Simple Molecules: The Building Blocks of Lie

first_imgAt a physical level, everything in the universe is made of atoms and molecules.  Life, being a subset of everything in the universe, is composed of a subset of all molecules that exist.  It could be said that any atom or molecule present in a living thing is a building block of life, but how informative is that?  Carbon, for instance, is essential to life, but is also a building block of cyanide, tailpipe soot, graphite, diamond and a host of deadly poisons.    It’s not just the presence of the simplest parts that conveys information about the whole – it’s the way that the building blocks are assembled into the complex structure.  A child’s alphabet building blocks, for instance, form gibberish when assembled by an infant who cannot read.  Life has been compared, by contrast, to an encyclopedia of highly specific information.  This information then directs a symphony of coordinated, dynamic processes using molecular machines.    Evolutionists are fond of pointing to carbon, water and other atoms and simple molecules as “building blocks of life.”  Embedded in the phrase is a subtext of progress.  If the building blocks are present, the statement suggests that they will “build” or assemble into life, given the right circumstances.  No one would say, though, that since silicon is a building block of computers, finding silicon on extrasolar planets is a sure bet computers will eventually be found.  In a similar vein, life uses a subset of “organic compounds” (carbon-based chemicals), but sometimes the word organic is used in an equivocal way to suggest the presence of life, even though many organic compounds (cyanide, gasoline, and carbon tetrachloride, for example) are poisonous or useless to biology.    At what point does the use of “prebiotic compounds” or “organic soup” or “building blocks of life” invoke the power of suggestion to support an evolutionary, naturalistic view of life’s origin?  Look at these recent examples to see if the inference to life is warranted by the observations.Oxygen:  The oxygen atom, though necessary for most living things, can also be a deadly poison – that’s why we take antioxidants.  In the cell, it is handled very delicately by complex enzymes that combine it with byproducts of respiration to form water and carbon dioxide, which can be safely removed.  Oxygen’s mere presence, however, suggested to EurekAlert that life was ready to explode in a plethora of wondrous complexity.  The title reads, “2 oxygenation events in ancient oceans sparked spread of complex life.”  Would the same thing be said of silicon sparking the spread of computers?Carbon:  Carbon is essential to most living molecules.  It is basic to fats, sugars, proteins and nucleic acids.  Raw carbon, or simple hydrocarbons, however, are useless to life unless incorporated by enzymes into structural molecules according to coded instructions.    Why, then, are the news media all using the L-word Life in their reports about the discovery of methane around a nearby star?  Methane is the simplest “organic” (carbon-based) molecule: one carbon joined to four hydrogens.  Because of its fourfold valence, carbon easily joins with other atoms – especially the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen.  Methane is abundant on Titan, the gas giants, some comets and probably Mars, though not associated with life there.  Humans use methane for their cooking but not for their biology; it is emitted as a waste product by the bacteria in cow stomachs and by the decay of biomass, but is not a nutrient for life.    Nevertheless, most reports from a paper in Nature1 emphasized the L-word when methane was detected around a star, even though the authors said nothing about life.  “Under certain circumstances, methane can play a key role in prebiotic chemistry – the chemical reactions considered necessary to form life,” said the BBC News.  Ditto for Science Daily.  A NASA scientist called this “a dress rehearsal for future searches for life on more hospitable planets,” according to Space.com.  National Geographic was slightly more tentative, but ended with a focus on methane’s potential as a biomarker for life on other planets.Amino acids:  Proteins are composed of long chains of one-handed amino acids.  These carbon-based molecules have two simple parts, an amino group and a carboxyl group, and a side chain (R-group) that can be as simple as one hydrogen (glycine) or much more complex with cyclic domains and other things.  Of the almost endless varieties of possible amino acids, life as we know it is restricted primarily to 20 kinds.  It is not just the amino acids alone that make them “lively” but their specific combinations into long chains, held together by peptide bonds.    Finding a few amino acids, however, got EurekAlert all excited with two pronouncements on the same day: Meteorites are rich in the building blocks of life and Meteorites a rich source for primordial soup.  Both articles insinuated that a steady rain of amino acids on the primitive earth would have been sufficient to kickstart life in the ocean – even though amino acids avoid joining into polypeptides in the presence of water.  Notice the confidence mixed with suggestion in a statement by a scientist from Imperial College, London: “We know that approximately 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago the Earth underwent heavy bombardment from meteorites which brought molecules to our planet, just before life emerged on Earth.”Water:  It goes without saying that water is another simple molecule often associated with the L-word.  A press release from Jet Propulsion Lab referred to life twice in the story about dust disks around stars (see the other 03/19/2008 entry today).  The article said that the discovery of water vapor molecules in the disk “may help shed light on the origins of our own solar system and the potential for life to develop in others.”  They also quoted Carr using the “building blocks” angle, “Now that we can identify these molecules and inventory them, we will have a better understanding of the origins and evolution of the basic building blocks of life–where they come from and how they evolve.” Countless press releases rush to include the L-word whenever a discovery is made of “building blocks of life” in space.  Presumably, the claim could be made about hydrogen.  Humans have plenty of hydrogen atoms bound to carbon and oxygen.  By extension, then, the whole universe is a building block of life.1.  Swain, Vashist and Tinneti, “The presence of methane in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet,” Nature, 452, 329-331 (20 March 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06823.Your imagination is being taken for a ride when you fall for the “building blocks” line.  Assumptions, unwarranted inferences and misdirection: these are the building blocks of lie.(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Strong SA film presence for Cannes

first_img15 May 2013A record 150 South African filmmakers were set to attend the 66th Cannes International Film Festival which opened on Wednesday, 12 of them sponsored by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), which is also hosting the market screening of three South African films at the prestigious event.The NFVF is running a South Africa pavilion as well as host an array of networking and presentation events over the 11 days of the festival as it pushes to open up new markets for local filmmakers and attract new investments in South Africa’s industry.“Cannes is without a doubt one of the most strategic international film platforms,” NFVF CEO Zama Mkosi said in a statement on Tuesday.“Our emphasis going there is to ensure that our film projects that we take there as well as the filmmakers attending do get as much business exposure as possible and the impact of that is tangible,” Mkosi said.“Another area we will be focusing on is that of marketing our locations as suitable shooting destinations to the international filmmakers. I’m happy that provincial bodies like the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, Durban Film Office and Johannesburg Tourism are part of our delegation, and they will be able to sell their regions to potential investors.”The NFVF announced on Tuesday that South Africa will be signing a memorandum of understanding with Kenya during the festival, aimed at opening opportunities for local filmmakers to explore working partnerships with their counterparts in Kenya.The three South African films that will receive market screenings at Cannes are Diprente Productions’ comedy Blitz Patrollie, which opened on local screens over the weekend, Triggerfish Animation’s new feature Khumba, and Ten10Films’ Black South Easter.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Trade deal reached with Japan

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The United States and Japan have reached a trade agreement on agricultural and industrial tariffs and digital commerce, signed by President Trump and Japanese Prime Minster Abe Sept. 25.Under the agreement, Japan will place the same level of agricultural tariffs on U.S. goods as it places on other countries through trade agreements. By way of example, the 38.5% tariff on U.S. beef will fall to the 26% placed on beef from Australia, Canada and the European Union. Some other foods such as duck, geese, turkey peaches, melons and more would enter duty-free.“Japan is a top export destination for Ohio grains and meat and we are encouraged that a deal has been made to expand access to their market,” said Jon Miller, president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “Japan is also an important market for future ethanol exports and we look forward to providing them a clean-burning, high-octane fuel.”It may take effect as early as Jan. 1, 2020. There is no action by the U.S. Congress necessary, as this is not a full trade agreement that involves substantive changes to existing U.S. law. Many other issues, contained in a “Phase 2” negotiation, will be dealt with in future talks with Japan.“Japan is American agriculture’s fourth-largest export destination and vital to the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of farms and the families who live on them. We export nearly $13 billion a year in agricultural products to Japan, even as we continue to face steep tariffs on many exports,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau president. “This agreement, once signed, will lower tariffs and put U.S. farmers and ranchers on a level playing field to compete in Japan with countries that participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That’s good news.“The time for trade wars has come and gone. We are thankful the administration has reached this deal and we urge trade negotiators to achieve many more like it. Farmers and ranchers need to get back to doing what they do best: feeding a hungry world that needs what they produce.”last_img read more

Thoughts on Nuclear Power – Part 2

first_imgLast week I described why some environmentalists have shifted their position and now support nuclear power, and I described how we might be able to store nuclear waste more safely and cheaply than in the Yucca Mountain facility. So what’s wrong with nuclear power? Why not move full-steam-ahead with this much more climate-friendly power generation option?There are two reasons. First, with today’s nuclear power technologies, there is a very real terrorist threat. Along with concern that radiation could be dispersed by a crude “dirty bomb” or by crashing a plane into nuclear waste storage pools or dry-cask storage facilities at power plants, there’s another terrorist concern that’s rarely mentioned. I believe that it would be possible for a terrorist network to infiltrate the security or reactor operations staffing at a nuclear plant and cause a meltdown. My fear is that operatives working on the inside could disable the primary, secondary, and tertiary cooling systems, and then somehow damage the fission-moderating control rods, precipitating a meltdown and releasing radiation in a Chernobyl-like explosion.It wouldn’t surprise me, in fact, to learn that there are terrorist organizations somewhere in the world today that are working on long-term plans to gain access to nuclear plants so that they can sabotage them in this way. It would be a new level of sophistication by terrorists—perhaps farfetched, but not out of the question. My concerns about this were heightened some years ago when I read Rogue Warrior, an autobiography by an elite Navy Seal, Richard Marcinko who, after leaving the Navy, worked with a small team of ex-Seals to test security at nuclear weapons facilities and military bases. While this was admittedly before 9/11, when security wasn’t as tight, they were able to break into these facilities seemingly at will, and then demonstrate how they could have wreaked havoc. Scary stuff.Should a nuclear power plant be sabotaged in this way somewhere in the world (whether France, Japan, the U.S., or somewhere else) and should it render hundreds or thousands of square miles uninhabitable—as happened in the Ukraine with the Chernobyl accident—the public, and especially the public in the U.S., would decide in short order that it had had enough with this energy source. There would be unstoppable public pressure to shut down nuclear power plants, and any new investment in this industry would be sunk capital.My second concern about nuclear power isn’t nearly as sensational or scary, but it’s probably a bigger obstacle for an industry that’s seeking rebirth—the simple economics of building nuclear power plants. There is a reason why no U.S. utility company has ordered a new nuclear plant for more than 30 years. It’s too risky an investment, even with the Price-Anderson Act that protects utility companies in the event of a major accident—shifting liability to the American taxpayer.In an article in the January 12 issue of Time Magazine about a potential renewal of the nuclear industry, Michael Grunwald wrote, “It turns out that new plants would not just be extremely expensive but spectacularly expensive.” Florida Power & Light recently came up with the first detailed cost estimate for a proposed nuclear plant off the Florida Keys (one of as many as 35 nuclear plants said to be in the planning stages in the U.S.), and it came in at an astounding $12-18 billion. Progress Energy estimated the cost of a different Florida plant at $17 billion—triple the estimate from just a year earlier. By comparison, a new, comparably sized, coal-fired power plant would cost less than $3 billion. If these cost estimates haven’t dampened interest in nuclear power enough, then the credit crunch is sure to.In 2001, prior to these new, higher, cost estimates for building nuclear power plants both here and in Europe, The Economist magazine famously reported that “Nuclear power, once claimed to be too cheap to meter, is now too costly to matter.” My friend Amory Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, Colorado, argues that, given the high manufacturing costs, electricity from new nuclear power plants would cost at least twice as much as electricity from coal or natural gas plants and nearly three times as much as electricity from large wind farms. And the cost of wind power has been dropping steadily during the past decade. Now, if you were a newly bailed-out investment bank, would you really invest in new nuclear plants?To be sure, there are some interesting new technologies being considered with nuclear power, including an inherently safer reactor based on thorium rather than uranium (technology sometimes referred to as “energy amplification”), but there is currently little reason to believe that newer technologies would be any less expensive than the plants being built around the world today by Westinghouse and GE.Given these economic concerns, it’s hard to believe that we will see a resurgence of nuclear power any time soon in this country—despite the climate benefits. I remain convinced that the solution to our energy woes lies, first and foremost, with energy conservation and, second, with a diverse mix of renewable energy sources.last_img read more

The 15 Things You Need to Know About Windows RT

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#Microsoft#web center_img The progression from one Windows version to the next is always confusing: Windows XP gave way to Windows Vista, which in turn produced Windows 7, and each one had various Professional and Home versions to choose from. But this time things are even more unsettled, because Microsoft isn’t just introducing Windows 8, it’s also rolling out something called Windows RT – which is similar to Windows, but not exactly the same. Here’s what you need to know about Windows 8’s little brother.Microsoft is being surprisingly tight-lipped about Windows RT, referring ReadWriteWeb back to the lengthy tome Windows chief Steven Sinofsky authored in February, describing development for the ARM architecture.So for anyone trying to make sense of the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT – these 15 questions will tell you everything there is to know – except maybe which new version of Windows is right for you. For that, you’ll have to wait until Wednesday for ReadWriteWeb’s examination of how to choose between Windows 8 and Windows RT. ]1. What Does Windows RT Stand For?Windows NT was said to stand for “Windows New Technology,” although other explanations have been suggested. Microsoft has never explained what Windows RT officially means.2. When Can I Get Windows RT?Windows RT hardware should be available around the time Windows 8 launches, somewhere on or about October 26.3. Why Are There Two New Versions of Windows?Microsoft’s hardware partners have inevitably moved to where the money is. The success of the Apple iPad convinced manufacturers that tablets were a viable product. However, the only option they had was to choose the Android operating system. Windows on ARM (now renamed Windows RT) gives tablet makers the option to make better and cheaper Windows tablets that run on less-expensive, less-power-hungry ARM (a type of reduced instruction set computing – RISC) chips instead of the standard Intel X86-style processors that other versions of Windows require. Unfortunately, the main Windows code base is designed around X86, so total compatibilty between the versions isn’t yet possible.4. What’s the Hardware Difference Between Windows RT and Windows 8?The real question is what the difference is from a software perspective. But it’s actually easier to answer the hardware question first. Windows 8 is a true PC operating system, if you define the PC as running on an X86 chip from either AMD or Intel.By definition, Windows RT runs on ARM chips, the embedded microprocessors that power today’s smartphones. Windows RT won’t run on an X86 chip. Instead, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments have signed on to manufacture chips to power Windows RT systems.5. Is Windows RT a PC operating system?Yes. And no. Again, you won’t see Windows RT running on a PC microprocessor, but Microsoft has said that PC-like devices will be made by Windows RT partners, including tablets, traditional clamshell laptops and convertible devices.6. Will Windows 8 and Windows RT Work the Same Way?On the surface, they should be very similar. Windows RT apps are basically the widgets that Windows 8 embeds in what it formerly called the “Metro” interface (now the “Modern UI”). But there are other differences: Windows RT won’t include Windows Media Player. Basically, Windows RT sounds like Metro, plus Internet Explorer, plus an RT version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite. That’s it. Windows 8 will go much farther into dedicated apps and software.It’s probably fair to say that Windows RT tablets are designed for cost-conscious consumers, while Windows 8 and its associated hardware will be bought by more professional and creative types. But it’s also possible that Windows RT tablets will be seen as bargains by mainstream users who don’t plan to do more than engage with a few apps, surf the Web and work in Office.7. Can I Buy or Upgrade to Windows RT?No. Windows RT will come only bundled on dedicated hardware, like a tablet. Over time, Microsoft will release downloadble patches and updates.8. Who Will Make Windows RT hardware?That’s a bit up in the air right now. Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung have all said that they plan to manufacture Windows RT devices.But Hewlett-Packard appears to be waffling, and Toshiba has decided to pull out of Windows RT development because of a shortage of components. Toshiba’s chip partner is Texas Instruments, but if TI’s manufacturing is the culprit, it’s not talking. Patrick Moorhead, a former vice president of strategy for AMD and now an independent analyst, told ReadWriteWeb he believes the problem is in fact software drivers, and that the component issue is a bit of a smokescreen.Microsoft, of course, will manufacture its own Windows RT tablet, which apparently will be called the Surface RT. 9. What Will Windows RT Tablets Be Like?Specifically, Microsoft has said that the Surface RT tablets it was aware of ranged in weight from 500 grams (1.1 pounds) to 1,200 grams (2.6 pounds). The tablets ranged from between 8.35 mm to 15.6 mm thick, with lengths that spanned 263 mm (10.3 inches) to 298 mm (11.73 in.) and widths ranging from 168.5 mm (6.63 in.) to 204 mm (8.03 in.)In terms of hardware capability, Microsoft said that the tablets would be able to generate the Windows 8 animations at a fluid 60 Hz, and sample finger input at a smooth 100 Hz per finger. Users wil be able to “bump” or tap two Windows RT devices together and share photos, URLs, map directions and other information. The Surface RT tablets will be able to play HD video continuously for about 8 to 13 hours at screen brightnesses of 200 nits.Microsoft has also said that they will be able to sit within a “connected standby” state for more 17 days, able to update email, tweets, Facebook, et cetera. It’s not yet clear how those capabilities will compare to Windows 8 machines.10. How Much Will Windows RT Devices Cost?Microsoft has said that Widnows RT tablets will be “competitve” with the prices of existing ARM-based tablets. Some think this means about $399 or above, about the price of an Apple iPad; others think that a $200 tablet priced at about the level of an Amazon Kindle Fire or Google Nexus 7 fits the definition.11. Are Windows 8 and Windows RT compatible?Yes and no. Think of Windows 8 as a superset of Windows RT. Windows RT apps will work on Windows 8, but Windows 8 apps will work on Windows RT only if they’re specifically designed for both operating systems.12. Can I Run My old Windows Software on Windows RT?No. Software designed for Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP or earlier versions can’t run on Windows RT, at least natively. Windows RT is an entirely new beast.13. How Do I Run Software on Windows RT?Microsoft will release a version of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for Windows RT that is “significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption, while also being fully featured for consumers and providing complete document compatibility.” That probably means it will lack a few features. Internet Explorer 10 and File Explorer will also be included. Otherwise, users will be able to buy Windows RT apps from the Windows Store. And that’s it. That’s part of the reason apps will such a critical component of Windows RT’s success.14. What Do Developers Think of Windows RT?Right now, Windows RT is still a trial balloon for most developers. Mark Schroeder, a producer with marketing agency Signature Creative, said that the process to port one of its Android apps begins this Monday. The one port will “test the water,” he said, and others will follow if the company believes the process will be justified.However, Microsoft claims that some 90% of the apps already submitted to the Windows 8 store will run on Windows RT, too.15. What About Windows Phone 8?Microsoft has also said that the ”common core” between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will allow apps developed for Windows 8 to be easily ported to Windows Phone. But it’s far less clear whether Windows Phone 8 apps will be easily ported to Windows RT, as Microsoft has confirmed that they will require modification.“Both Windows 8 and Windows Phone leverage common tools and technologies that have been under development at Microsoft for many years,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said in an email. “Developers who build applications for Windows Phone will be very well prepared for building applications for Windows 8, and in many cases, may be able to reuse assets and business logic in building new Windows 8 applications.“While Windows Phone applications cannot run on Windows 8 without being modified, developers have found it’s fairly easy to port a well-written Windows Phone app to Windows 8,” the spokeswoman added. “For example, Rick Walrond, developer of the Windows Phone word game AlphaDrops, reported he was able to use 90% of his original code when porting the game over to Windows 8.”The problem, of course, is that this answer avoids the question of Windows RT, instead substituting Windows 8. Given that Windows Phone 8 apps seem to share a lot in common with the Metro apps, one would think that the apps would drift naturally from one platform to another. But we’ll have to see.Bonus Question: So Which Version of Windows Should I Buy?That is a very good question. So good, that we’re working on a whole story dedicated to choosing between Windows 8 and Windows RT. Look for it on Wednesday. Here’s a hint: it all boils down to software. markhachman Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

Registration Fairs for Disabled Persons Underway

first_img An additional 6500 persons with varying degrees of disabilities have been added to the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) database, through a series of islandwide registration fairs, currently underway.The initiative, which began on July 22, forms part of the Council’s thrust to enhance its outreach programme to disabled persons across the society.Executive Director of the JCPD, Christine Hendricks, informs that there are many disabled persons islandwide, who are unable to access the range of available services available to them, consequent on where they reside, or because they are unaware of these provisions.Against this background, she says the JCPD has embarked on the registration fairs through which they are targeting to increase the current number of beneficiaries on the agency’s database to upwards of 50,000.“We want persons with disabilities to know that it is important to register with the Council, and for us to have the numbers to be able to plan effectively so they can access the services available,” Mrs. Hendricks says.These services include: skills training; job placements; job coaching; housing benefits; the provision of rehabilitation grants for persons interested in starting small businesses; and a bus pass service, at a concessionary rate of $20, on Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses.Other provisions include: assistive aids; school related assistance; and an economic empowerment grant, provided to persons capable of managing a serious business venture, which ranges from $150,000 up to $400.000, if they are applying for assistance as a group.Mrs. Hendricks informs that, to date, the Council has conducted registrations in Hanover, St James, Trelawny, St. Ann, and St. Mary, and will continue its drive, in the other parishes, until August 29.The process continues on Monday, August 12, when the JCPD team goes to St. Thomas Technical High School, and Orange Walk in Golden Grove, St. Thomas.The drive continues on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13 and 14, at the Santa Cruz Primary and Junior High School, and Black River Primary School respectively, in St. Elizabeth.Registrations will be conducted in Manchester at St. Mark’s Anglican Church and Mandeville Parish Church on Thursday August 14 and at Christiana High School on August 15.The following week will see registration sessions at the following locations: St Gabriel’s Anglican Church, May Pen – August 19, and  Clarendon College – August 20, Clarendon;  and Linstead Anglican Church; Emanuel Apostolic Church; and Spanish Town Methodist in St. Catherine, on August 21, 22, and 23, respectively.The drive moves next to Kingston and St. Andrew, and will be held at Genesis Academy, and Stony Hill Primary and Junior High School on August 26, and Emancipation Park, on August 27. It continues in Portland, at Lynch Park, Buff Bay, on August 28, and concludes at Folly Oval, Port Antonio, on August 29.“The aim of this mass registration drive is to have an idea of the number of persons with disabilities that are living in Jamaica, so that we can provide for them effectively. We want to help as much persons as possible, because there are services available that can enrich the lives of persons with disabilities in Jamaica,” the JCPD Executive Director tells JIS News.Mrs. Hendricks says persons with disabilities desirous of registering with the Council are required to have valid identification, a birth certificate, and Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN).“If they do not have their birth certificates or TRN, they can still come to the fair, and we will assist them as best as possible. The first 25 persons who do not have a birth certificate, will receive a free copy, free of cost, compliments of the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), which will make way for all the other required documents. The others will have to pay the regular fee of $850,” she outlines.She advises that Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) will also be at the various locations, to assist with the registration process, by providing TRNs to persons not in possession of same.Additionally, she says HEART Trust/NTA, which has been integral in the process, will also be present to provide information on training opportunities that persons with disabilities can access.Where persons are unable to attend the registration fairs because of physical or financial challenges, community based officers, dispatched to the various parishes, will be conducting home visits, as part of the drive.Mrs. Hendricks is encouraging family members, caregivers, and neighbours to be apprize themselves of the dates when the JCPD’s fairs will be held in the various parishes, and ensure that the persons in their care are registered and thus enabling them to take advantage of the various benefits available to them.For further information on the JCPD fairs and other activities, persons can contact the agency at 926-9374-5 or 447-0444. 6500 persons with varying degrees of disabilities have been added to the JCPD database These services include: skills training; job placements; job coaching; housing benefits, etc. Story Highlights Registration fairs to bring this number up to 50,000 last_img read more

Ghats inundated Varanasi lanes turn into cremation grounds

first_imgVaranasi: As the waters of the Ganga river in Varanasi inundated the ghats, cremation of dead bodies is now being done in the lanes of the holy city. The cremation ground at Harishchandra Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat are now underwater and the last rites of the dead are being performed in the narrow by-lanes and in the backyard of houses adjoining the ghats. Wooden logs kept for cremations could be seen floating in the flood waters. “The pyres are being burnt in a dry small space, which is barely enough to accommodate a pyre and some people attending the last rites. Most of those coming with bodies for cremation are forced to wait on the main road as the entire ghat area is submerged, “said Acharya Rakesh, a priest. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Bahadur Chaudhary, who belongs to the Dom community that performs the last rites, said: “We are helpless. This is sheer callousness of the administration that has failed to construct a high platform for cremations despite availability of funds. “The problem has worsened owing to the fact that the gas-based crematorium at Harishchandra Ghat is lying defunct due to a technical snag. It has two furnaces. While one stopped working last week, the other developed the snag after heavy rains lashed the city on Sunday night.” A large number of bodies from eastern part of the state, as well as Bihar, are brought for cremation to Varanasi, as according to Hindu belief cremation in this city leads to salvation. People are also complaining of a sudden and exorbitant increase in prices of wooden logs and other material used for performing the last rites.last_img read more

16 Indigenous movers and shakers to watch in 2016

first_imgCara Currie-Hall-Political ActivistOne of the co-founders of Rock the Indigenous Vote stormed onto the Canadian political activism scene just weeks prior to the 2015 federal election.Currie-Hall, originally from Montana Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alta., and now living in North Dakota, helped, in her own way, in getting Barack Obama elected as President by helping to create a block vote throughout Indian Country in the United States.Cara Currie-HallShe took her passion and expertise back home this past fall and toured the prairies urging Canada’s Indigenous Peoples to get out and Rock the Indigenous vote. She called Canada’s Indigenous community a “force to be reckoned with” and the strategy was to “Indigenize” the election to make the political parties “talk to us, on our terms.”On the heels of a Liberal majority elected to government last October Currie Hall continues to stay engaged with the Canadian political scene.Her efforts have impressed Indigenous leaders enough to appoint her to sit on the International Oversight Committee on Treaty Enforcement and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples committee.Currie-Hall (left) with Justin Trudeau during the 2015 federal election Christi Belcourt-ArtistChristi is a Metis artist originally from Lac Ste. Anne Alberta, but now lives near the shores of Lake Huron, ON. Her work has been popping up on the runways of the international fashion scene since the Valentino empire partnered with Belcourt in their 2016 Resort collection.Artist Christi BelcourtThe couture fashion pieces feature stunning, flowery, elegant patterns based upon Belcourts ‘Water Song’ painting found in the National Gallery of Canada.Belcourt uses her art to create awareness on social issues which flows into her advocacy work with missing and murdered Indigenous Women. She is involved with the Walking With Our Sisters travelling exhibit and says the fashion designs help to portray women in a broader light.Water Song by Christi BelcourtCelebrities like Jennifer Lopez and up and coming Yellowknife actress of The Revenant, Melaw Nakehk’o have been spotted wearing Belcourt’s designs.Expect to see more of the influence from this gifted artist in main stream trends in the months to come. Perry Bellegarde-National Chief, Assembly of First NationsJust over a year into leading the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde is at the forefront of talks of establishing a new relationship with First Nations and the newly elected Liberal government.Bellegarde has the unprecedented task of working alongside the Trudeau government to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, conduct a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, carry out the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and solve the clean drinking water crisis being among the top priorities of both governments.Bellegarde (at the podium) introduces Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the AFN’s Special Chief’s Assembly in Dec. 2015Bellegarde is keeping pressure on Trudeau to hold true to his commitments to First Nations and is expecting to see big investments announced in the upcoming federal budget.Bellegarde (back left) with the Canadian delegation to the Paris climate talks in Nov. 2015First Nations Perry Bellegarde is at the forefront of “closing the gap” between First Nations and the Canadian government.                                             Robert-Falcon Ouellette-Politician The 38 year old Metis was elected as the Liberal Minister of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre in October. Robert Falcon-Ouellette had first gained national recognition during his run for mayor of Winnipeg in 2014, which he ended up coming in third. It was considered an impressive feat given he was a newcomer to the political arena.Falcon Ouellette campaign with Justin Trudeau in WinnipegHe is a married father of five, has a PhD as well as two masters degrees and served for 19 years in the Canadian Armed Forces.Falcon-Ouellette channels a magnetic personality through to his new leadership role in the House of Commons.He is often seen wearing flowered embroidery and beaded attire to proudly express his Cree heritage.Falcon Ouellette on the campaign trail in Winnipeg CentreSince taking office Falcon-Ouellette has brought Indigenous issues to the forefront and called them one of the most important issues on his agenda to tackle in 2016. Marilyn Jensen- Dance troupe manager, teacher of First Nation governanceMarilyn Jensen is Inland Tlingit and Tagish Khwáan from the Carcross/Tagish First Nation; belonging to the Dakhl’aweidí Clan under the Tagish Keét Hít (Killer whale House)  Killer whale crest in the Southern Yukon Territory.Marilyn JensenJensen is leading a revival in North West coastal traditions, ceremony, dance and songs. She is the founder, manager and dance group leader of the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers who have performed across Turtle Island with the goal of sharing traditional Indigenous culture with the world.Jensen is passionate about her work to sustain her Indigenous roots teaching First Nation Governance to students, Indigenous and government organizations throughout the Yukon Territory.The Dakhká Khwáan Dancers that Jensen managesShe is also the vice-president of the Yukon First Nation Cultural Tourism Association and a member of the Indigenous Programs Council for The Banff Centre.Expect big things from Jensen who is pursuing a Ph’d in Indigenous leadership in 2016. Tanya Tagaq-ArtistThe Polaris prize winner from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut has been touring the world showcasing her unique talents and giving exposure to the culture of the people of the north.Tagaq, a throat singer, a traditional way of expressing song that her ancestors have practiced for time immemorial, is much more than that.Tanya TagaqShe is an activist, determined to expose hard truths about systemic racism in governments, missing and murdered Indigenous women and proudly supporting the practices and preservation of her culture such as seal hunting.Her bold, fierce approach spills out into her artistry that has garnered her praise for a one of a kind talent that channels the spirit of her Indigenous roots into the attention of main stream audiences.Watch for Tagaq to continue breaking new ground and challenging music industry boundaries in 2016. Jody Wilson-Raybould-PoliticianShe is currently one of the most powerful politicians in Canada. Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Kwakwaka’wakw Liberal Member of Parliament is the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.From Vancouver, BC Wilson-Raybould is no new comer to the world of politics. She is the former regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, Crown prosecutor and advocate for Indigenous rights.Wilson-Raybould being sworn in as Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada at Rideau Hall in NovemberWorking alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould will play an integral role in reconciliation initiatives and the establishment of a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.Politics runs in her family. Wilson-Raybould’s father Bill Wilson helped fight for Aboriginal reform in Canada’s constitution.This is the first time a First Nations person has held the title of Justice Minister in Canada and Wilson-Raybould will be carving out her mark in the nation’s political history in 2016. Althea Guiboche-ActivistAlthea Guiboche, aka the Bannock Lady, feeds the homeless in Winnipeg and has become a well-known advocate for the struggles they face. The feisty, driven, single mother of seven, currently lives on income support but is breaking stereotypical views about those who receive welfare.Althea GuibocheShe uses the influence gained by her charity work to speak out against racism and other issues related to First Nations.Guiboche (centre) at an event in the north end of Winnipeg.Now, she has her sights set on the Manitoba legislature. In December Guiboche announced her bid to run as the Liberal candidate in her neighbourhood of Point Douglas in inner city Winnipeg. Whether or not she wins, we expect to see a lot more from Guiboche going forward. Melina Laboucan-Massimo-Environmental ActivistLaboucan-Massimo is a First Nations environmentalist who is no stranger to the activism scene. For several years, Laboucan-Massimo has been at the forefront of environmental causes and her work continues to stand out. She is a climate and energy campaigner with Green Peace Canada and her endeavours often have the backing of Hollywood celebrities.Laboucan-Massimo addressing a Congressional hearing in Washington, 2012In the summer of 2015, Laboucan-Massimo lead the construction and installation of a solar power panel project in her tiny home community of Little Buffalo in northern Alberta.Little Buffalo sits near the heart of the Alberta tar sands and has experienced devastation to its lands from oil spills.The solar project was significant considering it cost thousands of dollars, the majority of which was raised through private donors and fundraising initiatives undertaken by Laboucan-Massimo.Additionally, Laboucan-Massimo is an advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women. Her own sister Bella Laboucan-Mclean died mysteriously after falling from a condo balcony in Toronto in the summer of 2013.Laboucan-Massimo (centre) with actors Jane Fonda (left) and Rachel McAdams at a Greenpeace event in BCLaboucan-Massimo completed her Master of Indigenous governance in December 2015 and is ready to incorporate her training with her environmental work.She is reaching out to First Nations communities to help create renewable energy solutions and supporting Indigenous initiatives to transition to renewables in 2016. Look for this powerhouse of a Nehiyaw woman to continue taking over the country in the name of Indigenous rights in the year to come. Grace Dove-ActressShe is only in her early twenties, but her acting career has been greatly boosted thanks to The Revenant.With a name as pretty as it connotates, Grace Dove impressed Revenant director Alejandro Inarritu enough with her artistic talents that he cast her as Leonardo Dicpario’s wife. Dove said the experience was a dream come true.Grace DoveThe Vancouver based First Nations actress had a whirlwind of a year in 2015. She travelled across Turtle Island to film in Argentina the epic scenes opposite Dicaprio, to recently attend the movie premiere in Hollywood, all the while balancing her APTN sports action show Under Exposed.Dove (right) and Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from The RevenantOn her sudden shot to international fame and with a bright 2016 on the horizon Dove had this to say via her Instagram account:“Coming from Prince George, being First Nations, and Canadian everyone is so impressed. I just think I had the vision and this dream and I didn’t let anyone tell me it’s not possible.”center_img Cory Nicotine-ActivistWinner of the prestigious, 2015 Everyday Political Citizen award by Toronto based organization Samara Canada, Cory Nicotine.Nicotine, originally from Saddlelake Cree Nation in northern Alberta is a passionate advocate for youth.Cory Nicotine. Photo: Brandi Morin/APTNDuring a trip to Africa in 2012 Nicotine said he was intrigued after witnessing a mesh of cultural and religious backgrounds living harmoniously. Meanwhile back at home, the Idle No More movement was exploding across Canada.These events sparked the inspiration for Nicotine to establish Knowledge is Pow Wow. The program, run out of the iHuman Youth Society in Edmonton helps create understanding and breaks down barriers in Edmonton’s diverse, multi-cultural community while encouraging youth to become engaged with politics. The city recently recognized Nicotine for his work and committed to funding Knowledge is Pow Wow in 2016. Brandi MorinAPTN National NewsIt takes a lot of people to make the world go around. Some people are putting their best foot forward to make sure it moves in the right direction. 2016 promises to be a big year for First Nation, Métis Nation and Inuit peoples across the country.APTN National News created a list of Indigenous movers and shakers that we predict will be doing big things in the coming year. Here is the list of exceptional up and comers in alphabetical order: Mike Scott- Motivational SpeakerMike Scott has a social media following in the thousands. He is a First Nations motivational speaker from Saskatoon, Sask., who is using his story of adversity to inspire youth from across the country. Leaving behind a life of addictions, Scott began a journey of healing and started the Sober is Sexi motto.Mike ScottFor the past four years, Scott has traveled across Canada and the U.S. sharing his story and encouraging youth to find their purpose and to live a life of sobriety.He also creates and posts hilarious video skits on social media, one of the most recent being a parody of the romantic pottery scene from the movie Ghost. The video, shared thousands of times boasting over a million views is giving wide exposure to the charismatic, down to earth and genuinely “neechie” personality that is Mike Scott.Scott tours schools talking about the advantages of sobrietyHe is a hit among native youth and old alike and his rising popularity is sure to open the doors to further opportunities in 2016. Cowboy Smithx-Actor, directorAt the age of just 34 Cowboy Smithx juggles the roles of actor, director and creator/curator of the newly launched Redx Talks speaker series.Birthed from the desire to share the stories of the ancestors, Smithx who is Blackfoot from Piikani and Kainai in Southern Alberta, is embarking on a journey of “dispelling myths, transferring culture and dropping knowledge bombs.”Cowboy SmithxFollowing the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its recommendations, Smithx is hoping to build bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.Redx Talks launched last October, bringing in top Indigenous influencers with plans to take the show on tour across Turtle Island.Smithx is also promoting his film Elder in the Making inspired by the work of the Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society-a group of artists, musicians, playwrights, elders and technicians working to bring the stories of Aboriginal and settler relationships to the mainstream.Keep on the lookout for a Redx Talks event or a screening of Elder in the Making to come to a city near you in 2016. Ashley Callingbull-Mrs. UniverseCallingbull made international news headlines after winning the Mrs. Universe title in Belarus last August, the first Canadian and First Nations woman to ever claim the crown. The stunning Enoch Cree Nation model and actress used the sudden notoriety to give voice to the plight of First Nations in Canada and called for the ousting of then Prime Minister Stephen Harper.Ashley CallingbullSoon after, Callingbull joined David Suzuki and other celebrities to launch the Leap Manifesto to urge citizens and governments alike to care for the climate and transition away from fossil fuels. She also raises awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women, poverty, inequality and racism.Callingbull with the Butterflies in Spirit performers after the Fashion Speaks event to raise awareness about MMIW in B.C. last fall.While gracing the cover of countless fashion magazines and travelling the world, Callingbull keeps a hectic schedule of public appearances and media engagements. [email protected] Duane Howard-ActorIf you’re planning to watch one of the hottest movies to come out of Hollywood as of late, keep an eye out for Chief Elk Dog in The Revenant. He’s played by Vancouver based First Nations actor Duane Howard who portrays the stoic leader of the Arikara tribe alongside Leonardo Dicaprio and Tom Hardy.Duane HowardSome of the backdrop scenery in The Revenant runs in Howard’s blood who originally hails from the Nuu-chah-nulth territory in British Columbia which means “along the mountains and sea.”Howard’s story of triumph over struggle is remarkable. After growing up in an alcoholic family, he hit the streets of Vancouver to wrestle with the demons from his childhood and eventually found solace through acting. Starting as a stuntman in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts and Artic Air.Howard at the premiere of The Revenant in CaliforniaSince landing his biggest role yet in The Revenant, Howard has walked the red carpet in tinsel town with the biggest names in the industry.Many industry professionals are predicting The Revenant to clean house at the upcoming Oscar awards.  With this type of colossal exposure we predict there are also big things brewing for Howard in the coming year. Sheila North-Wilson-Grand Chief, Manitoba Keewatinowi OkimakanakShe is the first woman to ever be elected to lead the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO). Chief Sheila North-Wilson beat out incumbent David Harper with promises of ushering in big changes and reinstating integrity to the organization that represents 30 First Nations.Sheila North WilsonThe married, mother of two has big aspirations to make her mark during her tenure as MKO grand chief.Originally from the Bunibonibee Cree Nation North-Wilson is accustomed to the lime light. A former spokesperson for the Manitoba Assembly of First Nations and former journalist with CTV Winnipeg, she has temporarily put her TV career on hold.Chatelaine magazine recently named North-Wilson as one of its 30 women of the year.She is often at the center of media headlines speaking out about various First Nations issues like missing and murdered Indigenous women, child welfare and, most recently, publicly denouncing racism after being followed under suspicion of theft in a Winnipeg department store.With a national inquiry into MMIW underway and the Trudeau government’s ambitious goals to build new relationships with Indigenous peoples, North-Wilson has her work cut out for her.Yet 2016 could be the year that sees her leadership skills take full form.last_img read more