Darwin As Prognosticator

first_imgHow good was Darwin at making predictions?  A good scientific theory should make predictions, at least according to a common assumption about science.  PBS thinks Darwin hit a home run, according to an interactive feature on the website for Judgment Day, the documentary about evolution vs intelligent design shown on Nova this week (11/14/2007).  The commentary below will analyze these 13 predictions, but some other recent stories from science journals show Darwin scoring a much lower batting average:Island dwarfism:  Evolutionary biologists have long believed that animals trapped on islands would evolve into smaller versions of their mainland counterparts.  Not true, say researchers from Imperial College, London.  A catalog of island species shows no such trend; many factors are involved in the size distribution of island species.  The details can be found at PhysOrg and Science Daily.  (Note: the articles do not attribute the prediction to Darwin himself.)Arms race:  If Darwin intended his theory of natural selection to express a law of nature that applies everywhere, it might be difficult to correlate opposite results.  Many evolutionary biologists speak of predators, prey and parasites leading to an “evolutionary arms race” that drives speciation and adaptive radiation, leading to Darwin’s branching tree of life.  An article in Science Daily, however, says that predators and parasites can drive “evolutionary stability.”Parental guidance suggested:  The environment is supposed to drive evolutionary adaptation.  Offspring, facing the mean old world, should get by with the random genetic mutations that improve their survival – not a parental handout.  Taking loans from mom or dad’s genes would indicate a dependency on pre-adaptive resources, innate in the genetic information of the species.  A study at University of Virginia suggests, however, that maternal influences do help offspring adapt to their environment.Birds don’t talk:  What drives speciation in birds?  It should be Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection – of which the Galapagos finches are the textbook example.  In Science last month,1 however, Loren Rieseberg reviewed a new book by Trevor Price, Speciation in Birds, and found that even the textbook case is not open and shut:Of perhaps greater interest are Price’s conclusions about the roles of ecology and social selection in speciation; these remain relatively unexplored subjects about which birds have much to offer.  Closely related species of birds often differ in ecologically important traits–such as body size, habitat preferences, and feeding and migratory behaviors–that are also likely to contribute to both premating and postmating reproductive isolation.  These observations, combined with classic studies of ecologically driven speciation in Darwin’s finches and crossbills, imply that ecological selection likely contributes to most speciation events in birds.  However, Price cautions that divergence of most co-occurring bird species is too ancient to make inferences about the causes of speciation and that studies of recently diverged species, such as Darwin’s finches, highlight the fragility of ecological reproductive barriers.  He concludes that “it is unclear if ecological causes are sufficient or even important in many speciation events.”  This somewhat negative assessment of the role of ecology in speciation is tempered by speculation in later chapters that rapid ecological speciation may account for short branch lengths detected early in the evolution of many bird genera.That sounds like Price debunked Darwin’s speculation, only to replace it with one of his own.  “Interestingly, social selection appears to be more generally important in speciation in birds than sexual selection, despite the emphasis in the literature on the latter,” Rieseberg continued, only to accuse Price of doublethink: “Price also argues that ecological factors are a major cause of divergence in socially selected traits, an assertion that, while strongly supported, seemingly is at odds with his earlier pessimistic assessment of the importance of ecology in speciation.”    Earlier in the review, Rieseberg also noted that Price did not put much credibility in another evolutionary hypothesis, the so-called “founder effect” (i.e., that new colonizers drift genetically into new species).  Whatever the causes of the origin of species, they appear more complex and inscrutable than Darwin had imagined.Opportunity lost:  The genes of 12 species of Drosophila were compared in a massive test of evolution, published in Nature.2  How much opportunity was there for evolution since the species diverged?  The team wrote, “the evolutionary divergence spanned by the genus Drosophila exceeds that of the entire mammalian radiation when generation time is taken into account,” so for the number of generations during which mammals went from mice to giraffes and whales, these little flies should have had ample opportunity to evolve by Darwin’s theory of natural selection.  (Note: the only kind of natural selection of interest here is positive selection for functional advantage; purifying selection gets rid of harmful mutations, and balancing selection tries to offset them.)    The paper mentions evolution and selection numerous times.  A search for innovation turns up empty, though, and examination of instances of positive selection shows no clear cut example of something new and improved arising.  The geneticists looked for markers of positive selection indirectly – fast-changing base pairs in otherwise unchanging sequences.  It is not as straightforward, however, to correlate these changes with new genetic information that provides a functional advantage for the fly.  The clearest example of positive selection they could find was for “helicase activity,” which seems like merely an adjustment in the rate of operation of existing hardware.  They said, “Despite a number of functional categories with evidence for elevated omega [i.e., an indicator of positive natural selection], ‘helicase activity’ is the only functional category significantly more likely to be positively selected.”  In other words, not only are all the 12 species of Drosophila still fruit flies, none of them seemed to exhibit a single clear-cut example of a new functional innovation – despite as many generations as the mammals had for their assumed evolutionary radiation, with all the new capabilities possessed by bats, skunks, hippos and aardvarks.  What was Darwin doing all that time?  It would seem if clear indications of innovation that would vindicate Darwin had been found, it would be the news of the decade.    In the same issue of Nature,3 Ewan Birney commented on the Clark et al study.  “The analysis of positive selection by Clark and colleagues is undoubtedly the broadest and most detailed investigation performed in any clade of multicellular organisms.”  Two species of Drosophila in the study are as different genetically as humans are from other primates, he said.  Though he claimed that the team identified a third of fruit fly genes apparently undergoing positive selection (mostly for the existing immune system and olfactory functions), he did not identify any example of an “upward” change that gave any species a new organ, system, or innovation that would indicate Drosophila was evolving into something better than a plain old fruit fly.  Instead, he indicated that future studies on primates would be required to understand positive evolution: “Clark and colleagues’ findings suggest that, to understand the fascinating adaptive changes among primates, including those unique to humans, we probably need to sequence the genome of every extant primate (and, where possible, any extinct primates with recoverable DNA), using optimal sequencing strategies to obtain both population-level data and accurate genome sequences.”Fossils to the rescue?  Is Darwin’s tree rooted in the rocks?  Gene Hunt undertook a study of “The relative importance of directional change, random walks, and stasis in the evolution of fossil lineages,” and found a lot of stasis.  After his “large-scale, statistical survey of evolutionary mode in fossil lineages,” involving some 250 sequences of evolving traits, he wrote in PNAS,4 “The rarity with which directional evolution was observed in this study corroborates a key claim of punctuated equilibria and suggests that truly directional evolution is infrequent or, perhaps more importantly, of short enough duration so as to rarely register in paleontological sampling.”  Darwin did not predict punctuated equilibria.  The core of his theory was that changes occurred imperceptibly, gradually and cumulatively.  In addition, he knew that the fossil record was characterized by large gaps, but predicted that the new fossil discoveries would fill in those gaps, revealing his hoped-for branching evolutionary tree.  Hunt found only 5% of fossil lineages could be attributed to directional evolution.  Of the rest that showed change over time, it was mostly for body size, not body shape.  This does not seem to be a vindication for Darwin’s prognosticative powers.  In the evolutionary rat race, if a bigger or smaller rat wins, it is still just a rat.Scientific literature does present occasional successes for Darwin, such as this claimed vindication at Queens University for Darwin’s controversial hypothesis of sympatric speciation.  But the score is mixed.  One study never undertaken is how Darwin’s predictions would rank against those of astrology.1.  Loren H. Rieseberg, “…And a Partridge in Allopatry,” Science, 12 October 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5848, p. 198, DOI: 10.1126/science.1147892.2.  Clark et al, “Evolution of genes and genomes in the Drosophila phylogeny,” Nature 450, 203-218 (8 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06341.See also an article in Science Daily that lamented the difficulty this study uncovered about identifying what is a gene.3.  Ewan Birney, “Evolutionary genomics: Come fly with us,” Nature 450, 184-185 (8 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/450184a.4.  Gene Hunt, “The relative importance of directional change, random walks, and stasis in the evolution of fossil lineages,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print November 14, 2007, 10.1073/pnas.0704088104.We have reported numerous times when Darwin predicted something and the opposite was found (e.g., 11/13/2007, 11/09/2007, 10/17/2007).  Charlie has struck out again and again, yet his fans never give up.    The PBS Judgment Day program (11/14/2007) made a big deal about how “scientific” Darwin’s theory was.  For support, the PBS website offered an interactive feature listing 13 of “Darwin’s Predictions” that supposedly came true.  This was presented to trick students and visitors into thinking Darwin has an impressive batting average.  Let’s look at them and see if Charlie can make it to first base at least.  The PBS feature begins with a dramatic star spangled banner, asking Jose if he can see the Darwin’s early light:Ahead of his time is putting it moderately for Charles Darwin.  The father of evolution had conjectures that were only proved, or greatly substantiated, decades after his death in 1882, in some cases not until recently.  Today, evidence that unequivocally supports his theory of evolution by natural selection, as well as other surmises he had, comes from an array of scientific disciplines, including paleontology, geology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and, most recently, evolutionary developmental biology, or “evo devo.”  “The notion that all these lines of evidence could converge and give a common answer to the question of where we came from is truly powerful,” says Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller.  “This is the reason why scientific support for the theory of evolution is so overwhelming.”A pretty dramatic overture indeed, provided there is power behind the sound system.  Here are the 13 pitches for Darwin to swing at.  Keep in mind these are all supposed to be predictions by Darwin that were confirmed by science.  Unfortunately, since the Darwin Party owns the stadium and both teams, which are sworn to make Charlie look good, all we can do is umpire from the sidelines when they break the rules.Evo-devo:  “Evolution happens,” the first entry announces triumphantly.  Something else on bumper stickers also happens, but we won’t press the point.    Right off the bat, we notice them including evo-devo in the victory circle with little more than an unsupported assertion followed by the favorite Darwin Party quote that nothing in biology makes sense except in the darkness of evolution.  Last month, however, Ron Amundson, in a Science Magazine book review (318:5850, pp. 571-572, 10/26/2007) portrayed evolutionary genetics and evolutionary embryology (of which evo-devo is the latest incarnation) as antagonists in a long tug-of-war between biologists about where the seat of evolution lies.  This is essentially the battle between saltationism and gradualism in embryo.  So for PBS to claim evo-devo is a friend of Darwin is a little like Coriolanus embracing Aufidius.  They are reluctant allies who would as soon stab one another except for the common enemy, the creationists.Verdict: this is not even a pitch; it’s just Darwin fans rooting in the stands.Natural selection:  “Evolution happens through natural selection,” the next entry states.  We thought that was the question at issue.  Ever hear of begging the question?  This is no prediction; it assumes what needs to be proved.  There it is, right before your eyes, a totally begged question, complete with another favorite D.P. quote that natural selection is “the greatest idea anyone ever had,” followed by a Big Lie by Niles Eldredge that nothing in 175 years has contravened it (even his own competing theory of punctuated equilibria?).Verdict: this is a little dance on the pitcher’s mound getting applause from the Darwin fans again.  No ball has been pitched yet.  We’re getting impatient.For rebuttals that show natural selection does not work as advertised, and has been essentially falsified, see 11/29/2004 and, more recently, 11/13/2007 and 10/17/2007. Galapagos finches:  This was no prediction.  Darwin found the finches while a creationist, then much later worked them into his evolutionary theory.  But even if you allow a postdiction to count as a prediction, it is irrelevant, because even young-earth creationists allow for the microevolution seen in finch beaks.Verdict: When are you going to pitch a ball, PBS?  We want a pitcher, not a Lucy itcher.  We’re starting to boo from the sidelines while the hysterical fans go ape.Genetics:  Finally, a pitch.  Darwin swings and misses.  His theory of pangenesis was discredited almost as soon as it hit the shelves.  He knew nothing of DNA, and did not predict anything like a code in the cell which, to him, was a simple blob of protoplasm.Verdict: Strike one.  For the Darwin party to give Charlie credit for DNA and molecular biology as a prediction of his theory is like giving Walt Whitman credit for the internet.Antisupernaturalism:  What?  That is the very question under consideration.Verdict: Foul!  Illegal procedure!  This is no pitch; it is another egregious case of begging the question.Embryology:  This is indistinguishable from #1.  It’s evo-devo again.  PBS failed to point out the Haeckel’s embryo hoax that sprang right out of Darwin’s own speculations.  The shared genetic toolkit is no prediction of Darwin’s theory; it is an evidence that complex design was there from the beginning.Verdict: No pitch.  Sending the evo-devo clown out on the field for another cheer from the fans is a distraction.Sexual selection:  OK, here’s a real pitch.  Darwin did predict sexual selection would drive sexual dimorphism.  (Actually, this is just another postdiction, because peacocks were already well known in his time.)  The theory is controversial (02/26/2003), but at best, a peacock with radical tail feathers is still a peacock, not a new animal.  Sexual selection does not explain the origin of new species.Verdict: Ball One.Common ancestry:  Ken Miller states, “Despite the extraordinary diversity of life, all living organisms share a nearly identical set of essential genes, reflecting their evolutionary development from a common ancestor.”  Yet Darwin’s view was one not of “immortal” traits, nor of anything that has “survived essentially unchanged for over two billion years.”  Darwin’s world is a fluid picture of gradual, incessant change, not stasis.Verdict: More evo-devo.  More begging the question.  Common ancestry is the question under debate, not a prediction!  They are not learning their lesson.  This elicits a cheer from the fans in the stands, but no ball was pitched.Human evolution:  “Humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor,”  the next slide announces triumphantly, again begging the question.  As support, the slide borrows an ancient 1863 Huxley drawing, and then repeats the discredited whopper that human and chimpanzee genes are 99% similar (see 06/29/2007).  No fossil evidence is presented.  They repeat Darwin’s speculation that “the difference between the mind of man and that of a chimpanzee or gorilla is a matter of degree, not of kind.”  What did they do to interpolate this, interview Lucy or something?  It’s not like creationists have failed to notice similarities and differences between humans and apes for thousands of years; so what has Charlie done to prove his condition that we evolved from them?Verdict: Begged question, no evidence.  Ball Two.Modern humans arose in Africa:  Evidence is presented from phylogenetic trees and alleged hominid bones, most of which were found in Africa.  This argument fails to recognize the selective effect of doing most of the digging in Africa, and the circular nature of finding Darwin trees in the genes, when unbiased analysis finds no tree (10/08/2007) and declares phylogenetic tree-building a function of assumptions (01/18/2006).Verdict: the ball curves chaotically through the batter’s box, making any contact with the bat a matter of luck, not skill.  Ball Three.Old earth:  This was not a prediction of Darwin.  Hutton, Lyell and other geologists had already decided long before The Origin to believe in an old earth, and they began interpreting the strata through that lens.  Regardless of debates on the age of the earth, Darwin gets no credit for predicting it.Verdict: Strike Two.Fossils:  Precambrian fossils?  Missing links?  Gaps filled in with transitional forms? (see 10/15/2007 commentary on the PBS offerings, under numbered bullets #1).  The gall of these people to use the most damaging evidence against Darwin’s theory as support for it!Verdict: Strike Three.Moth tongue:  OK, Charlie struck out, but we’ll entertain his final little just-so story, his lucky #13, as he walks to the dugout.  He predicted a pollinator with a foot-long tongue would be found to pollinate a peculiar orchid, and by golly, one was found 40 years later.  Awesome, dude.  Cowabunga.  Way to go.  Ahem.  The moth was still a moth, not some other animal, and the orchid was still an orchid.  None of this is germane to the question of the origin of species.  Since even young-earth creationists allow for dramatic variations of traits within kinds (look at dogs), this pitch is too little, too late.Verdict: Don’t quit your day job, prognosticator.  Go breed some pigeons.  Be sure to use intelligent design.So Charlie is out.  He has failed to hit a single pitch from the list of predictions.  He couldn’t even walk to first base, because the pitcher kept dancing on the mound.    We hate to hurt a guy’s feelings when he’s down, but must point out that even if he had struck a homer, it wouldn’t have mattered.  You see, scientists and philosophers have known for a long time that predictability is no assurance of validity.  There is an inherent logical fallacy in making and fulfilling predictions, called the fallacy of Affirming the Consequent (see Wikipedia for a convenient summary): “If P then Q; Q is true, therefore P is true.”  This is a non-sequitur; there are other things than P that could have been the cause of Q.  Example: Columbus told the natives that their gods were angry because of their treatment of his sailors, and were going to punish them by turning the moon blood-red.  It happened!  Columbus was good at predicting a lunar eclipse, but the natives believed the gods were angry, and treated him with much more respect.  If you take a placebo because the experimenter tells you it will make you feel better, and you feel better, it doesn’t mean the placebo cured you.  Astrologers and pseudoscientists for centuries have used this fallacy to their advantage.    The problem is even more serious at a deeper level.  Philosophers of science since Pierre Duhem (late 19th century) have pointed out that theories are underdetermined by facts.  No matter how many facts your theory can incorporate, or how many successful predictions it can make, there are always a nearly infinite number of other theories that could account for the phenomena.  That’s why Popper proposed falsifiability as a criterion for good science.  Many would argue that Darwinism has already been falsified, but then Popper is not the last word, either.  Philosophy of science, the attempt to give a rational justification for scientific claims and discriminate good science from pseudoscience, has undergone multiple revolutions in the 20th century alone.  There remains no consensus even today.  All agree now, however, that the ability to make predictions is neither necessary nor sufficient to claim a theory is scientific.  So even if Charlie had hit the ball, the game wasn’t valid in the first place.  There is no joy in Dudville.  Mighty Charlie has struck out.  The officials, meanwhile, had already abrogated the game and declared it nugatory.(Visited 32 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

No guaranteed Round of 16 slot even if Azkals beat Kyrgyzstan

first_imgSEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Currently in last place in Group C, the Azkals face Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday night at Rashid Stadium with both teams needing victories to stand a chance of progressing to the round of 16.Making it to the next round as one of the top two teams in the group is already out of the equation for the Azkals, but qualifying as one of the four best third-placed squads is a scenario that is still alive.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsThe Azkals narrowly lost to South Korea, 0-1, in their opening match on Jan. 7, before falling to China, 0-3, at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match against China drew 16,000 fans, so far the most attended game in the tournament that did not involve host United Arab Emirates.“The Kyrgyzstan match will be like a final for us,” said captain Stephan Schrock. “We have to finish with a really good performance, taking three points—and really hope for the best.” LATEST STORIES SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion PacMay II: Russia or London LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening View comments Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting MOST READ SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss DUBAI—There is no guarantee that a victory in its last group match will be enough for the Philippines to reach the next round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup.But a strong finish can cap what has been a memorable debut so far for the Azkals here.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. The Philippines is one of eight winless countries in the tournament after all 24 teams have played their two matches. A draw will not be enough for both Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines to reach the next round.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviñolast_img read more

IM ON THE MEND ALEX TREBEK SAYS HES DONE WITH CHEMOTHERAPY

first_imgAdvertisement Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Canadian “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek says he’s “on the mend” after completing treatment for pancreatic cancer.In a new video posted on the “Jeopardy!” Facebook and YouTube pages, the Sudbury, Ont.-born TV personality says he’s “gone through a lot of chemotherapy and thankfully that is now over.”The video follows the 79-year-old around on set and behind the scenes of the hit quiz show as it prepares for its season 36 premiere on Sept. 9. In this April 30, 2017 file photo, Alex Trebek speaks at the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)center_img Trebek looks sprightly as he interacts with the audience and explains his excitement for the next season, and is even seen doing a few push-ups on a chair behind the scenes.Trebek announced in a YouTube video on March 6 that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.He vowed to keep working and beat the low survival rate statistics for the disease.“I’m on the mend and that’s all I can hope for right now,” Trebek says in the new video posted Thursday.“We have some exciting things coming up and I can’t wait to share them with all of you. Let me tell you, it’s going to be a good year.”THE CANADIAN PRESS Login/Register With: Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more

SpiceJet Jet Airways Interglobe Aviation likely to trade sideways over GST service

first_imgAn IndiGo Airlines Airbust A320 aircraft and JetKonnect Boeing 737 aircraft taxi at Mumbai’s Chhatrapathi Shivaji International Airport February 3, 2013.Reuters fileAviation stocks would be interesting to watch when trading begins on Monday. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council tweaked service tax rates on economy class and business class travel, which in the normal course, is not significant to spur air travel. Therefore, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and IndiGo-owner Interglobe Aviation are unlikely to respond in a big way.While the service tax on economy class has been reduced from 6 percent to 5 percent, it has been raised for business class to 12 percent from the current 9 percent. “Expect high growth rate in domestic traffic to continue in the near-term with further upside once the GST impact on the economy is visible in 1-2 years,” news agency PTI quoted aviation think tank Capa Centre of Aviation as saying.Read: Etihad Airways finds investments in Alitalia, Air Berlin, Jet Airways not paying offOn the flip side, carriers won’t be able to claim CENVAT credit on excise duty paid by them on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) purchased by them, since jet fuel, along with other petroleum products, has been kept out of the purview of GST. On Friday (May 19), SpiceJet shares closed 2.05 percent lower at Rs 109.70 apiece, Jet Airways at Rs 519.20 (down 0.56 percent) and Interglobe Aviation, at Rs 1,064.40 (down 2.97 percent). Other carriers, including state-owned Air India, Vistara, AirAsia India, Air Costa and Zoom Air are not listed.India’s 12 carriers carried 91.34 lakh (9.13 million) passengers during the month, up 15.15 percent from 79.32 lakh (7.93 million) flown in April last year and slightly higher from 9.04 million in March this year.Budget carrier IndiGo improved its market share to 41.4 percent for April from 39.9 percent in March, while rival SpiceJet fall to 12.9 percent last month from 13.2 percent in March.National carrier Air India’s market share marginally declined to 12.9 percent from 13 percent in March while full-service carrier Jet Airways (excluding Jet Lite) saw its share drop to 15.2 percent in April from 15.4 percent in the previous month. A SpiceJet Airlines aircraft at Bengaluru airport in March 2012.Reuters filelast_img read more

Myanmar carries out genocide in Rakhine FM

first_imgForeign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali has said neighbouring Myanmar is carrying out a genocide in the northern Rakhine state.“Many people descried the ongoing army-led security clampdown in Rakhine as genocide and we also call it genocide,” the foreign minister told a press conference after two back-to-back diplomatic meeting with envoys of Arab nations and western diplomats and heads of UN agencies in Dhaka on Sunday.The minister also said Bangladesh secured global support in handling the surge of Myanmar refugees amidst army clampdown in its northern Rakhine state.”All the countries in one sentence today praised our effort without any reservation . . . the entire world is today with Bangladesh,” he added.The briefings for envoys came as Dhaka visibly stepped up diplomacy to get by its side the foreign countries and major international stakeholders as continued surges of refugees flooded its southeastern territory.Read More: FM tells foreign diplomats 3000 Rohingyas killed in RakhinePresident M Abdul Hamid sought Organisaiton of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members’ intervention as repeated atrocities threatened Rohingyas existence at home exposing Bangladesh to a great difficulty with burdens of huge number of hapless refugees as he joined its ongoing summit in Kazakhstan.Ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) general secretary, road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader particularly sought “crucial” Indian support in handling the Rohingya.The foreign minister told the briefing that Bangladesh launched a process to engage the UN Third Committee, which deals with rights and humanitarian issues, to raise the Rohingya issue at the upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA) beginning next week.On the other hand, he said, the European Union (EU) Parliament would send a fact finding team to Bangladesh soon.”But it remains to be a problem of Myanmar and they themselves will have to resolve it while we said we are ready to assist them . . . we too condemned the attacks (on police outposts) but should the entire (Rohingya) community be eliminated for that?” he said.The mass exodus began on August 25 when a shadow rebel militant group called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched attacks on police outposts in Rakhine prompting an army crackdown backed by majority Rakhine Buddhists.Ali said 300,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh in the past 15 days while 4,000 of them earlier fled to Bangladesh to evade persecution since 1991 while Myanmar called them as “Bengalis” in a visible intension to dub them as migrants from Bangladesh.But, the foreign minister, said the 1947 Myanmar constitution acknowledged Rohigyas as Burmese nationals as they lived in Rakhine for 1,500 years as a mixed group having different ethnic backgrounds having only commonality as Muslims.”They also took part in elections until 2010 and even were elected to parliament . . . Then what happened overnight so Burma is declining to accept them as their nationals?” the minister said.A foreign office statement, meanwhile, said first of the two diplomatic briefings was joined by envoys of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Norway, Netherlands, USA, UK, and EU and representatives from UN Resident Coordinator, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, IOM, ICRC.The second one was attended by the ambassadors of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.The statement said the Ali told the envoys and UN officials that Bangladesh was hosting 400,000 Rohingyas for the past three decades and the current spate of surges elevated their number to seven lakh to create huge challenge for Dhaka in terms of providing shelter as well as other humanitarian assistances to them.”The Foreign Minister also highlighted Bangladesh’s efforts to address the security concerns of Myanmar particularly by proposing MOUs in 2014 on Border Liaison Office and Security Dialogue,” it read.Ali told the envoys that Bangladesh also proposed joint inspection, coordinated patrolling of border; and ‘joint operation’ along the border but “unfortunately Myanmar has not responded to these proposals”.”Rather, they have been running a malicious propaganda terming the Rohingyas as ‘illegal migrants from Bangladesh’ and the attackers to their BGP posts as ‘Bengali terrorists’,” the statement quoted him as saying.Ali told the foreign diplomats that Bangladesh always preferred bilateral solution to this long standing problem and was successful in repatriating 236,599 Rohingyas to their homeland through a bilateral agreement in 1992.The foreign minister referred to the recently published Kofi Annan Commission report and urged the international community to pursue the Myanmar Government for “immediate and unconditional implementation of the recommendations of this report in its entirety for permanent solution to this crisis”.He also requested the international community to help Bangladesh with urgent humanitarian assistances to address the current crisis, support for transportation of the Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, as well as to provide political support to ensure sustainable return of all Myanmar nationals to their homes in Myanmar.The diplomats, the statement said, thanked the government of Bangladesh for the briefing.”They highly praised the government of Bangladesh for hosting the Rohingyas for all these years and also giving shelter to the Myanmar nationals who are fleeing violence in the Rakhine State. They also stressed on the protection of civilians and urged to stop disproportionate use of force during the ongoing military operation in Rakhine,” it read.State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam, the foreign secretary and concerned senior officials joined the aided Ali in the briefings.last_img read more

100 years of Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I

first_imgTreaty of Versailles. Photo: CollectedAt 3:50 pm on 28 June 1919 crowds erupted in joy and salvos of celebratory gunfire rang out: the Treaty of Versailles had just been signed. World War I was finally over.Signed at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, the text set out 440 punishing articles that crippled Germany economically and morally.Although the treaty was intended to leave the war’s aggressor too weak to pose a new threat, its harsh terms eventually led the world into another global conflict just 20 years later.Victors cheeredThe fountains at France’s former royal residence were in operation for the signing ceremony for the first time since war broke out in 1914.The crowd of soldiers and civilians gathered outside the vast palace cheered the leaders of the victor nations as they arrived: France’s Georges Clemenceau, Britain’s David Lloyd George and America’s Thomas Woodrow Wilson.The Big Three had dominated the peace talks that opened in Paris in January, two months after Germany capitulated and signed an armistice in November 1918.The negotiations had been difficult, with Clemenceau less open than his US and British allies to compromise and insisting, “Germany will pay.”Berlin was not invited, informed only in May of the harsh terms of a settlement that blamed Germany for a conflict that had bled Europe dry.On June 17 the Allies gave Germany five days to agree or face renewed fighting. Chancellor Philipp Scheidemann resigned in protest but the new government had to accept.’Business-like’The signing ceremony was in the palace’s Hall of Mirrors, where the German Empire was proclaimed in 1871, on the defeat of France.It was programmed for the exact same day five years previously that Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated — the event that sparked World War I.On entering the crowded room, Clemenceau went up to a group of French soldiers whose faces had been badly mutilated in the conflict.”You have suffered a lot, but here is your reward,” he reportedly said, gesturing towards the table in the centre of the room where the documents were waiting to be signed.The event was “business-like” and over in 37 minutes, The New York Times reported.After being opened, “there was merely a succession of delegates advancing to the table on which the conventions had been laid and signing their names.”There were 27 delegations representing 32 powers.First to step forward to sign were the two German representatives, led by Foreign Minister Hermann Mueller.”Mueller’s face and neck were flushed crimson, and it was evident that both Germans felt keenly the position in which they were placed,” the New York Times said.The Allies followed, starting with Wilson.”Hardly was the ink on the final signature dry when the old palace of Versailles … shook from the concussion of the guns in the park outside that announced in salvos that the Germans had capitulated,” the newspaper said.Punishing termsThe terms were crippling for Germany, which had to accept a “war guilt” clause that made it responsible for paying out war damages.The treaty redrew the map of Europe, Germany losing around 15 percent of its territory and 10 percent of its population along with all its colonies.The country was split by the Danzig corridor, which fell under Polish rule, and the regions of Alsace and Lorraine were returned to France.Its coal-rich Saarland, bordering France, was placed under an international mandate for 15 years. The adjoining Rhineland was demilitarised.Military service was abolished and German ground troops were limited to 100,000 men, its navy also restricted and an air force forbidden.The treaty also created the League of Nations — the precursor to the United Nations — although Germany was initially excluded.Humiliation, angerGermany was humiliated, the harshness of the treaty causing shock and anger among its people.The reparations demanded by the Allies set in 1921, were around 132 billion German gold marks (more than $30 billion at the time), although this was later reduced.But Germany struggled to pay and descended into economic chaos and hyperinflation.The resentment fuelled nationalism and provided a breeding ground for the rising Nazis, whose leader Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 refusing to continue paying the reparations.Europe would soon be at war again.last_img read more

Why teenagers indulge in risktaking behaviour

first_imgIf you find your teenage son indulging in alcohol or drugs, do not just blame his peers. A specific imbalance in the functioning of his brain may put him at risk-taking behaviour risk, a study has found.The study conducted on animals showed that the adolescent-specific behaviour may be driven by an imbalance in activity between the prefrontal cortex (PFC) – an area of the brain involved in cognitive control and inhibition – and the nucleus accumbens (NAC) which plays a central role in reward-seeking and addiction.  Also Read – Add new books to your shelfResearchers from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the US said that the low activity in PFC with concurrent high activity in NAC – an imbalance which appears to exist only during adolescence – is essentially at odds with each other. This imbalance is behind the tendency that could lead to potentially dangerous behaviour, including drug use, harmful drinking, addiction, unsafe sex and risky driving, which may result in unintended injuries, violence and/or even premature death. “Understanding how specific changes in brain function during development relate to behaviour is critically important for determining why some individuals engage in excessive risk-taking behaviour during adolescence,” said David J Bucci, professor at Dartmouth College.“Our hope is that these findings will inform new means to minimise the potential for engaging in drug use and other harmful behaviours during this important period of development,” Bucci added in the paper published in the journal Current Biology.last_img read more

Identify Yourself

first_imgNovember 1, 2006 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Compared to biometric identification methods, passwords are clunky, insecure dinosaurs. If the burgeoning biometrics industry has anything to say about it, your fingers, face, eyes and even behaviors will be the preferred ways of securely identifying yourself. It’s not just for James Bond movies anymore. This is the new reality. Crude fingerprint identification methods may have been around for 100 years, but what is new is the increasingly sophisticated technology applications and ever-improving accuracy of biometrics.Let’s take a look at a snapshot of biometrics today. Fingerprint swipers, the most recognized biometric devices, have found their way into laptops, desktops and doors. Entrepreneur Scott Moody uses a fingerprint reader on his laptop. The technology controls access to the computer and keeps data safe. Moody also happens to be the 49-year-old co-founder and CEO of AuthenTec, a leading fingerprint biometrics company that, as you might expect, uses fingerprint sensors to control access to its Melbourne, Florida, offices. In 1998, Moody launched the multimillion-dollar firm with co-founder Dale Setlak, 54.Fingerprints are a doorway into the wide world of biometrics. Forward-looking biometrics companies are involved in everything from hand geometry and iris scans to voice recognition and behavioral biometrics. Grant Evans, CEO of A4Vision, prefers to face up to biometrics. His Sunnyvale, California, company is pioneering 3-D facial imaging technology. “It started out as bleeding-edge technology, and now it’s cutting-edge, and it’s just entering into the mainstream,” says Evans.Biometrics may have started off as technology for governments and law enforcement, but it is working its way into growing businesses and even consumer applications. Turn your gaze to Japan for a moment, and you’ll see a proliferation of mobile devices with integrated fingerprint readers. It’s a sign of things to come in the U.S. Confirming your identity is even more important now that phones are storing sensitive business and personal data and are even acting as digital wallets.As Vali Ali, distinguished technologist with Hewlett-Packard, says, biometrics isn’t just about security; it’s about convenient security. Users don’t have to remember lengthy or weak passwords, and you always have your finger or iris with you. “The technologies that are going to win are the types of technologies that people want to use rather than have to use,” says Ali. That’s one reason fingerprint sensors are so popular. Swiping your finger- print is a simple, nonintrusive way to identify yourself.The future of biometrics is in- triguing and complex. Both AuthenTec and A4Vision are businesses thriving in the field. Evans is pragmatic about A4Vision’s prospects. “Someone will probably acquire this company because we’re a piece of the puzzle,” he says. Consolidation is underway in the biometrics industry, and that trend will likely continue for a while. Entrepreneurs interested in getting in on biometrics need to seriously consider the market realities. As Evans says, “Turning a concept into a viable company in this industry is very tough. It’s difficult to compete now unless you have a disruptive technology that is new [and] that no one [else] has.”Still, that doesn’t mean the pace of innovation will slow down. No technology is fail-safe, which is why multi-modal biometrics is a huge trend for the future. This approach involves combining more than one type of biometric technology. “It’s a very common theme to use multiple technologies to tighten the gap for any security leakage or failures in the system,” says Evans. Biometric devices are getting smaller, more accurate and more sophisticated. They’re also getting more user-friendly. That’s a key feature that will help spur adoption of more advanced biometrics. Says Ali, “You will see multimodal applications which are very pleasing, human-like and much more natural for interactions.”With biometrics, here’s what a typical day might look like: You stop at the store on the way to your business and purchase a muffin using your credit card-enabled cell phone after identifying yourself with a fingerprint. To get into your office building, you have your face scanned. You access your laptop by scanning your fingerprint and speaking to the computer so it can recognize your voice. While you’re out at lunch, you browse through a database on your smartphone using your fingerprint reader as an intuitive navigation device.The popularity of fingerprint readers in laptops is just a sign of the changing times. The majority of HP business laptops come with fingerprint sensors, as do laptops in Lenovo’s ThinkPad line. Most things we use passwords, tokens or keys for today can be replaced with biometrics. Your car, house, office, monetary transactions, computer and mobile devices can be made more secure by embedding these new technologies. “Our product is something that can be virtually ubiquitous in your life,” says Moody. “When we’re old and in rocking chairs, we can say we were part of making this happen.” Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. 5 min read Enroll Now for Freelast_img read more

6 things you need to know about Joon Air Frances new airline

first_imgTags: Air France, Low-Cost Carriers Travelweek Group Share Tuesday, September 26, 2017 6 things you need to know about Joon, Air France’s new airlinecenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by PARIS — Air France has launched a brand new airline designed to meet the needs of a new generation of travellers. Bearing the hip and happy-sounding moniker Joon, the airline will toe the line between a “traditional and low-cost airline”, said Franck Terner, CEO of Air France.“Joon is one of our major projects as part of the strategic plan Trust Together, and will be one of Air France’s priorities in its offensive to win back market share,” he said.Jean-Michel Mathieu, CEO of Joon, added: “Joon is Air France’s little sister who breaks with tradition and takes inspiration from the new expectations of travellers to offer an experience that goes beyond the aircraft doors.”Starting Dec. 1 in Europe, with prices starting from €39 including tax, are: Barcelona (51 weekly flights); Berlin (37 weekly flights); Lisbon (28 weekly flights); and Porto (three weekly flights).Starting in Summer 2018 in Brazil and the Seychelles are: Fortaleza, Brazil, starting at €249 including tax with two weekly flights; and Mahé, Seychelles, starting at €299 including tax with three weekly flights.More news:  Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughtsHere are 6 things you need to know about Joon:1. Foodies will love itThere’ll be a free catering offer in Business and a new paid option in Economy. There’ll be around 60 tasty treats sold onboard, 20% of which are organic, as well as high-energy fruit juice and free drinks at all times (water, orange juice, organic Segafredo coffee and tea).2. Fliers will never be boredYouJoon will give passengers access to in-flight streaming on their smartphones, tablets of laptops. Once onboard, they’ll be able to connect directly to the Joon login portal and choose from a wide range of programs. In the event batteries die, passengers can recharge them with their individual USB port.3. Joon has lots of friendsThe airline already has a network of innovative partnerships that can also be deployed at Air France. These include TravelCar, which will take care of clients’ vehicles at Paris-CDG while they’re away, Le BHV Marais, which conducts Paris tours, and Waynabox, offering weekend packages from Paris.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programs4. Joon looks super coolThere’s no way you’ll miss a Joon aircraft in the sky – it’s electric blue! Plus, Joon’s 140 flight attendants all sport classic and modern garments, all of which have been designed with recycled fabrics made from plastic bottles.5. Joon is more tech-savvy than most millennialsThe AlloSky Virtual Reality Headset, available in Business class on long-haul flights, is a new generation headset that provides a high-definition screen and a diopter correction to adapt to eyes. Also, Paper Plane, which will soon be available on flyjoon.com, allows friends and families to raise money in order to send clients on a trip to the destination of their choice.6. Joon has a big sisterJoon benefits from all of Air France’s perks, including easier connections at Paris-CDG, Flying Blue Miles, SkyPriority and Air France assistance.For more details, watch this video:last_img read more

Win a trip to Fort Myers including airfare and hotel

first_img Share Posted by Wednesday, April 24, 2019 TORONTO — Fort Myers & Sanibel has gained a sizeable Canadian following with some 250,000 Canadian visitors each year, drawn to the destination’s ‘Old Florida’ charm, its 80 kilometres of coastline and its incredible natural scenery and wildlife.Now thanks to a new contest with Fort Myers & Sanibel, Travelweek and Air Canada Vacations, one lucky agent and travelling companion will get to experience the destination for themselves.The prize includes airfare for two with Air Canada, a two-night stay at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa and a two-night stay at Wyndham Garden.Located across 13 beaches-to-backbay acres on Captiva Island, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa is billed as the perfect destination for families, couples, meetings and weddings. The 137-key property includes 19 uniquely themed cottages, one, two and three bedroom suites, and comfortable contemporary guest rooms and efficiencies.Wyndham Garden Fort Myers Beach meanwhile is situated on the most expansive part of Fort Myers Beach, and offers the comforts of a large resort with boutique-like ambiance.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsEnter the contest now for your chance to win. Visit travelweek.ca/contests/visit-fort-myers-with-air-canada-vacations/. << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Travelweek Group Win a trip to Fort Myers including airfare and hotel Tags: Fort Myerslast_img read more