch, as neither food nor beverages are available inside the refuge. The event should end around noon.The trip is open to both members and nonmembers of the Monmouth County Audubon Society; participation is free, but there is a $4 per car admission fee to the refuge. Advance registration is not required. Participants should bring binoculars and field guides and should dress appropriately for the weather, including clothing suitable for rain if necessary. Pets are not permitted.The Monmouth County Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society, is dedicated to the enjoyment and study of nature, wildlife conservation, habitat protection and education. Meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month September through May at Church of the Nativity, 180 Ridge Road, Fair Haven; guest speakers address a wide variety of nature-related topics, and refreshments are provided. In addition, the group sponsors at least one field trip per month, and members receive The Osprey, the club’s bi-monthly newsletter.For more information visit www.monmouthaudubon.org, or email [email protected]last_img read more

Fire at Blithewald, Days Before VNA Showhouse Gala

first_imgRUMSON–The house that was to be the centerpiece of the VNA’s Stately Homes by-the-Sea Designer Showhouse caught on fire around 12:30 p.m. today, just days before Saturday night’s gala and open house next week. No injuries are reported.The house, known as Blithewald, is a 19th century home set on an estate at 76 Buena Vista Avenue. According to county property records, the owner is Thomas Widener and it was assessed in 2015 at $2.4 million.On Monday morning, several designers were working in the house, preparing their spaces for opening day. The bi-annual showhouse features more than 40 top interior designers, decorators and landscape artists from the tri-state area. It is the biggest fundraiser supporting the Visiting Nurse Association of Monmouth County, based in Red Bank. The homeowner was not living in Blithewald at the time of fire, in preparation for the event, which draws more than 10,000 people.The VNA issued a statement on their Facebook page, “The cause is unknown and no injuries were reported at this time. We will provide updates about the Preview Gala and Show House tours as information becomes available. Thank you for thoughts, prayers and your continued support.”Eileen Buriani, owner of Kidegories of Shrewsbury, was designing one of the boys’ bedrooms when she was summoned out of the building, down the stairs. “We came down and we saw the flames shooting out. There was no smoke upstairs at all. I didn’t think it was a quick-moving fire.”“It’s such a beautiful home. What a shame,” she said,James Yarosh, an art dealer from Holmdel, had lent artwork to designers exhibiting at the show, including some of his favorite pieces from his own home. “I’ve been talking to designers today, and it’s just so upsetting,” he said. “People do this from their heart, to create beauty, for charity. I’m so upset for all the artists and designers,” he said.Fire at Blithewald is extinguished. Photo courtesy Chris HalsteadPat Mills, owner and head designer of Byford & Mills in Little Silver said her team had just completed its work in the sitting room, off the master bedroom, on Friday. They had hung grasscloth wall coverings, commissioned a special handbraided rug and furnished the room with sofas, an L-shaped couch, and a desk. When she heard about the fire, she ran to the site and saw the house in flames. A firefighter was standing in the balcony, off the room, breaking through the ceiling, and water hoses were soaking that portion of the house. “It was horrifying,” she said.She lamented the sight of Blithewald, “a piece of Rumson history” going up in flames, with all the hard work from a huge community of designers.  “Piece by piece you knew your room was being destroyed,” she said. The artwork exhibited in her room alone was valued at $150,000, she said.Next door neighbor Monique Bolsius was among several people who watched the scene unfold. She said she felt so sorry for the army of volunteers who had been working on site for two months to ready the house for its moment in the spotlight. “Its devastating. It’s just so unfortunate,” she said.Denise DeMarco arrived at the house this afternoon to complete a project, to hand paint one of the historic fireplaces. Volunteer firefighters representing Rumson, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Middletown, Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, Sea Bright and Eatontown were on the scene, Rumson Road was closed between Bellevue and Kemp Avenue, and the air was filled with the smell of smoke. “It breaks your heart. So much of it was volunteer work. It’s not just money, it’s their time.” — By Christina Johnson, with reporting by John Burtonlast_img read more

STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN – SUNDAY APRIL 26, 2015

first_imgFINISH LINES: Bargain $50,000 claim Imperative arrived at Santa Anita yesterday after his second-place finish to Moreno in last Saturday’s $1.5 million Charles Town Classic which earned him about $280,000. “He’s earned close to $2 million since I claimed him,” said trainer George Papaprodromou, who saddled the son of Bernardini to upset Game On Dude in the West Virginia race last year, winning $1 million. “We’re thinking of the Gold Cup (at Santa Anita on closing day, June 28), hopefully,” Papaprodromouo said . . . Trainer Simon Callaghan sat down with Aaron Vercruysse and discussed his first Kentucky Derby contender, Firing Line. To see this video and many more interviews plus recent Derby workout footage, visit Xpressbet’s YouTube page at https://youtu.be/UIV_tK04zec . . .Las Flores Stakes winner Harlington’s Rose, prepping for the $150,000 Spring Fever Stakes at six furlongs on May 23, worked four furlongs Sunday in 48.80. Trainer Steve Knapp called the move “excellent.” . . . Congrats to Joe Talamo and Elizabeth Ellis, who were engaged to be married this past Friday . . . On Monday, May 18, Host Town Arcadia will offer lunch and dinner at The Derby Restaurant, 233 Huntington Drive, Arcadia, for a fundraiser to benefit the Arcadia Host Town Committee supporting the Special Olympics. Call 626 447-2430 for reservations. KENTUCKY DERBY GALA AT SANTA ANITA SATURDAY            Fans can join the biggest Derby party west of Kentucky at Santa Anita next Saturday, an afternoon filled with world-class racing, hat contests, mint juleps and live racing.Festivities include an Infield Beer-fest with live music from Seedless, and a party in the Premium Gallop Out in the Club House East. Fans can purchase a Trackside Package for a prime seat and their first drink in a commemorative cup featuring Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund, plus all the fun and excitement of racing’s best 3-year-olds in the Kentucky Derby.First post time next Saturday is 11:30 a.m. Gates open at 7:30 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at santaanita.com. O’NEILL ENVISIONS TRIPLE CROWN FOR AMERICAN PHAROAHLava Man is one of the newest members of racing’s Hall of Fame, and at 14, the oldwarrior is still in familiar environs as a valued pony at Doug O’Neill’s barn.A California-bred son of Slew City Slew, Lava Man was claimed during his 3-year-old season for $50,000 and retired with earnings of $5,268,706, most of that for owners STD Racing Stable and partner Jason Wood.Lava Man won seven Grade I races, to date more than any other Cal-bred in history, and 17 of 47 starts. Only Best Pal and 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome have higher career earnings among Cal-breds.Lava Man won three consecutive runnings of the Hollywood Gold Cup from 2005 through 2007 and back-to-back editions of the Santa Anita Handicap in 2006 and 2007.“It’s unbelievable,” O’Neill said of the honor, which will officially be bestowed Aug. 7at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.“Usually, your horse has to die to get in the Hall of Fame, so for him to get in it and still be such a healthy horse that’s still active for us daily and a big part of our team is very humbling and an amazing honor,” O’Neill said.O’Neill, who saddled I’ll Have Another to an upset victory in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and came within hours of running for the Triple Crown until an injury dashed those aspirations, has lofty expectations for this year’s favorite, the Bob Baffert-trained American Pharaoh, who worked five furlongs at Churchill Downs this morning under Martin Garcia in 58.40.It was the fastest of 32 drills at the distance. Pharoah galloped out six furlongs 1:11.40.“You just don’t know how good American Pharoah is,” O’Neill said. “He’s looked like anabsolute machine, and he’s doing it effortlessly. For him to win the Arkansas Derby from off the pace shows a different dimension.“If he stays injury-free, he’s got Triple Crown written all over him.” CAPTIVATING ‘VENEDA’-BEHOLDER MATCH LOOMS IN VANITYWhile the Kentucky Derby next Saturday is on every racing fan’s radar screen, another intriguing match looms a week later on May 9 at Santa Anita: the Grade I, $300,000 Vanity Stakes for older fillies and mares, and a possible showdown between streaking stakes winner Warren’s Veneda and two-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder.Warren’s Veneda, a California-bred daughter of Affirmative trained by Craig Lewis for owner/breeder Benjamin Warren, has won three straight stakes, including the Grade I Santa Margarita on March 14.Beholder, trained by Richard Mandella for B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm LLC, was champion filly at two and three and won her first start of 2015, the restricted Santa Lucia Stakes on April 10 in what perhaps amounted to a paid workout.“If I had my preference, she’s not who I’d choose to run against, a two-time Eclipse Award-winning champion, a great mare,” Lewis said. “We’re up against it.”Warren’s Veneda is scheduled to work five furlongs at Santa Anita this Thursday.While Beholder’s opposition in the Santa Lucia might be considered suspect on class, Lewis wasn’t buying.“They might be,” he said, “but Beholder’s prior record and her bankroll indicate that she’s a top-notch mare, no question. You don’t win $3 million if you’re not the goods, and she’s nine out of 10 on this race track. That’s pretty impressive.“They don’t come much better than her, so it’s going to be a challenge.”Mandella could be motivated by a revenge factor. He couldn’t be blamed for still harboring bitter memories of the 1995 Santa Anita Derby, when Larry the Legend, trained by Lewis, won by a head in a stretch-long drive over the Mandella trained Afternoon Deelites.Twenty years later, Mandella called recollection of the defeat “a nightmare.”center_img PEDROZA ‘FIGHTING’ UPHILL BATTLE ON SATURDAYIf Martin Pedroza pulls off a miraculous double next Saturday, it would surpass his signature six consecutive victories on Breeders’ Cup Day, Oct. 31, 1992, at Oak Tree, and his triumph aboard 50-1 shot Martial Law in the 1989 Santa Anita Handicap.All he has to do is win the Churchill Downs Stakes on Private Zone, then catch a plane to Las Vegas for the welterweight title match at the MGM Grand between Manny Pacquiao and undefeated Floyd Mayweather.Oh, and one more thing. First, he needs a ticket to the fight.“He’s licensed, booked and ready to go,” said Pedroza’s long-time agent, Richie Silverstein, of the trip to Kentucky. “If things break right and the race is early, he could leave Kentucky at 4:20 and be in Vegas by 7, and get to the fight on time. But he needs a ticket.”To that end, ever the loyalist Silverstein offered his cell phone number should anyone scrounge up a ducat: 626-232 9898. HALL OF FAME MEMBER LAVA MAN ONE IN $5 MILLIONSATURDAY IS PARTY TIME FOR DERBY AT SANTA ANITAWARREN‘S VENEDA TO WORK ON THURSDAY FOR VANITYPEDROZA EYES RARE DOUBLE: PRIVATE ZONE, BIG FIGHTlast_img read more

CPL sensation Shamsi in for injured Badree

first_imgMUMBAI, India, (CMC):South African left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi has been drafted into the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) squad for the rest of the season to replace injured West Indies leg-spinner Samuel Badree.The 26-year-old, who has played 68 first-class matches but is yet to represent South Africa, has gone straight into the final XI for RCB’s game yesterday against Rising Pune Supergiants.Badree sustained a shoulder injury in the final of the Twenty20 World Cup in Kolkata earlier this month against England and has failed to recover.”RCB is pleased to have signed in SA’s left-arm chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi for injured Badree,” RCB chairman Amrit Thomas said.”He is highly skillful, with a lot of variations, and has had success in SA’s domestic cricket as well as in the CPL this year. While we will miss Samuel Badree, we are excited about the variety that Shamsi brings to our bowling attack.”Shamsi is known to Caribbean fans, having proved a sensation in the Caribbean Premier League last season, snatching 11 wickets for new boys St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.Badree, meanwhile, is the second West Indies player to be forced out of the IPL with injury after fellow Trinidadian Lendl Simmons was also ruled out for Mumbai Indians with a back injury.last_img read more

More Tangled Branches that Confound Darwinian Trees

first_img(Visited 335 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Darwin’s branching “tree of life” diagram made for a nice, simple, easy-to-understand, convenient myth. It has sent scientists on a wild tree chase ever since.MitochondriaRedefining the origin of the cellular powerhouse (Science Daily). Mitochondria produce most of the energy for the cell. That’s where the ATP synthase rotary engines work to generate ATP at the end of a chain of complex molecular machines. You may have heard the evolutionists’ favorite story for the origin of mitochondria, the ‘endosymbiont’ theory. This claims that mitochondria are evolutionary remnants of a microbe that ingested another microbe that knew how to run the powerhouse, and the two lived happily ever after. What you may not have heard is that there is a “fierce debate” that has raged between evolutionists about the details of this account.Evidence from the past few decades strongly supports that mitochondria evolved via endosymbiosis, a process in which a free-living bacterium is taken up by a host cell. Yet, both the identity of the mitochondrial ancestor, as well as the nature of the endosymbiosis, are subject of fierce debates.The Darwinists at the University of Uppsala decided to enter the debate and see if they could understand the reasons for it.“We believe that there are two main reasons for the lack of consensus on the identity of the mitochondrial ancestor,” says Thijs Ettema, researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Uppsala University who led the team conducting the study. “First, it is possible that present-day relatives simply have not been found yet — if they even still exist. Second, the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the mitochondria is extremely challenging, and can easily lead to very different and hence conflicting results.“Their divination efforts may only increase tensions, because their proposed common ancestor is not even a member of the most popular candidate group, the Alphaproteobacteria. Where did the ancestor go? It seems to have disappeared into the misty realms of the unobservable past. Ratcheting up the perhapsimaybecouldness index, they speculate freely:Unexpectedly, their analyses supported a new position of mitochondria, which were now placed outside of the Alphaproteobacteria.These results indicate that mitochondria are not the closest relatives to any of the currently recognized alphaproteobacterial groups, including the Rickettsiales. Rather, the mitochondria evolved from an ancestor which later gave rise to all currently recognized Alphaproteobacteria.“We suspect that the popular Rickettsiales-related ancestry of mitochondria is the result of a methodological artefact.” explains Martijn. “Mitochondria and Rickettsiales have evolved under very similar conditions, which could have resulted in very similar but independent modes of evolution and sequence patterns. This in turn may have complicated previous efforts to determine the evolutionary origin of mitochondria.”The study failed to identify any present-day relatives of the mitochondrial ancestor.Disappointed, the researchers hope the ancestor will be found some day in Tomorrowland.SpidersPhylogenomics, Diversification Dynamics, and Comparative Transcriptomics across the Spider Tree of Life (Current Biology). In this paper, seven Darwinians tried really hard to get spiders to fit into a Darwinian tree. They claim success:Photo by David Coppedge.Dating back to almost 400 mya, spiders are among the most diverse terrestrial predators. However, despite considerable effort, their phylogenetic relationships and diversification dynamics remain poorly understood. Here, we use a synergistic approach to study spider evolution through phylogenomics, comparative transcriptomics, and lineage diversification analyses. Our analyses, based on ca. 2,500 genes from 159 spider species, reject a single origin of the orb web (the “ancient orb-web hypothesis”) and suggest that orb webs evolved multiple times since the late Triassic–Jurassic. We find no significant association between the loss of foraging webs and increases in diversification rates, suggesting that other factors (e.g., habitat heterogeneity or biotic interactions) potentially played a key role in spider diversification. Finally, we report notable genomic differences in the main spider lineages: while araneoids (ecribellate orb-weavers and their allies) reveal an enrichment in genes related to behavior and sensory reception, the retrolateral tibial apophysis (RTA) clade—the most diverse araneomorph spider lineage—shows enrichment in genes related to immune responses and polyphenic determination. This study, one of the largest invertebrate phylogenomic analyses to date, highlights the usefulness of transcriptomic data not only to build a robust backbone for the Spider Tree of Life, but also to address the genetic basis of diversification in the spider evolutionary chronicle.If you read past the confident claims, you notice that up till now this family tree has been “poorly understood” and can only be reconciled with tricks of the tree-building trade, including novel placements, convergent evolution [Darwin Flubber] and storytelling (“the spider evolutionary chronicle”). Surely orb-web building is one of the most complex phenomena in zoology, requiring both incredible expertise in materials science and in behavior. Can anyone really accept their claim that “orb webs evolved multiple times” without comparing it to belief in miracles?YeastGenome evolution across 1,011 Saccharomyces cerevisiae isolates (Nature). This paper talks about another huge tree-building effort, but it’s just for one species: the common yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast has been an important organism for people groups, involved as it is in the making of bread and beer. The 21 authors looked for differences in over a thousand members of this one-celled eukaryote and found some interesting things:Large-scale population genomic surveys are essential to explore the phenotypic diversity of natural populations. Here we report the whole-genome sequencing and phenotyping of 1,011 Saccharomyces cerevisiae isolates, which together provide an accurate evolutionary picture of the genomic variants that shape the species-wide phenotypic landscape of this yeast. Genomic analyses support a single ‘out-of-China’ origin for this species, followed by several independent domestication events. Although domesticated isolates exhibit high variation in ploidy, aneuploidy and genome content, genome evolution in wild isolates is mainly driven by the accumulation of single nucleotide polymorphisms. A common feature is the extensive loss of heterozygosity, which represents an essential source of inter-individual variation in this mainly asexual species. Most of the single nucleotide polymorphisms, including experimentally identified functional polymorphisms, are present at very low frequencies. The largest numbers of variants identified by genome-wide association are copy-number changes, which have a greater phenotypic effect than do single nucleotide polymorphisms.Sanford’s book examines the impact of mutations that are invisible to selection.What they found is a surprising lack of evolution. The biggest differences were single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are neutral mutations. As John Sanford explained in his book Genetic Entropy, the accumulation of neutral or nearly-neutral mutations puts a mutational load on any genome, scrambling the original information and degrading it. Undoubtedly lineages went extinct that degraded too much, or did not survive in the first place. The other major change observed in the study was copy-number changes, including aneuploidy (chromosome duplications), which do not create new information.Nothing in the study claimed yeast made evolutionary progress in any way. There were no innovations or cases of positive selection mentioned. Evidence of “purifying selection” was mentioned, but that results from repair mechanisms in the cell that try to get rid of bad mutations—an example of intelligent design.While it’s helpful to perform genetic studies such as this to tease out effects of mutations and domestication, no Darwinian evolution was observed. No mutations were selected for a fitter kind of yeast. In the end, the “tree of life” for all 1,011 isolates were still yeast. Not only that, they were still one species of yeast: Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Where in any of these examples do we see the Origin of Species by Natural Selection?See also yesterday’s entry for three other examples of tree-building exercises by Darwinians. The results in both these entries would do nothing to convince an impartial observer to believe that bacteria evolved into humans.last_img read more

Linder elected to serve National Corn Board

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest John Linder of Edison, Ohio was elected to serve on the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) board for a three-year term during Corn Congress.Linder is a 5th generation grain farmer with years of experience working on behalf of corn and agriculture.“I am honored to serve this industry that is so important to my family and our country,” Linder said. “For me, it is all about giving back,” he said. “Agriculture has been so good to us, and my family has been able to enjoy farming for many years. We feel very bullish about agriculture still and love farming. The opportunity to give back and see a future for our children is motivation enough.”During his three-year term, he will combine hands-on leadership experience that he has gained from his current and past leadership experiences. Linder is a board member of the Ohio Corn Checkoff and recently served a two-year term as chairman.Linder was elected during Corn Congress, a national policy meeting where farmer delegates of the respective corn state associations discuss grassroots policy. Corn Congress allows farmers to speak directly with representation in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.The NCGA Corn Board is a 15-member board representing America’s corn industry charged with implementing the policies that guide the organization to best serve U.S. corn farmers. Board members represent the federation of state organizations, and acts as spokesmen to enhance the organization’s public standing.last_img read more